Tuesday, July 19, 2022

The Tsunami and the Watchman’s Burden (CA! Vol 8 No 1, 2005)

 The world will certainly not forget in a hurry the devastating December 26 tsunami that left behind some 150,000 people dead and 500,000 others injured last year. Yet millions of others were rendered destitute and homeless as trillions of dollars worth of property perished in a matter of minutes. 

           How did it happen?  The physics of a tsu-nami (Japanese word for habour wave) is described in lay terms in the article by Prof. Bolaji Aluko (www.dawodu.com/aluko107.htm). Following an earthquake under the Ocean, the sea bed is pushed upwards several meters.  This results in an overflow of a huge amount of water which together with the waves, surge towards land at an incredible speed that could be up to about 800 km/h, comparable to the speed of a commercial airliner.  The current tsunami is an example of what can result from such a phenomenon.

        Now, why did it happen?  Why did so many – mainly children -  have to die so violently, so suddenly?  Here science breaks down, and religion and philosophy comes up, many of them showing their abject bankruptcy and total hopelessness.  In a study carried out by BBC News (Jan 3: An Act of God?), the views of various religions were sought to explain the tsunami and the associated great loss of lives.  Rani Moorthy, a Hindi actress and  writer offered:  “The tsunami brings into question both  personal and collective destinies for Hindus. In terms of the latter, we are born in an age of destruction, known as Kali Yuga, an age that lasts for perhaps 1,000 years. This says that we must go through a series of set-backs, obstacles, suffering, eg AIDS, and a propensity for natural disasters as nature shows its malevolent side. Mankind goes through this to be renewed. As for my personal destiny, there is no central text in Hinduism as there is in other religions so it's up to each of us to formulate our own understanding”….The`outlook of Bhuddism is not much different: “What might have precipitated the tsunami was a lot of people coming together who had the karma for a short life and, to an extent, this is perhaps a reflection that these areas were over-populated”, reflected an adherent. 

It is instructive that people hardly consider the possibilities that God might actually have reduced the possible impact of the event (see Matthew 24:22 to confirm the consistency of this with His character) or that He might not really have wished the event to have happened at all. (See also Luke 13:1-5; Ezekiel 18:32).

     Of the many lessons that could possibly be drawn from this incident, Church Arise!, will  want to soberly point out a few.  If learnt, then at least those saddening loss of lives would not have gone entirely in vain.

        First, is the ephemeral nature of materials and utter helplessness of man.  The energy of the tsunami was estimated as greater than 10 times those of the atomic bombs unleashed on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945.  We may guard all we can against terrorism, war etc, but no amount of resolution-passing at the UN can stop such, well, “acts of God”.

.      Second is the suddenness of it all.  One fact that struck most eye-witnesses was the brevity of the whole incident.  One moment, calm and camaraderie, a sudden gale of water, and 2 minutes later, all calm again, this time, a ghostly calm. The Bible says the coming of the Lord will happen “in a twinkle of an eye’.  One moment, it will be business as usual, the next, it will be all over and the world will never be the same again!

The above  leads to the point on the urgency of preaching the Gospel.  Unfortunately the vast majority of those who perished in the tsunamis did not get to understand that through Jesus Christ, they could have a solid hope for the eternity. Most eastern religions teach a hopeless future of repeated reincarnation till one day one may earn enough good works to break the cycle.  And to think they only needed to know the Truth to have had a gloriously different destiny.  Now for these, it’s too late to preach!

         Lastly, and perhaps most critical, is the problem of getting people to respond to otherwise unpalatable realities. Virtually everyone knows that the fault lines are there and that the Tsunami could, indeed MUST, one day happen.  Prediction systems exist to warn people ahead of a developing tsunami, but with these rushing in typically at a speed of 800 km/h, the real challenge is to get people to respond to this warning either on time, or at all!   According to a BBC analysis: “An operator sitting in an early warning centre in Jakarta might know about an impending tsunami, but how does he warn the fisherman in Sumatra, the sweet seller in Sri Lanka, the tribesman on Nicobar island?” 

          The challenges of accurately predicting that a particular quake under the ocean will develop into a harmful tsunamis are rather daunting that but for the most advanced (and expensive) systems such as the Deep Ocean Assessment and Reporting (DART), three in four tsunami alerts turn out to be false alarms  (newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6839).  Evacuations in such cases are very costly and can damage a delicate industry such as tourism.   The inevitable resultant is complacency or wishful thinking on the part of the majority!  Clearly there are some events for which preparations for possible escape must not be delayed till they commence.

      Certainly, the saddest (and least told story!) about the whole Asian Tsunami is the fact that there were professional scientists who seeing clearly the handwriting literally shouted themselves hoarse hoping somebody will pay attention. The Newscientist article already cited above, quietly mentioned the story of Samoth Dhammasaroj, a meteoroligcal expert in Thailand.  Soon after the massive ocean quake, he realized that a deadly tsunami might be on the way, but he was “unable to contact government officials to raise the alarm”.   Even more pathetic is the story of Kerry Sieh, distinguished professor of geology at CalTech, who several weeks before the event repeatedly warned Indonesian officials that an earthquake and tsunami would soon strike their shores.

         Prof. Sieh, who has studied the region for nearly a decade, was so frustrated in his attempts to get the attention of Asia's leaders that, in desperation, he began handing out fliers, posters and brochures to residents of the islands worst hit by the waves.  He spoke at churches and schools – wherever people gave him audience.  According to a report in WND (Jan 9, 2005), his appointment to discuss with Indonesian officials, about a month to the catastrophe, “was reportedly canceled at the last minute by the officials”.   According to Sieh, "No one can predict exactly when an earthquake will happen, but it was clear that this area was at relatively high risk and such an event would definitely happen one day," he said after the devastation. "We told them it would kill people, wreck infrastructure and destroy livelihoods. But our warnings were falling on deaf ears. My team and I decided to bypass the national and local government and start warning people directly. I hope our efforts saved some lives."

       The sad story shows how little things have changed since the times of Noah or Lot! It takes great courage to warn people to flee from the danger to come, especially when that means asking them to change comfortable lifestyles, religions, professions, practices they have been comfortably entrenched in.  And with many satanically-inspired doomsday date-setters periodically springing forth, it is easy for men and women to brush aside sound clear Biblical warnings with a wave of  “we’ve heard all that before”. 

    But then how can anyone, like Prof Sieh, possibly see the unmistaken signs of a great tsunami approaching – unprecedented rot and immorality, including sexuality education taking deep roots in society, increasing turning against God as people pay lip service to righteousness and embrace various cults directly or indirectly, systematic and clear efforts to zombifie the entire populace via many simultaneous efforts including microchip implantation, using basic obvious baits, etc – how can one see all these, understand the clear implications, and not warn the unwary to depart from doomsland, no matter the cost?  Afterall what does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his life? (Mark 8: 36?)  Even when one knows a priori that most will either outrightly scoff, or politely ignore, can one but keep on shouting?  The Lord has given the Word, who can keep quiet!  This is the watchman’s burden – such as is borne by ministries like Church Arise!  Mat 25:41 makes it clear that although many will end up in hell fire, none is actually required to!  The Word of God is clear.  Disaster is coming upon the world that will make the recent tsunamis look like a picnic.(see Rev. 16:1ff).  Genuine faith in Jesus is the ONLY way out (1 Jhn 5:4-5).  NOW, is the time to escape for your life (Gen. 19:17). Come out of all ungodly relationships and associations today! (2 Cor. 6:17, Rev. 18:4).  Remember Lot’s wife!

To download past editions of Church Arise! newsletter, please go to the Archives at www.churcharise.org

No comments: