Posted in disaster, tribulation, wrath

Typhoon Haiyan: survivors walk like zombies

source

The Zombie Apocalypse is a well-known American trope that emerged from the literary horror genre spawned by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1818. Throughout the rest of the 1800s, various undead themed books were published, and by the 1920s and 30s, HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe brought the horror genre and with it, zombies, into the modern age.

Nowadays says Wiki, “The turn of the millennium coincided with a decade of box office successes in which the zombie sub-genre experienced a resurgence”.

And, with zombies, came the zombie apocalypse. The “zombie apocalypse” concept, in which the civilized world is brought low by a global zombie infestation, has become a staple of modern popular art.” (Wikipedia)

It has become so popular in fact, that the Center for Disease Control spoofed their own selves in their preparedness booklet Zombie Pandemic, touted as a fun way that “demonstrates the importance of being prepared in an entertaining way that people of all ages will enjoy. (source)

If there are those among you who don’t enjoy the zombie genre, myself included, the image of the zombie is still easily recognized. The shambling, stumbling walk, the insensate eyes, the mumbling, the thousand yard stare…all indicative of zombie behavior. As a matter of fact, zombies are much like the shell shocked WW1 vets returning home from the horrors of battle, so named because they seemed as empty and void as a shell. Shell Shock is “a reaction to the intensity of the bombardment and fighting that produced a helplessness appearing variously as panic, or flight, an inability to reason, sleep, walk or talk.”

Shell Shock: This is Private Eagerfield. (WW1)
Eagerfield’s facial expression is also typical
of von Graefe’s sign where there is an immobility of the
upper eyelid and downward rotation of the eye.(source)

Part of shell shock in the WW1 vets, and any person today who has endured a trauma ,may not only become shell shocked but their condition may also include neurasthenia, as it did for many WW1 vets. Neurasthenia is a condition was explained as being a result of exhaustion of the central nervous system’s energy reserves.

In summary, when populations endure mass trauma to the point where comprehension is impossible, in other words seeing horrors on a scope heretofore unseen or unexperienced, shell shock and nervous system failure often resulted.

Just like zombies.

With all that in mind, here is a news piece today which refers to the Filipinos who endured the “worst storm on record” walking around like zombies.

SUPER TYPHOON HAIYAN: Survivors ‘walk like Zombies’
November 10, 2013 – TACLOBAN, Philippines – One of the most powerful storms ever recorded killed at least 10,000 people in the central Philippines, a senior police official said on Sunday, with huge waves sweeping away entire coastal villages and devastating the region’s main city. Super typhoon Haiyan destroyed about 70 to 80 percent of the area in its path as it tore through Leyte province on Friday, said police chief superintendent Elmer Soria. As rescue workers struggled to reach ravaged villages along the coast, where the death toll is as yet unknown, survivors foraged for food as supplies dwindled or searched for lost loved ones. “People are walking like zombies looking for food,” said Jenny Chu, a medical student in Leyte. “It’s like a movie.” Most of the deaths appear to have been caused by surging sea water strewn with debris that many said resembled a tsunami, leveling houses and drowning hundreds of people in one of the worst natural disasters to hit the typhoon-prone Southeast Asian nation.

Foraging…stumbling around insensate…blank eyes unable to comprehend the scope of the damage…lives lost on a mass scale…It is just heartbreaking to think of so many people and children who are affected by this disaster.

Corpses hanging on trees, homes destroyed, livestock dead, families dispersed, and no food, sanitation or water. Looting, danger, cold, illness.

Witnesses and officials described chaotic scenes in Leyte’s capital, Tacloban, a coastal city of 220,000 about 580 km (360 miles) southeast of Manila which bore the brunt, with hundreds of bodies piled on the sides of roads and pinned under wrecked houses.” (source)

Bodies litter the debris-strewn streets of the obliterated city of
Tacloban, Philippines
after Typhoon Haiyan came through in November 2013

On a stretch of road on the way into Tacloban city centre, just past a lone white coffin with gold-painted handles, lay a mass of dead, bloated bodies. Men, women, cats, dogs and pigs were piled in a heap against a stone house with a metal roof bent upwards like a question mark. Its residents stared out at the chaos below like zombies.” (source)

Now imagine when all the world at the same time is like this.

