Four different types of disaster can take place on earth, depending on the situation that prevails and the level of God's influence. To understand these, you should read Discerning Seasons first.

1. Shaking Judgments

God will sometimes send a tumultuous event on earth as a judgment to shake up people who are forgetting about him. These judgments may be political, economic or natural events. Shaking Judgments usually take place when God's people are in a majority and God still has wide freedom to act on earth.

These Shaking Judgments have several important characteristics.

  1. God's judgment of his people is always redemptive. His sole purpose is to draw them Back to him.

  2. God does not actually send the shaking. He just withdraws his protection and allows people to experience the consequences of their behaviour for a time.

  3. The event occurs when God temporarily lifts his protection in a particular time and place, rather than because he decides to something evil.

  4. People who are slipping into rebellion against God may be shaken from their complacency. Those who are getting casual in their relationship with God can be jolted Back to faith.

  5. The Shaking Judgment is a short sharp shock that lets people briefly experience the consequences of continuing down the dangerous path they have chosen.

  6. The Shaking Judgment gives people a glimpse through the door to evil that they are thinking about opening.

  7. God warns of the shaking in advance by his prophets (Amos 3:7). This confirms that the event is allowed by God and not just a random event.

  8. The prophets specify the sins that are upsetting God and tell the people what they must do to get back on track with him (eg Jer 38:17-18).

  9. The fulfilment of the prophecy confirms the prophet's message and the need for people to change their behaviour.

  10. People who listen to the prophets can prepare in advance. Often the prophets will tell them what to do to survive through the judgment. Heeding the warning enables them to survive through the disaster. (God's protection is not magical, as Christians assume, but comes from knowing what to do and doing it).

  11. Christian who refuse to prepare and change will sometimes fail the test. The Letters to the seven churches warned that was God was going to shake the churches in Ephesus, Pergamum, Sardis and Laodicea and that some would not survive the shaking (Rev 2,3). Warnings of shaking should not be taken lightly.

  12. People who are protected and prepared can reach out in mercy to those who are feeling lost and shaken.

  13. Shaking Judgements often affect the ungodly most, not because they are picked out, but because they are not prepared.

  14. Shaking Judgements are primarily directed against God's people, The Old Testament prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah mostly warned of events that would shake Israel. Jesus spoke judgment against Israel in his big prophecy (Matt 23:33-24:34), but his primary purpose was to warn his people how to escape the destruction by fleeing to the hills at the right time.

  15. In the New Testament, Shaking Events were primarily directed against the Church. The Jerusalem church was persecuted, because their leaders had refused to take the gospel out into the world (Acts 8:1).

  16. God disciplines his children, as a father disciplines his sons.
  17. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world (1 Cor 11:32).

    God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness (Heb 12:10).

  18. Shaking Judgments are always redemptive. God's sole purpose is to draw people Back to him

  19. Shaking judgments are often covenant judgments. The troubles are often the consequence of failure to keep a covenant between God and his people.

Remnant

God sometimes uses traumatic events to shake people loose, so he can draw them Back to him, but he does not do this just for fun. He will only send shaking judgement, if he has a remnant faithful to him, who are equipped to serve those who are shaken and get them back on to the right way. If the remnant is not prepared to demonstrate the love of God during the crisis, it is wasted and evil benefits. A crisis can open people's hearts, but if no one is there to pour oil on their wounds, the scars will harden their hearts to the gospel.

An earthquake cannot preach the gospel. This was true in Paul's day. The Philippians jailor became a Christian after the earthquake that opened the gates of his jail.

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:29-30).

This was not a spontaneous response to the earthquake. What made the difference was seeing the faith and joy of two men who had been "stripped and beaten" "severely flogged" with "their feet fastened in stocks".

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:25).

The jailor became a Christian, because he had seen two wounded and bound men praising and worshipping God in the middle of the night. The jailor was a hard, tough man. His heart was blown open, because he saw the Holy Spirit working in the lives of Paul and Silas during their time of crisis.

If his earthquake had struck on any other night of the year, the jailor would not have become a Christian. He would have cursed and beaten the prisoners and carried on with life. The living faith of Paul and Silas made the difference.

Shaking is pointless without a prepared remnant.

