By Rene Caza
Recently a breakfast conversation with some friends turned to a recently published book on the life Dietrich Bonheoffer (a christian martyred during WW2). As we talked about this larger than life man someone mentioned the fact that it seems so bizarre that no matter how often the people around Hitler, military staff or associates tried to kill him he always came through the plot unscathed. Another gentleman responded that there was a barrier or defence from the devil himself around Hitler that protected him from harm or assassination attempts which was countered with ‘how can that be if God is in control’. All of this made for good discussion; however as with any thought provoking dialogue one comes away musing over the scriptural truth of the comments ventured at the table.
I certainly had my ideas which were directly in line with the God is in control idea, and if He is in control then no devil will in any way be able to shield Hitler or anyone else for that matter from God’s purposes if God decides to pull the plug. Certainly this is a topic that branches out into a number of directions, for instance, God’s sovereignty and the parameters of Satan’s power and authority on this earth and in the heavens. I think another underlying issue that begs consideration is the idea of mans free will to choose, thus his capability to throw his hat into either camp.
Does the devil have power and authority to protect a person’s life, and if he could why would he in the first place even if that individual was evil and doing the devil’s bidding? There is no scriptural evidence that would validate that idea, and I doubt any exist by the overwhelming number of scriptures that prove otherwise. The devil, although he may go about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour has been for the most part stripped of all power. (1Peter 5:8) (Col.2:15)
The devil does a good job of penetrating our defensive hedge because we either open the door for him to just walk in by our own sinful practices or he slithers in through our unredeemed thought life where he is able to blend in to the mental landscape undetected. Even in our sinful condition we are never allies with him, his one intention for God’s highest creation is our ultimate destruction
The story of Job provides an insight in regards to the parameters set forth by God Himself which highlights Satan’s limited authority. We need to keep in mind that Satan is not God’s rival or enemy he is in all reality an instrument for God’s use. The primary aspect that stands out about Job’s trials are that they are initiated by God, it is God who brings up Job by name and after a short exchange gives Satan permission with limitations on how far he is allowed to test Job. Satan is not permitted to go beyond this point and he knows it, he provides no argument to the contrary. In the initial conversation God had with Satan, the prince of darkness brings up the fact that he cannot touch Job because there is a ‘hedge’ around him, a protection of some kind that prevents the devil from attacking Job at the devils own impulses. This fact should be of comfort to any Christian who fears any attack from the pits of hell. We need to realize that we like Job are righteous not of our own doing but by the blood of Jesus and we are under the watchful eye of the Father Himself. He does not sleep or nod off somewhere thus God is always vigilant to watch over His children every second of the day.
Therefore if God provides a hedge of protection for us, Satan must get His permission to penetrate it to stage any limited attack on one of God’s children. This should illustrate clearly enough ‘who’ does what in the area of providing any protection at all and that goes for anyone, even Hitler though he was one evil dude. We can all remember times and events when God was watching over us and protecting us long before we ever knew Him or were serving Him. We may not know why or provide an explanation for His purposes nonetheless, I for one am thankful.
This brings me to chapter nine in the book of Romans, which once again clearly sheds more light on God’s purposes for individuals.
In a nutshell as you read through the chapter you are struck with the fact that God alone reserves the right to do as He pleases with every human being no matter who they are. For the Christian man or woman this could pose a problem; we have been so ingrained with the idea that the devil alone is responsible for all mishaps, adversity, suffering or any other negative occurrence in one’s life. The Bible blows those concepts and teachings right out of the water, even to the point of enlightening us to the fact that it is not a matter of whether one has done anything good or bad and may be deserving (in our minds anyway) of some bad events to happen in their lives.
Romans 9:13-21 teaches that God loved Jacob and hated Esau or detested him and this was before they were born according to God’s call and not anything that these twins might have done or not done but according to God’s purpose and choice.(v11)
Again we read in verses 17, 18 concerning Pharaoh, “for this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth. So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”These verses are not ambiguous, they state a very clear and direct reasoning from God’s point of view, we may find it hard to accept because in our minds it seems unfair however verse 19 predicts our state of mind when it says” you will say to me then , ‘why does He still find fault? For who can resist His will? Again in verse 20 and 21,”On the contrary, who are you O man, who answers back to God? The thing moulded will not say to the moulder, why did you make me like this, will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honourable use; and another for common use?