Typhoon Haiyan hit Tacloban city, in Leyte province in central Philippines on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. It was one of the most powerful typhoons on record, ever. Have you noticed that the storms that come are getting bigger and bigger?

source

Remember Joplin? The tornado? Weatherman Mike Bettes bursting into tears, affected and unable to articulate the scale of the disaster?

The bible says that in the Tribulation, these disasters will come one upon another, faster and faster as birth pangs upon a woman. There will be constant worldwide disasters.

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26)

This verse is saying that people will drop dead on the spot when they see the things that will be happening.

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” (Revelation 6:12-14)

Demons will pour out from hell, attack any and all people not saved by the grace of Jesus after the rapture took the believers during the age of Grace. Mountains will fall, oceans will be as blood, a third of the ships of the sea will sink and millions will drown.

Am I trying to scare you? Yes. Yes. I have talked with too many people that have a casual view of the wrath of God. I have spoken with too many people who have a romantic notion of surviving the Tribulation. I hear too many people set aside the day of their salvation, putting it off for trivial pursuits of drinking carousing, playing.

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed..
Imagine Tacloban city as your city. Zombie-like shell shocked people wandering insensibly, not caring about you or your safety. They attack for a can of tuna, kill over a drink of water. Or you, stepping over maggot ridden bloated dead bodies, yourself coming down with cholera, knowing that where you fall, you die.

God is soon going to pour out his wrath on the entire world, and unless you are saved by the grace of Jesus, you will be one of those left behind to face all this. Just as the poor folks of the Philippines cannot comprehend the devastation of their cities and towns, you cannot, cannot comprehend the wrath of God that is coming. You have no ability to comprehend what it will be like because Jesus said it will be unlike any time in the world’s history ever. (Matthew 24:21). There is nothing to compare it to. It will be horrible. Words fail.

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17).

“The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.” (Psalm 110:5)

“How awful that day will be! No other will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.” (Jeremiah 30:7)

REPENT NOW! There is nothing casual or romantic or undemanding about this coming time of horror, wrath, and fury from the Almighty God of all creation. Don’t set aside the implications of the storms on the horizon. If you repent of your sins now, and appeal to the Judge for forgiveness He will forgive you. You will leave this earth before the time of Jacob’s trouble begins, and you will not endure the wrath. (1 Thessalonians 5:9, Revelation 3:10).

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
(Hebrews 4:6-7)

If you do not repent, when we are raptured away you will be left to face an increasingly apocalyptic series of horrors which, if you survive, your mind may simply become zombie-like and your body faint as these things are coming on the earth. And if you die in one of the disasters before you repent, you will spend your eternity in hell paying for your sins in torment and punishment.

Scary? Yes. It is. The fact and certainty of God’s wrath is scary. The certainty of His grace and love in His forgiveness is peace. You choose.

———————

For further reading

What is the biblical understanding of the wrath of God? (short essay)

The Truth About Hell (longer essay)

God’s Wrath Poured Out Like Fire (sermon, listen or read)

Posted in bad things, disaster, evil, tornado

If God is good, why didn’t He stop the tornado?

It is admittedly hard to read of news where children are killed or harmed. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newton CT this past December 2012 was surely horrific. Reading about the 20 children who died in the Plaza Tower Elementary school yesterday in Moore OK via a EF-5 tornado is also heart-rending.

At times like these, people often ask, “Where is God?” “How could He allow this to happen?” “Is God good?”

I can put it this way. When a serial killer is placed on death row and eventually executed, we say that justice was done. If a person breaking and entering a home is shot by the homeowner, we often say ‘good! He got what he deserved.’

When Korah rebelled against Moses and Aaron, he was rebelling against God. (Numbers 16:3). The LORD told Moses to tell the congregation to separate from Korah, and Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their household and the goods in the household were swallowed up as the earth opened up and took them alive to Sheol. When this happened, we say “God is just and right to do this thing. Korah was performing a moral evil in rebelling against God trough Moses and Aaron.”

