HEED THE WARNINGS

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The earthquake which struck Nepal some time back aroused a lot of compassion in the neighbouring countries, especially in India. Our Prime Minister was in the news for extending all the help needed in time. A lot of practical help in terms of physical needs like tents, clothes, medicines, etc. were sent. This is praiseworthy and should be appreciated.  The latest in the series of such natural and man-made disasters is the corona virus which seems to have shaken the whole world. We Christians prayed earnestly for the healing of the injured, comfort of the bereaved and also for meeting their physical needs, which of course is one of the things expected of us.

But the question is, is that all? Is praying the only thing God expects from His children? Isn’t there a greater and more important message in such disasters? Is He not speaking in a loud voice to today’s generation, which is moving farther and farher away from the One who created them? Is He not telling the world that the path they have chosen for themselves is disastrous and self-destructive? I believe, He is telling the world that He is still on the throne and that He is in full control, and not we humans, as some of us think. The Bible says that these are only the beginning of the disasters and devastations that are yet to strike the world on a massive scale on the day of the Lord. These are just warnings for those who would listen and turn to God.   In answer to the disciples’ question about the time of His coming and of the end of the age, Jesus said: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earth-quakes in various   places and famines and pestilences; And there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven (Luke 21:10-11).

Day of the Lord

The Day of the Lord is an oft repeated phrase in the Bible, which is also referred to as the day of the Lord’s wrath. Some of us may ask: “Is the Lord wrathful?; we thought God is love.” That is because we hardly hear any message on this topic. There are many Christians who are tongue-tied when people ask about why God allows such calamities, which kill so many ‘innocent’ people? Why was He unable to prevent them? Yet, according to the Bible, how many people are innocent? “God looks down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. Every one of them has turned aside; they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one” (Psa. 53:2-3). John 3:36 says, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” So, everyone born into this world deserves God’s wrath. The only ones exempted are the ones who have believed in God’s Son.

The whole Bible is about God’s love for sinful people. He has provided a way out of His wrath. The intensity and extent of this love is evident from the fact that He allowed His Son to die in our place as if He loved you and me a little more than His one and only Son. God’s wrath abides only on those who have rejected this way of escape.

God is just in all His ways. In fact, righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne (Psa. 89:14).

Natural Calamities

What does the Bible say about natural calamities? Amos 3:6 says: “If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it”? Isaiah 45:7 says, “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord do all these things.” We get a glimpse of the extent of our degeneration by reading the newspaper or listening to the TV news. Not only have we degenerated and gone far away from the “manufacturer’s instruction manual” for our safe and effective functioning, but we also glory in those shameful acts. Money and sex have become gods. What was considered shameful, a few years ago, are now being glorified. Is it unfair on the part of the Creator God to send a reminder, once in a while? Should we complain? How many of us have not punished our children for disobeying our instructions? Do we punish them to destroy them?  Of course, not. We punish them because of our love for them so that they do not destroy themselves! How much more the loving God cares for each one of us?

So, we do not need to be defensive about God bringing about natural disasters. We can in fact tell people to be thankful that He is not doing it more often, because we humans deserve nothing better.

But, as mentioned earlier, these are only the beginning of sorrows. They should serve as warnings. Zephaniah speaks about that final day of the wrath of God.  “The great day of the Lord is near; It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers. I will bring distress upon men, And they shall walk like blind men, Because they have sinned against the Lord; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like refuse. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath;——–”(Zeph.1:14-18).

It is not only Zephaniah who has prophesied about this terrible day. Almost all the Old Testament prophets have written about it. Isaiah 24:17-23, Jeremiah 10:10, 21:5, Ezekiel 7:19, Amos 5:18-20 Obadiah 15, Zechariah 14:1-21, are a few examples.

Is it only in the Old Testament that we see the day of the wrath of the Lord? No. In Luke 3:7, John the Baptist asks the multitudes, who came to be baptised by him: “Brood of vipers! who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Romans 1:17-18 tells about the wrath of God revealed from heaven. Romans 2:5 says: “But in accordance with your hardness and impenitent heart, you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgement of God.” Ephesians 2:3, Colossians 3:6, 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and Revelation 6:17 are a few other New Testament references for the wrath of God.

Watchman

God has appointed us, His children, as watchmen. It is our duty to inform the world about the impending danger and the way of escape. The watchman’s duty and responsibilities are clearly spelt out in Ezekiel 33:3-9. “When he (the watchman) sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I shall require at the watchman’s hand. So you, son of man; I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his ways, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.” Is this applicable only for the Old Testament time? What about the New Testament? In Acts 20, where Paul is preaching to the elders of the church at Ephesus, he says in verses 26,27: “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” Thus we see that we the New Testament believers too could be guilty of the blood of many people, if we do not declare to them the whole counsel of God.

So, let us not waste such opportunities to inform people about the living, loving, gracious, compassionate and wrathful God. Let us tell them about the fast approaching day of the Lord, the day of the wrath of God, along with John 3:16.

~ Lily Abraham

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