America

America is still quite a long way from the tipping point, so people with discernment should expect to see Shaking Judgments, as the Father attempts to shake those who are slipping away in hope of drawing them back. Prophets should be active in providing advance notice and helping God's people to prepare. Christians should make the most of the time to proclaim the gospel and turn their nation around, before the tipping point is reached.

2. Warning Events

When the Christian influence declines and society is close to the tipping point, the powers of evil begin to show off. The devil is not very creative, so he just does on a smaller scale, what he would like to do, if he had much more authority, but does not. These events are warning signs for those who alert. Christians who understand their times will able to discern these signs and get an early warning of what is going to happen, if society continues in the way that it is going.

When Jesus was asked about a couple of nasty events that had occurred, he rebuked the people for being able to read the weather signs, but not understanding what was happening in their time

He said to the crowd: "When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'It's going to rain,' and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, 'It's going to be hot,' and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time (Luke 12:54-56)?

They asked about some Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices another group who have been killed when a tower fell on them. His response is interesting.

Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them-do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem (Luke 13:2-4)?

These events were not the judgment of God falling on people who had fallen into sin and rejected him. They were sign of the general state of Jewish society. Jerusalem was getting close to a tipping point. God's influence in Israel had increased significantly when the people started following Jesus, but now their initial fervour was slipping away. If the people turned against him, the forces of evil would cement their authority in the land.

Jesus warning was blunt.

I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish (Luke 13:5).

These two events were the powers of evil flexing their muscles. Jesus warned that if the nation continued on its current path towards the tipping point and without turning away, evil would gain greater freedom in their county and worse destruction would follow . If they pursued their opposition to Jesus right to the end, they would completely lose God's protection and be totally exposed to evil. That is exactly what took place.

The people of Jerusalem rejected Jesus and he was crucified. These actions totally eliminated God's protection. Forty years later, the Roman armies besieged Jerusalem and smashed down its walls. Many people who had taken refuge in the temple had their blood spilt on the floor. The final destruction copied the warning events but on a far greater scale. The two events described by Jesus were a "type" of what would happen, if the nation continued on its current direction.

People with discernment soon realised the people of Jerusalem would not receive their saviour and would harden their hearts against God's plan of redemption. Jesus confirmed their understanding when he prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and warned his followers how to escape the devastation by fleeing to the hills (Luke 21:20-24). Christians who had discerned these events and heeded Jesus warning, were able to escape to safety before the Romans laid siege to Jerusalem.

Warning Events have the following characteristics.

  1. Warning events are not sent by God.

  2. Minor occurrences of evil are often a sign that society is getting close to the tipping point.

  3. Being abnormal and unusual, these events are noticed by everyone.

  4. These mini-disaster may appear to be random events, but they have spiritual significance.

  5. The forces of evil begin to show off and try out the evil they intend to do, if they get greater control of society.

  6. They are a warning of more serious perils that will follow, if people do not get back under the protection of God.

  7. Warning events reveal the mind of the devil, as they are often a type of what he will do if he is given a free hand to wreak worse evil.

  8. Warning events are indiscriminate. They can hurt sinners and the righteous, because the devil does not care who he hurts.

  9. The event says nothing about the character of the people who are harmed and everything about the nature of the society they live in.

  10. These events are not redemptive; just destructive of relatively innocent people.

  11. God can usually restrain the forces of evil to limit the scope of the tragedy.

  12. God always works good in the midst of evil, so the Holy Spirit uses the shaking to stir up his church.

  13. Christians who understand the times can sharpen their gospel preaching.

  14. Christians should respond to a Warning Event with prayer to release the Spirit to move in their society.

  15. Seeing the powers of evil overstepping the mark should stir up the church to push back against them by preaching the gospel boldly.

  16. Christians who can interpret the warning to get a sense of what is going to happen in the future will be able to prepare in advance for the next crisis.

  17. Warning Events are usually ignored by the world.

  18. Warning Events are often ignored by Christians, because they just assume that the disaster is a judgment against bad people. This self-righteousness produces complacency that causes them to miss the opportunity to prepare.

  19. Warning Events are a sign of significant authority shift in society. If society continues on this current path, evil will become the new normal and Evil Events will become more frequent. Christians should use the time to prepare.

