Why Katrina?

Hurricanes and Natural Disasters

Jackson Snyder, September 1, 2005

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   Ivan is a Bible name – John: “Prepare the way of Yahweh, make his paths straight.”  John means “Yahweh is Merciful.”  Hurricane Dennis struck the Gulf Coast on July 10th, 2005.  Dennis is the Greek god of revelry, drunkenness and immorality (Dionysius).  Hurricane Katrina, the deadliest and costliest hurricane ever, struck the Gulf Coast August 29th.  After hurricanes with names synonymous with “Prepare Ye” and “Immorality,” it seems almost prophetic to know that Katrina means “Cleansing”
(catharsis). 

 

 

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Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

from the famed discovery

 

The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.

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The Nazarene Acts
of the Apostles

Also known as
The Recognitions of Clement

Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?

 

Act of God / Active God  HarbaughFather, make possible for us by grace what is impossible for us by nature.  You know we’re not able to endure much, and that we’re downcast by the slightest difficulty.  Grant that for your sake we may come to love and desire any hardship that puts us to the test, for salvation is brought to our souls when we undergo suffering and trouble for you.  Amen.  Thomas à Kempis (1379 – 1471)

Job 36 :1-4,22-33; 37:2-13 read in the message

Psalms 77: 14-20.  Thou art the El who workest wonders, who hast manifested thy might among the peoples.  Thou didst with thy arm redeem thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph.  Selah. 
   When the waters saw thee, O Elohim, when the waters saw thee, they were afraid, yea, the deep trembled.  The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; thy arrows flashed on every side.  The crash of thy thunder was in the whirlwind; thy lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook.  Thy way was through the sea, thy path through the great waters; yet thy footprints were unseen.
   Thou didst lead thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.  (UMH 798)

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Luke 17:26.  As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man.  27.  They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.  28.  Likewise as it was in the days of Lot – they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, 29.  but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all – 30.  so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed. 
   31.  On that day, let him who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away; and likewise let him who is in the field not turn back.  32.  Remember Lot's wife.  33.  Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.  34.  I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.  35.  There will be two women grinding together; one will be taken and the other left."  37.  And they said to him, "Where, Lord?" He said to them, "Where the corpse is, there the buzzards will be gathered together." 

The Epic of Job  

   The epic of Job is one of the oldest and most well known in the world.  Job is a righteous man; he’s a man of great family and means.  But Satan challenges Job’s g*d, claiming that if he can strike at the things Job values, Job will commit the unpardonable sin.  Yahweh gives Satan permission to test his theory but spare Job’s life.

   So Satan starts his evil by fixing Job’s family – his sons and daughters and their clans were making merry at the home of Job’s eldest son when four catastrophes befall:

  1. bandits attack the servants’ quarters and kill everyone;
  2. a meteorite burns up the shepherds and sheep;
  3. terrorists sweep in and steal and kill;
  4. finally a whirlwind blows the house down, crushing the family.  A few servants escape to tell the horrific tale.

   Yet afflicting Job’s heart and mind isn’t sufficient.  Satan afflicts his body – with

loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.  Job takes a potsherd to scrape himself, sitting there among the ashes.  Then his wife says, “Do you still hold fast? Curse G*d, and die.”  But Job says, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good at G*d’s hand and shall we not receive evil?”  In all this Job did not sin with his lips.  (Job 2:7-10)

   Calamity of the highest order came upon this righteous man.  Demonic forces, bereavement and loss, terror, financial ruin, devastating weather and disease.  Even his wife blames his relationship with the Almighty.  But through it all, Job hadn’t sinned; there was a much higher purpose in his affliction than anyone could imagine – that it might teach us something of the ways of the God of Old.

 

Job’s Friends

   Word gets out, and along come Job’s friends.  They don’t even recognize the wise man as he sits in sackcloth and ashes.  They behold a man blasted with the sands of disaster, and they sit in the shadow of his grief for a week without saying a word.  Job’s was an age of hospitality and solitude; his friends ministered silent presence while Job’s wife saw to their needs. 

   Job finally breaks the stillness – he curses the day he was born and calls on the rest of death.

