It seems that there is a new danger presented every so often. Global warming, the pandemic, a coming asteroid collision, and many other possible dangers have caught the imagination of the world and left them feeling anxious and fearful. The problem is that many of these things are out of the control of individuals and even governments of large countries. No amount of money or change can guarantee that we will survive the coming catastrophes. The end may be near. At least this is what is said.
This is the attitude that many in the world have about the possibility of world-wide calamities. But is this the way that we should respond to front page news? Or should we, as Christians, have a totally different perspective? In today’s message, we will contrast what the world says with what the Bible says.
- What the world says
According to the world, there are many problems that could lead to the destruction of all that we know. Things that happened in the past, things that are currently happening, and things that could happen in the future ought to alarm us and move us to protect the world at any cost.
a. Terrible things happened in the past.
An asteroid supposedly killed off the dinosaurs.
For those who subscribe to the theory of evolution, many ideas have been posed as to why dinosaurs no longer exist. One idea is that a large asteroid hit earth and caused all of the dinosaurs to die. While there is no proof for this hypothesis, people have accepted it as a viable hypothesis. Something killed off the dinosaurs.
A volcanic eruption destroyed the people of Pompeii.
“Pompeii, a flourishing resort city south of ancient Rome, was nestled along the coast of Italy in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, an active volcano. Its most famous eruption took place in the year 79 A.D., when it buried the city of Pompeii under a thick carpet of volcanic ash. The dust “poured across the land” like a flood, one witness wrote, and shrouded the city in “a darkness…like the black of closed and unlighted rooms.” Two thousand people died, and the city was abandoned for almost as many years” (Pompeii).
As you read reports about ancient cataclysms, you get the idea that there is no hope. If these things happened long ago, they could happen again.
b. Terrible things are currently happening.
In the last twenty years, the concern about global warming (now called climate change) has received much attention. People like Al Gore have presented the idea that pollution from burning coal and oil has made an impact on the world. They say that failing to address these concerns could lead to higher temperatures worldwide and perhaps the destruction of the world.
In the past couple of years, the world was affected by a global pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 were real as many people died from the virus. However, government responses were sometimes drastic. But their response was deemed justifiable due to the possible danger of doing nothing. It was thought better to shut down schools, businesses, travel, and social interaction for the sake of saving lives.
War with Ukraine
The current Russian conflict with Ukraine is something that we hear about in the news quite often. “The Russo-Ukrainian War has been ongoing between Russia (alongside Russian separatists in Ukraine) and Ukraine since February 2014. Hostilities were initiated by Russia shortly after Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity and were focused on the political status of Crimea and the Donbas, which remain internationally recognized as part of Ukraine. Incursions into Ukrainian territory culminated in Russia’s annexation of Crimea” (Wikipedia). The continuing war against Russia seems to be a land grab by Russia and has led to the deaths of many soldiers and civilians. And with the US government supplying arms to Ukraine, there is always the possibility of starting WW3 if Russia and China take advantage of the situation.
c. Terrible things may happen in the future.
Recent report have talked about a number of possible catastrophes in the future. Did you know that the Andromeda galaxy may collide with the Milky Way galaxy in the future? Did you know that an asteroid may hit the earth? Did you know that the earth’s temperature may rise so much that we all could die? Did you know that Elon Musk is leading a movement to colonize Mars to get away from future problems?
What has been the response to these things? When these reports are believed, people become anxious. An air of uncertainty fills their minds. And if some of these things are going to happen, how should we respond?
- What the Bible says
When Christians hear about coming catastrophes, they should first respond by comparing what is reported to what God has revealed in the Bible. We read in the Bible that things happened in the past, are currently happening, and will happen in the future. However, our response to these possibilities or realities should be different than those who do not know the Lord.
a. Terrible things happened in the past.
The Great Flood
According to Genesis 6-9, God sent a world encompassing Flood to destroy the world during Noah’s lifetime. God saw that the wickedness of man was great and his imaginations were always evil (Gen. 6:5) and so He decided to flood the earth and destroy all but Noah and his family. The evidence of the Flood is found throughout the world with even whale skeletons being found on mountains.
Sodom and Gomorrah
According to Genesis 13:13, the people of Sodom were exceedingly wicked. Although Abraham pleaded for mercy, the Lord destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven (Gen. 19:24). Two angels led Lot and his daughters out of Sodom, but all who remained were destroyed. None escaped.
Assyrian and Babylonian invasions
The Bible records two invasions that took place in ancient history. The Assyrian empire conquered the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC when these people had turned away from the Lord. Later, the Babylonian empire conquered the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 BC when they had turned away from the Lord. During these invasions, many people were killed, abused, or taken captive. People like Jonah, Habakkuk, and Daniel were affected by these invasions.
As you think about the incredible destruction that took place in each of these situations, did you notice a current theme? All of these were a result of God’s judgment against sin. The Flood dealt with wicked people. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their sin. The Assyrian and Babylonian invasions were God’s judgment against His own people who had rejected Him.
b. Terrible things are currently happening.
Invasion of Ukraine
When you hear about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, are you surprised? In some ways we may be surprised, but in another way we should not be. The Bible says that there will be “wars and rumors of wars … but the end is not yet” (Mark 13:7). The fact that leaders of countries are willing to sacrifice people’s lives to acquire land is terrible but something the Bible says will continue throughout history.
Persecution of Christians
The persecution of believers is something that has happened throughout history. It is currently happening most prominently in places like China and Muslim countries. Families are separated, people beaten and killed, atrocities take place—all because of their faith in Jesus. Does this surprise you? It should not. Jesus promised that His followers would be persecuted by unbelievers (Luke 21:12). Sadly, these things affect many believers today.
c. Terrible things will happen in the future.
While the world is concerned about coming catastrophes like asteroid collisions and climate change, the Bible warns about terrible events that will affect those who reject the Lord. After the Church is taken up (1 Thess. 4:13-18), God will pour out His wrath on the believing world during the Great Tribulation, the Battle of Armageddon, and eventually the final judgment of the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
What should be our response to these things?
First, we should take our concerns to the Lord. Habakkuk had some of these same concerns (Hab. 1:2-4). He thought that God was not aware or was ignoring the terrible things that were taking place in his country. God told him what he was going to do and that he needed to live by faith (Hab. 2:4). When Habakkuk finally came to terms with what God was doing, he had great peace (Hab. 3:17-19). Jesus said the same thing to his disciples in John 16:33. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” When a Christian experiences terrible things, he should not lose hope. He should turn to the Lord and trust Him. This is the only way to have peace.
Second, we should prepare the lost for the real danger. While our peaceful attitude amidst troubling times may be noted by unbelievers, it will not help them unless they know where that peace comes from. God has sent us into the world as His ambassadors so that sinful people can be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20). At this moment, most people are unaware that they are at odds with God. They may even think that they are pretty good people. But sinful man is not on good terms with God. The coming judgment is evidence of that. So, their only hope is to repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus. Only then will they find the peace that passes all understanding.
“Pompeii” as viewed at https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/pompeii on 9/18/2022.
“Russo-Ukrainian War” as viewed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russo-Ukrainian_War on 9/18/2022.