by Bill Nugent
I saw on the news on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2005, crews of workers still searching for bodies in the lower 9th ward of New Orleans. The body count is 1,324. They’re still searching nearly 3 months after Katrina hit. Over 4,000 people are still unaccounted for.
The inevitable question that is asked of Bible believing Christians when disaster strikes is whether or not the disaster is God’s punishment for sins. You’d be surprised by the frequency with which this question is asked by even some of the most secular people. My answer to it may be a bit complicated but I think you’ll find it interesting to consider.
Let me begin by saying that God has revealed Himself as a God of kindness and severity. “Behold then the kindness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22 NAS). Popular American culture has portrayed God as being only kind and never severe. The popular worldly view is that God is “all loving” but the Bible teaches that our God of love also hates evil.
God has sovereignly chosen to speak about Himself and describe His ways to us. God inspired the writers of the Bible to record the words and sentences which He spoke. These words which God spoke about Himself are called “propositional revelation.” God spoke to human beings in human language and made certain statements or “propositions” describing His character.
Let me mention in passing that God confirmed the fact that the Bible is divinely inspired. This confirmation or proof consists of the many hundreds of Bible prophecies and specific fulfillments of those prophecies. These prophecies contained in the Bible are like God’s signature on His holy book. No other scriptures of any other faith has anything to compare with this. God spoke to the prophet Isaiah about the purpose of prophecy and said: “Therefore I declared them to you long ago, Before they took place I proclaimed them to you, Lest you should say ‘My idol has done them’ “ (Isaiah 48:5 NAS). The Bible speaks about God the way He really is. It tells it like it is. The Bible reveals God as He is and not like what most people want Him to be
The sad fact is that most people want God to be an all giving Santa Claus figure who punishes no one and welcomes everyone to heaven in the afterlife. Like little children who want ice cream for breakfast and cookies for lunch many people regard God as an over indulgent parent. They look on anyone who says that God punishes sin as an ignorant, closed minded type of person. But what if the “closed minded” person happens to be right?
God is not subject to our imagination. We can’t imagine God the way we want Him to be and then believe that God will conform to how we imagine Him. As columnist Thomas Sowell has famously said “Reality is not optional!” God has spoken about Himself and told us what He really is like. We must conform our thinking to that reality.
We must also remember that God thinks differently from us. God spoke to Isaiah the prophet and said: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts'” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NAS).
What then about hurricane Katrina and her sister storms Rita and Wilma? Is God spanking America? Would I be so bold as to suggest such a thing? Some Christian leaders have suggested that Katrina was an instance of God’s judgment on America. It is, in my view, impossible to say with certainty that Katrina is God’s judgment on America unless you have a specific prophetic insight or revelation from God. Some leaders claim to have heard from God that Katrina is God’s judgment on America. It is important to note that some Christian prophets got this revelatory insight BEFORE KATRINA STRUCK. One such individual is John Mark Pool, a man with a powerful prophetic ministry. His website is www.wordtotheworldministries.org.
Even a casual look at the circumstances surrounding hurricane Katrina would seem to point to it as an instance of God’s chastening. An annual homosexual event called “Southern Decadence” was scheduled to take place in New Orleans just days after Katrina hit. The event was canceled by the storm. New Orleans is also famous for its annual and highly decadent Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is French for “fat Tuesday” and got its innocent start as a feast that people would partake of on the Tuesday evening before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the start of the forty day Lenten fast.
In closing let me mention an instance when Jesus commented on the occurrence of a calamity. Regarding the instance of the fall of a tower in Siloam that killed eighteen people Jesus said: “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent you will likewise perish” (Luke 13:4-5 NAS). Jesus called on all people to repent to avoid God’s severity in judgment. Jesus would soon take up the cross and suffer and die for the sins of all people everywhere. He called the people to turn to Him to receive salvation.
In America we are quick to say “God bless America” but if we expect to continue in prosperity we must say “America bless God.” One way to bless God is to repent of our sins and receive the salvation He offers us through His Son Jesus Christ.