Through California Fires, God’s Promise Stands

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted August 20, 2020

As of Aug. 21, wildfires, caused by a torrent of over 20,000 lightning strikes, have overtaken more than 500,000 acres in northern and central California, particularly near Vacaville, media reports indicate. One firefighter is believed to have perished, and many homes and businesses have been damaged or even destroyed.

According to a report in the Washington Post, “Evacuations surged [Aug. 19] as authorities worried that high heat and gusty winds could cause the fires to spread rapidly. By midday, several of the major fires had more than doubled in size, in some cases jumping across major highways, as crews struggled to contain the blazes.”

The newspaper added, “Officials have urged everyone in California to prepare a bag filled with a change of clothes and necessities, and to be ready to evacuate their homes on a moment’s notice.”

For Pastor Doug Batchelor, president of Amazing Facts International, the fire’s onslaught became quite real on Tuesday, Aug. 17.

Posting to Facebook, Pastor Doug—a former tobacco user before his conversion—jokingly said, “I Almost Started Smoking Again Last Night.”

He explained, “I had a close call last night. Got trapped by 3 different forest fires from lightning strikes trying to go across the mountains from Covelo. At one point the forest was burning on both sides of the road and the smoke was blocking the way forward. I had to turn around twice. I spent 3 hours on dirt roads in the Mendocino national forest before I found a way out. Got home about 1:30 last night. PTL!”

At present, the Granite Bay, California, headquarters of Amazing Facts and our new W.O.R.D. Center campus are not under threat. It is the heartfelt prayer of the ministry’s employees and leaders that the fires will be controlled quickly, with minimal casualties and property damage.

Faith, Not Presumption

These 2020 California wildfires—arriving in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic—come nearly two years after the Camp Fire in Northern California. That fire was dubbed “the deadliest and most destructive … in California history,” with 85 accounted civilian fatalities, numerous injuries to civilians and firefighters, and the destruction of 18,804 structures. The towns of Paradise and Concow were all but wiped out, losing 95 percent of the structures in each town.

In times such as the current situation, people often begin to wonder more acutely whether God will protect His people from calamity. Psalm 91 is often called “The Psalm of Protection” because of its numerous promises of God’s deliverance.

“You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday” (vv. 5, 6), the Psalmist assured God’s faithful. And in verses 11 and 12, he stated, “He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

But it was also these very same verses that the devil used to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. “Throw Yourself down” (Matthew 4:6), Satan suggested before quoting a part of the psalm. However, by Jesus’ response, we get further insight into the context of this Psalm of Protection.

“It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God’ ” (v. 7), the Savior replied, reciting from Deuteronomy 6:16. In other words, there is a way in which we can abuse the promise of God’s protection.

Pastor Doug explained this to a caller on Bible Answers Live: “I think we ought to do what we can to use common sense to avoid calamity, and then ask God to protect us and expect that we can have peace.” We do not deliberately place ourselves in dangerous situations in an attempt to force God’s hand—as the devil was wanting Jesus to do. We do not presume upon God; we do not doubt Him.

God’s Promises Remain Sure

Pastor Doug further added, “There’s the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who went to the fiery furnace; and they said, ‘If God wants to, He can deliver us. But even if He doesn’t deliver us, we’re going to serve Him.’ Well, God did deliver them; and more times than not, God does watch over His own. But you and I both know that good Christians do also experience calamity.”

Certainly, this year has been one of calamity for people across the globe. But the beautiful fact about God is that He can overcome all of these evils with good (Romans 12:21). Romans 5:3–5 elaborates: “We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Through these calamities, God can actually strengthen our faith; He can actually transform our characters through the workings of the Holy Spirit. Yes, God does save us from disaster through miracles, as He did the three Hebrew worthies. But so much more than that, He is our ultimate Deliverer. And one day soon, His ultimate promise will be fulfilled when He returns to take His people home.

The devil is on a rampage (Revelation 12:12). These fires, the pandemic—all are indicative of it. Our free online resource The Armor of God offers insights into how Christians can prepare for temptation, conflict, and calamity in these rapid last days. It’s reading that will encourage and prepare you. Be assured of God’s final victory, whether a wildfire is near your town or not!

Mark Kellner
Mark A. Kellner is a staff writer for Amazing Facts International. He is a veteran journalist whose work has been published in Religion News Service, The Washington Times, and numerous computer magazines.
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