The LORD: the Author of Calamity
A Call to Repentance
I added this chapter to this article (originally written in Sep 2018) during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic (early April 2020). The purpose of this article is to state what should be obvious from the previous 6 chapters: the LORD brings calamity to disobedient nations in order to bring those nations to repentance.
Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
As this article documents from Scripture, calamity is the LORD’s judgment poured out on peoples and nations.
America: the LORD is speaking to us and demanding repentance. It is evident, at least at the time of the writing of this chapter, that nearly no one in this country (and likely including the world) is listening. You ignore His warning to your own peril.
[It is not an exaggeration to state that what we are experiencing now is the merest hint of the judgment that awaits the world in the not-too-distant future.
For that future people who will experience those devastating events and who will also remember the pandemic of 2020 (if the timing of these events coalesce to make such a confluence possible)—it will seem, by comparison, like a pleasant spring day in a beautiful park.
Let a pair of samples from the Revelation suffice:
When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
Then the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, one saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” And the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released, so that they would kill a third of mankind.
If you do the math, you’ll discover that from these two events alone, one-half the earth’s future population will die. And, these are just two of the many judgments which await a disobedient world as our age draws to a close.
If some object that the LORD’s intentions are not clear with something as “obscure” as calamity, my very simple reply is this:
READ YOUR BIBLE!!!
Its message is unmistakable and consistent: in the context of this article, obedience brings blessing and disobedience brings wrath and punishment. This simple message is repeated so many times in the Scripture that only a fool would miss it!
These are very clear:
But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.
There are many others—if you need more proof, reread the preceding chapters of this article!
The sovereign LORD is sovereign over everything, especially disease. As the ancient nation of Israel was being led out of their bondage in Egypt, the LORD warned them to carefully and faithfully keep His commandments. Note the warning:
There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them. And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer.”
The LORD who brings disease as a consequence of disobedience is the same LORD who brings healing and blessing for obedience.
The LORD Is neither capricious nor indifferent: when He commands, He expects obedience.
Moreover, it is His right as the Sovereign of all to afflict judgments when mankind ignores His law. This includes disease—which, in Bible history, has frequently been the punishment for an obstinate and rebellious human race.
Certain and severe judgment awaits those who, by indifference or design, hold the Almighty in contempt by ignoring His law:
2 Pet 2.4-10a
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
For it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall give praise to God.”
So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
The psalmist Asaph, in the historical Psalm 78, records the following, very remarkable account of the OT Jews:
29 So they ate and were well filled,
And their desire He gave to them.
30 Before they had satisfied their desire,
While their food was in their mouths,
31 The anger of God rose against them
And killed some of their stoutest ones,
And subdued the choice men of Israel.
32 In spite of all this they still sinned
And did not believe in His wonderful works.
33 So He brought their days to an end in futility
And their years in sudden terror.
34 When He killed them, then they sought Him,
And returned and searched diligently for God;
35 And they remembered that God was their rock,
And the Most High God their Redeemer.
36 But they deceived Him with their mouth
And lied to Him with their tongue.
37 For their heart was not steadfast toward Him,
Nor were they faithful in His covenant.
38 But He, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity and did not destroy them;
And often He restrained His anger
And did not arouse all His wrath.
39 Thus He remembered that they were but flesh,
A wind that passes and does not return.
The context of this account is Numbers chapter 11. The young nation of Israel, relatively fresh out of Egypt, were engaged in their favorite activity: grumbling against the LORD in spite of all that He had done to protect and preserve them. The element in this passage which is stunning is that, even when their “repentance” was actually insincere, the LORD withheld the full extent of His very-much-deserved wrath upon them:
But He, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity and did not destroy them;
And often He restrained His anger
And did not arouse all His wrath.
This leads me to mention one of the problems which I’ve observed in this current calamity, namely the same disposition and attitude which was exhibited by the Edomites in the OT when they received the LORD’s wrath:
The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi. “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.” Though Edom says, “We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins”; thus says the Lord of hosts, “They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the Lord is indignant forever.”
If you listen to the current newscasts or read the articles, many of them express this very same arrogance. Did the people of Edom come to repentance after the LORD afflicted them? NO! Instead, they became even more obstinate in their rebellion.
