What is God’s “umbrella of protection” and how do we stay under it in the home, in the workplace, and in other areas of life? 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?
Jeremiah 41 & 42
2 Timothy 1.1-18
Are You Under God’s Umbrella of Protection?
Jeremiah 41 & 42 and Proverbs 28.2:
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 …,” however, “Wisdom promotes social order and long rule.”
We see that truth in operation here in Jeremiah 41-43. 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 God’s wisdom. But when He provided it, they were unwilling to listen.
7 And it happened after ten days that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. 8 Then he called Johanan the son of Kareah, all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, 9 and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition before Him: 10 ‘If you will still remain in this land, then I will build you and not pull you down, and I will plant you and not pluck you up. For I relent concerning the disaster that I have brought upon you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid; do not be afraid of him,’ says the Lord, ‘for I am with you, to save you and deliver you from his hand. 12 And I will show you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and cause you to return to your own land.’
13 “But if you say, ‘We will not dwell in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God, 14 saying, ‘No, but we will go to the land of Egypt where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor be hungry for bread, and there we will dwell’— 15 Then hear now the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah! Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘If you wholly set your faces to enter Egypt, and go to dwell there, 16 then it shall be that the sword which you feared shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; the famine of which you were afraid shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there you shall die.
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 seeking God’s comfort and understanding. But few actually made the life changes required 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’ve read the Old Testament historical books, you know God often showed mercy on a whole nation because of a godly leader. He would even withhold judgment when an ungodly man cried out to Him.
In a democratic republic like ours, we need to pray for God’s wisdom to make the wisest choices possible when elections come around. And we should pray that our leaders would come to know Him and submit to His authority (1 Tim. 2.1-4).
But what about on a personal level, how do we either stay under God’s protective authority and how do we 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 often 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 sometimes use Satan for His Holy purposes, but His goal is not vindictive. Just as it was here, God’s will is for unbelievers to come to salvation (1 Tim. 2.4) and for a believer to repent, turn from his sinful and destructive path back to God’s way of living.
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.
Limits on Authority
Of course, there are limitations to all earthly submission. Anytime we’re being asked to sin, we have a higher authority, the authority of God and His Word.
But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5.29).
When that is the case, we must refuse to obey. But we are to do so humbly and respectfully.
So ask yourself, “Am I under God’s protective authority?” Or am I willfully placing myself outside of it at home, in the workplace, in civil society, or in some other realm? Have I submitted to the authority of a church or do I hop from church to church? Will I pray for our nation that submission to God and His Word would once again be the heart of our leaders?
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.
2 Timothy 1.1-18:
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, losing our rights or losing control. But …
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 understanding grow in our willingness to love others unconditionally, we can walk in greater freedom, including freedom from fear.
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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