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WHAT TO MAKE OF CURRENT EVENTS
by Philip Owen

            We easily overlook a cloudy sky.  It may not be as pleasant as a sunny summer day, but that’s just an annoyance.  We don’t question the purpose of a gentle shower.  It may disrupt our picnic or our yardwork, but that’s just an inconvenience.  But when a hurricane or tornado strikes, when winds destroy buildings and take lives or when floods sweep away houses and drown hapless people, we are provoked to question what is happening and why.  Whether current circumstances should be categorized as a cloudy sky, a gentle shower, or a destructive storm is open to debate (and perhaps irrelevant).  The fact is that it has provoked even the more complacent among us to ask what is going on.  Believers may find themselves answering that question in one of several of the following ways.

            This is a natural event without spiritual significance.  Believe it or not, some Christians have a naturalistic view of the world.  They believe that God works largely, if not exclusively, on the spiritual plane and that He either does not or cannot affect natural events.  God does not foresee future events; He has no hand in natural circumstances; they serve no definable purpose; they are simply to be endured as part of our lot in life.  That view is a thorough denial of the sovereignty, omniscience, omnipotence, and immanence of God.  And it flies in the face of all of Scripture.  One example from a countless reservoir will make the point.  In the Sermon of the Mount, Christ assured His auditors that God “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45:b).  The naturalistic view is so inimical to a biblical worldview that it is hard to imagine that anyone calling himself a Christian would hold to such a position.

            This is God’s judgment on the United States of America.  It is easy for believers, tired of apostasy, to embrace this view wholeheartedly.  I certainly have done so.  Anyone with some sense of today’s spiritual climate can enumerate countless reasons for God to judge America.  Given the historical fact that the Word of God has been proclaimed here more freely and universally than anywhere else on earth, the current spiritual declension is nothing short of outrageously inexcusable.  It is easy for believers to cite a catalogue of sins and crimes:  abortion on demand, the virtual banning of public prayer, the excision of the public display of the Ten Commandments on governmental property, the promotion of aberrant sexual behavior, the legalization of homosexual marriage, the broad redefining of evil as good and good as evil, the corruption of officials in every branch and at every level of government, the widespread embrace of egregious doctrinal error, such as the prosperity gospel.  The list goes on; the specific examples pile up like Everest.  That having been said, we must temper this view on at least two grounds.  To see this situation as God’s judgment on America is to ignore the fact that large portions of the world have been touched—some significantly—by these events.  In other words, either God is judging no nation via these means at this time, or He is judging many nations, not just America.  (And it is true that apostasy is universal.)  But the danger with holding this view exclusively is not so much that the target is erroneous but that it is out of focus.

            This is God’s sanctifying work in believers.  To suggest that God is judging unbelievers to the exclusion of chastening and sanctifying the church would be a mistake.  God’s focus, His eye, is upon the redeemed first of all.  Speaking in the context of suffering for Christ (for which this present circumstance does not qualify), Peter observed that “it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (I Pet. 5:17).  Throughout time, whatever saints have been called to endure, whether from the world or with the world, God has used to sanctify His children.  In other words, I should be provoked by our current circumstances to examine myself.  What sin is God revealing in me?  Of what should I repent?  What consumes my thoughts?  Where are my affections placed?  What takes my time, energy, and other resources?  Am I living for time or eternity?  Am I loving the appearing of the Lord?  And what about you?  Whether this is a cloud, a shower, or a storm, it is drawing you closer to the Lord?  It should.          

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