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Devastation (David Johnson)

by

David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

 

We continue in our worship as we endeavor to hear and to heed the Word of God.  Let’s pause for a moment of prayer.  Our God and our Father, we do pray that we would recognize that your Word applies to us today, that it is real, that it is practical, that it is applicable and that it is from your heart, from the mind of God. May your Holy Spirit have his way for each one of us, speaker and listener alike. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

We are going to be sharing in a message from the Word of God entitled, “Devastation.” You have heard the news regarding the devastation of hurricane Sandy wrapped around by a nor’easter. You have seen the images, the devastation which early estimates put at even 20 billion dollars in damages and power outages to 8.2 million in 17 of states, a death toll that is climbing, perhaps as many as 169 plus from the Caribbean to new York.  And victims, I noticed, and perhaps you noticed, describe their experience, in apocalyptic terms.  Flood, fire, electrical explosions, fierce winds have devastated millions across our land.  Darkness and cold has engulfed millions. Subways and rail and car tunnels and even airport runways submerged under corrosive salt water and possibly the most devastating natural disaster to hit the mid Atlantic states ever.

Just recently I heard that the impact of this devastation is expected to cascade not only in Manhattan, but from Manhattan to San Francisco, from London to Frankfurt, Germany and even to Beijing, China, disrupting travel and a shaky financial market world wide. It is a massive storm which has been determined to be about 900 miles wide leaving devastation from the Caribbean to Canada.  According to MunichRE, the world’s largest reinsurance firm in the world, the number of natural disasters, disasters which are weather related, for example, earthquakes and tornadoes and hurricanes and floods, has been on the  rise dramatically since 1980 on all continents world wide.

And, of course, the debate continues regarding the source of these natural disasters that are happening in an increasing and intensifying way across this planet.  Is it global warming or is it the usual cyclical weather patterns which, of course, is a scientific issue?  But as Bible believing Christians, do natural disasters increasing and intensifying have a scriptural connection?   You have heard the news. You have seen the devastation.

Consider the prophetic words of Jesus Christ himself. Let’s look at our Bibles, at the gospel of Luke chapter 21 and verse 11 where we find these words, the words of Jesus.  “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places and fearful events and great signs from heaven,” end quote.  Fearful events, things that are happening in our lifetime in an increasing and intensifying way, even according to the experts in the scientific world. And that includes natural devastation and natural events that are happening on every continent. All across this globe things are changing, coming more often and greatly intensifying.

Jesus also adds in the parallel passage to Luke 21 in Matthew 24 and verse eight, “But all these things are the beginning of birth pains.” That is earthquakes and famines and pestilences and conflicts, both natural and man made, for example, wars and rumors or wars have always characterized our fallen sinful world. But by Jesus calling these the beginning of birth pains, of labor pains, in the first century AD,  Jesus also indicated that these types of things are getting noticeably worse, especially to the end of this era. And it is also a signal of the  approaching second coming of the Messiah.

So we need to put on our biblical glasses and see the events, the issues around us, through the prism of revealed Scripture. Let’s focuses on just one of these increasing and intensifying, devastating natural phenomenon, earthquakes. We may not have a lot of earthquakes around here, but there are earthquakes that are happening all around us on this planet in an increasing and escalating and alarming rate, if you have noticed. For example, just in the last 12 years, since the turn of the 21st century there have been globally significant earthquakes. Significant in the sense that they have been at least seven or above in magnitude and have left a great death toll in their wake. And that would include the tsunami, which is basically an earthquake on the ocean floor.  For example, just since the turn of this 21st century, consider this.  In 2004 in the Indian Ocean a tsunami killed an estimated—and these are probably very conservative estimates—230,000 souls in 14 nations with a magnitude estimated to be 9.2, the third largest earthquake ever recorded with a seismograph. It had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, again, pointing to the increasing and intensifying of these natural disasters and devastation. It caused the entire planet earth to vibrate as much as one centimeter or almost half an inch.  It caused tidal waves up to 98 feet high.

 

We heard about here in hurricane Sandy that perhaps the tidal waves or the waves would be as much as, what 18 feet?  So imagine a 98 foot wall of water considered one of the deadliest natural disasters ever in recorded history.  And it happened only eight years ago.

In 2005 there was a Pakistani earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 with the official death toll of another 75,000 souls. In 2008 in Red China an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 with an estimated death toll of 69,000 and left another 11 million homeless.

And then in Haiti in 2010 an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 estimated to have killed 316,000 souls and another 300,000 injured and another million homeless. So many died that they had to be buried in mass graves before disease could spread.  And that is just the major earthquakes, 7.0 and higher with great death tolls. That  just in the last 12 years.  But all of this pales to the granddaddy greatest earthquake of them all that is prophesied in Scripture, yet future, the mother of all earthquakes.

