As I reflected on what I had just read about radical Hindus terrorizing Christian in India and how the government has turned a deaf ear to their plight because India is predominantly Hindu religion, it made me angry, but not surprised. The people doing this as well as those in predominantly Islamic countries all claim to be doing these hateful things in the name of their god. That’s when I heard the title of today’s message. It’s like a light went on in my spirit. When have Christians ever, I’m not speaking of zealots or religious Christianity. I’m talking about born again believers in Jesus Christ, ever had to defend our God in this way?
Jesus warned us that there would come a time when those who murdered Christians would think they were doing God a favor. Saul (Paul) thought he was. And so do these people.
“They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor Me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.”
John 16:2-4 ESV
But the true God does not or ever will, need or ask for defending. He’s quite capable of defending Himself. We stand in defense of the Gospel but never in defense of God. If people have to defend their god and religion by killing others who do not believe as they do, then their god is weak and defenseless. He lacks power and authority and shouldn’t be worshipped. They serve a god who kills but cannot make alive. Our God does both. Deuteronomy 32:39. He fights for and defends us. Deuteronomy 20:4; Romans 8:31; Joshua 1:9; Psalm 44:5; Deuteronomy 3:22; Joshua 23:10; Exodus 14:13-14. Nowhere in scripture will you ever read where God or Jesus asks us to defend Him by taking a life. He fights His battles and defends us. 2 Chronicles 20:15
The proof of this can be found in the stand-off between Elijah and the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal as well as another four hundred that worshipped asherah . Let’s read together.
“When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” and with the stones he built an altar in the Name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water. And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your Word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.” And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.”
1 Kings 18:17-40 ESV
Whose God answered? Elijah didn’t stand in defense of his God, there was no need to. God stood in the defense of His Name. So if you need to defend your god, he’s no god at all! He should be quite capable of defending his own name. That’s what a God with power and authority does. We’re the ones needing defending. I recall a friend of mine, a pastor, saying that he was offended and angry when he watched some people on television saying nasty things about the Lord. He said immediately the Lord spoke up, and asked him why he was offended? He replied, “don’t you hear what they’re saying about you?” The Lord replied, “They’re talking about Me not you! I’m quite capable of defending Myself.” He doesn’t need our defense or help. Has He ever called you to help Him hold the sun and moon in place while He balances the other billions of galaxies? Has He ever asked you for your help? Never! Every request has always been for our benefit. Any god or religion that asks you to kill innocent people because they blasphemed or insulted them or their book, is a poor excuse for a god and a wannabe at best. If they’re god, then let them prove it by defending their own name.
When the Israelites began questioning God’s choice for leading them to the land of promise, Moses didn’t try to defend God’s Name. He didn’t even try to make a case. The true GOD heard what was being said and showed up.
“Then Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the Lord appeared to all the congregation. And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” And they fell on their faces and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and will you be angry with all the congregation?” “Say to the congregation, Get away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.” Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins.” So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones. And Moses said, “Hereby you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. If these men die as all men die, or if they are visited by the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the Lord.” And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. And all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up!” And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men offering the incense.”
Numbers 16:19-22, 24-35 ESV
Who did all that? GOD! The true God! The LIVING God! Moses didn’t lift a finger in his defense, God defended Moses and His Name. Persecution in the name of a god is not only satanic in nature, it’s deception of the highest order. People who kill in the name of a god have been brainwashed into believing that their religion is superior to others. But if that were the case, us poor slobs should be pitied not hated. If their god is so great, what are they afraid of? The truth is found in this one word. Dominance. They want to control the narrative. These gods have no power at all because they aren’t God. They need people to defend them. Our God defends his people. False religion is not a new phenomenon, as you can see by the scriptures I’ve shared and others. God is not in a contest to prove who He is. He just IS! That’s why He has no beginning or ending. He always was and always is and always will be the ONLY GOD. He is exercising great restraint right now. His longsuffering patient mercy is on full display right now. But He’s neither dead or deaf. And in due time He will defend His Name. But it won’t be through us.
If you’re trying to defend God as a Christian, stop it! If you’re offended by those who speak what they have no idea about, Repent. He doesn’t want us doing either. He has proven that He’s quite capable of defending Himself. We have but one responsibility. Jesus told us what it is.
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I Am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 ESV
Please read the entire chapter of Numbers 16 as well as 1 Kings 18. We’re not defenders of God or religion, we’re defenders of the Gospel message. See Philippians 1. The persecuted Christians aren’t suffering for their defense of a god. They’re suffering for their faith in the God, that’s different from their tormentors. They’re suffering for believing in Jesus Christ as the only way, truth and life. Their tormentors are persecuting them in defense of their gods. What a contrast. But there’s no contest as Elijah proved on Mount Carmel. Our God is His own defense. Let’s pray for the persecuted Christians, that the Lord continues to show Himself strong on their behalf. That their faith remains strong in the face of trials and great suffering. The apostle Paul admonished us with these words.
“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Hebrews 13:3 ESV
And our Savior’s words;
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Matthew 5:43-46 ESV
Let’s join our persecuted brothers and sisters in standing up against tyranny wherever we find it, but let’s show who the true God is not by defending His Name, but by defending His Word. When they know the truth, they too will be set free.
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit
November 23, 2021