Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Regarding the Earthquake, Tsunami, etc.

Permit me a few words of theological reflection about the recent earthquake and tsunami destruction in Japan. We have all been shocked and amazed at the 9.0 quake, the resulting tsunami wave and even the nuclear plant crisis that are affecting our global economy and creating a sense of fear in the hearts of humans world-wide.

Some people say it’s a sign of the end of the world. Our Adventist heritage leads us to say such things about every world event – disasters that are natural or man-made. And indeed the earth is growing old, like a garment filled with holes (Isaiah 51:6). However, Jesus said in Matthew 24 that when we see natural disasters, and he specifically mentions earthquakes, we should not get too excited or finalize our end time chart…for “the end is not yet” and “it’s just the beginning of earth’s ‘birth pains.’” vs 6-8

In the same way, we can’t conclude that Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans is the judgment of God upon that city’s wanton sensuality and drunkenness or the Haiti Earthquake is God’s wrath visited upon a nation filled with voodoo. If these conclusions were accurate, then San Francisco should have certainly been hit with another city-destroying quake in the years since 1906…and the Loma Prieta doesn’t count!

I am certainly not a scoffing skeptic that says “Don’t get excited. All things are of natural processes. All things continue this way since the beginning of the world.” Such a sentiment is found in 2 Peter 3:4.

The Bible describes a time when God destroyed the world with THE flood (Noah), and mentions some times when God destroyed individual geographic locations (Sodom, Jericho), but these are few and far between.

It seems from 2 Peter 3:7…that the earth and even the surrounding heavens are “reserved” unto the destruction of fire. I’m not sure God’s intent is so much to destroy parts of the earth a little at a time…but to do it all at once…at the end.

If one concludes that this disaster is an intentional act of God’s wrath…than one must also conclude that all disasters, including 9/11 are acts of God’s wrath. And one must also conclude a destroying forest fire or a tornado are the same. One must even conclude that burst water pipe (while you are on vacation) or even an individual house fire are also acts of God’s wrath.

God can’t both be loving, having died for the sins of humanity and then delaying the end of all things and the coming of the Christ so that more people can be saved…and be the vengeful destroyer, vibrating islands here and there inflicting pain on humanity just to get there attention.

So what is the lesson in tragedy? I have found great comfort in Luke 13:1-5. Jesus draws a lesson from two horrible events - the man-made deaths of temple worshipers and the unfortunate victims of a tower collapse. His point: When you see disaster(s), remember that life is short…and you should repent and be right with God.

Don’t label it a sign of the end. Don’t add another item to your prophetic chart. Just repent. Don’t pray for God to rain his judgments on another wicked city…for perhaps someone are praying right then for God to rain down judgment on YOU…and in mercy God ignores their prayers!

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