When Prepping is Biblical and When It’s Not

When Prepping is Biblical and When It’s Not

I sometimes get asked what my thoughts are on the topic of “prepping.”  When you have a homestead and one of the things you try to do is live self-sufficiently, people often point out how similar some of the lifestyle choices appear to be between those two groups—that is, between “homesteaders” and “preppers.”

If I were to be completely honest about it, I would have to admit, there probably is a lot of crossover between the two camps.  For the sake of this post though, I’m not so much concerned about splitting hairs and distinguishing between what is categorically “homesteading” vs. what is categorically “prepping.”  Rather, what I want to try to do is tackle what is generally thought of as the “practice of prepping,” regardless of what label it takes.  Call it “prepperism,” “survivalism,” “homesteading,” or “crazy Aunt Matilda’s hording habits,” it doesn’t matter to me.  What I want to consider is just how biblical the practice itself is, and to whatever degree it is (or isn’t) biblical, how the Christian needs to give more attention (or less attention, as the case may be) to the whole preparedness line of thinking.

For the sake of definitions, I know when a person talks about prepping, it’s important to clarify that there are all manner of different kinds of preppers.  Perhaps the most recognized of which are the infamous “Doomsday Preppers.”


A few years ago, National Geographic put out a popular TV show by the same name that got a lot of attention at the time.  In addition to the attention, it probably received a lot of laughs too since most of the people who were profiled on the show appeared to largely fall on the crazy, extremist-end of the scale.

Even among the so-called Doomsday Preppers, again there is plenty of variety.  Not only are there the classic “Nuclear Fallout preppers” with their underground bomb shelters, just waiting for the Cold War sirens to go off, but there are also “EMP preppers,” with their faraday cages;  “Economic Collapse” preppers, with their stashes of gold and silver; “Global Warming preppers,” with their high-elevation housing, safely built away from the rising sea levels of melting polar ice caps; and “Pandemic and Biological Warfare preppers,” with their masks, hazmat suits and hermetically sealed sterilized environments.  There are even all-out “World-War-III, Marshal-Law, Zombie-Apocalypse, Alien-Invasion” level preppers with their full arsenals of AK-47s, ammunition, and aluminum foil hats.

There are all different kinds of Doomsday Preppers.  That being so, a stereotypical practice all of them seem to share is the stockpiling of whatever supplies they imagine would be necessary to survive whatever large-scale disaster scenario they predict could presumably happen in their lifetime.  I think I’ve seen most prepper’s checklists able to be boiled down to “the three B’s of preparedness”—and those are having a sufficient supply of band-aids, bullets, and beans.  Or categorically, that would translate to first-aid needs, self-defense needs, and general sustenance needs

Obviously, in a real “catastrophe/disaster level” situation, those kinds of preparations and provisions would make all the difference.  Just watch any survival-themed movie, or read any dystopian fiction novel to see how these things go.  The one who is prepared, well equipped, and well-armed is the one who typically makes it to the end credits, or to the last page of the story.

Of course, as a Christian, the point isn’t to model one’s life off of fiction, but to model our lives on the facts of reality and the truths of Scripture.  And so, I think the big question that needs to be asked is, what does the Bible have to say about the subject?  Does God’s Word address the topic of prepping?  I think the short answer is, “As a matter of fact, yes, it does speak toward the topic!”

It may come as a surprise for many to learn that some of history’s biggest preppers are some of the Bible’s biggest names.  The list could begin with none other than Noah in Genesis 6, who God told to build an ark in preparation for a global flood that he planned to pour out upon the earth in judgement. And what was he told to put in the ark?  A stockpile of everything that was needed to repopulate the earth.

In addition to Noah, there was Joseph in Genesis 41 who, though he didn’t face quite the global-extinction-level kind of event that Noah did, he still had to deal with a regional 7-year famine.  God gave him advance warning of the famine so that during a 7-year period of plenty that preceded it, he could prepare and set aside enough to see Egypt and its neighbors through the hard times to come.