In Revelation chapter 16 verses 17 to 21, let’s look at it a little closer. Yes, the things that are happening around us have significance if we will recognize them by putting on our Bible glasses and recognizing that Scripture is connected to both natural and manmade phenomena all around us.   In verse 17, Revelation chapter 16 and verse 17 there the voice says, “It is done.” What is done?  The completed wrath of God upon this earth which immediately precedes the second coming of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ to this earth. And that voice, that is recorded there by the apostle John by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that voice from the throne in heaven is probably none other than the voice of almighty God himself. That voice ushers in the most devastating, cataclysmic calamity in the history of the world, eclipsing even the world wide flood, global flood, because, you understand at that time, at the time of so-called Noah’s flood, there were not as many people on the earth as compared to the billions today.

In verse 18 God’s exclamation mark of his wrath, the sinful inhabitants of the earth at that time yet future to our time, he refers to it as a severe earthquake.  No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on the earth, so tremendous is the quake.  It is recorded. It is written in verse 18. How tremendous, how devastating is this yet future natural calamity, cataclysmic across the earth.

Look at verses 19 through 21. It tells us there that the great city was split into three parts, probably referring to Jerusalem. Compare that to Zechariah 14 verse four in the Old Testament. But what many don’t realize is that when this great city Jerusalem is split into three parts, it is not because of judgment. It is not so much because of the wrath of God upon Jerusalem, but as an improvement, a preparation for Jerusalem’s central position in the thousand years to follow.  Jerusalem is the only city on earth at that time that will be spared by this great earthquake.  But the other cities of the nation will collapse.  Here, Babylon the great probably refers to the antichrist’s empire that will receive a great and devastating outpouring of God’s wrath even as prophesied in Isaiah chapter 13 and verse 13. It tells us there that the earth will shake. Notice. The earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord almighty.  Is that possible? Well, even just recently, the earth shook, moving it even one centimeter, recorded by scientists.

In Revelation chapter 16 and verse 20 it tells us this cataclysmic earthquake will be so great that every island will have fled away and the mountains cannot be found, indicating that all of the earth’s faults will begin to fracture simultaneously resulting in a cataclysmic global earthquake. The entire earth, the whole planet shaken, which will radically alter the planet’s topography, preparing it for renewal and restoration of this earth in the thousand years to follow.

And some would say, “Well, can God do this? Or is that even possible?” He is the creator of the cosmos.  God can create. God can devastate.  God can renovate simply by his Word.  And it tells us also that even from the sky huge hail stones, about 100 pounds each, will fall, indicating the unparalleled, unprecedented atmospheric convulsions with massive chunks of ice that will cause unimaginable devastation and death.

So how does all of us apply to us?  At least in two basic ways. Number one, it is not a scare tactic. But it is written and it will come to pass and therefore we need to warn and to witness to our family, to our friends, to our neighbors who are not Christians, who are not in Christ, that this is a future devastation for those that are on the earth at that time. We don’t know exactly when it is going to happen. But it could happen soon. If not in our generation, then certainly in a future generation.  The children of the non believers, those that are coming yet future, need not experience this kind of wrath from God, this kind of natural devastation, if they turn to Christ.

 

It is written and it will happen exactly as predicted in Scripture ,because it is the Word of God. It is the will of God and the Word of God cannot be broken. But, the persevering Christian will not have to experience the wrath of God, will not experience the devastation on this earth which happens just before the second coming of Christ.  Before that happens we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.  We believe in a pre tribulation catching up.  And we will escape, but we can only escape in Christ. Only believers can escape this kind of devastation.

Now how do I know this for sure? How do I know anything for sure that has to do with the spiritual realm?  Scripture.  In 1 Thessalonians chapter one and verse 10 the apostle Paul wrote in part to the church at Thessalonica and it is just as true for us today in the 21st century church. It tells us there that Jesus rescues us, who is us? Christians, the Church, Jesus rescues us from the wrath to come.  Paul writes again in the same epistle, in 1 Thessalonians chapter five and verse nine. For God has not destined us, the Church, the persevering, born again, baptized believer, God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So we need to warn and witness to the unbeliever not in Christ.  We need to preserve and remain in Christ  and we will not suffer this kind of wrath. We have seen. We have heard the news. We have seen the devastation that is happening on this earth and it is only going to get worse. And this is part of the signs of the times. It is witness material.  It is a warning.  Some will not listen to the Scripture, but they will listen to the weather man and things are getting worse.  We need to be aware of what is going on around us, not just on the political scene, not just in sports, not just the hard news, even the weather map, everything that goes on around us. We need to put on our biblical glasses and consider what is going around us through the prism of Scripture.

 

We are not appointed to wrath, but grace is where we are.  And we stand in that grace through genuine faith.

 

                                         David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Indiana

 

 




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33