The devastation throughout the coastlands of the Indian
Ocean will no doubt have some Christian speculators appealing to either "the
wrath of God" on "pagan" nations, or some fulfilment of
Christ's prophetic words in Matthew 24. But there is a dire problem with
these two naive positions...
Christ taught that good things can happen to bad people, and bad things
can happen to good people (Matthew 5:45). When devastation happens to
people its cause should not be automatically assumed to be the wrath
of God. Thank God that the response from the majority of Christians around
the world to various global disasters is compassion, aid, and relief,
not judgment and condemnation!
Secondly, Christ never did say there would be an "increase" in
earthquakes and disasters in the "last days". In Matthew 24
He simply stated that there would be earthquakes in various places, and
that this would occur within the generation of His original audience
Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these
things take place.
Some have illogically twisted "this generation" to mean "that
generation" or "this race", which has been rejected by
nearly all lexicographers (people who define words especially in this
case, ancient Biblical words). It has been noted that exactly what Christ
said would happen and when He said it would happen did happen. Gary DeMar
(www.americanvision.org) notes -
Secular writers describing the period
support the biblical record: “And
as to earthquakes, many are mentioned by writers during a period just
previous to 70 A.D. There were earthquakes in Crete, Smyrna, Miletus,
Chios, Samos, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Colosse, Campania, Rome, and Judea.
It is interesting to note that the city of Pompeii was much damaged by
an earthquake occurring on February 5, 63 A.D."2 The number of earthquakes
that were recorded during that first-century generation is staggering
given the shortness of the time period. Josephus describes an earthquake
in Judea of such magnitude “that the constitution of the universe
was confounded for the destruction of men,”3 the same language
that is being used to describe this most recent earthquake. He goes on
to write that this earthquake was "no common" calamity, indicating
that God Himself had brought it about for a special purpose. One commentator
writes: "Perhaps no period in the world's history has ever been
so marked by these convulsions as that which intervenes between the Crucifixion
and the destruction of Jerusalem."4
2. Marcellus Kik, Matthew Twenty-Four: An Exposition (Philadelphia,
PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1948), 35.
3. Quoted in Thomas Scott, The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New
Testaments, According to the Authorized Version; with Explanatory Notes,
Practical Observations, and Copious Marginal References, 3 vols. (New
York: Collins and Hannay, 1832), 3:108.
4. Edward Hayes Plumptre, “The Gospel According to St. Matthew,” Ellicott’s
Commentary on the Whole Bible, ed. Charles John Ellicott, 8 vols. (London:
Cassell and Company, 1897), 6:146.
As Christians we do ourselves an untold injury when we adopt and spread
either of these two positions (God's wrath or God's prophetic judgment).
We are not primarily proclaimers of God's wrath, but of His love and
salvation for all people. Secondly, the "times and seasons are not
for us to know" (Acts 1:7). Therefore, whenever Christians ignore
this plain statement of Christ and pretend to know the times and seasons
of God's prophetic calendar, only to be proven wildly wrong, they injure
the cause of the Gospel by confusing it with "the" Gospel by
The best thing that Christians can do now is to pray for the survivors
of this disaster and sow financial and other seed to their aid. That's
what the early church did in times of disaster known to them. That's
what our church has done.
IS THIS DISASTER & OTHERS GOD'S DEFENCE
Some are even trying to claim that
the Tsunami and the gale force winds which swept through Europe a week
later were His wrath on these nations for their lack of support for
Israel when they affirmed the recent Palestinian election win of Mr.
Abas. Following this logic are we to attribute every natural disaster
to how nations or people treat Israel? This somewhat deifies Israel
which is blatant idolatry. Secondly it clearly ignores Christ's prediction
that within a generation of His original audience Israel's House would
be left to them desolate (Matthew 23:38). It also overlooks what Christ
predicted about the vineyard being given to a people who will properly
manage it (Matthew 21:41) which was a warning that if Israel rejected
their Messiah the Kingdom would be given to Gentiles instead. Israel
is not the centre of God's prophetic scheme, Christ is (Jn 12:41)!
Christ is the Promised Land. Christ is
our Rest. Christ is on the throne of David. Christ is for all.
God is not the Author of vindictive wrath
upon nations through natural disasters today. Things such as tsunamis
and hurricanes are the outworkings of the laws of nature. Without the
movements of the tectonic plates we would not have our oceans. Without
massive air movements we would have all kinds of environmental problems.
Just as we have learned to live with other laws of nature such as the
Law of Gravity (we've all fallen over and hurt ourselves) we must also
learn to respect other laws of nature such as the movements of our
lands, oceans and air.
During times when their is a tragic loss
of life due to the natural outworkings of nature Christians should
be mobilised by compassion rather than ridiculously simplistic accusations
of God's wrath being poured out. After all, if we're going to be consistent
with this wrath-thinking then every time someone is harmed by gravity
we would actually see God's wrath poured out on them! This is really
bad news for the average two year old!