A Believerís Response to Unprecedented Calamities
Around ten years ago this writer wrote two articles calling upon the readers to consider the unprecedented world events and respond according to Godís word. It was in the context of the devastating hurricanes, flash floods, earthquakes and the Tsunami that destroyed millions of lives as well as the political turmoil in the Middle East resulting in the massacre of innocent lives.
Referring to the radiation from the nuclear reactors due to the tsunami then, one commentator in Japan said, Ďwe never imagined a natural calamity of such magnitude, it happens once in thousand yearsí. Now, due to COVID-19 the world is facing another catastrophe, like no man ever imagined. With all the advanced technology and devices, even the most developed nations struggle to contain the contagion caused by this tiny creature.
Let us pray and support the authorities in every land in their efforts to stop this pandemic. We ought to follow the instructions of the health workers and fulfill our social obligations in all its seriousness.
However, as believers who value and follow the word of God, we have a responsibility to search the scriptures and seek Godís message for us even in times like these.
The Bible reveals that the root cause for all the pain and suffering in this world is the sin of man. Ever since man chose to disobey His Creator and rebel against Godís purposes, not only man, even the earth he dwells in became cursed. Genesis 3: 16 Ė 19.
Apart from this inherent corruption and decay, we see from the days of Noah how God punishes the people for the increased wickedness among them. Gen 6: 6 Ė 7:
ďThen the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them."Ē
After this global disaster by flood, according to the promise of the Lord we see only localized outpouring of His wrath from time to time. Genesis 8:21; 9:11. The series of plagues in Egypt, the repeated pestilences among the Jewish people, the destruction of the land and their temple in Jerusalem etc., are all attributed to divine chastisement on Godís people for their evil ways. The Bible also refers to the divine wrath that fell on various nations like the Assyrians and the Babylonians etc. Often it was unparalleled and unexpected as far as the population of that time was concerned.
However, we can notice certain definite causes that could trigger the displeasure of God and subsequent divine discipline. It is good to consider those things briefly for our self-examination today.
1. Disobedience. Leviticus 26: 14, 15, 25. Cf. Deut. 28:21, 15, 66, etc.
These are warning passages where the Lord clearly warns the people of Israel that breaking Godís holy law will attract appropriate punishments.
2. Unbelief. Numbers 14: 11, 12, 32 etc.
Because of the unbelief and subsequent revolt of the Israelites, all of them had to perish in the way while wandering in the wilderness for forty years.
3. Rebellion against the leadership. Numbers 16: 46, 49
Many consider this sin very casually. They forget the truth that fighting against the divinely appointed leadership is tantamount to agitating against God Himself. He takes it seriously and the incident in Numbers 16 shows that fourteen thousand and seven hundred died before the plague was stopped.
4. An immoral lifestyle Numbers 25:1 Ė 9
When the Israeli young men failed to resist the inducement of the Moabite women to join with them in their evil ways, twenty-four thousands of them had to give their life. Numbers 31:16. Such compromise and uncontrolled lifestyle always attracted Godís wrath against His people. In Jeremiah 14:10, 12, we see the Lord warns His people against their unrestricted way of life. Cf. Jeremiah 21:6, 14.
Godís people must have a peculiar standard of living; they are different and their ways are different. 1John 3: 1, 2. So many Old Testament passages reveal that failure to maintain this separation always resulted in severe punishment. Numbers 25:1 -- 9
5. Pride. 2Samuel 24: 10, 13, 15, etc.
Another devastating plague destroyed seventy thousand people in Israel due to King Davidís thirst for self-glory. Pride can be seen as one of the major reasons for divine indictment against many individuals as well as nations in the past. Isaiah 13:9; 16:6; Jeremiah 48:29; Daniel 5:20; Obadiah 1:3, etc.
6. Defiling Godís sanctuary. Ezekiel. 5:11 - 14
The Temple in the Old Testament was the house of God and its desecration was considered as another serious evil resulting in divine wrath. God is always zealous for His house; He carefully watches over His sanctuary then and now. Disrespectful and unworthy behaviour in the house of God is a serious matter.
