Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The hand of God?

News of the bushfires in Australia has reached the U.S. and Britain, we're told. It's good to know that Christians in those countries are praying for the people affected. The situation in parts of southern Australia is pure horror. The death toll could rise to 300, so that it's worse than the Bali bombing in 2002. In fact doctors who work in casualty hospitals, treating people injured in the fires, have said just that: they remember Bali, and this is worse.
Predictably, some people are going to say the usual things about 'How could God allow this to happen?'On that subject, one Christian dropped a controversial bombshell, reported in today's newspapers. Danny Nalliah sounds like a fearless Christian who says: "I must tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to
hear." That is the pure truth, but some people are not going to like it.
Specifically, what he said was this. The bushfires in the state of Victoria have been allowed to happen because the Victorian state government has decriminalised abortion. In Danny Nalliah's words, this has made Australians "an open target for the devil to destroy."
Danny Nalliah has suffered for his faith. About a year ago, he and another pastor from Catch The Fire Ministries were taken to court by a Muslim group who claimed that these Christians had insulted Islam. It turns out that what the Christians had done was explain some differences between Islam and Christianity, with the aim of showing Christianity to be better. Members of any faith group will do that so as to explain why they follow one faith and not another. It is not inciting hatred, and after a lower court found them guilty and awarded damages a higher court overturned the decision. A good thing too, I personally think. But Pastor Nalliah has upset quite a lot of people with his comment. He is also reported as saying that he dreamt of raging fires some weeks before these bushfires broke out, and woke up with what he called 'a flash from the spirit of God: that His conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia.'
God deals individually with Christians. The Bible is clear on that. Shadrach, Meshak and Abednego were kept safe in a fire hot enough to kill other people who even went near that fire to throw the three believers into it. (Divine retribution?) The judgement of God does not fall clumsily on everyone just because some of people in a community have brought it down. But then the Word also warns of a whole land suffering because its people have turned away from Him.
This is something I should say with care, because my own sin is enough for me to worry about before I point out other peoples'. But I'm wondering if my brother Danny Nalliah might be doing just what he says: telling people what they need to hear, even when it is not what they want to hear.
Australia overall is not a Godly country. There is a great deal of self-satisfaction and arrogance in people, and contempt for what they call 'holy rollers' Thousands of Australians only use the words "Jesus Christ" as an exclamation of some sort. The attitude is 'Nobody can tell me what to do'. Abortion can be a classic example of serving your own convenience without caring about the rights of another human, who exists even though they are not yet born. Could it be that this has gone way too far? And as one columnist pointed out, here as in America, people from every other religion can speak their mind but Christians should just keep quiet. I hear something like that is happening in the U.S. now, with attempts to prevent Christians praying in public although a similar ban has not been proposed for others.
I can see why God could become utterly exasperated with the attitude of the human creatures He made and blessed. Without claiming to know His mind on all issues, I can see how He might allow disaster so as to show people what happens when they ignore Him. He is not an insurance policy that you buy, put in a drawer and do not think about unless you need it. God should be remembered every day, and thanked ever day. A Salvation Army officer ministering to the bushfire survivors talked quite openly about praying. Hopefully what he says might make people think: did they care about God before the calamity came down on them? I pray for them as well. Natural or human-made disasters can fall anywhere without us forseeing it. I too am a sinner. But if anyone wants to challenge me with 'How could your God allow this to happen?', my answer is 'Did you ever bother talking to God before this happened?'
Danny Nalliah might be telling people what they need to hear.


JMMEE said...

Well written, Andrew.
I can not say that I agree with Danny Nalliah. That issue will require more thought and study of the Word. I do know our Lord ofttimes uses horrific circumstances to draw people to dependence on him. Praying that the fires will soon be contained and that no further loss of life occurs.
Here in the States, we have been banned from public praying in school venues, many sporting venues, and other places. This flies in the face of our Constitution which states the government will make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Unfortunately, the "anti-Christian" segment of our society has hinged their argument about public expressions of faith on an obscure line in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson about "separation of Church and State". This phrase is found nowhere in our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, any of our Amendments, or laws. Unfortunately the phrase has become the "gospel" of this land.

Andrew Clarke said...