After Joseph, Moses comes to mind.  On the night of Passover in Exodus 12, God told him and all the Hebrew families to have their bug-out bags ready.  He told them to “keep their belts fastened, their sandals on their feet, and their staff in hand.” In essence, he told them to be prepared for the major Exodus out of Egypt that was about to happen.

There are other examples in the Bible we could point to, but before we get too carried away with that, let’s consider why the Bible gives us the stories of men like Noah, Joseph, and Moses to begin with.  If you think about the purpose for these Scriptures, it isn’t necessarily for us to go out and duplicate everything they did detail by detail.

Just because Noah built an ark doesn’t mean God wants us to go out and build an ark too—or build a bunker, or to fill up our own shipping container’s worth of supplies. I don’t think that’s the intended takeaway of Genesis 6 through 9.

The examples of faith we’re given in men like this, according to Hebrews 11, is to compel us to adopt the same kind of faith—a faith that’s built not on blind speculation, but on “assurance in the things hoped for though not seen,” namely in what God has specifically promised to us.

Faith isn’t blindly acting on an imaginative hunch; it’s acting on what God has personally said.  In the three cases I mentioned, God—whether directly by a word, or indirectly by a dream—told his servants what was about to happen…and their faith was acting according to that promise.

In terms of modern day prepping, unless a person wants to claim they’ve received direct revelation from God about specific events soon to unfold—and from what we know about passages like Hebrews 1:1-2, it’s probably wise to question such claims—I don’t think the Christian is called to run around like Chicken Little overly confident that the sky is falling every time there’s a drop of rain.

In James 4, the Bible reminds us, “We don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”  In the context there, he’s just talking about travel plans, but how much more does that apply to catastrophic or apocalyptic events?  If we’re really talking about doomsday, we don’t know when that’s going to happen, or how it’s going to happen.  Jesus says, “concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36).

The other thing to say about it is, if we’re really talking about Doomsday Preparations, I think the point of Revelation is there’s going to be no stopping it, and no ultimately surviving it.  But this old, sinful world will be burned up and dissolved, and a new heaven and earth will be established after we’ve all stood before the Judge and given account.  And on that day, we can better hope we’ve got Jesus in our corner.

The only Doomsday Preparations I’m concerned about is being ready to meet my Maker, and being sure my trust is in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.  I suppose in that sense, I am a Doomsday Prepper.  My preparation isn’t to hide out in the caves and the rocks like those in Revelation 6, calling out to their mountain bunkers to “hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb…,” but rather my preparation is to be ready to approach that throne with confidence knowing that I am safe from wrath because I’ve been forgiven.  Matthew 10:28 says,

“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

It’s not the possibility of World War III or some Mad Max future we should be worried about as much as the guarantee of a Great White Throne Judgement in Revelation 20.


With that said, to be fair to Scripture, though Doomsday Prepping in the “stockpiling, surviving-the end-of-the-world” sense of the term, isn’t something Christians are necessarily called to do, I think there is a kind of common, everyday prepping that Christians are very much called to be about. I don’t have the time in this post to get into all the verses, but the Proverbs alone are full of instructions teaching the wisdom of planning ahead based on realistic and, for the most part, predictable factors.

One of my favorites is Proverbs 6:6-9—

“Go to the ant, O sluggard;
    consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,
    officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer
    and gathers her food in harvest.
How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
    When will you arise from your sleep?”

The whole point there is that it’s wise to plan ahead, based on what we know about the seasons.  We know winter is coming, and if we want a harvest before winter hits, we need to do the hard work of preparing our food in advance.

It’s not crazy talk to say winter is coming while the temperatures are still warm for the simple fact that winter is coming.  We know it’s coming.  It may be months away, but it’s coming, so get ready.  What would be crazy talk would be to say winter isn’t coming and, therefore, like the grasshopper in Aesop’s Fable, waste our time playing our fiddle all day.

