The Great Tsunami
Was God Involved?
Every time we check our news we find the death toll has been estimated upward, now reaching well over one hundred thousand. As we watch the heart-rending scenes transmitted from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Indian coast, the Maldives and various islands in the Indian Ocean, it is nevertheless impossible to comprehend the enormity of the physical and psychological misery which is the plight of the survivors, let alone the unimaginable horror of the tens of thousands who were swept away, drowned or slammed to death by raging torrents of debris.
But what of the survivors? For some, the agony and deprivation of their existence amid the squalid stench of dead bodies, raw sewage, lack of food, add to that the incredible mental anguish of those who have missing or dead family or close friends, and it is just about more human misery than you can fathom.
The undersea earthquake and resulting wall of seawater crashing onto unsuspecting residents and visitors along exposed coastlines is a dramatic exhibition of nature’s power, over which man has absolutely no control. Since news of the devastation wrought by the wall of water which slammed into the coastlines bordering the Indian Ocean, there’s been a lot written about the possibility of the potential for a similar occurrence in the Pacific or Atlantic which would devastate heavily populated U.S. coastlines. Purportedly there is a warning system that could alert endangered areas of an advancing wave from an undersea quake off the west coast of the U.S., but no such system for the Atlantic. But how valuable would such a warning be to a heavily populated area? The wave set off by an undersea earthquake is said to advance at speeds of hundreds of miles per hour!
Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and related natural disasters are often referred to as “acts of God.” But was God actively involved in this most deadly of natural disasters? I heard a comment, second hand, that the disaster was a “wake-up call to those heathens over there.” Is that right? Does God cause a disaster to target particular people for their false beliefs and practices? And what about the dozens of western tourists who’d only set out to spend an idyllic vacation on the beach?
Why does God allow human tragedy? To atheists, examples such as the terrible one playing out on our TV screens is proof that there can be no God! But based on the predictions which surround the events of the end time, we can expect more of these types of natural disasters in addition to man-made catastrophes which will result from wars.
Garner Ted Armstrong always pointed readers to the example in Luke 13 when addressing the question of whether God is involved in apparently meaningless accidental death. “When Jesus Christ was asked a similar question, here is what happened: ‘There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
"‘And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans
were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?
"‘I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all
"‘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:' (Luke 13:1-5). Christ was asked about mass death; in the first case
murder, and in the second, an accident. He plainly said the victims were not
singled out because they were any worse than any other citizens of their
"His meaning is clear: That unless people REPENT of their sins (1 John 3:4; Acts 2:38), then if and when death comes—no matter how it comes—they will simply perish. They will NOT perish because they are any MORE evil than others… God had nothing to do with those deaths. It was time, chance and circumstance! Why? Because God’s protection was not applied to those people! Does God promise special PROTECTION to those who are striving to obey His laws; who have repented, been baptized and received His Spirit, and become His own beloved children? He says He does! Read the beautiful 91st Psalm…”
While God can’t be blamed for the cause of this most recent and horrendous natural calamity, it is difficult not to recognize His hand in some of the miraculous personal stories that are beginning to emerge from this tragedy. Take for example the Australian woman who had to release her grip on her five-year old son in order to save the eighteen-month old child in her arms. The little boy was found hours later floating atop a door, alive and well. Other miraculous stories are emerging from this tragedy, and I’ve heard survivors speak of being “blessed” in their near escape, only to hear news anchors reply how “lucky” they were. Is it just semantics?
Beyond the murderous capabilities of hateful religions and governments, the recent natural disaster we’re witnessing daily in our living rooms reminds us that we are all standing on shaky ground, literally. No place is exempt from the violent potential of earthquakes. Prior to the invention of the Richter scale, in December of 1811, a fault-line located in the Mississippi valley in southeast Missouri gave way producing a quake which shook most of the continental United States, destroying towns and reportedly causing the Mississippi river to flow temporarily backward. Estimated to have been somewhere near an 8.0 level quake, if it were to happen today, damage and death in the heavily populated areas of the Midwest would be indescribable.
One of the prominent features of Bible prophecy relating to the “Great Tribulation” in the end time is “earthquakes in diverse places.” That is only one of several descriptions which include wars, famines and pestilences. Is this terrible tsunami one more in a series of disasters which will ultimately affect the entire world?
The very purpose of the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association is to watch, and to warn our peoples of the times in which we live, and point out God’s formula for escape and protection. Will all truly repentant Christians escape death? Clearly not. But their deaths will not be meaningless, and they will not “perish.”
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