Spiritual climates change slowly, so a number of years might pass between the warning and the fulfilment. The Church should use the time between to rise up and cut off the fulfilment by preaching the gospel in power. If the number of Christians increases significantly, God's authority will be expanded, and the principalities and powers can be squeezed out again.

Protection

Christians should heed the warning and get together to protection themselves and their families. We will be more secure, if we live close to others who are committed to supporting each other. Those who stand alone can be picked off one by one.

The Bible teaches teaching is that we should deal with evil by resisting it.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:7,8).

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith (1 Pet 5:8-9).

These commands are plural. Protection from evil is achieved by Christians coming together to support each other. The same applies to the spiritual armour in Ephesians 6. The armour is not for individual protection. The spiritual armour only works among a group of Christians are bound to each other by love.

Christians must make sure that they understand what is happening their times and take appropriate action.

3. Evil Events

Once a society has moved past the tipping point, evil principalities and powers have freedom to do their stuff.

God is no longer on the throne, so he is powerless to intervene. He has given authority on earth to humans, so if they have passed it on to the forces of evil, rather than to him, he can do nothing about the situation in the short term.

The activities of the forces of evil have the following characteristics.

  1. Evil events are often directed against Christians (or Jews), because the devil hates them.

  2. Evil events are nasty and hugely destructive, because the devil loves to "steal, kill and destroy" (John 10:10).

  3. Evil events are not redemptive. They are just evil for the sake of being evil.

  4. God always works some things for good, even if evil is unrestrained. He will always produce good things, event in the midst of the most troubled times.

Between 1933 and 1944, 14 million civilians were killed in Eastern Europe by forces controlled by Stalin and Hitler. A few decades earlier, Germany and Russia had been under strong Christian influence. This shows what can happen when Christian societies slip past the tipping point.

Predominance of evil has been the normal situation in many cultures for most of history. People living in the western world with its strong Christian influence often forget this.

When the people in a society reject God's protection, the enemy is free to do his stuff, and he is not nice. This is what we are seeing now in many parts of the Western world. Storms and earthquakes, wars and economic crashes are not usually God's judgments. They are signs that we have given evil a free hand in our society.

The Holy Spirit does not glorify evil, so Evil Events do not get much attention in scriptures.

4. Protective Judgments

God sometimes assesses a nation and decides that it has become so evil that it is beyond saving. In this situation, he then has no choice but to allow its destruction to minimise evil. I refer to these as protective judgments, rather than destructive judgments, because their primary purpose is to protect the world from evil. God does not engage in mindless destruction. He always destroys empires when that it is the best way to constrain evil.

The cross totally changed the situation on earth. Most Christians have no idea of the extent to which God's ability to work on earth was constrained prior to the cross.

  1. Until Jesus died and rose from the dead, God could not pour out his Spirit on all people. The Holy Spirit could only work in the hearts of a few special people: prophets and godly kings. He did not have the power to change hearts or convict people of sin. He could not cause people to be born again.

  2. Raising up prophets was extremely difficult, because most were corrupted before they were old enough for God to use them. Samson is an example. God wanted to use him as prophet and his parents kept him holy, but he was overtaken by a spirit of violence and foolishness that severely limited his ministry. Hannah's prayer and dedication of Samuel was a huge turning point, because she provided God with a man who was holy enough to be an effective prophet (1 Sam 1:11). Moses' sister and mother faithfulness were critical to his emergence as prophetic leader. These were rare exceptions.

  3. There was no ability to cast out demons. If demons gain control of a society, there were no tools for dealing with the situation. As there control increased, greater depravity would emerge. Stirring up another nation to destroy an evil culture was often the only way to prevent the depravity from spreading. The demons would not be destroyed, but they lost the cohesion they gained by working together in one place.

  4. God chose a special nation to help him change the world, but they lost their way and continued to be part of the problem.

In the Old Testament environment, prompting one nation to destroy another was often the only way to restrain evil. This did not destroy the evil spirits, but the disruption of war breaks down their uneasy unity and causes them to fight against each. Concentrating in one place allows them to leverage their evil. When evil spirits are dispersed and isolated, they do much less harm.

Sodom is an example. It was taking depravity to new level, so God needed to stamp out the evil before the rest of the land was contaminated. In this case, he was able to use volcanic activity, because Abraham's authority in the city gave him permission to take action.

