Japan Earthquake: Judgment of God? Door of Hope?

Japan tsunami

Tokyo governor’s political hari kiri

On March 14, 2011, just three days after an earthquake of 9.0 and tsunami struck north-eastern Japan, the Tokyo governor issued a statement he might regret and pay a political price for. The earthquake, he proclaimed, was divine judgment on the Japanese people. It was “tenbatsu”,  the unerring and inevitable divine retribution on the wicked, in particular the “gayoku” (egoism, arrogance) of the Japanese people. Shintaro Ishihara, 79, a novelist, stage and screen actor and champion of the Japanese political right, is serving his third term as governor. Not a smart thing to say but he is known for being a lightning rod for sweeping and flammable remarks.

Chinese new media polarized

The Chinese netizens welcomed the destruction of this proud people who refused to repent and apologise to the satisfaction of the Chinese, for their WW2 invasion and atrocities in China. A huge outcry and battle has ensued in the Chinese new media, between those who rejoice and welcome the wrath of nature on the recalcitrant Japanese and those who felt that in such natural catastrophe the only appropriate response is compassion, not giving vent to pent-up historical and hysterical anger.

Preach it!

So far no preacher has said it is the judgment of God for Japanese wickedness. At least no notable one that has generated Jesus weepsinternational publicity. In 2005, Pat Robertson the fundamentalist TV evangelist said Hurricane Katrina was God’s judgment on some past court decision that favoured abortionists. And the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 was said by both Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell to be God’s punishment on America’s support of the abortionists and gays.

The experts

Seismologists say it is part of a pattern. Earthquake specialists see this earthquake as part of the third cluster of earthquakes the earth has seen. The two previous clusters were in the 1830s and between 1952 and 1965. What have been observed are not just the clusters but also the increased frequency of earthquakes although part of the increase could be explained by increased number of seismographs that had been set up.

The Bible and the End

There is always talk about the end of the world when such major catastrophes strike the earth. This should not be surprising because Jesus said, “See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs” (Matt. 24:6-8). Japan earthquake and tsunamiBirthpangs is a powerful metaphor that denotes increasing frequency and intensity of contraction pains in the mother about to give birth to new life. Jesus said that wars, famines and earthquakes will be like birth pangs, increasing in frequency and severity before “the end” came.

Interestingly St Paul also spoke of the groaning of the whole creation as in “the pains of childbirth”.  In Romans 8:19-22, he pictured the whole of creation under the weight of bondage to decay and frustration from God’s verdict on the sin of Adam. It’s under great strain and in labor. It is groaning. To be liberated. To give birth to a glorious new age: where the children of God in their resurrection bodies dwell with God in a new heaven and earth.

Romans 8: 19: For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

Harbinger of Christian Hope

The use of birth pangs of a mother in labour harks back to Jesus own metaphor of the end of the age. Wars and famines and earthquakes in various places. In increasing severity and frequency like the birth pangs of a pregnant mother about to give birth make all things newto new life. If this is so, the Japanese 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, tragic and sad as we may feel about it, is but one in a series of catastrophic events that will wrack the earth with greater ferocity and quickening rhythm. And it is but a harbinger of the consummation of the Christian hope, a precursor of the age to come, when the children of God will be revealed in glorious power and divine vindication. The dead would be raised, the judgment delivered, and the new earth and heaven inherited and inhabited by the redeemed of the Triune God. What a blast that would be!

Let me emphasize that this world is not hurtling out of control into self destruction but moving purposefully toward a glorious end: the coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the great judgment, the new heaven and the new earth. This is our sure and steadfast hope. Maranatha!

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  • Why still believe that God still judge when all His wrath for the sin of the World already unleashed on Jesus’ body 2000 years ago????? I believe God’s work will be far far greater than the devil’s for this calamity.

  • Thanks for your article which encourages us to look beyond the gloom of disasters. There is great hope for all of us, including our dear Japanese neighbours who are suffering now.

    Ephesians 4:4-8

    “4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.[b] 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”

    God loves the Japanese just as He loves me. There is no distinction. He loves us even before we are born and even before the world was created. God loves all people He created and has us in mind from the very beginning of time. This gives Him great pleasure. Wow.

    The only simple response we can make is to accept/believe heartily His pleasure to love us through Jesus Christ. His love is unconditional and does not depend on our work/behaviour/performance but on what Jesus did 2000yrs ago on our behalf. Wow.

    I love the Japanese people. I can feel the pain with you.

  • Thought I share this.

    I spoke to a Japanese pastor who visited Singapore over the weekend. I asked him how could we pray for Japan in the light of the recent tragedy.

    His reply (with tears welling up in his eyes): That the people of Japan to humble themselves and not trust in the country’s economic prowess. And especially for fellow Japanese Christians to “wake up” and become the Church to start serving the people of Japan.

    Let’s stand in the gap for Japan. That His hope, love and faith will come to this land in an unprecedented manner like never before.

  • To the Japanese pastor and the Japanese …there is hope 😀

    Isaiah 54 :9-10
    9“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. 10 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.

  • The Spirit of Yahweh is against those nations which vote against
    Israel.Japan, stop voting against Israel !!! May GOD have mercy on you.

  • The great, good, beautiful or wicked will perish the same way. “Nature” is agnostic and will not differentiate between believers or non- believers. Nobody is exempt from natural disasters

    Using a belief system to make judgement is insensitive and pssibly unchristian. .

    We should extend help wherever we can for we for we too may be subject to the whims of Nature or the folly of man in the future.

    Life is about vanities and dust will return to dust. The cosmos was the same yesterday, today and for the forseeable future. Let us not be quick with our flawed judgements.

  • Hi blogpastor, just want to highlight that in the Straits Times recently, a preacher was highlighted, which I think is not the right response to this event. God is not the source of disasters!

    Acts of God: It’s how we react
    The Straits Times

    A few days later, Cho Yong Gi of South Korea’s Yoido Full Gospel Church – said to be the world’s largest single church with 800,000 members – told news media the Japanese had only themselves to blame for the earthquake.

    “Because the Japanese people shun God in terms of their faith and follow idol worship, atheism, and materialism, it makes me wonder if this was not God’s warning to them,” the pastor said.

    • Wirelessed, Thanks for highlighting this. South Korean Pastor Yonggi Cho, David was the senior pastor of reportedly the largest church(750,000) in the world.

  • To FinishedWork. The book of Revelation gives a detailed portrayal of God unleashing his judgements in the last days, it was not just upon Jesus’ body when he died. I personally feel this is a judgement against Japan for amongst other things, the horrific whaling that they carry out. This must really sadden and anger Him.

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