God’s Common Grace in Stewardship

1 Samuel 13:16-22 English Standard Version (ESV)

16 And Saul and Jonathan his son and the people who were present with them stayed in Geba of Benjamin, but the Philistines encamped in Michmash. 17 And raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. One company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual; 18 another company turned toward Beth-horon; and another company turned toward the border that looks down on the Valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

19 Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears.” 20 But every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle, 21 and the charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads. 22 So on the day of the battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan, but Saul and Jonathan his son had them. (Emphasis mine).

Because of King Saul’s ungodly and cowardly leadership, the nation of Israel was highly vulnerable to the Philistines, who kept Israel’s people subservient, and kept Israel’s army without weapons. Bad leadership leads people into physical vulnerability and debilitating anxiety.

I was reminded of this ancient situation, and our similar vulnerability, when I read of the manufacturing decisions of our economic leaders over the last 40 years in a column by Ann Coulter, where she states:

“China makes more than 90% of our antibiotics, vitamin C, ibuprofen and hydrocortisone, 70% of acetaminophen, and 40% to 45% of heparin, according to The New York Times. The last American penicillin plant closed more than 15 years ago.

In early March, the Chinese government ominously warned that if China stopped exporting drugs, ‘“the United States would sink into the hell of a novel coronavirus epidemic.’”

Even a lot of the American companies we’re so proud of for stepping up to make masks in this crisis … are making them in China. (New York Times, March 13, 2020: “A General Motors joint venture in southwestern China built 20 of its own mask-making machines and began bulk production.” It is worth reading the whole column here: https://townhall.com/columnists/anncoulter/2020/04/01/the-bill-for-globalism-has-arrived-n2566163.

How can we remedy this vulnerability? In ancient Israel, Saul’s son Jonathan had the courage to fight not only the Philistines, but even challenge his own apathetic father, King Saul.  Today, we could appeal to our current economic and government leadership to not leave us so vulnerable – but I’m not at all hopeful for success in that area – as Ann outlines, too many often live just for this world, and don’t care about how vulnerable the rest of us would be.

But make no mistake – I wouldn’t advocate Government restrictions. Instead, I would ask God for more Christian industrialists who would consider it a solid gospel witness to use a large portion of their profits for kingdom values – to be prudent, wise, willing, and conscious of the long-term implications of their decisions. And these men and women would aim to persuade their non-Christian colleagues to do the same.

Listen, I’m no prophet, but I suspect there are more crises coming – perhaps we can pray, as well as petition those with the ability to do so, to make changes, so that we are better prepared? And please don’t misunderstand – my aim isn’t to offer an ethnocentric myopic America First diatribe. However, we are in the same vulnerable situation as ancient Israel. So, metaphorically speaking, we need blacksmiths, not only for our axes and plows for crops; we also need them to sharpen our biological swords for the diseases that will surely afflict us in the future. That means bringing some of that critical manufacturing home. It is just good common sense – for the common good – powered by the Common Grace of God.

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