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When people feel like they are under attack they usually do one of two things: they fight their way out, or they run away.
Personally, I believe that we are living at the fringe of eternity.
Soon Jesus will come soon.
, but just before that happens the Bible describes some challenging events.
Jesus tells about a lot of this in Matthew 24 and John adds detail to it in Revelation 15 -16.
They describe natural disasters.
They talk about political upheaval and warfare.
But the big issue that contributes to the most significant end-time prophecies is the issue of worship.
Will you follow the lamb, Christ Jesus, or will you give your service and worship to the agents of Satan?
Revelation 13 says this divide between worshiping the Creator God or worshiping a man-made God will result in a world-wide division.
God’s people have a choice in how they respond in difficult situations.
Should they stand up and fight for their rights?
Should they band together and attempt to force lawmakers to make policy that favors their beliefs?
Or, should they run and hide, living as long as possbile in isolation from those who disagree with them?
I want to tell you two short stories from the Bible, one where God’s man ran and hid, and one that shows us the impact of faithful service.
The story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17-19 Is a story of grand victories for God, but also a missed opportunity.
God was determined to turn the hearts of His people back to their Creator from the worship of the false gods, Baal and Ashtoreth.
So, Elijah made a bold decree in front of the king and then God hid him away and provided for him for 3 1/2 years.
During that time the people learned they couldn’t trust their made-up gods.
When they had had enough, Elijah reappeared, called for a contest, proved the God of heaven to be the only true God, and then killed the prophets of baal and Ashtoreth.
Except he didn’t finish the job.
The rain came, he ran down to the city with the king, and then he sat against the outer wall.
The king’s wife, the chief priestess of Ashtoreth was fuming inside the city walls.
When Elijah was given the message that Jezabel wanted to take his life for what he had done, he fled in fear.
During his flight, God provided food, and gave him endurance, and even met with him on the mountain.
God was merciful, but it doesn’t seem that this was God’s original plan.
What would have happened if Elijah had not fled?
Would Jezabel’s influence in the nation have been curtailed earlier?
Would Naboth’s vineyard have been preserved?
Would the next kings of Israel have followed after God?
Only God knows what a faithful Elijah would have accomplished.
What seems to be true is that God COULD have done something amazing if Elijah had remained courageous and trusted in God’s deliverance.
Running and hiding was not a faithful solution to his trouble.
I’m thankful that God was merciful with Elijah, but I wish he had stayed strong.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time to hide.
It’s when God says, “Go and hide.”
But most of the time our hiding is in fear.
Our retreat is because we lack confidence in God.
But do you know what’s worse than hiding when God hasn’t said to hide?
Standing up to defend ourselves and fight for our “rights” in our own wisdom and strength.
When we do that God is not glorified.
We fight a battle in His name that only defames Him and makes Him look ugly to the world.
Christians throughout history have made a mockery of God in their self defense.
This past week a Canadian pastor, Artur Pawlowski, was arrested again for violating the laws of the land.
Artur strongly believes that his church is doing the right thing, and I’m not here to suggest they are doing something wrong—I haven’t looked into it enough to have an opinion.
What I did notice about his arrests — a couple of them are recorded on video—is that he was defiant towards the police.
He called them unkind names.
He refused to cooperate and forced them to carry him to the nearby squad car.
As they arrested him he kept shouting, “Do it the Nazi style!
Taze me!”
Artur’s clash with the government is not the kind of attitude I see the Bible encouraging.
So, if running in fear isn’t the ideal Response to persecution, and standing up to fight back isn’t the right solution, then what is?
We’ve been looking at the story of Daniel, a man who was exiled in A totalitarian, pagan government, but he remained faithful to God.
Each of his stories are windows into how God relates to His people in crisis, and how His people should relate to their God and their government when their freedom of conscience is threatened.
We first found Daniel and his friends politely asking for a more acceptable diet, and God gave them favor with their overseer.
They took a polite and reasoned stand in favor of God’s counsel on food.
And notice how God provided for them in that process.
They didn’t need to defend themselves.
God did that for them.
Then we found Daniel facing the death penalty because of a dream the other wisemen couldn’t tell the king.
He didn’t resist, he just asked for time.
During the reprieve he prayed, and God revealed the mystery to him.
Again, God provided for His people, and the result was that Daniel and his friends were promoted to positions of influence and God’s truth found a wider distribution as a result.
Then we saw Daniel’s friends stand when the king told them to bow to an idol.
He gave them another chance but they unflinchingly told him no, they didn’t need another chance.
Their minds were made up.
They said that if God wanted, he could save them, but even if He didn’t deliver them they would not worship a false God.
They didn’t mobilize a rally or stage a protest against the false religious worship that was being mandated by the king.
They simple obeyed God’s revealed will and didn’t bow to an idol made by man.
The result was incredible: God delivered them from the middle of an execution and as a result the stage was set for God to win the heart of the greatest monarch of the world at that time.
And don’t forget what was happening in the cities and towns of Babylon to the Jews—the people of God struggled less because the polite yet unwavering faith of these men led the king to make policies in favor of the worship of God.
Then we explored the story of the king who thought he ruled of the world.
He was so proud that God couldn’t reach his heart.
So God humbled him so that He could save him.
In doing so He demonstrated, yet again, that the God of heaven is the Creator, the Lord over everything, and that He rules over the affairs of the people of earth.
Daniel’s part of this story was simply to be faithful in telling the truth God had revealed.
His faithful truth-telling led to the repentance and conversion of his king.
Last week we heard about a king who boldly defied the God of heaven when he knew the Jews were excited that Cirus, the deliverer that Isaiah had promised, was at the city gates.
In his pride, Belshazzar was confident that the Medes and Persians would be unable to penetrate the defenses of the city, and so he mocked the God of Israel.
When God wrote on the wall, Daniel interpreted the message faithfully.
Belshazzar would be killed that day for his pride, and the prophesied deliverer of God’s people would walk in and take over.
Because God rules over the affairs of men.
In all these stories we learn that God is the ruler.
God is the one who governs the affairs of men.
God’s predictions come true.
God can be trusted.
And that God is faithful to His people.
Knowing this about God should impact how we relate to the crisis and conflicts in our lives.
If one day we loose everything, God still has our future in His hands, and He has promised to provide.
If we face death, God is the life-giver.
We don’t need to worry about death.
If we experience ridicule and persecution for Christ’s sake, Jesus himself experienced that too.
We can rejoice that we suffer with Christ.
In other words, we have the most powerful ruler of the universe on our side, what can mere, mortal men really do to us?
We can face tribunals and rulers with a quiet, polite, confidence.
There is no need to run and hide, and no need to stand up in defense of ourselves when our God is our defender.
Just imagine what would have happened if Daniel and his friend ran and hid themselves when the king had the dream.
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