The Prophetic Significance
“There will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.” (Luke 21:11)
There are many spiritual lessons to be learned from the Hurricane Katrina tragedy. One of the most important is the way the storm showed the importance of life over things. Life is precious. Things — all the material items we collect and become so attached to — are disposable. The storm also drove home the fact that life can be very tenuous, and we therefore need to live with an eternal perspective.
I could go on and on about the spiritual lessons of the hurricane, but as a person who has been given the gift of prophecy, I feel my responsibility is to focus on the prophetic implications of the storm. That is the purpose of this essay.
The Signs of the Times
The Bible provides us with many signs we are to watch for that will signal the soon return of Jesus. As I have studied them, I have found it useful to put them into categories. They naturally seem to fall into six groups:
- The Signs of Nature
- The Signs of Society
- Spiritual Signs
- The Signs of World Politics
- The Signs of Technology
- The Signs of Israel
The Signs in Summary
God has always spoken through signs of nature. We will consider these in detail later.
The signs of society relate to the fact that Jesus said that right before His return society will become “like the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37). If you go to Genesis 6 and read about that society, you will find that it was characterized by immorality and violence. The Apostle Paul reiterated the prophecy in 2 Timothy 3 where he said that society in the end times will fall apart as men become lovers of self, lovers of money, and lovers of pleasure.
The spiritual signs are numerous and fall into two categories — negative and positive. The negative ones are extremely negative in nature. They include the rise of false christs and false prophets, the spread of heresy and apostasy, the persecution of believers, and an epidemic of spiritual deception. But, thank God, there are also positive spiritual signs we are to watch for, the most important being a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit as manifested by the spread of the gospel all over the world.
The signs of world politics relate to the fact that the Bible presents a certain configuration of nations in the end times. The prophecies include the re-establishment of Israel, the attacks of the Arabs against Israel, the menace of Russia to Israel, and the rebirth of the Roman Empire from which the Antichrist will arise.
When I refer to “signs of technology,” I have in mind end time prophecies that can only be understood in the light of modern technological developments. It’s interesting that even the biblical prophets did not always understand their prophecies. In Daniel 12, when the prophet complained about the problem, the Lord responded by saying that the prophecies would not be understood until the end times (Daniel 12:9). The fact that we are understanding prophecies today that have never been understood before is proof positive that we are in the end times.
Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. Revelation 11 says that two great witnesses of God will prophesy in Jerusalem during the first half of the Tribulation, serving as the conscience of the world. We are then told that they will be killed by the Antichrist, and their bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for three and a half days while all the world looks upon them. This prophecy was not understandable until after the first satellite was launched in 1957. Today, we think nothing of the prophecy because we know that all you have to do to enable the whole world to look upon the bodies is to point a TV camera at them and then zap the signal up to a satellite.
The Most Significant Signs
The signs of Israel are the most important, more important than all the rest put together. The reason is that the Jews are God’s prophetic time clock. This means that God often points to future events and says they will occur when certain things happen to the Jews. A good example can be found in Luke 21:24 where Jesus is quoted as saying that He would return “when Jerusalem is no longer trampled down by the Gentiles.”
There are four major prophecies concerning Israel whose fulfillment we are told will identify the end times. They are as follows:
- The Jews will be regathered to Israel from the four corners of the earth (Isaiah 11:11-12). The fulfillment of this prophecy began in the 1890’s and continues to this day.
- The state of Israel will be re-established (Isaiah 66:7-8 and Ezekiel 37:11-12). This prophecy was fulfilled on May 14, 1948.
- The Jews will re-occupy the city of Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:4-8). This prophecy was fulfilled on June 7, 1967.
- The whole world will come against Israel over the issue of who will control Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:1-3). The fulfillment of this prophecy began in 1991 when the United States joined the rest of the world’s nations in applying pressure to force Israel to surrender at least half of Jerusalem.
As you can see from the fulfillment of the four signs above, we are clearly on the threshold of the Tribulation, and that means we are living on borrowed time.
A Category Held in Contempt
The category of signs that receives the least respect is the signs of nature. There are two reasons for this, one that is conceptual, and another that is philosophical.
The conceptual problem resides in the fact that there have always been signs of nature. So, when confronted with the prophesied signs of nature, many people shrug their shoulders and ask, “What else is new? There have always been tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes.”
