What in the world is going on? Catastrophic hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, terrorism, nuclear threats. Is God trying to tell us something? Yes.

Hurricane-IrmaUPDATED: What in the world is going on?

Hurricane Harvey drops 33 trillion gallons of rainfall on the U.S. Experts say the floods are a once-in-a-thousand-years event. Now Hurricane Irma is bearing down on Florida. Historic, sustained winds of at least 185 miles-per-hour. Devastation in the Caribbean has been catastrophic. Experts say Florida and other American states could face the same.

Then there’s the horrific, out-of-control wildfires raging across the Pacific Northwest Countless that are “creating apocalypse-like conditions in numerous Western states, blotting out the noonday sun behind thick blankets of smoke and depositing ash like freshly fallen snow,” according to the Washington Post.

At the same time, Mexico experiences the worst earthquake in a century. Record-breaking floods are devastating Asia. Half of Bangladesh is reportedly underwater. 100,000 homes have been destroyed. Forty million people face severe and potentially life-threatening food and water shortages. Russia is preparing to mass upwards of 100,000 troops on the borders of three NATO countries for a massive series of war games that some fear is a prelude to war in Europe. The genocidal slaughter continues in Syria. Terror attacks are occurring around the globe. North Korea threatens to nuke the United States, then tests a hydrogen bomb and long-range ballistic missiles. And tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem spike, then settle, then spike again.

People have all kinds of theories as to what is happening, but the answer is quite straightforward — God is trying to get our attention.

These events are not random. The God of the Bible is sovereignly allowing these events to shake us, to wake us, to get our attention, that we might turn to Him and ask Him to have mercy on us and help us.

The Lord said through the ancient Hebrew Prophet Haggai that He would shake the nations in the last days. “For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. I will shake all the nations….I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations.” (Haggai 2:6, 7, 21, 22)

In the New Testament, the Lord reinforced that theme. “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven’….Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:25-29)

The prophecies in the Scriptures are clear: the Lord will shake individuals and nations to persuade us to let go of all of the flawed political, philosophical, intellectual and religious notions that we cling to that won’t give us true and lasting peace, that don’t give us true and eternal hope, that can’t bring us any enduring security, that can’t provide real forgiveness from our sins much less eternal life for our souls.

The God of the Bible wants to shake us loose of such things in order that we might turn to Him, and to the life He offers through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord isn’t letting America and other nations be shaken because He hates us. He is shaking us precisely because He loves us and wants us to repent and turn to Him and call out to Him, as individuals, as families, as leaders, and as entire nations.

This is a 2 Chronicles 7:14 moment, for the Church, for America, for Israel, for all nations. “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 

Let us humble ourselves and seek the Lord while He still may be found.

HOW DEVASTATING WILL HURRICANE IRMA BE?

HOW DEVASTATING WAS HURRICANE HARVEY?

  • Harvey is a 1,000-year flood event unprecedented in scale (Washington Post) — “A new analysis from the University of Wisconsin’s Space Science and Engineering Center has determined that Harvey is a 1-in-1,000-year flood event….There is nothing in the historical record that rivals this, according to Shane Hubbard, the Wisconsin who made and mapped this calculation. ‘In looking at many of these events [in the United States], I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude or size,’ he said. ‘This is something that hasn’t happened in our modern era of observations.'”
  • Harvey unloaded 33 trillion gallons of water in the U.S. (Washington Post) — “The overwhelming majority of Harvey’s rains are over, and we have a new calculation for the total volume of water it dispensed on U.S. soil: 33 trillion gallons. This number incorporates the rainfall not only in Texas and Louisiana, but also in Tennessee and Kentucky, which also experienced torrents.”
  • Tracking Harvey’s toll: ‘This is the costliest and worst natural disaster in American history’ (Dallas Morning News) — “AccuWeather is out with the highest estimate yet of Harvey’s potential price tag. The weather foreasting service now expects damage to reach $190 billion, or a full 1 percent of U.S. economic output. ‘This is the costliest and worst natural disaster in American history,’ said Joel Myers, AccuWeather’s founder, president and chairman.”

400% SPIKE IN GLOBAL WEATHER CATASTROPHES SINCE 1970


 

 

Four Days In Jordan: We took our kids & some friends to the Hashemite Kingdom last month. What a fascinating time.

Jordan-Trip-Petra-family

If you ever have the opportunity to travel to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, I highly encourage you and your family to do so.

Though far too few Evangelical Christians know or think much about this remarkable country, Jordan is beautiful, friendly, and safe — and immensely rich in Biblical history.

