As Houstonians and South Texans are in recovery mode from the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, Irma is barrelling through the Carribean taking lives and leaving destruction in her wake. And now she’s taking aim at Florida
Following Irma is Hurricane Jose that is predicted to reek future destruction on some of the same islands in just a few days.
And the same time, but receiving less news coverage, wild fires are raging in the midst of an extreme drought. This year blazes have flared up and down California from Los Angeles to north of Sacramento. There have also been wildfires in Idaho, Utah, Oregon, and Washington.
Last night Mexico was hit with a magnitude 8 earthquake, causing a potential tsunami threat to several Central American countries.
All the while this is going on North Korea is menacing the world and “playing chicken” with the United States by conducting Nuclear tests with their next launch expected on Saturday.
And of course, ISIS continues to be a global terror threat and could strike anywhere in the world at any time as the 16th anniversary of 911 approaches.
All of this reminds me of a passage from the Old Testament prophet Amos who was sent by God to warn Israel of impending judgment. While God has blessed them, they had neglected God’s laws. They had oppressed the poor. Reveled in luxurious wantonness. Indulged in the worship of idols with its attending immorality. And had rendered their worship to Jehovah as ineffectual and hypocritical.
As a result, Amos reminds them how God chastised them with various natural disasters. Famine, flood, and drought. Blight and mildew that destroyed their crops, along with locusts. Death as a result of war. Yet, none of that phased them. The prophet repeated this line over and again. “Yet you have not returned to Me, says the Lord” (Amos 4:1-11).
Finally, God’s message is simple. “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel.” (4:12). Judgment was coming. And the nation would fall into captivity, at the hands of the cruel Assyrians.
I wonder. Is God trying to get our attention today? Is He sending us a message?
Indeed God has blessed America with wealth, prosperity, and opportunity unlike any other country in history. Yet, we have squandered so much through waste, selfishness and conspicuous consumption. Morally, as a country, we’ve rejected God’s marriage laws, His guidance regarding sexual purity, and His divine gender roles distinguishing men and women.
I wonder how long God will put up with this mess?
I wonder if He’s using the disasters we deal with and the threats we face to send us a message?
I wonder if He is calling us to repent?
The answer is I don’t know.
I am not claiming that the suffering so many are facing right now is a direct judgment from the hand of God. Nor am I asserting that the United States occupies the same status as ancient Israel.
Furthermore, no human being has insight into the mind of God or the providential working of God outside of His revealed will, the Bible.
All of the natural disasters we face right now could simply be attributed to chance. Or natural laws at work. Or, I suppose, in the minds of some, climate change.
Yet, there is a striking parallel between the pronouncements of Amos that were fulfilled in 722 B.C. and current events. At least there is an application that is relevant.
God desires that we faithfully obey Him. He has in every age and dispensation. If we learn anything from the Old Testament it’s this. Obedience is rewarded. Disobedience is punished.
Events can occur in our lives that remind us of our dependence on the Lord. They can sometimes shake us up and prompt us to consider our ways. Re-examine our lives. And make course corrections. It can remind us of Jesus’ call to “repent or perish” (Lk. 13:3).
Out of the tragedy in Houston, we’ve seen people coming together. Neighbor helping neighbor. Strangers risking their lives to assist their fellow man regardless of race, religion, or ethnic origin. We’ve heard more about the need for prayer in the past two weeks than in the past two years.
People facing the fierce oncoming storm suddenly realize what’s really important. And it’s not their stuff. It’s their lives. Their families. And their relationship with God.
“Prepare to meet your God” is a good motto to live by. Not just when facing the wrath of a hurricane. But every day.
May the current sobering events we’re facing remind us of Solomon’s ever-timely exhortation. “ Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman