Before analyzing this
topic, it is critical that certain foundational aspects relating to God’s nature be
established. They are critical pillars in this article's discussion of God’s fairness
and justice in relation to any and all catastrophe. They are as follows:
The first pillar on which
this article builds is the belief that God exists, and that He is
totally sovereign over nature and over humanity.
The second pillar is the belief that the Judeo-Christian God is the only
God, and that there are no other gods. He, in fact, asserts the following: "I
am He, I am the first, I also the last" (Isaiah 48:12), and "Besides me there
is no God" (Isaiah 44:6).
The third pillar is that God
is "omniscient," that is all knowing. Therefore, God knew in
advance about the terrible earthquake, the ensuing tsunami and its
The fourth pillar is that
God is "omnipotent." We read in the Old Testament that " In YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength" (Isaiah
26:4). The New Testament, likewise, testifies to this through Christ
Himself: "For with God nothing will be impossible" (Luke
1:37). Thus, if God wanted to He could have prevented the earthquake, the
ensuing tsunami and the catastrophes that followed.
The fifth pillar is that
God is "holiness," that is righteousness. God is holy, and He demands
holiness. In the Book of Deuteronomy we are told that He is "...a God of truth and without injustice" (Deuteronomy 32). Christ had no doubt about
this great truth and referred to God the Father as "Righteous Father" (John
The last pillar is that God
is "Love." That is, God is always motivated by love, and only love.
Therefore, whatever He has done, and whatever He has not done,
must be framed by love. The Bible assures us that God is love
(I John 4:8,16); that He is a God who delights in loving kindness (Jeremiah
9:24); and who is "abundant in mercy" (Psalm 86:5). Everything about His
essence is goodness and other-centeredness, and no selfishness can be found
critical fundamentals: God exists and He is supreme over all creation; being
Omniscient, He knew that the horrific earthquake would strike that part of
the world, and that it would lead to a
catastrophic tsunami; He also knew that the tsunami would hit the coasts of
various nations, and that the consequences would have been disastrous; yet
He chose not to, in spite of the fact that He is omnipotent and could have
intervened. God is righteousness and love and these factors must be somehow
be present in His actions or lack thereof.
Why did God not intervene,
The first key factor that
the author would like to propose is that God, "by-and- large," is not involved
in the matters of this world, and that most of humanity, in fact, is in the
hands of another god: Satan.
The Bible is quite explicit
about this reality. Jesus confirms this fundamental truth, by calling Satan
"The prince of this world’" (John 14:30 and 16:11). The Apostle Paul refers
to Satan as "The prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in
the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2). Most meaningfully, Paul also
refers to Satan as "the god of this world."(I Cor. 4:4).
At present, therefore,
Satan is the Ruler of this world—not the Almighty. Humanity has adopted
Satan as its god and offers worship to him through their evil thoughts and
actions. The philosophy of this world is one of disobedience and rebellion
towards God’s laws. Our conscience testifies to right and wrong, even if we
have no knowledge of the true God, and humanity, by-and- large, is choosing to do
what is wrong and evil. This choice places humanity into Satan’s camp -- and
God has been invited out
GOD IS HOLINESS AND JUSTICE
From the beginning of the
Bible to the end, God manifests Himself as a Being who greatly values
holiness and justice. Since the Garden of Eden, He has chosen to teach His
human children His way, but does not force His way upon them. In the
Garden of Eden, we see this philosophy revealed in God’s approach toward Adam
and Eve. He told the first two humans not to eat of the Tree of the
Knowledge of Good and Evil, that represented self-sufficiency and rebellion
to God’s will, and then He left. Interestingly enough, He
allowed Satan to present his deceitful side and did not intervene.
Adam and Eve chose the path
to rebellion with the consequence being toil, suffering and
Satan’s way ever since, thus reaping the same fruits. These are the daily rewards Satan showers his worshippers
God, in the meantime, has
obliged to the manifest wish of humanity; He has pulled away from the affairs
of this world and has abandoned humanity to its own devices. Paul describes
rebellious humanity in these terms:
…although they knew God, they did not glorify
Him as God, nor were they thankful, but became futile in their
thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened…Therefore God gave
them up to uncleanness…to vile passions…to a debased mind…committing
what is shameful…being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual
immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy ,
murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness, they are whisperers,
backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of
evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy,
unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful (Romans 1: 21-31).
The consequence to this
rebellious spirit leads to separation from the Creator, with the consequence
that He will not
answer human prayers, though He clearly has the ability to: "Behold the
Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save, Nor His ear heavy that it
cannot hear. Your iniquities have separated you from your God; And
your sins have hidden His face from you" (Isaiah 59: 1-2).
God Himself asserts that He
has the power to intervene in whatever situation that might arise: "Is my hand
shortened at all that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver?
Indeed with my rebuke I dry up the sea. I make the rivers a wilderness…I
clothe the heavens with blackness . And I make sackcloth their covering"
Isaiah 50:2-3). In
short, God has the power to control natural disasters. He has power over
tsunamis, floods and earthquakes, etc. but He is prevented from intervening by
human wickedness. God will not reward evil
On the other hand, God does
intervene at times to protect those He is pleased with. Sometimes He chooses not to intervene even on the righteous’ behalf, even if it
involves death and injury, and that is part of His great plan for
each believer. In some cases, even His greatest of Apostles have not been spared
being involved in destructive natural events. For instance, the Apostle Paul
suffered shipwreck twice because of great sea storms and almost lost his
At times, even great
famines have not been prevented, though God’s people would have been
adversely affected by them. In the New Testament we read that a great famine befell the area of Judea and the Church in Jerusalem was
not spared. In fact, the Apostle Paul organized a charitable collection in
Asia Minor for the benefit of the suffering Christians in Judea. God allowed
the famine to test the Jerusalem Church’s faith and to test the liberality
of the Gentile churches. God does not allow suffering on His people
capriciously. He has very good reasons every time He tests His people
severely, and those reasons are invariably for their benefit.
