A Place of Refuge

Can you be protected when disaster strikes?
From the February 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

When the tsunami struck, many were killed, but a far greater number survived. Even in the midst of the destruction, there were stories of hope, survival and rescue. Here are just a few:

One woman was swimming with her two sons in a hotel pool in Thailand when the tsunami came: “I just saw a big wall of water coming straight for us and just started running …. I had both of them in my arms, one in each arm and we started going under.” Unable to hold on to both, she let go of her oldest son, certain she would never see him again. But she did. He found something buoyant to hold on to and survived. The family was reunited a couple of hours later.

A 13-year-old girl survived by clinging to a wooden door in the ocean for two days.

An Indonesian woman survived by clutching a sago palm tree in the Indian Ocean for five days, surviving by eating the fruit and bark of the tree. She certainly suffered horribly—she was hospitalized afterward—but she was the lucky one; her husband has not been found.

Any student of the Bible knows that as the last days approach, wars, earthquakes and other natural disasters will increase (Matthew 24:7). Jesus Christ Himself told us so. Even more ominous, in verse 8 of Matthew 24, He calls this the beginning of sorrows. The real destruction lies yet ahead: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (verse 21). We need God’s protection! Can you guarantee that you will have it?

There was a very sinful metropolis in the ancient world that did find a way to protect itself from God’s wrath. The example its inhabitants set would save the entire world if it were followed by nations today!

When Jonah came with God’s warning, Nineveh was just 40 days away from total destruction (Jonah 3:4). Just this one time in biblical history, an entire city’s inhabitants, under the direction of their leaders, humbled themselves in sackcloth and ashes, fasted before God, and truly repented. The city was spared the horrible fate it had been warned about. This was—and remains to this day—the only time in history that a Gentile city repented before God. What an example of hope it left for our time today. What beautiful results the warning God sent had in Nineveh. (This episode is described in more detail in our free booklet about Jonah.)

The nations of the world today are in the same situation that the city of Nineveh was in nearly 2,800 years ago—filled with sin and on the brink of destruction. The warning is being delivered. If even one nation would repent, God would spare it as surely as He did Nineveh. But the world has, unhappily, become so immoral that the chances of even a single nation turning away from its present course of destruction are pitifully low. Although they are being given the chance to repent, the nations of this world probably will not.

The world’s leaders will almost certainly reject the forgiveness that God is offering them. But what about you?

While the Bible gives only one example like that of Nineveh, it is filled with examples of individual repentance and individual protection. If we repent, God can protect us just as surely as He protected Daniel from the jaws of the lions. Not one hair was singed when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were cast into the fiery furnace. He can bless us in our individual lives as He did Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and so many others. The warning you are receiving today is one of hope; if heeded, it will also give you a rock-solid promise of protection from God Himself! “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Psalms 91:9-11).

When trouble comes, many are at the mercy of time and chance (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Others will finally cry out to God for His intervention in their lives. But they may be too late! We must seek God “while he may be found” (Isaiah 55:6). We must heed God’s warning before time runs out! At some point—a time when the world is saying “peace and safety”—sudden destruction will come (1 Thessalonians 5:3). We need to take action while the warning is still going out, not when calamity is already here!

In the stories you read at the beginning of this article, some of those people were undoubtedly saved by time and chance, but you can know you will be spared in the terrible times ahead. God has promised protection for those who hear His warning and turn to Him in repentance. Then, we can claim God’s absolute promise in Psalms 91:7 that “[a] thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.”