When the tornado came and the earth swallowed the children in the bottom of the Plaza Towers Elementary School,” do we say, “God is unjust and bad to do this thing?” No! God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8).

What we cannot fathom, we must trust that the Lord is good and His purposes are good. On the one hand, He directly put down a rebellion by performing a supernatural disaster as He did in the Old Testament.

On the other hand, what of the children in the elementary schools which were razed by the tornado? If they are declared innocent by a righteous God, as Deuteronomy 1:39 and Isaiah 7:16 and also explained here, then why did they have to die? Why did God allow a natural disaster to take them?

And that is where I stopped my essay, many hours ago. I was stuck on the answer myself because I was unsatisfied with saying that sin is a blanket cause for all evil, including natural disasters. Though the sin done n the Garden of Eden was indirectly the cause of the weather patterns turning deadly, how and what are we to think of a deadly tornado such as the one yesterday, more specifically? My theology brought me to an understanding of sin as a reason for the general evil in the world, including disasters such as the Oklahoma tornado. But it wasn’t a deep enough answer.

But later today, Dr. Al Mohler wrote today of this exact subject. He said, “But Jesus rejected this as a blanket explanation for suffering, instructing His disciples in John 9 and Luke 13 that they could not always trace suffering back to sin.”

What are we to think, then? As I read the rest of Dr. Mohler’s essay, that more thorough explanation became clear through his precise and mature understanding of theology. He wrote,

However as Dr. Mohler explains that passages in Luke 13 and John 9 show us that “the problem of evil and suffering, the theological issue of theodicy, is customarily divided into evil of two kinds, moral and natural.” [emphasis mine]

The moral problem of evil was exemplified in Korah. Korah’s pride and ambition was his undoing. He committed a moral sin and ended up rebelling against God. Suffering ensued for him and his family.

He says that a discussion of both kinds of evil are included in the Luke 13 passage.

“In Luke 13, the murder of the Galileans is clearly moral evil, a premeditated crime–just like the terrorist acts in New York and Washington. In John 9, a man is blind from birth, and Jesus tells the Twelve that this blindness cannot be traced back to this man’s sin, or that of his parents. Natural evil comes without a moral agent. A tower falls, an earthquake shakes, a tornado destroys, a hurricane ravages, a spider bites, a disease debilitates and kills. The world is filled with wonders mixed with dangers. Gravity can save you or gravity can kill you. When a tower falls, it kills.”

Further, Mohler wrote,

A venerable confession of faith states it rightly: “God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any way to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.”

But if God is sovereign, doesn’t He allow the tornado to occur? How do we reconcile God’s sovereignty and our responsibility? We can’t really. Not with our finite minds. Mohler answers,

God is God, and God is good. As Paul affirms for the church, God’s sovereignty is the ground of our hope, the assurance of God’s justice as the last word, and God’s loving rule in the very events of our lives: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, who are the called according to His purpose.” [Romans 8:28]

We dare not speak on God’s behalf to explain why He allowed these particular acts of evil to happen at this time to these persons and in this manner. Yet, at the same time, we dare not be silent when we should testify to the God of righteousness and love and justice who rules over all in omnipotence. Humility requires that we affirm all that the Bible teaches, and go no further. There is much we do not understand. As Charles Spurgeon explained, when we cannot trace God’s hand, we must simply trust His heart.

What we do understand is that God is good in having sent His son to die for us. Jesus took upon Himself all sin and exhausted God’s wrath for it, and then died, to be accepted by God as the eternal sacrifice for that sin and raised on the third day. He now imputes His righteousness to His saints who believe this Gospel by faith, and it is by that vehicle we declare His righteousness to those who are afflicted and suffering.

He allows us to be His witnesses, the indwelling Holy Spirit glowing and bringing God glory. If we were to see a visible manifestation of His Goodness, would it be in Christians’ Spirit lovingly racing TO the place of terror, danger, and devastation, to help their neighbor? Like this photo from the Baltimore Sun, with the lens flares I inserted?

As my friend Pastor Phil wrote yesterday, “May our suffering Oklahoma neighbors and friends see the manifest presence of God in the midst of their suffering, especially through the ministries of Christians.”

