April 24

Isaiah 23-27, Psalm 114

My wife and I have been going on vacation on the island of Anguilla for 25 years. Over the years we developed many friendships, and I have even delivered a couple of the children from those that live on this island. Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on this island as well as St Maarten which lies 6 miles to its north. When they recant their stories their fear and helplessness is palpable. One described the 8 hours of the hurricane like having a 747 over their house the entire time. One described how she hung on in her bathroom for that was the only safe place. Though only one life was lost, so much else was lost including windows, roofs, livelihood, etc. There was no electricity for much of the island for over 3 months. Though many on the island are Christian, like in our nation many have grown cold in their walk and many have gone astray. As one of our friends put it, they were hoping that this hurricane would wake their island up and bring them closer to God. He sadly states that has largely not been the case, with many still shaking their fists at God.

When we read in the Book of Revelation and here in Isaiah about God's coming judgment on the earth, Hurricane Irma seems like a walk in the park. We read in Isaiah 24:3-5, "The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered, For the Lord has spoken this word. The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away; The haughty people of the earth languish. The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, Because they have transgressed the laws, Changed the ordinance, Broken the everlasting covenant." He goes on in 24:7-8, "The new wine fails, the vine languishes, All the Merry-hearted sigh...The joy of the harp ceases." He says a little later in 24:20, "The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, And shall totter like a hut; Its transgression shall be heavy upon it." Though we shake our heads as the number and the severity of natural disasters continue to escalate, why? It has been foretold that these things are going to happen and even get worse. We know that in the Tribulation it will only be worse. There is only one escape as we read in Luke 21:36, "...pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and stand before the Son of Man." But most will only rebel further when calamity strikes, as the repetitive phrase in Revelation 16 in response to the various bowl judgments show, "They blasphemed the God of heaven because of...".

When calamity strikes, and it will for each of us, we have to decide how we will respond. We can blame God as is often the case and certainly what we see in the Book of Revelation. Or we can respond as Isaiah did, in Isaiah 25:1, "O Lord, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name....". God sends these calamities to grab our attention. This is His grace as He continually offers His love and mercy to an undeserving world. When others go through difficulties let's point them to Jesus. When we go through trials let's think of Jesus.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster