One of the most common questions we ask when natural disasters strike is, “Is this God’s judgment?” At this time many are asking this as we face the rapid spread of a deadly virus. In these unprecedented times, questions like these abound so I developed this series “Christ in the Midst of Calamity.” In the Bible, there are occasions when God uses natural disasters as a form of judgment (2 Samuel 21 & 24, 1 Kings 8:35-40). In the Old Testament Law God warned His people of the calamities that would come upon them if they turned away from Him and followed the evil ways of the pagan nations (Deut. 28-29, Isa.51, Jer. 24:8-1). Not every natural disaster should be considered God’s judgment. Some are the result of living in a fallen world. Is this crisis a judgment of God? In addressing this question, it is important to affirm some basic premises about the character of God.
First, God is sovereign over all the earth. This means He is in control of all things (Ps. 135:6), His plan is all inclusive (Rom. 8:28, Eph. 1:11) and His plan is ultimately for His praise and glory (Eph. 1:14).
Second, God remains completely aware of all that occurs and is fully present in each event. Matthew 10:29 states that God knows and cares for even the death of a single sparrow. Third, God directs the affairs of the earth (Ps. 33:6-12). Fourth, God uses all things, even evil and calamity to bring about His purpose.
- Isa. 45:7 “I form the Light and create darkness: I make well-being and create calamity: I am the Lord, who does all these things.”
- Prov. 16:4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
Passages like these teach us that God allows moral evil, wicked people and natural disaster to rise and run its course to fulfill His ultimate purpose. Although we may never fully understand the ways of God, there are lessons He wants His people to learn that should result in life transformation.
Fifth, God is love. All that He does and all that He allows is filtered through His loving hands. When a parent has to discipline their child, it is done from love not rage. It hurts the parent more than the child but a good parent knows they must steer their child from harmful conduct and attitude toward the right direction. Sometimes the child may not understand why they were disciplined but later as they mature, they come to realize the wisdom and love behind their parents’ judgment. God suffers alongside with us and uses all events, even suffering to fulfill His purpose in our lives.
Sixth, God is just and righteous, therefore, He can never do evil. There is a perfect balance of love and justice in the character of God. Although God is loving and forgiving, He is also holy and just. Therefore, He deals justly with sin and disobedience. He allows mankind to suffer the consequences of their moral choices or He may bring calamity upon them. All this with the purpose of upholding His righteousness but also, reproving and correcting our behavior so that we redirect our lives in the direction of life and not self-destruction.
Covid-19 and God’s Plan
The crisis we face I do not believe is moral evil, that is evil resulting from the immoral acts of humans, but natural evil, natural disasters which humans often have no control over. God allows both types of evil but they remain under His care and control for a purpose. At this time, God has allowed this tragedy upon us for a reason which only He knows. If this is God’s judgment upon us, He is certainly justified in doing so. God has been patient as mankind has for a long time, turned from Him and chosen to go against His clear commands. When God judges He does so with a balance of love and justice. In love He wants to steer us away from sin and ultimately a path that leads to destruction. His just nature judges disobedience and sinful behavior.
Although we may not know the fullness of God’s plan at this time, He is using this moment to teach us some valuable lessons. I am looking at this through the lenses of an apologist so my view will be from this perspective. First, calamities expose errors. The error of false hope is exposed at this time. When mankind turns from God, they place their hope in other things even themselves. This is a form of idolatry. Modern man today has placed his faith and hope in his own abilities. Through our advances in science and technology, we have come to believe that we can save ourselves.
This is espoused in ideologies of the secular transhumanist movement. It is believed that through genetic engineering we will cure all diseases and we will be able to create a generation of offspring designed in our image according to what we desire. Further, many believe genetic engineering will solve the aging problem and we will attain eternal life! AI and Biotechnology will enhance our minds and bodies creating a super smart, super strong breed of humans who can accomplish anything. Eternal life, Google-like knowledge, eternal bodies, who needs salvation offered by Christ when we can attain it on our own. However, catastrophes like this shatter the false hope of a man-made utopia and reminds us that we are frail and finite beings. Something as small as a virus is beyond our control and can quickly wreak havoc in our world. False hopes are crushed in times of tragedy. False hope is ultimately devastating to those who embraced its empty promise. God wants us to see the emptiness of hope built on man and place our hope where it truly belongs, in Him.
Another error exposed is false teaching. Hardships test the metal of one’s belief system. Trials can refine one’s faith or expose its error. In Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish builder, it was the trials of life that exposed the foundation of sand or rock. One withstood the storms of life while the other crumbled.
