As news broke of a series of terrible tornadoes in and around Alabama on April 27th, I was mentally calculating how long it would take for one of the self-appointed prophets of the internet to announce that this was the handiwork of the Lord. I didn’t have to wait long. By May 3 a “prophetic” podcast* had been posted claiming the disaster to be God’s judgment for the sins of the nation. Fresh off of claiming God sent the Japanese earthquake, in retaliation for the sins of that nation, now they say the Lord has struck again, leaving 337 dead across seven states. Is there any major disaster in modern times that they have not attributed to God? Are there no natural ocurrances that happen anymore in our imperfect and fallen world? Should we just throw all geological and meteorological data out the window, and chalk it all up as judgment for sin?
The oracles of the prophetic internet websites claim to know God’s mind so well that they can read His thoughts. They scan the daily headlines, and within a day or two of disaster they can issue a proclaimation that it is part of His judgment against an “unrighteous” nation, as if there are some “righteous” nations in existence today. In Scripture we are exhorted to “examine everything carefully, and hold fast to that which is good.” We need to consider what Scripture and Jesus Himself said about judgment. We should all take notice and have a close look when someone in the body claims to know the mind of God. We will see how much Scripture has to be discarded to make their claims true.
Is it the mind of God they are actually reading or just newspapers? Is it possible to read the mind of God so accurately that people can just scan a headline and then proceed to post on a Christian website before the body of the church that the tragedy was directed by the Lord as part of His judgment program? This amounts to a claim of receiving special divine revelation, since there is no other way to know what God has done, other than Scripture itself. It is fairly well-established scripturally, although still disputed by some to accomodate their personal agenda, that Scripture is closed, as well as the offices of prophet and apostle, after the laying of the foundation of the church. These roles were necessary for bringing forth the revelation of God and his ultimate revelation in Christ by putting it into the words that God wished to issue. The finished canon represents in all sufficiency the completion of what God has to say to the body of the church. This is not to say that we don’t hear from God today on an individual basis through the Holy Spirit. This is quite different from receiving revelation intended to be passed on to the entire body. We should not rule out that a few in the church today may have what might be loosely called the spirit of prophecy, but we need to greet any claim from someone that he or she is receiving new revelation about God’s judgment with great caution. Even more should we be cautious when that supposed new revelation appears to arrive just after each new tragedy is reported in the headlines.
No one today speaks with the authority of the biblical prophets; no one can say with certainty that a tsunami or tornado or any other disaster is an example of God’s judgment. They want you to believe they know, because it makes for a great, ongoing story line. Death and disaster have always been hot topics, ensuring a regular flow of traffic to their websites. Expenses are minimal, since all they need is a newspaper subscription to ensure a steady supply of events to blame on God.
To say that any of the disasters in the headlines today are specific judgments by God on specific people for specific sins directly contradicts what Jesus said when asked about the disasters of that day. A crowd gathered before Him, and asked Him about the tower collapse that had killed 18 in Siloam, and the deaths of the Galileans, which were big news items at the time. Jesus made a very clear statement that the tragedies did not befall them because their sin was greater than that of anyone else. He reminded them that all who do not repent shall likewise perish. (Lk. 13:4-5) Could it be any clearer that suffering is not proportional to sin? If Jesus Himself said the tragic events were not judgment on the victims, why do these modern day prophets insist on giving their own interpretations of current events? Disasters are not to be construed automatically as judgment from God, for as Jesus said they are often warnings of a future judgment coming to all. The Great Tribulation spoken of in Revelation tells of a time coming in the future when God’s judgment will be upon all the land, and it will be punishment for the sin of humanity. A disaster can be a great call to all of us to get our house in order and be ready to face eternity.
The earthquakes we are seeing now are not new. They have been happening for a long time. We have just gotten better technology for recording these events than ever before. These are not necessarily the earthquakes associated with the coming tribulation, when we know with certainty that it will be judgment for sin. The current earthquakes are nothing compared to the earthquakes that will rock Jerusalem in the last days. (Rev. 6:12; 8:5; 11:13, 19; 16:18). We are told there “will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains” (Mt. 24:7b-8). Whether you believe we are entering the Endtimes now, or that they are still well off in the future, we need to live as if today was our last day. We need to keep our lamps filled with oil, not because a tornado might strike our home, but because the Lord is coming. We must be watching at all times, for we know not the day or the hour.
