Are nature disasters divine judgments or calls?

Some think that we could expect more earthquakes and more tremors in the oceans in this time because Jesus said in His discourses about the end-time that there would come earthquakes and roaring of the sea and the waves and because of  that there would come great fear and perplexity of nations with the foreboding of what is coming on the world, (Luke 25,26).

Just a brief review of what happened already this century. On 26 December 2004 there occurred a tremendous sea- and earthquake, followed by a tsunami which caused devastations on many coasts round the Indian Ocean. On 12 January 2010 there occurred a heavy earthquake on Haiti, which caused great devastations. Then, on 11 March 2011 there occurred a heavy earthquake deep in the ocean, East of Japan, followed by a tsunami which caused great havoc and caused many lives. A nuclear power-plant was heavily damaged which will cause nuclear defilement and  danger for many years. The Isles of Japan where moved several meters to the west through the enormous movement of the quake.

The history of the planet shows that there must have occurred from time to time what we would call gigantic disasters. Jesus Christ told us that in the end-time, the time before His  return, again gigantic nature and cosmic disasters shall occur.

We live now (I write in 2011) about two-thousand years later than the time wherein Jesus gave these end-time discourses. Therefore we may be certain that the days which He referred to are much nearer now than when He delivered them.

A recent research program has shown that Christians think differently about the divine purpose behind nature disasters. From a thousand American believers:

30  percent thinks that God is punishing with such nature disasters.

40 percent thinks that God is testing people with them.

56  percent that God is making clear in this disasters that He can intervene in this World.

66 percent of the evangelicals and protestants think that God is making clear that He can intervene in this World on every scale He wants to do.

Christians in Europe think also differently about the purpose of great nature disasters. Some, perhaps many, think that they are judgments on people because of their godless way of thinking and living. The disasters show Gods fierce anger about the godlessness. Reason enough for me to give a short Bible-study about this subject. As starting Bible text I take Revelation 15:4:

“Who shall not fear and glory thy name, O Lord? For thou alone art holy. All nations shall come and worship thee, for thy judgments have been revealed.”(RSV).

First of all I will explain the exact meaning of the Greek word translated here as ‘judgments, for this is in the Greek language in which Revelation was written, the word, ‘dikaiómata.’  The better or even correct translation of this word would be requirements, regulations or orders and righteous deeds. The Greek word ‘krisis’ is the word that clearly means judgment or verdict. Just in addition about the word crisis (Greek ‘krisis’) as we use it often. When we use the word crisis we mean a dangerous, difficult or a very difficult situation. In the book of Revelation in chapter 19:2,21 and 20:12, 13 we see that the Greek word ‘krisis’ is correctly translated as ‘judgment’ or ‘verdict.’.

In His discourses about the end-time disasters Jesus does not speak of them as judgments but He sees them as signs of His approaching return. He urges us to be watchful and to take a good notice of what is happening.

In Revelation we are informed that the nature- and cosmic disasters take place under the direction of heaven and that they are meant as serious calls to make people think about their way of life and attitude towards God and repent, (Revelation 9:20,21; 16:9 en 11). The Most High Lord God is hoping that the people on this planet will come to repentance through these disasters. I see three aspects here:

1. God hopes that we shall realize our frailty and dependence of the Most High God  through gigantic nature disasters.

2. God hopes that we through gigantic nature disasters should think deeply our and renew relationship
    with God and should put our Faith on Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord.

3.  God hopes that through gigantic nature disasters we shall come to the recognition that only God,
      the Creator of heaven and earth, is able to control and bring to rest these gigantic forces in the earth.

I am convinced on the ground of the Greek Text of the Bible in the New Testament that we should not think of nature disasters as those that occurred recently on and round Indonesia, Haiti and Japan that they are judgments of God over the people that live there. Is it not encouraging that we hear in these days (March, April 2011) that the believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is increasing and at the same time idolatry and witchcraft are losing their grip on many people? Let us pray that also on the isles of Japan, the country of much superstition and the worship of predecessors, the message of the love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ will increase and many will come to repentance and to a renewing of their life.

Pastor T. J. de Ruiter, The Netherlands, 30 April 2011

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