Friday, December 31, 2004

Tsunami - Part 2

Third foundation stone:

God is going to make all things new
The natural reaction to hearing that this world isn't how God intended it to be, is to ask, "Why doesn't he make it right again?" I mean that's what we would do, wouldn't we? Of course. If we had made something that we cared about and it was damaged we would do all our power to restore it. And that's exactly what he intends to do.

That's what Paul is saying in that passage in Rom 8: "the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God."

And it groans, but it is "groaning as in the pains of childbirth" - there will come a day when a new creation will appear. "But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness." - 2 Peter 3:13

The time is coming when there will be no so-called 'natural disasters' this old earth will have been made new, sin will have been eradicated, the earth will be liberated from the curse that has bound it. There will be no pain, no suffering, no mourning because loved ones have been washed away, or killed by hurricanes. There will be no pain from injuries caused by falling buildings. There will be no death.

This earth will be restored. God will not be starting over again from scratch - his victory as with mankind is not to wipe us out and build a people who are sinless, but to reclaim us from the ravages of sin, and to remove every element and scar of it from our lives. So it will be with this world. Sin never has the last laugh. God will restore it. The old will have passed away. No trace of the old will remain. The new will have come. It will be the same yet profoundly different. Like an old masterpiece lovingly restored to the beauty it had when it left the artist's hand.

That brings us now to be able to look at the question of why does God allow such events to take place?

If God is in control, and although this world is not as he intended it to be, and he is going to make all things new, removing all suffering - why doesn't he get on with it? Having laid the foundations we can now answer the question - What is God doing in 'natural' disasters?

Meantime God gives people both time and warning to repent
If God were to step in now and make everything new - that would involve all that will happen when he will do it. What I mean is this - when God makes everything new it will be preceded by a Day of Judgment, when the people who will populate this new earth will be selected. Only those who have asked Jesus to be their saviour will be allowed to live on it. Anyone else will make a mess of it, far worse than Adam and Eve did.

Those who have asked Jesus to make them right will be finally made perfect, and will be fit inhabitants for God's pure and perfect world. All others will not be allowed to sully its purity with their wretchedness. They will be condemned to Hell, forever.

If God were to step in now and make all things new, he would have to come in Judgment first because that is how he has said it will be.

But God is kind, and merciful. He doesn't step in now. One day he will, but in the meantime he displays his patience and gives thousands upon thousands a chance to enter into this amazing world.

Peter in the same passage I've just quoted from in 2 Peter 3 says:

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming… So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him."

That day will come; in the meantime God is patient with his rebellious world. What a generous God! What sort of people ought you to be - make every effort to be found at peace with Him. Make sure you have made your peace on this earth, because it is the only chance you have. Every day is another opportunity.

Herein lie the purposes of earthquakes and other such unnatural disasters. They serve as warning to us of the fragility of life, of the imminence of death, of the disharmony that there is between man and God.

In his patience he also sends us warnings. Patience is no virtue without instruction. What sort of God would God be if he went around sweeping up after us, and never warned us that there was a problem between us and him? It would be no kindness. Instead the curse on the earth because of sin is part blessing, because it warns us that all is not well.

When the earth shakes under your feet, and a tidal wave smashes through everything in sight, we are left feeling that there is nowhere safe. Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. In most disasters the earth is the one thing that stands firm. But where do you turn when the earth itself is unsafe?

There is only one safe place - Christ.

Whatever it takes for men and women to see this is a mercy, a severe mercy, but a mercy nonetheless. As CS Lewis once said, "God whispers to us in our pleasures... but shouts
in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

Sometimes, when we haven't been listening, He needs to raise his voice.

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