Saturday, September 19, 2009

God Will Protect?

A few days ago, I was emailed a copy of a prophetic warning by Joh W Matutis of Berlin Germany. He warns of terrible times coming on the earth that will cause the people of the world to be paralysed with fear. However he promises that God will protect his people. This is just one of several warnings in this vein that are currently being circulated among Christians.

These warning appear to be genuine, but I notice something really important missing from most of these words. They promise that God will protect his people, but say nothing about how Christians should be getting prepared. The underlying assumption is that physical protection is supernatural and that Christians will be protected, whatever their state of preparedness.

The scriptures teach something quite different. Protection is sometimes supernatural. God protected Elisha by blinding the eyes of the blinded the eyes of an army that was attacking Israel (2 Kings 6:17-20). God used the ravens to feed Elijah during a drought (1 Kings 17:2-6). Peter had a miraculous escape from prison (Acts 12:7-10). However, protection was more normally provided through relationships with other believers who had prepared for the tough times that lay ahead. Here are some examples,

  • Noah’s family was protected by building an ark.

  • Joseph protected his family from famine, by buying surplus grain during the good years when it was cheap.

  • David was protected from persecution by the distressed and discontented men who joined him at the cave of Adullam and became his mighty men (1 Sam 22:1-2).

  • Obadiah kept a hundred prophets safe during Jezebel’s persecution (1 Kings 18:4).

  • Jeremiah was protected and rescued by his friend Ebed-Melech the Cushite, a man with influence at the court (Jer 38:7-13).

  • Jesus gained protection by being surrounded by twelve fairly handy disciples.

  • Jesus always sent his disciples out in pairs.

  • Jesus received financial support from several wealthy female disciples (Mk 15:41).

  • Paul was protected by the disciples who lowered him from the wall of Damascus in a basket (Acts (9:23-25).

  • When Paul was stoned and left for dead outside Lystra, some discples came to his aid and restored him (Acts 14:19-20).

  • Christians in Thessalonica helped Paul and Silas escape to Berea (Acts 17:10).

The message is clear. God will sometimes provide supernatural protection for his people. However, protection will more often come through other believers. Three factors are essential for protection:
  1. Strong relationships with other believers.
  2. Getting prepared by wise use of the resources that are available during the good times.
  3. Believers in positions of influence.
We should be thinking about how we can use relationships, resources and influence to provide protection for themselves and others.

Real physical protection comes through relationships and connections with other believers, but most modern Christians persist in living in relative isolation. We only meet with other Christians when they drive to church on Sunday. Some participate in midweek meetings, but most drive to these as well. If vehicle travel were to be restricted, most of us would be quite isolated.

I see an enormous disconnect in most Christian thinking. Christians seem to like the idea of the world being judged, but very few have done anything to prepare for living through the disasters and troubles that judgment would bring. They have not thought about how they can prepare to support other Christians in trouble, or reach out with generosity to unbelievers who are struggling. Most Christians seem to assume that God will protect them, so they do not need to do anything to prepare for living through a time of crisis.

There will be times in the future when we will need God’s supernatural protection. I am certain that he will come through for those who trust him, just as he has done in the past. But just assuming that we can count on him to protect us supernaturally is really presumptuous, if we are unwilling to build the relationships that we need to protected from evil.

The latest economic crisis has added to the complacency, as many are thinking “I came through that crisis unscathed, so I can cope with anything”. The reality is quite different. If the half of the events currently being prophesied were to occur, many Christians and most churches would be totally wiped out. I suspect that many of the events being prophesied will not happen, because God will hold them back, because he cannot risk the enormous damage that they would do to an unprepared church.

Scanning the Christian bulletin boards, I see two types of prophecy. There are plenty of prophecies warning of judgment and troubled times. There are almost as many telling Christians that they will fine. One important element seems to be missing. I am looking for more prophecies that:
  • Challenge Christians to get prepared for what lies ahead
  • Explain to Christians how to get prepared.
An example is The Ambush, which gives a similar warning, but challenges Christians to get prepared and explains what should be done. Where are the men of Issachar, who understand the times and know what God’s people should do(1 Chronicles 12:32)?

I have written elsewhere about God will Provide. He sometimes provides supernaturally, but more often he provides through hard work and the generosity of other Christians. The same is true of the promise that God will Protect.

For more see Preparing for Social Collapse.

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