Speak Lord, For Your Servant Is Listening

Someone has to be pretty blind not to see parallels between the world today and the world of the ancient Jews.
on Apr 13, 2020 · 11 comments

A year ago, almost to the day, I posted an article on my site entitled “Does God Speak Through Nature?” The premise was simple: God used “natural” phenomenon in Egypt to pry His people free from Pharaoh’s grip. Could He not continue to use the world around us to speak to us today?

So many people—and this includes many Christians—say, No, floods and earthquakes and hurricanes and pandemics have known, scientific causes. They occur because of natural law.

But my question is, Who created and controls natural law? Did not God hang the stars in place? Does His hand not maintain what He created? Scripture indicates He is the One who makes DNA coding and tides and mutating viruses work the way they work—and keeps them doing so.

And He [God’s Son] is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. (Heb. 1:3a; emphasis mine)

Then there’s this passage in Colossians:

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (1:16-17; emphasis mine)

All this to say, I don’t believe things happen in the world for no purpose.

God hasn’t sent a modern day prophet to tell us why things happen as He did during Israel’s history before their exile. But we don’t actually need a modern day prophet because we have the ancient ones, inspired by God, collected in the Bible.

Someone has to be pretty blind not to see parallels between the world today and the world of the ancient Jews. Including this:

Come, my people, enter into your rooms
And close your doors behind you;
Hide for a little while
Until indignation runs its course.
For behold, the LORD is about to come out from His place
To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;
And the earth will reveal her bloodshed
And will no longer cover her slain. (Isaiah 26:20-21)

But who knows? Maybe the Coronavirus is just your run of the mill virus and we shouldn’t think twice about it in spiritual terms.

Then again, maybe it is the wake-up call to remind us that God will bring judgment on the earth one day. Not today. Maybe not in five years or ten or fifty. But assuredly, God will bring judgment. Again, that statement is something—in this culture—that’s uncomfortable to say. I mean, we’ve heard from the likes of Rob Bell and his Love Wins best seller of nearly a decade ago. He clearly lays out his belief that no matter what a person believes, he’s on his way to paradise with God.

Well, for one thing, I know a lot of atheists who would be horrified if this were true. They don’t want eternal punishment, that’s for certain, but neither do they want to be with God for eternity.

But more importantly the “everyone’s on his way to heaven” idea is not what God revealed. Pretty much the opposite:


Which brings us to God’s warning and the need for repentance.

At one point God sent the prophet Jonah to the main city in Assyria, Nineveh. I won’t get into Jonah’s issues here, but the people in that foreign country were known to be warlike, violent and cruel. They seemed to devise ways of killing that would cause the most pain. Jonah’s message was simple: “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” He apparently didn’t even offer them any hope.

Still, the people knew what caused their impending judgment, and they bowed before God and repented.

God’s response? “When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10).

Those people in that place and for that generation, were spared God’s judgment.

The prophet Joel brought the same message to the people of Israel:

Alas for the day!
For the day of the LORD is near,
And it will come as destruction from the Almighty.

Revelation echos this idea of “destruction from the Almighty,” which Christians know as the Tribulation. Are we there yet? Not close. Jesus Himself when asked when He would establish His kingdom went into some detail about the things that will take place first, including this:

You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (Matt. 24:6-8)

The beginning of birth pangs, not yet the end. I think that’s where we are. And these events that seem so out of the ordinary (because they are) serve as reminders that “the wages of sin is death,” that God will bring His judgment to bear on this world.

The prophet Joel said it to his generation in Israel, but I think it is just as true today:

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
“Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
And rend your heart and not your garments.”
Now return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness
And relenting of evil. (Joel 2:12-13)

I admit the word “evil” has troubled me. I looked it up and in the original, used as a noun as it is here, evil means distress, misery, injury, calamity. In other words, it does not mean wickedness. The idea is clear: repentance alters God’s judgment. His nature is to be slow to anger, to have heaps upon heaps of lovingkindess, and to turn away from bringing His judgment.

Of course the New Testament paints the entire picture for us. God turns away His wrath from those who bow before Him because Jesus accepted that wrath, poured out on Him. And those of us who accept this free gift of grace? We have peace with God through Jesus.

Even in the midst of a pandemic. We’re not facing His angry judgment. Ever. We may die from the virus or from something else, but we will enter into His presence, the way the thief dying beside Jesus, did. That’s something far different from judgment.

So in one way (there are others), this virus thing is a blessing in disguise. It gives us an opportunity to face our mortality, and to repent for turning our backs on God, for living for ourselves instead of living for Him. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime, so to speak—an eternal lifetime.

Best known for her aspirations as an epic fantasy author, Becky is the sole remaining founding member of Speculative Faith. Besides contributing weekly articles here, she blogs Monday through Friday at A Christian Worldview of Fiction. She works as a freelance writer and editor and posts writing tips as well as information about her editing services at Rewrite, Reword, Rework.
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  1. notleia says:

    The Abusive Sky Daddy vibes are strong with this post.

    • Travis Perry says:

      I have my own disagreement with this post, as you will see.

      However, “Abusive Sky Daddy” sounds like what Satan would say at this moment, right? I mean, you probably don’t even believe in the Devil, but sometimes you sure sound like you’re his representative.

