On 2nd of May 2008, Myanmar was hit by the cyclone Nargis. The United Nations estimated 60,000 dead.
The toll may soar to 100,000 should there be an outburst of diseases. When the world is still in a daze, on 12th of May, a 7.9-magnitude earthquake rocked Sichuan, a province of China. The final toll could be over 50,000.
by Pastor Allen Tan (Yew Fook)
In the face of these colossal disasters I believe it must have being heartrending for our Lord Jesus over mankind not unlike the time when he wept over the death of Lazarus. His weeping had the connotation of disappointment over people’s ignorance about life and death. “Death” as the Bible reveals is an inevitable end in the course of a human’s lifespan, whether as a result of natural death or death through the disasters just mentioned. The Bible does not want human beings see “death” as something tragic, but instead seeing “Jesus as the Life” (Psalms 6:5, 68:20). Let life overshadows death. When the Lord weeps over these disasters He weeps over the unbelief of human beings about His status as the Savior of the world.
I moved in tears as I saw news reports on Myanmar and China.
I am sure this was a normal response from any compassionate person. You may be one of those too. A question surfaced my mind – what is the value of life? Life is so fragile. How could flesh and blood withstand the powerful harassment of nature? Imagine that there were thousands of souls perished just overnight! And the scene of the 2004-Tsunami that had devoured 230,000 souls is still fresh in my mind!
Psalmist David testified about God’s love for mankind,
“v4 What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? v5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. v6 You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet: v7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, v8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.” (Psalm 8:4-8).
But then I remembered stern warning by the Lord.
“v1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. v2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? v3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. v4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? v5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:1-5).
We should not think that those victims of Myanmar and China are being more sinful than I, and that was why they perished. No! We are all equally sinners. The word “perish” means eternal damnation without God. No human should take for granted about God’s love.
How did Jesus view about His own death?
“When Jesus was being led towards Golgotha, v27 a large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. v28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. v29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ v30 Then ” ‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” v31 ‘For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:27-31).
Jesus was prophesying about the destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent persecution on the saints that would follow.
Sure enough Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Romans and the Jews were scattered all over the world. In other words, Jesus was saying that “I’ve nothing to fear about death, it’s My turn to die now, but your turn will come one day too, so fear no death.” Jesus had forewarned about bad times ahead after His death.
“His disciples asked Him, “v3 Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” v4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. v5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. v6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. v7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. v8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 24:3-8). It was a prophecy made 2000 years ago. It culminates at the 21st Century.
Mankind should not blame God for disasters.
Instead we should be blamed! It was our sinful nature – lust, greed and selfishness that has caused the destruction of our earth. Climates have become abnormal. For example, the snow storms did not occur in the colder Northern China but instead in the warmer Southern China. And the cyclone Nargis which used to visit Pakistan had, this year around, swung towards Myanmar.
Why is there a shortage of food?
Because mankind had defiled the earth through wars! Wars had intoxicated the soils that they were no longer productive. Men had also violated the principle of cultivation. God had instructed that for every six years of cultivation on a piece of land, we must let it rest for a year. But how many people had actually followed such a wise instruction of God?
There are famines in Africa and certain parts of Asia. Many of these are hard-cored poverty folks. And out of these, many had died of starvation. In contrast, over other parts of the world, affluent people wasted tonnes of food daily. When people become more affluent they consumed more meats. If every one of these affluent people was to eat less meat each day, many people would be spared from starvation. For example, for every cow a farmer rear, it consumes 10 people’s portions of food and water each day. If we eat less meat, we preserved the resources of nature.
Water is very precious today, so do not waste it because we want to eat more meats. Ironically, too, farms feed their cattle and animals with oats, maize and wheat. If these lavish meals were to give to those poverty-struck countries, many lives would be saved! Because men wanted to go their own ways, so the earth is destined for destruction. In fact another sign of the end of the age told by the Lord was “the increase of wickedness”, and as a result, “the love of most will grow cold”. (Matthew 24:12).
Human beings will be destroyed by their own wickedness.
If we think the wars, famines, cyclones and earthquakes we saw today were severe, read carefully what the Lord had said – All these are the beginning of birth pains. When the baby is being delivered the real pain is yet to come! The Bible is referring these pains as the Great Tribulation. If you are interested to know more, please read the book of Revelation which is the last book in the Bible.
God is love.
But many people began to doubt God whenever a disaster struck. It is true that God loves you and me. The apostle Peter said, “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.” (2 Peter 3:9). What is the promise? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). The promise to save all mankind!
On one hand there are many people who purposely reject Jesus Christ. They do not want the real God. Instead they turn to idols and false religions. The Lord is weeping over the heart-hardened state of mankind. He is crying, “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Christians have neglected their responsibilities to fulfill this commandment as well as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
We ought to have channel more funds out for missions rather than concentrating on raising millions of dollars to build mega buildings.
And where are the watchmen and intercessors?
May God have mercy on those who survived the catastrophe. — pray for them.
Fatalities update: 138,366