This is where God is good, and all that Goodness stems back to the only One who is Good, God, who sent His Son. (Mark 10:18).

If we could part the curtain and see His goodness visibly, would it be that we’d see the myriads of ministering angels? Especially at the flattened school? As I try to show with this photo from the Chicago Tribune containing lens flares I put in? (Those aren’t floodlights)

Dr. Mohler said,

“The second great error is to ascribe evil to God. But the Bible does not allow this argument. God is absolute righteousness, love, goodness, and justice. Most errors related to this issue occur because of our human tendency to impose an external standard–a human construction of goodness–upon God. But good does not so much define God as God defines good.”

Yes, we mourn and we cry when we see the terrible calamity of children killed, neighbors dead, homes lost, and businesses smashed. The heart of the matter is not whether God is good or God is bad, the heart of the matter is repentance. A calamity could happen any day. Like in Luke 13, the tower of Siloam fell on 18 workers constructing it and they died. Jesus said, “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? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”” (Luke 13:4-5). Your eternal destiny awaits, are you ready? A tornado could take your life, it is a natural evil that is blind and thoughtless, taking with it into its deadly vortex a child or a sinner or a repented one. Any day, any time. If you do not repent, you shall likewise perish, not just body, but soul

God’s goodness is that He made a way for you to escape eternal destruction, no matter the manner of death. That way is Jesus. (John 14:6). Talk about good! It doesn’t get any better than the Savior.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further reading or listening

God’s Sovereignty and Personal Compassion in Public Tragedy, John Piper
Supernatural Lessons from a Natural Disaster, John MacArthur
Does God control everything? free ebook or free kindle, RC Sproul
Why does God allow bad things to happen? SJ Tuohy
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? GotQuestions
Why does God allow good things to happen to bad people? GotQuestions

Posted in disaster, praise, tornado

A sad day with devastating tornadoes (What God Ordains Is Always Good) Updated

Update– You might be interested in this essay I wrote a day later, looking at the situation a bit more deeply and theologically, called If God is Good, why Didn’t He Stop the Tornado?

————————-
 
I am recovering from a traumatic spiritual battle as I alluded to earlier in the month. It sapped my strength almost completely.

Our elementary school’s last day is this Friday at noon. So three and a half days left. Most of the kindergarteners thought today was the last day, more than one thought so. Holding these kids down for 7 hours a few days away from summer break saps your strength.

We are having an unusual heat all of a sudden. The temps are in the upper-80s but real-feel temps are in the mid-90s. It saps your strength.

I went grocery shopping after work, the Dollar Store and Grocery store share a parking lot. Walking the buggy back and forth from one side to the other to load the car with heavy groceries saps your strength.

I got home at a low strength point. Kind of weary.

Then I read about the tornadoes in Oklahoma. My strength sapped even further, pooling at the ground around my feet.

A KFOR-TV weather man said the winds from this worst tornado were over 300mph and it was an F5. It was wider than Oklahoma’s worst historic tornado which occurred in 1999. It is at least 3X as worse as the May 1999 historic tornado. It went from nothing, not a cloud, to an F5 inside of one hour, which is the fastest the atmosphere will allow, he said. It caused catastrophic devastation. He said it is the most devastation from a tornado in the history of the world. There are many dead, including 24 children, at least, have died.

When I read about the elementary schools being in the path of a direct hit from this devastating tornado, my strength waned quickly…tears come to my eyes for this old sinful world. Watching anything die is hard, watching the world die is harder.

What to do?

Praise the Lord. It gives you strength. (Psalm 68:35).

Trust the Lord. It gives you strength. (Isaiah 12:2).

Obey the Lord. It gives you strength. (Revelation 14:12).

Hope in the Lord. It gives you strength. (Lamentations 3:25).

What God ordains is always good. I posted this yesterday, I post it again. Because we need it.

Posted in disaster, jesus, prophecy, superstorm

Manhattan In the Dark

The lights off in NYC made me think of Amos 5.

Drudge Report screen shot, 10-30-12

Stay with me.

“Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! Why would you have the day of the Lord? It is darkness, and not light, as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him. Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?” (Amos 5:18-20)

First, the earthly hardships that go along with a storm of this size are incredible. Frankly, when the Tribulation hits, the last place you want to be is in a city. Bug OUT if you want to survive.

Anyway, as millions upon millions are discovering now, living on any floor above, say fifth, means a lot of walking up and down stairs. No elevators. No running water. That means you have to lug water up, if you can even find any. No flushing, unless you stored water ahead of time and can use it to flush the toilet. No food, or if you find some, you have to lug it up. If you go out on the street there are a lot of other tired, desperate, hungry, thirsty people. There were twitter meet ups planning a mass looting, so it is even more dangerous than usual to be out and about. Then cabin fever sets in. What to do with the kids for days on end inside an apartment with no internet, tv, or PlayStation? And where would you even go? The subways aren’t running, along with bus and most likely, cabs. The streets are littered with tree limbs, flood sludge, dangling electrical wires, and debris. Even if you want to get out and about it is impossible and dangerous.

And then the rats arrive. The UK Daily Mail helpfully reminds us that “Rats are highly social individuals and live in a fairly stable social structure. If this storm disturbs that, rats could start infesting areas they never did before.’ There are precedents for rats being displaced by floods and forced into buildings. In the UK this summer washed out rats began infesting homes. ‘It’s not just about the high winds and rain,’ said Ostfeld. ‘A rat disturbance is something we should be concerned about.’ “

So the city is a bad place in the best of times. It is downright survival UNfriendly in the worst of times.

But what about spiritual survival? I pray that those who know Jesus have remained peaceful even in the face of terrible fear, adrenaline-pumping protection of your children, in evacuation, or even in the face of loss of all you owned. Jesus is the rock who will provide help to you spiritually to work through these hard times. (Psalm 9:9). What a Savior we have who promises help in times of trouble! Before I was saved I used to mock Jesus because I thought, wrongly, that if you were a Christian that meant you would never have trouble. So when trouble inevitably came to His believers, I thought he was powerless and ineffectual to protect them.

I know different now. Jesus said that in this world you will have trouble,

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”’ (John 16:33)

The difference now is that my faith in Him has shifted my perspective from one of clinging to temporal, earthly things, like a house and clothes and a car or a job, to Him in eternity. I have an eternal perspective and the treasures I am heaping up are hopefully faith, patience, love, kindness and other fruits of the Spirit that point to HIM. If I go through trouble (and I do) I rely on His peace and His grace and His Spirit to get me through. He is my Light. Being in the Light is warm and safe and peaceful. Nothing can trouble me when I am in the Light.

But for those who do not know the Light and are in the dark, it is a dark place indeed. Having an earthly perspective means that we see only to the end of our lifespan on earth, 40 or 70 or 80 years. That is not long. Anyone who is over 50 knows how short life is! And when some of that is taken away, a job or a car or a house, unbelievers get frantic because it takes time to build back up and if all you see are a few short years of life then there is no time!

Back to Manhattan being dark. Imagine the lost people in New York in the dark as the people in Amos’s verse, stumbling around in the dark during the Tribulation, AKA The Day of the Lord.

“Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! Why would you have the day of the Lord? It is darkness, and not light, as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him. Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?” (Amos 5:18-20)

They reel from one calamity to another, in gloom with no brightness.

The NYC photo of darkness is a real and scary event that is happening to millions right now. But it is also a spiritual metaphor for those who are stumbling around with no hope, they are in spiritual darkness. After the rapture there will be only darkness. Sin will have its day and the gates of hell will be allowed to prevail and overcome the world and the saints. (Revelation 13:7)

Repent now and be in His Light! In Him was the Light of men and in Him there is no darkness at all. (John 1:4-5). I’m not saying that if you repent of your sins and ask Jesus to forgive them, and become a born again (John 3:14) that you won’t have a tornado slam into your house or a flood carry your car away or that other disasters won’t touch you. Not at all. But you will be able to handle them with the Holy Spirit in you giving you strength, and the forgiveness and sanctification of Jesus giving you peace.

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Please come into the Light, the Light of Jesus and His outstretched hand offering forgiveness of your sins. Repent and believe, for the time is short.