Watchman Warning: Soft Target
By Hal Lindsey
Security analysts see all gatherings of people as potential terrorist targets. Generally, they divide them into two categories — “hard targets” and “soft targets.” Hard targets are well guarded and soft targets have little or no defense.
In light of the Orlando terror attack, we might expect government officials to look for ways to turn more soft targets into hard ones. But just the opposite is happening. Almost immediately following the attack, the politics of gun control began to drive much of the discussion. Gun control advocates want to diminish our ability to defend ourselves. They want to turn us — along with our places of work, of worship, and our homes — into soft targets.
Under present law, a terrorist would be crazy to use guns in an assault on a conservative, evangelical church in Texas. That’s because a significant number of conservative evangelicals have chosen to take advantage of that state’s right to carry laws. Even in a small Texas church, there’s a good chance someone will be packing heat. It would be almost impossible for one terrorist to shoot over a hundred people, killing almost half — if some of those people were shooting back.
Someone might argue that Jesus was against violence, but a closer look at scripture tells a more nuanced story. In Luke 9, Jesus sent some of His disciples on a short missionary journey. He “sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to perform healing. And He said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece.’” (Luke 9:2-3 NASB)
He did this to show them, and all who would follow, that God is our Source — not money or reserves of food. He provides for our needs. The instructions Jesus gave illustrated that even when He would no longer be physically present, His followers would never be “on their own.” God always watches over us.
In Luke 22, not long before His crucifixion, Jesus reminded His disciples of that experience. He wanted them to draw on that memory so that they would always see God as their Provider. But as they were about to set out on missionary journeys that would transform the world, He told them to take some things with them, including money. That fits with what they had seen Him do. During the three years of Jesus’ ministry, the group had a treasurer and a moneybag. That would be the normal way of doing things.
“He said to them, ‘When I sent you out without purse and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?’ And they said, ‘No, nothing.’ And He said to them, ‘But now, let him who has a purse take it along, likewise also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one.’” (Luke 22:35-36 NASB)
Jesus did not advocate violence, but He told them to take a sword on their journeys. He said if they didn’t have a sword, they should sell something as essential as a robe in order to buy one. Self-defense is implicit in this instruction.
There are no limits on God’s ability. He can just do things for us. After Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, it says, “the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch saw him no more, but went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus.” (Acts 8:39-40 NASB)
That was a transportation miracle. But in every other case we know of, the disciples of Jesus went place to place in a very natural, human way. They walked. God has the ability to snatch us up and take us where He wants, but His usual method is to let us do the things we can. God uses even our most basic abilities, like walking. He wants us to participate where we can —including in our own protection.
A new editorial in Rolling Stone magazine argues that we should not be allowed that right. On June 13th, they ran an editorial calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment. Apparently the United Nations agrees. U.N. human rights commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein asked, “How many more mass killings of school-children, of co-workers, of African-American churchgoers, how many more individual shootings of talented musicians like Christina Grimmie, or politicians like Gabrielle Giffords, will it take before the United States adopts robust gun regulation?”
But here’s the problem. If we must depend only on police and other government agencies to defend us, then almost everything and everyone will be a soft target. NFL football games won’t be, but your kid’s soccer game will. Hollywood studios will remain hard targets, but the local multiplex will be a soft target — as will your local grocery store, school, church, and park. But if people who pass a certain level of screening and testing are allowed the means to defend themselves, they will also defend the people around them — hardening targets everywhere.
In all of this, we have to remember that God remains the ultimate defense. We may water the garden, but only God can make vegetables grow. It’s the same with defense. Psalms 33 says, “The king is not saved by a mighty army; A warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness, To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.” (Psalms 33:16-20 NASB)
While those words give me comfort as an individual, they give me grave concern for my country. The United States of America has the strongest, most powerful military in the history of the world by far. But that alone is not enough. If we as a nation do not turn to God for deliverance, the United States itself will soon become a “soft target.”