WHEN TERROR STRIKES…..

To the elect chosen in Christ, greetings in the precious Name of Jesus:

You shall not be afraid of the terror by night Psalm 91:5

Beloved, the horrific events of Resurrection Sunday 2019 have shaken us all as a nation. It has also shaken the faith of many. Christians were celebrating the resurrection of their Saviour in a church when they were killed in cold blood by terrorists. Where was God on that day? Why did He allow such things to happen? How do we remain steadfast in faith when such things happen? All are good and valid questions. This blog post seeks to answer such questions and encourage you to continue to fight a good fight of faith.

Why do things like this happen?

Beloved, Ephesians 1:11 says God does everything according to the counsel of His will. What does this mean? In Isaiah 46:9-11 the Lord Almighty says, ‘Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed, I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.’

Beloved, God has predestined people, events and circumstances. Nothing happens outside His preordained plan. The wisdom of this plan only He understands. We may not understand it. We may not even agree with it. However, that is His plan. His will. His counsel. He created all things. He controls all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5 ‘As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do now know the works of God who makes everything.’

Many of us have this opinion in our mind that if something good happens then it is from God, if something bad happens then it is from the devil. If this view is correct then the devil has equal power to God. The devil can do whatever he wants and God cannot stop him. However, this is not true according to scripture. Yes, the devil comes only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). However, God is sovereign. He is Almighty and above all things. Isaiah 45:5 ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me.’ Christ has all authority in Heaven and on earth. Matthew 28:18 ‘And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth”.

Now satan has been given temporary permission to deceive and influence the affairs of this world by God Himself until the Second Coming of Christ (Matthew 4:8-10, Revelation 12:7-9, Ephesians 2:2, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28). Still for all, satan cannot do anything to the church without God granting him permission first (Luke 22:53, John 19:11, 1 John 5:18). Take for example Job. The devil could not touch Job without God first removing His hedge of protection from Job (Job 1:10-12). When the Lord permitted only satan was able to attack Job’s family and possessions and even bring sickness upon Job.

When Job was faced with the tragic loss of all his children what does he say to his wife? Job 2:9-10 ‘Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.’

So, does this mean that God permits adversity in our lives? Isaiah 45:7 ‘I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.’ The Lord Himself says I make peace and create calamity. What does the book of Job say in chapter 42 verse 11 after all the adversity that Job had to face came to an end? – “Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for ALL THE ADVERSITY THAT THE LORD HAD BROUGHT upon him.” Is this too hard a truth for you to accept beloved? Let me explain even further about the counsel of God’s will.

It is God’s decision

Beloved, can a good God ordain evil to happen? Can a merciful God ordain judgement? Can a God of blessing permit adversity? These are questions that often run through our minds. Let us look at what scripture has to say.

Beloved, the Lord gives Moses and Joshua the instruction to completely wipe out the Canaanite tribes (Deuteronomy 20:17). That was His instruction. Joshua obeyed and did it. Now the unbelieving world accuses God of being a mad person up in the sky killing innocent people. In the 10 Commandments He says ‘Thou shall not kill’; but here He is telling Joshua, go and completely kill and wipe out the Canaanites. Why did God do this?

Firstly, it was judgement on the Canaanite tribes for their sins (Deuteronomy 9:3-5, 18:12). Secondly, it was to ensure the Israel will not end up doing the same things as the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 20:18). Thirdly, to point to the coming of the Messiah (Deuteronomy 18:15). Sin always brings the wrath of God (Romans 1:18, Jeremiah chapters 5,6,7,8). Jesus came down as a Man and died on the cross taking upon Himself the full wrath of God for sin so that we may now receive mercy (Romans 3:25). For us who live under the New Covenant, the blood of Jesus intercedes for us crying mercy. However, we must also remember that there is an appointed day for judgement for us as well (Hebrews 9:27, 2 Corinthians 5:10). We cannot say Grace, Grace and continue in sin forever (Romans 6:1-2, Hebrews 10:26-30). We must bear good fruit to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:16-21, John 15:2-6). This good fruit is also called holiness (Hebrews 12:10-11).

Under the Old covenant the Lord even judged Israel when they sinned because they did the very same things that the Canaanites were guilty of. When you read the book of Judges you see how Israel sinned and God judged them. When they repented God sent a deliverer but when they sinned again, He judged them again.

