In the early 80’s we heard of a young man who regularly preached the gospel in a certain park in Southern California. Some were annoyed but others enraged. Those who hated Jesus and the call to repentance decided to silence the messenger. He was murdered.
Could God have protected this man? Of course, for nothing is too hard for God. However, I’ve had some questions about this particular incident and my own boldness and lack of boldness. Is boldness always from God or can we simply spout off when He wants silence? If this man was bold because of God, did God use it to lead him to his death?
Are there Christians that God is protecting by not giving them that Holy Spirit boldness? Jesus says never cast our pearls before swine lest they turn on us (Matthew 7:6). If I want to speak out and feel a restraint that is not fear, is that God keeping me from danger? Or am I making excuses for my lack of boldness? Why can some preach without persecution and hundreds are slaughtered each week for doing the same thing?
This morning I read about God’s protection for His Son when Jesus was a small child, likely about two years of age...
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” (Matthew 2:13)
The devotional writer asks questions too. Since Christ is born in me, isn’t my life precious because of the One who lives in me? If so, will the destroyer of souls will try to destroy His testimony by destroying me? I know that Satan tries to prevent me from telling others about Jesus, His forgiveness and the eternal life He offers. God can protect me, for we live in a land that has laws against killing people for their faith or for any other reason. But then I think about that young man…
God protected Jesus by sending Him with His family to Egypt. In the Old Testament, God’s people were sent to Egypt to protect them from death also. There is symbolism about fleeing to Egypt. Egypt becomes a picture of living in the world, of being just like everyone else and not standing out as a Christian. Is it possible that living in the world could be a God-allowed thing to protect His children? Even if that were so, I know that those who stay there too long will find themselves in a place of bondage. The world is not friendly toward the Son of God or His followers.
More questions. Does God hide His most vulnerable children today? Are there Christians who are hidden in the world because boldness (which is natural for those filled with the Holy Spirit) would bring them to an untimely death? Or is worldliness just an excuse?
I’ve no answers for these questions only that God wants me to speak up in the power of the Spirit and trust Him regarding persecution. The rest of what He is doing is hidden to me. Those who seem to be His children but seldom speak of Him are none of my business except to exhort and encourage them as God gives me opportunity. I cannot make excuses for them or for myself when it comes to lack of obedience.
I know also that there is a day coming when they shall say, “They are dead which sought the young child’s life” (Matthew 2:20). In the New Testament that meant that Jesus’ family was is free to return from Egypt. It also hints that there will be a day, perhaps an eternal day, where those who hate the gospel and reject the Son of God will be no more. When that happens, God’s people will no longer need protection or excuses. We will freely proclaim that Jesus is Lord.