Where was God when the Tsunami Struck?
"Come behold the works of the LORD, what
desolations he hath made in the earth" (Ps. 46:8).
In a day when men’s hearts are "failing them for fear
and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth" (Luke
21:26), many in the church world look to their leaders for guidance.
Sadly, they have by their recent comments proved yet again that they are
"blind leaders of the blind."
When people ask, "Where was God when the tsunami
struck South East Asia?" the proper response is, "Our God is in the
heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased" (Ps. 115:3). We must
confess, with the psalmist, that "Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did
he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and in all deep places" (Ps.
135:6). The proper response to this is worship. Instead of shaking fists
defiantly in God’s face and asking how a God of love can do this, we
should ask, "If God can do this amazing thing, then why am I not on my
knees begging His forgiveness?" Even this is foretold, when God sends
plagues upon the earth: "Neither repented they of their murders, nor of
their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts" (Rev.
Instead of this, church leaders, following the world,
are falling over themselves to deny that God was involved in the
tsunami. We are told it is a natural disaster, "Mother Nature" run amok,
the power of the elements etc. but not an act of God.
For example, the Irish Presbyterian Moderator, Rev.
Ken Newell stated, "There have been earthquakes since the earth started
to form, and there will be earthquakes until the earth disappears."
The earth did not just "start to form": God created
it, and when He did so, there were no earthquakes, there was no
suffering, no pain and no disease. Everything was very good. All these
disasters came into the world through our sin in Adam. Man has been
rebelling against God since the Fall and it is because of that rebellion
that "the creature [creation] was made subject to vanity" (Rom. 8:20).
Indeed, Rev. Newell’s comments are echoed by the
scoffers predicted by Peter: "Where is the promise of his [Christ’s]
coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they
were from the beginning of the creation" (II Peter 3:4).
Rev. Newell believes that the idea that God is
punishing people through the tsunami is "appalling." The Bible, however,
teaches that God is active in judgment throughout the earth. Wars,
famines, plagues, earthquakes, and death itself are all under God’s
control and instruments of His. One simply cannot read the Old Testament
and miss this. And, since God is unchanging, this is also true in the
New Testament. Indeed, the last book of the Bible describes God pouring
out His judgments upon the earth and the Lord Jesus warns that these
things will increase as His return draws nigh.
Not everyone who is directly affected by one
affliction or another is suffering directly for his own sin. Jesus makes
that clear when He heals a blind man in John 9. Moreover, the book of
Job tells the story of a righteous man who loses his property, his
family, and his health. Although he was perplexed by the disasters
in his life, he continued to trust God. The LORD sometimes tests
believers by all kinds of trials. His ways are past finding out.
It would therefore be a misreading of providence to
try to equate every judgment in this world to a specific sin or a
specific person. That cannot be done. The Bible gives us general
information. We then can apply these principles.
We do, however, all live in a sin-cursed universe.
The church of Jesus Christ, which suffered persecution for years at the
hands of the Muslims in many parts of South East Asia was affected as
much as others were. Many believers suffered the loss of all things.
However, when God sends these afflictions on His people, it is not out
of hatred, or to punish them for their sins. Certainly, the LORD judges
the wicked, especially those who persecute His Church; but God used this
to bring some of His saints home, or to deliver them from persecution,
or for some other purpose in His inscrutable plan whereby "He worketh
all things according to the counsel of his will’ (Eph. 1:11). But we do
know this, that "all things work together for good to them that love
God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28)
and "neither death [through tsunami or other ways] … nor any other
creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in
Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:38-39).
Most striking about Rev. Newell’s response to the
tsunami is the complete lack of Scripture. Not once does he even refer
to the Bible. Not once does he mention Jesus Christ. His response is
purely humanistic. Amazing that such a man can be a leader in the
church! Maybe he has been influenced through ecumenical compromise with
his friend, Roman Catholic Archbishop Sean Brady, who would appear to
share Rev. Newell’s view of creation. Dr. Brady says, "God chose to
create a world, not perfect, but one that is on a journey towards
perfection." He too forgets that God did create a perfect world, which
has been cursed by sin.
Robin Eames, Primate of the Church of Ireland,
stresses the humanitarian response to the tsunami. He emphasizes the
"mystery of God’s love to all humankind" and says that God is working
through people to show the compassion of Christ.