The same principal applies not only to winter, but to any seasonal occurrence, whether that’s tornado season, or hurricane season, or wildfire season, or flu season, or a bear market, or a period of recession, or a season of inflation.  Just go down the list.  If one can reasonably estimate a thing is sure to happen, even if that thing is still one month out, one year out, or even one decade out —it’s wise and biblical to prepare for that thing, and it’s downright foolish not to.

The Bible resorts to name calling on this issue. You are a lazy, selfish “sluggard” if you’re not going to do something about what’s on it’s way and simply expect others to accommodate for your lack of planning when it finally arrives.  Another passage that comes to mind is Proverbs 22:3 that says,

“The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”

Here, it doesn’t even have to be something that’s completely predictable, but it can be some sudden, unexpected danger you happen to notice is creeping on the horizon.  You an enemy or predator outside prowling in the woods, it might be a good idea to get the kids inside.

Take that principal and apply it to any modern-day danger.  It could be a literal danger to your life.  Or it could be a danger to your freedom.  Or to your property.  Or to your values.  Or to your marriage.  It could even be a danger to the soul of the very society you live in.  If you see a danger of any kind steadily creeping closer, it’s wise to try and do something about that.  The prudent see the dangers while the simple go on as if nothing is wrong.

How we ultimately prepare for those different situations will depend on the situation. Preparing for the winter season will look different than preparing for the sudden threat at your front door.  But to give you a few biblical principles that hopefully apply across the board, remember this:

  1. Whatever your preparation looks like, remember it’s not to be selfish.

Jesus rebuked the man in Luke 12 who horded so much of his harvest that he needed to tear down his old barns and build bigger ones, patting himself on the back saying, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool!  This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”

For the Christian, the point isn’t to boast in being the wise ant and kicking all the lazy grasshoppers to the curb, but to be the wise ant and to be generous with what we have

  1. Another principal to live by is that whatever your preparation looks like, remember it’s not all meant to be tangible.

Jesus says in Matthew 5,

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”

I don’t think that means we shouldn’t have any tangible provisions, but rather that our real stockpile isn’t invested in money boxes, gun safes, and food pantries, but it is so evidently more in those investments that have an eternal stake holding.  Our treasure and our real nest-egg exists in our relationship with God, the redemption of our souls, our relationship with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, or those we want to see become brothers and sisters in Christ.

  1. Lastly, a third principal worth applying, is to remember that our preparation isn’t about survival.

In the book of Philippians, when Paul is grappling with the possibility of execution vs. his will to stay alive, he’s sure to recognize that either option in his mind is a win-win scenario since to die would be a gain, but to live would also be an advantage because it would provide him more opportunity to serve the church.

In no way does Paul want to get out of jail and live a comfortable life for the sake of living a comfortable life. He has a purpose to accomplish.  And, if he’s not going to fulfill that purpose, or if God is finished with him in that purpose, he’s done.  He’s done what he was here to do.

The idea of living life simply to survive is not biblical. We’re here—we were created—we were born—we were made Christians for slightly bigger objective than that. And therefore, whatever preparations we make in life should ultimately be to enable us to go about what we’re here to do.  And when God is done with us, he’s done with us.

And then, as I’ve already said, we better be sure we’re prepared for the real Doomsday to come.  And, thankfully, those who trust Christ are more than prepared.

So much more could be said on this subject, but I’ll leave it at that.  Is prepping biblical?  I think the answer is, yes, prepping can be biblical…assuming it’s done biblically. And, the flip-side of that is, prepping can also unbiblical if done in sinful ways or with selfish motives.

Comments (12)

  • Patrick Reply

    I am in agreement with you. Preparation in itself is not sinful nor is it failing to trust in God. Preparation is just that; being prepared. For example, prepping for the possibility that provisions may not be accessible due to supply shortages, lockdowns, or whatever is no different than buying car insurance for the purpose of possibly being in an accident.

