In a world full of crime and violence, is there a form of self-defense you’re overlooking?

Do you ever worry about being beat up? Or robbed, raped or murdered?

Many people do. Some are buying handguns or other weapons to project themselves. Others, especially women concerned about the possibility of assault or even rape, are learning martial arts such as judo, karate or kung fu. Many others just worry and wait.

How safe is your world? Looking at crime statistics, we’d have to say not very. But how safe are you? That can be a different story.

Strength in numbers?

Let’s say you’re pretty safety conscious already. You’ve listened to precautions from your parents and teachers and tried to avoid being careless. This, alone, makes you much safer than the average person. But it’s still easy to be afraid in this world of ours, isn’t it?

When you stop and think about it, though, constant worry about self-defense is rather futile. For example, no matter how strong we get, there’s always the possibility someone stronger will come along. Or, we’ll be faced by others who have combined forces to impose their will upon us. That’s the idea behind gangs, for instance – strength in numbers.

So people form gangs to try to dominate other gangs. Rebels form terrorist groups to try to overthrow governments. And governments form armies to try to defend themselves from, and sometimes overthrow, other governments. In each case, these groups, if given the opportunity, will align themselves with other groups in order to increase their strength – and their ability to defend themselves.

The problem is, in each case men must rely on other men – and that’s not always a comfortable position to be in. Will they change their minds and turn against you? Or will the enemy still be stronger?

Is there a better form of self-defense? The answer is yes! And nowhere is it more clearly illustrated than in a story you can read in the pages of your Bible, in the Old Testament book of Daniel.

A story of survival

More than 2,500 years ago, the ruler of Babylon, at that time the most powerful kingdom on earth, thought about his power, and decided all the world should pay special honor to his kingdom.

So the king ordered that a huge statue be built -a golden image reaching nearly a hundred feet into the sky. Dedication ceremonies were announced, and all of the men in high positions in the government were required to attend (Daniel 3: 1-3).

At the dedication, a surprising announcement was made. The people were told that when the music began, they were all to bow before the statue. They were also told that anyone who refused would be thrown into a large, roaring furnace (verses 4-6). For most, this command was no problem, because idol worship was customary in Babylon. But three men in the crowd worshiped only the true God and would not bow before the image. Even the prospect of burning to death could not turn these men away from God!

When the King heard of this, he was furious, and he called the three men before him. He asked "If it is true that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up, what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?'” (Daniel 3: 14, 15.)

These three men definitely needed an effective form of self-defense! Given an ultimatum, they were being threatened with death by the man who ruled the most powerful kingdom on earth.

But note their reaction: ” we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter,” they said. No guns? No gangs? No kung fu?

No, only one thing: “‘If we are thrown into the furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand,” (Daniel 3: 16, 17, New International Version).

Amazing! These men were not obsessed with survival or self defense. They knew that to bow before another god would mean to disobey the true God, and that God said He would protect them for instead obeying Him (Exodus 20:3-6).

Notice, too, that they were willing to obey God even if He didn’t protect them (Daniel 3: 18). Obedience shouldn’t occur just because you think you’re going to get something. God sometimes allows us to be tried for our own good.

By this time the King was so angry that he ordered that they be tied up and cast into the furnace, which had been heated seven times hotter than usual. After they were thrown in, he peered into the furnace to watch the men die an agonizing death. But he was amazed at what he saw!

“Then he spoke, saying to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered yes.

“Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God'” (Daniel 3:24, 25).

Excited and awestruck he called them to come out of the furnace. Those present stood in shock as the three men strode out of the furn -ace and walked up to the King who noticed that their hair and clothing hadn’t been touched by the flames. Nor was there even the smell of smoke on them (verse 27). God had protected them.

This made a believer out of the King, who declared that all the people should honor the true God, “because there is no other God who can deliver like this” (Daniel 3:29).

A lesson for today

Millions of people today rely on weapons and other forms of self-defense because they feel that is the only source of protection they can have confidence in. But did Jesus Christ teach that we should be concerned with retaliation as a form of self-defense? No. He said, "As you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). In other words, put yourself in other people’s shoes and treat them as you would want to be treated.

Many people think that biblical teaching makes Christians defenseless in a world filled with crime and violence. After all, Jesus Christ taught the concept of turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), and the apostle Paul said, “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone” (I Thessalonians 5: 15).

But God is REAL. and He has the power to intervene on our behalf – on one condition: “And whatever we ask”- including protection – “we receive from Him … “

Why? ” … because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (I John 3:22).

Of course, though God says He will protect us, we shouldn’t tempt Him by taking unnecessary risks. God won’t always intervene on our behalf if we’re careless and behave foolishly. We should take the precautions that we can. Ask your parents for their advice on what precautions you should take.

But we don’t need to worry about self-defense. We should do our part to avoid being a victim of violence, and then obey and trust God to do the rest.

And that’s the most important lesson in self-defense that we could possibly learn.

Tom Delamater ‘Youth’

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