God may be working through the responses of the
ungodly world, but it is emphatically not through the operation of some
common grace. There is no grace in an unbeliever, whether he be a
Muslim, a Hindu, an atheist or a Buddhist. All such are under the wrath
of God, because they do not believe in Jesus Christ. However, the LORD
does turn the hearts of men, even kings (Prov. 16:9; Prov 21:1; Ezra
1:1; 7:27) to do His will, because "the way of man is not in himself: it
is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jer. 10:9). God is
sovereign even over the reactions of mankind.
Robin Eames then goes on to misquote Matthew 25:40:
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren
[Dr. Eames misquotes ‘children’] ye have done it unto me." Many in the
church world fail to note that Jesus is speaking of His brethren: i.e.
Christians, the elect, redeemed and called people of God. Of course,
Christians are commanded to do good to their neighbour, even ungodly
neighbours, and to love their enemies, but Christ’s primary focus in
Matthew 25 is how the wicked goats and the elect sheep treated His
brethren on the earth, because God’s people and Christ Himself are ONE
The ungodly world are rallying round to help their
fellow creatures in the wake of this disaster. However, they are still
God-haters, still at enmity with God (Rom. 8:7) and all their
humanitarian works (without faith in Jesus Christ) are filthy rags and
dung before God (Isa. 64:6; Phil. 3:8). All man’s "love" towards his
fellow man is, without faith in Jesus Christ, "living in malice and
envy, hateful and hating one another" (Titus 3:3).
Remember that "the tender mercies of the wicked are
cruel" (Prov. 12:10). What the world calls "compassion" coming from
ungodly men and women, God calls sin. Yet, to refuse to show mercy would
be more sin!
Article 13 of the Thirty-Nine Articles
of the Church of England says that "Works done before the
grace of Christ ... have the nature of sin'' and the
Presbyterian standard, the Westminster Confession of
Faith says "Works done by unregenerate men, although ...
things which God commands; and of good use both to
themselves and others: yet because they proceed not from a
heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner,
according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God,
they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a
a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet the neglect of
them is more sinful and displeasing unto God" (16:7).
Let us never forget that the only work which pleases
God is the life and atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ! Outside of
Christ, good works are impossible.
Even the atheist spokesman from the Northern Ireland
Humanist Association believes in humanitarianism. Does this mean that
God is pleased with him, or that God looks kindly on his works? No!
(Rom. 14:23) All the good works of mankind, all the billions of pounds
raised to help the victims cannot pay for even one sin. This must be
acknowledged, lest the people fall for Satan’s lie: that good works can
save them, that they can merit something before God, and they perish in
their self-righteousness and pride.
Contrary to what Robin Eames says, God does not love
all humankind. God loves His elect "in Christ." John confirms that Jesus
"loved His own which were in the world" (John 13:1). God’s love is shown
in the cross of Christ, where Jesus atoned for all the sins of His
beloved sheep. For the goats Jesus did not die (John 10:26-27). For them
Jesus does not even pray (John 17:9). God hates the goats. "The wicked
and him that loveth violence his [God’s] soul hateth. Upon the wicked he
shall rain snares, fire and brimstone and an horrible tempest: this
shall be the portion of their cup’ (Ps. 11:6). It is true that God loves
the world (John 3:16) but the term "world" in Scripture does not mean
the entire human race (John 12:19; Rom. 1:18; I Cor. 11:32).
The reason why people are "at sea" after this, is
because it does not fit in their unbiblical world view of an all-loving,
all forgiving, indulgent god. When God does this, they say, "How can a
God of love do this?" If they believed and understood the Bible, they
would know the true God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent (John 17:3).
They would know the god of the modern world and the god of the modern
church, in many places too, is a miserable caricature. God is not
accountable to us. "Who art thou that repliest against God?" (Rom.
9:20). God is not subject to our puny ideas of righteousness. Everything
God does is righteous. He cannot be unrighteous. "Is there
unrighteousness with God? God forbid!" (Rom. 9:14). What is worse: to
believe in God who sends such devastation on the world in accordance
with His eternal purposes, the one true God, whom we stand in awe of,
whose wisdom and power are beyond our understanding; or a "god" who
cannot control His own creation, or who no longer involves Himself in
it, allowing "nature to take its course"? How can we have confidence in
any God except the Most High, who "doeth according to His will in the
army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can
stay his hand or say unto him, what doest thou?" (Dan. 4:35).
See also the article "The Tsunami in SE Asia—Divine Punishment?"
Click here, to hear a sermon from Job 12, entitled
"God and the Tsunami"