Of Protecting Us From a Danger We Do Not Understand
My big white friendly dogs are mountain dogs, with strong bodies and a love of adventure. They want to run for miles every day, through other people’s property. But five people have now warned me that it is legal here to shoot strange dogs in your yard. Wagging their tails furiously, Murphy and Angus have no idea of the danger they’re in, as I apologetically load them into my car to bring them home. Because I know the threat to their lives is real, I tighten the thick black collar with the black box and long metal prongs to each one’s neck. I dread the mixture of hurt, fear and confusion I will see in their soft brown eyes as they suffer the series of shocks and warnings … but this is my desperate attempt to keep them within the boundary where they’ll be safe.
God keeps using this picture to explain His heart to me, wanting me to understand the necessity of stern discipline. It is painful… not only for us, but for Him. He tells me that we are in danger, and He is doing what He must to protect us from a threat that it is unthinkable, unbearable to Him.
Both our dogs love us, but it will go easier for Murphy, because he is more mature, knowing and trusting us better. He bows his big white head in submission as I come with the collar. It is harder for Angus, young and having a lot of fear. He lacks the depth of experience with us that would steady him… so he runs and dodges wildly whenever he sees me coming with the collar.
There came a time when David, the shepherd king of Judah, was putting his people in great jeopardy. God needed to instill a respect for the boundaries. Given a choice between three different judgments, David bowed his head in submission to whatever came from the hand of God… trusting His mercy and intent. David’s depth of experience with God steadied him. That relationship is our greatest need. No one can give it to you; you have to respond to and recognize the ways that God is trying to build that relationship with you. Nothing can keep you from the relationship God wants with you, except you yourself.
No matter where we are
the word of God comes to find us,
to bring us from where we are (immaturity, not knowing Him)
to where we need to be.
In Isaiah, Chapter 3 several messages leapt out at me.
The Lord is going to remove both supply and support, the whole supply of bread, and the whole supply of water. Years ago, as I laid down the book One Second After, having just finished it, the Lord told me I would see catastrophic food shortages like those described in that book. This written word confirmed that spoken word from years ago.
The people will suffer from the removal of competent leaders, oppressed by capricious children who will rule over them. How fitting a description of what we are experiencing right now. But do we recognize it for what it is?
The people display their sin like Sodom; they do not even conceal it… they have brought evil on themselves. Sin is an inner drive compelling us across boundaries into danger we do not understand; it is evil BECAUSE it is a threat to us. When we plunge across the boundaries we bring harm on ourselves.
The Lord arises to contend, and stands to judge the people. Because He loves us, because we’ve gone too far, because we are at risk, because it is tearing His heart out, God is stepping in. Painful consequences are the just moral means by which a loving God teaches us the boundaries. The severity of the measures He takes reflects the severity of the danger we are in. He uses consequences to save us from something worse.
Dumitru Duduman is a Romanian pastor who smuggled Bibles into his country at great risk to his own life, under the Communist regime in power at that time. This video tells his story. Please listen to the host’s introduction, to ground yourself in why you should consider what Dumitru has to say. If you must, fast forward through the first third of Dumitru’s message, while he is teaching from Scripture… but then listen to every word of his testimony, as he describes how God miraculously worked with him. This Romanian pastor can only tell the story he does, because of the faith he lives. He has suffered terribly… shaming the name-it-and-claim it prosperity “gospel” we pay homage to here in America. But the reason I am including this video is the warning this man brings to America, because God loves us. It is an old video whose time has come. He expresses what God has told him in the language and symbols of his own experience. In the grimness of his warning, there is the comfort of a promise. Dumitru asked God what would happen to His people here, when missiles strike and cities burn. God assured him that He is well able to care for His own, as he cared for His children in the fiery furnace and Daniel in the lions’ den.
Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, For they will eat the fruit of their actions.