It is the Lord
Why is this happening? What will happen to me and those I love? Will I get sick? Why does the government recommended cure seem worse than the disease? When will this end and life return to normal? Flee for your lives – or stay put for your lives. The foundations of modern life are teetering. God said, “Be still, and know that I am God.” We would not listen, so with a little virus and a lot of fear, he has made us very quiet.
But I wonder if most of us are. On-line movies and games galore are the rule of the day in most homes. If we come out of this, assuming we do, with the main achievement being that we caught up on our television shows, then worse judgment will have to come. Yes. Judgment. God has done this – read 2 Kings 24:3, Job 2:10, Amos 3:6, Isaiah 45:7, 46:10, and Ephesians 1:11.
When the foundations are destroyed, it is not time to run away and hide – not yet, unless this is the end and you are not covered in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. But then it will be too late to run away and hide. All the frustration and fear questions reveal that we have not yet asked the right question. We have not yet faced God himself and confessed, “Surely at the hand of the Lord this came” (2 Kings 24:3).
Let this little line sink in – all the armies of the Babylonians, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites – the Lord sent them (2 Kings 24:1-2). At his command, these various forces came upon Judah. They did not think about doing the Lord’s will. They were evil idolaters, coveting plunder and territory from Judah’s much-weakened state. But they were raised up by the Lord to punish his wicked people and to chasten the true daughter of Zion, the faithful remnant among them. There is no peace unless we believe this, no explanation, no power to hold fast, and no hope for tomorrow. But if we believe that all our troubles have come from God’s hand, then our duty becomes much clearer, and our peace much greater.
But we must begin with this. If there is no plague-level virus threat, as some say, or if there is, it came from the hand of the Lord. If there is something nefarious going on by the powers that be, as others say, it is the Lord. In trying to figure out our historical whodunits and whys, we forget the answer that was there all the time. The Lord has done it. He has sent the fear – just as he said in Deuteronomy he would do to the enemies his people – strike them with fear (Deut. 11:25). We had better be careful which side of the fear and fretting line we are on. God’s children have nothing to fear; God’s enemies have everything to fear.
And this is one of the most startling things of all. We look for comfort in the midst of the storm, and our Lord Jesus is present with us in the boat. But there is something else to consider beyond our personal comfort. He is the Judge. His throne is in heaven; whether the disease that sickens and kills or the fear that controls and collapses economies, it is the Lord. He has done this.
We cannot expect for those not yet raised from sin’s dead slavery by the power of Jesus Christ to understand this. For them, health and security matter most. All they know is fear, for they are afraid of death. They are afraid of men and feel that nature itself is armed against them. Secularism can try to silence many things, but it cannot silence the conscience. God makes it roar, sometimes with a little microbe or with a run on paper goods. What will happen to me? Is this the end? Is it the end of the world? Conscience begins to tremble, and their fear commences.
God is on his throne judging and trying the hearts of men through these storms. He is saying to us that there is something worth more than our lives on the earth. Stop asking the wrong questions and ask this one: would I give up my life of comfort and security for my God and Savior to be glorified? What if life never returns to “normal?” Are we willing for the Lord to glorify himself and to advance the true, eternal interests of his people, if to do so he has determined to destroy an unbelieving way of life? Are we willing to give up the sinful normal for a scary future, so long as we know that God is judging the world and testing us (Ps. 11:5)? So long as he is glorified, men’s pride and covetousness are rebuked, and perhaps men seek out through many available media the true gospel of Jesus Christ – not the gospel of “everything’s going to be alright” but the true gospel of “repent, lest a worse thing happen to you?”
This is where Psalm 11 is so powerful at this hour. Troubles comes to us; our Savior said that we shall have trouble in the world (v. 1; John 16:33). Some are so terrified that their counsel is flight and hiding – it’s the end of the world, they scream (v. 2). And we think – well, the foundations are destroyed, and what are we to do (v. 3)? Ah, but not the true foundations. They remain immovable.
And what are the true foundations? Not money on easy credit, going here and there as we want, living without a care, and trusting the government to take care of us – these are false foundations, and the sooner we stop trusting them, the sooner we shall look to the Lord again for our daily bread and enjoy greater security – “put no confidence in princes” (Ps. 146:3) –and soon thereafter – “Happy is the man who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Ps. 146:5).
But back to Psalm 11: what are the true foundations? “The Lord is in his holy temple” (v. 4). He is exalted. This earth belongs to him. He sometimes awakens us from deadly slumbers – wake up! I am ruling over you. My throne is in heaven (v. 4). I will judge my enemies. I will also test my people (v. 5). These are hard foundations, so they are secure and emboldening. They are hard foundations, so they will crush unbelievers and test God’s children. He sees and knows all. The wicked are doomed. Repent quickly. When his judgments are in the earth, we must learn righteousness (Isa. 26:9).
It matters not by whose hand they have come – a deadly virus, a fearmongering media, a backroom plan, bold armies, Nebuchadnezzar, the FBI – name your means, your cabal, your devil. God has innumerable arrows in his arsenal to humble the pride of man and bring his children to feel keenly that he alone is our security. But not for the unrepentant and determined sinners. Fire and brimstone are their destiny (v. 6). Secularist atheism hates this truth. The church has grown embarrassed by it, and when you are embarrassed by any morsel of heavenly truth, you will stop preaching, then stop believing, and then forget it altogether.
This world belongs to God. He has given it to his Son (Psalm 2:8 w/ Matt. 28:18-20). Our Lord Jesus will have the preeminence in all things (Col. 1:18). God his Father has given him the name above every name. All men must bow the knee and confess that he is Lord (Phil. 2:9-11). I have not heard our national leaders confessing this – and too few of our spiritual leaders – so worse is before us, if not now, later. For he must reign until all his enemies are made a footstool for his feet.
As he marches and makes war upon his enemies (Rev. 19:11-15), he loves us (Ps. 11:7). His face is upon us. He sees us now as his children; he sees us forever with him in heaven. He knows what we need today to bring us to joy tomorrow. Because he loves us and has joy planned for us, he chastens us (Rev. 3:19). He does not want us to be judged along with the world but to be zealous and repent (1 Cor. 11:31). He loves righteousness and will defend the rule of his Son. He loves us and will wisely shepherd us, test our faith, and make us beautiful in faith and holiness. It is the Lord who does these things. Let us fall into his hand, for with him there is abundant mercy (2 Sam. 24:14).