Tornadoes recently made history in the U.S. leaving death and destruction in their wake. Mississippi River flooding is currently submerging thousands of square miles and destroying homes, communities, businesses, and farmland. Earthquakes recently shattered Haiti. A more recent earthquake in Japan and the following tsunami killed tens of thousands. What are we to think of such things? What ought to be our reaction to such convulsions in the world order?
Listen to John Calvin preaching to his congregation in Geneva. The date is Wednesday, 20 September, 1559. The text is Genesis 2:7-15. Our pastor describes the lush “terrestrial paradise” in which Adam “lacked nothing.” We hear his throaty asthmatic voice declare, “So complete was the blessedness as regards the outward man that no man could imagine it.” No, our sin-bound minds could never soar to the heights of beauty, comfort, and satisfaction Adam first experienced in the undistorted sin-free terrestrial paradise.
Then our pastor passionately reminds us of the effects of Adam’s fall, “Therefore, when our father Adam alienated himself from God, when he corrupted himself in his person, the world had to feel the pain of that corruption.” To continue, pastor deeply breathes the cool fall air filling the chapel. We again hear his rattling asthmatic wheeze. “Whenever we see sterile regions and lands, sometimes hideous to look upon, whenever we see great fertility laid waste by hailstorms, tempests, freezing weather, and other storms, let us realize that such are the fruits of our sins! . . .
The calamities of tornado, hurricane, earthquake, and tsunami, not only affect us as individuals, they affect us as communities and nations. We live in a fallen world. This is not just a theological statement. It is a description of our actual condition, individually and corporately. Some say, “Only government is big enough to solve our problems.” Is our God too small? Others counter, “Individual liberty is the answer to the human condition.” Is Jesus Christ no longer the way, the truth, and the life? Yes, I’m mixing politics and Christianity. Why?
The basic Christian confession is simple, “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Romans 10:9). In ancient Rome, this confession was a direct assault on the rule of Caesar. When ancient Israel was in bondage in Babylon, the message they needed was similar, “Your God reigns” (Isaiah 52:7). Babylon does not reign! The purpose of the book of Daniel is to display God’s rule and reign over individuals and nations. God took Daniel from prison to political power (Daniel 2:48). When he dared to challenge that political power, God saved Daniel from the lion’s den (Daniel 6:22). God also humbled Nebuchadnezzar and raised him up again to confess the living God, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion” (Daniel 4:34). This too is your confession. Jesus Christ is your Lord. Your God reigns.
Tornadoes and floods and earthquakes are reminders. We live in a fallen world. These calamities bring Adam’a sin and our subsequent sin into view. We cannot continue as a nation to deify individual and government power and to defy the living God. Listen to the prayer of Psalm 83:15-16 concerning God’s national enemies. “So pursue them with Your tempest and terrify them with Your storm…. That they may seek Your name, O LORD.” God is providentially pursuing us. We must listen!