I have received numerous emails asking two questions. (1) If God is a God of love, and if God is in control of this world, how could He permit 150,000+ people to perish in the tsunami that swept over southern Asia? (2) Is this 9.0 earthquake prophetically significant? Is this the earthquake mentioned in Revelation 8:5?
The answers to both questions are: (1) There is no evidence that God caused this earthquake or the resulting tsunami, and (2) This earthquake is not prophetically significant. This earthquake should be considered a prophetic sample of things to come. Please consider the following thoughts:
Kindness Has Limits
God has perfect foreknowledge. He knows the end and the beginning of everything. (Isaiah 46:10) The Bible says our Heavenly Father knows every sparrow that falls to the ground and the number of hairs on each of our heads. (Matthew 10:29,30) The Bible also says that God is love. (1 John 4:8) God has demonstrated His love for mankind by giving up Jesus to die in our place. (John 3:16) God says that He is patient, forbearing and generous.
Notice the words He spoke to Moses about Himself: "Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord [Jehovah]. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.
Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." (Exodus 34:5-7, insertion mine) Later on, the apostle Peter wrote, "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.
That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat." (2 Peter 3:8-12)
The Lord told Moses that He does not leave the guilty unpunished. Bible history affirms this. God’s patience with sin and sinners has a limit. God cast Lucifer out of Heaven because of sin! (Ezekiel 28:17) God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden when they sinned. (Genesis 3:23)
God deliberately drown all but eight people in Noah's day. (Genesis 6:7; 7:4) God deliberately burned up the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of sexual immorality. (Genesis 13:13; 18:26; 2 Peter 2:5,6) God deliberately destroyed the nations of Canaan because of their sexual wickedness (Leviticus 18:24,25) and God will deliberately burn up the wicked at the end of the thousand years. (Revelation 20:12-15)
So, it is true that God destroys people when the limit of His patience is reached. "See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. I lift my hand to heaven and declare: As surely as I live forever, when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me." (Deuteronomy 32:39-41) (For a substantive presentation on the topic of God’s patience, see Chapter 2 in my book, Warning! Revelation is about to be fulfilled.)
God’s Wrath Is Consistent
God’s wrath comes in two forms. The first form is redemptive, the second is destructive. In other words, Bible history affirms that when the limit of God’s patience has been reached, He sends redemptive destruction first.
There is a reason and a purpose for His actions. He wants the objects of His wrath to know that they have exhausted His grace, and He wants them to repent of their wicked ways and do what is right. If repentance and reformation does not occur, His subsequent punishments will be totally destructive. God's wrath and judgments are not random nor arbitrary. God does not throw tantrums. God is patient and generous, but He is firm and consistent. Like a good parent, He is deliberate and purposeful when it comes to punishing His children.
Randomness is a interesting component of Creation. The word randomness means "uncontrolled order." God has put a small amount of randomness in every aspect of life. For example, look at the DNA selection that makes up human beings. Two children from the same two parents can have very different characteristics.
Randomness produces good things and bad things. We see randomness throughout the universe. Asteroids randomly collide with the moon, and stars are randomly captured by the gravitational pull of black holes. These events indicate that randomness exists throughout the universe. I believe that God deliberately put a small amount of randomness within His creation to make life interesting. Snowflakes are not identical and fingerprints are not identical because of randomness. People don’t look alike because of randomness.
In fact, randomness makes every human being unique!
Randomness can produce disastrous results. Cars randomly collide and people get killed. Accidents happen because of randomness. Not long ago, I was talking with a man who had been in a car wreck and he was impressed by the precise timing of the accident. He spoke about the exact moments that he and the other man had left their respective houses and driven down different roads through town.
He mentioned how they had stopped at different stop lights, only to collide at the intersection where they met. After thinking about his comments for a moment, I said, "If you had driven through the intersection at 8:01 A.M. without incident, would your passing through the intersection have been a random event?" He said, "Yes, probably so." I said, "So, you and the other man, and a dozen other cars, randomly passed through this intersection at a moment in time, but two of you attempted to do so while going in different directions.
You experienced a random collision." Some people have summed up the disastrous properties of randomness with two words: "Bad Luck."
Geologists tell us that all of Earth’s tectonic plates are moving. On December 26, huge geological forces caused tectonic plates under the Indian Ocean to break loose. This caused a random earthquake, and a tsunami followed which brought much destruction. Death can occur from randomness.
Does God permit earthquakes to happen? Sure. Does God permit tsunamis to occur? Both of these events are consistent with the laws of physics. The point is that God put some randomness within the movement of Earth’s tectonic plates. This is why it is fair to say that God did not create the tsunami, nor did God destroy 150,000+ people. Unlike Noah’s flood, randomness caused this terrible tragedy.
But, in a strange way there is very good news within this horrible tragedy. Death is not a big deal to God. One day, God will speak the word and He will resurrect the dead and He will give eternal life to those who were faithful and true to all they knew to be right. The Bible teaches that God overrules every tragedy. He does not prevent it (for example, look at the death of Jesus), but He does bring good out of it! Already, good is rising from this horrible tragedy.
Fractious nations are working together for the sake of compassion! Kindness is being extended to the helpless and homeless, and this is a sample of God making lemonade out of a random lemon.
The Global Earthquake in Revelation 8:5
The book of Revelation predicts three global earthquakes are coming. The third one occurs at the Second Coming of Jesus. (Revelation 16:18) The second one occurs at the end of the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:19) and the first one marks the commencement of the Great Tribulation.
The first earthquake occurs just before the first trumpet judgment begins. (Revelation 8:5-7) I believe this earthquake will happen any day now. These three global earthquakes will not be random events caused by nature. They will be deliberate acts of God. He has warned us about them in the Bible and each of them has a reason and a purpose. When the first global earthquake occurs, the whole world will be awakened to the reality of God because God’s servants, the 144,000, will begin to speak with great power and authority. These earthquakes will have reason and purpose. (For further discussion on this subject, see Chapter 1 in my book, Warning! Revelation is about to be fulfilled.)
Yes, the earthquake and tsunami on December 26, 2004 were very powerful and deadly events. Yes, the destruction is horrible and very sad. But, a brighter day is coming. The dead will surely live again. The global earthquake described in Revelation 8:5 will dwarf the earthquake in the Indian Ocean and I am sure that we could see more prophetic samples in days to come. Jesus said, "You will hear of wars and rumors 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)