Katrina - Rita - Stan - Earthquake...
Four natural catastrophes happening in only six weeks, like they usually only happen in big time intervalls! With dimensions that are hard to imagine... Thousands lost their lives, several times that number of people get injured, lose everything. In the news I heard today that the worst hit area in Guatemala after hurricane Stan has officially been declared a mass grave now since a massive mud slide had overrun it... While at the same time we hear of more than 40.000 lives lost in this horrific earthquake in Pakistan. Misery and calamity know no end these days.
Not even one year has passed after this huge tsunami in South East Asia, caused by a massive seaquake, causing several hundred thousands to die... A catastrophy that never happened before un such a range! Well, at least since accounts are being taken. And I also think that before that, there was never such an accumulation of such catastrophes. And exactly one year to the day before this tsunami, the whole area of Bam in Iran was completely destroyed after an enormous earthquake. Both desasters happened on the 2nd day after Christmas... Should this tell us something?
The yearly floodings that unfortunately are "normal" in many areas of this world, become more and more serious, with more and more people dying, and destruction. All of this is such an overwhelming suffering which the soul cannot bear any longer.
So many wars... Even though their reasons nowadays are completely different to those of the past - it is a fact that more and more people are dying because of them. "Ethnic cleansing" is a new slogan: Ruanda, the former Jugoslavia, Sudan... Terrorist attacks are accumulating: just take 9/11 in New York 2001 with its most brutal dimensions ever. Followed by Bali, Madrid, Beslan, London and again Bali... And politicians seem to be thinking that they can combat terrorists with wars, which only cause even more innocent people to die. The civil war in Irak causing umpteen deads every day is only one result of it.
It is an uneven fight that cannot be won. And the terrorists rub their hands. Some days ago, I was reading that the organization around Osama bin Laden is giving out job vacancies on the internet... What a scorn!
As terrible as every war is, but in the past, parties (countries) have gone to war because diplomacy could not help them in their differences anymore. They fought for a "good reason" (I do hope you don't hear anything wrong here...) with more or less even weapons. Things could at least halfway been foreseen. Nowadays, thousands of innocent people are being attacked and killed from behind at the same time, even misused as living bombs for absolutely no reason at all. People holding down their jobs at their offices - no thougt of war; others that want to go by train from A to B - no thought of war; and then those that want to have a nice dinner at a good restaurant at their vacation spot - no thought of war...
I am not looking at anyone in particular, nor am I criticizing just like that. But I am observing the acute events happening in this world and draw my own conclusions...
"You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth-pains", (Matthew 24:6-8).
We are having these words of Jesus for over 2000 years by now. Yet only now, they seem to be becoming acute. In the past, many catastrophes happened with devastating dimensions. And in certain times, there was always a big expectancy of Jesus' return. However, I dare to assert that in this respect that it has never been as shattering as nowadays!
We can often hear people talk about "end times", as if it would be a new subject now. Yet we are living in end times since Jesus resurrected, and not only for some years. I am sure, these are the last days - the beginning of those birth-pains (or are we even right in them already?)... As to my opinion, the accumulation of these diverse catastrophes today causes Jesus' words to become true right now. And it will get even worse. Years ago, I often heard the complaint that too many bad things were being talked about in the news. Surely, they were no good news. But take a look at the news archives of 20, 30 years ago and compare them to those of the recent 5 years... I guess, everyone will see that things happening today cannot be compared to anything else!
Jesus always knew about it. This was one of the reasons, next to His main goal here on earth, why He came at that time. But people did not believe Him. They did not believe God in the Old Testament. And today, they don't believe Him either. But they complain to Him...
This is why things are getting worse and worse! Jesus foretold, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold (verse 12). ... For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now - and never to be equalled again. If those days have not been cut short, no-one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened", (verses 21-22).
I'd like to see these times end already now. But Jesus also said something else - something that expresses his love for us humans particularly well. He said, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come", (verse 14). All of us must have a chance to decide!
This triggers a huge thankfulness inside myself: like I had been given a chance to accept Jesus, meaning the truth, the desire for others to get this same chance is growing in me. I'd feel egoistic saying now "Ok, this is it. I am saved so I don't really care about what happens to others..." Can you relate to what I'm saying? Together with our salvation we were given responsibility at the same time: the responsibility toward others! God used people to tell me about Him so I could recognize Him. Now I'd also like to be used by Him to make people hear of Him and recognize Him!
Here now, we are having kind of a guideline to know how long we still have to endure, for not all nations have been reached yet. But Jesus is giving us the strength for it. We also have the Holy Spirit to work thousands of conversions daily (take particularly China for example, but also many Islamic countries). And also the computer age seems to be accelerating this process. Does the computer belong to Jesus' foretelling the shortening of those days? After all, if He can foresee the end of time, then of course, He will also be able to foresee how things will happen. I am sure God has given certain people the capacity of developing computers, which on one hand simplifies many things, accelerates them, but which also causes the Good News to be spread around the world faster than anything else and ever before!
But please, don't fall into the temptation of wanting to determine the point in time of Jesus' return (which the secular world calls apocalyse, the end of the world). Many have tried it already before and have failed miserably! Partly with devastating dimensions as people have committed suicide because of it...
For this reason, Jeasus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. No-one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father", (verses 35-36). But even this is not being taken for serious by many... and so they slide back...
We should watch out for what the Lord so desperately puts on our hearts, "Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come, (verse 42) ... So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him", (verse 44).
It is ever so important to Him that all of us take this to heart! He is not in the least interested in losing even one of us! This is why He repeats in chapter 25, verse 13, "Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or hour."
These horrific catastrophes that we are experiencing these days (the computer age brings them all into our house...) are to shake us up spiritually. For our own sakes, but also in order to tell others about God's Kingdom! Everyone shall have a chance to accept Jesus, who is the only one that can bring us into this Kingdom! We as Christians are no elite. But we are having this great and honorable responsibility to make people realize the unique truth!
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me", says the Lord. "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age", (chapter 28:18-20).
(Scripture verses taken from New International Version NIV)