What they overlook is that Jesus said these signs would be like “birth pangs” (Matthew 24:8). That means they will increase in frequency and intensity the closer we get to the Lord’s return. And that is exactly what appears to be happening today.
The philosophical problem many people have with the signs of nature is due to the fact that we have been brainwashed by Western scientific rationalism into believing that for something to exist, you must be able to see it, measure it, weigh it, and dissect it. In contrast, the Bible teaches there is a whole realm of the supernatural that cannot normally be perceived by the senses. This realm includes angels, demons, and the operation of the Holy Spirit. It also includes God’s intervention from time to time through natural disasters.
God and Signs of Nature
Sometimes God uses signs of nature to underline the importance of major events. Thus, at the birth of Jesus, God placed a special light in the heavens, probably a manifestation of His Shekinah glory. When Jesus was crucified, the earth experienced three hours of darkness and a major earthquake. And the Bible says that when Jesus returns, the world will experience the greatest earthquake in its history. Every island will be moved, valleys will be lifted, mountains will be lowered, and the city of Jerusalem will be lifted up like a jewel, possibly becoming the highest place on earth (Revelation 16:18-21 and Isaiah 40:3-5).
More often, God uses signs of nature as remedial judgments to call nations to repentance. Both the Bible and history attest to the fact that God has a pattern of dealing with nations. To begin with, He is the one who establishes nations, and He is the one who takes them down (Daniel 2:20-21). When a nation rebels against God, He responds first by raising up prophetic voices to call the nation to repentance. These are not people with supernatural knowledge of the future. They simply have the gift of discernment to see where a nation is missing God’s mark. To put it another way, they know how to apply the Scriptures to contemporary events.
If a nation refuses to listen to the prophetic voices, God will then send remedial judgments. These can take many forms. Deuteronomy 28 mentions economic failure, rebellion of youth, an epidemic of divorce, confusion in government, foreign domination, and military defeat. The chapter also mentions natural disasters like drought, crop failure, and pestilence.
Finally, if a nation digs in against God and sets its jaw against His calls to repentance, a point of no return will be reached — often referred to as “when the wound becomes incurable” (Nahum 3:19, Jeremiah 30:12, and Micah 1:9). At this point, the Lord will deliver the nation from judgment to destruction. That destruction may occur quickly — as with Babylon and the Soviet Union — or it may occur gradually over a period of time, as with the Roman Empire.
Examples of Remedial Judgments
There are many examples of remedial judgments in the Bible that involve natural disasters. Take for example the plagues with which God afflicted Egypt in order to convince Pharaoh that he should release the children of Israel from captivity. The Lord sent plagues of frogs, gnats, flies, and locusts. In addition, He contaminated the nation’s water, afflicted the livestock with pestilence, struck the people with sores and boils, engulfed the land in a thick darkness, and finally took the lives of the first born of both men and livestock.
When King Ahab led the Israelites into the worship of a pagan god, the Lord raised up the prophet Elijah to call the king and his people to repentance. When they ignored Elijah, the Lord then put a remedial judgment on the land in the form of a severe three and a half year drought (1 Kings 17 and 18).
The book of Joel tells about a locust invasion that afflicted Judah. This was one of the worst calamities that could befall an agricultural society. It appears that people began bemoaning their “bad luck,” when God sent the prophet Joel to inform them that the disaster had nothing to do with luck. Joel boldly proclaimed that the locusts had been sent by God to call the people to repentance. He warned that if they did not repent, the Lord would send something even worse — an enemy army. The people ignored Joel and the prophets who followed him, and God ultimately sent the army, delivering them from judgment to destruction.
Seventy years later when the Babylonian captivity ended, the Jews who returned to Judah laid the foundation for a new temple and then quickly lost interest in the project. They turned their attention instead to the building of their personal homes. For 14 years the foundation of the temple stood vacant. Finally, God raised up an elderly, tough-talking prophet named Haggai. He confronted the people by asking them: “Have you noticed that when you plant your crops, they are destroyed by root rot? And when you replant them, they are destroyed again by hail? And when you replant, a wind storm comes? God is speaking to you! He is calling you to repent of your misplaced priorities and give attention to the rebuilding of His temple.” For once, the people listened, obeyed, and were blessed.
The Nature of God
God has continued throughout history to use signs of nature to call nations to repentance. Some people say, “Oh no, God doesn’t do that anymore because this is the ‘Age of Grace.'”
