March 8, 2009

Steve Collins

Many Christians see that hard times are coming. The biblical prophecies have warned about an unprecedented, global, end-time crisis, and we may be entering the early phases of that crisis now. Indeed, one does not need to be a believer to understand hard times are coming. Any non-believer can see it easily just by watching the news and reading internet reports.
Based on my emails and Christian links sent to me, I see two camps of modern Christian thought on how Christians should react to this crisis. One camp says we should simply “have faith” and rely on God to protect us in the future.  An extreme version of this viewpoint maintains that it is a failure of faith to make any physical preparations for the crisis. The other camp believes that people should make physical preparations now to prepare for very difficult times ahead of us. This blog will make it clear I am in the latter camp, and that the scriptures support that view.
Remember Hurricane Katrina and the survivors who lacked everything and awaited rescue from helicopters and hand-outs from the government? Due to historic debt and the financial crisis, the government is in far weaker condition now that it was in the time of Hurricane Katrina. You may be “on your own” for some time in the event of a local disaster. In the event of a national disaster, you may be on your own for months. Even FEMA advises citizens to have some stockpiles of essentials to be able to “be on your own” for days in the event of an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, etc.
Proverbs 22:3 warns: “A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself: but the simple pass on and are punished.” Proverbs 6:6 advises mankind: “Go to the ant, you sluggard, consider her ways and be wise, which…provides her meat in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest.” These scriptures advise believers to foresee future dangers and prepare for them in advance while they can do so. God equips some animals to store up food supplies for winter, but he gives human beings minds with which we should be able to see dangers coming in the future. God warned Joseph of a terrible famine that was coming in seven years in order to give him time to make prodigious preparations for seven years to prepare for it (Genesis 41:46-49).  Joseph did not “lack faith” by making advance preparations; he showed faith by acting on the warnings and making those preparations!  If Joseph had not done so, Jacob’s family and many others would have starved to death. God gave Noah a 120-year advance warning about the impending Deluge, and Noah and his family acted on God’s warning and built the Ark (Genesis 6:3, 14-22 and Hebrews 11:7). God gave Lot and his family advance warning to get out of Sodom before it was destroyed. The biblical record is clear that God expects his people to act on his warnings.  The Bible is full of warnings about famines, pestilences, wars, persecutions and evil times which will befall the earth in the last days. God has already given us many warnings in his Word! Like biblical personalities of old, we should act on those warnings.
One reader of this website sent me the first link, a warning from Christian pastor David Wilkerson that God’s judgment is about to fall in the form of a severe crisis. This is not an alarmist warning–one can come to this same conclusion simply by reading the financial pages. Whether his timing proves to be correct or not, his counsel for believers to have at least a 30-day supply of food and necessities is wise advice and is based on the wisdom of the scriptures in Proverbs cited above. A disaster needing that kind of preparation could be precipitated by an earthquake in California or the New Madrid fault zones, a mega-hurricane, a financial collapse in which the dollar loses most or all of its value, a government-declared “bank holiday” of unknown length or a war in the Mideast which paralyzes oil shipments and banking transactions for a considerable period of time. Any number of things could cause a sudden, global crisis. Another possibility is a bird-flu pandemic or some other kind of global plague. Another reader sent me the second link that the alertness of a Canadian lab discovered the presence of live avian-flu cultures wrongly mixed among vaccinations vs. that very threat. If these active cultures had been disseminated in the form of vaccines, a mass pandemic could have struck as a result of either human error or intentional terrorism.
Believers may have to rely on God for help when sudden, unexpected disasters or threats overtake them. However, I think it is “tempting God” to do nothing and wait for him to protect us from an impending danger when he gives us plenty of advance warnings. Christ himself declared that it was “tempting God” to deliberately place yourself in a dangerous situation to see if God will protect or rescue you (Matthew 4:6-7).  By refusing to make preparations when God has given advance warnings, is one not “tempting God” by ignoring God’s warnings? Believers should also remember Paul’s strenuous warning in I Timothy 5:8 that one “denies the faith and is worse than an infidel” if we do not “provide” for the needs of our own household. If God gives us numerous advance warnings of dangerous and hard times in the latter days (which he has), should we not take God seriously and prepare for those anticipated dangers (as did Noah and Joseph) so our households are prepared for the danger? 
If you believe the biblical warnings of famines, pestilences and severe challenges in the latter-days just ahead of us, then you can see the evil times ahead of time. Proverbs 22:3 tells us that if we can see those dangers ahead of time, we should prepare for those hard times. You know what the needs of you and/or your family will be if a disaster (or disasters) strike. You should act on God’s counsel and make preparations now…before the hard times hit. This is not a “lack of faith.” I think it is exercising proper faith to take God at his word and act on those warnings to meet difficult times. I don’t know when these times will hit, but we know the Bible warns us that these hard times are coming.
Not only should you make preparations for the well-being of yourself and your loved ones, it is also wise to make preparations to help others who will be in need when hard times come (Ephesians 4:28). Remember that it is “more blessed” to be the giver than the receiver (Acts 20:35) in a time of need.