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What is God Saying to Us?

posted Sep 12, 2017, 10:18 AM by First Baptist

 

This is a question a lot of people are asking in response to the recent series of natural disasters afflicting the United States. Yet a 3rd hurricane is brewing in the Atlantic.

 

Even the secular New York Times was asking this question in a front-page article on September 8

 

The Times was careful to point out that storms and wildfires are common this time of year, but then they added, “But still.”

 

I’ve heard a number of Christian leaders insist God is judging America, or perhaps more specifically, judging Texas & Florida (plus several western states in the case of the wildfires).

 

This is irresponsible and cruel.

 

Now, it is true that God speaks through nature and acts of providence. Psalm 19:1-6 makes this clear. But, as to what God is saying specifically, if anything, we need to go to Scripture. Martin Luther offered wise counsel when he said,

 

“Let the man who would hear God speak, read holy Scripture.”

 

Luke 13

 

Perhaps the best passage for interpreting natural disasters is Luke 13. This is part of the “journey section” of Luke’s gospel, in which Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem and the crucifixion. Along the way, he does a lot of teaching, much of it in response to questions.

 

One day, Jesus is informed about a natural disaster. He’s told that 13 people died when the tower in Siloam fell on them. Most likely the tower was knocked down by a weather event of some kind.

 

So, what about this Jesus?

 

Here’s what Jesus says:

 

“Do you think they [the 13 who died] were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

                                                                                                Luke 13:4-5

 

No More Deserving

 

I think Jesus is saying two things: First, don’t think those who suffered are worse sinners than those who did not; they are no more deserving of suffering than you are.

 

This means then that the people of Florida & Texas aren’t worse sinners than the good folks of Iowa. They don’t deserve a natural disaster any more (or less) than we do. We mustn’t think that way.

 

How then should we think?

 

A Call to Repent

 

This is Jesus’ second point: In the wake of tragedy, Jesus calls upon ALL people to repent (i.e., to turn away from their sin & unbelief and to God).

 

It turns out then that hurricanes and other natural disasters are warnings to us of the eternal judgment yet to come. They are like warning shots fired across the bow of ships that are sailing in rebellion to God. The message is that a far greater disaster awaits those who persist in their rebellion.

 

One author writes:

 

“Christ is the only safe refuge from the coming Day of Judgment – a day that will make Hurricanes Harvey & Irma seem like arguments on a playground in comparison.”

 

This is what God is saying to us. These storms, together with every other tragedy in life, are calls to repent of sin and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord give us ears to hear this message.

 

 

Pastor Dan

 

Adapted from an article by Tom Ascol

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