      But to treat your statement as if it were a rational argument worthy of countering, the concept of God asserts His full rights over everything. We are His creations, His works of art–and just as I delete words on a page if a story isn’t turning out the way it should, He has every right to “delete” human beings. The bizarre thing is how much He cares about us and lets us run around like little monsters. How in contrast to human authority figures such as a boss on a job or a police officer, who might let you get away with doing the same thing they hate three times in a row if he or she is especially lenient (the harsh ones punish you at the faintest hint you’re about to do something they don’t like), in most cases (with some notable exceptions) God lets people do the same evil thing hundreds or even thousands of times before doing something about it. The real question that lines up with the incessant evil acts found in human history is, “Why is God so tolerant of human evil? Why is He almost always so slow to judge?”

      I remember saying something similar to this to an atheist, who at this point mentioned I must be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome in relation to God.

      It was a clever answer on his part, almost true, but not quite. Yes, I do empathize with God and in one sense it makes sense to do so–that is, it’s to my own emotional benefit, as with Stockholm Syndrome. But God has good goals and created the world and rightfully owns it–it’s us human douchebags who have taken over the formerly good world and are holding it hostage.

      Only by believing humans are essentially Good would it make sense to cast God in the role of relentless persecutor and abuser of the human race. But I’ve read history–the idea that humans are basically good is a joke. Us? Torturing, murdering, stealing, raping, enslaving, warmongers? It’s a joke, though not a very funny one.

      • notleia says:

        So, is God morally superior to us because he is more powerful than us? Does might make right?

        • notleia says:

          For all the potter-and-clay metaphors, jars are not sentient. They do not feel pain or terror. As a society, we’ve generally decided that parents should not threaten their children with torture or death. Heck, we’ve decided that people shouldn’t retain custody of any animals they torture/neglect.

          It’s like a horrible catechism exercise: explain, in verse, how God is like a bioterrorist.

        • Yes.

          Also the source/inventor/very definition of “right” makes right. Along with perfect, definitional, self-emptying love in the person of Christ, who literally died to show God’s perfect holiness and love at once.

          This is basic biblical Christianity. Crazy, ain’t it?

          But it’s not nearly as crazy as the alternative.

          You have no consistent, rational argument for anything approximating “right” and “wrong” apart from an appeal to some divine source. The only other, er, solution is an irrational appeal to one’s own “might” to make right. This just leads right back to manmade abuse of power.

          • notleia says:

            Welp, you just rolled in it, didntcha. But IIRC, you do identify as Calvinist, and they suppose an Authoritarian bent to the universe as a necessity. Travis doesnt claim a Calvinist affliction, so I’m poking at that with a stick to see what happens.

            Also you could have at least put random line breaks in there to pretend your answer was in free verse. So because nobody asked: free verse with rando line breaks

            Is a cruel god
            Better than none at all

            Does it feel better to
            Plead before pointed teeth
            Than the faceless void

            Shall it fall on both
            The just and unjust
            Or does it comfort you to
            Believe that you deserve it
            For then it could have a reason
            To stop

            (Ooh, that’s nice and pretentious. I will assign extra points for increasing pretense in any replies.)

  2. Ticia says:

    I think God can use natural events to get people’s attention, but I’m always hesitant to say, “This is clearly God doing something.”
    To the current events going on, it may be, OR at the very least God is using a natural disaster to call people to Him.

  3. Steve says:

    I believe that the notion of God judging the world because of sin is a false one. Jesus already took the judgment for sin. All of it. There is a natural process of result from evil activity. But God is not waiting to cast bolts of lightning. He has judged already. The cross is the answer. The Christ is the agent. He said, “I did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Me will be saved.”

    • Travis Perry says:

      He also said, in fact, immediately after the part you are quoting, that those who do not believe are “condemned already.”

      The forgiveness for the whole world has been paid for. But it is not applied to everyone, or else the whole “believe in Him” thing is meaningless. So God /will/ judge the world.

      But I don’t believe we can conclude that bad things that happen in this life are the direct result of God’s judgment. There’s an entire book of the Bible that declares that isn’t the case–Job.

      • Steve says:

        True, there is a benefit to faith. But the ‘condemned already’ passage is before the cross. All things changed at the resurrection. I am not a universalist, but I am a believer in the Divine grace. And what to say of the billions who never had a chance to hear or believe? Do they get a hearing before Christ? Or is the ‘good news’ a small token of defiance against the fall? Where is the victory in this? And who is to know who has believed enough? (the fodder for many a camp closing service.) Many will believe, I believe, even after death, as they are faced with the glory of the risen Christ. Otherwise, Jesus would have sent a stern warning to the disciples to get busy after the resurrection. Tell everyone. But the message is one of the depth of His deliverance. Grace, and feeding the lambs. And it is true that bad things do happen to good people, as in Job. I hear you.

  4. Travis Perry says:

    I experienced a revolution in my thinking about national judgment when I processed the idea that Israel had (and to a degree still has) a relationship with God unlike no other nation. God made them a specific promise of blessing for good behavior as a nation–and a specific promise of trouble for bad behavior. But God has made no such promise to any other nations.

    Yes, God does, I would say, deal with sin. Both in the long term and short term. But the cause-and-effect is never simple in the world outside of things that happened in ancient Israel. Perhaps sin is factor. Perhaps not.

    But our modern situation most definitely does not parallel what happened in ancient Israel directly. The modern nations of the world never made a direct covenant with God.

What do you think?