In view of the horrific, heart-wrenching natural and man-made tragedies that are occurring in our world--most recently the tsunami devastation in south Asia, the 2004 hurricanes of Florida, the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers in New York, other natural disasters (tornadoes), the on-going crises in Iraq, etc., many are asking: Are calamities caused by God? How can an all loving, all merciful Heavenly Father cause such tragedies to happen?
The answer to this seemingly perplexing question can be gleaned from the pages of sacred history. We know that sin originated in Heaven with Lucifer, a beautiful archangel with a lofty stature and majestic presence, 'the son of the morning' standing near to the throne of God veiling His glory. But Lucifer indulged in murmurings against God and rebelled against His authority. He wanted an exalted position; he wanted to be higher than God Himself. He caused dissension and strife amongst the angelic hosts endeavoring to excite dissatisfaction concerning the laws that governed heavenly beings. God in His mercy bore long with Lucifer. Opportunities for repentance were granted him, but pride prevented him from doing so. God in His wisdom permitted Lucifer to carry forward his work, until the spirit of disaffection ripened into open and active revolt. There was war in heaven the Bible recorded. --See Ezekiel 28, Revelation 12.
In the councils of God, it was determined that Lucifer and a third of the angels who collaborated with him in this rebellion were to be cast out of heaven to this earth. Since that time, all sin, evil, death, destruction, and misery began to be experienced in the once pristine and beautiful world of ours. Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden by an angel with a flaming sword not only because they had listened to Satan and disobeyed the commands of their Heavenly Father but lest they should partake of the fruits of the Tree of Life and immortalize sin. From the very beginning, Satan was the source and instigator of all evil, death, destruction, and misery. He was a warrior. He was wroth with the woman (God's church) and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Rev 12:17). Satan is nothing but an adversary, an enemy, who walks about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). He is the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10), the father of lies, and the first murderer and terrorist. (John 8:44).
So why didn't God put an end to sin and Satan right from the get go? Why didn't He just zap Satan and his evil angels out of existence back then? Wouldn't that have solved the sin problem and prevented all the ills of the world from happening? Did God make a mistake in allowing sin to run its course? No, Infinite Wisdom didn't make a mistake. At the beginning of sin's mysterious entrance into Heaven, the heavenly beings had no conception of the nature of sin and its malignity. Sin had not fully developed, and it did not appear the evil that it should. God wanted the character of Satan and the nature of sin to be fully manifested so that all in our world and the watching universe would have witnessed the terrible consequences of sin and rebellion. They would have seen the train of wretchedness and woes upon our world (sickness, pain, suffering, sorrow, heartache, misery, destruction, and death), and realized the malignity of sin and that rebellion does not pay.
The unfallen beings would have also witnessed the hatred of Satan against the Son of God when he walked in the earth garbed in humanity to save fallen humanity. "It was Satan that prompted the world's rejection of Christ. The prince of evil exerted all his power and cunning to destroy Jesus; for he saw that the Saviour's mercy and love, His compassion and pitying tenderness, were representing to the world the character of God and employed men as his agents to fill the Saviour's life with suffering and sorrow. The sophistry and falsehood by which he had sought to hinder the work of Jesus, the hatred manifested through the children of disobedience, his cruel accusations against Him whose life was one of unexampled goodness, all sprang from deep-seated revenge. The pent-up fires of envy and malice, hatred and revenge, burst forth on Calvary against the Son of God, while all heaven gazed upon the scene in silent horror." --Great Controversy, Page 501.
Had God blotted out of existence Satan and his evil angels at the very beginning before sin had fully matured, the heavenly beings could not have seen the justice, mercy, and benevolence of God. They would have greatly feared that they, too, could be blotted out of existence. They would have served and worshipped God out of fear instead of love. Now that sin had matured and continues to mature and the horrifying consequences witnessed, the heavenly beings knew that the extermination of Satan and his wily foes at the end of the age would vindicate God's love and establish His honor before the universe of beings who delight to do His will, and in whose heart is His law. Once this lesson is learned and sin is forever banished from the universe, rebellion will not rise up a second time. Nahum 1:9.
God desires from His subjects only willing and loving service that springs from an intelligent appreciation of His character. He does not coerce or compel anyone to love and serve Him. He grants them freedom of will that they may render Him voluntary service.
"The whole universe is watching with inexpressible interest the closing scenes of the great controversy between good and evil." -- Prophets and Kings, Page 148.
