Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why Haiti?

It is beginning to look like the quake in Haiti might have killed over 100,000 people. Haiti is one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere. It is normal to ask the question, why would God allow such a devastating quake to happen there? Televangelist Pat Robertson says it is because the people of Haiti made a pact with the Devil in order to be free from being ruled by France.

It is clear why it might appear as though the earthquake in Haiti was some sort of punishment from God because the majority of Haitians believe in and practice at least some aspects of voodoo. And there certainly are consequences for sin but citing judgment from God as the specific cause of the Haiti earthquake is false doctrine that harms the cause of Christ. The day will come when God pours out His wrath on earth but we are not yet in the Tribulation.

We have tragedy in this world because it has fallen due to mankind’s original rejection of God. Worldly blessings and suffering occur in varying degrees having no relation to our spiritual condition; as Jesus said in Matthew 5:45, “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (NKJ). Good and bad circumstances happen regardless of a person’s standing with God.

Jesus directly addressed this topic in Luke 13:1-5…

“There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.’”

Jesus gave two different examples to make sure we don’t miss the point. People generally are not victims of disasters because of their own personal sin. We are all sinners and all suffer to some extent due to the fallen nature of this world. Bad things happen in this world which is why we sorely need Jesus to return to set things right. The many daily repercussions of our fallen world serve to remind us of the need to repent of our sins. Those who don’t turn to Jesus in repentance of their sins will die in their sins which the Bible calls the second death, “anyone not found written in the Book of Life” (Revelation 20:14-15).

As terrible as they are, God can use tragedies to bless us; “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). The greatest blessing in history came about as a result of people conspiring to murder the Messiah. Many of the survivors in Haiti will have been brought to the end of their resources and have no where else to turn except to God. I’m praying that God will reap a great harvest for His kingdom as a result of the disaster there.

Pat Robertson’s comments on the reason for the Haiti earthquake reflect a bias toward the false doctrine of the prosperity gospel. This is a common teaching among American televangelists which promotes the idea that our worldly blessings are directly tied to our standing with God. The prosperity gospel deception can lead wealthy people to think they are in good standing with God when they are not and it oppresses poor people by robbing joy from them when they have a good relationship with the Lord. You only need to read the story of Job or of Lazarus and the certain rich man in Luke 16 to see this is not true.

As truth resonates even with unbelievers, most people can recognize deception. When those claiming to represent Christ seek to deceive, it turns people away from the One who epitomizes the Truth. Those who advocate the prosperity gospel often do so out of greed enticing people to give to them to receive God’s blessing. They actually believe their own deceptive doctrine and think God is blessing them when people send them a lot of money; it’s basically a spiritual Ponzi scheme. Such deception is actually a sign of the end of the age: “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13, NKJ).

Prosperity gospel televangelists ultimately fear insignificance. So they take it upon themselves to heap up more of what the world uses to measure significance. But as many have found, the world’s blessings are fleeting; God’s blessings are eternal. Jesus told us we are not insignificant… “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt 10:29-31).

God did indeed allow the earthquake to happen to serve His purposes. But we can be assured that He will bring good from it that outweighs the bad even if we can not see it in our world today.

Haiti is not known for earthquakes. News reports tell us that the earthquake in Haiti was the most powerful to hit there since 1770. This certainly brings to mind Matthew 24:7 which says, “there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (KJV). A place like Haiti that is not known for earthquakes certainly qualifies as a “divers” place. So one good thing that can come from Haiti is for more people to get on with what Jesus has called us to do upon realizing that it is not long until He returns.

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