It was by chance that one TV channel caught my attention. Until recently I have not known of its existence, and since it has entered my life, I was exposed to the images of shock and horror. In recent years, whether we like it or not, climate outbursts and weather disasters and calamities have become the focus of our attention and our worries.
More than ten years ago the authorities recorded “an unsettling increase in natural catastrophes known as ‘super-disasters’. The combination of terrible weather conditions and increase in human casualties and property damage made the recent years deadliest on record” (Mario Seiglie) At that time, the official Red Cross announcement stated that in the last six years “the number of casualties has increased from less than half of million to over five and half million”.
And how about this last decade? The catastrophes that are shaking our planet are evidently becoming headline news throughout the media. I randomly picked CBC web-site and this is what the most prominent Canadian news station listed as headlines for the 6th day of August, in the Year of our Lord 2010:
– Mudslides in British Columbia – mandatory evacuation;
– Forest fire smoke lingering over British Columbia; subtitle: over four thousand forest fires in B.C.
– Out of control fires engulf Moscow in thick smoke;
– Floods in Pakistan affect millions of people;
– Deadly floods rage through Indian Kashmir;
– An Indonesian volcano erupts.
There were more of these tragic headlines, titles and subtitles, hard to list them all.
Weather catastrophes were not the only items on the news that day. Here are some others, which will later be linked to the previous headlines:
– Schwarzenegger supports legality of gay marriages;
– Chevron got permission to drill for oil in Arctic;
– British Petroleum to open a sealed oilrig in the Ocean, etc.
And on that same day, on the same site, we read about endless series of bloodshed, murders and vice:
– Three dead bodies recovered in a social dwelling in Regina;
– Police investigate the case of a woman who asked for donations falsely presenting herself as a cancer patient;
– Mother of a murderer surrenders herself to the police, etc.
Sin took hold of this planet, the valley of tears, and we can see that “the whole creation has been groaning together in pain until now” (Romans 8:22).
We hold the believe in God the Sustainer of the World (Pantocrator), and thus we trust that He did not release the hold of our planet from His divine hands. I am the Lord, he reminds us, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things” (Isaiah, 45:7). And Prophet Amos adds his direct question to this: “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?” (Amos 3:6)
And as we witness, there is misery all around us. One after the other, bad followed by worse, to the extent that we accept them as an everyday occurrence. When I am reminded of the worst catastrophes that shook our planet in the last two or three years, I am surprised by my ability to forget and so easily disregard these cataclysmic events.
It is so apparent that all our miseries are touched by the Finger of God.
The words of Psalmist David could be literary applied on us in our time: The Lord looks down from heaven “upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth god, no, not one” (Ps. 14:2-3).
“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil” (Deuteronomy 30:15). “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
It is obvious that our Creator is giving us a choice. If we accept His voice and obey His holly will, He will send us the abundance of His blessings from above. And He tells us: “Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of the body, and the fruit of the ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store” (Deuteronomy 28:3-5). “The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto” (Deuteronomy 28:8). “The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season” (Deuteronomy 28:12).
“But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Coursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine” (Deuteronomy 28:15-18). “The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with a inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and they shall pursue thee until thou perish. And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron. The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed” (Deuteronomy 28:22-24). “Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it” (Deuteronomy 28:38). “Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sickness, and of long continuance” (Deuteronomy 28:59).
Is it so difficult to relate God’s wrath to the headlines of a single day, August the 6th, the Year of our Lord 2010?
Our Heavenly Father shakes us to awake us and follow Him. “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23). All creation has been groaning under the burden of the sinful man so that even to us it seems that there is no end to God’s patience. But there is. He is just patient with us, “not wanting anyone to parish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). “For there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:11). “When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby. But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby” (Ezekiel 33:18-19). When the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah did not repent for their sodomy, the Lord “overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities – and also the vegetation in the land” (Genesis 19:25). And when the Ninevites came to their senses and repent, “God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened” (Jonah 3:10).
Why do these catastrophes and cataclysms multiply in our times?
It is for us to know “the times or dates the Father has set by His authority” (Acts 1:7). “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:36-39).
There are many possible answers why these catastrophes are happening to us. To me it seems as an obvious answer that it is because of our obstinate sinfulness. And the very next answer is this: it is apparent that the winepress of God’s wrath (Revelation 14:19) is rapidly filling up and the moment is near when the Lord will come to set the score straight with the sinful mankind and to re-establish His creation as He created it. The Lord, our Creator, loves us and from His fatherly love He is giving us the signs which reveal that He is soon to come.
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:3-8).
“Watch, therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42).