"Our little world is the lesson book of the universe." --Desire of Ages, Page 19.
Throughout the pilgrimage of God's people--beginning with Adam and Eve who were driven from their Garden home, to Noah and the Ark, to the Tower of Babel, to the forty-year wanderings in the wilderness, to Elijah at Mount Carmel, to Jehoshaphat and his choir, to Daniel and the Babylonian captivity, to the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar, and on to the end of time, the controversy between good and evil wages on. God created us free moral agents. His dealing with His people corporately or individually has always been the same based on the choices they have made. To His ancient people, blessings, peace, and prosperity came about as a result of their obedience and loyalty to Him and His commandments. In war, God fought their battles for them. On the other hand, disobedience and national apostasy, alliance with the heathen nations around them resulted in their being taken into captivity and experiencing ruin, utter destruction and death. To His modern people, God would do the same. Obedience or disobedience to His principles and laws would bring about their natural and inevitable results. "Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known." Deut. 11:26-28.
Because of their disobedience, God commanded Elijah in 1 Kings, Chapter 19, to anoint the cruel and deceitful Hazael king over Syria, that he might be a scourge to idolatrous Israel. Did God use the terrorists as a scourge to idolatrous America? Did we hear loud and clear the footsteps of an offended God? Amidst the chaos and confusion, the terror and trauma, did we feel or sense His presence, His footprints in the land?
Are we, as God's people today, repeating the experiences of God's ancient people in their disobedience to God? The following excerpts are taken from the book, Last Day Events, which explain the reasons for calamities. Some of these quotations were written well over a hundred years ago.
God's Purpose in Calamities. "What mean the awful calamities by sea--vessels hurled into eternity without a moment's warning? What mean the accidents by land--fire consuming the riches that men have hoarded, much of which has been accumulated by oppression of the poor? The Lord will not interfere to protect the property of those who transgress His law, break His covenant, and trample upon His Sabbath, accepting in its place a spurious rest day.
"The plagues of God are already falling upon the earth, sweeping away the most costly structures as if by a breath of fire from heaven. Will not these judgments bring professing Christians to their senses? God permits them to come that the world may take heed, that sinners may be afraid and tremble before Him." --Manuscript Release, Volume 3, page 311 (1902).
"God has a purpose in permitting these calamities to occur. They are one of His means of calling men and women to their senses. By unusual workings through nature God will express to doubting human agencies that which He clearly reveals in His Word." --Manuscript Release, Volume 19, Pages 279 (1902).
"How frequently we hear of earthquakes and tornadoes, of destruction by fire and flood, with great loss of life and property? Apparently these calamities are capricious outbreaks of disorganized, unregulated forces of nature, wholly beyond the control of man, but in them all God's purposes may be read. They are among the agencies by which He seeks to arouse men and women to a sense of their danger." --Prophets and Kings, Page 277 (1914) ."
"Crime, Famines, Pestilence. Satan is working in the atmosphere, he is poisoning the atmosphere, and here we are dependent upon God for our lives--our present and eternal lives. And being in the position that we are, we need to be wide awake, wholly devoted, wholly converted, wholly consecrated to God. But we seem to sit as though we were paralyzed. God of heaven, wake us up!" --Selected Messages, Page 52 (1890).
"God has not restrained the powers of darkness from carrying forward their deadly work of vitiating the air, one of the sources of life and nutrition, with a deadly miasma. Not only is vegetable life affected but man suffers from pestilence...These things are the result of drops from the vials of God's wrath being sprinkled on the earth, and are but faint representations of what will be in the near future." --Selected Messages, Volume 3, page 391 (1891).
"Famines will increase. Pestilences will sweep away thousands. Dangers are all around us from the powers without and satanic workings within..."--Manuscript Releases, Volume 19, Page 382 (1897).
"...the Spirit of the Lord is being withdrawn from the earth. God's keeping power will soon be refused to all who continue to disregard His commandments. The reports of fraudulent transactions, murders, and crimes of every kind are coming to us daily. Iniquity is becoming so common a thing that it no longer shocks the senses as it once did." --Letter 258, 1907
"The earth's crust will be rent by the outbursts of the elements concealed in the bowels of the earth. These elements, once broken loose, will sweep away the treasures of those who for years have been adding to their wealth by securing large possessions at starvation prices from those in their employ. And the religious world, too, is to be terribly shaken, for the end of all things is at hand." --Manuscript Releases, Page 208 (1891).