As you say, not every Christian would agree with Danny Nalliah. It is not as clear as when the finger of God wrote on the wall as happened in the case of Belshazzar.
I pray that the anti-Christian activists are overcome in the U.S., and here in Australia. No-one can force them to be Christians, and no-one should deny Christians their free expression. Actually the separation of church and state is not as easy as it sounds because laws are all based on an ideology, a belief, and that often comes from a faith or religion.

makemeaspark said...

You are courageous to print this. I do personally think that New Orleans was judged also. It was known as a notorious "sin city" and the coast of Missippi was covered with casinos there and they are all destroyed pretty much.

I don't think that you can go around threatening places like Las Vegas etc with the same kind of destruction if they don't shape up. God is much more complicated than that.

I pray that many repent and that many more are spared the fires there in your country. The photos looked horrific. May God have mercy and send a grace of repentance. Amen

jel said...

Hey Andrew,

how are y'all doing?

Chantel said...

Thank you for your comment on my blog. It touched me that as a stranger you would be willing to invest time and prayer on my behalf. Thank you! These fires and the floods that Australia is experiencing right now have been in our prayers, as well. May God keep His hand over His own.

I did not think of how my profile quote could give the idea of a physical condition that was cutting short my journey, and I should clarify that. God has been good and blessed me with good physical health, yet as a Christian, studying the Word and seeing in this World evidences of increasing wickedness, disaster and contempt for God, as well as the rise again of control over man's freedom of religion, I see the Word of God fast fulfilling before us.

These past few years have been difficult in various ways, and the 'road' of life has seemed rocky and sometimes very confusing. Yet God has been faithful, ever faithful. And while I long to be home, for this journey to be over, I am humbled and grateful if in turn, He can use my journey to bless another and encourage them in theirs.

I do not know how much longer God will see fit to give us in this journey of life, but I believe with all my heart that He is coming soon, so very soon, and that our journey is indeed almost over.

God be with you and your family!


Anonymous said...

I remember after 9/11, among other various incidents like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, ministers would make comments that it was God’s judgment on a nation that was turning away from him-blatantly denying and defying him. Or if you want to say it more diplomatically, it was a wake up call for slumbering nation…when those statements made national headlines a public apology was demanded and so much pressure was put on certain evangelical Christian pastors (depending how popular they were) that they issued an apology.

You stated that, “Australia overall is not a Godly country” Which country is? America certainty isn’t. Not anymore – those are yonder years, mere memories of our parents who talk about prayer in school. Accountability, integrity and dignity among the teachers. Where respect for elders wasn’t even questioned. Now teachers are having affairs with students and getting away with it, in California a teacher took her class to her lesbian wedding as a “field trip”…all in the name of “justice and liberty for all.”

…And I mean to give credit where credit is due; there are always those who sacrifice their whole lives for the cause of Christ. But they are always the minority. The general public is what I simply call “good citizens.” They might not agree with abortion and homosexuality but they won’t make stand against it. It’s just becoming normal. “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” That’s the long and the short of it.

And if your general media is like ours, they aren’t helping one bit.

Deep thoughts... said...

Thanks once again Andrew for a thought provoking entry. I was especially intrigued by your final statement 'Did you ever bother talking to God before this happened?' and you are right that God is not an insurance policy to be called upon only in disaster. But even we believers to the same thing. I know one young believer who recently lost her job and is on the verge of eviction from her apartment. She has not had anything to do with God for the last few years, but now finds herself praying for miraculous intervention. I do not mean to say there's anything wrong with that however. God is always there to meet us at the point of our need; but only He knows what that is, and it's usually not what or when we think it is.

So I agree with your challenge to those who question where God was before the disaster, but it also spurs me to ask myself the same question. Why wasn't I calling on God before the trials set in?

Thanks again Andrew. I hope this finds you and your family doing well.

Marshall Art said...

There are always those who wonder if God played a part in a given disaster, be it 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, or the fires of Australia. Some, as one commenter noted, actually state their belief that God did indeed lift His hand of protection and allowed the tragedy to occur. This always draws groans from the secular folk as well as liberal Christians who somehow are embarrassed to be associated with anyone who would offer such an explanation.

