In the 1960’s and ‘70’s, talk of an existential threat was typically in reference to nuclear weapons the superpowers had armed and ready during the Cold War. The term was not meant to grab headlines but to convey the true magnitude of the situation. Today, anything from a foreign adversary to a different point of view may be called an existential threat. Hyperbole seems to be the norm.
Existential threat is defined as – a threat to something’s very existence; when the continued being of something is at stake or in danger; threats to actual living things as well as nonliving things, such as a country or an ideology (Dictionary.com). Terrorism was framed as an existential threat following the 9/11 attacks. Climate change has been referred to as an existential threat to human civilization and the environment.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” … “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good from evil.” – Genesis 3:1&5. In this instance, when the continued being of something was at stake and in danger, Adam and Eve faced an existential threat in real time. Their continued being as man and woman designed by God to enjoy the perfect garden in company with God was threatened. The threat started with a question about what God said and was followed by a lie. It manifested into reality as the woman and the man, who was with her, failed to answer the question with God’s words and turned to their own reasoning under the influence of the lie – that they could be like God. There is a lot of that going on today, man not under God’s word thinking he can be like God or at least be his own god. As documented in Matthew 4:1-11, the devil used the same tactic to tempt Jesus with questions about His Sonship and His Father. He presented an existential threat to Jesus’ journey on this earth. Jesus answered the devil succinctly with the word of God, rebuking him and the threat he posed. Similarly, dads are charged to know the word of God, address questions raised succinctly and rebuke the existential threat that is the devil.
Questions the devil raises today: Did God really say there is a difference between man and woman? Yes! Genesis 1:27, 1Peter 3:7; Did God really say marriage was between a man and a woman? Yes! Genesis 2:24 & Ephesians 5:31; Did God really say a dad and mom are to raise their children? Yes! Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Proverbs 1:8 & 4:1, Malachi 2:15 and Ephesians 6:1-4. The devil’s schemes to threaten man always start with a question about God and are followed by a lie that tempts. That is the limit of his power unless man stumbles over the question and buys-in to the lie. The devil is the only real existential threat in this world. It is up to fathers, family and churches to live under God’s word and rebuke the devil before his threats manifest into reality.
Prayer guide: Father, thank You for Your word and for the clarity it offers. Your word is simple. Too often I complicate it by contemplating the devil’s questions and entertaining temptations that look or feel good. Forgive me. Grant me clarity in Your word to provide succinct answers to questions posed, and strength through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to rebuke the devil’s schemes. I commit to stand firm for my family with the full armor of You on – the belt of Truth, breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, feet fitted with the gospel, shield of faith positioned and the sword of the Spirit drawn. That is the dad You call me to be and that’s the dad my kids need to see. Amen.
A faithful father knows God's word and rebukes the existential threat.