The shocking earthquake which occurred more than six miles below the ocean floor off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia has brought staggering death and destruction to over 150,000, as well as dislocation and disease to possibly 5 million more. The world stands horrified and mute at the scale of human tragedy and disaster.
A human disaster of biblical proportions
An American reporter, Michael Dobbs from the Washington Post was swimming in the ocean and nearly killed in the tsunami. He said “The speed with which it all happened seemed like a scene from the Bible – a natural phenomenon unlike anything I had experienced before. As the waters rose at an incredible rate, I half expected to catch sight of Noah’s Ark. Instead of the Ark, I grabbed hold of a wooden catamaran…” www. freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1308957/posts
A British tourist James Scoffield described his experience in the port of Tricomalee: “The wave came out of nowhere. People were running, screaming. I saw bodies littering the streets, floating in the pools. . . I am not a religious man but this is a disaster of Biblical proportions.” www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2004600538,00.html
Another British tourist Al Howard described the city of Banda Aceh shortly after the tsunami hit. He said “Everything was flattened. It was like a nuclear bomb had hit the place. I’ve seen bodies before but nothing like this. We lost count. The destruction was of Biblical proportions.” www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/12/29/161210
Thailand‘s Prime MInister Thaksin Shinawatra declared on national television, “Nothing like this has ever happened in our country before”. The director of Sri Lanka’s National Disaster Management Center N.D. Hettiarachchi said, “I think this is the worst ever natural disaster in Sri Lanka”. Enzo Boschi, the head of Italy’s National Geophysics Institute said the shaking had disturbed the Earth’s rotation.”All the planet is vibrating”, he told SKY TG24 TV. Geologist Gianluca Valensise of the Italian Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology said that “this felt more like an omen”.
Bread for the World President David Beckmann, quoted in The Washington Post, Dec. 29. 2004, said “This is a disaster of biblical proportions . . .” US House of Representatives (Dem – Queens) Joseph Crowley said that this disaster was one of “biblical proportions”.
Something major and of earth-shaking importance is happening.
A geological disaster of planetary proportions
Geologist Gianluca Valensise of the Italian Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology explained, “It has been calculated that the energy released on Sunday was 23,000 times that of the explosion of the nuclear bomb at Hiroshima . . . The whole world resonate(d) like a bell that has been struck . . . A big piece of the planet’s mass has been moved around. This actually altered the axis of the earth’s rotation” www.msnbcmsn.com/id/6759529.site/newsweek/
Enzo Boschi of Italy’s National Geophysics Institute likened the quake’s power to detonating a million atomic bombs the size of those dropped on Japan during WW II. David Booth, seismologist at the British Geological Survey, said, “A big column of water has moved, we’re talking about billions of tonnes. This is an enormous disturbance.”
The U.S. Geological Survey put the earthquake’s magnitude at 9.0 on the Richter Scale. This makes it the world’s fifth largest quake since 1900 and the largest since 1964, when a 9.2 quake hit Prince William Sound in Alaska, also causing tsunamis. Kerry Sieh, geologist at the California Institute of Technology said that “Sunday’s was one of the biggest earthquakes in the region in the past 200 years . . . It causes the planet to wobble a little bit, but it’s not going to turn the Earth upside down”.
The quake occurred at a spot where the Indian Ocean geological plate rubs against and is forced beneath the Eurasian plate. Indonesia is located over part of a network of fault lines called the “Ring of Fire”, one of the world’s most quake-active spots. 95% of the earth’s seismic activity is released in the “Ring of Fire”.
A biblical disaster of spiritual proportions
How are we to understand and interpret this unprecedented disaster in light of the Bible and God’s heart?
The first stop on our journey must be shock and grief. Empathy. Compassion. Tears. Agony of soul. “And should I not have compassion of Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” (Jonah 4:11) The human tragedy is massive and nearly incomprehensible.
“What can we do to help?” might be the next step. Concrete steps could include: contributing to a disaster relief fund; praying for the survivors; taking an ongoing interest in long-term help for those scarred and orphaned by the quake’s aftermath.
A Heart Exam
It will be necessary to take a heart exam as well. Are judgmental attitudes rising in our own hearts against the Asian peoples, or the Moslems? Remember Yeshua’s words in Luke 13:1-5: “Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that the Galileans were greater sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
The sobering thing about disasters is that they are a wake-up call to all who hear. It would be missing the mark to conclude that Indonesian babies are guiltier than other nation’s babies, or that Swedish tourists are more worthy of condemnation than tourists of other nations. A wake-up call is meant to bring a sober spirit to the fore. It is meant to bring the fear of God to center stage. The world is being called to account by God to sit up and take notice – to take notice of the God of the Hebrews who is also the Sovereign All-powerful Lord of history.
“Ascribe to YHVH, O sons of the mighty . . glory and strength, .. . the glory due to His name.
Worship YHVH in holy array.
