Summary: Why? Why would a loving God allow this to happen, we have choices to make either we remain where we are lost in the past, or fearful of the future. But there may be another way there may be another choice...one of serving God...
Prior to reading this sermon it is worth noting that a gentleman by the name of Ken Ring (the moon man) is forecasting an earthquake for Christchurch of around 8 on the Richter scale two days either side of the 20th of March, though he has already amended this prediction it has put a huge weight of fear into the people of Christchurch, fifty thousand left town over the weekend, to add to the seventy thousand who have left since the 22nd of February, this out of an approximate population of four hundred thousand. Last night there was an aftershock of 5.1.
I write this note on the 21st of March.
Why? Delivered 20th March 2011, scripture passage Joshua 24:14-15
The question has been asked a lot this month, why the earthquake, why the disaster in Japan, that makes the devastation of Christchurch, …why would God allow any of this why would a loving God allow any of this, why if Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins - why didn’t he prevent all these things, all this pain?
I heard someone say this week that, “God must have been really angry on the 22nd of February”.
I found myself asking, would he have been and why?
There have been some prophets of doom that have said that the Christchurch earthquake was brought about by our sin; by the sinful people of Christchurch and that God has a plan to bring us back to him. There was even a cult who flew out here from Germany to inform us of our sinful ways… after the fact, I would like to state right now that we should test the spirits of those who claim to speak for God. You should continue to test all preaching including my preaching; does it align with scripture, is it sound doctrinally. In Paul’s letter to Titus he tells Titus “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). The truth of the matter is that ‘yes’ we are sinful, ‘yes’ our city has its fair share of sinful going on’s, I think that we would probably rate along with other cities as having our seedier side.
The prophets of doom are correct in one regard in that ‘God has a plan to bring us back to him’, the rest, but I find it hard to find any sense in ‘after the fact prophecy’. If these prophets had something to say, how come they didn’t warn people of their sinfulness prior to the big shake up? These people aren’t real prophets. What is a prophet of God?
1) Think about this God in his plans for the Old Testament people of Israel had massive plans for them. As we study the scriptures we quickly discover that he wanted them to be ‘witnesses and magnets’ that would attract all the peoples of the world to Him. That people would see His Glory and His Holiness through the lives of those people and live together with them in harmony under God.
God consistently guided them; consistently lead them through his Holy Spirit anointed representatives, leaders, and prophets. He warned them of repercussions if they failed to obey his commands, the commands that kept them safe and walking a path that gave abundant life and was a witness to the rest of the world. Prophets forth told warning about sin and life style more than they foretold the future. God worked in a particular way.
2) Always the pattern was Sin, Judgement, Grace. Like a shepherd bringing his flock into line, people sinned; God judged the sin, the people returned to God, sometimes by force of suffering and found safety within his fold. One of the best examples of finding safety in God is Psalm 23. “The Lords my shepherd, I shall not want.”
David knew what it was like to be cared for by God, to be under his shepherding and guidance. Some times the people of Israel were corrected by God, always with a warning to return to him, always with the proviso that if they did they would be spared suffering. We even have an example of the people of Nineveh where we see this frightened character Jonah sent to warn these wicked people to turn from their sins. These people who practised witchcraft, prostitution, war and even plotted evil against God, but God out of concern for these people sent them a warning…they turned from their sins. Read the story of Jonah and you will see that God has compassion and concern for all people believers and non believers alike.
3) Back to the why questions: this from Wikipedia: In the first eighty years of European settlement in Christchurch (1850–1930), four earthquakes caused significant damage, the last of them occurring in 1922 at Motunau.