Droughts, Tsunamis and God
The numerous recent natural disasters have been reported on with these kind of headlines: "Tsunami Where Was God?" and "Drought Brings Farmers To Their Knees"!
There has been an outpouring of newspaper and magazine articles and radio and TV commentary alternately blaming God for the disasters, or claiming that these disasters prove that God does not exist. Similarly with the AIDS plague. "A man's own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord". Psalm 19:3
In a recent article in a Cape Town newspaper they claimed to have interviewed the heads of all the major religions and denominations, and their unanimous conclusion was that the Tsunami could not have been a judgement from God!
DEPRAVITY AND DECEPTION
It would seem that these theologians and religious authorities share a basic assumption: That man is basically good. And because we are all at heart such "good" people, we could never deserve to be judged by a loving and merciful God who would seem to be just too soft and gentle to judge anybody anyway. After all none of us would ever be selfish, greedy, deceitful, vengeful, dishonest, lustful or murderous. We are all basically good!
In the book of Amos 4:7-8 the Lord declares: "I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another.Yet you have not returned to Me, declares the Lord."
Far from people being basically "good", the Scriptures teach the innate depravity of man: "There is no-one righteous, not even one; there is no-one who understands, no-one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes." Romans 3:10-18
"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, traitorous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power." 2 Timothy 3:1-5
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death." Revelation 21:8
DEAF TO GOD'S WORD
In the light of these passages and the blessings of obedience and curses of disobedience outlined in Deuteronomy 28, it would appear that the message of these natural disasters is being rejected by most journalists and theologians. It is a double grief when lives are lost and lessons are not learned.
Every deadly calamity is a merciful call from a Holy God for us to repent. That was how Jesus responded to those who brought news to Him of the Galileans who had been massacred by Pontius Pilate in the temple. Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent you too will all perish." Luke 13:1-3
Then the Lord referred to the disastrous fall of the tower in Siloam when eighteen died: "But unless you repent, you too will all perish." Luke 13:5
There is a time to weep (Ecclesiastes 3:4) and we should grieve with those who grieve. But we should also: "Even now, declares the Lord, return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and He relents from sending calamity." Joel 2:12-13
This is the lesson we should learn from every deadly disaster: Repent. Grieve that God is cursed for every catastrophe, but seldom praised for His wonderful creation. Lament that God makes the news headlines only when man mocks His power or questions His goodness, but tens of thousands of God's acts of mercy, grace, protection, provision and patience receive no headlines. Grieve that the Name of the only righteous Man who ever walked the earth is used as a swear word on TV screens and in cinemas across the world. Grieve that God is blasphemed by the very same people who question why God does not restrain the consequences of their own rebellious actions.
Could God be speaking to the nations that were hit by the Tsunami?
Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation on earth. Many hundreds of Christian churches have been burned to the ground and tens of thousands of Christians massacred by Muslim mobs in Indonesia. The Indonesian government has been a major supporter and ally of the radical National Islamic Front government in Sudan and the Al Queda terrorist network has received substantial support from Indonesian Muslims. Thailand is renowned as the sex tourism destination of the world. Thailand has made a vast industry out of child prostitution and every kind of vile perversion and vice. Could idol-worshipping polytheists and pagans who have steadfastly resisted the Gospel message for generations, persecuting their neighbours who have turned to the Lord Jesus, have something to learn from the Tsunami?
BLIND TO GOD'S ACTS
"The lion has roared who will not fear? The Sovereign Lord has spoken who can but prophesy?" Amos 3:8
"I sent plagues among you.I killed your young men with the sword.yet you have not returned to Me, declares the Lord." Amos 4:10
"You are just in these judgements, You Who are and Who were the Holy One, because You have so judged; for they have shed the blood of Your saints and prophets and You had given them blood to drink as they deserve.Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are Your judgements.they cursed the Name of God, but they refused to repent and glorify Him., but they refused to repent of what they had done.and they cursed God." Rev. 16:1-21
One of the worst hit towns was Meulaboh in Aceh, where 80% of the people died.
The Muslims in Meulaboh refused to allow the 400 Christians in their town to celebrate Christmas. So the Christians went outside the town and up a high hill to celebrate Christmas and they spent the whole night on the hill. The next morning the Tsunami tidal waves destroyed most of Meulaboh with thousands killed. All 400 Christians were still on the mountain and were saved from the destruction.
Now many of the Muslim survivors are saying that God has punished them for persecuting the Christians.
Can God be speaking to us through these deadly disasters? Can these catastrophic calamities be a merciful call from a just God for us to repent?
What about the drought in Cape Town? Is God speaking to us?
