CREATION GROANS

Several years ago I was on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida’s panhandle near Pensacola.  It was right after Hurricane Andrew and we had driven out to Santa Rosa Island.  In my opinion they should not even call these gulf islands; ‘islands’.  They are nothing more than sandbars sitting in the path of Hurricane Alley.  In the wake of Andrew the ‘island’ had moved 10-15 meters north.  The houses that survived were now standing in the water.  They had hired earth movers to bring the sand back to the windward side of the island.

Spotting a man cleaning up his rubble I asked him if he was going to rebuild his house.  “Of course, this is my home and I am not leaving.  This is the third time I have lost it in 15 years and I am not moving.”  Well, give the man full points for stubbornness, zero for sensibility.  The house next door had disappeared completely and the lot was for sale.  “How much for this vacant lot?” I queried. “$400,000,”  He replied.  “Is that with or without the beach?” (Now on the other side of the island.) I asked in a sort of smart alecky kind of way.  “Without,” he explained, “you have to bring back the sand yourself.”  I will leave my opinions as to what I think of building homes on sandbars or below sea level to your imagination.

It seems like almost every week some devastating occurrence happens somewhere in the world …earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, cyclones, volcanoes.  The latest of course, being the incredible earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan.  The images of vehicles and buildings being tossed casually against the shoreline like they were nothing more than little plastic toys was shocking to say the least and of course heart wrenching when considering the loss of human life.

If it seems like these kinds of natural disasters are becoming more frequent, that is because they are.  Hollywood has picked up on it and they continue to make apocalyptic disaster movies like, The Day After Tomorrow, Volcano, Flood and 2012.  They seem to think the earth is going to end in a bang not a whimper.  Even a casual read through the book of Revelation will reveal that on this one they got it right.

So what is going on in these days which we are living?  The Apostle Paul gives us an important clue.  “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” (Romans 8:22)  These increasing natural disasters are the planet itself groaning and travailing in anticipation of the end.  We often think of the earth as a inanimate object, nothing more than a collection of elements brought together by time and chance.  Not so.  There is something dynamic, arguably personified about our planet.  Paul explains that creation itself is restless and is waiting for God’s people to be revealed in the purpose for which we were created; to worship Him. “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19-21)

In the book of Leviticus God gave his people a list of abominable behaviour.  Things like bestiality, homosexuality, incest, etc.  Some of which we consider normal today.  He warned them saying to avoid them… “lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” (Leviticus 18:28)  Again the earth is personified and seems to care how we live.  This is about the point where some will react and say, ‘are you trying to say that these innocent people are bringing natural disasters on themselves?’  No, I don’t think that would be helpful to say at all.  If that is the case Hollywood should have been hit with the ‘big one’ a long time ago.  I prefer the way Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz put it after 9/11 when she was  asked where God was in all of it.  She graciously responded;

I would say also for several years now Americans in a sense have shaken their fist at God and said, God, we want you out of our schools, our government, our business, we want you out of our marketplace. And God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, our public life. Removing his hand of blessing and protection. We need to turn to God first of all and say, God, we’re sorry we have treated you this way and we invite you now to come into our national life.”

Lotz was correct.  That is exactly what the scripture requires.  “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” Abraham Lincoln put it another way.  “I fear for my nation when I remember that God is just.” Yup, me too.