The longer a ruler is in power, the greater their ability to do evil, so allowing a new one to emerge was often the best way to deal with evil rulers. For example, Cyrus of Persia emerged to take control of Babylon when it was getting out of hand. King Herod's died when he became a threat to the merging church (Acts12:21-23). Protective judgments limit evil by eliminating evil rulers.

Jeremiah reminded the nations that God was entitled to destroy them, if they caused too much tumult and trouble.

The tumult will resound to the ends of the earth,
for the LORD will bring charges against the nations;
he will bring judgment on all mankind (Jer 25:31).

God has created and blessed everyone on earth, so all nations and political leaders are accountable to him, even if they have not directly made a covenant with him. The standard is higher for those who have made a covenant with God, but every nation is accountable.

Protective Judgments have the following characteristics.

  1. Although these judgments can be very destructive, their primary purpose is to protect the world from evil. If the powerful nation were not destroyed, it would inflict terrible evil on the world.

  2. God sometimes sends a prophet to warn a nation that is on the brink of being destroyed. This ensures that everyone understand that God is at work. Daniel warned the King of Babylon that the 'writing was on the wall" for his regime (Dan 5). Everyone knew that God was behind its destruction.

  3. The Old Testament prophets announced several protective judgments. These prophecies give God the authority that he needs to bring judgment against the nations that have gone wrong.

  4. In some situations, evil is so entrenched that there is no hope of change. In these situations, no warning may be given.

  5. God will sometimes use a protective judgment to remove a corporate spiritual stronghold from a city or nation. A disaster that sweeps away the political powers that have entrenched it and scatters the spiritual forces that have concentrated their influence within it is often the only way to break a stronghold.

  6. An evil nation that is about to be destroyed will sometimes repent and get a second chance. God sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn that it would be destroyed (Jonah 1:1). When he finally obeyed God and sounded a warning, the people of Nineveh believed God and forced their king to change (Jonah 3:5-10).

  7. God is just. He always judges nations justly (Gen 18:25)

    My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm (Is 51:5).

    This prophecy was confirmed by Jesus. He made a public commitment to justice for nations and cities (Matt 11:20-24). He will treat every individual with justice, but full justice may only be received at the last judgment).

  8. God takes no pleasure in destroying an evil nation that has become a threat to life. He was pleased when the people of Nineveh opened their hearts to him.

    Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left-and also many animals" (Dan 4:11)?
  9. God prefers less drastic methods for dealing with evil nations. When the people at Shinar concentrated evil to oppose God, he confused their language two disperse the influence of evil (Gen 11:8).

  10. God will often rescue righteous people from a city or nation that is about to be destroyed. Lot and his family were rescued from Sodom, before it was destroyed (Gen 19:12-17).

Often Partial

Isaiah (13-21) Jeremiah (46-52) and Ezekiel (28-32) prophesied the destruction of various nations that would go over to evil at various stages during Old Testament history. However, when I analysed these prophecies further, I found that prophecies of the destruction of an entire nation are rarer than is usually assumed. In many of the prophecies, the destruction is partial.

  1. The prophet sometimes warns that the king or his armies will be destroyed, but the rest of the people survive. For example, Ezekiel warns of the destruction of Tyre (Ez 27:21), but Isaiah promise that the people will Return to their trading activities (Is 23:17,18).

  2. Other prophecies warn that the key cities will be destroyed, but the rest of the nation will survive. Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of the cities of Hazor and Kedar in Arabia (Jer 49:28-33). Isaiah promised a few survivors (Is 21:16) and life in Arabia continued.

  3. A prophet would often warn of destruction at one point in history, but promises restoration at another time. This is the normal rising and falling of nations. Jeremiah warned that Elam would be destroyed (Jer 49:36-31), but promised that it would be restored much later in history.

    Yet I will restore the fortunes of Elam
    in days to come," declares the LORD (Jer 49:39).

    Elam is in modern Iran, so this promise has been partially fulfilled already.

  4. Some nations will be destroyed, but will turn Back to God in the future. Isaiah warned of the destruction of Cush (Is 18:6), which is now Ethiopia. He also promised that in the future, the people will come to faith in God (Is 18:1).

