The Tsunami and other Disasters
When tragedies like this happen, people always ask, why? Why would a loving God allow so many people to loose their lives? If God is all knowing, why didn’t He or couldn’t He stop this from happening? Where is God at times like this? What good is God at a time like this? And if God is not all powerful and He can’t stop such tragedy, why should we worship Him? These kinds of questions are nothing new to our generation.
The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, again made another one of his foolish statements, as he has repeatedly done since becoming the Archbishop, saying, “Events like this would make one question the existence of God.” Then the chief cleric of Saudi Arabia said, “Well, these people must have been dreadful sinners and that is why Allah is punishing them and they died such deaths.”
Yet, can anyone improve on what Jesus said about such disasters in life. Apparently during the time of Jesus’ ministry, two terrible tragedies happened with a great loss of life, one was man-made and another was not. In one a large group of Galileans were inside the temple offering sacrifices to God and while they were offering these sacrifices to God, Pilot sent his Roman soldiers in an act of treachery and slaughtered them. So horrific was this act that the blood of the people were flowing down, mixed with the blood of the animals of the sacrifices that they were offering to God, inside the temple. In the other event the people were standing under a water tower, called the tower of Siloam, just inside the south-west wall of Jerusalem and it collapsed killing 18 people standing under it.
People in Jesus day were just as curious about those natural and man-made events and wanted to know why. People never change. They were anxious to draw conclusions, just as our culture is ready to draw false conclusions, as were also Job’s friends. They too were ready to pass false and sweeping judgments just as our generation is ready to draw sweeping and erroneous judgments. But instead of asking where was God when this happened, because of their world view, they were asking a different question, like that cleric in Saudi Arabia. These people must have been miserable sinners, worst than all others and that is why these things happened to them. Those people must have deserved that horrible death. They must have done something so horrific that these things happened to them and they faced such a tragic end. Jobs friends said he must have some secret sin to bring on his tragedies. The answer to these false conclusions could not be answered any better than the words of Jesus in Luke 13:1-5. This was for those who were questioning Him about the tragedies that happened in his time.
Luke 13:1-5 “There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 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.”
In one sentence Jesus summarized the entire Bible. You have to understand the construction of the sentence. Jesus is saying first and foremost that God is not the author of evil, but that evil came into the world when Adam gave up his birthright to Satan in the Garden of Eden. Evil came into the world when Adam and Even handed the property deeds that God handed to them to Satan. From that moment on, sin and suffering, disease and illnesses, from earthquakes to storms, tornadoes and hurricanes, floods and fires and death and suffering began to come into the world as a direct result of Adam and Even surrendering their birthright to Satan. Some of these things did not begin until the time of Noah’s flood, which was God’s judgment upon the great sin of the people and because of the inter-mixing of fallen angels which took on the form of man and co-habitated with women, producing a giant offspring that were only half man, not pure human. And from the time of Adam and Even on, Satan had a free reign in this world, becoming the god of this world, though with limits set by God and under His lease or control.
The result of the fall of man and sin entering the human race and showing the degradation of the human spirit, was first shown clearly in the first murder of Cain killing his brother Abel out of jealousy because Cain refused to listen to God’s warning about sin crouching at the door of his heart and that he must master it. Instead, like Eve, Cain listed to Satan and murdered his brother. And Satan has been causing ruin and devastation and death every since and is behind the tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunami’s that are happening in the world today. Satan is behind the pain of all human suffering because his desire is to take as many humans as possible with him into eternal damnation, which he knows is soon to come. As the scripture says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
But God has provided a way out, a way of escape from the designs and desire of Satan to destroy your soul in hell. God provided an answer, a solution, an explanation, an answer to our suffering. It was His coming from heaven to earth, laying aside His deity to become a man, the second Adam, to live a pure and sinless life, being tempted in all points but without sin and then dying on a cross and rising again on the third day so that He, Jesus could take back what Adam and Eve had lost, to get victory over death, hell and the grave so that He could restore to those who believe in Him, power over Satan, power over sin and power over death.
From the time of Jesus onward, anyone who wants to receive that power over sin and death and Satan can come to Him and receive grace upon grace upon grace not only in this life but for all eternity in the life to come. So what is Jesus saying to his contemporaries in Luke 13? He is saying that these people who died in the temple or those people who were crushed under the tower of Siloam are no worse sinner than anyone else. He is saying that but for God’s sake, take this tragedy as God’s warning for yourselves, for your sake, for your families sake, for your futures sake, for eternity’s sake, be forewarned of the coming judgment that will be far worse that this one. Be forewarned that God’s judgment is coming upon all those who refuse to repent, who refuse to receive eternal life from Jesus. Be forewarned that God’s ultimate judgment upon those who refuse the gift of His Son Jesus and the refuse the redemption and forgiveness that He offers through His shed blood, will be for worse and far more severe than these tragedies for it will be pain and suffering for eternity without end.