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10 Responses to CREATION GROANS

  1. Charis says:

    Hey Pastor Mark, we didn’t get to service this a.m so I watched some sermons on TV, including yours on the end of the age. I’ve been brought up in the pre-trib rapture belief. It’s widely agreed that the Tribulation will be a 7 year time period, broken into two distinct 3.5 year chunks. I’ve done many a study on the topic; Jesus and Paul definitely emphasize the fact that God’s timing of when this deal kicks off will be unknown to us. So it doesn’t make sense to me that Christ followers will be around for the tribulation; once it gets rolling, the tribulation itself does follow a timeline, thereby removing any mystery for us about when/if we’ll be taken. Scripture’s desctriptive language leads me to believe there will be an event where Christ followers will be gone. All that aside though, it’s really irrelevant when we think God’s going to get this ball rolling. The bible absolutely can’t be disputed or misinterpreted on the fact that only God knows His timeline. Therefore, I think we’d all be wise and prudent to witness to people and make sure our own personal relationships with Christ are fruitful, healthy and thriving, and trust God to handle His own schedule. I’m not advocating sticking our heads in the sand and not seeking God’s wisdom and knowledge, just emphasizing that we need to keep the main thing the main thing; the health of our individual relationships with Christ, and being able to effectively share Him with others. I appreciated your message this a.m, thank you for doing what God’s asked you to.

  2. Betty says:

    Very good,Pastor Mark.
    I ask myself, what is it, or why do so many people want to live more or less, on top of the water, when they know, how powerful the water is?

    What a devastating experience, that must be, for those people in Japan,the way those powerful waves,come unto the land,it sure makes everything in a big city look very small, like toys, that are being played with, which reminded me of how incredibly big and powerful our God really is, and yet He Loves us just as incredibly much.
    Someone once said to me,”Even the weather wants Jesus to come back” [to take His children home].

  3. Karen says:

    I’m teaching in Mexico and religion is very important. My middle school students asked for a moment to pray for those in Japan. Everyone attends church regularly. Although the predominant church here is Catholic, I did find an Evangelist church here. But it is quite far from where I live and the congregants all seem to live on the other side of the city where the church is. I do watch an Evangelist from LA on tv, and of course I tune in to the Church of the Rock regularly on the web.
    Thank you Pastor Mark for keeping me in touch with my brothers and sisters back home.

  4. Evelyn Bennett says:

    Thank you for the history tragedy lesson Pastor Mark.

    Does this also apply to the New Zealand and Japan tragedies?

    I have an intuitive feeling that this century is in for alot of hurt

  5. Jane says:

    Pastor Mark I like that you asked everone to read Revelation to aid us in understanding your next few sermons. Your last 2 sermons and the last 2 blogs fit well together. If Christians will read Daniel they will find it goes hand in glove with Revelation. In the last 2 thousand years we’ve had so many natural and man made disasters I’m sure each in turn has thought this is it, the end, but never before have we had the ability to wipe ourselves off the face of the earth, and in so many interesting ways. Nuclear bombs, lab made chemicals, bacteria, viruses. God won’t let us go that far but not because he isn’t angry. Maybe God is not at work, but I sort of think he is. If that’s so we will all soon be waist deep in our own troubles. Not only have we taken God out of our national institutions, but we have little room for him in our personal lives. Most would rather watch TV than spend time studying Gods word. Most of us are Biblical illiterates. Does anyone wonder why God is going to destroy so much of the earth and mankind. It isn’t because he’s bored with nothing better to do. The bible is hardly recognizable with what most churchs teach, To know God we need to read his word. To know what is in our future we need to read his word. Good work Pastor Mark

  6. Victoria says:

    I avoid the news and television coverage if I can because I can’t handle watching what is happening. I get physically sick…my throat closes up and the anxiety I already have gets worse.
    I guess I just tell myself that it is in Gods hands and I leave it up to him and trust that what ever is meant to be is meant to be.
    I am dealing with enough disaster in my personal life currently, that I am totally distracted.
    I ask for your prayers as I am suffering financially,as my bank account keep becoming drained by someone before I have a chance to pay my basic living expenses.I do not know what to do…
    God Bless