As long as we live under the curse of sin caused by the fall of Adam, we will have disasters. God devised a plan to rescue us by sending the Son to die for our sins. Those who accept the rescue plan can enter into God’s new creation where there will be no disasters because there will be no sin. The curse will have been lifted. Only the second coming of Christ will restore earth to the “good” condition that existed before the fall, spoken of in the Genesis 1 account of the creation of the earth. This will all be set in motion when Jesus sets foot on the Mount of Olives on that glorious day we all await.
Instead of calling each new disaster a judgment against the sin of the people who live there, which is negative and presumptuous on our part, we can look at them for what they really are: opportunities for expanding the Kingdom of God. Even through they bring death and distruction, people often turn to God in troubled times. They are a time during which many souls can be won for Christ by teaching the Gospel. So we see that as well as being a result of the curse of the sin of humanity, disasters also express God’s patience, as he delays the final judgment for as many as possible to turn to Him and accept the rescue plan.
Disasters also provide a chance for us to practice true Christianity by helping those who need food, shelter, and the necessities of life in their distress. The Christian response should be so much more than what we see from the internet prophetic ministers. They think their calling in the church is just to sit at their desks and warn about the horrific plans God is executing on countries they claim are “wicked”, and deserving of God’s punishment. Those who really reflect the love of Christ are unconcerned about pointing the finger of blame or judging any nation’s sin, and are actively helping the relief efforts, donating supplies. opening their homes, and sharing their faith with others.
Far from following the pattern of the Biblical prophets, the so-called modern day prophets are a different breed entirely. One thing we see about biblical prophecy is that disasters were foretold by the prophet of the day, because it was always God’s intention that the people would turn from their sin and thus avoid the destruction. The Great Flood was foretold 120 years in advance. Jonah was sent to warn the people of Nineveh to repent or be destroyed. There are many other examples of the prophet being sent by God to warn before the event took place. Has God changed His position on giving warnings in advance? Were the internet prophets issuing warnings before these disasters occurred? Or instead are they only invoking God’s name after the fact? A prophet has to speak from the past into the future, not from the present into the past.
God wants to make all believers like Jesus Christ, and share His character. Everything that happens, including disasters, has this purpose. Romans 8:28 says: “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” By coming to see that God has planned all things in His divine wisdom, and that every part of His plan works for good and not evil, we can raise ourselves far above the petty, angry God portrayed by those who rush to judge every tragedy as direct judgment against the victims. We can take the blinders of delusion off, and see God for how great He truly is. These people and their haughty proclaimations are a stumbling block to those who have not yet made the decision for Christ, because their false prophetic utterances paint such a dark portrait of our faith and they make our God seem untrustworthy.
Yes, God is ultimately in control, but He does not take away freedom of choice. For a short time on this earth He is allowing Satan’s sin experiment to play out. The great deceiver wants us to think that God is revengeful and vindictive. Satan hopes that all disaster and tragedy that has been brought to the world since he tricked Adam in the Garden will be blamed on God. People like these false teachers of the internet further this agenda, and the end result is that people get a very distorted view of the nature of God.
The false teachers actually have a purpose, as they fulfill 2Thess.2:10-11 which speaks of the delusion God sends because people are not lovers of the truth. We are still called to point out who the false prophets are and help others to avoid their clutches. This would mean it is incumbent on all of us to know, uphold, proclaim and live the truth. It is not for man to grade and rank the sin of the nations of the world and decide which ones are being judged by God. When we know God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we need not fear disaster or distress. We can free ourselves from the cycle of worry and tension over each new tragedy in the news. If every Christian just trusted God and refused to be fearful, nobody would listen to the false teachers and they would go out of business. Does it matter if we die in a disaster, or any other cause, when we know the Lord is on the throne of the universe, lovingly preparing us for all eternity?
blessings in Christ……………..JD Ellis