    The problem comes when our focus is primarily on “My four and no more.” As a child of God, we are called to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” To seek first the kingdom of God is to walk in love and not in fear. It is a willingness to lay down our lives for others; to help others.

    In truth, one of the greatest principles of prepping is “Give and it shall be given you.” As written in the Bible, God meets the needs of those who meet the needs of others. So, in short, I am a prepper. However, I’m a balanced prepper who does not walk in fear but in the knowledge that God must be my first and primary focus. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

    October 3, 2021 at 2:49 pm
  • Mel Reply

    Very good commentary!

    February 21, 2022 at 10:30 am
    • Tim Kinnard Reply

      Thank you for your feedback. So glad you found this helpful.

      February 24, 2022 at 7:18 pm
  • Debra B. Reply

    Very well written.

    I hate to say it but, I think everyday about making sure I replace what I’ve used and that I have enough on hand for my children and grandchildren. Shamefully, I generally do not think about others outside of my immediate family. However, I would share when I am presented with a need. (I would value any child’s life over my own.) I can’t say the same about other adults who did not make the sacrifices that my husband and I have made. My children are not as concerned on preparing. Am I am sorta glad. It is terrible to realize what is ahead and to have a young family. It has become a terrible world which we live in. I wish the Lord would return soon. I hate to see all the suffering around the world. I am much more concerned for third world countries than America. We have supported many international christian charities. However, I believe much does not make it to those who really have the need.

    Keep up the writing. Thank you.

    March 22, 2022 at 9:31 am
    • Tim Kinnard Reply

      Thank you for your comments. We too lsee the terrible direction the world is going and long for the Lord to return. Until He does, we can be sure we still have work to do. God help us to be faithful in that work.

      March 22, 2022 at 1:30 pm
  • Catherine Hernandez Reply

    Thank you for this balanced perspective based on Biblical truth. I was looking for Christian wisdom on this subject and I found it. Thank you!

    June 4, 2022 at 7:00 am
  • jr Reply

    Good food for thought I will have to look closer at the bible verses you quote. I started off wanting to be prepared for myself and my family then I began to realize I am probably preparing for someone left behind and not my immediate family at all. (My Hope). This could be the family members or close friends that have not accepted Grace through Jesus Christ. Or maybe for others trying to survive in a messed-up world after or during the battle of Armageddon. I can’t help but think of those left behind and how hard it will be to find a way to survive and not take the Mark. As we are told you will not be able to buy or sell without the mark and in my way of thinking that is the last thing anyone that missed the boat wants to do. I try to tell everyone if you can’t accept Jesus Christ and you are left behind don’t take the mark. I say you will probably have to give up your life in exchange to become one of God’s Saints but don’t take the mark. So now I think I should try to prep for everyone I can. Neighbors, who knows who will need free food. Most of my friends say they know where they are coming if the shit hits the fan and they run out of food at their house. At first, this made me a bit mad but now I think ok I just need a bit more to take care of a few more families. Some ask what if the city becomes a disaster, ok I started preparing at my sister’s house out in the country. She was the one that sent me your story so maybe she is a bit concerned that I am starting to fill her cellar shelves. Your story has given me some good advice so I will do some specific praying about my prepping habits. I have enough for myself so I can’t help but think I should buck up for others. My truck is 20-plus years old, Maybe I should spend my money on a new one instead of emergency food and supplies? Where does owning stuff end? We are such a consumer society and I am just as bad as the next guy.

    June 25, 2022 at 2:11 am
    • Tim Kinnard Reply

      Thanks for reaching out to us. Yes, I encourage you to weigh what the Scriptures say on this topic. As I say in this post, prepping can certainly be biblical. But, it can also be unbiblical depending on how far a person goes with it, or the underlying motives they have. If your sister recommended this episode, she may be inviting a conversation about some of the points I’ve made. Might be a great idea to chat together about it and see what the other thinks.

