Wednesday, 27 January 2010

We have no justification in saying ‘It was because of their involvement in Voodoo’

I won’t deny that on some occasions in the Bible a disaster that happens to a country is related to the activities of that nation. However, the Bible does not allow us assume that this is always the case. Luke 13:1-5 would warn us against making such direct assumptions. The popular thinking of Jesus’ day linked tragedies and physical ailments directly to people’s personal sin. Yet Jesus takes two events from that time and says that they did not happen because the people were worse sinners than others. Those who make confident pronouncements that Haiti’s earthquake was the result of the country’s involvement with Voodoo are making assumptions that Scripture does not justify.

The passage begins with some people telling Jesus about Galileans that Pilate had murdered, and then added their blood to the sacrifices they were offering. They were the victim of someone else’s brutality. Like the victims of terrorism. In 2001 people asked ‘where was God on September 11th?’ Jesus asks, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?” He answers his own question: “I tell you, no!” Neither is there justification for thinking that the World Trade Centre tragedy was God’s judgement on America.

Then Jesus brings up the case of the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them. We might blame secondary causes for such a tragic accident—perhaps that wall had weakened over time and nature took it course. We might think ‘those poor people; they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.’ But surely God could have intervened? With regards the earthquake in Haiti we can point to the movement of the earth’s plates, but we are still left with a fact which we may find uncomfortable, that the Bible portrays God as being in absolute command of his creation. Though we may be left perplexed as to how it can be, the Bible simultaneously claims that God does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men (Lam. 3:33), has mercy on all he has made (Ps. 145:9) and yet is in sovereign control over calamities in such a way that they do not occur somehow outside or against his will (Amos 3:6; Is. 45:7). Again Jesus does away with the suggestion that the tower in Siloam fell on those people because their guilt was worse than others living in Jerusalem. Don’t listen to those who come up with specific theories as to why God brought this earthquake at this time on this place—they speak without Biblical warrant.

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