God twice inspired this warning in the book of Proverbs: “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3; 27:12).
We understand that when Scripture repeats a warning or principle, it is especially important—God wants us to take special note of it. This particular proverb applies to a multitude of circumstances. Noah and his family, for example, escaped the worldwide flood because he responded to a warning of evil ahead. “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7).
Daniel 12:1–4 and Matthew 24:21–22 give signs pointing to these unique times, indicating that we are at the end of the age. There have always been difficult days in this world, but the speed with which events are moving, the destructive power now available, and the divisions in our world point to unprecedented evil ahead. People are frightened and wonder where to hide themselves—how to save themselves.
Thankfully, God has given us an outline of history—including its outcome! He has also given us the hope of eternal life, for which we should be even more thankful, because sooner or later, no matter what our personal circumstances, we all have an expiration date. We also have promises of protection and help in times of need. Yes, we who are called have much for which to give thanks.
Biblical Principles of Prudence
Of course, this does not mean life for any of us is “peaches and cream,” as the expression goes. But are we prepared for what is about to hit us? We cannot know exactly when, but we are on a runaway train heading downhill and picking up speed—with the bridge out at the bottom. The COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. In 2021, there was disaster upon disaster. And now, in 2022, when many thought circumstances couldn’t get any worse, they have.
Inflation is crushing those on fixed and low incomes. Fuel prices have changed how people live, forcing many to choose what to do without. The supply chain is in disarray. Store shelves are empty. Employers cannot find workers to fill jobs. America’s borders are the stuff of ridicule. And consider the fallout from Russia invading Ukraine. Fertilizer prices have skyrocketed—if fertilizer is even available. Wheat and other grains cannot move out of Ukrainian ports. And Germany has decided to rearm, something that we in God’s Church have said would happen.
For years, the Church has warned members to prepare themselves for challenging times. While it is good to stock up on food, water, and some cash, let us never forget that it all can be taken away in a moment by a tornado, earthquake, fire, flood, or thief. Building a luxurious bomb-proof shelter is not something most of us can or should do. The only reliable protection is in Jesus Christ. God tells us that faithful members of His Church who are doing His Work at the end will be supernaturally protected (Revelation 3:10; 12:13–17). Nevertheless, to make reasonable and prudent decisions is wise and fulfills scriptural admonitions.
The example of Elijah during a three-and-a-half year time of testing and trial upon Israel is also an example for us; Elijah had his job to do, and God supplied what only He could. Elijah had to hide, camping out by a brook for his supply of water. But God miraculously supplied Elijah’s food by ravens—the Amazon and FedEx of that day! But then the water dried up and he had to move to another country.
Neither was it a picnic for other people of God. The “sons of the prophets” were hidden in caves, relying on the bravery and generosity of Obadiah, a servant in the house of Ahab, for food and water. Consider the logistics of sneaking off and providing both food and water to 100 men each day. Obadiah may have had help, but whom could you trust in an atmosphere where Ahab’s wife Jezebel was busy slaughtering every servant of God she could find (1 Kings 18:2–4)? Ahab’s reign was a frightening time for all of God’s servants, as we see from Obadiah’s response to Elijah (vv. 13–18). Three-and-a-half years can be a long time under such circumstances! Consider that it has been only about two-and-a-half years since COVID lockdowns began around March 2020.
Watch and Be Sober
Biblical prophecy indicates rough times ahead, and all world events indicate the same. God’s Church has foretold this for decades. Good times and bad times seesaw back and forth, and some days will be more difficult than others, but we seem to have entered a new stage. We must not be surprised if very dramatic events suddenly occur. Governments are working behind the scenes to control their events and their citizens. Leading nations are considering—and already experimenting with—Central Bank Digital Cryptocurrencies (CBDCs). These are not the mark of the Beast, but CBDCs would give central control to governments to enforce that mark. Just as the Canadian government locked down bank accounts of striking truckers, so CBDCs would make it easy to control any individual or group of individuals seen as not conforming to prescribed policies.
I am not predicting it, but a worldwide depression is not out of the question. Neither is an American civil war. Who would have thought wheat flour would be scarce in Belgium and Germany, that cooking oil would be rationed in parts of England, and that frantic American parents would be scurrying around for baby formula? And these countries still have it good compared to parts of Africa, where some of our members are facing real food scarcity.
We have been praying for decades, “Your kingdom come.” But it is not here yet. It appears that we have a few years left even before the Great Tribulation, but one truth seems obvious: A time of trouble such as we have never experienced is rapidly closing in on us. As the Apostle Paul admonished the Thessalonians, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:4–6).
Let us remember Jesus’ reassuring words:
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near…. But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:28, 34–36).
Hebrews 13:5 gives us good advice, especially for times when life is uncertain. “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”
A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished. We are told that the demise of the Israelite nations will come suddenly on an unsuspecting world (Isaiah 30:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:1–9). God expects us to do what we can for ourselves—and we must remember that—but there is something immensely more important. Having a close relationship with the Ruler of the universe must never be neglected. How often do we put off fasting, or tell ourselves that we will spend more time in prayer or Bible study someday? Brethren, maybe that day is today.