Designer Disaster and Divine Destruction

September 29, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 9 Comments
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In Chapter 6 the prophecy that the Lord gave to Jeremiah is in the form of poetry, but it is a dark poem, containing gloomy and frightening imagery. It describes God’s use of a terrible invading army which He allows and even directs against His own people because of their idolatry, wickedness, hypocrisy, and rebellion against Him.

O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Bethhaccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction. I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman. The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his place. Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out. Arise, and let us go by night, and let us destroy her palaces.

Jeremiah 6:1-5

This ominous threat from “out of the north” would bring both evil and destruction. The “evil” is not necessarily a reference to moral evil, but rather a conveyance of the idea of a catastrophic (although designed rather than random) experience of destruction from the point of view of the nation of Judah. While the Hebrew ra is sometimes translated as “disaster” (from the original meaning of a bad event brought about by a bad alignment of the stars or planets: astro), it is clear that God’s people were about (absent some severe and urgent repentance) to be overwhelmed by God’s specifically crafted and forewarned justice.

On the other hand, while “disaster” would convey the wrong sense of this attack, the parallel description of “destruction” is spot-on, for, just as “construction” means “a building up,” “destruction” means a “tearing-down,” and that is exactly what the invaders would do to the walls, homes, Temple, and buildings in Jerusalem.

Christians today who are in a state of backsliding or rebellion against God need to heed these prophetic warnings. Whether reprieve or destruction befalls us is ultimately up to God. He is not subject to any circumstances, accidents, or astrological omens. He could have a very well-thought-out and serious plan of chastening on the verge of landing in our land, luxuries, or laps, and if it catches us unaware or unrepentant, we would only have ourselves to blame. Likewise, He is more than capable of tearing down any materialistic idols that we have built up in our lives should He choose to discipline to us and bring us back to Himself in love.

Did the Devil Flood Livingston Parish?

September 13, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Posted in The Flood | 6 Comments
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If you are truly a Christian, then you have to have a certain level of loyalty to God. After all, He is your Father, Savior, Redeemer, and Provider. Therefore, it is somewhat natural to want to stick up for Him when others might question His actions. This can be a good thing, but it can also be problematic when our loyalty tips over into finite rationalizations. In other words, we want to give people a high opinion of our God (to “glorify” Him), but we also want to be honest. In other other words, God doesn’t need a PR agent.

We have seen this dynamic at work in the wake (pun intended) of the recent flooding in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, and the adjacent parishes. “God is all-powerful and omniscient, so how could all this devastation have happened on His watch?” we are afraid someone will ask. And the all-too-often-heard rationalization-in-advance is to blame-shift onto Satan. “God didn’t send all this rain into these too-narrow rivers, creeks, and bayous. God doesn’t ‘do evil.’ The devil did this for evil, and God will turn it around and use it for good.” It sounds helpful. It even sounds hopeful. But – and this is what really matters to God – is it true?

Does the devil control the weather? I want to be cautious here, and admit that Satan is certainly powerful. He is so much more powerful than any human being that we can not even make a proper comparison. However, he is a pipsqueak compared to God. As a created being himself, it is certain that Satan is neither omnipotent nor omniscient, and can only be said to be “omnipresent” in the limited sense that he may have demonic agents feeding him information and doing his bidding in all parts of the world. The only place to find reliable information about who can control the weather – God and Satan, or God and God alone – is the Bible.

Now, my wife made an excellent point when we discussed this. What the devil CAN do is this: He can seize upon the opportunity created by the aftermath of the flood and tempt people to become discouraged, to become bitter, to give up, to look for escape from their troubles in sinful habits and addictions, to turn away from God, to become divisive and petty, and (his specialty) to become proud – proud of their community, proud of their neighbors, proud of their church, proud of the way they themselves behaved in a crisis, and even proud to be a Christian (oxymoronic as that is!)

However, the Bible evidence is nearly incontrovertible that God is in charge of the weather – even the extreme weather events that we call catastrophes. The only possible support for the counterargument that I can find is the account of Job’s children, who were killed, as part of a challenge between God and Satan, with a “great wind” that blew their house down on top of them. However, even in that instance, the same account calls the lightning which took out the sheep and the servants the “fire of God,” so, presumably, Satan, acting under God’s permission, had to borrow some weather elements from God, or, perhaps, ask God to use them Himself.

All of which gives me the confidence to say that, no, the devil did not sneak around God’s throne, weasel himself into the royal Heavenly restroom, and break the plumbing, spilling four trillion gallons of rain right on top of southeastern Louisiana in a 24 hour period. It may not sound sentimental, and it may give ammunition to amateur skeptics and those bitter at a God too great for us to “figure out,” but, as His children, we are to rejoice over the fact that God is supremely in control of all events in, and beyond, this world, and that what He does is always right and always good, weather whether we like it or not, or weather whether we understand it or not.

For the the glory of His name, and for the good of His Son and His Son’s redeemed people, God flooded Livingston Parish, Louisiana, on the weekend of August 13-14, 2016, and He did not choose to fill us in on what the kids call “the deets.” It may be a hard truth, but it is a true truth, and for those who suffered in it and through it, we are better off facing this truth. As the old song says, “When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.” Some folks move to Chicago, some folks move into their neighbors’ homes, and some folks move into a FEMA trailer. But all of God’s folks need to move closer to the true God of the Bible, and need to move into the lives of their neighbors who have not yet met the Savior and tell them the good news that the God of the flood will forgive you for your sins and give you eternal life when – AND ONLY WHEN – you repent, believe the Gospel, and trust His Son.


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