Today during sharing there was a topic written on the white board, the words that are written on it is used as the title of this blog entry.

The Two Opposing View About Pestilences and Famine

View No 1: These are Judgement From God

Generally the message shared can be summarised like this

God is love, at the same time he is also judgment. Therefore there are many things that are example of judgement from God.

1. Aids is an example of punishment to the sexually immoral
2. God has used pestilences as punishment (Deut 28:58-61, Lev 26:16-15 )
         a. King Jehoram (2 Chron 21) is used as an example of this punishment
3. God uses the judgement as a way to turn people back (Rev 16:7-11, 2 Chron 7:14)
4. God did not use it as a way to make life difficult, but for one to turn back (Tit 3:5)

According to him, makes use of many forms of disasters as punishment against people who sin against him  (EG : Fire and Brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah , the great flood at the times of Noah ,  the 7 bowls of wrath poured during revelations)

View No 2: That’s is Life

At the same time, I remember another discussion we have with a CG group of a church where there are people who thinks that bad things happens to people simply because “That is life”. The concept of man having to suffer for the wrong for sin is because of our “Asian Upbringing” (AKA Karma in Buddhism and Hinduism) .. and in fact God of the bible does not do that

The Initial Thoughts

Since the beginning of Mankind, man had often encounters ups and down, good things and bad things. The question of why Bad things happen had been a topic of discussion for thousands of years. In order to tackle that question, mankind had came up with numerous religions and philosophy, they discuss about the existence of God and the reason for sufferings. For me, I would like to look at this from a Christian perspective.

As we see in view 1 and 2, even Christians had differing views about why misfortune befall on man. Hence it is important for us to take a look at what the bible says about Suffering.

The Truth Behind View No 1

As Christians we read the bible often, and it is undeniable that God indeed uses difficulties such as famine and pestilences to call back the children of Israel. This is evident throughout the period of judges and all the way to the period of the kings.

At the same time, we cannot deny the fact that God indeed sent 10 plagues to Egypt, overthrow the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, ordered the killing of the Amalekites and the Canaanites. God even make use of the Babylonians as his instrument to punish the Israelites when they disobeyed him (Jer 25:8-9)

Indeed, many a times God make use of difficulties as a way to turn the children of Israel back to him. At the same time, during the New Testament, the apostolic church is made to undergo much sufferings and it resulted to them having a stronger faith at the end.

It is important for Christians to consider when encountering tough time, and see if God was trying to teach them something, it is important for them to repent and return to the Lord. 

This view, however is incomplete. For it does not answer many difficult questions that people encounter. Take for example

1. Assuming that Aids is a pestilences from God, and it is meant to punish the sexually immoral (Which i do not agree completely) . How about the people who encounter the disease through no fault on their own? (Blood transfusion, Children born from Parents suffering from Aids)

Is it fair for us to therefore judge and say that it is a “punishment from God”?

Does God Uses Famines , Earthquakes and Pestilences For Punishment Only?

It would be very simple to just say yes when one is not suffering. We can see these words spoken the friends of Job

“Remember now, who ever
  perished being innocent?
  Or where were the upright
  ever cut off? ”- Eliphaz (Job 4 : 7-9)

“Behold, God will not cast away
  the blameless, Nor will He uphold
   the evildoers.”- Bildad (Job 8:20)

“ If he (God)  comes along and confines you in prison
   and convenes a court, who can oppose him?
   Surely he recognizes deceivers;
  and when he sees evil, does he
  not take note?”- Zophar (Job 11:10-11)

It looks as if their points was full of righteousness. That the sickness and suffering that Job encountered was the result of his sin But what was God’s response to their speech?

“My wrath is aroused against you
  and your two friends, for you have
  not spoken of Me what is right, as
  My servant Job has.”- YHWH (Job 42:7)

Sometimes when we encounter difficulties and troubles, and when we often think that it is a result of sin. Just like the time when the disciples encounter a blind man in the book of John

(Jn 9:2-3)
Disciples :“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or
                     his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus :“Neither this man nor his parents sinned, 
               but that the works of God should be 
               revealed in him.

Whenever we witness a disaster and something bad, we too often think that the cities that are suffering from it deserved it and it is because of sin. But Jesus had something to say about that too.

A Christian Response To Calamity And News Of Misfortune

Luke 13 records of a time where there were some people who came to Jesus with some of the news  of their time. There was some Galileans who was killed by Pilate .  Jesus asked them.

“Do you suppose that these Galileans
  were worse sinners than all other
  Galileans, because they suffered
  such things?  I tell you, no; but
  unless you repent you will all
  likewise perish

  Or those eighteen on whom the
  tower in Siloam fell and killed them,
  do you think that they were worse 
  sinners than all other men who dwelt
  in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no; but unless
  you repent you will all likewise perish.”- Jesus (Lk 13:2-4)

Over here Jesus taught us how Christians should react to this news. Let us not be too quick to judge and say that calamities are a result of the sins of others. But rather Let us be reminded that God has given us one more day to live and one more day to repent and return to him.

Concluding Words

so far, in our discussed we can conclude the following points.

1. God does use disasters such as famine, pestilences and earthquakes as punishment
            a. When it happens, let us take the chance and repent quickly
2. However, it would be unfair to say that whenever it happens, its a punishment
       a. For there are times where troubles came as a lesson from God 
3. Let us not suppose that we are better then those who were suffering

Let us know that whatever events that happen, be it good or be it bad all came from God. Sometimes God give us trials so that we would be able to return back to him just as what the Psalmist once said

“Before I was afflicted I went astray,
  But now I keep Your word. ……
  It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
  That I may learn Your statutes.” – Psalmist (Ps 119:67-71)

Sometimes he does that to help us know him better. Just as what Job says at the end of the suffering.

“I have heard of You by the
  hearing of the ear,
  But now my eye sees You.”-Job (Job 42:5)

Sometimes it is difficult for us to find out the reason behind our suffering. But if one were to maintain his faith and rely on Gods guidance. He may be able to see the beautiful will of God behind what that has happen.

“And we know that all things work
  together for good to those who love God,
  to those who are the called according to
  His purpose” – Paul (Rom 8:28)

That is why Christians ought to adopt the right attitude when faced with difficulties and calamities. As a conclusion, let us take a look at the words of King Solomon as a reminder for the lessons learnt today.

“In the day of prosperity be joyful,
  But in the day of adversity consider:
  Surely God has appointed the one as
  well as the other,So that man can find
  out nothing that will come after him.” – Solomon (Eccl 7:14)