  5. Some prophecies of destruction have not yet been fulfilled. Isaiah prophesied the destruction of Damascus but this city still exists, so the prophecy is waiting to be fulfilled (Is 17:1). If this happens at the end of the Times of the Gentiles, it may not be a total destruction. Any nations that get through this season can be transformed by the Holy Spirit, so it would not need to be destroyed.

Sometimes several prophets must be read to get a full picture. One prophet will warn of destruction, but a different prophet gives a promise that the nation will be restored. They are not in conflict. It is just that some prophets did not get the full picture. The following are examples.

Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab
in days to come," declares the LORD.
Here ends the judgment on Moab (Jer 48:47).

Jeremiah seems to be saying this is the final word on Moab.

Total destruction seems to be prophesied for only two nations.

  1. Most of the Old Testament prophets warned of destruction of Babylon (Is 13:19, Jer 50:39). Jeremiah suggests that it had gone too far to be saved.

    We would have healed Babylon,
    but she cannot be healed;
    let us leave her and each go to our own land,
    for her judgment reaches to the skies,
    it rises as high as the heavens (Jer 51:9).

    Even this destruction was partial. The city of Babylon was totally destroyed, but life has gone in the surrounding area (Iraq).

  2. Ezekiel and Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of Edom (Jer 49:15,18; Ez 25:13). Edom and Moab were the descendants of Lot and are often linked together in prophesies. I am not certain why Jeremiah prophesied the restoration of Moab (Jer 48:47) but not Edom. Jeremiah suggests that justice required the total destruction of Edom (Jer 49:12).

The Gospel Changes Everything

Jesus ministry changed the way that judgment works. Since the cross, God has far more effective tools for dealing with recalcitrant nations. In the age of the gospel, judgments to destroy evil nations will be very rare, as God prefers to work with the gospel and the Spirit.

The Roman Empire is an example of God's new way of working. The empire was eventually destroyed by invading nations, but only after a long history. Rome was almost transformed from within by the Holy Spirit and the gospel. Had the church avoided a few mistakes, the transformation would have been a success and the fall of Rome would have been unnecessary.

In the gospel age, there will be times when the Holy Spirit is unable to work in a nation, possibly because Christians refuse to out to preach the gospel. They Holy Spirit can only go where his people carry him. If he is unable to work, a nation may get out of hand and become so evil that God has to take action to bring it down. If the church is on it's game, this should be rare.

An exception is where the Book of Revelation prophesies the destruction of a powerful nation called Babylon the Great

Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!'
She has become a dwelling for demons
and a haunt for every impure spirit (Rev 18:2).

This nation will not be destroyed just because it is evil, that it must be. It will be destroyed because it has gained a huge influence over the nations of the world.

For all the nations have drunk
the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her (Rev 18:3)

This evil nation has gained such strong influence that it is leading the entire world into evil. It must be removed from the pages of history to prevent the corruption from spreading. This level of evil will be rare in the age of the Holy Spirit.

The gospel has changed the role of prophecy. The situations where prophets are called to announce the destruction of evil nations will be quite rare. In most cases the gospel and the Spirit will deal with the evil nation more effectively. Christian prophets should be quite cautious about announcing the destruction of evil nations.

Confusion about Judgment

Christians get confused about these four different types of judgment event.

  1. Prophetic people often declare that Warning Events and Evil Events are caused by God. However, when a society that once had a strong Christian influence gets close to the tipping point, God has only limited authority to act on earth. Because most authority on earth has been handed over to the principalities and powers, the best he can do is restrain the worst of the evil. He is still more powerful, but because he is honest and just, he abides by decisions that he made about authority on earth, even when things go haywire.

    Believing that God has caused events that are the work of the devil is seriously distorted thinking, that causes terrible confusion among Christians. If we do not know what God is doing, it will be hard to hear what he is saying. Christians who think that rampant evil and destruction are God's perfect will find it hard to obey him, as it is hard to love and serve someone who dishes out wanton violence.

  2. God gets a bad name that he does not deserve. The world blames him for warning signs and evil events that are the work of the forces of evil. They prefer to think that he is in control, even though refuse to acknowledge his authority, because this makes them feel better. The truth is that humans have authority on earth. They have allowed the authority to shift, so most evil events on earth are the result of that authority being handed to the forces of evil. Humans are responsible, not God.

