Understanding “Umbrellas of Protection”
embracing the Biblical principle of authority
An umbrella is designed to provide protection from various elements of nature: rain, hail, snow, wind, or sunshine. As long as a person is under an umbrella, he finds shelter from harsh weather conditions. If he steps out from under the umbrella, he exposes himself to the environment.
God-given authorities can be considered “umbrellas of protection.” By honoring and submitting to authorities, you will receive the privileges of their protection, direction, and accountability. If you resist their instructions and move out from their jurisdictional care, you forfeit your place under their protection and face life’s challenges and temptations on your own.
God is the ultimate umbrella of protection over all people. He rules over the universe and governs in the affairs of nations. He defines the parameters of His umbrella of protection by the commands in His Word, the Bible. When you honor God’s authority, obeying His Word, you will enjoy the protection of living within His jurisdiction.
Under the overarching umbrella of His protection, God has established significant jurisdictional structures:
- Family: husbands and parents (See Ephesians 5:21–29, 6:1–4, and Colossians 3:18–21.)
- Government leaders (See Romans 13:1, Titus 3:1, and I Peter 2:13–17.)
- Church leaders, elders, and other believers (See Hebrews 13:7, 17; I Peter 5:5; and Ephesians 5:21.)
- Employers (See I Peter 2:18, Titus 2:9, Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, and I Timothy 6:1–2.)
God works through these areas of jurisdiction to train up and protect children, to restrain evil and protect citizens, to stand against Satan and advance the Gospel, and to provide necessary resources for life. We are responsible to submit to these authorities in order to receive their protection and the blessings of living in submission to God’s authority.
Consequences of Rebellion
The concept of an umbrella of protection is illustrated in what the prophet Samuel said to Israel’s King Saul when Saul disobeyed God’s instructions: “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” (I Samuel 15:23). Those who participate in witchcraft directly interact with destructive, satanic influences. Rebellion is similar, because through disobedience you remove yourself from God’s full protection and are therefore far more susceptible to the attacks of Satan.
For example, when God created Adam and Eve, He commanded them not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As long as they honored His instructions, they enjoyed ideal living conditions and freedom from pain and death. When Adam and Eve resisted God’s Law, they resisted His protection and succumbed to Satan’s temptation. God held them responsible for their rebellion and brought on the consequences of sin, suffering, and death, which plagued their lives and affected all their descendants. (See Genesis 2:16–3:19.)
If you resist God-given authorities, you will experience God’s judgment.
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake” (Romans 13:1–5).
Responsibility of Those in Authority
Individuals in authority need to embrace their God-given responsibilities by protecting, leading, and providing for those in their jurisdiction. If an umbrella is torn or broken, it can’t provide the protection it was designed to give. In the same way, when leaders fail, the people “under” their jurisdiction often suffer the consequences along with the leader.
When a leader fails, he is no longer protecting those under his care, and therefore they are exposed to the attacks of Satan. Those under authority may feel the impact of the leader’s failure so acutely that they notice the problem even before the leader himself is aware of it. The attacks of the enemy can be manifested in many forms, including health problems, overwhelming temptations, unusual cycles of doubt or depression, nightmares, or unexplained conflicts.
This cause-and-effect sequence should motivate leaders to make wise decisions and live uprightly, because even their “hidden” sins can bring harm to those under their care. It also motivates those under their authority to know their leaders and to help them make wise decisions by offering encouragement and making appeals when necessary.
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
This material is adapted from the Basic Seminar Textbook, page 20, and from pages 48–51 of the Basic Seminar Follow-Up Couse.