Wrong Ideas: Sudden Catastrophies

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
There exists in the popular mind an impression that sudden catastrophes are God's righteous judgment on those who are the victims of them; or, in other words, that it would not have happened had there not been a very good reason for it, unknown perhaps to us, but well known to God. This is, as far as my observation goes, a popular mistake, and a mistake of very ancient origin, and, as I hope to show, a most mischievous one, taking its spring from the devil. I find its existence in what men say is almost the earliest book of the Bible—the book of Job 1 find it re-appearing in the day the Lord Jesus walked this earth; and you, I doubt not, have encountered it in the present age. You have read the sorrows of Job, that saint of patriarchal days. His oxen, his asses, his sheep, his camels, his servants, and his children alike, almost in a moment, were removed from him; and his body likewise became the subject of a sore disease (Job 1:22And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. (Job 1:2)). You have heard from your childhood of Job's comforters, and perhaps have understood the drift of their arguments. They are an illustration of what I have said as to the popular idea that calamities are the consequence of the concealed or open wickedness of those upon whom they fall. One after another they accuse Job of wickedness. See what Eliphaz says (chap. 4:7, 8; 15: 4, 6; 22:5-23); Bildad (chap. 8:6-20; 18:21); Zophar (11:614; 20:5-19).
Job was in reality more righteous than they, for God had said of him what He never said of them, "Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth [He does not say, in heaven], a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" Chap. 1:8.
But Job's friends, taking advantage of his misfortunes, assumed that his trials were the result of hypocrisy and wickedness, and in calumny sat in judgment on him. Their Pharisaic "Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou" (Isa. 65:66Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom, (Isaiah 65:6)) did not, however, escape the righteous judgment of God. His wrath was kindled against them, and a sacrifice only availed them to escape being dealt with for their folly (chap. 42:7, 9). They had mistaken the ways of God. He was not at that time openly governing the earth, or avenging Himself on the wicked, or they, even more severely than Job, would have suffered. He was then, as now, allowing wickedness to pass on (save, of course, in His children), gradually ripening for the day of judgment, when each and all shall receive the fruit of their doings.
A similar mistake would seem to have been made by those who, in Luke 13:11There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. (Luke 13:1), told Jesus "of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices." His answer detects and exposes the current of their thoughts, and applies, as ever was His custom, the moral teaching to their consciences. "I tell you,... except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Occupation with the fate of others had led them to take the eye off themselves, in the mistaken notion that the Galileans' sins had provoked their judgment; but the Lord's words recall to them the necessity of taking the beam out of their own eye before they presumed to cast the mote out of their brother's eye (Matt. 7:11Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Matthew 7:1)
Jesus said, "Repent," or, in other words, judge yourself in the presence of God. You have perhaps measured yourself with your fellows and found yourself better than they. This may be possible and probable; but have you measured yourself with God? Have you ever thought how these little sins that are as nothing in the eye of man are glaring and flagrant in the eye of the One who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look upon iniquity (Hab. 1:1313Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he? (Habakkuk 1:13))? Comeliness before man is but corruption in the presence of God (Dan. 10:88Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. (Daniel 10:8)); and even the one that was perfect and upright, so that there was none like him in all the earth, abhorred himself and repented in dust and ashes, confessing himself vile when he came to measure himself with God (Job 42:55I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. (Job 42:5),
The reception of the glad tidings gives peace with God, present access into the favor of God, and the hope of future glory (Rom. 5:1, 21Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1‑2)). If you simply as a convicted sinner receive the message sent you by God, the testimony of the Holy Ghost that Jesus was delivered for your offenses, and raised again for your justification, you have the witness of the word of the living God for it that all your sins are forgiven, you are accepted with God, and are an heir of God, a joint heir with Christ (Acts 13:38, 3938Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38‑39); Rom. 8:1717And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:17)). Now do not turn aside and say, It is too easy; there is more than this required. God requires nothing from you but simply to believe on His Son as your own Savior—not merely to believe about Him, but on Him as the One who died for you. Will you not, then, even now believe with your heart unto righteousness, and make confession with your mouth unto salvation (Rom. 10:1010For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:10))? Do not suffer Satan to persuade you that you must feel it. "He that believeth [not he that feeleth] on the Son hath everlasting life." John 3:3636He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36).