Well, the first problem with that statement is that it implies there was a previous time of no grace. The fact of the matter is that there is only one way of salvation that has ever existed: namely, grace through faith (Joel 2:32).
Furthermore, the Bible says God is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). There is no such thing as the Old Testament God of wrath and the New Testament God of grace. God does not change (Malachi 3:6).
The Old Testament God of wrath is the one who showed grace toward the wicked city of Ninevah when its people repented in response to the message of Jonah. The New Testament God of grace is the one who warned the church at Thyatira that if it continued to tolerate a false prophetess, He would “cast her upon a bed of sickness and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation.” Further, He threatened to “kill her children with pestilence” (Revelation 2:22-23).
Our God is a God of grace, mercy, and love. But He is also a God of holiness, righteousness, and justice. The balanced view of God is presented by the prophet Nahum. Speaking of God’s grace, he wrote: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1:7).
But Nahum warned that the same God is one who is righteous and holy and who will not tolerate sin (Nahum 1:2-3):
“A jealous and avenging God is the Lord; The Lord is avenging and wrathful. The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, And the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.”
The Role of Satan
Some counter by trying to argue that natural calamities come from Satan and not God. But the Bible teaches that God is sovereign. Satan is not free to do anything he pleases. When he wanted to torment Job, he had to ask God’s permission, and when he was granted permission, God laid down rules about what he could and could not do (Job 1:6-12).
The Bible says God does not tempt us (James 1:13). Yet Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13). How can these statements be reconciled? The answer is that although Satan is the tempter, he cannot do so unless God allows it.
Again, God is sovereign, and nothing happens that He does not allow, either in His perfect will or His permissive will. That is the reason the Bible attributes all natural disasters to God.
Are all natural calamities a product of Man’s sin? Yes, absolutely. The original creation was perfect. Natural calamities are a result of the curse that God placed on the creation in response to Man’s sin. When Jesus returns, the curse will be lifted and natural calamities will cease.
Do all natural calamities represent remedial judgments of God? No — most are products of the natural processes of our weather systems.
How then can we determine when a natural calamity is a remedial judgment? One important factor is the timing of the event as it relates to the sins of the nation. Another factor is the magnitude of the event. Remedial judgments are designed to have great shock value in order to capture people’s attention and force them to think with an eternal perspective. The most important factor is God’s Spirit witnessing to the spirits of those to whom He has given the gift of prophecy. They will be motivated to speak forth with a united voice.
The Example of the United States
We can see all these principles operating in the history of our own nation. We were founded as a Christian nation, committed to Christian values, and God greatly blessed us. But in the 1960’s we began to thumb our nose at God as a cultural revolution was launched. Our society quickly descended into a cesspool of sexual promiscuity, drug abuse, abortion on demand, legalized gambling, rampant blasphemy, and a flood of pornography. Our national slogan became, “If it feels good, do it!” We adopted a hedonistic lifestyle, calling evil good and good evil.
God responded by raising up prophetic voices to call the nation to repentance. One of those was Dave Wilkerson, pastor of Times Square Church in New York City. I call him “God’s Jeremiah to America.” In the 70’s he began writing a series of books in which he clearly outlined the sins of America and warned of judgments from God if we did not repent. Like Jeremiah, his popularity plummeted because people — even church people — did not want to hear his “doomsday message.”
When the prophetic voices were ignored, God began to place remedial judgments on our nation — things like our defeat in the Vietnam War, the AIDS epidemic, the plague of sexually transmitted diseases, the scourge of homosexuality, and natural disasters in the form of monster earthquakes and killer tornados and hurricanes. We even experienced an unprecedented volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 — an eruption so severe that it blackened the sky from Seattle to New York City and as far south as Oklahoma.
The culmination of the remedial judgments seemed to come with the 9/11 terrorist assault in 2001 when two symbols of American pride were attacked: the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The towers stood as symbols of our wealth; the Pentagon symbolized our military power.
As I have stated before, I believe this event was a wake-up call from God for our nation to repent. Instead, like a drowsy man who doesn’t want to wake-up, we merely rolled over and hit the snooze button on the alarm clock.
A New Factor
I don’t think there is any doubt that our national sins have called down remedial judgments from God. But what I think we may have failed to realize is that since 1991, many of the judgments we have experienced have been directly related to our mistreatment of Israel.