On occasions though, the
scriptures make plain that God does intervene in the affairs of humanity and
does bring about catastrophes on humanity or nations, if they become very
exceptionally degenerate. The great Noachian Flood is an example of God’s intervention in
wiping out almost all of humanity for their extreme depravity. Sin abounded on the
earth, but God did not intervene for a long while. As the centuries went by, "the Lord saw
that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth and that every intent of
the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6: 5). And God
concluded that mankind did not deserve to exist any longer, and thus the
fatal verdict: "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the
earth" (V. 7). Only eight people found favor in God’s eyes: Noah, his wife,
his three children and their wives.
Sodom and Gomorrah
attracted God’s wrath and they, too, were obliterated. God "rained brimstone
and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah" (Gen. 19: 24), and "He overthrew those
cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that
which grew on the ground" (V. 25). God describes the sins of Sodom and
Gomorrah as being "very grievous" (Genesis 18: 20).
The New Testament tells us
that another reason why God overthrew the two cities was because He wanted
their destruction to be "an example to those who afterwards would live
ungodly" (2 Peter 2: 6). God’s intervention was meant to be so powerful and
so drastic that all would hear and tremble. He also wanted generations to come to
know that His will is supreme, that He will not forebear evil forever and
that, though He is longsuffering, the day will come when He will extirpate
evil in very dramatic ways. Likewise, Jude warns that "Sodom and Gomorrah,
and the cities around them in similar manner, having given themselves over
to sexual immorality, and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an
example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7).
Finally God assures us
through various Bible books, such as the prophets and the Book of Revelation,
that in the end of times God will again intervene and punish humanity severely for its sins. The
Two Witnesses, two great prophets of God, will first warn humanity on God’s behalf, but all indications are
that humans will refuse to repent, in spite of the increasing severity of
summarize, God is presently not involved in the affairs of this world. The
sins of humanity and its rebelliousness separate it from God and therefore humans are at
the mercy of cataclysmic natural events. When such cataclysmic events occur, God does not
intervene. When human depravity
reaches unacceptable levels, God pours His wrath on them. At the end of times God will bring about
horrific destruction on all of humanity, after warning humans with the Two
GOD IS LOVE
Being a holy and righteous
God, the Eternal will not be involved in the affairs of a sinful world. He
does stand by and watch, while catastrophes befall humanity and, at times, He
causes such catastrophes to punish depraved humans. Yet God is also "Love."
How can such a "loving" Being allow and bring about so much suffering? Is
there more to the picture than we see?
In John 3:16 we read that
God gave "His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not
perish but have everlasting life." Many people through the ages have
perished by natural causes and through horrific wars and natural
catastrophes, without the knowledge of Christ. Many people have perished in
non-Christian South-East Asia without awareness of the salvific plan of God.
Countless innocent children have perished, and they had no knowledge of God,
His will or His Son. Is that it for all of them?
A God of love must finally
show humanity that He does have a plan of salvation that manifests his love for all of humanity,
and that He does have a way of bringing the knowledge of Christ’s saving
power to all people, including those who have died in natural catastrophes
without a knowledge of God. The Bible reveals such a future plan, and it is
1. Christ returns, and
converted Christians will be resurrected to eternal life. (I Corinthians 15,
Corinthians 15, Revelation 20:4-6).
2. Christ will rule over
the earth for one thousand years during which time there will be no wars and
no catastrophes, and
peace and joy will engulf the whole world. (Isaiah 2:1-4, 32, 35).
3. Satan will be let loose
for a little while at the end of the Millennium, and wars will re-occur
Afterwards, all the dead will be
resurrected and a time of judgment will begin in which the dead without a
knowledge of Christ will be enlightened and will have salvation offered to
them. Those who had rejected the Way, though converted, and those who reject
the way once enlightened, will be destroyed forever in the Lake of Fire
(Revelation 20: 13-15).
5. A New Heaven and a New
Earth will be created, permeated with holiness and justice. Finally all fear,
hunger, disease, wars, and natural disasters will be abolished forever. This
is the glorious time when "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no
more pain, for the former things shall pass away" (Revelation 20: 4).
The sufferings of mankind are many. Every day humans reap the fruits of following Satan's way of rebellion and unrighteousness. God is allowing man
to exercise His human free will and learn from hard experience. God is
out of human affairs, because humans want Him out of their affairs. When
calamities strike, He is far and distant and will not intervene, except in
the lives of those who please Him.
This horrible time of learning
allotted to humanity is nearly over. Soon the Great King will say
"Enough!" Jesus Christ will return, as He promised, and will assert Himself
over a rebellious humanity. Humans will finally obey God's Laws, even if at first
He will be forced to use a "Rod of Iron." During the Millennial rule of
Christ, men and women will taste the joy of submitting to God and will reap the
abundant benefits of obedience.
All of humanity, young and old, will
finally be resurrected and will know their God
and will get to choose life or death. If Christ and God's ways are their
choice, they will be saved and will live forever in a world where the
anxieties and the horrors of this life will be only fading memories.
May the Great God speed the day!
WHAT IF GOD...?
Thought-provoking reflections about the God of the Bible
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