For the week of September 17, 2005 / 13 Elul 5765
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 21:10 - 25:19
Haftarah: Isaiah 54:1-10
Peace in the Midst of the Storm
"In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you," says the LORD your Redeemer. "To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:8-10).
I understand that these words spoken by the prophet Isaiah over 2600 years ago, were specifically spoken to the people of Israel, but they are just as pertinent today, not only to Israel’s descendants, but to all who desire to belong to Israel's God.
So many people have been affected by the disaster that befell the American South through the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina. It is in our nature to try to understand such a horrible event. The cry to know “why” reveals our conviction that life has meaning. Even though so many people today claim to believe that the world came into being by chance and chance alone, few would dare to say that the devastation of New Orleans and so many other communities in that area was simply the universe bungling about randomly. The ongoing laments over life and community, not to mention the cultural legacies (good or bad), which have been ruined or lost, reveal our true perspective that life is rich in profound meaning.
Among the social commentators are those who try to tell us what God was or is doing in the midst of these things. Did he cause the hurricane? Did he destroy New Orleans? What about those who survived? Was that God? Perhaps there are those out there to whom God has spoken, offering his own version of the story. Maybe so, but whatever anyone claims, there are some things about God and events such as these that we can be certain about, for he has revealed them in the Scriptures.
The Bible teaches us that God loves us. His prime motive in relating to people is love. Even when he is harsh with people at times, it is with the hope of bringing us to everlasting goodness. Our tendency to choose our own way is destructive. This grieves God, who longs for us to be restored to the kind of relationship with him for which he designed us.
Because of our neglect of our Creator, the creation that we have been given charge of is out of sorts. God intended that we would live in harmony with the creation, but instead we have been at odds with it. Disasters such as Hurricane Katrina are more common than we care to admit. All over the world people are dying or being displaced because, in a general sense, we are not in step with God.
Whatever the specific meaning is of this event or the typhoons hitting Asia or the Tsunami of last year, or the threats of SARs and AIDs, 9/11 or 7/7, the world is under the judgment of God.
But at the same time, God longs for us to be restored to him. His heart is not for destruction, but restoration. Through what he has done in the Messiah, Yeshua, we can know his peace, his protection, his love, his provision, his salvation. Even in the midst of a world seemingly out of control, because of God's love, we can rest secure in him.
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