The Bible says that God will bless those who bless Israel, and He will curse those who curse Israel (Genesis 12:3). The Bible also says that he who touches Israel touches “the apple of God’s eye” (Zechariah 2:8).
History attests to the truth of these statements. Spain was at the height of its power as a world empire in the 15th Century when it launched the Inquisition and drove its Jewish population out of the country. Within a short time thereafter, the empire no longer existed. Hitler was well on his way to conquering all of Europe when he launched the Holocaust. His Third Reich soon ended up in ashes.
I believe that many of our blessings as a nation have been due to the fact that we have historically been a safe haven for the Jewish people. Also, we have been Israel’s best friend ever since the nation came back into being in 1948.
But the Bible says that in the end times all the nations of the world will come together against Israel over the issue of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:3). And in the early 90’s we began to turn against Israel in our determination to maintain access to Arab oil.
The Decisive Year
The turning point was in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed and Russian Jews began flooding into Israel at the rate of 2,000 to 3,000 a day for one year. The tiny nation of Israel was overwhelmed by the refugees. The Israeli government appealed to the World Bank for a $5 billion loan. The bank said it would grant the loan only if the U. S. guaranteed it. The Bush Administration agreed to underwrite the loan on one condition: the Israelis had to go to the bargaining table and start trading land for peace.
Yes, we were the ones who forced Israel into adopting the current suicidal policy of appeasement, and we have been twisting their arm ever since, pressuring them to divide up the land which God gave them as an everlasting possession. Keep in mind that we can apply enormous pressure because our veto in the United Nations Security Council is the only thing standing between Israel and economic sanctions that could easily and quickly destroy the Israeli economy.
A Prophetic Book
Last year a White House correspondent (one of 250 in the world) named William Koenig wrote a book entitled, Eye to Eye. It was subtitled, “Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel.” The thesis of the book is that many of the natural calamities, economic setbacks, and political crises experienced by the United States since 1991 have been directly related to actions we have taken to force Israel to surrender territory to the Arabs.
Koenig is a devout Evangelical Christian who has the gift of prophecy. Accordingly, he has the discernment to see the supernatural relationship between world events and judgments of God.
His book had a very prophetic cover. It showed President Bush looking over his right shoulder at a hurricane, and in the eye of the hurricane was a Star of David, the symbol of Israel.
The title of the book, Eye to Eye, was suggested by Koenig’s wife. She took it from Matthew Henry’s commentary on Isaiah 52:8 — “They [the watchmen] shall see an exact agreement and correspondence between the prophecy and the events, the promise and the performance; they shall see how they look upon another eye to eye, and be satisfied that the same God spoke the one and did the other.”
In other words, in the end times there will be people who are prophetically gifted to recognize the correspondence between Bible prophecies and world events.
In his book Koenig shows the amazing parallels between U.S. mistreatment of Israel and subsequent natural calamities, economic setbacks and political crises. Let me share just a few of the examples he gives.
1) The Madrid Conference — This conference, which we forced on Israel, marked the beginning of the “land for peace” process. The opening of the conference on October 30, 1991, coincided with the formation of “the Perfect Storm.” This was the record breaking storm along our Atlantic seacoast which produced 100 foot high waves and heavily damaged President Bush’s home at Kennebunkport, Maine. The headlines of USA Today on November 1, 1991, had the stories of the storm and the Madrid Conference side by side.
2) Round Six of the Bilateral Peace Talks — In June of 1992 Yitzhak Rabin was elected the new Prime Minister of Israel. We immediately insisted that he come to Washington, D.C. and meet with Yasser Arafat. The day that meeting began, August 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew slammed into Florida with winds of 177 miles per hour. The damage done amounted to over $30 billion — the most costly hurricane in U.S. History to that point in time.
3) Arafat at the United Nations — In September of 1998 Yasser Arafat was invited to speak to a special session of the United Nations that was held in New York. President Clinton arranged a meeting with him to put pressure on Israel. As the meeting took place, Hurricane Georges smashed into the Gulf Coast causing over $6 billion in damage.
4) Arafat and a Palestinian State — With our encouragement, Arafat announced that he was going to proclaim a Palestinian state on May 4, 1999. Even though President Clinton later persuaded Arafat to postpone the declaration to at least December, on the very day the proclamation was to have been made (May 3rd in the U.S.; May 4th in Israel), the most powerful tornado in U.S. history tore through Oklahoma City with wind speeds of 316 miles per hour, destroying over 2,000 homes.
