by Shawn Brasseaux
This past Tuesday, 12 January 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the surrounding area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Recently, a Christian told me that he thought that God was judging Haiti for their wickedness. Is this true? Are catastrophic events such as this really God’s wrath on man’s sin? Or, is this church tradition? Let us look at the Bible to determine what to believe.
In time past, God certainly punished disobedient Israel. Look at the awful curses of Deuteronomy 28:15-68 and Jeremiah 44:1-14: meager harvests, invading Gentile armies overrunning, capturing, and killing them, scabs, boils, blindness, madness (insanity), and insects consuming their fields—that is just a sampling of problems!! Those pagan Gentiles who would invade Israel would also be overrun because of their idolatry and wickedness. Surely, these were the righteous punishments of the LORD, but should we conclude the same regarding the recent Haitian quake?
Haiti claims to be a “Christian” nation of Protestants and Catholics. Ironically, about 50 percent of Haitians practice voodoo (a Satanic and superstitious religion). It seems like God would judge the island because of their unbelief and idolatrous Satan worship, but we are overlooking one critical fact: we live in the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Writing off the Haitian quake as “God’s judgment” is simply a failure to understand the Bible “rightly divided.” Old Testament Israel did not live in the Dispensation of Grace like we do; they lived in the Dispensation of Law. If they did not do exactly what God mandated, He would judge them severely. That was God’s agreement with Israel, the Old Covenant (Law), a covenant they broke (see Hebrews 8:9). Because people do not understand what God is doing today, they try to force on us today in the “but now” God’s former dealings with Israel in “time past.”
While Satan worship is serious and blasphemous to God, it can be forgiven through Christ. “…Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). Through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, God offers to forgive every person of his or her sins. Nevertheless, an individual cannot have that forgiveness imputed (applied) to his or her account until he or she relies exclusively on the Gospel of the Grace of God. A person who practices voodoo is being offered a chance to get right with God through Calvary, just like every other lost person. God has reconciled the world unto Himself, and the Lord Jesus Christ has accomplished everything needed to bring about every person’s salvation (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). God is offering His love and grace to everyone, whether saved or lost. Unfortunately, very few are willing to respond to God’s offer by faith, so they remain lost in their sins and under the impending wrath of God (Romans 2:3-11; Ephesians 2:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10; Revelation 20:11-15).
Today, God is not speaking to mankind in judgment and wrath…yet. For now, in the Dispensation of Grace, God is speaking to us in GRACE, MERCY, and LOVE. Thus, Paul always began his epistles with the greeting, “Grace and Peace.” God’s attitude toward the world is grace and peace, not judgment and wrath. Anyone and everyone can become a member of the Church the Body of Christ. All they have to do is place their faith in Paul’s Gospel of Grace: Jesus Christ died for our sins, His blood was shed, He was buried, and He rose again the third day for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Years ago, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. In 2004, a major tsunami slammed Indonesia and its neighboring countries. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 that rocked the United States. None of these are examples of God’s wrath. Rather, they are results of the curse of sin. Terrorists made bad decisions to take innocent lives. Violent weather was brought to our planet after Adam and mankind race fell into sin. Plate tectonics, the geologic activity associated with the Haitian quake and the Indonesian tsunami, was a natural process that is a result of the curse of sin. Although God permitted that quake, He did not direct it toward Haiti. Satan and wicked man, not God, caused 9/11. Sin is responsible for the suffering in the world today, not God.
God’s chastisement and wrath does not fit in this the Dispensation of Grace. As previously stated, God would chastise Israel when they would rebel and worship false idols, but God and Israel agreed to that—if they did not listen to God, they would get curses, while obedience to God was rewarded with blessings. We are under no covenant with God today, so the conditions of the Old Covenant (Law) do not apply to us. We are not under the “if, then” conditions of the Law—that is, if you listen then God will bless you; if you do not listen then God will curse you. Paul, our apostle, writes nothing like that for our dispensation. In fact, in Christ Jesus, “God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). God has given us all the blessings He can, and we did nothing to get them. We received these blessings through the merits of the crosswork of Christ, not because of anything we did.
Is God judging anyone for sins today? Read 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 KJV:
“18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
According to the above verses, today, in our dispensation, God is not imputing (holding) sin against anyone. If God were holding sin against nations today, there would be no countries today. All of Israel’s enemies would be gone. Even Israel would be wiped off the earth! God would have already destroyed America for all its sin. We would have all been annihilated long ago. Every country that forgot JEHOVAH (the LORD of the Bible), which would include all the nations of the world, would be destroyed for their pagan worship of false gods. But, see, God’s grace is holding back that wrath. One day, God’s wrath will come, during the seven-year Tribulation, after our dispensation closes at the rapture. Right now, God is willing that everyone come to the knowledge of salvation, and He wishes that no one goes to hell forever. The Apostle Peter writes, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). According to Peter, God is not pouring our His wrath today because He is pouring out His grace and mercy!
With the above said, do not get the impression that God is merely a God of love and grace. Every natural disaster in human history is only a sample of what is to come. No one has ever seen the undiluted wrath of God (Noah’s Flood was just a glimpse God’s wrath), but the day is soon coming when those who have rejected Jesus Christ as Saviour will have to face the righteous indignation of a holy God (Psalm 2:1-5; Psalm 37:13; Matthew 3:10-13; Luke 3:16,17; Romans 2:3-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9; Galatians 6:7; Revelation 14:9-11; Revelation 20:11-15; Revelation 21:8; et al.).
In the future seven-year Tribulation, there will be wrath and vexation, such as the world has not seen, nor ever will see. Horrible plagues. A world dictator who kills those who oppose him. Armies of devilish creatures killing 1/3 of the world’s people. Famines and diseases. Events that will scare people to insanity and cause them to have mental breakdowns! Imagine the chaos in Haiti on a worldwide scale—something far, far worse than that is coming one day for this unbelieving world.
Pray for the poor Haitians. They are just as unworthy of receiving salvation as we once were when we were lost and following our own false gods. We are no better than they are. We are all children of Adam, sinners. The good news is that we can escape the wrath of God by having the blood of Jesus Christ applied to our account. For now, God is pouring out His grace on mankind, not His wrath. Still, remember, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid [No!]” (Romans 6:1,2a). We should not live sinful lives to see just how far God’s grace goes.