DISASTER, IS IT GOD'S WARNING? by Dr. John Jun
Disaster, is it God's warning?
Key Verse: 13:5
Four years ago, there was a horrible terror attack on "9/11" in America. Not long ago, one city in America was completely under the water due to a hurricane. It sounded like Noah's flood. The environmental scholar, Jeremy Liftkin said that it was Nature's anger toward America whose popularity is just 5% of the world and spends 25% of the chemical fuel of the world and still does not sign on the Kyoto treaty for prevention of global warming. Also there was a severe earthquake in Pakistan that killed about 40,000 people and made the city ruined completely.
Then how should we Christians look at these natural disasters? How did Jesus look at the disaster? And what did Jesus urge us to do?
Look at verses 1-3. It described about Pilate's bloody sacrifice. There were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.(1) They were terrified when they saw it and told Jesus about this in misery. What did Jesus say when he heard this news? Look at verse 2. "Jesus answered, 'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?'" In those days, Jews lived under legalistic thinking based on cause and effect.(John 9:2) So they thought that they were under the curse because of their hidden sins. They were fatalistic. They thought that they received what they deserved.
How did Jesus look at this? Look at verses 2 and 3. "Jesus answered, 'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.'" Jesus answered that those Galileans received punishment because of their sins. At the same time, he denied that those who did not receive the punishment were less sinners. In fact, he told them that unless they repented, they too would all perish. Jesus said that this is God's warning and a yellow card to all people on earth.
In verses 4 and 5, Jesus talked about eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them. Jesus told these disastrous events to them to teach how to look at disasters. "Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them--do you think they were guiltier than all the others living in Jerusalem?" Those who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them were 18. They lived a hand to mouth existence. But they faced disaster. How did Jesus interpret this?
Look at verse 5. "I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." AD 70, they all perished when Jerusalem fell by the Romans. Unless we repent, all will perish. Four years ago, because of the 9/11 terror, thousands of people died and theTwin Towers in New York were demolished and the Pentagon building was damaged. Last year, by the tsunami, about 300,000 people in Indonesia died. Last September, Hurricane Katrina swept over the Gulf Coast and New Orleans was under the water. Thousands of people died and more than 100,000 people were affected. Last week, there was a severe earthquake in Pakistan and 40,000 people were either injured or died. In the Bible, God punished the corrupted people in Noah's time with a flood. (Gen. 6:6-8:19) God punished Sodom and Gomorrah when their sins were grave. (Gen. 19) When Nineveh was unrepentant, God sent Jonah to punish and deliver the message of repentance. But when they repented, God changed his mind and did not punish them. (Jonah 3:10) When we see this, we can see that God takes away punishment when people repent. After these, there were many times that God punished people when they committed grave sins before God. When Pompeii was corrupted to the core, God sent burning sulfur and punished them.
According to Jesus' prophecy about the end of the age in Mark 13:6-8, the nearer the end of the age comes, there will be false messiahs, rumors of wars, wars, earthquakes in various places and famines. (Mark 13:8) And he said, "Unless you repent, you too will all perish. Not only for those who are under disaster, this is God's warning to all people on earth to repent. We must come before God and repent. God warns us,"Unless you repent, you too will all perish." Also, we must preach the message of repentance to people. We must preach the message of salvation to all people when we repent, then we will be saved like the people in Nineveh(Jonah 3:9-10). In the midst of one disaster after another, we wonder what is next. In this time, we must accept this as God's warning and preach the message of judgment and of salvation.