Since they were His chosen ones, He gave them many chances. God was patient with them but then time came for the appointed final judgement. He first judged the Northern Kingdom of Israel through the Assyrian Empire and then judged the Kingdom of Judah through Babylon. Finally, in the year A.D 70, He judged them all through the Roman Empire. A remnant of His people He spared and scattered all across the world and brought them back to their land in the year 1948 when Israel was reborn as a nation (Isaiah 66:8, Ezekiel 37:1-14). Now you may ask the question, why did not God give the Canaanites a chance to repent like He did for the nation of Israel?

Beloved, the Lord does not judge anyone who repents of their evil ways and turns to Him. When Rahab who was a Canaanite repented and made the Lord her God, she was not judged (Joshua chapter 2). She had heard what the Lord had done for His people and she put her trust in God (Joshua 2:9-13). Similarly, like her all the other Canaanites also heard of God’s power but they did not repent (Joshua 5:1). Only the Gibeonites in fear came and through deception made peace with Joshua (Judges chapter 9). Hence, they were not judged either. Jesus said the following concerning repentance and judgement in Luke 13:1-5 – “There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” So those who repent will not be judged. Another example of this are the people of Nineveh who repented when they heard the words of Jonah. Hence, they were not judged.

Does God judge in the New Covenant like He did under the Old Covenant? Thanks to the blood of Jesus we live in the time of grace. However, God does judge still as we can see in the immediate judgement of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts chapter 5) and Herod (Acts 12:23). In the book of Revelation, we see the judgements of God being poured upon the earth during the tribulation period. So yes, God will judge those who are deserving of judgement even now if He has purposed it. It is His decision not ours.

Not all adversity is judgement

Now not all adversity or evil that comes upon people should be considered as judgement. The Lord may send adversity to also fulfil His predestined purposes. The Lord sent Israel into 400 years of captivity in Egypt and then brought them out to inherit the Promised Land. The 400 years of captivity was not a judgement but a period of waiting. After the period of waiting, then came the season of deliverance and miracles. However, the years of captivity in Babylon during the time of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel was judgement for the sins of His people. So, we must discern the purpose behind the adversity always with the help of Holy Spirit. Some adversity requires repentance to bring about change whilst some adversity requires us to patiently endure through it, in order to receive the promise. Joseph, David, Jeremiah and Paul went through great adversity. That was all part of their training and calling to fulfil God’s predestined purposes for their lives, the destiny of nations and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. James 1:2-4 ‘My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.’ It is His decision to permit adversity into our lives so that His will might be done in our lives.

Also, I wish to make an additional point here. Falling into sin is not adversity. God does not tempt us with sin. James 1:13-15 ‘Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.’ We must crucify our flesh with its passions and desires once we come to Christ (Galatians 5:24). So do not justify sin as an adversity or trial.

God knows all things in advance

Now in the case of Pharaoh, God knew in advance Pharaoh would harden his heart and not let His people go (Exodus 3:19). Yes, God knows all things beforehand. This is known as the foreknowledge of God (Romans 8:29). He knows all things even before they happen because He has ordained them to happen in that way. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order to show His mighty power to all (Exodus 3:20, 4:21,7:1-3). This was God’s doing in accordance to His will. God wanted to do it this way. That was His decision to harden Pharaoh’s heart. He has predestined everything to happen in certain ways in order to bring about the outcome that He has ordained. To some He shows mercy whilst others He hardens their heart to judge. Romans 9:18 ‘Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.’ It is His decision as the Creator and Sovereign God.

So beloved, are you beginning to understand the counsel of His will a little bit better now? Everything that happens in Heaven and on earth, happens according to His predestined will. We might consider somethings good and somethings bad but He considers them all part of His eternal divine plan for His Creation. Psalm 33:11 ‘The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.’ Isaiah 14:24 ‘The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand.’ Isaiah 48:3 ‘I have declared the former things from the beginning; they went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.’

Why all this?

Now, you may ask what is the point of all this? Why can’t God just in one shot do everything and bring to pass Revelation chapters 21 and 22 now itself. Romans 9:20-24 has an answer for all who will ask such questions; ‘But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, why have you made me like this? Does not the potter have power over clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honour and another for dishonour? What if God wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?’

Beloved, He has decided that everything must happen this way. Everything that has happened throughout history before Christ came to this earth, was ordained to point to the first coming of Christ. Everything that has been happening after Christ died, rose again and ascended to Heaven is pointing to His second coming. This is the sovereignty of God. He created all things. He controls all things. He knows all things. He has decided how all things must happen. That is the counsel of His will. Ecclesiastes 3:14 ‘I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear Him.’ So beloved, our human brain will not be able to understand all that God does and why He does it in such a way. So, questioning His wisdom is not going to get us anywhere in life but trusting in His grace is going to help us fulfil His predestined plan for our personal lives.

