WILL WE PREPARE FOR JESUS’ RETURN BETTER THAN NEW ORLEANS DID FOR KATRINA?
Eric V. Snow, sermonette, 9-10-05, UCG Ann Arbor, MI
Recently scenes of devastation and human suffering from New Orleans and Gulf Coast Mississippi have been broadcasted around our country. Although the disaster that a major hurricane could inflict on New Orleans has been known for decades, not much was done to prepare. Tsunami, WSJ, Posner think piece: Politicians in democracies tend to think short term, by (say) election cycles, not about once in a century disasters: If they prevent the latter, would they get reelected for spending money that only would help a generation or two later? $2 billion could have been spent to prevent it, now out at least $60 billion from the Feds alone to fix the mess, let alone private insurers, the State of Louisiana, etc. will spend. An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure.
This all concerned what the government could have done in physical preparations in order to prevent a naturally caused disaster. But let’s now turn to consider our own spiritual preparations to prevent a supernaturally caused disaster.
How much are we getting ready now to meet our maker? We all know Jesus will come one day. Even if we should die before Jesus returns, we still need to work at preparing ourselves equally as well.
S.P.S. Just as physical preparations could have prevented the disastrous flooding of New Orleans, we Christians must spiritually prepare to prevent spiritual disasters to ourselves before Jesus’ return.
Notice that the world blew off Noah’s warning, and got destroyed by a flood. Likewise, for decades informed people in or near New Orleans knew this disaster could occur to them. Likewise, I think even as a kid living near Los Angeles, I knew about the predictions about “the Big One” and certainly that earthquakes did strike there. We all in this room should know about “the spiritual Big One,” meaning, Jesus’ return. What are we doing to get ready for His return? Are we truly repenting of our sins, and thus sinning less? How much time are we putting into the spiritual disciplines of meditation, prayer, Bible study, and fasting? Are we closer to overcoming or not?
Now, we may say we might die before Jesus returns. But then, effectively, Jesus’ return occurs right after we would die! That is, we won’t be conscious of the passage of time while dead in the grave: The next thing we would be conscious of would be the resurrection to life as Jesus comes.
Notice the rich fool’s error: He wasn’t giving towards God. Are we failing to give God not just the offering of money, but the offering of our time? How much are we helping out other people, in the church or the world, such as the victims of Katrina? Or are we trying to accumulate as much as we can for ourselves? How much good would it all do then after we die? Wouldn’t someone else then get it all? I think I’ve seen bumper stickers that say, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” This materialistic claim is totally false. What happens to us after we die if we didn’t correctly manage and share the material things God blessed us with?
Now, how could we relate the Hurricane Katrina disaster to the symbolic meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles? Many people in New Orleans and by the shoreline of Mississippi lost almost all the worldly possessions they had. Hundreds, likely thousands, even lost their lives. How Camille cost the lives of people in MS during the Katrina disaster: They thought that their house got through the that 1969 hurricane, they would be safe this time. There also had been recently major evacuations for hurricanes in that area, like near Biloxi and Gulfport, and nothing much had happened. “Ivan the Terrible” and another hurricane didn’t do much damage there, if any. So they grew complacent, and didn’t take Katrina as seriously as they should have. This was a dangerous category 5 storm which weakened to a 4 just before directly hitting their area. Likewise, have we grown too confident and self-satisfied in our spiritual preparations before Jesus’ return? Are we just lukewarm and half-way ready for the ultimate spiritual storm to come? New Orleans’ levees were only partially ready against severe physical storms, for they could only survive a category 3 hurricane’s direct hit. Are we spiritually prepared for the ultimate category 10 spiritual storm to come? Haven’t we said for decades that the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming could happen in our lifetimes? Likewise, for decades, New Orleans knew it could get flooded out by a direct hit by a major hurricane. Well, are we any more spiritually ready than they were physically? Do we think we’re spiritually rich, spiritually wealthy, and have need of nothing to improve in? Or do we think half-way measures, while keeping a foot in the world to try to maximize our physical pleasures in the meantime, is a correct Christian operating procedure? Do we live as if the physical possession, the jobs, the cars, the houses, etc., are only temporary? Would we be ready to flee on a moment’s notice, and leave them all behind, if we received some kind of spiritual summons to the place to safety? Or would we stay behind, thinking we could survive this spiritual hurricane where we are at? Neither physical poverty nor physical handicap should prevent us from leaving then, unlike many poor people in New Orleans without cars. Rather, spiritual poverty and lukewarmness would make us heedless of the Scriptural warnings we’re already received. The message of Tabernacles should spiritually guide us all year long in teaching us our physical possessions aren’t important compared to our spiritual preparations for the kingdom to come.
Conclusion: We should learn a spiritual lesson from the physical disaster that has overtaken New Orleans. There the people of that city, and especially various politicians and leaders at all levels of government, had been warned for decades about the possible natural disaster that could come if a major hurricane directly hit the city. Likewise, we should heed the Scriptural warnings to evacuate and prepare for the ultimate supernatural storm to come, and not complacently think we could ride it out, like some who had the ability and means to flee, but didn’t, in Louisiana and Mississippi. We should then strive to overcome our sins in order to spiritually prepare for the ultimate spiritual hurricane to come. We’ve been warned Scripturally: So then, what are we going to do about it?