As I write this, Hurricane Harvey has just dumped more rainfall on Houston, Texas than any other storm in history – over 52″. That represents over a trillion gallons of water — enough to supply Niagra Falls for eleven days.
Increase in Natural Disasters
In the 49 years from 1935 to 1983 there were 11 hurricanes that killed 2,279 people and caused $9 billion in damages. In the seventeen years from 1992 to 2008 there were another eleven hurricanes that killed 6,808 people and caused $918.7 billion in damages. In other words, there were as many hurricanes in the seventeen years from 1992 to 2008 as there were in the 49 years from 1935 to 1983. These hurricanes killed three times as many people and caused ten times as much damage. Admittedly, some of the increase can be attributed to increased population and economic development, but there is no doubt that in recent years there has been a remarkable increase in the number of natural disasters and the amount of damage they have done. (1)
Increase in Moral Depravity
At the same time there has been a marked rise in moral depravity in America. At the time our nation was founded, all thirteen colonies had anti-sodomy laws. Benjamin Franklin described the young nation this way, “Atheism is unknown there, infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with either an atheist or an infidel.” (2) What Franklin means by ‘infidel’ is an unbeliever. ‘Infidelity’ means unbelief. Imagine living a lifetime without ever meeting an unbeliever or an atheist! Today unbelievers control academia, the media, and the arts, and atheists run the science departments of our universities. Christians, on the other hand, have become an increasingly small and marginalized minority.
Back in the 1960s when I was a youth, all my friends came from two parent families. Then came the sexual revolution and free love. The divorce rate soared. Then the feminist movement liberated women from traditional female roles. Abortions became commonplace. As homes broke apart, crime rates rose. Then came the gay rights movement and gay marriage. Gay adoption forever changed the American family. With the advance of medical technology came the ability to surgically change sex and the transgender movement. Gender dysphoria followed and, with the stroke of a President’s pen, men gained free access to women’s bathrooms. It took society a number of years to become conditioned to most of these changes, but the push to allow men into women’s bathrooms took place in just one day.
Things have become so confused now that there is a special term for people who accept their own biological sex—’cisgender.’ Abnormal has become the new normal. Immorality has become the new morality. One California elementary school even punished a kindergarten girl for not using the appropriate pronoun for her mis-gendered classmate.
The Reprobate Mind
Here is how the Bible describes this condition, “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” (Rom 1:26-28). When the Bible says that God gives a people up, it means that he consigns them to judgement. Theologians call this condition the ‘reprobate mind.’ It is a mind that set on defiance of God. Romans goes on to characterize this mindset, “They are filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” (Rom 1:29-31). There is no more possibility of redemption for the reprobate because they have finally rejected the truth. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom 1:18).
The generation that was swept away by the flood was a reprobate generation. Listen to how God describes them, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen 6:5) God determined that he would allow this generation only 120 years before wiping it out, “Then the Lord said, My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” (Gen 6:3).
The ancient city of Sodom was also reprobate. It was known for its homosexuality. In fact sodomy, the term that describes the homosexual act, comes from the name of that city. God promised Abraham He would spare the city for the sake of just ten righteous men, but He couldn’t even find that many. So He sent His angels to destroy it. “Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.” (Gen 19:24-25). Today this area is covered by the dead sea. Its water is so briny that nothing can grow in the surrounding soil.
America is now exhibiting all the signs of a reprobate nation. We have spurned the truth. The LGBT movement went mainstream long ago. The gay lifestyle is celebrated in gay pride parades. Lies and distortion fill our media. Some of our heads of government are guilty of sexual harassment, rape, and pedophilia. One of them heaped praise on the prophet Mohamed and the “Holy Koran” but called Jesus a cynic. Our justice system punishes good and rewards evil. Take for example the case of Daniel Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress. He outed Planned Parenthood for trafficking in aborted baby parts. But the courts did not go after Planned Parenthood. They prosecuted Daleiden instead!
Two Reactions to Harvey
People responded to Hurricane Harvey in two ways. One young woman said, “If this doesn’t humble you, nothing will.” President Trump said, “The people of Houston are tough and they will rebuild bigger and better.” The first response shows a sense of fear and awe for the God who controls the power and fury of nature. Psalms 29:3-4 says, “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.”
The second response shows an unwarranted sense of bravado, for man cannot harness the power of a hurricane. Hurricane Harvey destroyed millions of man-hours of labor in a matter of just a few days. The cost to repair the damage is conservatively estimated at over $100 billion dollars. Just five years ago Hurricane Sandy caused another $50 billion in damage. Twelve years ago Hurricane Katrina caused $175 billion. That is a total of $325 billion dollars of damage over just twelve years, a cost of $1000 to every man, woman and child in America. And there will undoubtedly be other devastating hurricanes to follow. Man may try to rebuild bigger and better, but the forces of nature cannot be tamed.
Jesus warned His disciples that the last days before His return to earth would be filled with natural disasters, war and famines, “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains” (Mt 24:7). This list does not include hurricanes, but it is not a comprehensive list. Just like a woman’s birth pains increase in frequency as the moment of birth draws near, so these disasters will multiply in a cascading effect as the day of Christ’s return approaches.
Isaiah describes the coming judgment this way, “The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken. The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again” (Is 224:19-20). The destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey will pale in comparison to the devastation that is yet to come. The book of Revelation says that Babylon the Great, a metaphor for this world system, will be wiped out in just one hour, “Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste” (Rev 18:10). All of man’s efforts will ultimately end in futility.
We live in troubled times. For those without Christ, things will only get much worse. But to the believer Jesus says, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Lk 21:28). We can take great encouragement from the fact that these things were predicted long ago. We know what the final outcome will be. Christ will return to establish his kingdom on earth, a kingdom that will never perish.
As for those of you who have not yet repented of your sins and believed in Christ, don’t get too comfortable. The present storm may have passed but there are many more to come. Now is the time to set your sights on heaven before things start getting a lot worse here on earth.