"The time is now come when one moment we may be on solid earth, the next the earth may be heaving beneath our feet. Earthquakes will take place when least expected." --Testimonies to Ministers, Page 421 (1896)
"In fires, in floods, in earthquakes, in the fury of the great deep, in calamities by sea and by land, the warning is given that God's Spirit will not always strive with men." --Manuscript Releases, Page 315 (1897)
"Before the Son of man appears in the clouds of heaven everything in nature will be convulsed. Lightning from heaven uniting with the fires in the earth will cause the mountains to burn like a furnace and will pour out their floods of lava over villages and cities. Molten masses of rock thrown into the water by the upheaval of things hidden in the earth will cause the water to boil and send forth rocks and earth. There will be mighty earthquakes and great destruction of human life." --Bible Commentaries, Volume 7, Page 946 (1907)
"All the warnings of Christ regarding the events that will occur near the close of this earth's history are now being fulfilled in our large cities. God is permitting these things to be brought to light that he who runs may read...The wicked bribery, the misappropriation of means, the fraudulent transactions among men who have power to release the guilty and condemn the innocent--all this iniquity is filling large cities of the earth and is making the world as it was in the days that were before the Flood." --Letter 230, 1907.
Satan delights in death and destruction and would annihilate us all had it not been for the mercy and benevolence of God who continually sends warnings so that we may heed and make things right with Him. He is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance. Ezekiel 18:30-31 say "...for why will ye die, O house of Israel. For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye."
But the problem is not ALL would want to turn to God in confession and repentance. When men continue to live in defiance against God, when they continue to disregard His authority and transgress His law and sin against Him, ignoring His gentle invitation and entreaties to return unto Him, then God is left without a choice but to do His strange acts, and that strange act is His destruction of the wicked--those who did not wish to be saved. See Isaiah 28:21. In Romans 11:21 we read: "For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee." 2 Peter 2:4-6 we read: "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly."
But why does God permit trials and suffering to come to good people? The Word of God gives us the answer. Trials and afflictions are permitted by God for a reason as is already addressed in other documents in this web site. See Songs in the Night and The Sweetest Music on Earth under Apples of Gold.
"The world is not without a ruler. The program of coming events is in the hands of the Lord. The Majesty of heaven has the destiny of nations as well as the concerns of His church in His own charge." --Testimonies to the Church, Volume 5, Page 753 (1889).
"In the great closing work we shall meet with perplexities that we know not how to deal with, but let us not forget that the three great Powers of heaven are working, that a divine hand is on the wheel, and that God will bring His purposes to pass." --Evangelism, Page 65 (1902).
"As the wheel-like complications were under the guidance of the hand beneath the wings of the cherubim, so the complicated play of human events is under divine control. Amidst the strife and tumult of nations, he that sitteth above the cherubim still guides the affairs of the earth." --Education, Page 178 (1903)
"In the annals of human history, the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires, appear as if dependent on the will and prowess of man; the shaping of events seems, to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice. But in the Word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, above, behind, and through all the play and counterplay of human interest and power and passions, the agencies of the All-Merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will." --Prophets and Kings, Page 499-500 (1914).
In spite of all the chaos and tumult, a sovereign God is at the helm and is in control. Bible prophecies are being fulfilled right before our eyes and are clear evidence of the soon return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In these devastating and heart-wrenching tragedies, we hear His footsteps loud and clear. Let us wake up from our spiritual slumber and make things right with Him. Let us help others be ready. God wants and longs for us to be ready to meet Him. He wants to take us home to His Kingdom where love, peace, joy, and everlasting righteousness dwell--where no one would be terrorized and made to be afraid ever again. The great controversy between good and evil would come to an end. "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise." Isaiah 60:18.
The time is not far hence when "Satan's work of ruin is forever ended. For six thousand years he has wrought his will, filling the earth with woe and causing grief throughout the universe. The whole creation has groaned and travailed together in pain. Now God's creatures are forever delivered from his presence and temptations. 'The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they (the righteous) break forth into singing.' Isa 14:7. And a shout of praise and triumph ascends from the whole loyal universe. 'The voice of a great multitude,' 'as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings,' is heard, saying: 'Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.' Rev 19:6." -- The Great Controversy, page 673.
The Great Controversy book concludes with these words: "The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all flow life and light and gladness throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love."