Four years ago, our Nation was rocked to its very core as we sat transfixed on the image of the mighty World Trade Center crumbling to the ground, killing thousands of people and doing millions in economic loss. In recent weeks, we have faced a similar crisis as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast. During a time like this, it is only natural to ask some probing questions to both ourselves, and to God.
What is God’s purpose in the midst of these horrible tragedies? Excessive speculation would be spiritually irresponsible, so we must trust Him to reveal that in His own time. Nonetheless, these sorts of catastrophes prompt us to look within ourselves in ways we normally might not. We are graphically reminded of how brief and fragile life really is. A Catholic Priest was recently interviewed on a news program and stated that several of his parishioners had asked them if this could be Armageddon. Of course, the answer to this is no. Armageddon is a future end times battle which will take place in the city of Megiddo which is located in the Jezreel Valley in Israel (see Revelation 16:12-16). Is judgment coming? Absolutely, but keep in mind that God’s wrath is not simply a random act. His wrath is reserved for His enemies (Nahum 1:2), not for His own people (1Thessalonians 5:9).
Throughout the Bible, we see a consistent pattern of God removing His own before He pours out His wrath. He was willing to spare the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah if even ten righteous people were found there (Genesis 18:32), and He would not allow the city to be destroyed until Lot and his family were safely out (Genesis 19:1-20). In the Great flood, God would not allow one drop of rain to fall until Noah and his family were inside the ark (Genesis 7:6-12). Similarly, Christians will be removed from the Earth before the future Great Tribulation (I Thessalonians 4:14-18, 5:9). Since this has obviously not happened yet, we must not jump to hasty conclusions about what does, and does not, constitute an act of God’s judgement . (1)
Even if these events were not direct acts of God