What would Jesus say to all those of our day that are saying, Where was God when all these things were happening, where was God in times of tragedy. He is saying to us who have not lost our lives, that those who have died in the tsunami in all those countries in Asia are no more sinners than those who are sleeping in the safety of their homes in the United States and Canada and Europe and other parts of the world not affected by this tragedy. What is Jesus answer to those who are asking where is God in times of disaster. Listen to this carefully and don’t miss it. The text makes it clear. Jesus would say to you and anyone who is asking, “Where is God when tragedies like this take place,” is “sir, madam, you are asking the wrong question.”
The question is not where is God when these things are happening. God is still on the throne of the universe and in control of this world. The question is not what did these people do to deserve this horrible death. That is the wrong question. The question that you should be asking yourself is this, “Have I accepted the sacrifice of Jesus for my sin? Have I accepted the eternal life that He is offering me through Jesus Christ? Have I repented of my sins and received the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior of my soul, thereby granting me eternal life. Am I walking in repentance, forgiveness and obedience to the Lord Jesus?” That is the question that I should be asking myself.
It will do you no good to ask the wrong questions. You have to ask the right questions and the right question is, have I made provision to escape from darkness to light, from death to life, from eternal damnation to eternal blessing. The question should be, “If I die today, where will I spend eternity?” If your answer is “I’m not sure or no it would not be heaven, then you can be sure if you will turn to Jesus and ask Him into your life.” You can now say, “Heavenly Father, I have in the past rejected the provision of the blood of your Son Jesus that was shed for me on Calvary that I might be forgiven of my sins and receive your provision of eternal life. Right now, I ask you to forgive me for my sin, I ask you to change my heart and give me a heart to love and sere you, I ask you Lord Jesus to come into my heart by your Holy Spirit and give me your life. I turn my life over to you. Take my life and make it yours. In Jesus name I ask.”
For Jesus said, “unless you repent, you will likewise perish, not just a physical death one day, but an eternal spiritual death of separation from God and His love and mercy to a place of everlasting retribution for your sins. The questions that we must all concern ourselves with is “where will I spend eternity? In heaven or hell? Where will I go, whose company will I be in when I die; that of Jesus or the Devil? What does my eternal future look like, eternal blessing and peace and joy in the presence of the Lord Jesus or a continual torment and suffering in the Lake of Fire? That is the question we should ask ourselves today.
Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will likewise perish.” The dividing factor between all human beings on the face of the earth that live or have lived is not your ethnicity or race, it’s not wealth or the lack of it, safety or danger but the dividing factor between all human being is simply between those who have repented of their sins before a holy God and those who have not. That’s it. And so Jesus would say to all of us, “Let this tsunami be a warning to you that the judgment is coming.” In the book of Revelation you see the coming judgments upon the world unfolding and instead of repenting you see the people hardening their hearts all the more against God and rejecting His grace, mercy and forgiveness. He is saying, when you see these things happening, turn to me and let me show you my life. Know that judgment is coming to all men and will come to you the day you die, however you die, whenever you die; it makes no difference. It is still “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12).
We who are saved, have all been saved by the Lord Jesus that we might experience and know victory and power over sin, Satan and death. We sing a chorus that makes our need very clea, "I need more than just forgiveness, I need power to overcome. I need more than just the taking away of a sin I have done. I need strength and understanding to face the tempter when he comes. I need more than just forgiveness, I need power to overcome." And that is only available through Jesus Christ by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
We exist to take the gospel message of eternal life and hope to others, that they too might have and know that power and freedom over the power of sin, the judgment for sin, the sting and remembrance of sin. We are here to proclaim the good news of Jesus to others. It is great that many are helping and working to help victims of this tragedy. We are doing the same. But don’t miss the point, the important thing that could happen to a person as a result of this tsunami, according to Jesus, is that each and every one would repent of their sins and come to Him and receive His forgiveness of sin and eternal life that they would not have to suffer the greater tragedy of eternity in hell without him.
The greatest tragedy is that you would heard the message of the grace of God and His offer to forgive and save you and reject it and end up in eternal damnation. To you, that will be a worse tragedy than all the disasters, tsunamis, earthquakes of the world combined. Those tragedies that you have heard about or read about in the news didn’t affect you like eternity will. Now, you still have a choice and a chance to escape the judgment of God, when you are a victim of a tragedy, when you are dead by any means, then it will be too late to decide and choose to repent and receive His forgiveness and salvation.
Jesus is telling us, “learn from this horrible tragedy and come to me so that I may save you eternally.”
The question of why, why so many children, why this tragedy, why to these people are all false questions, the wrong questions. Learn from those in Jesus day that he spoke too. He basically told them, “You are foolish to ask these questions.” The issue is not “were these people such great sinners or was this God’s judgment upon them, though it surely was judgment for sin upon this wicked world. Our question and statements should not be like the foolish and unbelieving Archbishop of Canterbury or the cleric in Saudi Arabia, but to consider what Jesus said about tragedies when they happen. This is not just a message for the people of Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Thailand and other countries affected by this great tsunami, but for all who don’t know Jesus personally as their Lord and Savior. It should remind us all of how fragile life is.
