Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Are Disasters God's Judgments?


"Not My Heart!"

A friend asked: I am a bit confused about the whole thing about whether God sends the natural disasters as judgment, or is it more about shaking us out of our routines/apathy/complacency, etc, and getting our attention, to call us to come to Him, repent, to seek Him...what is it then? Verses...I want better understanding of this.

In the times of the Old Testament, God proclaimed judgments against several nations, but mostly against Israel because Israel broke the Sinatic covenant (the Old Covenant).

To better understand that, first it's important to notice that only Israel was covenanted to God (in the Old Covenant). No other nation had that relationship. The terms of the Old Covenant are between Exodus and Deuteronomy. God promised to be Israel's God, and Israel promised to be faithful. (We know how well that arrangement worked out...) Because of this God acted in extraordinary ways on behalf of Israel. He judged her enemies and when she rebelled, He judged her as He promised He would.

So the center of His actions of judging nations in the Old Testament revolves around the Old Covenant (with Israel). In its rituals and festivals, the Old Covenant also contained "shadows" of Christ. And in fact the whole purpose of the Law was to show people they were captive to sin so that they might believe in Christ who saves apart from the Law.

Speaking of the judgments that came upon Israel, the New Testament says that "these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did... These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come" (1 Cor.10:6,11).

The ways that God judged Israel and the nations in the Old Testament are not patterns of how He judges nations today. They were examples and shadows. The Old Covenant with Israel was given to show the world what sin looks like, and even though the Old Covenant is now obsolete (Heb.8:13), it still testifies through the pages of the past.

This was even the whole purpose of bringing Israel into Canaan:

"He gave them the lands of the nations,
and they fell heir to what others had toiled for—
that they might keep His precepts
and observe His laws." (Ps.105:45-55)

From the beginning God purposed to redeem the world through Christ, and to use Israel (and her neighbors) to show the consequences of sin and law: that even if a nation had righteous laws and were blessed with miraculous signs, not only would they still commit sin, but they would make their pagan neighbors look innocent by comparison (Ezekiel 16).

These things were shadows and examples, just as the Old Covenant itself contained shadows and types. The judgments of the Old Testament related to the Old Covenant. Now that the Old Covenant has been fulfilled in Jesus, the testimony of the Old Covenant is completed; it is no longer the standard by which God judges the nations. Now the Holy Spirit convicts of sin using the Cross of Jesus Christ (John 16:8-11). Now instead of judging nations to draw us to Christ, God uses the Cross to bring "all mankind" to Christ (John 12:32).

There will come a time when God judges the nations, sending redemptive judgments, however, before that time the church will be judged first (1 Peter 4:17). I.e., God will clean out His house before He cleans out the world. But even when He does this, it is not final punishment, but is discipline meant to help us from being condemned (1 Cor.11:32).

(Note: At times in the Old Testament, judgments were pronounced against nations seemily apart from their connection to Israel, however this is not the rule but the exception. When this happened, generally what was cited was that it was because of the nations "bloodshed"... exact terms are not usually given, because only the Law was given to Israel. God didn't give a clear "line" that we could see when a nation has gone too far, but at times He did send prophets to tell people when they were getting close to it or had gone over it.)

Today, when charismatic ministers/prophets proclaim that this or that event was a judgment, they do not proclaim the gospel, the Cross, or the New Covenant. It has virtually no relation to Jesus Christ at all. Instead the reasons they point to are usually some kind of sin in the nation (neverminding that other "unjudged" nations have those sins in greater abundance) or a nation's failure to support the modern state of Israel. In other words, when charismatic ministers/prophets proclaim these things as judgments, they do so operating from the understanding of the Old Covenant, not the New. They are looking through shadows, not in the light. They still believe that God relates to the world through the Old Covenant, and they don't understand the New.

And, they don't understand that God is going to come correct *us* about these things before He begins judging the world, because words like these misrepresent Him to the world. Judgment is not about the Law or Israel -- that was the Old Covenant -- rather now it is about Jesus Christ and what He has done for us on the Cross (John 3:17-18).

After I posted a picture and word about this, a friend left this prayer:

Thank you, Father, that you do not punish us for our sins because Your Son, Jesus Christ, took the punishment that we deserve upon Himself when He died on the Cross for us.

Father, help your children understand Your agape love for all people so that they will not continue to misrepresent Your heart by speaking words of condemnation and judgment as if from Your mouth.

Even when we don't understand why You allow terrible things to happen, teach us to trust Your heart and know that Your thoughts and ways are higher than ours.

Father, more than anything else let us become a conduit of Your love and mercy to Your thirsty children.

*****

See also: "Where Is God??"

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