Job 3:11-19.  Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?  Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should suck?  For then I should have lain down and been quiet; I should have slept; then I should have been at rest ... Or why was I not as a hidden untimely birth, as infants that never see the light?  There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest.” 

  This complaint opens the door for Job’s friends to opine about his dilemma.  Each friend’s sure he knows the reason for Job’s judgment – be it a sin or a character flaw or just that Job was rich – well – that was reason enough for him to lose everything, one callous fellow thought. 

   The poems of Job’s friends continue on for 35 chapters.  Some of the language is so ancient and obscure that translators are stumped.  Job’s friends were also stymied, falling back to the same old question we do – Why does a benevolent, almighty and all-powerful creator allow suffering?  The unseen Job must have been rotten for this to happen to him – this is what we, like his friends, are conditioned to believe.

 

Aren’t We Blessed?

   In this epoch of great climatic change, we wonder, “Were there not ten righteous, commandment-keeping, Father-loving folks among the victims of the latest catastrophe to stay the storm from the rest?”  Did folks on the coast not love and revere Yahweh’s Son?  Are we, who live in the Bible belt, not the chosen?  Then why have our lives not been protected from the natural calamities of the last few years?  What sins or omissions have the common folks in New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile and Pensacola committed to bring disaster upon them?  Has Yahweh judged, or is it simply not nice to fool Mother Nature? 

   And while we’re at it: What science is behind the storms, and why couldn’t some smart professor or flashy meteorologist stay them?  Why couldn’t we pray Katrina away last week, or why do we just not believe we could?  Why didn’t those who received early warning vamoose?  Why did the good get stung right along with the bad?  Why did some folks get off better than others? were some more divinely blessed? better commandment-keepers or lovers of humankind?  more beloved by the Almighty?  Or were some just luckier than others? 

   Do you feel lucky?  Maybe our town is just lucky.

 

Another Man – Elihu

   All of a sudden, another wanders in to recline in Job’s ash pit.  He’s young, uninvited and no friend.  As a youth, he had sense enough to wait for his elders to speak first.  But when his turn came, he was bold, for he was there to speak on the Almighty’s behalf.  His name is Elihu (which means, “He is my El”): 

Job 36 & 37 excerpts:  I’ll show you all, for I have something to say on G*d’s behalf.  One who’s perfect in knowledge is with you.  Behold, Yahweh is exalted in his power; who’s a teacher like him?  Who can say, ‘You’ve done wrong’?  For he draws up the drops of water, he distils his mist in rain that the skies pour down, and drop upon man. 
   Can any one understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunderings of his pavilion?  Behold, he scatters his lightning about him and covers the roots of the sea.  For by these things he judges peoples.  He covers his hands with the lightning and commands it to strike the mark.  Its crashing declares the One who’s jealous with anger against iniquity. 
   Hearken to the thunder of his voice and the rumbling that comes from his mouth.  Under the whole heaven he lets it go, and his lightning to the corners of the earth.  After his voice roars; he thunders with his majestic voice and he does not restrain them when his voice is heard.
   Yahweh thunders wondrously with his voice; he does immense works that we can’t comprehend.  For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth’; and to the shower and the rain, ‘Be strong.’  He hinders the power of humanity that all may know his work. 

   The beasts go into their lairs, and stay in their dens when, from its chamber, comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds.  By the breath of G*d, ice is cast forth and the broad waters are frozen fast.  He loads the thick cloud with water; the clouds scatter his lightning.  They turn round and round and round by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world. 
   Job 37:13.  Whether for correction, or for his land, or for love, he causes it to happen.

(love = רסח, checed, kindness or reproach; eleoV LXX, mercy)

 

The Wisdom of Elihu

   Elihu shares divine knowledge about not only the events then, but what’s happening now.  Elihu says that, apart from why such things happen, El is present – along with his perfect understanding of each imperfect situation.  Shouldn’t the Creator understand the created elements?  Yes, the weather is an intimate part of who He is; the rain, snow, wind, ice, clouds, whirlwinds, lightnings and thunderings: they’re His voice.  Weather disturbances are the means by which Yahweh speaks the loudest to us – and to all humanity – be we in covenant with him or not. 

