With another week gone by and fires still raging in Australia, the questions continue about why this is happening. Why is it happening in the eastern states and not as much over in WA (where I am currently)? There are fires here, but nothing like what’s happening on the other side of the continent. The air in WA is clean. The sky is blue. It’s not going to be like that when I return home this coming week.
Well, there’s the scientific response. It’s dry. It’s been dry for ages. There’s a lot of ‘fuel’ for the fires that’s just ripe for burning unfortunately. It’s hot too, and there’s plenty of strong wind.
There are other factors too. One being that Victoria is apparently the most prone area to bushfires in Australia. I don’t know why. I just read it on a website last week (that appeared highly reputable).
Then there’s climate change. The extent of its impact is difficult to calculate, one would think.
But then, what about God?
In everything, my personal belief is that you should look at the science. To not look at science is foolish. Yet, to dismiss the supernatural, is also foolish. So what is God saying through all of this?
Some people claim that whenever there’s a terrible disaster, it means that God is passing judgement on people. And maybe he is…. Yet, maybe he’s not also.
There’s two parts of The Bible that jump into my mind when considering these things:
- Job’s story
- Jesus’ teachings
Job was a man in the Old Testament who had everything go wrong. Much like some people experiencing bushfires currently, in one day he lost all his livestock and his children were all killed when a house collapsed on top of them.
So do we assume that God is passing judgement on Job because bad things happened to him?
Well, no. The Bible says this:
One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD and Satan also came with them… Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? … But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has…”
The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
If nothing else, Job shows us that we can’t just assume that something bad happening means that God is declaring judgement on a person.
Then, what about when there’s a town that’s been ravaged by fire and yet there are some that don’t lose their houses? Their next door neighbours, just metres away, have lost everything, but their property is untouched. Are those that lost their houses worse sinners?
At one point in his ministry Jesus was questioned about some disturbing events that had occurred recently and Jesus brought up the incident of a tower that fell and some killed people nearby. However, of course, not everybody in the vicinity was harmed.
Jesus says this:
“Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty that all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Jesus makes it clear that we can’t stand back and look at a street that has suffered at the hands of a bushfire and determine who the sinners are and who the righteous are, by looking at who has and hasn’t lost their property.
That’s just not how it works. Yet Jesus also makes a good comment at the end: repent.
It doesn’t matter who you are: whether currently suffering or wonderfully unscathed. Jesus’ message is clear.
It’s always a good time to turn to God.
Yours in Perth,