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What is God Saying - The WTC, Tsunami, and New Orleans Disasters?
上帝在说什么?—— 世贸大厦,海啸,和新奥尔良的灾难


The first verse that comes to mind is Amos 3:6, "When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?" This one verse keeps us from thinking that God could not possibly have been involved in these disasters. Some said that God could not have been involved because He is loving and merciful. Indeed, He is loving and merciful. But He is the creator and definer and revealer of love and mercy, not us. We must not define His love and mercy in our terms. God's love is demonstrated by the sending of His Son that those who would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life. His overview is eternal, not temporal. His love is made apparent in disaster because He is trying to get our attention that we might repent and be saved, lest we find ourselves assigned to an eternal hell which will make earthly disasters --- no matter how devastating --- pale by comparison. God is indeed love, but He is also righteous and holy and He will not tolerate sin in His Kingdom.


The story of Job is mentioned in the book of James as a testament to God's compassion and mercy. But if we were sitting in the ashes scraping our sores with a pottery shard having just lost all of our possessions and children (in a building that collapsed), would we be patient and longsuffering, confident that God was working in our lives because He loves us and desires to demonstrate His compassion and mercy through us? We cannot jump to conclusions that God was not involved in these disasters. God rules the universe and Satan is an underling in the scheme of things. And as revealed in the case of Job, God allows Satan to come against His children FOR REDEMPTIVE PURPOSES. The falling of the twin towers was for redemptive purposes. In the short term it looks like Job sitting in the ashes. But we should praise God rather than coming before Him in counsel without wisdom as did Job's three friends. Of course it was Satan who piloted the planes, but God let him do it. God has redemptive purposes in mind which will ultimately lead to Satan's defeat.


It was disturbing to read the prophetic statements that came forth following the WTC disaster and again following the recent tsunami disaster. Some said these were judgments from God. But some said these were not God's judgments, but were by the hand of Satan (Because God is love and would not do such a thing). The two viewpoints are as different as night and day, and reveal that we do not know our God as we should. Satan is not the boss and is under the absolute authority of God. He cannot attack God's children without God's approval. Satan had to ask God to touch either Job or Peter.


So what then can we say that is not also counsel without wisdom? We can say, based on Scripture, that Satan is like a mad dog on a leash and is only allowed to inflict evil on God's creation as God allows. And we can say that God allows it only for redemptive purposes. Over and over in the Old Testament, God allowed the surrounding nations to come against Israel for redemptive purposes in order that Israel would repent and turn back to God. Both the falling of the tower of Siloam in Jesus' time and the falling of the twin towers in our day were promptings from our Heavenly Father calling us to repentance so that we might be saved. For He desires that none should perish. The seriousness of the warning should give us some inkling of the seriousness of not heeding it. Hell is real, and God is demonstrating His love by providing a way that we might escape it.


But there is more going on here than meets the eye. Jesus defined wars and earthquakes and plagues as "birth pains", as if something good and formative is going to come out of them. Although Job repented in the light of God's glory, God had already declared Job a righteous man. The assaults of Satan against God's elect are not always directly related to the sin of the individual suffering from the assault. Jesus on the cross is the prime example of that. In the case of Job, God wanted to demonstrate something to Satan, and God had to pick a righteous man who could pass the test. In our day, God is pitting Satan against His Church for redemptive purposes which will eventually result in Satan's defeat. For it is through the Church that God desires to demonstrate His wisdom to the powers and authorities (Satan and his fallen angels). As the Church responds to Satan's assaults in the wisdom of the cross of Jesus Christ, Satan will be defeated. Good will overcome evil, though it may well cost the physical lives of the good. Jesus has given His Church the power and authority to crush Satan underfoot. But that crushing will be by the power of God released as the Church responds to Satan's assaults in the wisdom of the cross of Jesus Christ. It will be as we, the Church, allow ourselves to be physically crushed that Satan will be spiritually and ultimately crushed. For that is God's ultimate purpose in Christ Jesus and the reason for which He created all things (Ephesians 3:8-11). And in the midst of these "birth pains", the saints will be matured into the likeness of Jesus Christ. It is a glorious and victorious destiny that we, the Church, are called to . . . but let us understand that the Church discussed here is not the ecumenical stew that is so proudly being proclaimed these days, but only those reborn through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. And such a narrow-minded view will increasingly draw the wrath of certain religious ones such that Jesus proclaimed that we, those who are His disciples, will be increasingly hated and ultimately put to death by those religious of the world (who think they are doing God a favor by killing us)--- those who have a broader minded, "more tolerant" approach to spiritual "truths". But, praise God, this is the very means by which the Saints will defeat Satan. "They overcame him (Satan) by the Blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives unto death (Rev 12:11)." So by "losing" the battle physically, we win it spiritually.

