Let me first be clear on one important point. The world is in a fallen sinful state. Nature does its thing all the time. That is reality. Not every bad thing that happens is God's hand at work.
But God does use nature to judge sin. If you doubt that in the least, read the Bible and discover what happened to Lucifer's kingdom on Earth when he rebelled against God. Read what happened to the people living in Noah's area when God flooded their area and wiped them out. Read about the Egyptian army and their attempted Red Sea crossing, to say nothing of all the plagues that went on before that final event. It is just as wrong to try to make a case that God will never cause something bad to happen through nature to correct wrong or judge sin as it is to say all bad things that happen in nature come from God.
If you are thinking that is just Old Testament stuff, read Revelation and study the numerous ways that God will judge the world during the tribulation period with nature. There are earthquakes, comets or meteors, clouds obscuring the sun and making the moon appear red, darkness, wind and other disasters. A sample of most of these is seen in Revelation 6, but you can read the rest of Revelation 6 along with Revelation 8, 9, 12, 16 for other things that will happen involving God using nature to judge.
6:12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
The pundits declared that Hurricane Katrina didn't have anything to do with God in response to the right wing Christian fundamentalist statements who implied it could have. Everyone got a good laugh at their expense. Tis ever so.
If you remember the earthquake that hit off Indonesia the day after Christmas in 2004 and the resulting tsunami that inundated many surrounding coastal areas, there were those Christians who remarked on the timing and location of that event as well. We were ignored. Then, the day after Easter in 2005, another earthquake happened in the same area. Coincidence? Maybe. But never discount God's hand in nature.
Today, we have another hurricane that may be heading towards New Orleans. I'm not a weather forecaster or hurricane tracker, and don't make any claims that this is a prophetical message at all. It just prompted me to evaluate life for a moment. Nothing in New Orleans' attitude has changed in the post-Katrina years. There are simply many fewer people living there now. It hasn't even rebuilt its defenses against the storms from the sea. It did make sure the parties went on for that is a large part of its economic base. Repenting of your sin, as a city, might not make any difference this time either, should the storm end up heading your way. But there is still time to try. And if it works and God deflects the storm, or causes it to stall and lose strength, follow through. Here's a couple of good first steps you might want to take a look at.
- Inform the people running the Southern Decadence Festival that they are no longer welcome to meet in your city. Katrina was timed to this one and so is Gustav. Withdraw their invitation for this year.
- Eliminate the Mardi-Gras festival and respect Christ during the Easter season.
People reply that the hurricane affected the righteous as well as the sinners, and that is true. How many Christian pastors in the New Orleans area have gotten words from the Lord to get out of Dodge and take their flocks with them, but ignored the call because the cost was too great? How many sermons were left unspoken because pastors were afraid they weren't hearing correctly or might offend someone? How many righteous individuals heard God say to leave and remained behind because of the inconvenience of moving and looking for work at another place compared with the money and easy lifestyle that was all around them? Major changes are hard for people to do, but it doesn't mean that there was no warning that God wanted to give. It may just mean the people didn't listen to what God was saying. They may have also simply chosen to ignore the Bible's commands to flee iniquity.
New Orleans isn't the only city that is at risk. There are problems in cities around the world. At least two or three others spring immediately to mind when I consider the United States, and several more when I consider the world. They are cities of renown. But no city is immune to the wrath of God. There are only variations in quantity, quality, and unabashed love of demonstration of sin in each.
Sin is everywhere... from Ios to Las Vegas, from San Francisco to Cannes, from Rio de Janerio to Amsterdam, from London to Cancun, from Madrid to South Beach, from South Padre Island to Hong Kong and Maccau, from New York to Paris, and even in seemingly safe places like Vatican City at some level or another. In some cities it is just more obvious and more clearly anti-God. In others, like Los Angeles, the city is not so much of a destination where you go to sin, but a place where sin is distributed around the world. You can't look at how the broadcast standards have slipped since the first TV was sold and not be aghast at what is produced and shown without shame. Footage that would have been reserved for dimly lit movie halls of yesteryear is now piped via cable directly to your home for your viewing enjoyment by that city, among others.
In some of these cities, they joking speculate about when the next "big one" is going to happen... When something bad happens, you hear - well at least it wasn't the "big one". In their hearts, they know that there is something that is just plain ill fated about where they live. Did the folks living in Pompeii say the same thing as the volcano rumbled. Well - at least that wasn't the "big one"... party on! If you hear God telling you to move from a city the world views as a place to go and have a good time, you might want to heed what your heart is telling you. If you need to get right with Him, read the Gospel Message. God isn't willing that any should perish, but his righteousness hasn't diminished over the ages either.
What did Christ say when people saw great works done and did not repent? Let's close with a look at Matthew...
Matthew 11:20-24, 12:41-42
11:20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
11:21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
11:22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
11:23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
11:24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
12:41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
12:42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
Have God's mighty works been done in your town? Are they being done today? Do you have knowledge of the mighty works that Christ did when He walked the earth? What will be the final result for your town when God judges the earth? Just my 2c worth, 28-Aug-2008.
added Maccau 30-Aug-2008
added Revelation references 31-Aug-2008
added Los Angeles and Matthew references 8-Sep-2008