But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses. – Exodus 9:12
Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” — 2 Samuel 24:1
“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power to either free you or crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” — John 19:10-11
In the first verse I used this morning, God was in the process of dishing out the 10 plagues. Six of the plagues had come to pass already: The water had become blood, frogs covered the land, lice got all in their hair, flies took over, their livestock was struck dead, and boils covered them. Anyone in their right mind living at that time would have said, “What in the world is Pharaoh thinking? Why doesn’t he just let the Israelites go already? Can’t he see that the very hand of God is against him?” As readers of the Bible, we get to see in hindsight that God intervened and made Pharaoh’s heart hard so He could complete the plagues that He had predetermined to send before releasing His people.
In the second verse I used, we are talking about the mighty King David! This is the man after God’s own heart. So many of the people had to have been complaining, “What in the world is the king thinking? Why is he using our tax-payer money and wasting nine months counting everybody?” Well, we know why, “God moved David against them.” Ultimately, this caused a plague to come upon the people which killed 70,000 people.
In the third verse we have Pontius Pilate honestly believing he has power over our Lord and Savior. Jesus quickly lets him know otherwise. Pilate tried to save Jesus by having Him scourged. He had hoped that this lesser punishment would satisfy the people who wanted Him dead. It did not work. “Crucify Him” they shouted; and crucify Him they did. God caused Pilate to care more about his position and what the people thought than what was right. When Jesus said, “It is finished” and drew His last breath, I can only imagine the hopelessness and darkness that descended over the land. I’m so glad we know the rest of the story.
In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed twenty men in an area of about half an acre. Then panic struck the whole army – those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties – and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God. – 1 Samuel 14:14-15
How crazy is this one? Two men go up and kill twenty men out of thousands. The rest of them panic. This panic causes them to get routed by the Israelite army.
You and I are living in a time of uncertainty right now. I’ve had so many people contact me and have conversations with me. For the most part, people can’t believe how people are. They can’t believe people would hoard toilet paper. They can’t believe people would be so insensitive and just go on about their lives like nothing is happening with blatant disregard for others. They can’t believe these young people’s behavior. They can’t believe the president is responding the way he is responding. There is just always this “Look how others are behaving” attitude going on in the background. As if the complainer knows and has all the answers.
In all of the verses I chose, the common theme was that God was behind them all. At the very least, we must believe that He allowed all of them to happen. As believers in this same God, are we really surprised at all of this happening today? Were we all secretly hoping that we would get to just live a pain-free, suffer-free life of ease until we were raptured away from this increasingly evil world on its way to hell in a handbasket? Are we all really surprised that the world is acting like, well, the world?
Here is the thing: If you call yourself a Christian right now, then you have this awesome opportunity. You have the opportunity to pray out loud with people who are afraid. You have the opportunity to counsel fearful Christians who are unsure of their salvation and really wondering if this is the beginning of the end. Let them know that our faith and our hope is in God and God alone. Most of all, you have the opportunity to just be the light that shines in the darkness. People should be attracted to your light. Are people who are afraid coming to you for answers? Do you honestly have the peace that passes all understanding in your heart right now? If you really have it, get ready to pass that peace on to others because people will be coming to you for answers.
In times like this, 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells all true believers exactly what to do:
- Humble yourself: In the grand scheme of things, you and I are vapors that appear for a little while and then vanish away. Stop thinking that your opinion, what you think about all of this, and what you would do really matters.
- Pray: When is the last time you’ve really taken the time to talk with God? I’m not talking quick, one-liner prayers. I’m talking about pouring your heart out and telling him absolutely everything.
- Seek His face: This is different than prayer. This is just wanting to be with Him. Nothing really needs to be said. You just enjoy knowing that He is ever so present and ever so near. When is the last time you just wanted to hang out with Him and just be with Him? How can fear, worry, anxiety, or depression possibly overtake me when He is right here with me?
- Turn from your wicked ways: What are you doing that you know God doesn’t like? What sin are you allowing to creep in? Are you fully trusting in God? Or, do you secretly trust in self?
Lord, I confess that I’m not where I need to be. I confess that I can be fearful. I confess that that as I began to cough from allergies that my mind went to the worst-case scenario. Where is my faith? Why am I afraid when I have You? I’m so sorry, Lord. You are the greatest thing this planet offers, and I use my access to You so infrequently and so inconsistently. Forgive me, Lord. Help me, Lord. I want to draw nearer to You than I’ve ever been before. Help all of us Christians to do the four things which cause you to hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land.