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God, Souls, and Natural Disasters 

What should we expect from the earth? 

Revelation 21.1–8 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • October 6, In the year of our Lord Christ, 2019 


  1. At the end of 2004 or the beginning of 2005, 
    1. I received questions about our giving to the people in India 
    2. who suffered after a huge earthquake and tsunami. 
      1. As I looked at the sermon I preached in response, 
      2. I thought it would be good to do now also, 
        1. especially since we will take up a special collection 
        2. in November to help our brethren who suffered in the hurricane 
          1. that leveled the Bahamas. 
  2. Here is the letter with the questions (I do not remember who sent this to me, but at the time he or she was okay with me reading this to you.


    With all the recent news about the earthquake and tsunamis, how the media makes sure we see bodies and hear numbers and we hear words like “tragedy” repeatedly I’ve had some questions come to mind and I need to know if I am out of line. I honestly and sincerely seek to know if my thinking needs to be re-adjusted.

    Christians have record of God using natural forces, even to a global flood, with only 8 being saved. Is it not possible that unfortunately, he still has to use such extreme measures to get our attention? It IS the same God, with the same desire for the human race.

    Rather than focusing on the bodies should we not be focusing on the souls? There are brothers and sisters in all parts of the world laboring to bring the Gospel to everyone because we know that God desires that none should perish…spiritually. If we focus on souls, and desiring what God desires, can we not use this “force of nature” or “force of God” to pray more earnestly for those that are seeking to teach the lost, to pray for more brothers and sisters to be willing to leave the “comforts of home” to go where God would have them to teach, to become more aware of supporting evangelistic efforts individually and through the congregations we attend, to provide monies for Bibles and even be more mindful of why we are all here to begin with? Christ said he came “to seek and save the lost” so we should be doing no less and in fact, with the images of all those bodies before us, we should certainly be more aware that we don’t know the way or the time, but physically we are all going to die.

    Everyone is being asked to open their checkbooks and contribute for humanitarian aid and that is not a bad thing, but shouldn’t Christians be opening their checkbooks to insure support to those missionaries that are throughout the world laboring to teach, shouldn’t we be about making sure that those that are being taught have a Bible of their very own, shouldn’t we raise a loud cry if our congregation makes any attempt to trim evangelistic works or missions supported from the budget because there is a shortfall in giving? With the billions of dollars that were just spent on Christmas gifts can any of us say we received, or gave, something that was worth more than a soul?

    Not one of the people that died took anything with them to their final destination. Is that one of the things God is trying to make us understand? Are our hearts heavy, not because so many died, but because we don’t know their final destination?

    I’ve already heard “if there was a God, things like this wouldn’t happen”. Could it not be that God is showing us how truly ripe the fields are to harvest and that we must be about praying and harvesting?

    Please, if I am wrong in any area of my thinking, I need to know.

  3. I detected three basic questions. 
    1. “Is it not possible that unfortunately, [God] still has to use such extreme measures to get our attention?” 
    2. “Rather than focusing on the bodies should we not be focusing on the souls?” 
    3. “I’ve already heard ‘if there was a God, things like this wouldn’t happen’.” 
  4. Then I want to ask: How shall we respond to natural disasters? 


  1. “Is it not possible that unfortunately, [God] still has to use such extreme measures to get our attention?” 
    1. First, did God use that earthquake/tsunami? 
      1. To say 
        1. that God causes something, and 
        2. that God uses something 
          1. are two different things. 
    2. Does He ever cause such things? 
      1. History recorded in the Bible shows 
      2. that God did cause some great natural disasters. 
        1. He caused the global flood of Noah’s day. 
        2. God caused the ten plagues that fell upon Egypt. 
    3. Did God cause that earthquake and tsunami or the recent hurricane? 
      1. We cannot know. 
      2. In the Letter to Philemon, Paul was not sure why Onesimus 
        1. had departed from Philemon, saying,

          15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever…
        2. The comparison between the tsunami and the escape of a slave, 
          1. is that Paul, although inspired by the Holy Spirit, 
          2. did not know whether God’s hand was in it or not. 
      3. After Adam and Eve sinned, death entered the world, 
        1. natural laws changed, 
        2. enabling such horrible things to happen. 
      4. The Flood brought climatic and earth changes 
        1. that enable huge earthquakes and 
        2. weather disasters to be possible. 
    4. Can God use this earthquake and tsunami or hurricane? 
      1. John 9 reveals 
        1. that a man was not blind as punishment for his or his parent’s sin, but 
        2. as an opportunity for something good to happen.

