I wrote this blog in Canada. I left the Philippines the morning of the day that Typhoon “Yolanda” struck. My heart was very saddened by the humanitarian crisis that began in Tacloban, Ormoc, and the surrounding areas. The pictures are hard to look at, especially when you realize these are people just like us…with husbands, wives, and children. And for many, all is lost.
What caught my attention is the comments of many Filipinos here. The first reaction of many is that this is God’s judgment on the Philippines. A couple of days ago I received an email from one of our members with a link to a prophecy made by someone in a conference in Manila about coming judgments upon the Philippines for various reasons, even listing the various islands and what would happen. This prophet says judgment is inevitable unless the Filipino people repent. I should add that the prophecies are vague enough that any one of our natural disasters could be construed as their fulfillment.
These are not the first time I’ve heard these voices of judgment. Frankly, this disturbs me. I do not believe these disasters have anything to do with the judgment of God. This is a misunderstanding of God’s nature and His ways.
First of all, we need to understand some things about the Philippines.
The Philippines is part of the group of countries that are situated on the so-called “ring of fire”. This is an area where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. It is a 40,000 km horseshoe shaped landmass that is associated with a nearly continuous series of volcanic belts and/or plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes and is home to over 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes.
About 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 81% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire. The ring runs right through the Philippines. Naturally then we will have more volcanoes and earthquakes than many other countries. The Philippines has 37 volcanoes of which 18 are listed as still active.
Secondly, the Philippines is an archipelago in the middle of the Pacific ocean with no land barriers between us and the storms that form. These storms are increasing in intensity. Some scientists think this is due to world global change. One article says, “Menacingly, the Filipino typhoons are getting stronger and stronger, especially since the ’90s. From 1947 to 1960, the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines was Typhoon Amy in December 1951 in Cebu. From 1961 to 1980, Typhoon Sening was the record-holder. During the next 20 years, the highest wind speed was recorded by Anding and Rosing. Since 2000, the highest wind speed was recorded by Reming in November-December 2006. The maximum wind speeds have slowly increased. If this is due to climate change, we better be prepared for even stronger ones in the future.
We have 20 to 30 storms a year. This year we’ve had 24 already and 2-3 more expected. The simple law of averages say with this number of storms, damage is going to happen! Most homes here are not built to withstand this. Many people live by the seashore. Those two facts alone dictate that lives will be lost and homes destroyed. It is not the judgment of God- IT’S WEATHER!
Do we really believe that repentance is going to remove the country from the ring of fire or change the entire climate of the Pacific?
If this is God’s judgment, why the Philippines? Of all nations in Asia, the people of the Philippines have embraced the Lordship of Jesus far more than almost any other nation in Asia. Millions have come to Christ. We are no longer considered a mission field; we are now considered a mission force. The gospel is freely preached and received here. Yet we get more disasters than the Buddhist, Hindu, and atheist countries of Asia.
True, we have much corruption and false religion. Yet we have also had great revival. God has poured out His Spirit on this country in a phenomenal way. Is God so confused He would pour out His Spirit upon us and then in the next breath judge us?
Is there sin here? Oh yes, there is. Sin abounds in every nation of the world. Even America (which has been the choice destination of Filipinos) has significant government corruption and sin. Freedoms are eroding. Religious persecution of Christians is increasing. God has been taken out of schools and courts. Hollywood spews out vile movies and lifestyles that corrupt the whole world. Yet this year the hurricane season in the USA was one of the lowest in recent years. They do not suffer the amount of natural disasters that the Philippines does.
If we are going to see the judgment of God through natural calamities, I am not convinced. Unless these things happen in places that do not naturally have disasters, I believe it is due to location and global warming, not God’s punishment.
Take it a step further. If God is speaking through various prophets, then let the prophets set the date and intensity of these storms. Surely God knows! And if He is speaking, He is quite able to predict the date, time and exact location.
Let God do something that declares His word as prophetic. Let there be a prophesy that defines a happening or possible judgment with something that is highly unusual. If God wants to get the attention of people let him bring snow down on Manila or freezing temperature on Davao or some other uncharacteristic climactic occurrence. Then all eyes would be on God!
However, storms or volcanoes or earthquakes are normal fare for us here. I do not believe they are signs of judgment. I am not saying that God does not speak through naturel disasters. I am not saying that people’s attention does not shift towards God in times like this. I am not saying God is nowhere involved. I am saying this is not Judgment day.
The question in my mind is, “Where does this thinking come from?”
Some of it is deeply rooted in the religious roots of the Philippines. Here, as in most of the world’s religions are based upon works. There is a sense of cause and effect. It goes like this: “If anything goes wrong, it is a result of my wrong actions.” But this is faulty thinking. We do believe in the law of reaping and sowing, but not everything that happens is a reaping. What did Jesus do to reap his treatment? What did Paul or Peter do to reap their suffering?
This “personal works-judgment” belief is pure superstition. It is not rooted in Scripture or in prophetic word. It causes people to assume that every negative experience is somehow connected to their action. So if my wallet is stolen, (which has happened many times!) does that mean I must have done something to deserve it? If I am sick, is it because I missed church on Sunday or I didn’t preach what I was supposed to preach?
This is the day of grace. Judgment is not now. It is coming- and God will judge the nations as well as the individuals. No one will escape. But we are still in the day of God’s grace.
As a Christian, when disaster strikes, what should be our response?
• First, seek God for His will, His voice, His purpose in the situation. Pointing fingers is not helpful.
• Second, get involved as a caring Christian and citizen. Do what you can for whomever you can.
• Third, never miss an opportunity to preach the Gospel and the love of Jesus through deeds and words. People always need the Lord.
• Fourth, be a person of hope. Spread hope, faith and a positive message. God can and will make a way where there is no way. When tragedy strikes, discipline yourself to be a man and woman of God, pick up the Lord’s message and be an instrument In God’s hands.
• Fifth, pray. Pray for the people, pray for God’s intervention, pray for salvation and deliverance, pray for supernatural provision.
• Sixth, expect good to come. By good, I mean expect God to be glorified. Especially pray for the believers affected by tragedy. They are our family and to them we have an obligation.
BE JESUS TO SOMEONE TODAY…BE POSITIVE…BE HOPEFUL!