Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Coming Storm

Since the destruction and death that was wrought during the tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma on Monday, May 20, 2013, we have all found ourselves grieving the loss of so many lives, especially the lives of small children.  But we must remember that God is sovereign in all things, including the death of those we consider to be too young to die.  In spite of our age, He has ordained a day for our death, as well as the day of our birth. 

After hearing about the terrible annihilation of the elementary school and the children huddling in a basement where some of them would die, we all wanted comfort for their families and peace to be restored.  It will be a long time before their tears and heartbreak will ease.  Our prayers are not only for them, but also that God would spare our own families if such a terrible event comes upon us.  And as the day of our Savior's return draws closer, the possibility of that happening increases.

Although there is little or no comfort that can be given by well-meaning people to a parent who has lost a child, regardless of the degree of faith the parent has, it is my firm belief that all of those children are safely in the arms of Jesus.  Charles H. Spurgeon wrote that there should be rejoicing when we suffer such a loss:

"Refrain from undue weeping, for they shall come again from the land of their
captivity. Thy dead ones shall live again. Mother of mortals, thou didst well to weep;
but thy children live, so that thou art the mother of immortals; then, why canst thou
sorrow? Dry thine eyes, and bless God that thou hast another link with heaven, and
that thou hast helped to fill the choirs that, day without night, circle the throne of
God with hallelujahs."

While believers remain on this earth, that advice is worth clinging to.  If there is loss, the pain believers experience is lessened, knowing that our loved one is in the greatest place possible, and with the One Who wipes the tears from their eyes and shelters them under His wings.  The reunion that will one day come will be glorious.

For the past couple of days, I have been pondering the disaster that affected the lives of so many.  Not why it had to happen.  If you are a believer, you know the answer to that question.  Nor does it have anything to do with what some believe to be God's wrath being brought down on this nation for our disobedience.   If you are of that mindset, consider that He still "makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matt 5:45b)  God's timing in bringing about the destruction mentioned in prophecy and the Book of Revelation is His own and until that day comes upon us, we shouldn't believe that we have extraordinary insight into His mind or His timetable.  When it happens, it will be unmistakable.

What I have been musing over, however, is the tornado's level of intensity and man's reaction in the aftermath.  Oklahoma City mayor, Mick Cornett, described it as "the storm of storms."  Of course, all of the secular media and the scientific community are ignorantly attributing it to "Mother Nature."  Satan knew what he was doing when he convinced someone centuries ago to give this term to God's creation and order.  In short, I was curious about its origin and quickly went to Wikipedia for the answer (this is only one excerpt, but there is more of the term's history on this link, if you're curious):
 "Mother Nature (sometimes known as Mother Earth) is a common personification of nature that focuses on the life-giving and nurturing aspects of nature by embodying it in the form of the mother.  Images of women representing mother earth, and mother nature, are timeless.  In prehistoric times, goddesses were worshiped for their association with fertility, fecundity, and agricultural bounty.  Priestesses held dominion over aspects of Inca, Algonquian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Slavonic, Germanic, Roman, Greek, Indian, and Iroquoian religions in the millenia prior to the inception of patriarchal religions."

In literature, it can be traced as far back as the 12th century B.C.  Pagan superstition and mysticism have a long and dark history.  Of course, why should we think otherwise?  It began in the beginning with Satan, who was and remains the author of lies (John 8:44).

Each time a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake occurs that is larger and greater in magnitude than the previous event, it becomes the new standard by which they are measured.  The tornado that touched down Monday in almost the exact location as that of a cluster of storms in 1999 was huge and considered to be one of the largest recorded in modern history.  It was equaled to one of 74 tornadoes that were spawned during a three day period between May 3rd and May 6th, 1999, causing extensive destruction and the loss of 36 lives in their paths.  Because of the intensity of the 1999 tornado that plowed through Chickasha, Bridge Creek, Oklahoma City, Moore, Del City, Tinker Air Force Base, and Midwest City respectively, scientists used it as their standard of measuring tornadoes, establishing it as an "EF5" and basing all others upon this scale.

The "Enhanced Fujita Scale" used to measure tornadoes begins at an "EF0" and as the severity of the tornado increases, so does the level on the scale, ending at an "EF5."  This link demonstrates the speed of the wind and the type of damage that can be experienced during the storm, and also breaks down the standard by which they are numbered.  It's an interesting graph and should be visited by those who are curious or who would like to  have broader understanding of this method of measurement.

If you find nature and weather patterns fascinating, all of this science is engaging, but there is an underlying problem with man assuming he can determine the size and scope of storms that threaten his very existence.  In the backs of their minds, they may be wondering if another cataclysmic storm of greater proportion is lurking in the future but, for now, they are content to dwell on the latest mega-storm.  However, what is more troublesome for secular science and all of their research is the fact that Scripture, which they ignore, tells us things are going to get much worse.  Much, much worse.   God has already given them a "graph" to turn to and to determine what's coming next.  The inclement events that are waiting in the aisles for their grand  entrance upon this world will make Monday's tornado look like a dust devil, and the destruction these disasters will bring will be unequaled to what this earth has experienced in its brief history.

When compared to past tornadic events, what we witnessed Monday was a tremendous storm of vast proportions.  The images and videos that have been seen on television are jaw dropping.  I can't imagine having that wall of destruction bearing down upon me, and not knowing which direction to run to get out of its path.  However, when we consider the minimal loss of life that was brought upon Moore, Oklahoma by this monster, and how many more people could have been taken, we should be grateful that God was so merciful.

