Tuscany was lashed with torrential rains and floods. There were fatalities.
Bangalore is flooded. Water levels rose over 5 feet. And it’s drought season.
Mexico was subjected to a 8.1 earthquake with many dead. The President of that nation declared a three-day period of national mourning.
Hurricane Harvey inundated the US city of Houston this week.
Wildfires are raging in three US states.
Of course Hurricane Irma devastated the Carribbean and also the SE of the US, where it is predicted that it will take billions of dollars to reconstruct.
A new hurricane is in the Atlantic, Jose.
The Guardian has a run-down of the disasters currently in play. Below, Hurricane Irma photo taken by Russian Cosmonaut Randy Bresnik aboard the International Space Station.
We live in a society unlike any in the past, a world of electronic media, a world of mass communication, a world of overexposure to relentless visual images and enhancements. We see everything and we see it constantly. In fact, we’re not isolated from anything that happens anywhere in the world.
Every catastrophe, every calamity, every cataclysm, every disaster, every tragedy everywhere eventually comes to us through the media and we vicariously experience all the pain and sorrow and suffering and death, whether it’s earthquakes in Mexico, or Japan, or Indonesia, or whether it’s famine in Africa or volcanic eruptions on various islands of the sea, or whether it’s horrific hurricanes in Asia or in Florida, whether it’s plagues in India, avalanches in Europe, wars in Iraq, whether it’s genocide, whether it’s suicidal terrorists in Israel or New York City or Washington D.C. or in a Russian school, whether it’s a plane crash, a train disaster, the sinking of ferry boat in a choppy sea in the English Channel, whatever it is, we are not isolated from these disasters, …
Whatever it is, we get it all. We cannot escape the information about catastrophic car wrecks that kill people. We see them replay it again and again on the nightly news, or house fires that burn up entire families.
And the truth is, if we weren’t living in this particular era of human history, we would not experience all of this. We would live in a little world somewhere and that little world would have its share of disasters and sometimes pretty devastating ones. But we at least wouldn’t have to bear the weight of all the disasters of all the world all the time. There is no little world for us anymore, not in western society. The weight of the tragedies of the world finds its way onto our emotional backs. The tragedies of the globe become ours to process in our beleaguered minds. Supernatural lessons from a natural disaster, John MacArthur
Is it the apocalyptic birth pangs? Yes. But the pangs have been appearing for 2000 years, since Jesus ascended. The two men in white announced to the men staring into the sky as Jesus had just been lifted out of their sight,
and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11).
This is just the beginning. (Matthew 24:8). Earthquakes, floods, death, and disasters have always happened, since after the time of Genesis 3. Do you know why?
The curse. Sin. The earth groans under it.
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:22)
The simple verb to travail, occurs Gal. 4:19, 27; and the kindred noun birth-pang, in Matthew and Mark, Acts, and 1 Thess. 5:3.
Together refers to the common longing of all the elements of the creation, not to its longing in common with God’s children. “Nature, with its melancholy charm, resembles a bride who, at the very moment when she was fully attired for marriage, saw the bridegroom die. She still stands with her fresh crown and in her bridal dress, but her eyes are full of tears” (Schelling, cited by Godet). M.R. Vincent, Word studies in the New Testament
(1.) That there is a present vanity to which the creature, by reason of the sin of man, is made subject, v. 20. When man sinned, the ground was cursed for man’s sake, and with it all the creatures (especially of this lower world, where our acquaintance lies) became subject to that curse, became mutable and mortal.
(2.) That the creatures groan and travail in pain together under this vanity and corruption, v. 22. It is a figurative expression. Sin is a burden to the whole creation;
There is a general outcry of the whole creation against the sin of man: the stone crieth out of the wall (Hab. 2:11), the land cries, Job 31:38. Source: Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible
God is sovereign. God either allows a storm (satan can whip up a wind, he has that power, Job 1:19); or for His purposes God creates one. (Deuteronomy 11:17, James 5:17, Numbers 16:30-34). Either way, the earth originally was not home to this kind of trouble. In Eden, things were perfect. Not a harsh wind, not a tornado, not an earthquake, not even a stinging insect. Placid, dew-perfect life for Adam and Eve. Until the serpent tempted the humans to sin, and the humans fell. So did creation.
Paul cried out famously, Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24). We could equally cry ‘who will rescue us from this planet of death?’ We groan and the creation groans. The most we can do in the face of these storms is remember who God is. We remember why this is happening (sin’s curse). We pray that those who do not know these things will turn to God and repent. Today because in all likelihood, the news will bring us another one tomorrow and we will we vicariously experience all the pain and sorrow and suffering and death all over again. MacArthur’s prayer-
We’re reminded of the words of the apostle Paul borrowing from the Old Testament, “Today is the day of salvation.” Lord, we have time now. We have opportunity now. We don’t know what the future has. We don’t know what calamity awaits. But we know we are experiencing Your patience and forbearance now. We know it’s not because You’re slack with Your promise. It’s not because You’re impotent, or powerless. It’s not because You’re indifferent. You could take us at any moment. You could snuff our lives out and You would be just in doing that.
But You have given us life and time and gospel opportunity to repent. And we…we have to see that opportunity for what it really is and we have to hear what our Lord said, “Repent or perish.” Death comes suddenly, unexpectedly, and if we have not repented with a repentance of not just turning, as turning from sin but turning to Christ, then eternal judgment awaits and forever we pay the penalty. What a horrific thought. While there is time, while there is opportunity, while there is the knowledge of the truth, I pray, oh God, that hearts would turn to You even now. Father, now we ask that You would do Your work. We’re so grateful for the fact that You have been gracious to us, those of us that know You.
We were given time and space and opportunity to repent. We were given the truth to hear and to believe and, oh Lord, we pray that You would so move in the hearts of those who have heard now and have not yet repented. May they be warned and shaken to the seriousness of the jeopardy in which they exist. And we ask that many would repent before they perish. And Lord, use us to spread this word of warning and of mercy to sinners everywhere. May they know that judgment comes but that mercy waits. And now send us out to be used to Your glory, we pray in Your Son’s name.
Supernatural lessons from a natural disaster, John MacArthur
PS, the sermon above and quoted up at the beginning was delivered 13 years ago, in 2004.