  3. God always works to bring good out of evil. We must not be confused by this. The fact that God continues working in the midst of evil does not hat mean that he has caused it.

  4. When evil is rampant, God may not have sufficient authority to prevent evil events, but he is still omniscient and knows what the devil is about to do. He usually warns Christians in advance, so they can prepare. Some get confused in this situation and believe that God is sending the evil. They say will say, "God is going to do such and such". This makes God seem a quite nasty, when he is actually trying to be helpful. In these situations, Christians should say, "God has shown me that the forces of evil are going to do such and such. Use the time to get ready".

  5. People who believe that God is always in control will be totally disorientated during seasons when he is not. It is hard to confront evil, if you believe that God has allowed it.

  6. Many Christians ignore these distinctions and assume that every traumatic event is a sign of the so-called end times. They like things to get worse and worse, because it means that escape is getting closer. Many assume that nothing can be done, so they sit on their bums and enjoy the playing out of pain. These Christian do not like Judgment Events and Warning Events, because these might shake people Back to God, which would hold back the tide of disaster, which would delay their rescue. This distorted thinking makes them powerless.

  7. When David disobeyed God by taking a census of his fighting men, God gave him three choices (2 Sam 24:13-14). David chose to fall into the hands of God rather than the hands of men, and the forces of evil.

    Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; bud do not let me fall into the hands of men (1 Chron 20:13)

    This suggests that Israel was somewhere between the opening of the door to evil and the tipping point where evil gets greater control, so God was able to give David a choice between a Judgment Event and a Warning Event. David understood God's mercy, so he chose a judgment from God over a strike from the enemy.

  8. Abraham declared that God would treat the nations of the world with justice.

    Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right (Gen 18:25)?

    His faith in God's justice led him to expect that God would be generous. Many Christians assume that a just God will be destructive. This difference is revealing. Maybe Abraham understood God's grace and justice better than modern people.

Whacking Society is a Suboptimal Method

The cross changed everything. In the Old Testament age, judgment was often a necessary last resort. In the New Testament age, shaking judgment is a sub-optimal method for changing people and society.

  1. Judgment events are mostly indiscriminate. Just as radiation therapy kills the good cells and the cancer cells, the good, the bad and the ugly are harmed equally.

  2. Judgment was mostly ineffective in bringing change. Judges, 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles record the history of Israel and Judah. These nations were judged again and again, but they deliberately continued down their path to oblivion without hesitating. Judgement did not turn them around. God had not poured yet out the Holy Spirit, so this was inevitable.

  3. Shakings restrained the worst evil. Evil kings and leaders were removed before they could do too much harm. This was the best that Judgment Events can do. The Holy Spirit can do far better.

  4. The outpouring of Holy Spirit and the gospel of Jesus provide God with a far better ways for transforming peoples and nations. This reduces the need for judgment and shaking. They are less frequent in the New Testament age.

Gospel and Spirit

Some Christians still believe that God changes the world by whacking it with judgments. They delight in disasters, because they believe he will use them to turn society around. These people do not understand how God works. They have more faith in earthquakes, hurricanes, and economic collapse than they have in the Holy Spirit. This is sad, because God cannot transform society by whacking it with a big stick, because that mostly turns people sour.

Since Jesus death, resurrection and ascension, the Holy Spirit and the gospel are God's preferred vehicles for transforming society. Repentance comes from hearing the gospel of grace. Faith is a fruit of the Spirit drawing a person to the Father.

God needs people to share the gospel and carry the Holy Spirit into the world. He can only get to the hearts of unbelievers, if we are carrying him into their midst. God can only transform society through a living body that carries the Holy Spirit where he wants to work. Until he gets a body that is up to the task, God will not waste his effort shaking society.

God must transform his church before he can transform society. Then if he shakes a nation, his revitalised church can be salt and light to shape it in a new direction. If the church is not carrying the Holy Spirit into the world, shaking achieves nothing. Society will just carry on down the gurgler, because it knows nothing better.

God prefers to work through the Holy Spirit and the gospel. Prophetic warning of judgment should be rare. Exhortation to proclaim the gospel in the power of the Spirit and should receive far more airtime, because they reflect the Father's heart.

The principles in this article are applied in detail to a real life situation in Causes of the Christchurch Earthquakes.

More at Why Did Christians Die?

See Discerning Seasons.