It feels pretty scary to be living in the times we are now.
It seems like every time we click on or flip open the news, fresh disasters and attacks dominate the headlines. Another plane down, another great earthquake or typhoon devastating many, another act of terror claiming innocent lives, another disease threatening populations.
Even as we remember and pray for those affected by such incidents while trying to continue with our normal lives, our foremost thought is most surely: How can I stay safe and keep my family protected in times like this?
No amount of money, smarts, or connections can secure us absolute immunity or foreknowledge to escape these horrific events. There is no country or region that is exempt, no ethnicity or organisation that is spared.
Only one place offers a sure hope and a firm refuge to live fear-free in this age of terror: under the wings of the Most High God.
God promises in His psalm of protection, Psalm 91:
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty;…
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence [disease] that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you…
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling…
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.” (Psalm 91:1, 5-6, 7, 9-10, 15-16, emphasis mine)
Reading the entire psalm is even more powerful. Line after line, God’s sure promises of protection, deliverance and victory abound in this psalm.
A testimony that bears repeating is that of a Jewish believer who was a lieutenant deployed in the six-day war in 1967. Having grown up the son of a pastor in Israel, he had read the words of psalm 91:7 that was emblazoned on a plaque at the front of the church over and over as a kid, until it sank deep into his spirit. Going into the war, he had no fear that harm would come upon him, even when his unit ran into an ambush.
As the machine-gun fire blazed around him like bees buzzing and leaves fell upon him, it dawned on him that none of the bullets were coming near him. He found his men all taking cover in a small hole; many of them had ridiculed him for his belief in Christ. And in that moment, as they witnessed the bullets whizzing around him but not hitting him, the only thing he could think of to say to them was, “Now do you believe?!” Today, this war veteran is still healthy, alive, and in love with Jesus.*
Perhaps there are some who might think that it is God who allows or orchestrates such calamities so that people would turn back to Him. After all, it was God who sent the flood that wiped out everything except Noah and whatever was in the ark with him, wasn’t it?
But if we just take a moment to pause and think about it a little more deeply, the above conjecture just doesn’t make sense.
God doesn’t kill some to make others turn back to Him. He doesn’t use fear to bring people into His arms so that He can then love them. He is not a double-minded or shifting or partial God.
Jesus Himself resolved the question by pointing out that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and it would be illogical for Satan to cast out himself, when He was accused of casting out demons by the power of the devil (Matthew 12:22-28, Mark 3:22-26).
God is a God of love, not of fear. For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). God loved the whole world, that He sent Jesus to save whoever believes on Him.
And His Word clearly tells us that fear and love don’t mix, for “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).
We don’t have to fear punishment from God today because Jesus was sent for the very purpose to take upon Himself all of our punishment and judgement at the cross for us.
When we accept Jesus, we are accepting His bearing of every punishment we deserve for us. On top of that, we also receive His forever standing of perfect righteousness, and all the blessings He deserves for His performance and obedience.
It doesn’t sound fair. But that’s grace. That’s the gospel. That’s how much God loves us.
God’s love affair with man has not ceased since the moment He created man. In all honesty, God could have given up on man and simply started over with another universe, another creation, another race, but He didn’t.
During the time of Noah, the devil’s fallen angels had come upon the earth to reproduce through women and in so doing corrupt the human race. This was part of the devil’s plan to stop the prophesied Seed – Christ – from coming forth. The corruption got so bad that Noah and his family were amongst the few that remained free from it in their line. And Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.
God told Noah to build the ark and take his family and pairs of all animals into the ark, that their life might be preserved and they could start anew after God cleansed the earth of all corruption through the flood. Prior to the flood, Noah preached the same message of righteousness by faith to the world at the time (Hebrews 11:7, 2 Peter 2:5). God waited years and years, until He finally sent the flood when it was time.
The flood, then, was still God’s grace in preserving man while ridding the earth of corruption made by the devil. God demonstrated grace too in providing salvation through the ark. Though destruction raged around them, Noah and all with him were safe in the ark.
Today, God will never again send judgement upon the earth, because He has already sent His Son instead, in the outpouring of His love and grace. Today, we can find safety and protection in the Ark of ages, Jesus Christ.
Simply being in church or being a Christian in name doesn’t render safety and protection, nor does it drive fear away. Abiding under His wings and constantly feeding on His Word and promises does.
It’s true that Christians may also meet with tragedies, attacks, accidents and deadly disease. But in Jesus we have a sure promise and hope of deliverance, of victory, of healing, of protection, and of restoration, that is received through the continuous hearing of the preached gospel.
And even if we should lose our life on this earth, we will simply find ourselves in eternal life with Jesus, younger, stronger, happier, healthier, and more alive than we ever were.
Call it fire insurance, life insurance, or what you will. A Christian never loses, be it on this side of heaven or in heaven itself.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.
*This testimony is recorded in Pastor Joseph Prince’s sermon message entitled “Protection from Danger, Accidents and Disease – Truths from Psalm 91” (3 Aug 2014). To get the message, click here.