Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Recent events in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast have resulted in predictable claims that the city and/or the USA had come under the judgement of God. These claims came from diverse sources. Some Christians have joined in agreement with Al Quaeda in their views regarding the source of Hurricane Katrina. Regardless of the unliklihood of this "alliance", I find the claims to be disturbing. Not because I think God has no right to judge and punish unrighteousness; but because I know, that by His grace He has chosen a different way. Through the Lord Jesus Christ He has made a way for us to avoid the punishment we deserve because of our unrighteousness.

So what do we make of disasters such as Katrina? I believe that Paul gives us a clue in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 8:
19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

Jesus used similar imagery when He described the signs that would precede His return.

Matthew 24 (Amplified)
5 For many will come in (on the strength of) My name [ appropriating the name which belongs to Me], saying, I am the Christ (the Messiah), and they will lead many astray.
6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place;
8 All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish].

The time of the birth pains has been here for some time. The pains are being felt throughout the world. That means things will get worse as ungodly and unrighteous acts increase; and as natural disasters increase (due to human exploitation of the earth).

These added pressures will cause greater conflict between the believer and the unbeliever. Then conflict will arise between believers. At no other time will it be MORE important to make sure we are GOOD soil for the word of the gospel, to make sure we don't fall away. At no other time has it been more important that we know our God rather than knowing Religion. Those who cling to religion will turn further away from the Lord, and will join the world in persecuting the believers, justifying their acts with a religious veneer. Some will see themselves as serving GOD as they turn on the true believers. Look to the past for a pale imitation of what lies ahead. Look to those times when the judgmental attempted to pre-empt God by taking it upon themselves to determine who needed to experience God's wrath. The days of Inquisitions will be nothing compared with the Great tribulation experienced by the Lord's saints.

Matt 24
9 Then they will hand you over to suffer affliction and tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.
10 And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred.
11 And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error.
12 And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity,
13 But he who endures to the end will be saved.
14 And this good news of the kingdom (the Gospel) will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end.

For those believing that the Great tribulation is God's judgement on the world after the rapture - prepare to be disappointed. Use the Lord's own words in Matthew 24 as your starting point for studying "end-time" prophecy. The great tribulation is directed AT the church by the unbelievers. God's wrath against the world is His response, delivering His vengeance on behalf of those who are persecuted and martyred, and comes after the tribulation.

Matt 24:
21 For then there will be great tribulation (affliction, distress, and oppression) such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now--no, and never will be [again].
22 And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would endure and survive, but for the sake of the elect (God's chosen ones) those days will be shortened.

Rev 6:
9 When the Lamb broke open the fifth seal, I saw at the foot of the altar the souls of those whose lives had been sacrificed for [adhering to] the Word of God and for the testimony they had borne.
10 They cried in a loud voice, O [Sovereign] Lord, holy and true, how long now before You will sit in judgment and avenge our blood upon those who dwell on the earth?
11 Then they were each given a long and flowing and festive white robe and told to rest and wait patiently a little while longer, until the number should be complete of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

God's wrath is the outpouring of punishment after a judgement of guilt has been made.
I have seen a false idea of judgement being held by believers, presupposing guilt. Judgement itself is the act of determining guilt or innocence. It is not the resulting punishment. We will ALL face judgement. Not all will face God's wrath.

As far as I can see, God's wrath under the New Covenant, is reserved for unbelievers AFTER death, when they will be sentenced to the second death. And also for those responsible for the persecution of Christians during the Great tribulation. Therefore God's wrath upon the living is reserved until AFTER the time of tribulation has been completed, when the full "quota" of martyrs has been fulfilled.