In 2 Chronicles 7:12-14 the Lord declared: "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain.if My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Throughout the Bible drought is seen as a judgement of God, and a clear warning to people to humble themselves and pray and seek God's face and turn from their wicked ways.
I remember shortly after my conversion in 1977, South Africa experienced a severe drought. The President called for a National Day of Repentance and Humiliation before God. As a new Christian I was most impressed when I joined the masses of people pouring out of their workplaces during lunch hour and filling the churches in central Cape Town to overflowing. It was the first time that I ever experienced such an intense time of earnest heart searching prayers of repentance. And when the rains came just a couple of days later I was awe struck.
Yet it is a sad fact that despite some serious times of drought experienced at different times over the last fifteen years, none of the last three presidents of South Africa have seen fit to call for a National Day of Prayer and Repentance. I remember church leaders pleading with Mr. De Klerk and Mr. Mandela to call for days of prayer, but they did not. It does not appear that Mr. Mbeki will call for a National Day of Prayer during this time of drought either.
My father who fought in the Second World War remembered that King George VI had called the people of Great Britain to National Days of Prayer and Repentance four times. Yet, his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, in 53 years as the Queen of England, has not once called for National Day of Prayer. The last time Britain had a National Day of Prayer was during the Second World War.
Since Zambia officially became a Christian nation, their President has called the nation to days of prayer during drought, and they have also celebrated National Days of Thanksgiving when God graciously answered their prayers with rain.
So, back to that Cape Town newspaper headline: "Drought Brings Farmers To Their Knees". From reading the article, it does not appear that they were referring to a spiritual move of farmers turning to God in repentance and seeking rain from Him. In fact one headline declared "Farmers To See Government Over Drought". Now, I would like to see any government legislate rain!
What is God saying to us in Cape Town? Could declaring Cape Town a "pink city" and "the gay tourism capital of Africa", with the Capetour published "Pink Map", legalised abortion and prevalent prostitution, have provoked the wrath of God?
For 135 years the Parliament in Cape Town opened its sessions in prayer, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. The first action of the new ANC government in 1994 was to abolish the practice of opening Parliament in prayer. That very month, May 1994, Cape Town was hit with the worse storm in living memory and an ecological disaster as a Chinese oil tanker sank off our shores in that storm.
Radical homosexuals in Cape Town have gone far beyond requesting tolerance, they are demanding acceptance. And not just acceptance, but approval. And not only approval, but conformity. In fact, the radical homosexuals, who include leaders in the city, are not satisfied with the deviant being declared normal, they want the normal declared deviant. They've made it clear that they will not rest until those who refuse to conform to their perverse death style are locked up in jail. They want to persecute those who refuse to bow to their pressure to approve and conform.
"For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God, nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Since, they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They had become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents, they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." Romans 1:21-32
When we published The Pink Agenda book at the end of 2001, we experienced the "strife, deceit and malice" and arrogant, insolent slander of what Romans describes as "God haters". Without dealing with any of the issues and facts documented in the book, many of the homosexuals and their public relations agents, chose rather to attack the messengers than deal with the issues raised.
Tens of thousands of babies have been killed by abortion, legally, with taxpayers money, in Cape Town over the last year. Could the blood of these innocents have anything to do with the drought we have experienced?
Of course, some will point out that we have had some very large Transformations Prayer Rallies in Newlands Rugby Stadium in Cape Town and that certainly has been an encouraging development. However, many of those participating have observed how these meetings fell far short of repentance. Some described these rallies as an attempt to take the shortcut to revival while avoiding the road of repentance. 2 Chronicles 7:14 declares that we are to humble ourselves and pray and seek God's face and turn from our wicked ways. There certainly was some earnest prayer at the Newlands rallies, but did they meet the Biblical standards of humbling ourselves, seeking God's face and turning from our wicked ways?
The drought in Cape Town would seem to indicate that thus far our attempts to humbly seek God's face and turn from our wicked ways have been inadequate.
Perhaps it is time for us to look at God's Law afresh, to structure our repentance according to the Ten Commandments.
And we need a Biblical understanding of repentance. Repentance is not merely "feeling sorry" for our "failings and weaknesses". What God calls wicked we should not try to re-define as some kind of "mistake". Biblical repentance involves: Conviction, contrition, and conversion, a change of mind, a change of heart and a change of life a change of lifestyle a change of behaviour.
"Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked man forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God for He will freely pardon." Isaiah 55:6-7
The fact is that people are not basically good. We are naturally selfish, innately depraved and very wicked. Every deadly disaster is a merciful call from a Holy God for us to repent.
"Rid yourselves of all the offences you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die?" Ezekiel 18:31
"Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." Acts 3:19
"The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." Psalm 51:17
Peter Hammond is the author of Biblical Principles for Africa and the Discipleship Handbook.