          1 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

          – John 9.1–3
  2. Rather than focusing on the bodies should we not be focusing on the souls? 
    1. Large body counts have a way of getting our attention. 
      1. We expect small things daily, 
        1. such as murders, but 
        2. 3,000 murdered simultaneously gets our attention. 
      2. Was anyone else murdered in America outside of Pennsylvania, Washington, D. C. and New York City on September 11, 2001? 
        1. Was there a benefit concert for the survivors of that murder? 
        2. Have memorials gone up? 
          1. Did you not act kinder for awhile after September 11th? 
          2. Have you acted kinder since any murders in Josephine County? 
      3. Did others drown on December 26th or since then? 
        1. Has there been the same out pouring of love 
        2. for the survivors of drowning since December 26th? 
      4. You see, that large numbers of bodies get our attention. 
    2. The fact that this disaster happened, 
      1. has us discussing souls. 
        1. Without this huge disaster, 
        2. the questions may not have come in. 
      2. Yes, we should think of the soul above the body. 
        1. Think of the ministry of Jesus Christ. 
        2. He could have revealed everything we need to know about diseases, 
          1. including how to cure every single one. 
          2. Yet, He did not. 
            1. He did not come to do what man 
            2. can eventually figure out. 
        3. He came to do what we cannot figure out or do on our own. 
          1. He came for the soul. 
          2. To enlighten the soul and save the soul. 
    3. However, sometimes you cannot help the soul, 
      1. until you have helped the body. 
      2. James 2 shows that to be true. 
  3. I’ve already heard “if there was a God, things like this wouldn’t happen”. Or to reword it into a question: “If there is a God, would things like this happen?” 
    1. Who made up this standard that if there is a God, there will be no suffering? 
    2. Here is the way it truly is: 
      1. If there is a God, there will be suffering. 
      2. The graceful God extended time and opportunity to Adam’s race. 
        1. That also means that sin and death entered the world. 
          1. If He did not allow suffering, 
          2. it would be because He ended the world. 
        2. Therefore, suffering exists because 
          1. God is showing mercy 
          2. by even allowing the world to go on. 
    3. It is interesting that people bring up 
      1. God’s existence or His power and concern during times like these. 
      2. Why do they think of Him in this way? 
        1. Why do they think of Him at all during these times? 
        2. Disasters have a way of reminding us of our helplessness. 
          1. that angers some people, and 
          2. brings others to God. 
    4. Therefore, a better question to ask first is: 
      1. Why did God allow humanity to continue after sinning? 
      2. The truth is we want to sin, yet 
        1. we also want a trouble-free environment. 
        2. It does not work that way. 
          1. In Romans 5 Paul argues 
          2. that sin did not come into the world by itself, but brought a friend:

            12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—
    5. This earthquake/tsunami is the result of simple natural laws. 
      1. Sin and death entered the picture. 
      2. The earth was transformed by a massive global flood. 
        1. The earth was transformed again by the measures that God put into place to prevent another global flood (Psa 104.5–9). 
        2. Furthermore, the earth is wearing out, 
          1. according to Hebrews 1.10–12, and 
        3. what happens as things wear out? 
          1. They start breaking down. 
          2. Bad things happen, such as this earthquake. 
            1. Two plates are pushing against one another, 
            2. with one going under the other. 
              1. Normally they move 2.5 inches a year, 
              2. this time they moved perhaps 50 feet all at once, 
                1. along a 745 mile long meeting of these plates. 
                2. That sudden shift, 
                  1. like throwing a large rock into a lake, 
                  2. caused waves. 


  1. What can we do? 
    1. As far as money, 
      1. Acts 11 shows what the early church did. 
      2. They learned ahead of time 
        1. that a famine was going to happen. 
        2. Did the brethren fret over what the government was going to do?

          28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. 30 This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
          1. The church here sent $10,000 
          2. plus what we gave in a special contribution. 
            1. This brought us into connection with Don Iverson. 
    2. Pray for 
      1. the well-being of all victims, and 
      2. for the opportunity that this gives the church to show the world 
        1. why they should not silence us 
        2. as secularists are attempting to do. 
  2. The only place free of disasters is heaven. 
    1. Revelation 21.1–8

      1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
      1. Avoid the greatest disaster. 
      2. Do you want the finger of God to wipe away your tears? 
      3. Save the victims of natural disasters and save your soul.