Sunday, 8 September 2013


 I preached this message after a devasting earthquake in Turkey when many were killed and injured. However dated the occasion may be, the principles (being Biblical) are timeless...

Read: Genesis 18:16-33 text v25

 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Reference made to suffering of people as captured by the media.
Sympathised with the people who had loved ones/homes etc.

We can answer the question why did this earthquake cause so great devastation a number of ways.
We can give a scientific answer.
Great plates underground which push together.
This answers the how of the earthquake.
We might find such an answer interesting…but it doesn't satisfy us completely.
We don't want to know not merely how? but why?
For this we might give a philosophical answer.
I should say: Any one of many.
One theory is that states that all these things happen according to blind random chance.
Life has no meaning and no purpose and so this just happened and that it is fruitless to ask the reason why.
This head-in-the-sand approach satisfies many.
It cuts the knot as opposed to trying to unravel it. 
It is the easy way out of many a debate.
I will not go down that road to nowhere.

There is a third kind of answer: It is the Scriptural answer.
We can widen the initial cause of our asking of it (Why did this earthquake cause so great a devastation?) to the even wider question which is on many people's minds:

How can an Almighty God of Love allow so much suffering?
Very often when this question is asked, Bible believing Christians drop the head and mumble some kind of reply.
It would be very easy for non Bible believers to assume that we don't really have a satisfactory answer i.e. that we are embarrassed for God.
This is not so. 

In this message we want to face the issue clearly and answer the hard questions.
In our text, Abraham is praying to God hoping that God will save Sodom [or his nephew Lot in particular] from total destruction.
He is praying logically and in the right sense argumentatively.
He is like an lawyer in the court.
He is not merely pleading for mercy, but argues that God who is the Judge of all the earth must do right.
He appeals to the justice of God. God is not only all powerful - He is also all righteous.
He cannot be charged with any crime. God is not a tyrant or a despot. God has all the attributes of justice, fairness and love.


Wrong to focus in on one part of life…as if there was nothing else.

A/ Easily proved. Why do we all try to cling to life?
Why do we treat the injured? Rushed to hospital?
Why look for survivors in the rubble? Because we know life is worth living.
Would not be so, if there was not more blessing than suffering.
Many of us can say: Psalm 16:6 (Lines are fallen in pleasant places)

B/ Without rushing ahead…things could be a great deal worse.
Children Of Israel could easily have been wiped out.
Yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.(Psalm 78)
Such scenes of devastation could have as easily hit your country or anywhere in the world.
Such does not answer the question…but needs to be said.

The answer is Biblical.
Ignore this and you go round in circles chasing your tail and get nowhere.
God explains these things in His word.

A/ Suffering came into the world as a result of Adam's sin against God. Opened floodgates.
Had Adam (literal figure) not have sinned in Genesis 3., then no pain/sorrow/death in the world.
Simplistic? Perhaps (to some) unsatisfactory. But it is so.
Cause and effect. Sin leads to sorrow.

B/ Adam was not a mere individual.
Adam had an official capacity. Federal Head of Human race.
His actions affected those whom he represented. Fact of life.
Principle abides in the UN.
When Adam freely chose to disobey God - sin and death entered into world: Romans 5:12
We just can't blame Adam for it all - for: Romans 3:23

C/ Question: Was Turkish earthquake a result of sin in general or particular?
Ans:- Don't know and so don't have to play God and give an answer.

What we do know is:
[i] All affliction is not necessarily for a particular sin:
Taught in John 9:2-3. Job proves this.
[ii] Where it is for some particular sin - we are not to think wrong thoughts: Luke 13:1-5

D/ When we see suffering - do not lay blame at God's feet. Ecclesiastes 7:29

A/ Universal trait in human nature to seek to blame someone else.
Garden of Eden is a classic example: The woman thou gavest me…
Most easy in an ungodly world to blame God.
God's patience is often abused. If you blame another human being - you might well get a quick reply…
…so some decide to opt for the long term alternative.
God is often blamed for being unjust.
Why does Almighty God not use just some power? Why if all loving etc.,

B/ God makes a reply here.
Those who challenge His fairness are not new. Others done so.
God's asks rhetorical question: Ezekiel 18:25
Makes the statement in Ezekiel 33:17

C/ If suffering comes through sin (it does) and therefore has a knock on effect (Proverbs 14:34):
Are you willing to forgo/forsake/abandon and repent of your sin?
If you thought that an disaster would devastate your country…but if there was repentance
(meaning forsaking of all those sins which stir up God's anger) … would you forgo those sins?
If so…will you start now?
Put away your idolatry.
Put away false teaching which denigrates God and His Son (religious/philosophical) and honour God by trusting Him wholly as your Saviour.

D/ My guess is that faced with that ultimatum…many would say "Hard lines neighbours"
We see it every day with drunk or speeding drivers.
Despite horrific statistics…folk still get into fast powerful cars which they cannot handle and kill on our roads rather than forsake sin.

E/ If God really intervened as men say He should - [forgetting that He often does] - and began to tackle the root as opposed to the fruit - what an outcry there would be!
Men would rather have their sin than God taking it from them.

F/ Before you start accusing God, are your ways equal? (Ezekiel 33:17)
God starts with individuals. We talk about society's ills. I don't like that phrase.
Too wide. Too convenient...enables us to escape our individual contribution to same.

A/ My answer is Biblical…but still more questions must be asked.
Put blame where it belongs…on sinful man.
But what of little children/mentally incompetent who cannot be held responsible for their actions?
Why do they suffer? One thing the knowingly sinful.

B/ When someone has not/cannot reach the place of accountability, I believe God shelters them beneath the blood of the Lord Jesus.
When a little child dies, I believethat it goes to Heaven.
Bible doesn't give us any direct verses on this, but we take the overall picture of a tender-hearted, benevolent, loving God.
Twice we read: God is Love. Fall back on our text (Genesis 18:25)

C/ Sometimes in the Bible death is portrayed as being better than life: Isaiah 57:1

A/ God's Heaven: Revelation 21:3-4
Portrayed a place of infinite joy: Zechariah 8:5
Surely this is a place where we all want to go? No more harrowing television scenes.

B/ How do we get there? As already said: God starts with individuals.

C/ When we think about the innocent suffering remember this:
1 Peter 3:18/Hebrews 9:26 Christ the Innocent suffered willing for (on account of) the guilty!
Opportunity to explain very simply the message of the gospel.

D/ Way of salvation outlined in Romans 10:13

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