   All hear the heavenly voice from skies and seas.  All quake at the rumblings of thunder.  All are blinded by explosive lightning.  All are aware of whirlwinds and the driving rains – even beasts seek refuge.  Some are glued to the news – thereby his voice shakes the world.  His mouth is a roaring explosion; and he tells his mouth, “Be loud and strong.”  The winds gather so because he commands them, “SPIN!”  He decrees, “GO FORTH!”

   So his voice will be heard in the power of his word - in the midst of all the eating, drinking, consuming, glutting merriment and lewdness of an unconcerned, disobedient, distracted and rebellious nation.  He utters his voice; he removes his hand; then he makes his mercy known.

 

Flushing Out the Bad

   Why would he?  Three reasons are found in the most curious line of Elihu’s poem: “Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it(Job 37:13) – correction, land or love.

   Unfortunately, people are in the way of the renewal of land and water.  That’s a fact.  Great storms are vital to the natural process of cleaning up land and flushing out waterways of debris and detritus.  Hurricanes distribute seeds of native vegetation while destroying plants that aren’t indigenous to an area.  “This is my Father’s world,” and he takes care.  Hurricanes redistribute sand and dirt and create new dunes and habitats, making safer places for wildlife to live.  They bring in fresh water.  Elihu tells us that Yahweh restores creation when she’s groaning, and our structures, many of which are built upon sand, are in the way of the restoration of creation .

   But more apropos is that Yahweh ushers storms upon “the habitable world” (Job 37:12) – for “correction.”  Some versions say “judgment.”  The debris and detritus of the human heart need a good out-flushing.  Ashes to ashes – what He’s given, He may reclaim.  What’s His, he may take back.  Yahweh’s uttering his voice: “Why seek the living among the dead?  Turn back and learn from me.  Seek out the living instead.”  He’s strongly cautioning that his commandments are forever; he’ll enforce the laws of nature now, and, at the final trumpet, the law of liberty.  By all accounts, trumpet time is our time.

 

Trumpets

   Speaking of trumpets.  There is a special day that our Heavenly Father commanded all those in covenant to remember for all generations.  It’s decreed in:

Leviticus 23:24.  “Say to the people of Israel, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation...” 

This is the Feast of Trumpets.  Has anyone heard of it? 

   Trumpets arrives at the end of every scriptural year to remind us that a day of reckoning is ahead, and that we should ever be prepared for it.  In your Bible, this reckoning’s called, “The Day of the LORD,” referred-to twenty-one times in the Old Testament and six times in the New.  A large amount of the Bible refers to this thousand-year Day of the LORD.  (In mine, “The Day of Yahweh.”)

    It’ll be a millennium of rejoicing for a few, mercy for some, justice for all, and retribution for most.  For those in covenant with the Master, it’ll be an age of unparalleled activity and mission. 

   Jesus advises that the “Day of the LORD” arrives suddenly, after a protracted period of world war; and on that Day, unimagined disaster.  Only in the last hundred years has the world owned the technology for global war.  We’re in a World War NOW, and have been continually since at least 1914 – almost a hundred years.  The trumpet that the Revelator calls the Seventh, Jesus calls the Great, and Paul calls the Final – is signaling that awesome Day even now.  We can predict when the hurricane is to come, but can we discern the Signs of the Times?

   In church last year, we were preparing to observe the Feast of Trumpets when Hurricane Ivan swept into our community with blasts that couldn’t be ignored (September 16, 2004).  I’ll spare you the details.  When the worst had passed, I stepped out to behold the utter destruction of the familiar sites I’d awakened each morning to see for the previous three years.  Houses and lands on each side were utterly ruined, but my church house was miraculously preserved.  How could it be?  Was I such a good boy?  Hardly.  But when one is taken and one is left all around you, and you are left, you too will wonder why, and you may seek out the ash pit of repentance.  The Feast of Trumpets, 2004, was a day of awe and wondering – but it was only one of many signs seen by those with knowledge.