In the book of Matthew, chapter 24, Jesus spoke to His disciples about the "signs" that would appear prior to the end of times and His ultimate return.  Earthquakes, famines, and nations and kingdoms rising against each other will all increase in intensity as the day draws nearer.  He likened these events to "birth pangs" that come upon a woman who is preparing to deliver a baby.  Each pain increases and quickens with less time between them, until the moment of birth comes.  For women who have experienced childbirth, the metaphor is clearly understood.  Like the pain her body goes through during the birth process, the earth, that has been subjected to the fall of mankind, will also be unsettled in the last days and demonstrate what man calls "natural disasters" in increasing degrees that will bring about untold destruction and devastation.

There is a word used throughout Scripture to describe great affliction, suffering, trials, persecution, and distress.  The word is "tribulation."  In Matthew 24:21-22, Jesus, when speaking of the time of the "abomination of desolation," or the Antichrist who will be allowed full reign during the Great Tribulation, or end of times when God pours out His wrath upon this world, revealed something that should be heavily considered, especially by those who have suffered through storms of great magnitude and have yet to receive Him as their Savior:
"For then there will be great tribulation, such has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.  And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved.  But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short."
Jesus is warning us that what will be coming upon this earth in the very near future will be immeasurable.  There will be no Enhanced Fujita Scale to consult, or Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale available to determine the size and scope of the boundless storms that will sweep across the world.  All of these will be tossed aside as the men who study them tremble and quake with terror, causing them to question the very science they relied so heavily upon.   As God causes the climate to become more unsettled and unpredictable, so will our planet experience more frequent tectonic plate shifting and upheaval, and volcanic activity unlike anything it has experienced since its creation.  And as the earth shakes and heaves, the Richter Scale that measures earthquakes will be rendered useless as they culminate into one of such magnitude that the very mountains that tower above us will be leveled (Rev 16:17-21).  Even the baseball and grapefruit-sized hail that accompanies hurricanes and tornadoes will be eclipsed as "great hailstones, about one-hundred pounds each" fall from the heavens upon the earth's inhabitants.

For man to assume he has the mental capacity and wisdom to predict and determine the magnitude of "Mother Nature's" wrath, is unbelief, idolatry, and arrogance at its worst.  We certainly should give scientists credit for warning us of the approach or possibility of a devastating storm so that precautions can be taken and the loss of life minimized.  But what unbelieving men refuse to acknowledge is that what we saw Monday could very possibly be only the beginning of that which Jesus warned us.  The forces that God will ultimately unleash upon mankind have been revealed to us in no uncertain terms, as well as mankind's reaction when they are:
"And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and foreboding of what is coming on the world." ~ Luke 21:25-26 (ESV)
So much violence and chaos will insue that mankind will have no place to run, no place to hide, and will wish for the very mountains to bury them from the sight of God Almighty Who is pouring out His wrath upon the earth.  (Rev 6:15-17)  For the purpose of enhancing upon this verse, the Greek translation for "faint from terror" (Luke 21:26 NIV) is as follows:
"To lose courage or resolution because of fear; 'aporea' - anxiety; painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind; causes doubt and lack of capacity to cope; fainting with fear: 'suko' - body away from the soul; so terrified that breathing ceases because of what mankind perceives."
When the Lamb of God opens the seven seals of God that begins the Great Tribulation - when the angels are commanded to blow the seven trumpets that causes one-third of the earth to be burned up, the sea to turn to blood, killing one-third of all the creatures living within it and destroying the ships that sail upon it; one-third of the fresh drinking water is poisoned; the sun, moon, and stars are darkened for one-third of the day; Hell is opened and demons released to wreak havoc and destruction; one-third of the earth's population is killed; and the final trumpet blast to herald the fulfillment of God's plan is blown -"in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them." (Rev 9:6)

Whether you are a believer or not, it's not hard to comprehend the true terror that is described for the end of this world as we know it.  And what has been briefly described is only the beginning.  For those whose names are not written in the Lamb's Book of Life (Rev 21:22-27), and who worship the Antichrist and take his "mark" in order to buy and sell (Rev 13:16-18), there will be no hope left, no second chance, no salvation offered, only an expectation of eternal damnation, suffering, and separation from all that is God.

This is the storm that's waiting to come.  No man is capable of fully understanding the devastation, destruction, and death that will ride in on its winds.  The magnitude and power by which it comes will be unstoppable, unequaled, and unparallelled from anything previously known or recorded.  There will be no storm shelters in which to hide, and no amount of hording food, water, gold, or guns will keep man secure until it passes, for the storm will continue and increase in intensity until God's will is completed and Jesus Christ is reestablished on His earthly throne (Rev 19:1-10).
There is little time left.  The "signs" are obvious and increasing daily.  Are you ready to face what is coming?  Are you prepared to meet your Creator God, face-to-face?  It's my prayer that you have been reconciled to God and have been drawn by the Holy Spirit to know your Savior Jesus Christ.  But if you haven't yet known salvation, I hope you will use what little time is left to seek after it.

" 'Yet even now," declares the LORD, 'return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.'
"Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster." ~ Joel 2:12-13 (ESV)

God's greatest desire is that all men would repent of their sins against Him and believe in and place their faith and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ.  But His patience will only last until He deems it necessary to bring upon this unbelieving and sinful world all of the divinely fierce chastisement He has stored against it.  And the storm of His wrath will be immeasurable against the unforgiven.

But for those of us who have believed and are anxiously awaiting the return of our Savior Jesus Christ, there is no fear, only great anticipation for that great and blessed day when He removes His church from the wrath that will bear down upon this world and when we are fully and eternally redeemed.

There may be a coming storm of immeasurable proportions that will wreak untold destruction, but those of us who know Jesus, and are known by Him, will rejoice when that day comes.
"Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."  ~ Luke 21:28 (ESV)
Even so, come LORD!

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