One of the false teachings and teachers being exposed at this time I believe are the modern day self-proclaiming messiahs, incarnations of God, and faith healers who claim miraculous powers to heal the sick and even raise the dead. Where are they now? Throughout the country and the world, we see tens of thousands who are sick and dying from the Covid-19 virus. We certainly could use their healing crusades to cure those ailing from this infection and other diseases. Wouldn’t it be great if they entered our overrun hospitals healed the patients and cleared them out? We could use some holy handkerchiefs that heal instead of face masks that only protect. If there ever was a time for them to shine it is now. Instead of rising to the occasion, this crisis has exposed the true nature of these false teaches and their teachings.
Second, catastrophes also expose sin. One of the biggest is the sin of pride that says, “We can do it without God.” For too long we have come to believe we are in charge, we are the masters of our destinies and sole rulers over the earth. Events like this remind us who is really in control and who is the rightful owner of this planet.
- Psalm 24:1-2 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
- Psalm 89:11 states, “The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
- Colossians 1:15-17 states, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
We are reminded that God not only created but sustains all life His universe. Catastrophes expose our pride and serve to humble us as we are reminded to who is the true Lord of all creation and how much we need Him every day. As great as man’s accomplishments have been, nothing compares to the genius, power, and majesty of the Lord. For too long God has put up with our arrogance and it is time we humbled ourselves before the true Lord of all creation.
Third, catastrophes correct our thinking. When confronted with the threat of death, we are awakened to what is really important in life. Overrun by materialism we have been deceived into focusing on material wealth, social status, and possessions because we believe these will fulfill our needs. However, when the shadow of death threatens, we discover that what truly matters are the things that last for eternity: God, His word, and the souls of people. At times like these many refocus their lives or transform their minds and learn to live in light of eternity investing in the things that truly matter. James Dobson stated that it would come down to God, those you love, those who loved you, and the things you have done for God.
Finally, catastrophes when understood through biblical truth, builds character. As we are humbled, we examine our lives in light of God’s word and become aware where we have fallen short. False thinking is corrected, sin is identified and repented of. With a renewed mind and heart, we are able to learn to trust God in ways we never have before.
Through these difficult times, we are humbled. When we are humbled, we realize the emptiness of our false ideologies, and we are finally open to God’s truth. Now more than ever I believe the world is willing to hear God’s truth proclaimed and they are watching to see how God’s people respond.
How should we respond when catastrophes strike? Many often react by looking for someone to blame whether it is God Himself, a nation, or a leader. In the Bible, godly men and women responded by humbling themselves and turning to God. God relented from destroying Nineveh because in response to the preaching of Jonah, the pagan king humbled himself and called upon the nation to repent before the Lord.
Second, the godly took time to reflect and examine their lives. Godly men and women examined their heart to see if there was sin that needed to be repented of. David wrote in Psalm 139, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” He asked God to reveal his faults and areas he needed to change. David’s response serves as a model for all of us.
At this time where life has come to a standstill for many, it is a great time to reflect and examine our lives. Is there sin we need to confess and repent of? As a church we need to ask if we as a body are tolerating sin in our midst that we must confess and repent of. Have we been faithfully teaching the whole council of God’s word? Have we been seeking to make disciples or simply build our little kingdoms?
Then as a nation, we must examine our country and see if there is sin that we should confess and turn from. After a time of reflection, it is time to repent of sin, seek God’s forgiveness and get our lives right with the Lord.
We should ask ourselves, have we examined our lives and responded as modeled by David? Have we as a church responded in a godly way? Although there are many great churches, there are too many that tolerate sinful behavior, lukewarm commitment to Christ, teaching that tickle the ears but not convict the heart, and many seeking to build their kingdom and not God’s. Finally, we should ask, has our nation repented of her sin? Many countries murder millions of children in abortion. Several nations have redefined marriage, the institution created by God. Transgenderism today defaces the very image of God. We willfully shake our fists in God’s face in defiant rebellion expecting God not to judge us. It is time for a national call to repentance. How are we responding as individuals, a church, a state and a nation?
We are hearing a lot of encouraging messages from our leaders which is great. However, let us not forget that before restoration comes there must be a time of humbling before God, a recommitment to Him, and repentance from sin. Until we do this, God will not restore our land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 states, “… if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Restoration and healing come when people humble themselves, turn to God and repent of sin. Notice that the passage begins with “if my people.” It begins with God’s people who are called to lead the way. We cannot expect ungodly governments and ungodly leaders to do this. The church must respond rightly and lead the way for our nation and world to follow.
At this time people throughout the world are humbled and disillusioned with the false hope they once had in the things of this world. They are asking the big questions of life and seeking eternal truth. Through this God has prepared the world and it is the time for God’s people to boldly proclaim and live out His truth. Let us not fall short on the mission God has now prepared.
© Evidence and Answers 2020