Wars and Earthquakes

Posted on October 26, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Rankin Connecting

Another massive earthquake has occurred, this time in Eastern Turkey, only to be followed by one in Northern India. In spite of these isolated locations in restricted access countries, Baptist Global Response is there. BGR serves the International Mission Board and Southern Baptists as a humanitarian organization, recognized by governments around the world. With the donations of Southern Baptists BGR is able to mobilize workers and volunteers to make an immediate impact on relief efforts. Check it out at www.gobgr.org.

It seems earthquakes are becoming more frequent and more destructive. The greatest national disaster in modern history occurred in 2004 when an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia triggered a tsunami that claimed 230,000 lives in eight countries. Massive destruction hit Haiti and then Chile in just the last couple of years, and then there was the tragic tsunami just months ago from which Japan is yet to recover.

Earthquakes were something we learned to live with in Indonesia. This archipelago of volcanic islands is located on what geologist call “the ring of fire.” There is at least one active volcano spewing ash and lava all the time. Meteorologists reported 600 earthquakes a year when we lived on Java, mostly small tremors we never felt, but some that were quite severe and alarming. We are used to hearing of earthquake tremors on the West Coast of the U.S., but this year the unusual occurrence of one in Virginia left cracks in the Washington Monument.

These natural disasters along with the proclivity of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and famine seem to be more frequent and more severe than what we have known in the past. As if that were not tragic enough, it often seems the whole world is embroiled in warfare as some level. Wars used to be between alliances of nations and global powers who fought for valued ideologies and freedom. But now ethnic clashes are unending among African tribal groups; ethnic animosity within countries flare up in battles that continue sporadically for generations.

Fighting has stopped but tensions remain among the Serbs and Bosnians and Kosovars in South Central Europe; the Taliban are really the Pushtu trying to dominate the Dari, Hazara and other people groups in Afghanistan. Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, but what He literally said was “ethnos” against “ethnos”–ethnic groups in conflict with one another.

But would this signal the end of time? That was the context of Jesusʼ reference in Matthew 24. While all that we are experiencing seems to be the “whole creation groaning” for redemption (Rom. 8:22). Jesus said, however, these events do not reveal His coming again and the end of the age. It is amazing how people seemed to be obsessed with eschatology and interpreting global events into prophecy. Even this year the end of the world has been predicted twice.

The most explicit reference to when that time will occur is the statement of Jesus in Matthew 24:14, “The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” That has not yet happened; in fact, it is a long way from happening with 3,800 people groups (nations) who have yet to be engaged with a gospel witness.

This is the point a parallel conversation between Jesus and His disciples on this subject at the time of His ascension. When asked when He would return, Jesus said His disciples–and followers today–are not to know the times or seasons, but were to be His witness to the ends of the earth. That is to be our commitment and focus. Each time there is an earthquake and the news of ongoing wars, we should be reminded that multitudes of people are dying in these tragic disasters who have never had an opportunity to know of Godʼs love and the salvation He has provided in Jesus Christ. Embracing the nations and getting the gospel to the ends of the earth is to be our concern and priority.

One Comment on “Wars and Earthquakes”

  1. Josiah

    Good post! I agree. We need to focus on task at hand of every nation and have compassion on those going through events. Too many times I have seen a perverse joy in believers at the the tragedies of the day thinking that they were a sign of His coming.

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