God’s protection for believers

  • Question 206, from Michelle, USA

    If God favours a person and has a mission for them, will God protect this person from others who want to harm or stop them?

    This is a hard question to answer as it draws up questions of free will and whether God prevents people from acting freely to prevent them causing harm.

    There are examples in the Bible of God protecting leaders and prophets of Israel from harm, often by causing confusion amongst their enemies. For example, in 1 Samuel chapter 14, soldiers in the Philistine army turns on each other in confusion before the Israelite army arrive.

    There are also instances of diving intervention to rescue people from their enemies. For example, in the book of Acts, Paul and Silas are imprisoned and an earthquake shook the foundations of the prison so they could escape (see Acts chapter 16, verses 16-40).

    However, there are other situations where it appears God does not save people from persecution. For example, Joseph is falsely accused of sexual misconduct and is thrown into prison (Genesis chapter 39). The nation of Israel itself is conquered by the Babylonians and the people taken into the Exile. The first Christians were often persecuted.

    Jesus actually warns his followers that instead of being under divine protection, following him would very likely lead to harm.  When Jesus sends out his disciples on missionary work in Matthew chapter 10, he says this:

     “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. … you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. …

    “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.  You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another…” (Taken from verses 16-23)

    The important thing, according to Jesus is to be faithful in trying to carry out the task. This is what is important – to ‘stand firm to the end’. Later in Matthew chapter 10, Jesus says:

    “Do not be afraid of people who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of God who can destroy both soul and body in hell…. Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.“ (Verses 28, 32-33)

    In conclusion then, being given a mission by God does not mean that you will not face challenges, obstructions and even persecution. These are tests of faithfulness and it is more important to remain faithful than to achieve the aims of the mission.

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