Sunday, April 29, 2012

Is the Earth Afraid?

The waters saw You, O God; The waters saw You, they were afraid; The depths also trembled. The clouds poured out water; The skies sent out a sound; Your arrows also flashed about. The voice of Your thunder [was] in the whirlwind; The lightnings lit up the world; The earth trembled and shook. Your way [was] in the sea, Your path in the great waters, And Your footsteps were not known. You led Your people like a flock By the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Psalm 77:16-20 NKJV

Now this may sound strange to some but I am the sort of person who really enjoys a good thunderstorm. There is nothing I like more than sitting outside on my porch and watching nature get a little crazy now and then. As my daughters grew up I tried my best to teach them to share my enthusiasm for watching as a means to deal with their natural fear of such an extreme event of nature. It appears that I succeeded with two of the three, sort of, but my middle daughter remains deathly afraid of them even as an adult.

She lives in another state now and works at a Christian bookstore and shares my interest in being a watcher, and often calls with questions about books she comes across or current events. So when my phone rang early this past week and I saw it was her I expected the conversation would be much like it always is. Wrong. The area she lives in was experiencing a thunderstorm so violent that the radio was warning people to stay inside. Now although being in that situation would have pleased me to no end, my daughter unfortunately was scared to the point of being physically ill.

So I spent the next hour talking to her on the phone and doing my best to crack jokes and take her mind off of what was happening. We also talked a little about thunder in the Bible, and how it is most often used in relation to God and either His voice or physical presense. Then we moved on to discuss the earthquake and volcanic activity in the world the past few weeks and the fact that seismologists are actually at a loss to explain why so much is happening all at once. After the storm passed and she hung up to make dinner, I began to think of what we had talked about and just out of curiosity started to study all the passages I could find in the Bible that talk about thunder and lightning.

In this passage from the book of Psalms, the author is troubled and in despair so he thinks back to the past and the times that God manifested Himself in human history by actions man could only describe as supernatural. The verses above refer to the time that God led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt and through the Red Sea on their journey to the promised land. Now I think the important point to make here is that although Moses and Aaron were used by God to shepherd His people, it was God Himself who led them.

And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, [from] before the people.
Exodus 13:21-22 NKJV

Now why do I think this is important? Look closely at the passage from Psalms and notice what the author says the reaction of the earth was to the presense of God. Do you see what I see? We are told the waters were afraid, the depths trembled, there was a downpour of rain, thunder along with lightning that lit up the entire world, and not to mention earthquakes that shook the earth. Yet to me, the most important part of this passage is the fact that it does not say God “caused” these things to happen, rather it was a response of the earth to actually “seeing” the presense of God.

Now right about now some of you are probably thinking wait just a minute here, do you really believe the earth can “see”? Well, why not? Not only do these verses say it does, we are told elsewhere that the earth can talk too.

Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: " 'Blessed [is] the King who comes in the name of the LORD!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."
Luke 19:37-40 NKJV

So if we are to believe what the Bible tells us, the earth has and can react to the presense of God in physical ways, some of which might surprise us. Is that really so hard to believe? After all, the earth was created by God just as we were created, so who knows what physical reaction could be produced by the approach of the power which created it? Which brings me to my point in bringing all this up.

Most of us would agree the Bible clearly teaches that there will be signs that precede the return of Christ, many of which are physical in nature. Events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis can explain many of the events described as occurring just before Christ returns. Many of these things are beginning to happen right now in various places in the world, and most of those who are watching and waiting for His appearing believe the time is very close. Jesus Himself said this about the signs that would appear just before His return.

"So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near--at the doors!
Mark 13:29 NKJV

So here is my question for today; does God cause these things to happen, or just like the events in Exodus when God comes to earth to lead His people away, is the earth reacting to the approach of God once again? Is it possible that the increase in frequency and intensity of physical events is because the nearness of Jesus returning for His church is causing a physical reaction by the earth?

"Then the earth shook and trembled; The foundations of heaven quaked and were shaken, Because He was angry.
2 Samuel 22:8 NKJV

Is the earth afraid?

Keep watching.