  7. David Gentel says:

    Hi, Pastor Mark. “These increasing natural disasters are the planet itself groaning and travailing in anticipation of the end.” I agree. When Al Gore’s was doing his “Live Earth” programs in July 2007 I accompanied a group of Christian teenager who were attending in Rio. The kids wanted to stand out & be a testimony for the Lord so they decided to make picket signs depicting messages relative to what was going on. Romans 8:22 was one of the verses chosen. It was in English on one side & Portuguese on the other. Of all the signs, this was the one that got the most attention. It’s a very appropriate verse to what we are seeing today.
    I agree with Anne “And God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out …. Removing his hand of blessing and protection.” I often tell my kids that, “the ‘Judgments of God’ are a bit like me telling you that if you don’t take an umbrella you’re going to get wet. If you don’t have the protection you’re going to have problems.” I spent 16 years in Japan doing missionary work, from Hokkaido to Okinawa and I must say that at the time the Sendai area was, as we termed it, “unsheepy”, and officially restrictive to our witnessing activities. I visited nearly every city in Tohoku, from Aizawakamatsu to Aomori, and from Kanazawa to Mizawa conducting evangelistic activities and Sendai was the only one that limited us or put restrictions on where we could witness and distribute literature.
    Back in 1975 when my colleagues first arrived in Sendai from the States, the police pulled them off the streets and told them that they could not conduct their activities in Sendai city. One of the team, Mike was a 6 foot blond haired, blue eyed “uchuujin” as far as they were concerned. Uchuujin is E.T. in Japanese. He’s a very tender hearted fellow that really loves the Lord and the Japanese, so when the Police Chief told him this, tears welled up in his eyes and he said to the chief struggling in his new language, “But I’ve come all the way from the US to tell people about Jesus.” With the tears now rolling down his cheeks he continued, “Please let us stay!” The poor Police Chief wasn’t ready for this. Here’s this strange looking giant crying in his office, what could he do but give them permission to witness in their city. So, “with tongues, (in this case Japanese), and weeping” our team got permission to preach the gospel in Sendai, but only in a few places and with definite “no go” areas. Later we learned that Sendai historically had been quite hostile to Christianity.
    Let’s pray that, as these precious souls begin to build new lives on the rubble and ruin of disaster, they can find the true foundation that we have built our lives on, and that those who feel called to help in this area can be effective. Please pray for my friends that are involved. http://www.facebook.com/OGAFORAID#!/OGAFORAID and http://helpjapan2011.net/?lang=en
    Your Brother in Christ,
    David

  8. Jasmine says:

    I live in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and even though we’re long overdue for a “Big One” I highly doubt that most of us have prepared ourselves physically, mentally, financially or spiritually for such a disaster. I don’t know what we would do if we happened to survive an earthquake but then didn’t have access to food, shelter, clean water, electricity, any means of communication, medical care, etc.

    I commute to work every day, so would I be able to cope emotionally if it happened while I was at work and my kids were at school in a different city? I would want to get to my kids to make sure they’re allright, but if transit were out of service how would I do that?

    And I see that even though it has been more than a year since the earthquake in Haiti, people are still living in makeshift tents and fighting life-threatening diseases. Am I capable of living in those kinds of conditions? I have a newfound respect for the people who live on the streets here, because they have learned how to live with less and they have learned to survive without all the luxuries we take for granted.

  9. Victoria says:

    Amos 5:18

    Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord!
    Why do you long for the day of the Lord?
    That day will be darkness, not light.
    It will be as though a man fled from a lion
    only to meet a bear.

    As though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him.

    Will not the day of the Lord be darkness,not light
    -pitch-dark,without a ray of brightness?”says the Lord,whose name is God Almighty.

    I often wonder the same thing….

  10. Delilah McGinnis says:

    Thank you for speaking on such real and relevant issues Pastor Mark. My heart groans all day long as I watch the end times unfolding and not a lot of pastors are talking about it. It is frustrating to me to watch the world walking around with their blinders on and oblivious to what is actually going on and the timeline we are facing. God Bless you and give you wisdom during these times and please don’t stop talking about Jesus and His soon return! Praise His Holy Name!! In Jesus of Nazareth, Delilah

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