These are only some of the prominent explanations that we can glean from the Biblical history when Godís people had to face the chastening hands of God. Of course, we have not listed the reasons for the judgment that fell during the days of Noah and on Sodom and Gomorrah, etc. 2Peter 2:5, 6. Apostle Paul as well as Apostle Peter refer to the past divine judgments and exhort the readers to learn lessons from them. 1Corinthians 10: 1 Ė 11; 2Peter 2:3ff
However, we should do not be confused: not all untoward incidents in human history are because of any particular sins of man. God the Creator has set certain natural laws for this universe. When that is violated whether in connection with the human beings, animal kingdom or the entire environment, its repercussions are bound to occur.
Wisdom to examine
Wise men always learn from history Ė past incidents. What triggered an issue, how did the common man face it, and what principles we ought to pick up etc., are points that we have to consider today.
Consider the moral, spiritual state of the society at large today. How do we as Godís people respond to the growing wickedness around us? Have we just copied it or stood against it? Are there any of those six things that we saw above, and even more, prevailing among the people of God today? How do we react to the gross violation of natural justice and moral perversion around us? Should we just close our eyes to the fact that more and more innocent lives have been slaughtered by the modern man?
Will the Creator Lord God Almighty continue to keep silent seeing the tears of the poor people and even the unborn babies from the womb of their mother? What about our behaviour in the House of God? Is it honourable or bringing shame to the Lord of the church?
Whatever may be the root cause of these unprecedented catastrophes in this generation, an introspection in all sincerity will definitely help us.
Divine Mercy in Judgments.
Remember, in all those occasions when God dealt with man according to the demands of divine justice, sufficient warnings were given. Scripture also reveals that there was always a small remnant whom God graciously delivered from those terrible situations. Whoever chose to respond to Godís call for repentances and salvation was saved. Genesis 6:7, 8; Jonah 3: 6 Ė 10; 2Peter 2: 5 Ė 7.
God has no pleasure even in the death of the wicked. He wants everyone to turn from their wicked ways and lead a holy, righteous life. Ezekiel 18: 23, 32; Lamentations 3:33; 2Peter 3:9. Itís possible only by acknowledging Godís way of salvation accomplished through the cross of Calvary. Act 4: 12; 17:30, 31; 26:18. It was there the Son of God taking the punishment of mankind became an atoning sacrifice. Hebrews 9:27, 28
But when man in his stubborn and stiff-necked attitude continues in his immoral ways in spite of the repeated exhortations, he has to reap its consequences too. No wonder the Lord Jesus declared, ďAnd this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.Ē John 3:19
The Saintís Response
What shall we do today as we face unexpected, unfavorable circumstances? Is it enough to be satisfied that we are born again children of God and nothing will happen to us without Godís permission?
Itís not wrong to trust God and hope for His gracious intervention as we face any hostile situation. But thatís only a one-sided remedy. There were occasions when false prophets tried to comfort the people of God with soothing words, the Lord denounced them for it was not from Him. Jeremiah 27:13ff. So the right response in the light of Godís word is imperative.
Seven important lessons are noteworthy here: (More )
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Seven Danger Signals
Beware of forgetting God. Deut 6: 10 Ė 12.
Beware of the unequal yoke. 2Cori 6:14
Beware of manís approval. 2Timothy 2:15
Beware of secular mixture. Colo 2:8
Beware of conceit. Rom 12:16
Beware of the many things. Luke 10:41, 42
Beware of the error of the wicked. 2Peter 3:17, 18
Thanks for Fleas
Corrie ten Boom says this story of her Nazi Concentration camp which was filthy and full of fleas. Her sister Betsie, imprisoned with her insisted that it is Godís will and thank God for this too. But giving thanks for a flea infested place seemed unrealistic to Corrie until she realized why the guards didnít come in to their barracks to make stop praying and singing.
Guards wanted to avoid fleas. So prisoners were free to worship and study the Bible. Fleas too can be an agent of grace. Little trials, petty annoyances are ways that the Lord teaches us spiritual lessons. When the trials burden us to murmur Ėgive thanks Ėeven for the fleas. 1 Th.5:18.
ďWe know nothing of tomorrow, our business is to be good and happy today.Ē
_________ Sydney Smith.
ďWorry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strengthĒ.
_________ Corrie ten Boom