OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


          At the time of this writing, Hurricane Gustav has made landfall inLouisiana.  In addition, three other systems have formed in the Atlantic Ocean and are being carefully monitored by the National Weather Service.  Hannah has already made hurricane strength.  She is expected to make landfall by Friday as a Category 2 - 3 Storm.  Ike is churning as a Category 4 Storm, packing winds of 140+ miles per hour.

            These types of storms have often been referred to as “acts of God.”  They are so-called because they are out of the control of man.  The phrase, “acts of God,” is deceiving.  It indicates that God creates these storms, directs their paths, and intentionally causes them to crash into the coastlines causing great damage and loss of life.  In reality, these storms are caused by our climate and atmosphere.  They are believed to provide balance within nature.  Occasionally, they do cross paths with men.  Their great strength can, and does, bring destruction and death at times.

            Due to the constant media attention given to these storms, this writer has given much thought to them.  It occurred that these hurricanes can be likened unto an event that is an act of God, the final judgment.  Atop Mars’ Hill, Paul boldly proclaimed:  “Because he (God) hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).  Let’s look at some of the comparisons that can be made between hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, and final judgment.

            First, both of them are predictable events.  The invention of satellites and radars has enabled meteorologists to have the ability to track these monster storms called hurricanes.  They spot them developing in the Atlantic Ocean.  They follow their movements all the way into the coasts.  With great accuracy, they can predict both the time and place of the storm’s arrival.  In like manner, judgment is a predictable event.  Paul said:  God “hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world…” (Acts 17:31).  The writer of Hebrews was clear when he wrote:  “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).  Yes, judgment is coming, but we do not know the specific time of its arrival.  This is known only in the mind of God.  “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36).

            Second, both events should be events for which one is prepared.  When news of a hurricane’s impending landfall is issued, most people begin to prepare.  Water, food, and batteries are purchased in bulk.  Boats, trailers, and lawn furniture are either secured or stored away.  Windows and doors are covered with shutters or with plywood.  Many prepare by leaving the disaster area.  They spend a few days with friends, or family, or in a hurricane shelter.  Those who take such precautions are thought to be extremely wise.  Judgment is also an event for which one should be prepared.  Not one person is going to escape that day.  “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12).  Several times Jesus issued forth the command to watch.  “Watch therefore:  for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matt. 24:42).  And again:  “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 25:13).  The word “watch” does not mean to constantly be looking into the sky for the coming Lord.  It means to prepare, to get ready.  Sandwiched between the two verses just mentioned is the “Parable of the Ten Virgins.”  These ten virgins went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them took their lamps and extra oil; five failed to take the extra oil.  When the cry was made that the bridegroom was approaching, it happened that the lights of the five foolish virgins had gone out.  Having no oil to fill their lamps, they went to buy more.  “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage:  and the door was shut.  Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.  But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not” (Matt. 25:10-12).  Note that those who were ready, went in.  Preparation is the key.  The Lord is coming to judge all nations.  Now is the time to prepare.

            Third, both hurricanes and final judgment involve matters of life and death.  There have been numerous hurricanes that have brought death to hundreds of people.  Gustav was responsible for several deaths on the island of Cuba last week.  On the other hand, many have survived the onslaught of these storms.  In like manner, there will be some who will pass through the judgment unscathed.  They will pass through with life sustained.  “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (I John 5:11).  Others, however, will face death.  This death is not physical, but spiritual in nature.  It will involve the horrors of a devils’ hell.  “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened:  and another book was opened, which is the book of life:  and the dead were judged out of those things written in the books, according to their works.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them:  and they were judged every man according to their works.  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:12-15).  John describes one’s being cast into the lake of fire as being the “second death.”  It is a separation from God and from all things that are holy and righteous (II Thess. 1:7-9).

            For several more weeks, the tropics will continue to produce powerful hurricanes.  Different areas will be impacted as the storms make landfall.  Thousands, perhaps millions, will make the proper preparations and have their lives spared.  Some, however, will not prepare.  They will perish in the calamity.  There are many who are like this latter group in the spiritual realm.  They are not preparing for judgment.  They live as though it will never come their way, but it will.  Then, it will be too late.  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10).