What is God’s “umbrella of protection” and how do we stay under it? How, also, do we put ourselves outside His protective authority? And how does the Church itself act as an umbrella of protection for its members?
How does this apply:
- Within the Family
- In the Church
- In Our Nation
Jeremiah 41 & 42
2 Timothy 1.1-18
Are you under God’s umbrella of protection?
Umbrella of Protection for a Nation
Interestingly our verse in Proverbs today is 28.2:
“Because of the transgression of a land, many are its princes; but by a man of understanding and knowledge right will be prolonged.”
John MacArthur says, “Unrighteousness in a nation produces political instability with many vying for power …,” on the other hand, “Wisdom promotes social order and long rule.”
We see that truth in operation here in Jeremiah 41 and 42, and in the following chapter. Ishmael sees an opportunity to seize control and is shortly overturned himself by Johanan. But, because he lacked righteousness and trust in God, Johanan soon leads the people to ruin.
There is also a beautiful picture of God’s willingness to protect His people in chapter 42. When the people were in a desperate situation, they turned to God, asking Jeremiah to intercede for them and seek His wisdom. But when He provided it, they were unwilling to listen.
The place of protection was where God had placed them and commanded them to stay. But since it didn’t make sense to them, they left and went their own way, only to be destroyed as we’ll see in the next chapter.
Remember 9-11? After that horrible tragedy people flocked to churches, but few actually made the life changes they needed so they could truly live under God’s protective authority. And as a nation, we have totally rejected the spiritual lessons we should have learned.
What can we do today? If you remember much of our reading in the historical Bible books, God would often show mercy on the whole nation because of a godly leader or one who turned to Him in times of trouble. In a democratic republic like ours, let’s pray He gives us the wisdom to make the wisest choice possible and that we listen.
But what about on a personal level, how do we either stay under God’s protective authority or leave and go to Egypt?
Within the Family
Children are told to obey their parents in the Lord. When they do, they stay within what Tedd Tripp in Shepherding a Child’s Heart calls “the circle of blessing” where “they will live long on the earth and things will go well with them” (Eph. 6.1-3). But the opposite is also true, when they disobey; they go out from under that protective authority, forsake His blessings, and risk shortening their lives.
Wives are commanded to “submit to [our] own husbands, as to the Lord” (Eph. 5.22). Yet, we frequently fight for control or simply do things our own way ignoring God’s protective authority in our lives and placing ourselves outside of His “circle of blessing.” Worse yet, we sometimes head straight for Egypt by choosing an unbiblical divorce when things get tough or don’t go the way we had planned.
In the Church
There is protective authority within the church, as well. In 1 Corinthians 5, speaking about a sinning member, Paul told the believers in Corinth, “remove this man from your fellowship” (1 Cor. 5.2 NLT). He went on to say:
“You must call a meeting of the church. I will be present with you in spirit, and so will the power of our Lord Jesus. Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns (1 Cor. 5.4b-5 NLT).
The Church and its leadership act as an umbrella of protection over its members. It’s not that God can’t still discipline His wayward children, but it gives us a great deal of protection from the enemy.
Notice that the man was handed over to Satan so that his sinful nature could be destroyed. God will use Satan for His Holy purposes at times. But His ultimate goal, as it was here, is that the man’s soul would be saved.
Hebrews 13 instructs us:
Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit (Heb. 13.17).
Submitting to authority isn’t popular today, even within the church. While there are some biblical reasons for leaving a church (failure to teach the Word of God or practicing some unbiblical doctrine), once God has called us to be a part of a New Testament church, we should submit to its authority.
Instead, we have developed a consumer mentality. We stay as long as someone doesn’t offend us, as long as the music is to our liking, as long as they don’t start a building program, or some other problem doesn’t arise.
If there is a biblical issue, as opposed to a preference issue, we should go and talk to our Pastors. But until God clearly calls us to another church, we should submit willingly and joyfully out of our fear of God and desire to please Him.
So ask yourself, “Am I under God’s protective authority?” Am I willfully placing myself outside of it at home? Have I submitted to the authority of a church or do I hop from church to church?
Finally, how does this understanding affect my decisions in the upcoming election? This is a hard question, because neither major party candidate appears to be godly. But one spouts support of issues that are clearly abominations to God.
The sixth commandment says, “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20.13). Abortion is the murder of a pre-born baby and late term abortion defies understanding and decency. I fear our nation will pay a dear price for our acceptance (Prov. 14.34).
And while we are to love and stand up for the mistreatment of all human beings, as believers we must not condone sin. It’s neither loving (1 Cor. 6.9-10) nor right for us to refuse to speak out (Lk. 9.23-26; Eph. 4.14-15) about the sin of homosexuality (Rom. 1.26-31) and so-called gay marriage.
We need to consider these things, not just in the national election, but in our state and local elections, as well.
And let’s not forget to pray for our nation. Everyone says it, but many of us fall short, including myself. We desperately need God’s help, intervention and wisdom!
Today’s Other Readings:
His Word Will Stand
Verse 89, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven …”
In contrast to the instability of nations, governments and people talked about in Proverbs 28.2, God’s Word is constant. What God has declared, He will do. God’s Word never goes out of style or out of date. It is true under every form of government, in every kind of society, and in every individual life, including yours and mine.
Power & Love Instead of Fear
2 Timothy 1.7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
1 Peter 3.6 says, “as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror” (the NASB says “not being frightened by any fear”).
Over and over in Scripture we are told to “fear not.” Sometimes our fears have more to do with the fear of being taken advantage of, or the fear of losing our rights, or of losing control, or the fear of someone getting away with something.
The Apostle John said, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 Jn. 4.18).
As we grow in our love for God and our understanding of His love for us, and out of that grow in our willingness to love others unconditionally, we can walk more and more in freedom, including freedom from fear, and the protection of obedience.
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“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.