Can we still say God is good even though He may permit adversity?

A very valid question beloved. What does scripture say? Romans 8:28 ‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.’ Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ 1 Corinthians 1:7-9 ‘ But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’

God’s methods may seem strange to us. God’s methods may seem hard for us. We may also not agree with His methods. However, all things in the end work together perfectly for the fulfilment of God’s good purpose for all our lives. Take for example Joseph. Time spent at the bottom of a well and in a prison led him to the seat of power in the Egyptian empire. Take for example Daniel and his 3 friends. Time spent in the middle of the furnace, took them to positions of great honour in the Babylonian and Persian Empires. So, the method may seem hard but the end result will be glorious. 1 Peter 4:12-14 ‘Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.  On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.’

So where was God on Resurrection Sunday?

So where was God on the 21st of April 2019? Did He know that these things will happen? Why did He allow them to happen? If God is good, why did He permit this evil? All these 4 questions would have definitely gone through our minds at the time these events were happening. Well let me answer you beloved.

God was with us all, even the ones who lost their lives. Like I said before He knows all things and He permits events to happen to bring to pass a good that He has already ordained for His Kingdom and His elect.

Beloved, you and I are the elect of God. We have been chosen by grace through faith in Christ Jesus to be part of His bride, His church. All throughout the New Covenant we who are the elect are promised persecution, suffering and even death for the sake of our faith. All throughout the New Covenant it is prophesied that in the last days evil, lawlessness, wickedness and destruction will rise and keep rising. All throughout the New Covenant we are promised that through it all, God will preserve His chosen ones who remain faithful and obedient to Him on earth and call them home one day to eternal rest. We do not know when we will die and we do not know how we will die but God knows. For some they have the calling to die as martyrs for the sake of Christ. That is their calling. Their ministry. So how we die is not important, but where we go after we die is what is most important. We must go to Heaven to be with Jesus.

To all those of the elect who gave their lives for their faith on that day, the promise of Revelation 6:9-11 would have been fulfilled. Their spirit would have been received into the loving Hands of their Lord and Saviour and they would have been given a white robe. They will have to wait till the full number of saints who should be killed is complete to see God taking vengeance on the wicked. To those who have lost loved ones and are left behind with broken hearts, the promise of Matthew 5:4 will be fulfilled. Holy Spirit will comfort them and grant them the grace to continue in their journey of faith. As for those who have committed evil; they are being reserved for the judgement of Revelation 20:11-15. So, let us not worry too much about the vessels that have been condemned to face the wrath of God and the lake of fire.

What about the innocent who died who did not know the Lord? In Acts 10:34-35 Peter says ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.’ I will not judge anyone because I do not know the hearts of each person but God knows. Like I said God knows what He is doing. Many of us think that people must go to a Pentecostal/Charismatic church in order to go to heaven. That is a very wrong idea. Choice of church has no impact on your place in Heaven. It is a relationship with Christ Jesus that takes us to Heaven. John 3:18 ‘He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.’ So, let us not debate or judge on that matter but seek to comfort one another in this hour of trial.

Why did this happen?

Why did God allow this to happen? He has a purpose. Remember the verses I mentioned at the start of this article. Everything happens according to the counsel of His will. That purpose will be revealed in the days to come. In my spirit I know it is a seed for revival and unity in the body of Christ.

If God is good, why did He allow evil? Beloved, when you light a candle in a dark room, the light of the candle overcomes the darkness and dispels it. Similarly, this is a divine opportunity for the church to follow the footsteps of Christ and walk in love and forgiveness and remain steadfast in faith, be testimony to the nation and fulfill the great commission of taking the gospel to all of Sri Lanka. Through this He will make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy – His church, His elect (Romans 9:23).

So beloved, we cannot question God. We will never be able to fully understand His ways and His will. If we can understand, then we ourselves would be gods. Isaiah 55:6-11 ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.’ This event which was permitted to happen will bring forth a harvest. It is a seed. It will bring a harvest.

Beloved, in closing I want to encourage you to remain strong in your faith. In these the last days persecution will increase. Some of us reading this today might be killed for our faith in Christ Jesus. We will be beaten, imprisoned, tortured and left to die for the sake of our faith in Christ Jesus. Tribulation is coming and rapture will happen. John 16:33 ‘These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ May Grace be with you always. Be ready for His Coming! Be faithful to end! God bless you.