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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tragedy...What The Church Must Communicate

Luke 18:6-86-And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7-And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8-I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Our hearts go out to all of those who have suffered and are still suffering due to the tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma, Newtown, NJ,  and  a host of other events in which lives have been taken either senselessly or by natural disaster. These tragedies and tragedies like them have taken a toll on America. 

These tragedies however, demand a response from the church regarding the issues. Although I have dealt with the issue in a 2010 article I did after the Haitian earthquake entitled "Does God Create Tragedy" I thought it would be good to take another look at this issues because sentiments are all across the board and faith of many is being challenged. 

I shared the following in lesser detail on facebook. One thing I would like to preface my comments with in this writing is that America simply cannot continue to shake it's finger in the face of God without impugning herself before God. We cannot continue to deliver ungodly policy to the world and expect God's blessings and protection. Currently the policy from the top office of the country (the Presidency) has done nothing but advance the homosexual agenda, and support baby murder through abortion and in almost every instance. When opportunity has arisen to expound, this President and his representatives have only expounded their commitment to ungodliness over and over in favor of those and other ungodly and practices all in the name of "fairness". 

Our policies have continuously confused the issues and has sought to justify evil and wrongdoing as "equality" and acceptance of sin as "love". Recently our President, aiming to encourage the graduating class of men at the historic Morehouse College, delivered more homosexual affirming rhetoric by saying  this:
President Obama
"That's what I'm asking all of you to do: Keep setting an example for what it means to be a man. Be the best husband to your wife, or your boyfriend, or your partner. Be the best father you can be to your children. Because nothing is more important."
This President, the top representative of our country, encouraged a man to be a "real man" by being the "best husband" they can be to their "boyfriend"? What in the word is that??? sounds like anything BUT a real man to me. (and my sentiments are not a condescension on homosexuals, that is a truth)

Without doubt statements like these are purposeful and not mistaken. Our country has placed many yokes upon itself, and although I am not prophesying gloom and doom, there will be judgement and those responsible for not speaking up against sin, evil and wickedness in this society, especially those who have the commission to do so, will be held accountable.     


Tragedy & The Times In Which We Live
I recently  held a bible study at our church to specifically address this issue and deal with thoughts and sentiments regarding tragedies such as that in Moore, Newtown and other places. There were more than a few things to note when looking at this issue.

1- One can't make the assumption that God has performed an act of tragedy. There are some underlying reasons why that can and should be examined. We can outline two areas:

1a. The Character Of God
1b. The Acts Or Actions of God.
2. God Restrains Tragedy & Uses It For His Glory And His Purposes
3. The Signs Of The Times
4. Human Understanding

1a. Character:
a. God is good, and kind and is not tempted with evil and does not tempt men with evil (James 1:13)

The first premise is that God is good. Good exists in the world and that "goodness" is a sign or a reflection of his nature. In other words, since goodness cannot happen randomly it must itself have a designer, creator or giver or else nothing can truly be said to be "good".

As I have examined in THIS POST, when God made creation, no matter what was going on on or in the earth so far as shifting of tectonic plates and weather patters, asteroids etc, man was not in risk or danger of being destroyed because of it. We do not see Adam under any duress or distress because of weather, landslides, volcanoes, earthquakes or celestial happenings. However we do see the earth responding to sin through the curse by producing thistles, thorns and weeds as a result.

Genesis 3:17-1917-And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18-Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;-19-In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

So we see an otherwise "good" creation affected by sin when sin entered the earth through and by man's choice. Therefore the goodness of God is established in the fact that goodness exists.  

b. When God is sending a message of destruction he does not hide himself or his intents and does not fail to send warning. He doesn't throw a stone and then hide in ambiguity. Ask Pharaoh and read Amos 3:7 

Deut. 32:39 ~ See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

Isa. 45:5 ~ I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:

No One can call God into question. There is no check and balance. If God was judging or delivering judgement it would be a clear edict given. From whom would he need to hide? the Public opinion of man? 

