Summary: Sermon the week after the earthquake in Nepal in April 2015. Does God cause all earthquakes or are some just the result of an aging world in a death spiral? How does a Christian respond to 6,000 deaths in one disaster?
When I was in my 20’s I worked with a man in his 50’s. I thought he was old but he was in great health until he fell backwards on ice, hit his head and died instantly. We were shocked at the loss of Bob.
Last Saturday, April 24, 2015, there was a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Nepal.
Here are a few photos of the devastation.
The death toll is over 6,000 and could reach 10,000. Many have not even given it a second thought. Do you realize that 5,950 is the total population of the Village of Arcade and Town of Yorkshire? Just try to imagine something coming through here and in just a few moments 5,500 out of 5,950 residents are dead! Gone! With 450 left to sift through looking for survivors.
Some of the survivors would be shaking their fist at the sky and screaming at God in anger.
Others would be saying, “Thank God, I made it out alive.”
Some might be saying, “If only I could have died in the place of my wife or son or daughter or mom or dad.”
Some would be looting buildings for things that weren’t destroyed.
Some might even say, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”
What about earthquakes? Does God always cause earthquakes?
Did you know that insurance companies think so?
Act of God
n. a natural catastrophe which no one can prevent such as an earthquake, a tidal wave, a volcanic eruption, or a tornado. Acts of God are significant for two reasons: 1) for the havoc and damage they wreak, and 2) because often contracts state that "acts of God" are an excuse for delay or failure to fulfill a commitment or to complete a construction project. Many insurance policies exempt coverage for damage caused by acts of God, which is one time an insurance company gets religion. At times disputes arise as to whether a violent storm or other disaster was an act of God (and therefore exempt from a claim) or a foreseeable natural event. God knows the answer!
But, setting insurance companies aside, what does the Bible say?
Well, God does at times cause earthquakes …
In 1 Kings 19 the Lord is giving a demonstration to Elijah who is running from Jezebel.
“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’
“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.
“After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
“Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”
Now if you want to know the rest of the conversation you’re just going to have to dig out your Bibles, find 1 Kings 19 and read it for yourself. BUT NOT NOW!!! ;-)
We see God causing earthquakes at the most significant events in human history; at the crucifixion of Jesus and at the resurrection of Jesus on the third day after His crucifixion.
Matthew 24:50-51, 54
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split”
“When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely He was the Son of God!’”
“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
“There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.”
An earthquake was even used by God to bring about a very unusual release from prison for Paul and Silas which resulted in the salvation of the jailer and his family!
But what about regular earthquakes? Does God cause them all?
“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.”
Romans 8:20-22 says,
“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the One who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.