Are We Paying Attention?

Oklahoma_TornadoAnother disaster hit mainland USA. No, it wasn’t of the epic proportions that Japan experienced in 2011 when a tsunami followed a devastating earthquake which triggered a nuclear crisis. But these natural disasters are adding up. Noticeably.

2012 147 died – Hurricane Sandy
2011 160 died – Joplin tornado
2011 346 died – Six state tornado outbreak
2011 20 died – Flood Mississippi River
2010 20 died – Flood Arkansas
2008 59 died – Five state Super Tuesday tornado outbreak
2007 14 died – California wildfires
2005 1,836 died – Hurricane Katrina

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Add to these, school shootings and mall shootings and movie theater shootings and race bombings, and America is reeling. Or ought to be.

F4_tornado_damage_exampleThe latest disaster is the category F4 tornado that swept through Moore, Oklahoma yesterday, killing as many as 51 people, though most reports expect that number to rise, while wiping out blocks and blocks of homes. I mean wiping out.

I’ve seen earthquake damage and wild fire damage, and the pictures I saw of the effects of the Moore tornado were every bit as destructive.

Of course those who espouse global warming, also known as climate change, believe all these tragic events are caused by Mankind’s careless use of the environment. I have no doubt that we are to blame, but I think there’s something greater at work.

When Israel and Judah wandered away from God, He brought calamity on them for the specific purpose of getting their attention. He was calling them to repentance, warning them of judgment. When they continued to go their own way, He brought on them the disasters He’d told them about through His prophets.

Here’s one example from Jeremiah:

if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it…Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds. (18:8, 11b)

The devastation Israel and Judah faced included an earthquake, three and a half years without rain, famine, and multiple attacks from other nations.

Daniel summed up the Jewish people’s response to God’s efforts to bring them back to Himself:

As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. (Daniel 9:13)

Before I go any further, please understand, I am NOT saying the people of Oklahoma brought on this disaster because they were particularly sinful.

Jesus answered this very charge when His disciples asked Him about similar circumstances in their day:

Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all 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.” (Luke 13:1-5 — emphasis added)

These people who died tragically were not suffering some judgment from God. But their deaths served as a warning to everyone else that they needed to repent because judgment awaited them.

Is America paying attention? Can we think that God is uninvolved in what’s happening, that He doesn’t want us to wake up, come to our senses, and repent?

He has told you, O Man, what is good,
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

If we took any one of those three–justice, kindness, walking humbly with God (bowing to His sovereign reign over our lives)–I think we wouldn’t have to go far before we see that the course of our nation is bent in the wrong direction.

“Justice” has turned into a court game of “who can win,” with truth playing only a small part, if any. And that’s when a case actually makes it to court. How about all the crimes that go unreported or the criminals who are never apprehended? What about intimidation that creates protection rackets, child pornography, sex trafficking, gang activity, welfare fraud, insider trading, bribery, corruption … And that doesn’t take into account the ways in which we are now calling evil, good and good, evil.

When I think about what we are as a society, I think, how can God stomach all this? And I haven’t even examined how we measure up in the kindness or humility departments.

Isn’t it clear that we as a nation, as a people have some repenting to do? How can we not pay attention? How can we think God is so uncaring or so absent that we can continue ignoring Him? It seems to me, the only people who can miss His hand at work in our land are those who think “Mother Nature” is to blame or who limit our responsibility to crimes against our environment, not to sins against our Creator.

Published in: on May 21, 2013 at 6:53 pm  Comments Off on Are We Paying Attention?  
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