      June 25, 2022 at 3:03 pm
  • James Cartwright Reply

    I am not a good Christian, nor a particularly wise man. I try, but fail at both. Take my thoughts, should you want them, with that in mind.

    While serving in Afghanistan I saw first hand how deeply evil humans can be when not limited by enforced laws. I saw the hopelessness in many faces as they wondered how they could survive. This wasn’t the apocalypse, this was just everyday life. Those of us in the USA, or any “developed nation”, think the world we live in is normal. Truth is, in both place and time, it is very unique. Looking back only 100 years we see such calamities that forced the rich in “developed nations” to suffer extreme poverty and risk everything for their next meal. We know it can happen again, because it has happened before.

    “Prepping” for the events of the Book of Revelations as if one could survive and stand against the will of God may well be a sin, but preparing when life is good for darker days seems wise to me. Should Jesus return tomorrow, and I pray he does not, I try to have faith he will be at my side because that is all I can do. However, if the economy collapses tomorrow, or war, civil or otherwise, visits my homeland, I can not imagine God faulting me for having the ability to feed and protect my family. Should God bless me with the ability and opportunity to help those beyond my family, all the better. If God charges me with the duty of providing for and protecting more people, I will again do so as best I am able.

    If God ends my days here on Earth tomorrow, so be it. However, until then, I believe he expects me to protect and provide for those he has placed in my life to the best of my ability. I seek not to survive, and certainly not to stand against the will of God with a hole in the ground and a mountain of canned food, but to fulfill the task God has given me to the best of my ability.

    I prepare, not for the end of days, but for the inevitable dark valleys between here and there.

    August 18, 2022 at 11:57 am
  • Jerry Kropatch Reply

    Ahhhhhhhh the touchiest topic of ALL time. Self preservation!!
    I agree with most what you say. The biblical aspect for sure. Conjecture? No.
    We all are the body of Christ. We are Not all fingers or toes. We are individually built for purpose. The most common being of faith. This should be a common in every Christ filled life.
    Think of it this way. We have soldiers, medics, leaders, mechanics, dispatch logistics. All these work together to win a battle. If one fails it all collapses.
    If you look at Christs (army). Many moving parts here. I am no preacher! I suck at teaching.
    However I have a gift. I have a purpose. If in that purpose I am led to prep. I will do what my commander asks from me without fault.
    I can tell everyone that reads this. I have my orders. And exercise that order daily.
    We as humans try to fit God in a jar, you can’t out prep God.
    Too big,lol.

    I will be direct, I don’t believe in pre millennial rapture. I don’t see Jesus teaching that in the word.
    However He did say it’s going to get bad. How bad? We will be on the edge of ruin. That bad.
    Suffering is part of a Christians life. I’m ok with that. After all Christ set that example on the cross. He says we will suffer for Believing in Him. Earth is not a rose garden. It’s very very dangerous for a Christian these days to speak about God.
    So I prep, knowing that I may have my head lopped off for professing to be a believer in Christ.
    Worse things could happen, I could be losing my soul in eternal fire.
    But until I am no longer flesh and blood, carefully discern the Gospel, and digest its truth. Not all is as it seems.

    My two cents. All I have to give. It’s enough

    December 30, 2022 at 2:26 pm
    • Tim Kinnard Reply

      Thanks, Jerry for the comment. I agree not all are called to the same exact missions. Check out my episode titled “Doug Wilson on Finding a Hill to Defend” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX7w-haf7P4) where I address some of that. In terms of prepping, I’m a big fan of common-sense, everyday forms of preparedness. I do urge caution when someone claims special revelation of certain “orders from the commander” that aren’t revealed in Scripture. A good solider follows the orders as they are delivered. God bless, and thank you again for your feedback!

      December 31, 2022 at 8:17 am

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