1 In the Lord I take refuge; How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain; 2 For, behold, the wicked bend the bow,
They make ready their arrow upon the string
To shoot in darkness at the upright in heart.
3 If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:1-3 (NAS)
We now walk on eggs in the American church. A divisive and polarizing election, an insidious social justice movement, and an undercurrent of fear due to an inscrutable and unpredictable virus, have dramatically and perhaps permanently changed our lives. If church leaders are shrewd and calculating, they may very well navigate through these seemingly uncharted waters (in America) for a time, by sticking to the knitting, i.e., “love your neighbor” topics, even though the country’s laws and policies are becoming more diametrically opposed to the Word of God with each stroke of a pen, and social morays and media have muffled dissent. How long will it take to recognize “the elephant in the room.”
Sooner or later, as churches in California know well firsthand, the strong arm of government will reach inside our four walls. What is disturbing is that parishioners live each day with these pressures weighing them down in some fashion. The oppression is felt, the fear is tangible. While as Christians we are dutybound to obey the laws of the land (Romans 13:1), in order that we might live a “quiet and peaceful life,” (1 Timothy 2:2) most have realized that the hounds of hell have been released and will soon descend upon us. Those with their heads in the sand can make believe all’s well, or say it’s always been this way, but they do so ignoring specific warnings from scripture that in the last days of the last days difficult times will come (2 Timothy 3:1), or perhaps better, things will go from bad to worse. We don’t want to be the proverbial frogs in the kettle!
All this to say to church leaders, call a spade a spade. Acknowledge the times. Prepare us for battle. Help us to know who and what we’ve conquered, not so much in the context of typical day-to-day problems, but over the looming evil that stands ready to release its arrows at us in the night (v. 2).
We are very much like the weary disciples sleeping while Jesus prayed, when soon we will be “sifted like wheat.”
I say, “Help us Lord to pray like there is no tomorrow!” And, to stay awake!
4The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
5 The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
And the one who loves violence His soul hates.
6 Upon the wicked He will rain snares;
Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.
7 For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness;
The upright will behold His face. Psalm 11:4-7
Now that the table has been set, Psalm 11 was written by David in a time when he was hunted down by King Saul. Without God’s miraculous help in eluding this demented monarch, he would be dead. You’ve got to believe that those around him who knew he was the rightful anointed king, felt the fate of the nation to be in dire straits. They saw the foundation crumbling (v. 3). Seeing this imminent horrifying threat at their doorstep, David’s top advisors pulled him aside to say he should flee into the mountains (v. 1-3). In David’s response (v. 4-7) we have the desired reaction of God’s people today in light of the dark clouds we see on the horizon.
God is not surprised to see what’s going on, as He sees everything from his lofty vantage point. His position on the throne is one of prescience and preeminence and predominance. There is none wiser, higher or more powerful. David knew this and appropriated all His requisite benefits and protections. “To get to him, you’ll have to come through me,” the Almighty shouts. The ultimate Big Brother.
But we should not be unaware that these difficult times are meant to toughen and teach us. How resilient are we in our faith? Can we stand the heat? This “fiery ordeal” (1 Peter 4:12) may be allowed by God to test our trust in Him. He sees all the issues and outcomes clearly. Do we see the source of our protection, the object of our faith with the same clarity? Do we stand confident that whatever comes our way will be governed by His just and gracious hand? Are we confident that God causes everything for good (Romans 8:28)?
With this point made, the attention is turned to the foreboding fate of those who challenge and defy the Lord God. It will not go well for them. One only thinks of Herod who was struck dead and eaten by worms (Acts 12:23), and the many evil despots to be run through with the sword. And this is merely temporal judgement. For all of eternity evil rulers and their acolytes will suffer unrelenting fiery torment.
We on the other hand will forever see His face (v. 7). So let us not abandon our posts. Let us not head for the hills. We need to stand firm against all the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6:11), for it is he whom we fight. In these trying and perhaps unprecedented times, may we of all people stand resolute and brave against all manner of evil.
”For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 1 Chronicles 16:9.