After an earthquake, it isn’t unusual to turn our thoughts to Jesus’ words:
7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (Matthew 24:7, King James Version)
However, with Japan, we also saw a tsunami, caused by the earthquake, overtake a huge section of their country. The resulting waves from the tsunami threatened the Philippines, Hawaii and even the western coast of the US.
The Washington Post reported (retrieved 9:29 pm):
Dozens of countries and states issued tsunami alerts – mostly in the Pacific Rim, but also in Hawaii and California. But the waves that reached Hawaii about 8 a.m. Washington time were relatively modest, and the tsunami had only isolated impact on the West Coast. In Crescent City, Calif., near the Oregon border, waves wrecked the harbor, and the Coast Guard was searching off the northern California coast for one person who had been swept out to sea.
One Bible verse that received little attention until the so-called “Day After Christmas Tsunami” (aka, “Asian Tsunami” and “Boxing Day Tsunami”) that struck Southeast Asia in 2004:
25And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; (Luke 21:25, King James Version)
The above verse is in context of the Abomination of Desolation that will take place in the end times. Therefore, we have to assume that these types of conditions will grow worse and worse.
The good news is that there will be an end to all these things when Jesus Christ returns to reign over the earth.
Yes we do, and the sad part is once it's old tired news we go back and forget how quickly our life can get wiped out and ignoring that Jesus said to be ready at all times.
"May the glory of the Lord endure forever… he who looks at the earth, and it trembles…" – Psalm 104:31-32
"Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it with fire… the whole mountain trembled violently…" – Exodus 19:18
So God can cause earthquakes by simply looking at earth, or coming close to it.
"But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles…" – Jeremiah 10:10
"The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry." – Psalm 18:7
So God's anger can cause earthquakes.
So why has God been very angry in the last 15 months with Haiti, New Zealand and Japan – but less so with the United States? Especially since the United States (to hear some ministers talk) went beyond the point of no return by passing health care reform?
Richard wrote: "Especially since the United States (to hear some ministers talk) went beyond the point of no return by passing health care reform?"
Say what?! I have not heard a single minister of God say that. I would like to know who said it and what they meant by it.
The US is being punished in other ways for various things. One thing that should be of interest is the investment that the Japanese and Chinese, both hit by earthquakes recently, have in the US. If disasters continue and they decide to cash in all of their investments in the US …
However, consider this logic and learn from it:
1. Tom has a gun.
2. Tom can kill people by loading the gun, pointing it at them and pulling the trigger.
3. Four people died last week in Tom's small city.
4. Why did Tom kill them?
@Richard, all the earthquakes you mentioned are not the end of the story, only a part of story. Throughout the old testament God used weather and natural disasters to warn the people and in Matthew it speaks of an increase of such disasters close to the end time. Just because America hasn't got such a disaster in a long time doesn't mean it won't or that it won't be some other disaster that brings it down.
As far as the health care bill goes, that is only a sign that we are losing freedoms and are under more government control which always turns into a curse for the people.
"… and in Matthew it speaks of an increase of such disasters close to the end time."
I have to ask, where in the Bible does it say "an increase" in such disasters? Where in the Bible does it say such things will occur more frequently as the time comes closer to Christ's return?
I ask this because I don't know everything in the Bible.
Update: I double-checked the notes and recent events. The sermon called "The Point of No Return" was given 2/20/10 – a month before health care reform was signed into law.
So I apologize for that last sentence — but knowing this Georgia UCG pastor the way I do, I suspect he'd say it only adds to his overall point.
After reviewing the sermon notes, this pastor did cite other things as signs "freedom-loving" America has passed the point of no return with God. Things such as the Ten Commandments being removed from the Alabama Judicial Building (even though it returned as part of a smaller historical display with the Magna Carta and other documents).
He declared General Motors will not recover, there will be no return to prayer or mass Bible reading, STD rates will not decline and religious freedom will continue to deteriorate.
The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of Fred Phelps makes me wonder about that last one.
@Norbert: Well, I didn't bring it up, but I suspect Richard's answer might be similar.
Jesus didn't say the exact words that these must "increase", but He did say, "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." This is an obvious indication that things must get worse before they will get better. It will be an "increase", if you will, in intensity.
However, that's not all. People like to say that all things go in cycles, it will eventually get better, such and so forth (cf. 2Pe 3:3-4). However, Jesus tells us, "All these are the beginning of birth pains" (Mt 24:8 NIV).
What are labor pains like? They come and then they go, in cycles. However, the pain tends to increase each time, and the pains tend to come closer together each time. So, when someone says events "increase", they are usually referring to both the intensity and swiftness of the evil befalling people.
So, people might recognize the "cycles", but they will continue under the illusion that someday things will get better all by themselves when the reality is that evil will eventually reach such an intensity that Jesus Christ must intervene to stop warring nations from killing each other off.
@Richard: Wouldn't the Church be better off sounding a warning message telling people to repent? How many hundreds of years did God spare ancient Israel simply because a few decided to repent?
When is it the "point of no return"? Perhaps it is when God's people stop telling people to turn to God.
I really don't think any human should proclaim that our world is at the point of no return. How would any human know that? even if it is true. After all, all things are possible with God. Remember Nineveh?
I would be very skeptical of any person making that proclamation! they probably are some kind of self proclaimed prophet.
I agree with you, and this pastor would as well. He claims too many mainstream churches only talk about how to "love Jesus," instead of telling people to repent of sin.
So to steer this back to the original topic: will COG groups use the events in Japan (and before that in China and New Zealand) to do that? By that, I mean going there and telling them that?
Or will the groups shrug their shoulders, presume God isn't calling anybody there right now and keep on preaching repentance during in-house services only?
Richard wrote: "So to steer this back to the original topic: will COG groups use the events in Japan (and before that in China and New Zealand) to do that? By that, I mean going there and telling them that?"
Well, I am no prophet, so I can only go on what has been done in the past. I can say that in the case of New Zealand, there are COG people there who are pitching into the relief efforts and assisting others. How they are using those opportunities to spread the Good News, I do not know.
My guess is that since Japan and China don't seem to have thriving congregations that there will be much less done in those areas, if anything. China would be difficult to get into, and the laws there might be difficult to get around, but what is the excuse for Japan?
All in all, I think the larger COGs have let Asia down. LCG is the only one that has any real presence outside of the Phillipines.
That doesn't mean that there is no COG presence there. However, the one group that has a working network is one of the smallest. Legacy Institute probably does more in SE Asia than all the biggest 4 combined. And it isn't even a church.
That is the main reason I'm really, really annoyed that the previous cooperation UCG had with Legacy evaporated. Why? Church politics, that's why!
And people wonder why I say it isn't just the world that needs to repent?
@John: I put your comment under the tithing article, as it was more relevant to that thread than this one.
I remember a time in the COG's when the rest of the world didn't count, the belief was that God wasn't working with them anyway so why bother. The focus was totally inward even to the point of when someone had a death in the family the first question even from the minister was, "where they in the church" because that made a difference in how the family was going to be treated, what a devastating question to someone who is submerged in grief. I do hope at least that has changed.