Political and physical earthquakes have struck this week reminding us of the nearness of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. While men’s hearts are failing them for fear we can have confidence in our God who rules in the Kingdoms of men and is shifting the political tectonic plates to prepare for His son’s return.
Earthquakes in Diverse Places
Following the terrible earthquake in Christchurch New Zealand only a few weeks ago, the entire world has been traumatized this week with the devastating 9.0 earthquake that has struck Japan. The world’s media has captured the devastating horror of the earthquake followed by the terrifying tsunami which wiped entire villages off the face of the earth. The sheer force of the Tsunami tossed houses, vehicles and ships around like toys. Entire regions were buried, everything which seemed so permanent being swept away. Following this has been the meltdown of some of Japan’s nuclear reactors which exploded releasing radioactive debris into the atmosphere.
The awesome force of power unleashed by these earthquakes and subsequent Tsunami in Japan remind us all of the man’s miniscule abilities to withstand the power of Almighty God. While we do not believe these events are direct judgments of God per se, we do believe the demonstrate his power as described in Job 41:31:
He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.
The boiling pot ran over this week and swept away the lives of thousands in its wake, reminding us of our mortality and how precious and fragile life really is.
We are reminded of the words of Christ following the tragic death of the Galileans killed by Pilate in Luke 13:2-5:
Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
These events should “teach us to number our days, that we should apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:11).
As we see the footage of people running from buildings and office towers to escape their collapse, we think of the our God described in Proverbs 18:10:
The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.
We need God as our “strong tower” that we run unto. Consider the words of Psalm 144:2-8 where God is described as:
My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.
The Psalmist asks
LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him! Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away. Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them. Send thine hand from above; rid me, and deliver me out of great waters, from the hand of strange children; Whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
We have seen the finger of God touch the earth these past few weeks and it has melted away. Yet God will preserve his people and deliver them if they put their trust in him.
The Sea and Waves Roaring
This terrible event brings to mind the prophetic words of the Lord Jesus Christ, in Matthew 24:6-8, describing the coming of the end of the Jewish world in AD70:
And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Also in Luke 21:25-26:
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
We live in a similar times to these. There are many seismic events both naturally and politically that should be warning us to:
…look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (v28)
Running parallel to the natural earthquakes have been the political ones that have struck all across the Middle East where the sea of nations have been roaring and the powers of the political heavens have been shaken, some of the stars falling to the ground. As God moves the natural elements, He also moves the political ones as we are told Daniel 4:17:
The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
While governments in Egypt and Tunisia have fallen, the aftershocks continue in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Iran, Bahrain and other dictatorships in the Middle East. In Yemen today, security forces opened fire on tens of thousands of protesters and killed two. These events are shaping the nations and reorganizing the political tectonic plates to prepare them for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Just last night the United Nations voted to impose a no-fly zone on Libya with 10 members of the Security Council voting for the proposition and 5 abstaining including Russia and Germany. France and Britain are expected to begin the UN sanctioned attack in the next few hours . Canada has also pledged the commitment of its fighter jets. However, many question whether it is too little, too late, and wonder if Muammar Gaddafi already has the upper hand on the rebels. Benghazi is under siege as we speak, and Gaddafi has threatened a systematic house to house destruction of the rebels.
The current political leadership in Libya has certainly demonstrated itself to be vile and reprehensible over the years. Its leader has on his hands the blood of the 270 victims of the 1993 Pan Am Flight 103 terrorist bombing over Scotland. One of the victims was a Christadelphian.
Exactly how events will play out we cannot be sure. What we do know is the end result. The Bible speaks of Libya’s alignment with the Russian hosts comprising the King of the North in Daniel 11:43:
But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.
Rotherham translates this last phrase as “the Libyans and Ethiopians will be amongst his followers.” The Tanakh translates it “the Libyans and Cushites will follow at his heels”.
In Ezekiel 38:4-5 we read:
And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia (modern day Iran), Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:
So it is with great interest that we see Russias envoy to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin explaining their decision to abstain:
“Unfortunately, work on this document was not in line with existing Security Council practices. In essence, a whole range of specific and absolutely logical questions concerning the maintenance of the no-fly zone regime and rules for the use of force raised by the Russian Federation and other Security Council members remained unanswered. The text included clauses paving the way for a large-scale military intervention,” Vitaly Churkin said.
“The responsibility for the inevitable humanitarian consequences of the excessive use of outside force in Libya will fall fair and square on the shoulders of those who might undertake such action. If this comes to pass, then not only the civilian population of Libya but also the cause of upholding peace and security throughout the whole region of North Africa and the Middle East will suffer. It is necessary to avoid such destabilizing developments,” the Russian envoy to the UN warned.
Russia has stated it would rather see a cease fire than a military standoff. Russia recently forgave billions in Libyan debt in exchange for oil and gas deals, along with the sale of new Russian military equipment to Gaddafi. Obviously its sympathies are with its future ally.
Cast not away our confidence
While men’s hearts are failing them for fear of what is coming upon the earth, we know what to expect: the return of Jesus Christ. His return will see a much greater political and physical earthquake than has ever been witnessed in the history of mankind:
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal… and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. (Zechariah 14:3-5)
This will be a time of turmoil unsurpassed, but the end result will be the establishment of the kingdom of God. So in this time of trouble let us remember the words of Psalm 46:1-3:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
For we read of our God in Psalm 65:6-7:
Which by his strength setteth fast the mountains; being girded with power: Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people.
We look forward to Christ return when he will once again say, “Peace, Be Still” – and the roaring nations will become like a sea of glass.
This has been Jonathan Bowen joining you for the Bible in the News.