As I stated previously, as a nation, we endorse some things that should be examined and tragedy is an attention getter. Unfortunately, we are not innocent of whoredom and backsliding against God. So even in our best day, we are not and cannot claim innocence before God unless there is thorough and full repentance towards him. However, to say that those things are a "cause" of what we are experiencing and have seen, is a step too far. Sin and evil are certainly the cause. If God was doing any of it, he would say so.     

1b. The Acts or Actions Of God:
c. God created a world without tragedy and called it good.
As stated previously, nothing, prior to the entry of sin in the world, killed or had the ability to kill man and mankind. In fact it is my contention that death did not exist and all process of decay and replenishing  whatever those processes were were not processes filled with death. Neither were they universal processes whereby things were recycled into other and new things as we see within many ANE religions and religious concepts that embrace metaphysical universalism or universal consciousnesses . 

d. All tragedy and death upon earth is a direct result of sin entering into the world through Adam's sin. (Romans 5:15-17) 

As Norm Geisler and Ron Brooks stated in "When Skeptics Ask" 1990 SP Publications Victor books Pg. 61:
"Evil is a lack of something that should be there in a relationship between good things"
There is nothing wrong with the wind. In an of itself it is a good thing. It certainly cannot be said to be evil. It is simply a force. There is nothing wrong with housing. There is nothing evil or bad about it either. However, when the wind destroys the house, there is a lack of a good relationship between those two good things. Sin has produced this "lack" of what should be present between good things. What should be present is peace and harmony. Sin has produced and caused disharmony.   

2. God Restrains Tragedy (sets limits) and Uses It For HIS Glory and Purposes:

e. Satan is responsible for tragedy with limits and limitations set by God as discovered in the book of Job

In the book of Job, satan petitioned God for the ability to afflict man. In this case Job himself and his family. God set the limits of what satan could do. Although God did not orchestrate anything he certainly controlled the boundaries in which satan could operate. Could this be a hint at what has gone on in private discussion regarding us and our individual and collective lives?  

f. Satan confers evil upon man as a destructive force, behavior and action. In Job satan designed the 'whirlwind" that killed Job's children. (Job 1:19)
It was satan, not God, that first appeared in a destructive force of wind. Just as scripture notes that the earth turned, satan himself garners and gathers control of natural forces. the bible is silent on whether satan has control over those natural forces at all times, however any force that destroys man has not been wielded by God. The following demonstrates the character and thoughts of God on those things:

g. Jesus "rebuked" the winds and the sea and subdued the force of them displaying his restraining ability over them. (Mt. 8:26, Mk. 4:39, Lk. 8:24)

Jesus controlled the wind and the waves. He controlled the elements for his glory and as a demonstration of his supremacy over those things as they pertain to our lives.

3. Signs Of The Times
As we enter the time of parousia or judgement, there will be signs of the times:

Luke 21:11 ~ And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.

These signs are limited in their scope and nature and only restrained by God to whatever degree that they will be restrained. these things are set as a reminder to us of what to expect and what will be. they certainly cannot be overlooked and without God they cannot be restrained to any degree. Therefore, all men have a right to honor God for restraining these events and "signs" when they occur as the object of them is not to leave any survivors. 

The critic says, why praise God when it could have been prevented or avoided? However, would preventing or avoiding a tragedy make a person consider their ways or pray to any degree? In other words, leaving a person alone to die in their sins is not an expression of love. Allowing things to happen that we don't fully understand causes all men to seek him and seek HIS face in an effort to understand HIM and get closer to HIM.

"If he wanted our attention, God could do it another way" What more could he do? He came to earth, revealed himself, demonstrated his power over sin, sickness, and disease and ultimately over death and is raised again. Revealed himself unto countless people, commissioned them to spread the message that he has done all of these things and still yet deals with people in dreams, visions and all sorts of ways...what more could he do to get through??? He may not have struck you down to the ground, but he did strike Paul and Paul told his story and used his life for it. What can one expect God to do in reaching them? Thousands have given their lives, yet the critic claims he could have done something else to get attention. 

