When I picture abiding in Christ, I think of images like a tree, rooted and grounded and stretched out and crowned reaching to the sun; there are times when a storm may be snapping off branches, but the tree will not be moved. Or I picture of standing in a shallow riverbed, with the water gently going past your ankles, an idyllic scene, and then the waters start rising and you have to dig in and lean in and rely on God’s strength to stand against the flow trying to knock you down.
Abiding is walking with Christ, knowing that you are in the vine, one with Him, but I also see it as taking your stand and refusing to be budged. It’s a choice to remain in Him and not abandon your position at any sign of trouble.
Chapter 26 is about the discipline of God. He promises blessing for obedience and destruction if they disobey, though always sparing a remnant alive. He sees the individual as well as the group.
One of the promises of discipline is the removal from the land if they don’t obey. They don’t, and they are carried off to Babylon. Israel as a whole is under discipline, but even in that severe case, God sees the individual. Jeremiah escapes deportation. Daniel suffers and is taken from his homeland, but he prospers and is blessed by God while in exile.
God’s not an evil dictator wiping out the many to get the few because He has no care for human life. God sees and cares. That’s why He’s angry. He cares. He knows obedience brings the blessing. His desire is to bless His children. The point of discipline is to restore the blessing.
At the same time, God knows the dangers of blessing His children. We see this in the book of Job, the suffering servant. Sometimes God allows the trouble when there is no sin, just a need for a reminder of who God is, so that we don’t get lost relying on our own strength and walk away from God.
One of God’s words to Israel is that they will have no power to stand before their enemies. Who are our enemies? Not flesh and blood. The enemy army is led by Satan. His desire is to knock you off your firm foundation of Jesus Christ. We are saved by faith, so Satan wants to sow fear, doubt, and unbelief. They will know we are Christians by our love, so he wants to sow hatred, unforgiveness, jealousy, and bitterness.
We take a stand against the enemy, by abiding in Christ, by walking in His ways of faith and love to stand firm and not give into any of those schemes of the devil.