Since the Supreme Court’s narrow decision to strike down the historical, and biblical, understanding of marriage throughout the United States there has been, understandably, a rising sense of concern among Christians. We worry about what life will be like in this new age. Will our views be so marginalized that we cannot express them at work, in school, or in public? Will the government label historic Christian teaching about marriage as a hate crime? Will we be forced to compromise our faith or lose our jobs? What kind of world will our children and grandchildren inherit from us?
While these concerns are to some extent practical and legitimate, as we look to the future we should do so without fear. God’s believers have often faced uncertain, threatening, times and done so without fear for one simple reason: God’s promises.
Whether it was Abram facing a journey to an unknown land, Moses leading an exodus through an unknown wilderness, Joshua facing an unknown enemy in a strange land or Jeremiah facing the unknowns of a Babylonian invasion, biblical faith has carried God’s people through each major crises.
Take Joshua’s leadership into Canaan, for example. There were many reasons for God’s people to be afraid. Moses, who had led them for decades, was dead; they were entering an unknown country; they were fighting an unknown foe, who once had been described as giants. There was more than enough reason to fear!
As God addressed Joshua before the start of this great and terrible adventure, he gave Joshua several assurances. God promised that he would give Joshua the land (Joshua 1:3). God promised victory in battle (1:5). God promised that he would use Joshua to successfully lead his people (1:6). God promised that if Joshua were to obey his Law that God would grant him success (1:8). Perhaps most comforting of all, God promised that he would always be present with Joshua. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (1:9) Clearly, God’s assurances helped Joshua face an unknown future in an unknown land facing unknown foes with a strong and victorious faith!
While we are not Joshua about to enter warfare in Canaan, many of those same assurances do apply to us and should move us to a courageous and strong faith in our current crisis.
God has promised us that we will inherit the land. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5) We should live with this confidence: that no matter how long unrighteousness prevails in our land, the day is coming, certainly when Christ returns, that righteousness will reign here again. As the Psalmist said: “The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous.” (Ps. 125:3) We must keep this long perspective in the midst of our current crises: The meek will yet inherit the earth.
God has promised us victory in the fight for truth. No matter how many Presidents and Supreme Court Justices declare it otherwise, God has declared that marriage is a life-long covenant between one man and one woman. Jesus said: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt. 19:4-6) This truth cannot be changed by human fiat. Divine truth will eventually prevail, even if it awaits final judgment. Moreover, even now God’s truth prevails in various ways. While much of the Western world has fallen prey to this error, most of the countries in the world still recognize the natural truth behind God’s design for man and woman. Further, even in countries where single-gender “marriage” has been the norm for years the Bible-believing church has stood strong, as a faithful-witness for truth. While, like Moses we may not live to see it, God’s truth will yet prevail. The Word of the Lord stands forever.
God has promised us his blessing for obedience to his Word. Jesus said: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (Jn. 14:23) Keeping God’s Word today, including his teaching about subjects unpopular in our world, still carries with it the promise of blessings from God. Not that he promises us an easy life. Indeed, “All who desire to lead a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim. 3:12) But in our obedience to his Word we will know God’s love and deep fellowship with him. Obedience to God rather than man is always the more blessed way to live.
Finally, God has promised us his presence in the midst of these uncertain times. Jesus said: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20) No matter how much our world, or people who were once our friends, or beloved family members, hate us and leave us for holding onto to biblical truth, there is one who will never leave us, who will never forsake us. With God’s presence we find the comfort, the strength, and the courage to face whatever lies ahead. The future, perhaps unknown to us, was long ago accounted for in God’s great plan of redemption. He will walk us through that future, every step of the way, holding our hand. This is our greatest source of comfort and strength!
While we might be concerned as we face an uncertain future that appears to us be filled with giant enemies and unknown battles, our comfort should be the same as Joshua’s. God is with us, God is for us, and God’s Word still abides forever. Let us then be strong and courageous, not timid and shaking with fear. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Author: Rev. Dr. Tom Hawkes