In truth, no one can possibly know whether God was involved so directly in anything, be it a major event or simply finding your car keys. It's always speculation and can't be anything more.

But what really rankles the secular types and their liberal Christian brethren, is what it would mean if God WAS involving Himself. What if Jerry Falwell, Pat Robinson or Danny Nalliah are right??!! "Oh no! God really DOES hate homosexual behavior/fornication/abortion/using His name if vain/cheating on one's taxes/fill in the blanks!!" They mock those like Nalliah because they don't want to believe the poison they've picked is truly poisoning their chances at salvation. They don't want to stop pleasing themselves, even to please God.

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

No, do not agree with Danny Nalliah and I do not believe that God caused the weather catastrophes, including the New Orleans coast of Missippi or the environmental circumstances that were a factor in the Australian fires and floods. I belive that in these, and many other cases, WE are responsible due to our abuse of God's Creation.

"All of creation God gives humankind to use. If this privilege is misused, God's Justice permits Creation to punish Humanity". So wrote Hildegarde von Bingen. (1098-1179)

We, mainly in the Western World, have abused this amazing planet, a loving Father's gift to His sons and daughters for our own greed and to the detriment of others who God loves and cares for. We have damaged our environment and are now paying the price.

God's laws are there, like it or not. If you jump off the roof of your house and get hurt, don't blame God for creating gravity, after all, he did gives us all free will...

lolly said...

What an inspirational piece of writting! I totally agree with you. I had a friend say something to me once about the whole "why would God let this happen" question. She said, "When you pray, God with only give one of two answers: Yes, or 'I have something better in mind.'"

Maybe if we could see things the way God does, we would realize that even these trials will eventually be a great blessing.

christine said...

I completely agree with everything you've said, and it's a wonderful way to start out my morning. I love your perspective and it's true---God needs to be a part of our everyday lives, especially since we are so important to Him.

jeleasure said...

Hi Andrew,
I indeed consider you when I heard of the fires burning in Melborne. A prayer was lifted on your behalf that day.

I was reading some of the comments. My thoughts were shared by many of those who replied to your post.

My wife Vicki and myself were on the phone discussing your post. Each of us remembered the remarks made concerning Huricane Katrina. Vicki and I both believe that God was imposing judgement on this nation. What was about to take place in New Orleans just prior to three huricanes falling in New Orleans, was a gay and lesbian parade. Now, I don't know if you have ever seen a parade in New Orleans, but, any thing goes. So, yes, I believe God was presenting a judgement, as well as an opportunity for us Christians to minister to them with aid and the word of God.

In Austrailia, I can't say that I know what is God's hand in the fires, either. I do know, there will be ministry, though. And, that would seem to be a coincidence if we don't see God as having reason for allowing the fires.

I hope you are well.

Andrew Clarke said...

I thank you for your prayers, Jim. It's very uplifting to know that other Christians are thinking of us. Also, I'm interested to hear what you tell me about the New Orleans situation: a celebration of the sort of things for which Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned. As you say, it is not possible to know just what God is doing at times, but we do see calamity falling on unGodly things, as the Word assures us will happen. It's good to hear from you again. Blessings to you and all yours.

Sam Ochstein said...

Andrew, this is an interesting post. I appreciate your perspective. But I think I would disagree with your pastor friend. It is certainly true that people need to repent and turn to Christ. Scripture says that God desires all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. It also says that God takes no delight in the destruction of the wicked. This is far too complicated of an issue (particularly from our finite, human perspective) to assert that God is pronouncing judgment on people and or nations when catastrophes occur. And neither do I think it is our place to assert such things. What I do believe, and what I think the Bible teaches, is that even in the worst possible situations, God can bring about good, even if we can't see or understand what that good is.

Farrah said...

Excellent! No one can believe the entire Bible and not think that God does not punish people. He sent the death angels into Egypt, He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jesus talked about the persecution of the Jews long before it happened. It doesn't seem strange to me that a loving Creator would stop people from abusing their bodies, abusing others, and generally increasing the suffering in this world. But He is also a loving God Who works amazing miracles and rains down blessings on His people. I love Him. :-)

Thank you for your prayers! :-)