The same is happening across the US during this pandemic: “We are Americans,” the humanist refrain goes, “and we overcame all sorts of trials in our history. We will overcome this trial as well!”
Has America learned the “real” lesson? No, not even a little. And once this pandemic passes, which it likely will (one way or another), without national repentance, America will return to it sins. Nothing will have changed—except that our nation will become even more bold in its aggregate sin.
America: the LORD is more than able to afflict us in such a way that we will not survive. Even a cursory reading of the Bible shows that He has destroyed many past civilizations: Egypt, Assyria, Persia, the Greek empire, and the Roman empire, just to name a few (revealed in Bible history).
Repentance, not positive thinking or tenacity or perseverance or anything else, is that single response which is needed. Necessary medical responses and economic stimuli are no substitute for the genuine change of heart that occurs when the lost soul sees his/her true state before the LORD and turns in repentance and faith to the Lord Christ. When a person becomes a child of God “by grace through faith” (Eph 2.8-9), everything changes. That which is impossible with man than becomes possible with God. (Mat 19.26)
American “resiliency, ingenuity and spirit” are no match for the power of the Almighty:
But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation.
It is not unusual to hear journalists using Scripture for their own purposes, with no regard to context, something I term "Bible text misappropriation". A favorite of theirs is "all things works together for good", as if it applied to everyone. Even a cursory reading of the verse shows that there is a condition: good is "worked together" only for those persons who are the "called-according-to-His-purpose" (Rom 8.28) To apply this spectacular promise to the lost is to distort the Scripture.
A favorite of Sean Hannity is "let not your hearts be troubled". The text is:
Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
Omitting the second half of the admonition renders the first half incomplete and distorted: the calmness that is available is a result exclusively of having a true, abiding faith in the Almighty and His Son. To tell "America" at large "let not your heart be troubled" is misguided at best, misleading and unthinkably careless at worst.
It should go without saying that I'd don't expect "journalists" to be competent Bible students; it would be extraordinary if most of them knew anything valid of Bible truth. Nearly all are tainted with the humanism which marks our age.
And this bring me to my last point: there is yet another aspect of the response to this calamity which I find very troubling: some so-called Bible teachers and pastors who immerse us in even more humanistic drivel than that delivered by the media.
Here is a current sample:
"Pastor" Lucado uses an acronym to develop a response plan: CALM. (You can review the article; I won’t bother to reproduce it here.)
It’s not that he teaches error; in fact, what he wrote is true IF ONE UNDERSTANDS THE TRUE CONTEXT OF THE VERSES HE CITES!
And therein lies the problem: what Mr. Lucado implies, in an article published nationally, is that the Bible texts he cites apply indiscriminately to all—even to those whose ignore the LORD, hold His word in contempt and live their lives as if the truths of the blessing of the Scriptures applied to them and that there is no coming day of judgment.
Pastor Lucado: the promises you cite don’t apply to America at large!
They apply exclusively to those who are His faithful people. If you think that America is a “Christian” nation, then you are hopelessly naïve and should probably step down from the pulpit because you don't recognize what is true in contrast to what is false.
When you present the blessings and promises of the Bible without their proper context you mislead people, with the result that when His promises appear to fail—and they will, specifically with the peoples to whom the promises were never made in the first place—they will continue to discount His word because of you. (Rom 2.23-24)
You were given a national platform to share the truth of the Word of God and His dealing with mankind in this implicit call to repentance via the global affliction of the virus.
Pastor Lucado: you buckled. Shame on you: you put a humanistic "spin" on this national event when you should have used your platform to call for repentance.
There is no other way to put this: you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
America: wake up and repent before the LORD destroys our nation.
You substitute useless stories, coffee and donut bars, sermons about popular movies, flashy audio/visual effects, bands indistinguishable from rock bands, classes on the martial arts and myriad other nonsense. You host "traditional" and "contemporary" music styles, thus dividing your "congregation".
You seek to build mega-churches instead of doctrinally sound churches. You conflate "fellowship" with Bible-based unity. The vast majority of your "congregations" couldn't define sound doctrine if their life depended on it.
In short, you've developed your own humanistic definition and implementation of the NT church. It's no wonder that America has no moral compass: the "compass keepers" both are ignorant of the Bible they claim to believe and AWOL from their duties.
(I hope to develop this point in a future article.)