The voice of YHVH is upon the waters.
The God of glory thunders, YHVH upon many waters.
The voice of YHVH is powerful.
The voice of YHVH is majestic.
The voice of YHVH breaks the cedars . . .
The voice of YHVH hews out flames of fire.
The voice of YHVH shakes the wilderness. .
The voice of YHVH . . . strips the forests bare and in His Temple everything says ‘Glory!’
YHVH sat as King at the Flood.
Yes, YHVH sits as King forever!” (Psalm 29:1-10)
The Fruit of Repentance
Wake-up calls are God-sent opportunities to get things right with Him. They bring our lives to a screeching halt. They cause us to look deep within and to ask ourselves if there is any wicked way within us (see Psalm 139:24).
In August 1999 Bob Jones, a prophetic brother in America, prophesied that America would receive two wake-up calls, and that the Lord would unsheathe His sword if America would not heed the wake-up calls. 9/11 was that first wake-up call. God intended it to move hearts to repentance. For a few months churches were full But eventually across America a strong nationalism subtly edged out biblical repentance, and a deep turning back to God did not come to pass. Can it be honestly said that there is more prayer and intercession taking place in America now than there was just after 9/11? Could it be that a second wake-up call is coming to America?
The tsunami is a wake-up call to the nations of the world to turn their hearts back to the God of Israel – to repent of materialism, cruelty, pornography, abortion, murder, anti-Jewish hatred, etc.
Isaiah points out that at the end of days geological judgments are going to get heavier and not lighter:
“Behold, YHVH lays the earth waste, devastates it, distorts its surface, and scatters its inhabitants. . . The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty . . . For the windows above are opened, and the foundations of the earth shake. The earth is broken asunder, the earth is split through, the earth is shaken violently. The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard, and it totters like a hut, for its transgression is heavy upon it. . . ” (see Isa.24:1-21).
Birth Pangs Among the Waves
Like a burning trumpet, the voice of YHVH is ringing out at Christmas time, heralding the onset of a birth – or at least, of birth pangs. Yeshua the Messiah spoke to His disciples about the end of days and taught: “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among the nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26).
The roaring of an Asian tsunami and its deadly waves are part of what Yeshua had in mind when He prophesied these things. These events, He said, would bring perplexity to all who witness them. And this perplexity really is happening all across the world today. Yet Yeshua gave us believers in Him a special promise: “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!” (Luke 21:28). We are to take courage and draw renewed confidence from this bold declaration. And we are to look heavenward with unconcealed expectancy for Messiah’s soon return: “And then they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). That is what Yeshua wants from us. That should be our heart response to His words.
This return, the Second Coming of Yeshua, may be 5 or even 50 years down the road, But it is fast approaching! Yeshua used the term ‘birth pangs’ to refers to the period of time immediately preceding His return (see also Matt.24:8). In the natural, birth pangs come after a full term pregnancy. A pregnancy lasts for 9 months, and then there are sudden and powerful contractions of the womb, lasting between 2-48 hours on the average. Birth pangs are a clear and indisputable sign that the pregnancy is just about over and that the arrival of the baby is next on the agenda! We are right now in that time of birth pangs, and God’s baby is surely on the way!
The final harvest of the nations is what is next on the agenda. The full repentance, regathering and restoration of Israel is next on the agenda. Now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to intercede. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves for the work at hand. Yeshua invites us to not be bent over with fear or anxiety, but to straighten up and to rejoice greatly. We are about to see what prophets and angels have longed to behold (see 1 Pet.1:101-12)!
In Pharoah’s day, YHVH declared, “Thus says YHVH the God of the Hebrews, Let My people go, that they may serve Me! For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. But indeed, for this cause I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power, and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth!” (Exod.9:14-16).
God declares unashamedly that He was the Author of the ten plagues, and that they came to the earth from His hand. But Pharoah responded to God’s judgments with ambivalence. First he repented and permitted Moses to begin the Hebrew exodus, but then he refused to obey what God required of him. Pharoah was given the opportunity to acknowledge and obey God, yet eventually he hardened his heart and refused to believe that Almighty God was guiding the whole process. In the same way there are many people who are chewing on the events since the tsunami, who are considering whether or not God has anything to do with the “desolation wrought in the earth”. It is important for all who love the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua to acknowledge that the God of the Bible has indeed shaken this planet in times past. We need to also recognize that He is truly shaking His rebellious planet once more. So let’s make up our minds to follow this earth-shaking God whatever the cost.
As we move closer to the day of His return, let’s remember what Peter struggled with toward the close of his earthly life: “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking … saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation!’ .. . The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any one to perish but for all to come to repentance . . .Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in shalom, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord (ed. as something which will lead to) salvation” (2 Pet.3:3-4, 14-15)
We thank you for standing with us in prayer and financially. We are your partners in the harvest field of Israel.
In Messiah Yeshua’s love,
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