We can go on to highlight King Sennacherib in Isaiah; this is another excellent illustration on how God rules over man and into every detail as He purposes according to His plans. God declares through Isaiah that he has set aside King Sennacherib that he should go forth and turn fortified cities into ruinous heaps that the inhabitants’ strength would fail and they would be put to shame. God used this King as one would use a tool to accomplish a purpose. Sennacherib was an instrument to administer judgement on certain nations on behalf of God and not the devil.
Lastly we cannot forget Cyrus in Isaiah 45, this heathen King who God on two occasions in the same chapter reiterates that you ( Cyrus) do not know Me ( God).In my own words this is the basic message you can read it for from chapter 45. God says through Isaiah that God will take Him by the right hand to subdue nations and to lose the loins of kings, to open doors so that the gates cannot be shut. God would go before him to make smooth the rough places and that men everywhere would know that there is no other god but this God and this would all be done through a heathen King. Even God’s own people and nation were judged by God’s servant Nebuchadnezzar again a heathen King but an instrument and servant.
Often as believers we continue to limit God and His ability to orchestrate whatever means He wants to bring about in regards to change in us or in the world. God can lift one government up and abase another and in our view and estimation what might be happening today in our current events are not the results of some demonically inspired individual or government but rather events in the hands of a Big God. From the little sparrow that falls to the ground to the number of hairs on our head nothing escapes His gaze. Yet we fret and worry about so many things that only cause us grief trying to figure God out and His mode of operation.
This brings me to the last point here that really hits close to home and that is; does God allow bad or negative things to happen in my life or are they from the devil? I cover this topic in depth in my book “An Outdated Gospel”, ‘The setting of the cross in the West’. Briefly, I would mention that these issues are all interrelated. So often here in the North American Church we have come to view anything negative or uncomfortable as far as circumstances and issues that pop up in our lives as from the devil based on decades of preaching and teaching which ministered to our flesh and not our spirit man.
We have made the devil along with principalities and powers almost equal to God in their attributes causing Christians not only to despair at times but to wage a futile warfare against them, not necessarily led by God’s Holy Spirit, which turns us away from a correct focus and saps us of much needed spiritual stamina. Many see the devil behind every problem and issue that confront us, whether he may be behind some or few he is still only an instrument in the hand of God Almighty and in whatever circumstance I may find myself I want to be able to come to the place of rest knowing no accidents or coincidences catch God by surprise or off guard. I am in His hands and this is the safest and most secure place to be UNLESS I myself am running out from underneath the protection He gives all His Saints and into areas of disobedience and self appointed agendas dreamed up out of my own imagination.
The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear… (Ps 27) We are His, every waking and sleeping moment, when we pray for protection and when we fail or forget to pray. We think so often we have to maintain this prayer shield around us so no harm will come to us, I would argue that long before we were ever born we have been in the palm of His hand, His callings and purposes for us have been established in Him long ago(2 Tim 1:9)
We have diminished His power, purposes and His grace in our own minds and in our experience when taking on all these so called invisible enemies that harangue us. We may be swinging wildly and punching at shadows trying to beat down the devil , all the while God is interested in subduing us, trying to bring us to an end of ourselves. Sadly we may not be aware that our very own lofty ‘spirituality’ may not allow us to admit our true needs and thus not allowing God to be gracious and generous to provide, the hallmarks of His nature and not our own.
Please do not misunderstand me, I am not saying that we should not pray or just kick back on our laurels and coast our way along. Nor am I saying that the devil is no threat to us, on the contrary yes he is but again I am reminded of Job and the hedge of protection around him. Under the shadow of His wings (God) I am safe and secure but outside of that place I will find myself in devil’s crosshairs.
This wonderful God at times and for reasons beyond our understanding allows us to face and experience suffering, adversity, misunderstanding and trials that He would purge our self serving nature and mature us into a more mature Christian that is being weaned from our long history of a self absorbed lifestyle. Despite our crying and objections our God still rules in our affairs and in the affairs of men everywhere, answering our prayers to make us more into the image of Jesus Christ.
It’s about time that we let God have His way with us.
Check Rene Caza’s blog and his new book “An Outdated Gospel” at www.canadianplumbline.com