   Believer, write TRUMPETS on your 2005 calendar now – October 4th – one month away to the day.  Go through your Bible and learn what Trumpets stands for and for how long Trumpets are to be observed.  Be forewarned.  Hurricane Ivan’s advent caused me to reconsider whether to hear the plain voice of Heaven or the grave fantasies and omissions of Protestant traditions?  Katrina further reinforces a Scriptural rather than traditional view.  Regarding Trumpets, which, along with all the other days we’re to observe, Yahweh says, “It is a statute forever in all your dwellings.”  How plainly do you read that?  Yet proving you love him by “keeping his commandments” is hardly in vogue these days of Laodicean apostasy (Revelation 3:17).  But this week, millions more heard his voice of warning.

   We Covenant Men can’t afford to be lax about the eternal.  Like in Job’s case, obedience may be the safety net for those of your people who are, in that day, eating and drinking on Bourbon Street in Sin City with Sodom’s Crowd as if the Word of prophecy is simply mythology.  Your stand for full truth may be the salvation of your entire family in that calamitous day.  What we do now will certainly affect thousands.  (You may thank someone for warning you then, remembering that Job received all he lost back through the resurrection of the dead.)   

 

The Mercy of Yahweh

   Elihu gives us a third reason why Yah allows, even tacitly causes, disasters to happen in this final day – he says, “out of love” (RSV only).  (A better translation might be “mercy.”)  How can such terrors be “out of love,” or merciful?  Here’s how. 

   Yahweh is compassionate and merciful (Exodus 33:19).  He gave us a good creation so as to view his handiwork.  He also assembled prophets to convey His intentions and foretell the future; other prophets to lead his people into paths of righteousness and duty.  Yahweh set his Son on a flagpole to convey his will in a way the world will ne’er forget.  And after his execution, Yahweh sent him back into the midst of the howling masses to comfort and empower the bereaved, and warn of the Day of Awe to come.  He sent the Paraclete to woo all humanity to a right relationship so that even death might NOT rapture them off.  And he’s sent a multitude of undeniable, latter-day signs and servants to warn the whole world of That Day (Isaiah 2:12), and set his own Covenant Men to action. 

   What more can he do?  He can send a whole army of Elihus into the situation to show how “Wisdom is known by her children.”  As he has sounded his mighty voice (Job 37:3-5), he now extends his outstretched arm of help.  We are that arm!  We must rise to the responsibility of that great Mercy.  We simply must.

 

Hurricane Katrina Prayer
loosely based on Renée Miller

Job 35 - 38

O Father, we recall the terror of Job as he sat in ashes.  His companions berated him, his companion cursed him, and all that had been his was gone.  He was an afflicted man among strangers, abandoned by his god.  When he cried to you for help, you stopped the railing of the devil, comforted his heart with strong words, and restored his fortunes.  We ask now that you comfort and still the hearts of those suffering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. We pray for those who have been displaced and who now must return to homes destroyed or damaged by the storm. We pray for those whose lives were lost and for those who now must grieve the loss of a loved one. We pray for those who are attempting to offer help and relief to victims. While we wonder why such devastation can occur, where lives and property can seem held so capriciously in the hand of what is uncontrollable.  Yet we know, O Father, that you can count every hair on every head.  We know that you have every name of every person written on your palm. Lend us your wisdom for a season of restoration.  Let us be a part of the rescue of the lost and hopeless.  And through us, let your loving favor wash over those who must now face damaged lives, wrecked homes, and poverty.  Hold them close to yourself until they are sure of the security of your loving embrace. Calm all hearts and still all souls, O Yahweh. We ask this for the sake of love. AMEN.

 

Ways to Help

1. Pray for victims and their families, that they will find their fears calmed, that they will be given hope in their loss, and that they will be given the strength to begin anew.   Set up a prayer vigil. Pray for those who have died, and for their families and friends who grieve.

2. Listen to the local news to find out about relief efforts in your area and how you might participate.  Subscribe to the Conference newsletters to learn what opportunities the church presents.  Foodkits, health kits, clean clothing, storm buckets, Blue Lake open to refugees, response teams.

3. Set aside some portion of your income to help those in need.  UMCOR Advance Special #982523.

4. Offer hospitality to displaced persons and families.  . Offer to care for the pets of those who have been displaced.

5. Write a letter of hope and encouragement to victims and send it to your local politicians, and to your local newspaper editor.

6. Volunteer.

 

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