Consider, even many more Americans died in that tsunami on vacation that all the troops lost in 18 months of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Far more Americans died in the tragedy of 9/11 than in the war of Iraq thus far. We should consider these things. Consider the almost constant death of people by floods, tornadoes, mudslides, volcanoes, hurricanes, cyclones and other ‘acts of nature.’ What did these lives accomplish or gain? It all depends on if they knew Jesus and were born of His spirit. To die in Christ is gain, to die without Christ is eternal loss. It is that simple.
Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Surely the death of over 150,000 people in this disaster forces people to consider the fragility of life and the fact that there is no promise of tomorrow and at some point all of us will die. It is senseless to point the finger at God with blame or accusations. It is the sin of man that is bringing worsening calamities upon the world and it is certainty that we will all die and then afterward, “the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27 says; “as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”
Most act as if this life is all there is, then death would be the ultimate tragedy, especially if those who died didn’t have the change to get the ‘most out of life’ as our culture defines it. To them, death is to be avoided at all costs for as long as possible. Yet, even those who say they don’t believe in God pour out wrath and accusations at Him for being unjust for allowing such tragedy to happen. And yet, in one way or another, the world keeps charging, “If there is a God, why does God allow such bad things to happen to good people.” As if all those who died were sinners by nature as all men are.
First God declared that He created man to live forever, but because of man’s fall and sin he now has two destinations for eternity and every one who doesn’t restore his relationship with God will spend eternity away from God in a place of isolation from Him and outer darkness. This consequence is so great and horrible that God Himself stepped out of eternity into time in the person of Jesus Christ to pay our penalty of rebellion. Because of that He can offer forgiveness and life to all who will accept the offering of Jesus for our sins.
John 3:16-19 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” This tells the story from God’s perspective and it tells us that the nature and timing of your death is not the ultimate tragedy or the issue at all, but whether or not you die without resolving your sin issue and where you will spend eternity. This is truth whether you accept it or not. When you look at life from the perspective of eternity, then what looks like a tragedy to this world, as when men like Stephen and the Apostles and many since died as martyrs for the faith, is but a promotion to glory and eternal reward for living and dying for Christ. So the issue of when you die, how you die, how old you are when you die is not the greatest and most important issue, but whether or not you will spend eternity with Jesus or with Lucifer. That is why scripture in Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”
To the world such a statement is incomprehensible, but every saint (one set aside as God’s possession) death is a homecoming, where all pain, suffering and trouble end and joy eternal begins. Therefore, we are also encouraged with 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
Also the one who understands life from the view of eternity lives life with a different perspective. He lives knowing that there is no promise of tomorrow and how long he will live and without concern for that or anxiety about it. James 4:14-15 “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
It is only the love and good we do while on earth, in faith and obedience to Him that will bring us eternal reward. Finally, we already know and have covered that Jesus Christ spoke out about those who self righteously look upon catastrophes and pass judgment that those who perished have been greater sentenced than anyone else in Luke 13:1-5. Such catastrophes should be viewed in humility and compassion. Apart from God’s grace we could all fall victim to natural catastrophes. These are the result of man living on an earth that has been cursed because of our sin. We live in a world that is under the diabolical one. 1 John 5:19 “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” He is the ruler of this world and Job told us that Satan had the power to unleash great natural catastrophes. Also we were warned by Jesus that as the time of the end draws near, such things would only increase in frequency and intensity. He particularly mentioned great earthquakes and fear and a roaring of the sea. Luke 21:25-26 “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
These natural disasters have been increasing in power and frequency for the past three decades. 2004 was like a quantum leap in numbers. In September even the United Nations Disaster Reduction Agency statement said, “Not only is the world globally facing more potential disasters, but increasing numbers of people are becoming vulnerable to hazards.” This is something the secular world has tried to deny this for decades while students of Bible prophecy pointed to the figures to say otherwise.
In 2003 some 83,000 died by natural disasters, 2004 over 200,000. Yet just 53,000 died from natural disasters just some 13 years earlier. Look at this quote by John Harding, Program Officer at UN/ISDR “Look at the number of hurricanes this year. It is hard to keep up with all the names. The scientific community tells us that the intensity and frequency of disasters are very likely to increase in the medium-term due to climate change and that increase may well be occurring at this stage.”
IN 2004, 4 major hurricanes within 2 months hit Florida and only our warning system saved great loss of life. Property damage has already topped $32 Billion. Over 1,700 tornadoes alone hit the U.S. last year. The U.N. said we are witnessing increasing earthquakes, famine, wars and pestilences, just like Jesus predicted in the end-times. There are unexpected and unsettling changes in the Suns solar spots. We are looking into the heavens with fear looking for asteroids that could hit the earth. This great 9.0 earthquake on 12/26/04 took place exactly one year and 58 minutes after the disastrous earthquake in Iran last year that killed tens of thousands of people.
This is all a fulfillment of Jesus words in Matthew 24 comparing the events on earth being like a woman have birth pains before birth. Luke 21:9-11 “But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.”
These birth pains are coming and happening. Yet, with it is a great promise for believers. Luke 21:25-28 “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” So in the middle of this Jesus promises deliverance and hope for His own. Praise the Lord!
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