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Sunday, 16 January 2011

Acts of God?

These past days have seen much reporting of natural disasters - what are still sometimes referred to as 'acts of God' (which is really a bit unfair, as He tends not to receive the congratulations when good things happen!).

The major events have been the severe flooding in the state of Queensland, Australia - and now, also, in Victoria State, and parts of New South Wales; and in both Brazil and Sri Lanka.  Because these tragic events, that have resulted in both death and devastation, have been caused by particular weather conditions associated with La Niña (the little girl!) - the extensive cooling of the central and eastern Pacific Ocea!  It is, however, easy to blame 'Mother Nature' ( if one does not accept the existence of any divine being, or even force), or Father God (if one does)!  Some have, apparently, even seen these disasters as some form of punishment by God, much as the AIDS epidemic was once heralded as a punishment on homosexual activity.

Yet a reasoned look at these situations can come up with a somewhat different story!  Those homes that have been so badly effected in Australia are, reportedly, built in areas known as 'flood plains' - in other words, areas that are prone to flooding.  In Brazil, much of the damage, and the higher number of deaths, are apparently due to the fact that unstable homes had been built on hillsides that are prone to mudslides - mudslides, I suspect, that are due, in no small measure, to deforestation with the resultant lack of tree roots to bind the soil and keep it in place.  In Sri Lanka, there is the added complication of landmines that may have been unearthed by the flood waters as they recede - landmines left over from the civil war that ravaged that island nation until so recently.

In other words, much of the devastation is not a 'punishment from God', but the consequences of mankind's own actions.  It was the same with the AIDS epidemic - it wasn't a punishment, it was (and is) a consequence of unnatural behaviour.  Most people appear not to have worked out that that may be why certain behaviour is prohibited, and condemned, in the Bible!

Of course, the weather conditions do have a part to play.  Yet even that is, ultimately, the responsibility of a fallen mankind.  God's written Word makes clear that, when God had completed His creation, He "...  looked over all He had made, and He saw that it was very good!" (Gen 1:31; NLT).  Sadly mankind, in the persons of the first couple permitted, by their disobediance, the entrance of evil into the world.  And, because of that, we read, God said that "... the ground is cursed because of you.  All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.  It will grow thorns and thistles for you, ..." (Gen 3:17-18; NLT).  Paul expands this, when writing to the Roman disciples of Jesus: "For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." (Rom 8:22; NLT).  We live in a fallen world and, contrary to the theories put forward by the secular humanistic evolutionists, it is not getting better - it is, quite demonstrably, getting worse!

It's not a pleasant prospect!  But, praise God, it isn't the whole story either.  For that same Word assures us that, just as individual lives are renewed when we confess our sinfulness, and look to the Lord Jesus for full and free salvation; even so, there will be a new earth (and a new heaven - but that's too big a subject for a blog post!) in which, as it was in the beginning, "God's home [will be] among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever." (Rev 21:3-4; NLT).

It's a wonderful prospect for those who are His.  Be sure that you are among that number!

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