Congress On 9/11/2001
Unfortunately, the heart of the wicked is so stiff and unpliable  that tragedy is one of the only ways whereby a sinner even stops to consider their ways and the world. That is the ultimate tragedy, to be so immersed in ones sins that only the most vile things move you toward what is right, true and honest. God speaks softly on a clear and cool summer day. However the wicked heart can't and refuses to hear that. 

4. Human Understanding
Now, human intellect in these issues is often unfulfilled. Job attributed his suffering to God, although his suffering was a direct effect of satan's intervention. In life Job's intellectual capacity to fully understand this was never addressed although he held the character of God harmless and without blame for his circumstances. (Job 42)

God Has Intervened
We may be intellectually unfulfilled as it pertains to the why and the what of any tragic event. But as believers we must know that if God didn't intervene the death of slightly over 3,000 on 9/11 would have been 6,000, the death of over 100,000 in a tsunami in 2004 would have been well over 200,000, Haiti would not exist as a nation. Newtown would have turned into a mass grave for children and teachers. Moore would no longer exist and Oklahoma City would simply be a memory...that is IF God had not have restrained the force of evil.

Conclusion
Why did he allow it, since he didn't perform the acts? For HIS purposes and one thing that leads to, is to get  the attention of a nation and to exact his glory. I need not know why, to know that he is in total control and evil cannot overtake, surprise or get by him in any way. In God's hands even evil is a tool, not created or instituted by him, but used to do his bidding. 

Without this and tragedies like it, we never would have witnessed Congress standing on the steps of the Capital singing "God Bless America" right after 9/11. We never would have witnessed a teacher (Rhonda Crosswhite) saying that during the height of the tornado, she did the one thing that the school did not want her to do, she prayed a selfless prayer out loud to the Lord saying:
"Lord please don't take these kids today"
Without tragedy, we would not hear, outside of the church, people confess...
"The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away!" (Jason Leger)
This sentiment notes that ALL things belong to God and one thing sis sure, we will take none of it with us. 

We would not be reminded of the love that we should have for our babies as we send them to school everyday, because life has us so busy...We are reminded in times like these what really matters, and it is not houses, cars, neighborhoods...but it is relationships, love and values!!!!!!

Hopefully we will take this message away from all thine that has happened and all that will happen. The people who have suffered loss, deserve our prayers and continued love and connection. God yet deserves the glory! HE is worthy to be praised!

Blessed!

6 comments:

  1. I listen to Rush Limbaugh, today he played audio of a couple news interviews where people in Moore Thanked the Lord for their safety. So here comes this one condescending reporter, asked the person he interviewed "so, I guess you 'thank the Lord' you made the right decision to take cover..."
    "Well, I'm an atheist, so I don't believe in God..."
    "Oh, wow, really?...."
    "But I don't blame anybody for thanking the Lord"
    You can't make this stuff up...

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    1. LOL!!!!They don't blame anybody for thanking the Lord (even if you are convinced he doesn't exist) under these circumstances-LOL!!!!

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  2. Thanks, Pastor B. for today's great post. You give such insight into things that are so heavy-duty and hard to wrap your mind around from a human standpoint. Our Lord Jesus did say things like these would occur before he returns (distress of nations through conflicts, protests, unrest, etc., waves and seas roaring through hurricanes, tsunamis, etc., and great signs and fearful sights from heaven (weather, space objects perhaps (meteors, 2013 Comet ISON???)), etc. I believe these truly are sign posts that our redemption draws nigh! I pray we be filled with courage from God to stand for him and to obey him in all aspects of life and for his spirit of love in us for his people and their eternal souls.

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    1. Thanks Richard and I think the same thing as well. these are certainly signs of the end times. It is also a trying of our faith and we can endure to the end if we trust in HIM.

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  3. P.S., Newtown is in CT instead of NJ. :-)

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    1. Thanks Richard, I don't know what I was thinking. I think I may have done that a few times in other places as well. I was singing a song a friend of mine had wrote one Sunday. I completely changed the words and I asked him what was the next verse. He said, "I don't know that song it's a new one"...I had made something new up and he wasn't taking the blame-LOL!!!I will endeavor to be more careful. LOL!!!

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