|Volume 22 Number 7 July 2020||
Many if not all of us have heard passages virtually all our Christian lives taken out of context to make a point in a sermon or a class lesson. Sometimes passages are not read in complete context. When this happens, we are left with spiritual misunderstanding and perhaps the inability to rightly divide the word of truth. At times, this misunderstanding becomes solidified in our thinking and becomes difficult if not impossible to change. It is like trying to pull a tooth that is not loose! Case in point, speaking of Himself in Isaiah 45:7, God said, “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.”
Such a stark biblical concept begs the question, “Why would a loving, all-caring Father bring calamity on anybody for any reason?” It falls into the same category as why would a loving, all-caring Father allow suffering? The short answer is sin. Why do we suffer calamities? Calamities are defined as disasters, catastrophes, casualties, adversities, tragedies and shocks. We suffer calamities because of the sin of disobedience by turning away from God in numerous ways!
King Ahab was one of the vilest kings in the northern kingdom of Israel. He was married to Jezebel, the evilest, appalling and most horrifying woman depicted in Scripture! She had a totally innocent man murdered because he refused to sell his family vineyard to Ahab (1 Kings 21:1-13). God sent His prophet Elijah to tell Ahab that he was about to reap what he had sown. In 1 Kings 21:20-21, Elijah gave Ahab this message from God, “…I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the LORD: Behold, I will bring calamity on you, I will take away your posterity, and will cut off from Ahab every male in Israel, both bond and free. I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam…because of the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger and made Israel sin.” Verses 27-29 read, “So it was, when Ahab heard those words, that he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his body, and fasted and lay in sackcloth, and went about mourning. And the word of the LORD came to Elijah…saying, ’See how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the calamity in his days. In the days of his son I will bring the calamity on his house.’”
King Josiah was a good king who reigned in Jerusalem for 31 years. The Book of the Law was found, and it happened when the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes. “Thus says the LORD; ‘Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants—all the words of the Book which the king of Judah has read—because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore, My wrath shall be aroused against this place and shall not be quenched’” (2 Kings 22:16-17).
King Josiah of Judah, because his heart was tender, humbled himself before the LORD when he heard what God had spoken against that place and its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse. The king wept and tore his clothes, and the LORD also heard him. Therefore, the LORD said, “Surely, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place” (2 Kings 22:19-20).
After the completion of the building of the Temple, God appeared to Solomon and told him when He shut up heaven and there was no rain or He commanded the locusts to devour the land or when He would send pestilence among the people, if His people would humble themselves, pray and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, then He would hear from Heaven, and would forgive their sin and heal their land.
However, if they turned away and forsook His statutes and His commandments and went and served other gods and worshipped them, then He would uproot them from the land He had given them. The house that had been sanctified for His name He would cast them out of His sight and would make it a proverb and a byword among all the people. God further told them that everyone passing by would be astonished and say, “Why has the LORD done thus to this land and this house? Then they will answer, ‘Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and embraced other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this calamity on them’” (2 Chronicles 7:19-22).
God is Sovereign over all the earth, and He wants us all to know that. We dare not toy with God and incur His wrath! Perhaps sometimes, God allows calamities to gain our attention. Perhaps sometimes, God allows calamities to redirect our focus from self to Him so that we can better serve Him and others. At the end of every day and every night, this is still all about Him. God reigns!
A Balanced View of God
In Exodus 7-12, we read about the plagues that God sent throughout all of Egypt because of the stubbornness of Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. Many skeptics might read about this account and wonder, “How could a loving God destroy His own creation (Colossians 1:16)?“ More often than not, God is misunderstood as the God Who wants to condemn people as soon as they mess up. However, in Exodus 34, we get an accurate image of Who God is. He is a compassionate and gracious God Who is slow to anger and abounds in faithful love and truth, willing to forgive every one of his or her iniquities, but He will not let the guilty go unpunished (Exodus 34:6-7). Just like any good father would, God rebukes those whom He loves when they do wrong (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6). He is not a God Who wants to condemn everyone to Hell (2 Peter 3:9), but rather He is our holy and righteous Father Who is ready to forgive, to show constant mercy and to bestow unconditional love (Psalm 145:8-9).