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Gamaliel's Desk
Friday, September 23, 2005
The Hand Of God
The same God that rained down fire on Sodom and Gomorrah because of their evil, wicked lewdness is still raining down his wrath on this world today. Two weeks ago hurricane Katrina roared down on the cesspool of sexual immorality, drunkenness, thefts, murders, homosexuality and heathenism that make up that foul place known as New Orleans. It is a den of pagan witchery, debauchery and godlessness. The only thing more amazing than God’s watery judgment is the fact that he waited so long to bring it to pass. However, the Bible assures us that God endures with much longsuffering the deeds of the wicked, not willing that any of his elect should perish. I suppose the only thing restraining God’s hand up to this point were the few just persons whose righteous souls, like Lot, were vexed with the wickedness every day and God had to wait until they were safely out of the way before he could rain down his fury on them.

There are some Christians who question whether Katrina was really a sign of God’s wrath or just a chance natural disaster. One of the objections I hear is that if God was really serious about wiping out wickedness he would have hit Las Vegas instead of New Orleans. What these people don’t understand is that God has a cup of wrath and he does not pour it out until it is full. Las Vegas has only been a hotbed of vice and corruption for less than a century, not even coming into the full depth of its perversion and rottenness until around World War II. New Orleans, by contrast, has been a haven for witches, pirates, gamblers and prostitutes almost from its inception. Clearly, the city had plenty of time and more wicked people working to fill up God’s cup of wrath beyond the brim than Las Vegas. Give that town a little more time and surely God will find a way to bring it low too.

Other Christians argue that there were godly people still in New Orleans who were equally victims of the hurricane as the godless heathen. How can we say it’s God’s judgment, they ask, when so many good people suffered as well? They point to the devastation of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) as an example of a godly institution not being spared the destruction of the wicked. First of all, I question whether this liberal seminary under the auspices of the Southern Baptist Convention is really a godly institution. They have compromised the truth of God’s word by embracing Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church philosophy and succumbing to the siren song of the Church Growth movement. Beyond that, they had no business setting up a theological seminary in such a wicked place as New Orleans. There are plenty of cities where they should have established themselves so that young Christians would not be tempted by the allures of Satan. They need a place where they can concentrate on their studies without worldly distractions like Pensacola, Florida; Greenville, South Carolina; or Lynchburg, Virginia.

Most of my critics, however, point to hurricane Rita as “proof” that these disasters are mindless acts of nature rather than the divine hand of God. They say that it rains on the just and the unjust alike. Since Texas is populated with one of the highest concentrations of Pharisee churches in the country, this seems to indicate that God isn’t punishing people through the hurricanes after all. While I might agree with them that God isn’t punishing everyone through these hurricanes, it is clear to me that these folks have an oversimplified view of God and need to improve their understanding of the divine imperatives.

Hurricane Rita is no more a punishment from God than any other natural disaster. If anything, it is a test for true believers to improve their faith. Possibly, it may be the chastening hand of God on some churches for their flirtations with the New Evangelicalism and the Church Growth Movement but most sound Pharisee churches know better than to mess with these liberalizing influences. More likely this is God’s way of testing our resilience to see if we will indeed remain faithful in the face of adversity. So if God does rain on the just and the unjust alike, we need to be able to distinguish His purpose in the rain. Katrina is God’s wrath falling on the ungodly and Rita is God’s test of his faithful servants. Only a simpleton could mistake one for the other.

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