When a crisis strikes, whether personal or public, some decide to fall back on the notion that God may not be all-powerful, thereby decreasing his culpability. In today’s episode we learn that true comfort is found in the truth that no disaster can befall us without His express permission.
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us today as we continue our study of “Pandemics, Plagues, and Natural Disasters: What is God saying to us?” Well, today we get to one of those truths that God is saying to us, namely, that He is in charge. You know, it is said that in California, a group of pastors met together after an earthquake and they decided that God didn’t have too much to do with it. After all, you know the world is fallen, nature goes according to certain laws and He’s there to help us, but He didn’t have any real direct involvement. And yet, when one of the pastors closed in prayer, I’m told that he thanked God that the earthquake came at 5 o’clock in the morning when there were few cars on the expressway. Well, you think about that. If God really had nothing to do with it, why thank Him for the timing of the earthquake?
Well, you know throughout history there have been those who have tried to distance God from natural disasters, and there are two ways. One is that God is weak. Tony Campolo, for example, after Katrina happened, actually said that. He says that God is powerful, but He’s “not all powerful because,” Tony said, “If we tell people that God is in charge, they’re going to turn against Him.” So Tony said that when Katrina happened, “God is the first one who wept.” Really? There’s another way that people try to distance God from natural disasters and that is more biblical, but it needs interpretation and that is to say the devil did it. And if we had time, we’d actually turn to the Scriptures. In the first chapter of the book of Job, where God gives the devil permission to execute two natural disasters. The lightning comes and kills Job’s cattle and a windstorm comes and blows over the house and ten of Job’s children, all ten, are dead. So people say, well you know when it comes to Covid and other things, such as earthquakes and plagues, the devil did it. Alright. But let’s remember this. The devil could not do it without God’s express permission. He was told by God you can do this, but you can’t do that. Later on, he’s given more permission to bring boils to Job and so forth, but the point is, isn’t it interesting that Job said, “the Lord gave and the Lord took away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” As a matter of fact, that phrase is so important that I’m going to be spending the entire time in the next session on it and we’ll talk about its implications. But here’s the point: Job understood. He didn’t say the Lord gave and the devil took away. Job was a great theologian. The Lord gave; the Lord took away.
I want to talk to you from my heart and I want you to listen carefully. Of course, you and I know that God is in charge. Have you ever prayed that God would keep you safe during a lightning storm? Did you ever pray for rain during a time of drought? Did you ever pray for sunshine on a wedding day? We all know God is in charge. We have these arguments when we’re standing up, but let me tell you that when we are on our knees, we are all agreed that God is in charge. And you look at the Bible from beginning to end it shows that. I mean who brought the rain during the time of Noah? Who sent the plagues during the time when Egypt was in rebellion against God? And I love this verse, Jonah 1:4—”and the Lord hurled a great wind that came upon the sea.” God says. “I did it.” And we could go through the Scriptures and see other examples. And by the way, God sometimes uses miracles such as earthquakes, not just to judge people, but he actually uses those kinds of things to help His people. 1 Samuel 14 it says that Jonathan is in a battle and the earth shook, and it was from the Lord to help Jonathan. We think of the sun standing still, for example, to help Joshua but then think of this, there’s an earthquake, Paul and Silas are in prison and it’s the earthquake that opens the door of the prisons and they walk through.
I want to leave you with something today because I want this to be transforming. If Covid-19 is out of God’s hands, then I am out of God’s hands, because any one of us could get the disease. Any one of us could die of it. When we begin to understand that all these things are in God’s hands, we march forward with a sense of confidence that says “no matter what, I know that God is in charge and I can thank Him for that.” I personally rejoice in the fact that Covid is not out of God’s hands. It’s in His hands and if you are in His hands, you are safe, no matter what. Thanks so much for joining me today. Now, next time I’m going to be talking about the book of Job again and I’m going to be giving you a modern day Job story. Don’t miss it. But as for today, you just go with God.