GOD AND DISASTERS
Every world disaster, including the recent Tsunami, generates a myriad of responses. It is always encouraging to witness the humanitarian efforts of many in the world. Such responses, though perhaps in many cases inspired by less than perfect motives, is still a refreshing evidence of the restraining grace and common mercy of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the world. The looting, child kidnapping, threats to aid workers and other egregious actions of some are also reminders that sin still abounds. Because Christians understand the goodness of God to them, though very undeserving, we are moved to give and help those who may in fact actually be enemies to Christianity. Following our Lord’s example and command, we seek to love our enemies.
Disasters of this magnitude always stir up discussion about God. Did God have anything to do with it? Why did God allow it, if in fact He did? How could a good God be a part of something so obviously devastating as this? Doesn’t God care for the lives of “innocent” children? Christians are often backed into a corner with such questions. They fear misrepresenting God on one hand, but on the other hand they feel the need to present God in the best possible light so that the world will be accepting of Him. So there are many answers to questions that really totally miss the revelation that God gives of Himself in Scripture. And, after all, what God says of Himself is what we ought to be saying. We must not be attempting to present God to the world in terms that fit the perceptions of fallen human thinking.
While I do not possess the answers to all the questions that may be posed in light of a disaster such as the recent Tsunamis, there are some truths that are clearly revealed and so can be dogmatically stated. Those who have eyes to see will receive it; some will be moved to more careful consideration of their view of God; and others will mock and reject.
God clearly tells us that He is able and willing to bring great disasters against the world that He created. Genesis 6:5-7, And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. 6:17, And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. Genesis 19:24,25, Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. Exodus 13:15, And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem. Joshua 10:11, And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword. Isaiah 37:36, Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
It is clear that God has moved against this earth in history to bring massive death. No Christian needs to feel embarrassed or ashamed to tell others that God is behind such massive disasters. God has said so Himself! We do not need to excuse or defend God. The very problem with most of the world is that they will not bow in submission and worship the true and living God. The world wants to create its own god. Many want to promote the idea that there are many gods; that one is no better than another. When we present God as He presents Himself, then we are being faithful to Him. What He thinks of what we say is far more important that what others may think.
When we understand that God is sovereign in all things, then we are able to do as Job did after the loss of all his possessions, family, and health: worship God! Job recognized that what was sent his way was evil and he recognized that God sent it, but he still worshipped God. The friends of Job spent many words trying to discern the why question, and all of them missed the correct answer. God was making Himself known to Job more intimately, and in the end Job found great satisfaction in what he saw of God.
So, the question that is tough to answer in full is why. Why does God send such disasters? Why did He send this latest one? We could use many words like Job’s friends and totally miss the point. Let me suggest that the true and living God speaks a message to the world by such disasters. That message is, repent, or you will likewise perish!
Repentance has been the message that God has communicated to the world through His servants in relation to great disasters. Noah preached a message of repentance! The prophets of old preached repentance in the face of disaster. Jesus Christ Himself preached repentance when confronted with questions about a disaster of His day. Luke 13:3,4, Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Jesus is telling us that the issue is not determine what was wrong with the “victims”, but what is wrong with the living! Those who are spared are the ones who are called upon to repent. If the unbelieving onlookers (like you and me) don’t respond to such disasters in repentance, we will find ourselves one day experiencing a far worse punishment.
The problem is that most are not affected to change and to worship God in the face of disasters. We see this in Revelation 9:20,21, And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. And, 16:9,21, And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.
God is calling sinners to repentance. These disasters are the works of God that get man’s attention. God’s word carries the message. The message is that God hates sin and will not at all overlook the rebellion of His creatures against Him. He sent His Son to endure the greatest of agonies. Jehovah God says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” This world disaster is intended to be a warning to this world. The day of the Lord is coming, in the which all the world will be burned with fire. Mercy was shown in this recent disaster in that it was localized! When Christ comes again, it will be in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them who know not God and that obey not His gospel (II Thess. 1:7-9).
Sinner, repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! Believer who is walking away from God or has lost your first love, repent and do the first works! God has let us know that He means business! He has shaken the earth! It is high time to wake out of our sleep! The redemption of the Lord draws nigh!
Kyle White, Pastor