但是,事实所包含的,比眼前所见的更多。耶稣把战争、地震和瘟疫定义作“生产之难”,好像暗示这灾难之后,有好的结局发生。尽管约伯在神的荣耀面前悔改了,神却在此之前宣布了他是义人。撒但对神选民发出的攻击,以及其导致的对个人的伤害,并不直接和那个人的罪有关。十字架上的耶稣就是一个最好的例子。神想要向撒但表明一些事,因此,祂必须挑选一个可以经过考验的义人。在我们的世代里,神让撒但和教会作对,是为着终究成全祂救赎的旨意,这救赎将最终击败撒但。因为神的旨意是借着教会来(向撒但和其它的堕落的天使)彰显祂的智慧和权柄。当教会以基督耶稣在十字架上的智慧来回应撒但的攻击的时候,撒但就被打败了。良善就胜过罪恶,虽然这可能会赔上义人肉身的生命。耶稣给了祂的教会能力和权柄,可以把撒但踩在脚下。但是这样的得胜来自教会以耶稣基督的十字架的智慧来回应撒但的攻击而得着的神的能力。就是我们,基督的教会,愿意让自己的肉身被压碎,从而把撒但永久地彻底击垮。这就是神在耶稣基督里终极的旨意,也是祂创造玩友的目的(《以弗所书》三章8-11节)。在这些“生产之难”中,圣徒会变得成熟,渐渐更像耶稣基督。这是我们,基督的教会,被呼召要去的荣耀的、胜利的终局……但是,我们必须要理解的就是,这里所论及的“教会”,并非这些年来一些人无比骄傲地传讲的 “普世杂烩”(ecumenical church),而只是指借着耶稣基督流血牺牲而重生成圣的圣徒。这种狭隘的观点会越来越引致某些宗教人士的愤怒——耶稣曾宣告说:我们,就是祂的门徒,会越来越被憎恶,最终被世界的人(他们自认为杀我们就是帮了神)置于死地——那些人的胸怀比我们宽,对于所谓“属灵的真理”采取“更为包容”的做法。但是,赞美神!正是借着我们的受死,圣徒将胜过撒但。“弟兄胜过它,是因羔羊的血和自己所见证的道。他们虽至于死,也不爱惜性命。”(《启示录》十二章11节)。因此,借着肉身的“损失”,我们得着属灵的得胜。

The falling of the twin towers and the other disasters that happened that day and most recently the tsunami disaster and the disaster in New Orleans are the indicator of things that are going to come in increasing frequency and intensity. Let us repent and turn to God that He might heal our land and delay further such judgment and allow more of the harvest to be brought in. But in the long run, we know how this is going to end. There is reference in Revelation 8:8 to what seems like an asteroid strike in one of the seas that destroys one-third of the ships in that sea. All of the cities of the world will fall (Revelation 16:19). So ultimately the cities of the nations do not repent. Amidst the increasing judgments that are coming, the Bible says, "And still they did not repent." And the Bible says that God has power over these plagues. Do you suppose that since He has power over the final plagues, He might also have power over these preliminary disasters? And since the final disasters are calling people to repentance, we have to conclude that these initial disaster are calling people to repentance as well. For God doesn't discipline us harshly at the start. He tries to get our attention as quietly and gently as possible. But if we ignore Him, He intensifies the discipline. Only a remnant who lives in those cities will repent. The road is wide to destruction and narrow to salvation. Concerning Babylon, we are counseled to "come out of her my people" so that we do not partake of her plagues. Out of the debris of a destroyed planet will be salvaged the remnant of the followers of Jesus Christ who are destined to rule and reign for eternity. So hang in there Saints. Persevere and endure to the end just like Jesus said we must. The worst . . . and the best . . . is yet to come. Jesus called these times of birth pains because the glory of a birth is in view. But we must endure birth pains to experience that glorious birth.


God never did answer my question as to what the WTC disaster was specifically about. Probably there are well over 3,500 reasons known only to God. The Bible indicates that some suffer and die for righteousness sake, and some suffer and die as a judgment for sin. Undoubtedly there was some of both that took place on September 11. He did indicate that my priority was not to know all the answers to such questions, but to SEEK HIM. In that seeking, we will find the answers that God wants us to know. And perhaps more importantly, we will find, as did Job, that our questions are irrelevant and even forgotten in light of His glory. Our confusion and unrest will be swept away if we will but SEEK HIM. He is in control. He will win. Satan will lose. And everything that God allows between now and then will be turned to redemptive purposes. It is the genius of God to turn what Satan means for evil into what God means for good. And that good will eventually be victorious.


We must understand that God is going to allow His judgments and the demonstration of evil to ever increasingly come on this planet as the end of the age nears. Isaiah 26:9 says that when God's judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. But the very next verse says the wicked do not learn righteousness in the midst of grace. Over and over again we see that demonstrated in the history of God's chosen people, Israel.


Evil must be displayed and it must come against the Church so that the Church can respond to it in the wisdom of the cross. This is the plan that God has elected to destroy evil. Jesus said many will fall away from the faith during these times. He said that the love of most will grow cold (Matthew 24:12). It is the remnant who will stand in the power and authority of Jesus Christ, willing to demonstrate the wisdom of the cross by laying down their very lives for redemptive purposes, who will overcome Satan and emerge victorious. For out of great tribulation will emerge those who have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb (Rev 7:14).


The Saints must understand and must be prepared to preach God's love in the midst of such disasters, not by the explanation that "God is love and would not do such a thing", but that God is love and these preliminary disasters are a very expression of His love, as He wishes all to repent and come to the saving knowledge of His Son and thereby escape the reality of a greater and final and eternal judgment.