Judgment: Does God Send Disasters?
We get a lot of emails from fellow Christians telling us that God is judging this or that nation. The source is usually a self styled ‘prophet’ who sees every disaster, natural or otherwise, as an act of God aimed at some particular segment of human society. They completely ignore, or are seemingly ignorant of, the wider world and the terrible calamities and suffering that is a daily part of this fallen, sin sick world.
The thing I find most disturbing is the 'us and them' attitude. Us being the saved and them being the as yet unsaved. We are OK but the rest of humanity is going to get it, and they really deserve everything they get. The fact that we, the saved, are no better than the unsaved seems to have escaped them. The only difference being that we have accepted Jesus and they, the unsaved, haven’t. But more of that later, let us look at the disasters themselves.
Disasters seem to fall into two main categories –
1) those caused by human activity, i.e. wars, financial collapses, etc. and -
2) those caused by ‘nature’, i.e. earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, etc.
Of course there are also those that area combination of both human activity and nature (e.g. the Oklahoma dust bowl).
1) HUMAN ACTIVITY:
The whole of humanity is in a fallen state and subject to sin. The exception being born again believers who are no longer subjects of sin and death and who are in the world but not of it.
It follows then that if the majority of mankind (particularly those in authority and positions of influence) are unsaved, then their decisions will for the most part be ungodly. If these decisions lead to disasters (the worldwide financial crashes of 1929 and again just recently) they are the result of humans making ungodly decisions and not ‘God judging the nations”.
Christians can be deceived into reading God’s hand into human events. For example, Germany was suffering under the Weimar Republic and then, in 1933, Hitler took over. The evangelical church in Germany embraced this and publicly proclaimed that Hitler was a gift from God sent to restore order, prosperity and national pride in Germany.
Of course in retrospect we know that this was not so. He was not ‘sent by God’ but elected or allowed to seize power because of the actions of the German people, most of whom were not born again Christians and therefore were not acting in accordance with God’s desires and instructions.
Another example is the British Empire. In 1922 Britain controlled a quarter of the world’s territories and ruled a quarter of the world’s population. Fifty years later it was near bankrupt, a small island nation off Europe that was begging for permission to enter the European Union.
This was not the result of God’s judgment but the result of many decisions made, or allowed, by unsaved people who were subjects of sin. They made ‘natural’ decisions without reference to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
With regard to natural disasters we need to consider that the world is subject to the curse of the fall. According to Romans 8:22, the whole of creation is groaning and waiting for its restoration to perfection, It was because of the curse and the degradation of mankind that the Flood occurred.
The crust of the earth cracked and split into many pieces (tectonic plates) and in so doing it releasing the vast volume of water lying beneath in subterranean reservoirs. The Bible calls this the ‘fountains of the deep’ being released ( Gen 7:11 ). As the tectonic plates moved with a force that we are unable to conceive, mountains ranges were thrust upward (sea bed fossils now embedded in the strata of high mountains) and great voids were exposed (mid-Atlantic trench) and the great oceans were formed by the vast amounts of water released from below.
Over the ages the movement of the tectonic plates has slowed but not stopped. The continuing movements of these plates of the earth’s crust cause the earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis that we experience today.
The spiritual state of a nation adjacent to a fault line is not caused by the fault line, nor is the fault line caused by the spiritual state of the nation. The tsunamis that struck Indonesia and Japan are not God’s judgment on those nations but a natural result of the judgment of the world that came as a result of the curse.
Does God judge nations today? The Bible tells me that:
God so loved the WORLD (his creation) that he sent his only beloved Son (John 3:16);
that he would justify the heathen by faith, saying to Abraham that in thee ALL nations shall be blessed (Gal.3:8);
that he has redeemed us by his blood out of EVERY kindred, and tongue, and people and nation. (Rev 5:9).
He sent His only begotten Son to open up a way for His love to be experienced by all who are called by Him and accept him. His desire is that NONE of his people should perish (2 Peter 3:9).
The Bible says that God is LOVE! (1 John 4:1 & 16).
He is forbearing and long-suffering and patient.(Rom 2:4; 9:22. 1 Peter 3:20, 2 Peter 3:15)
and so from the time of Calvary until the final Judgment when all will kneel before Him, His righteous wrath is withheld and He offers His love.
Right up to the last millisecond of a persons life on this earth God is holding out His hand offering salvation and eternal life in Him. Not because of who that person is but because of Him and who He is.
'Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10) and also 'that God demonstrated His whole love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us".(Rom. 5:8)
The whole point of the reason for the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Resurrection, of Jesus Christ himself, is the reversal of the curse and its effects. This process began in a virgin’s womb in Nazareth and will reach its culmination when Christ returns in glory and a new heaven and a new earth will be formed.
These false 'prophets' spouting falsehoods about God judging nations, base their theology on the Old Covenant (where in fact God's wrath was poured out on disobedient Israel) and ignore the New Covenant which says that from the time of Calvary until the final Judgment His righteous wrath is withheld.
As a result of the fall and the curse, mankind makes decisions that lead to wars, to persecutions, to famines, to suffering of all sorts.
As a result of the fall and the curse, creation groans to be restored as the vast natural forces create chaos and damage such as floods, earthquakes, droughts, tsunamis, etc.
Disasters, man-made and natural, are the result of the curse. God is in the process of restoring mankind and creation by sending his Son to pay the price and reverse the curse. Jesus came to destroy the works of the evil one and bring all back to perfection at the day of the Lord.
God is no longer judging nations; His judgment is in abeyance while he extends grace, so that none of those he is calling should perish. At the day of the Lord when the opportunity to accept His offer is past, then will come the judgment, not now.