What should we expect from the earth?
By Don Ruhl
Someone asked three questions concerning the December 26, 2004, earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
- “Is it not possible that unfortunately, God still has to use such extreme measures to get our attention?”
- “Rather than focusing on the bodies should we not be focusing on the souls?”
- “I’ve already heard ‘if there was a God, things like this wouldn’t happen’.”
“Is it not possible that unfortunately, God still has to use such extreme measures to get our attention?”
Did God use this earthquake/tsunami? To say that God causes something, and that God uses something are two different things. Does He ever cause such things? History recorded in the Bible shows that God did cause some great natural disasters.
He caused the global flood of Noah’s day. God caused the ten plagues that fell upon Egypt during the days of Moses.
Did God cause this earthquake and tsunami? We cannot know. In the Letter to Philemon, Paul was not sure why Onesimus had departed from Philemon, saying, “For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever…” (Philemon 15, NKJV).
The point of comparison between the tsunami and the escape of a slave, is that Paul, although inspired by the Holy Spirit, did not know whether God’s hand was in it or not.
After Adam and Eve sinned, death entered the world, and natural laws changed, enabling such horrible things to happen. The Flood brought climatic and earth changes that enable huge earthquakes and weather disasters to be possible.
Can God use this earthquake and tsunami? Yes, He can, even as Jesus used a blind man in John chapter 9. Jesus healed the man and a lengthy discussion followed that ultimately brought glory to God. Likewise, the church can do good works during disasters to bring glory to God.
“Rather than focusing on the bodies should we not be focusing on the souls?”
Large body counts get our attention. God has used large natural disasters. Remember the Flood. Remember the seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine in Genesis chapter 41 and following.
Was anyone else murdered in America outside of Pennsylvania, Washington, D. C., and New York City on September 11, 2001? Was there a benefit concert for the survivors of that murder? Have memorials gone up? Did you not act kinder for a while after September 11th? Have you acted kinder since any murders in your county? Did others drown on December 26, 2004, or since then? Has there been the same out pouring of love for the survivors of that drowning since the massive drowning of December 26, 2004?
The fact that this disaster happened gets us discussing souls. Without this huge disaster, the questions may not have come in.
Yes, we should think of the soul above the body. Think of the ministry of Jesus Christ. He could have revealed everything we need to know about disease. But, He did not do it. He did not come primarily to do what man, even unbelieving man, can eventually figure out. He came to do what we cannot figure out and cannot do on our own. He came for the soul; to enlighten the soul and to save the soul. This is also the mission of the church. Yet, sometimes we cannot help the soul, until we have helped the body.
“If there is a God, would things like this happen?”
Who made up this standard that if there is a God, there will be no suffering? Here is the way it truly is: If there is a God, there will be suffering. The God of grace extended time and opportunity to Adam’s race after his sin. That also means that sin and death entered the world. If He did not allow suffering, it would be because He ended the world the moment Adam and Eve sinned. Therefore, suffering exists because God is showing mercy by even allowing the world to go on.
Why do people think of God in this way? Why do they think of Him at all during these times? Do they believe that He exists, but they are either angry with Him, or looking for a reason, an excuse, to stay away from Him? Disasters have a way of reminding us of our helplessness, and that angers some people against God, and brings others to God.
Therefore, a better question to ask first is why did God allow humanity to continue after sinning? The answer is He loves us. Yet, we want to sin, and simultaneously, enjoy a trouble-free environment. It does not work that way. In Romans chapter 5, Paul argued that sin did not come into the world by itself, but it brought a friend, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—” (Romans 5:12, NKJV).
The Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami was the result of simple natural laws.
- Sin and death entered the picture, changing the natural law of life.
- The massive global flood of Noah’s day transformed the earth.
- The earth was transformed again by the measures that God put into place to prevent another global flood (Psalm 104:5–9).
- Furthermore, the earth is wearing out, according to Hebrews 1:10–12, and what happens as things wear out? They start breaking down. With the earth wearing out, bad things happen, such as this earthquake.
Remember the only place free of disasters is heaven.
Don Ruhl preaches with the Savage Street Church of Christ, 220 NE Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon 97526-1310, 541-476-3100, Rdruhl@aol.com