A 'little taste of God's judgement' was the opinion of famous rugby player, Israel Folau, when discussing the current bushfire situation in his church.
These words will sting more than a little when, as a nation, the loss of lives and homes is nothing short of horrific - and there doesn’t seem to be a close end in sight.
Jen and I have been personally impacted by the fires, with loved ones having suffered much loss. It rips your heart out to see the misery that these fires are leaving behind. So as Christians, how do we reconcile these events in our minds and how should we respond?
First of all, God has not abandoned Australia. He is and always has been merciful. The amazing stories that are coming out of the current tragedy has been truly heartwarming.
Numerous Christian friends and family of ours have recounted miracles that have taken place during their personal ordeals. Even through the worst circumstances, God provides. He rescues and comforts those in need. Prayer has seen God move and act swiftly during these events. One family member, David Jeffery, recounts his story in this news report.
Is Israel Folau right or wrong?
Israel is correct in so much as the Bible does warn that God will judge the nations before the coming of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). However, we do not know if this fire right now in Australia is a judgement from God, but we do know that God is going to judge the earth by fire. This is clear biblical teaching.
2 Peter 3:7 ‘But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.’
There are countless sobering scriptures that provide ample warning to us so that we are without excuse. The fact that God warns us of judgement to come is a merciful act, to give us time to repent and believe in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) for the forgiveness of our sins. The Lord is holding out His arm right now, looking to rescue His beloved from their sins. We must humble ourselves before our Creator and thank Him for this greatest gift – eternal life.
Sadly, many will not. Instead, they will rage in their hearts at God and even at me for saying this. However, there is always a remnant in the crowd - and God is talking to these.
My heart is heavy for all who have suffered loss during this sad time. Why? I believe I share God's heavy heart because He takes no delight in seeing His creation suffer. The Lord delights in seeing His creation, His people, saved.
As Australians, we ought to stand shoulder to shoulder in such times like these. But rather than standing with pride that ‘we are overcomers’ and seeking our own glory, we ought to humbly stand before our God and honour Him for the life that He has given us and the great mercy He has poured out upon us. There is a difference, and I pray that you will discern what that difference is.
How should Christians respond?
As Christians, it is our privilege to serve the Lord and others. Our response should not be that of judgement towards others, but loving and caring for those who are suffering. This is a great time to share the love of Christ, not getting caught up in making commentaries on who we think God is and isn't currently judging. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I thank God that He has forgiven me and I would love others to experience the same joy and peace that I have in Christ.
Pray for your neighbour, give to your brother and love your enemy. This is the way of Jesus.
I also pray that you will seek God with all your heart and repent of your sins because He is faithful and just to forgive us of all our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
If you are currently going through a crisis, call upon God and He will surely save you!
We will continue to pray and intercede for the people of Australia.
Let me leave you with one last picture which says it all.
- Judah Ayling