Last night, becoming more and more aware of the devil’s opposition to the truth in every area, I was reminded of three biblical examples of the Lord’s promise of protection.
We need to know these truths in the growing darkness.
Despite all the prophetic rhetoric about revival, awakening, recovery, renewal and a new earth filled with righteousness, what is actually taking over the “seven mountains” of the world’s spheres of influence is not biblical Christianity at all.
It is the opposite. It is a new-age, pagan, occult, and false spiritual indoctrination that is set to flood into all areas of the world, re-educating mankind to accept an altogether new and ungodly creed, a creed of “wokeness” and “human rights” that overturns the gospel in every aspect.
Floods of Evil
As believers, coming under attack from the world and the devil, we might be tempted to feel overwhelmed. We might even begin to despair at the seeming hopelessness of stemming today’s flood of lies and mockery.
Life is growing ever more difficult, and the world is becoming more anti-christ day by day. Trials, temptations, troubles, sorrows – opposition from friends, family, even fellow-believers – it seems unending sometimes; blessed indeed is the believer who is living a quiet life of uninterrupted victory!
“Peace in the Midst of the Storm” by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
I was reminded last night that satan “goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he might devour”
1 Peter 5: 7-10
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
Notice in those verses, we are not told that God will REMOVE all suffering, nor every attack of the devil. Indeed, it says “AFTER you have suffered…” it will lead to a deeper perfection in God, establishment and stability.
The Rod and the Staff
Psalm 23 says the same. David does not avoid the “valley of the shadow of death” but is able to walk boldly and confidently through it, because he is trusting in the power and authority of God to save him.
David was once a shepherd, and he likens the Lord to a mighty Shepherd with both a rod and a staff. Just as the shepherd guides and protects his flock and fends off the wolves that threaten them, so Jesus is the divine Shepherd protecting his flock.
In biblical times, a shepherd used both a rod and a staff to tend the flock. Both were used to protect the sheep, each in a very specific way.
The rod was used to fight off wild animals, and also to prod the sheep into action. The staff would be used to gently, but firmly, pull the sheep back to the fold and keep them moving in the right direction. The staff, with its crooked end, was also used to rescue any sheep that had wandered into danger or fallen into a crevice.
Psalm 23 leads me back to the three examples the Lord showed me last night:
- Daniel in lions den, (lion = satan)
- The faithful three in furnace, (fire = hell)
- Jesus asleep in the boat in the storm, (storm = demonic attack)
In the book of Daniel, chapter six, we see Daniel exiled to Babylon, but raised to high office by his royal master Darius the Mede. Daniel’s jealous rivals trick Darius into issuing a decree that for thirty days no prayers should be addressed to any god or man but Darius himself; anyone who disobeys this edict is to be thrown to the lions.
However, Daniel continues to pray daily to the God of Israel, and the king, although deeply distressed, must condemn Daniel to death, for the edicts of the Medes and Persians cannot be altered.
Hoping for Daniel’s deliverance, he has him cast into the pit. At daybreak the king hurries to the place and cries out anxiously, asking if God had saved his friend. Daniel replies that his God had sent an angel to close the jaws of the lions, “because I was found blameless before him”.
Verse 23 says that Daniel was preserved unharmed and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in God. An angel was sent to close the mouths of the lions.
Since we are told that satan is like a lion hungry for victims, can we not believe that our trust in God will result, as it did for Daniel, in divine protection?
The Faithful Three
In a very similar way, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are kept from the flames of the furnace by “another man” walking in the furnace with them.
These three are first mentioned in Daniel chapter one, where alongside Daniel they are brought to Babylon to study Chaldean language and literature with a view to them serving at the King’s court, and their Hebrew names are replaced with Chaldean or Babylonian names.
In chapter 3, however, they were thrown into a fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylon, when they refuse to bow down to the king’s image. Like Daniel, they refuse to worship anyone but the true God, and for that they suffer the penalty, supposedly of death. However, as their captors testify, they are unharmed; the king sees FOUR men walking in the flames, “the fourth … like a son of God”.
We assume these three were fully confident of their deliverance, but they were not. We can learn so much from their words to the king:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. BUT IF NOT, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” [Daniel 3:16-18]
Yes, God is ABLE to deliver. We do not doubt that. However, WILL he do so in this instance? God does not always overturn the bad things that happen to us, nor deliver us from harm and sorrow.
But we can say with these three, EVEN IF NOT…. we will still continue to praise, honour and trust in God!
Jesus Asleep in the Storm
Mark 4:35–41 tells the story of Jesus calming the storm. His disciples were no doubt aware of and dependent upon the protection of the Lord at all times. They had seen him perform many miracles. However, when this storm arose, they find that Jesus had fallen asleep.
And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:37)
Using this as an analogy for our lives, do we find sometimes we are facing trauma and trouble, but on turning to God we feel he is distant and unaware, or holding back on his deliverance?
What was the response of the disciples? Did they feel offended, let down, as if their Lord wasn’t aware of their fear, didn’t care enough about them to wake up in the midst of an obvious storm – rocking boat, howling wind, huge waves, enough to wake up anyone you would think??
God, can’t you SEE I am struggling? Can’t you hear the wind, feel the waves that are rocking my life? It makes me feel you don’t care enough to save me!
Where Is Your Faith?
But of course Jesus did wake up, and with a word of command he calmed the storm all around them. He saved them. (Mark 4:39) Then, what did he say? “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (verse 40)
Oh, that cuts deep, doesn’t it? How is it, knowing Me, knowing yourselves to be My people, having seen all the wonders and miracles I have done, how is it you thought the devil could stir up a storm and kill us all?
Just like Daniel, just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the disciples found “peace in the midst of the storm”. Not peace by AVOIDING the storm!!
No, God didn’t overturn the disaster and trial, he preserved them in it.
You see, they had to ENTER the storm, enter the lions’ den, the fiery furnace, the stormy sea, they had to go in and experience the trouble and distress, BUT they had to live by the faith that God would preserve them one way or another.
Verse 39 says, “When Jesus woke up, he REBUKED the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.” This may indicate the storm was of satanic origin. It could be that this storm was an attack by the kingdom of darkness to kill Jesus and His disciples.
These attacks also come upon us as the followers and children of Jesus, but Jesus has promised us protection. He has said: “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19)
Do Not Fear
We forget that many of the men in the boat were seasoned fishermen, surely familiar with bad weather and storms. Above and beyond that, they had been with Jesus long enough to know no evil power could succeed against him.
So maybe that is why Jesus was surprised to be woken up, having to deal with the storm in person. Maybe that is why he chided his people for not having faith.
Not only had they witnessed the power and authority of Jesus, but they had been given similar authority in Him to withstand the devil. Like ambassadors for a king, they had been given “executive authority” to speak in the name of the king.
But at that crucial moment, the disciples had more fear of the storm than trust in God.
Satan trades in fear. He lies about his powers and his intentions, he lies about our ability to withstand him. He works hard on our minds and feelings to make us fearful of the storm, that it will certainly overthrow us.
But with the rod and staff to comfort us, with Jesus in the boat, with the “fourth man” walking with us in the flames of the furnace, and with the Angel of the Lord holding shut the mouth of the lion, we should realise we are in no real danger.
We cannot be defeated, if we continue to trust in Jesus!