My spirit is totally grieved hearing that “Hundreds of Californian churches plan to open May 31”, in defiance to the government so they can open on Pentecost. Some may be mis-following prophecies, that a great revival will start on Pentecost. Maybe, but God is not going to bless our rebellion. This Pentecost is not the time to resume our festivals of exuberant mass worship, but to gather in small numbers “in the upper room”, in humility and repentance toward God. God is doing a new thing at this time – not reviving the way we’ve always done things. God is returning the focus to the intimate community that gathers in people’s homes, not the big show. Those times will return, but only when birthed out of the quiet place we find ourselves in currently.
This is not the time to defy the government. They’re not conspiring against the church. The ban on mass gatherings similarly applies to theatre and sporting events without prejudice. To defy the government in this case is to defy God who placed them in authority over us. They might not be perfect, but they are appointed by God. If we defy them, we defy God and the conditions of his protection, and will bring judgement upon ourselves.
To me, it looks like those churches who gather in defiance to government will bring the Covid-19 pandemic upon themselves as God’s judgement.
Preachers may quote
Psalm 91:10 No harm will come to you.
No sickness will come near your house.”
But the condition of this is
Whoever lives under the shelter of the Most High
will remain in the shadow of the Almighty.”
We are called to submit to the government, and not to abuse “liberty to justify our spite towards them”
1 Peter 2:13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
Romans 13:11 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour.
Back in Amos’s time, God said
Amos 5: 21“I hate, I despise your feast days,
And I do not savour your sacred assemblies.
22Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them,
Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.
23Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
As a shepherd, Amos knew and appreciated the quiet times alone with God. God uses these times to reshape us for the times when we are to address the public arena.
1 Samuel 15:22 So Samuel said:
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
23For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.”
God will reject these churches who defy him. Their “rebellion is like witchcraft” and their “stubbornness is sin and idolatry”. They are committing spiritual prostitution.
Ezekiel 16:49 This is what your sister Sodom has done wrong. She and her daughters were proud that they had plenty of food and had peace and security. They didn’t help the poor and the needy. 50They were arrogant and did disgusting things in front of me. So, I did away with them when I saw this.
At this, time, we are to humble ourselves and pray.
2 Chronicles 7:13 I may shut the sky so that there is no rain,
or command grasshoppers to devour the countryside,
or send an epidemic among my people.
14However, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves,
pray, search for me, and turn from their evil ways,
then I will hear ⌊their prayer⌋ from heaven, forgive their sins,
and heal their country.
15My eyes will be open,
and my ears will pay attention to those prayers at this place.
God will hear our prayer and heal our land.