Some thoughts about Hurricane Harvey.
The fierce storm with hurricane-force, 120 mph winds that hit the State of Texas in the USA last week has been headline news in the UK as well as in America.
The unprecedented quantity of rain that has been dumped on and around the city of Houston has caused enormous damage and left thousands homeless, triggering a major rescue operation. Amazingly the loss of life has been very small but the damage to property has been colossal.
We would like to express our condolences to all those who have suffered. Texas is known for its Christian population – so what is God saying to his people, especially those in the ‘Bible Belt’ of the USA? Many of the volunteers taking part in rescue operations expressed thanks to God for their own survival as they rescued others, which was a good witness on British TV.
We know that only those who are resident in Texas and who both know their Bibles and are aware of the moral and spiritual condition of their communities are able to know what God is saying through this natural disaster. But as a Brit who has family ties to the US and a genuine love for the country, I would like to offer some thoughts in this editorial.
The 1987 Hurricane
Back in 1987, on 16 October, a mini hurricane hit the south-east coast of England with winds gusting well over 100 mph causing enormous damage to buildings and ripping up some 15 million trees, smashing cars and power lines, blocking roads and rail travel from the south coast to London. It affected the richest area of the UK and for the first time in history the stock exchange in London was unable to open as its workers could not reach the capital.
The storm struck at 4am when hardly anyone was out of doors, so there was a minimum loss of life. But the damage to property was immense, affecting many of the richest houses in Britain, with trees crushing Rolls-Royces and Ferraris. If the storm had struck a few hours later in rush hour, the death toll would have been enormous. Amazingly also, the storm only affected the south-east area of England – 50 miles north of London there was hardly a breath of wind!
Texas is known for its Christian population-so what is God saying to His people through Hurricane Harvey?
We wrote about this at the time in the magazine Prophecy Today, asking if there was any word from the Lord. 48 hours after the hurricane, world stock markets began tumbling and London experienced the worst crash of all with millions of pounds wiped off share values. ‘Hurricane Friday’ was followed by ‘Black Monday’ in the City as winds of panic swept through the world’s financial markets and judgment on the rich nations began.
We saw this as the final warning about greed and corruption in the financial affairs of the nations. There had been many other warnings but this one was so specific, confined to property and in the richest area in the UK – its message should have been obvious even to those who never read the Bible.
History shows, however, that the warnings were ignored which eventually led to the great economic upheavals in 2008 when many great financial houses collapsed – and from which the economy has still not recovered.
The Rich in Laodicea
Today the oil-rich state in the richest nation in the world has been hit by a far greater hurricane and storm than the one that hit Britain 30 years ago. Also this week, floods have done enormous damage in Mumbai, the financial capital of India. Is this just coincidence, or is God saying something significant about the financial affairs of the world?
Here is another ‘coincidence’ – in the year AD 17, exactly 2,000 years ago, an enormous earthquake hit Asia Minor (now part of Turkey) destroying the great city of Laodicea, the richest city in the region. It was part of the Roman Empire at that time and Rome offered financial help in rebuilding, but the city elders refused saying that their own resources were perfectly adequate! They were adamant that they had sufficient wealth to meet their own needs and had no need of any help!
We saw the 1987 hurricane in England as the final warning about greed and corruption in the financial affairs of the nation
40 years later the Apostle Paul, on the road between Antioch and Ephesus, stopped at Laodicea, newly rebuilt with amazing buildings. The people were rich, proud and self-sufficient. Paul planted a church there leaving a man called Epaphras in charge, who also oversaw the nearby congregations in Hierapolis and Colossae.
The three cities were joined by a huge stone aqueduct carrying water from the hot springs of Hierapolis at the top of the mountain to Colossae in the valley.1 The water would have been lukewarm when it reached Laodicea and when writing his letter to the church in Laodicea the Apostle John charged the Christians with being lukewarm in their faith (Rev 3:16).
The message at that time was, “You say, I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Rev 3:17). This must have been a devastating message for the Christians in Laodicea who were all living nice comfortable lives very similar to those of their non-Christian neighbours. The message to them was a call for repentance and to recognise the extent to which they had imbibed the values of their rich neighbours, ignoring the plight of the poor down in the valley at Colossae.
I wonder if this is saying anything to our Christian friends in Texas? It is for them to take it before the Lord in their prayer times and it is not for us to judge. But in Britain we know that there is still huge corruption and unrighteousness in the financial affairs of our nation where top businessmen, officials and celebrities are paid vast sums of money while the poor struggle to make ends meet.
This same injustice can be seen on a vast scale on the world scene where two thirds of the world’s population go to bed hungry every night. The rich nations with their control of global monopolies, patents and copyrights wield power over other economies, ensuring that wealth stays concentrated in the hands of the rich and the poor are kept in their place.
In Britain we know that there is still huge corruption and unrighteousness in the financial affairs of our nation.
The God of Creation who holds the nations in his hands as a drop in a bucket (Isa 40:15) scoffs at the nations, according to Psalm 2:4, when they do not realise their feeble situation and attempt to throw off all restraint in their greed and avarice. But to ignore the laws of the God of the Bible who hates injustice and oppression (Jer 7:3-11) is foolhardy and dangerous: it leads to disaster which comes suddenly without further notice when all the warning signs have been ignored.
Christians throughout the rich nations of the West should be taking note of the warning signs of the great storms that hit Texas and the financial centre of India this week. When God gives warning signs they should never be ignored. The message Isaiah received was, “Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly in an instant” (Isa 30:12-13).
May the rich nations of the world take note!
1 See: Hill, C and Hill, M, 2005. Ephesus to Laodicea. Handsel Press, Edinburgh, p94f.
Image reference: Houston, TX, 28 August. David J. Phillip/AP/Press Association Images
Copyright 2017, Dr Clifford Hill, Prophecy Today UK-All rights reserved