I’ve been there nine times. In 2014, I had the opportunity to meet with Jordan’s Prime Minister and other senior officials (I wrote four columns about that trip, if you’re interested — Why I Came To Amman, Was Jesus Baptized on the East Bank?, Meeting With The Foreign Minister, and Meeting the PM). Last year, Lynn and I were invited as guests of His Majesty King Abdullah II.

That said, our sons had never been there (beyond passing through on the way somewhere else). So last month, Lynn and I decided to take three of them and meet up with dear American friends who wanted to visit both Jordan and Israel for the first time. What an amazing time!

Jordan-Trip-keffiyahs

The eleven of us traveled through the territories of all three ancient nations that comprise the modern kingdom — Ammon, Moab and Edom. We had a wonderful Jordanian tour guide with us who helped us learn the country’s history, culture and geography.

Over the course of four very packed days, we took the kids to:

  • Bethany Beyond the Jordan (we saw the ancient ruins of the town where the Bible says John the Baptist conducted his ministry alongside the Jordan River and where many believe Jesus Himself was baptized)
  • Amman (the modern and ancient capital known in the Bible as Rabbat-Ammon and later as Philadelphia, part of the Roman Decapolis)
  • Jerash (known in the Bible as Gerasa, part of the Roman Decapolis)
  • Madaba (the site of an extraordinary ancient mosaic map of key Christian holy sites in the Holy Land)
  • Mount Nebo (where God showed his servant Moses the Promised Land of Israel, and where Moses also died and was buried)
  • Petra (the ancient Nabatean city made famous in the third sequel of Raiders of the Lost Ark — click here for the last scene)
  • Wadi Rum (the breath-taking Edomite desert made famous in the Oscar-winning — and must-see motion picture, Lawrence of Arabia); and
  • Aqaba (the southern Jordanian port city located on the shores of the Red Sea)

Jordan-Trip-Jerash-Jonah

Along the way, I taught the group about the many Biblical leaders who lived in and served God in Jordan during ancient times and the many important Biblical events that occurred there.

  • Job was from “the land of Uz” which was located in the southern Edomite region of Jordan. (See the Book of Job)
  • Moses lived on the East side of the Jordan River, and eventually died and was buried on Mount Nebo. (See Deuteronomy chapter one and chapter 34.)
  • The entire Israelite nation lived on the East side of the River for a time after escaping from Egypt. (See the book of Deuteronomy.)
  • Joshua lived on the East side, and from there led the Israelites across the Jordan River to the West side. (See the book of Deuteronomy and Joshua chapter one.)
  • The prophet Elijah was born and raised in the land of Gilead, which is on the East side of the River, and eventually went back to heaven there in a chariot of fire. (See I Kings 17:1, 2 Kings 10:33, and 2 Kings 2:1-14)
  • The prophet Elisha received the mantle of prophetic leadership on the East side of the River. (See 2 Kings chapter two.)
  • John the Baptist based his ministry “in Bethany beyond the Jordan,” that is, on the East side of the River. (See John 1:28.)
  • The Lord Jesus Christ may have been baptized on the East Bank, since his cousin John baptized Him and John was ministering on the East side of the River. (See John chapter one.)
  • The Lord Jesus Christ certainly traveled to the East side of the River and ministered to people on and from the East side.

Jordan-Trip-MountNebo-view

We especially focused in the New Testament on the account of the Lord Jesus healing two demon possessed men in “the country of the Gadarenes,” an ancient Roman city on the East side of the Sea of Galilee, in the northwest section of modern Jordan. (Matthew 8:28-34).

“The modern town of Umm Qais is the site of the ancient Greco-Roman town of Gadara, one of the cities of the Decapolis and, according to the Bible, the place where Jesus cast out the devil from two men into a herd of pigs (Matthew 8: 28-34),” notes the official website of Jordan’s late King Hussein.

We also looked at the accounts in Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39. Both focus on Jesus casting a “legion” of demons out of one specific man in “the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee” and then telling that man to “go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”

Jordan-Trip-Amman-theatre

These two accounts are more detailed versions of the Matthew 8:28-34 account. The region where the events happened is the same – northwest Jordan – as described by Matthew. But Mark and Luke use slightly different language. They refer to the “country of the Gerasenes.” This certainly included the ancient city of Gadara, but was also a broad swath of territory linked to the ancient Roman city of Gerasa, which today is known as the Jordanian city of Jerash, located about 40 miles south of Umm Qais. [See King Hussein’s website.]

The kids absolutely loved our time in Jordan, as did we adults. We loved the people, the sights, the food and the opportunity to pray for the people and the leaders of this extraordinary kingdom. I so hope you and your family will look for an opportunity to visit Jordan soon, as well.

NOTE: In addition to the pictures I’ve posted here, I’ll Tweet out more photos over the next few days.

EpicenterConf-CostaMesa2017