If we are not careful to let the scriptures shape our thinking, we will say things about God and His church that are anti Biblical. This is especially true when we believers endure trials in their lives. The book of James reminds God’s people that we should be quick to hear the Word of God, and slow to speak our own speculations and opinions (James 1:19). Because when we do not begin with hearing the Word of God, it leads to speaking or acting rashly. And rash thinking leads to false speculations, which culminate in fear and anger.
The friends of Job Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar are an example of people who interpret the circumstances in front of their eyes through secular thinking. Their friend Job had experienced a horrible tragedy in losing his family, his crops, and his health all in one day. Looking at the circumstances, they presumed upon the mind of God. They spoke for God in tell Job that the Lord was punishing job. And they spoke harshly of the Lord’s servant job in condemning him for sins that they only speculated about.
But as we see in reading Job, the Lord was not punishing Job. God was molding Job. He was teaching job to trust Him more deeply, and to know Him more intimately. God knew that the way to accomplish these two thing was to allow extreme affliction in Job’s life. God used the trial not to punish Job, but to grow him in his faith.
“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;” Job 42:5.
Just like the friends of Job, we can just as easily wrongly interpret our circumstances. Just like the friends of Job, we can presume upon the intentions of God, and begin to speak harshly of the servants of God and His church when we forget the wisdom of God and become wise in our own eyes.
In the midst of this trial of pandemic that we are currently facing, many believers in Christ are falling into the mold of the friends of Job. First, they are presuming upon the mind and intentions of God. Recently there has been much talk about conspiracy theories, end time prophesy, and speculation about what God is doing. Some say this is saying that our pandemic is a fulfillment of the book of Revelation. Some are proposing that God is judging the world for it’s sins.
Is this pandemic the beginning of the end? Is God judging His people? Maybe. Then again, maybe it is being used by the Lord to draw people to Himself. Maybe God is using this pandemic to bring His people to their knees and reset their priorities. Maybe the Lord is working as He did in the life of Job to bring about great revival.
In the 16th century, Christians like Martin Luther speculated that the pope of the Roman Catholic Church was the antichrist of Revelation. During World War II, many believers espoused that Adolph Hitler was the antichrist and that the one world government mentioned in the book of Revelation. Even the disciples of Christ thought that their generation would be witnesses to the second coming of Christ. Speculations and theories are not new to God’s people. The friends of Job would attest to this.
The truth is, no one knows what the Lord is doing except the Lord. Our current trials may indeed be a setting of the stage for His glorious return. Then again, the Lord may tarry for a dozen more lifetimes. But the church of God is not commissioned by the Lord to preach speculations and conspiracy theories to the lost world. We are commissioned to preach Christ and all that He has commanded. As believers, our message does not change when uncertain times come our way. We have one message and one commission. We are not called to preach our ideas and theories about what God is doing. We are to preach the Gospel.
“You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.” 2 Corinthians 4:5.
The lost will not be saved by our self imposed opinions and speculations about what God is doing in the world. They will only be saved if we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Not only can God’s people fall into the trap of presuming upon God’s intentions in times of peril, but we can also fall into the trap of wrongly accusing God’s servant. Just as Job’s friends turned a critical eye towards and drew false conclusions about him, in the same way we must guard our hearts in our day against this folly.
As it pertains to our current Covid-19 situation, there are some who stating that the church should have no fear and that believers should continue meeting despite the threat of mass infection. They are some believers who are mistaking the church’s caution for cowardice. Once again, desperately need the scriptures to correct our mistaken views and accusations.
In the book of Acts, Jesus said to His disciples before ascending into Heaven that they were to go and be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Jerusalem was the home of the disciples, and they had not ventured very far outside of their comfort zones. So how did Jesus accomplish prodding His church to spread out from Jerusalem and take the Gospel to the ends of the earth? The answer is, He sent persecution upon the church.
As a result of persecution, the church scattered in the dispersion throughout the ancient world. And as they scattered, they proclaimed Christ to the world. Imagine for a moment that when the persecution began, the first century believers had said, “Let us not be cowards, we will stand our ground in the face of death and continue to meet in public.” They would have not gone to the ends of the earth, and the believers would have been exterminated in their home town of Jerusalem. But that was not the plan of God. He intended them to be cautious. And their caution led to the fulfillment of His Great Commission.
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17.
Not long after the Apostle Paul was converted, he was being hunted by the Jewish leaders who sought to kill him for preaching Christ. Paul did not spit in the face of danger and continue to enter into dangerous places. Rather, the disciples aided Paul in fleeing away from the danger, hiding him in a basket and sneaking Paul out of the city. Paul’s caution is not to be mistaken for cowardice. He was being wise in realizing the threat. If Paul had defied his dangerous circumstances, he would have been captured and killed. But God used his caution to fulfill Christ’s mission.
“When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.” Acts 9:23-25.
The book of Proverbs is all about Godly wisdom. And the writer give the church solid direction in saying that we should not be a people that through caution to the wind, but rather we should remember that it is quite possible that the Lord is redirecting the steps of His church in the trial. In His providence, the Lord guides His people at times through the guardrails of trial. We would be wise not to hope those guardrails.
“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” Proverbs 22:3.
In the midst of our current pandemic, believers are called to rest and remember. We are to rest in the knowledge of who God is. He is good, just, and Holy. And He does all things for the good of those that are called by His name. And we are to remember that we are not called to presume upon the mind of God. Believers are not to live in speculation and preach hearsay to the world. Our message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And also to remember that God has often altered the lives of His people to redirect their steps. The bride of Christ is to be cautious and wise, carrying the message of Jesus with us wherever He may lead. Don’t trust in what you see in your circumstance. Trust in what you know about God.