5) The Camp David Summit — From July 11 through July 24 in the summer of 2000, President Clinton hosted a summit conference between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Clinton pressured Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to surrender the heartland of Israel. During these precise dates, a major heat wave struck the South Central U.S. and fires broke out in our Western states. At one point, there were over 50 active fires that consumed over 500,000 acres before the end of the month.
6) White House Ramadan Celebration — On Thursday evening, November 7, 2002, President Bush hosted a dinner at the White House to honor the Muslim religious holiday called Ramadan. In his speech that evening, the President said: “… this season commemorates the revelation of God’s word in the holy Koran to the prophet Muhammad. Today this word inspires faithful Muslims to lead lives of honesty and integrity and compassion… We see in Islam a religion that traces its origins back to God’s call on Abraham…” Two days later a total of 88 tornados hit Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
7) The Middle East Peace Plan — On April 30, 2003, U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer presented the “Road Map” peace plan to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. It was a plan formulated by an ungodly coalition called “the Quartet.” This group was made up of Russia, the European Union, the United Nations, and the United States. It called for Israel to surrender Gaza and its heartland of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians. On May 3rd Secretary of State Colin Powell departed for the Middle East for talks to implement the plan. On May 4th Secretary Powell met with terrorist leader Hafez Assad of Syria and made a commitment to him to include the surrender of the Golan Heights in the peace plan. That day a swarm of tornados began tearing apart the Central United States. Over the next 7 days, there was a total of 412 tornados — the largest cluster ever observed by NOAA since it began its record keeping in 1950. The previous record had been 177 in 1999.
In summary, between October 1991 and November 2004, the United States experienced:
- 9 of the 10 largest insurance events in U.S. history
- 9 of the 10 greatest natural disasters as ranked by FEMA relief costs
- 5 of the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history
- 3 of the 4 largest tornado swarms in U.S. history
All of which were linked to our attempts to pressure Israel into either dividing up its land or surrendering part of its capital city of Jerusalem.
The world would laugh and call these coincidences, but I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe only in God-incidences. God is sovereign. He is in control.
The Gaza Withdrawal
The most recent chaotic event in Israel was the forced withdrawal of all Jews from Gaza. It began on August 7th and continued through the 22nd, as nearly 9,000 Israelis were uprooted from their land and homes. Many had been in the area for as long as 35 years.
It was a heart-wrenching event to watch women and children manhandled, synagogues violated, torah scrolls desecrated, houses bulldozed, graves dug up, and farms destroyed. Entire Jewish communities were forcibly removed from land which God has given to the Jewish people as an everlasting possession (Psalm 105:8-11).
The economic impact on the Israeli economy will be overwhelming. The farms in Gaza represented 70% of Israel’s organic produce, 60% of the nation’s exported herbs, 15% of its total agricultural exports, 60% of its exported cherry tomato crop, and $120 million of its flower exports.
And while this travesty was taking place, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice began applying more pressure with the following statement: “Everyone empathizes with what the Israelis are facing… but it cannot be Gaza only.”
The Supernatural Response
The withdrawal ended on August 22nd, and on the very next day, the government of Bermuda announced that a tropical depression had formed off its coast. Dubbed “Katrina,” the storm quickly developed into the most powerful hurricane in modern history. It slammed into New Orleans and the Mississippi coast four days later on the 27th. The hurricane disrupted 25% of our crude oil production and destroyed our nation’s largest port (the 5th largest in the world in terms of tonnage).
I think it is interesting to note that the hurricane hit just three days before New Orleans — which often refers to itself proudly as “Sin City USA” — was scheduled to host an ungodly event that had come to be called “The Gay Mardi Gras.” The theme this year was to be “Jazz and Jezebels.” Last year the event drew 125,000 revelers who proudly flaunted their perversion publicly in a parade that featured the bizarre. Incredibly, this event is sponsored by a group that has named itself “Southern Decadence.”
New Orleans is known for its occult practices, particularly voodoo. The city is also infamous for its high murder rate and its rampant political corruption.
