The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Sanford Tornado, and God

Any time a disaster like a hurricane or earthquake or tsunami strikes, people begin either thanking, or cursing God. Obviously, I would be one of the former, but I want to challenge those who trust in God to think critically and biblically to understand why we should thank God when disaster "strikes."

First, let me get rid of that unbiblical language. Disaster does not "strike" as if disaster was some kind of being that controlled itself, or as if the tornado had power of its own to do what it did and to choose to destroy the houses, stores, and lives, that it did. No, someone has to create, to cause, tornadoes, and direct its paths. And what Christians, and everyone, need to realize is that God caused this tornado not only to form, but to hit the houses and people it did. I probably won't get an amen for that, not just yet at least.

First, just a few verses to show that it is true that God controls the weather, including hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes:

Isaiah 45:7 - I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.

Deuteronomy 32:39 - "'See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. "

Revelation 16:7 And I heard the altar saying, "Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!" 8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

Psalm 77:18 "The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook."

As you can see, this tornado was an act of God. The question remains: Why do we thank God and pray to God during a tornado, and thank Him when we survive, if it is God who caused the tornado to begin with?

The reason we should thank God is that we know that He is the one who has the right to take life, just as He gives it, as the verse from Deuteronomy above says. Secondly, if we understand anything about ourselves, we should know, and this is very important, that we are exceedingly sinful and deserve to suffer the wrath of God. And this is true of all of us, for we are all sinners.

Jesus said in Luke 13: 4 "Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

In context, what Jesus is saying here is that those 18 people who were killed by a tower falling on them did not do anything to deserve such a tragic death that we do not likewise deserve. In other words, to say that the reason the tornado hit and killed those who it did and not others, and not YOU, is not because those people were worse sinners than anyone else. However, it is not right to say that those people who were taken in the tornado were innocent either. They were guilty sinners, and we too, are guilty sinners.

To die in a tornado isn't wrong, God caused it after all. The reason it isn't wrong is because we all deserve it, and I believe God uses these disasters to do several things:

First, God uses tornadoes, and I think God is using this tornado that just ravaged Sanford and other parts of North Carolina, to get our attention. To get the attention of true Christians to PREACH THE GOSPEL so that others can be saved by the power of God. To get the attention of those who are not Christians to see their sinfulness and how fleeting and uncertain life is, and that tomorrow is no guarantee, so that they will repent and be saved from the wrath of God and their sin.

Second, God uses tornadoes and other natural disasters to show His power. He indeed does control all things, and is far more powerful than any of us. He could wipe us out in an instant. We should stand in awe of the fierceness of God.

Third, God uses tornadoes and other natural disasters to show His grace and mercy. Even though we deserve the wrath of God, both in this life and the next, the damage that occurs to homes and families gives other believers the chance to show the grace and mercy of God. In other words, we Christians should not merely be addressing physical needs of others in this crisis (that is definitely important), but first and foremost their spiritual needs (which is always, ALWAYS, most important). And we meet spiritual needs by preaching the gospel of course, and that is really what I am trying to do right now.

The gospel can be illustrated through the tornado in Sanford like this: We deserve the wrath of God because of our sinfulness. If we got what we deserved, we would all be killed in a tornado or some other like disaster, and then we would suffer for our sins in hell forever. However, God has offered us grace and mercy, which we do not deserve. What we do not deserve is salvation from our sins, yet incredibly God has offered it through Jesus Christ, His Son, who is God, and who died on a cross, enduring the very wrath of God for man's sins, and all who repent and trust in this sacrifice and payment for their sins by Christ on the cross will be saved both from hell and the enslaving power of sin.

And to be saved from sin is the most wonderful thing in the world. We were created to honor and glorify God, but we want to honor and glorify self instead. Salvation through Christ saves us from our desire to live for self and gives us the desire to live for God, which again is what we were created to do and what we were created to love and enjoy. Not only that, but because our sins have been paid for by Christ on the cross when He endured God's wrath for our sins, and because Christ was perfectly obedient to God's law and glorified Him, we can be saved through faith in Him. He got the wrath of God we deserved for our sins on the cross, and we, through faith in Christ and His work for us, receive His righteousness (His obedience to God's law), so that we can be viewed by God as innocent of sin and obedient to God through what Christ did for us.

And that is the good news of the gospel, that Jesus Christ has lived the life we could not live, and paid the debt for our sins which we owed. Through faith in this, and this alone, we can be completely forgiven and saved from our sins so that we can live as we were meant to live- for God's glory and in obedience to Him.

So the Sanford Tornado, like all Tornadoes, is a work of God, which shows His righteous anger and wrath against men and their wickedness, as well as our need for a Savior, to meet both our physical needs as well as our spiritual needs. Then, if the gospel is presented, we see that God is not only righteous and just, but also gracious and merciful and indeed has provided a Savior to meet our physical and spiritual needs- none other than His Son Jesus Christ, who died for all who will repent and believe the gospel.

So my goal in this post is to ultimately point out God's righteous wrath against us, so that you can see your genuine need to be saved from your sin, so that you can live for God as you were made to do, and that Jesus Christ has already provided our needed salvation, and faith in Christ and what He did for you will save you from God's wrath and put you back in the right relationship with God, where you are no longer enemies but friends, and He is your gracious Lord, Savior, and Provider.

2 comments:

  1. I read Job 37:13 "He brings the clouds to punish men, or to water His earth and show His love."
    And then "because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son" Heb 12 :6

    I had asked the Lord, "is there anything you are trying to tell us, as your people, through these tornadoes?" I read the first verse, and thought is this your punishment or love? And then when I read the second verse, it kind of seemed like it was both... He loves us so much he disciplines and punishes us... to "turn man from wrongdoing and keep Him from pride, to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword" Job 33:18,19 His discipline and punishment is part of His love for us. But this is just a tid-bit of trying to understand this...because "The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteouness, he does not oppress" Job 37:23

    But hallelujah we can rejoice in the Lord always, and in Him is our peace. He is good.

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  2. Thanks for your post, whoever you are lol. I think I agree with you, although I would like to point out that as Christians, covered by the blood of Christ, God never does anything to punish us, since all our sins were punished on the cross when Christ endured God's full wrath for us. God does use disasters and sorrow and pain like this to teach us, discipline us, rebuke us, and encourage us to trust in Him and grow in Him, as He did with Job. But never to punish.

    On the other hand, God does punish the unbelievers with things such as tornadoes. Now, he may be doing it to punish unbelievers, or he may use an event such as a tornado to bring someone to faith in Christ and be saved. It is likely that He intended both.

    Thank you for your comment by the way.

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