Nonetheless, I do not believe the storm was meant primarily as a judgment upon the city of New Orleans. Rather, I see it as a judgment on our entire nation for our mistreatment of Israel. The consequences of the storm were national in scope. It resulted in higher fuel prices which will lead to higher prices for all goods. It has disrupted indefinitely the flow of goods into and out of our country. It will result in either higher taxes or a significant increase in our national debt. It shamed us before the world as we mishandled the aftermath. And it has deeply scarred the Bush Administration.
The Impact of Theology
Speaking of President Bush, many are asking why such a committed Evangelical would put such inordinate pressure on Israel. More and more, people are asking, “Why doesn’t President Bush see the prophetic significance of end time Israel?” I recently put that question to Bill Koenig when I interviewed him on television. His response was very illuminating.
Koenig pointed out that President Bush was raised in the Episcopal Church and in recent years has attended the Methodist Church. Although there are pastors in both of these churches who recognize the prophetic significance of modern Israel, the vast majority of the spiritual leaders in both churches (and especially those on the national level) believe in Replacement Theology. This is the theology that says God washed His hands of the Jewish people in the First Century and replaced Israel with the Church. They therefore see no prophetic significance to the re-establishment of Israel.
Koenig stated that within the Bush Administration the President is not the only victim of this erroneous theology. He is surrounded by godly people who have also grown up spiritually in Replacement churches. So, even though these people may respect the Judaic roots of their faith, they have no appreciation for the prophetic significance of modern day Israel.
The Message of Katrina
I believe the message of Katrina is that God is on His throne. He is in control. He cannot be mocked. He will not tolerate the division of His Holy Land. Nor will He tolerate gross immorality that mocks everything that is moral and decent.
God loves our nation. He has blessed us more than any other nation. His Word says that to those to whom much is given, much is expected (Luke 12:47-48). His Word also says He disciplines those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:7).
Another thing His Word makes clear is that when He sends discipline, the fundamental purpose is never to punish. Instead, the purpose is to call us to repentance so that we might be saved. Here’s how the prophet Isaiah expressed it: “When the earth experiences Your judgments, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9b).
A Personal Experience
I know the truth of this statement first-hand. In May of 1953 when I was 15 years old, an F5 tornado hit my hometown of Waco, Texas. To this day it is the most deadly tornado in Texas history. It killed 114 people and injured 597. It ripped through the center of the downtown area and leveled five story buildings with ease. When it was over, the city looked like it had been hit with an atomic bomb.
For three months thereafter, the churches of Waco were packed with standing room only crowds as people sought to cope with the tragedy. People were forced to think about eternity. But gradually the pain subsided, people returned to their old ways, and church attendance fell off.
Our God is truly a God of amazing grace. Even when He pours out His wrath, He does so hoping that it will provoke repentance so that people can be saved.
Attempts to Respond Spiritually
The Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, called for a statewide day of prayer: “As we face the devastation wrought by Katrina, as we search for those in need, as we comfort those in pain, and as we begin the long task of rebuilding, we turn to God for strength, hope, and comfort.”
Noble words. But notice, there was no call to repentance.
In like manner, President Bush called for a national day of prayer on September 8th. He asked the nation to pray for the victims and to reach out to them in compassion. Again, noble words, but no expression of repentance.
New Orleans City Council President Oliver Thomas came the closest of all public officials in recognizing that Katrina had a spiritual message. Referring to Sodom and Gomorrah, he said, “Maybe God is cleansing us.”
But cleansing requires a response of repentance, something God is calling for from the whole nation, and not just the citizens of New Orleans.
The Proper Response
No public official in our nation has yet seen the spiritual implications of a disaster as clearly as did Abraham Lincoln when he evaluated the cause of the Civil War. In a proclamation dated March 30, 1863, the President called for “a national day of prayer and humiliation.” He began the proclamation by observing: “It is the duty of nations as well as men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon.”
The heart of the proclamation read as follows:
“And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People?
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
How we need such a proclamation today! The sad thing is that we have become so secular and pagan that if our President were to issue such a statement, members of Congress would probably bring impeachment proceedings against him for “violation of the separation of church and state.”
A Call to Prayer
We as a nation have set our jaw against God. We are tempting Him to move us from judgment to destruction. Our God is so merciful. He is patiently sending us one wake-up call after another because He never pours out His wrath without warning.
Pray that our eyes will be opened and our hearts melted. Pray for a great national revival. Pray too for the hearts of our leaders to be opened to the significance of Israel in Bible prophecy.