In Luke 12:55-56, Jesus rebukes the Jews, because they could
read the weather signs, but they could not discern the times in
which they were living. They knew that when the south wind blew,
the weather would be hot, but they did not understand what was
happening in their own city.
Jesus comments must have aroused their curiosity. Luke 13:1-5
records how they asked about two events that had happened
recently. In the first, some Galileans had been killed by Pilate
and their blood mingled with Roman sacrifice. In the second,
eighteen people had been killed when the tower of Siloam had
fallen on them. Jesus said that the sins of the people killed in
these tragedies were no worse than those of other Galileans, or
other people living in Jerusalem, but he said that unless they
repented they would all perish.
Jesus explained that theses two events were signs to the city
of Jerusalem. The city was placing itself under a curse by
hardening its heart against Jesus, the Messiah whom God had sent
to them. The two events they asked about were signs of the
judgement that would come, if they did not change their attitude
to Jesus. This is what did happen. The Jews hardened their hearts
against Jesus; they crucified him and persecuted his followers.
These actions placed them under the wrath of God. In A.D 70 the
Roman army besieged Jerusalem, smashed down its walls and
slaughtered those who survived. The blood of many people was used
in Roman sacrifices.
The principle Jesus taught is that when a people are under
judgement, God often gives a warning. Sometimes he speaks by his
prophets. At other times he speaks by allowing unusual or
spectacular events to occur. Because they are unusual, they will
be noticed by most of the people. These warning events will be on
a much smaller scale, but typical of the judgement which will
if the people do not turn back to God.
God is merciful, and even when a people are full of sin, he
gives warning of his displeasure by advance judgements, to save
his people from something worse. If the warning is heeded it will
produce repentance and reformation, and the future will bring
blessing. If the warning is not heeded, then judgement will take
its course. These warning events are tokens or types of the
A radio commentator recently stated that New Zealand is a
post-Christian society. He said that while many aspects of our
society are rooted in Christian values, it has ceased to be
overtly Christian. This is a historianís perspective.
From Godís perspective, this nation that he has blessed so
abundantly, has turned its back on him. It has bitten the hand
that feeds it. Deuteronomy 28 warns of the consequences for a
nation that rejects God. Everything that it does will go wrong.
In terms of Deuteronomy 28, New Zealand is under a curse. That
curse is already being experienced by the weak, the poor and the
helpless. These are people who have messed up their lives, been
overwhelmed by the trials of life, or who have just failed to get
started. However, instead of turning to God, they have looked to
the state to be their saviour. It has provided some relief, but it
has not relieved their misery. For most, life is still going
The curse has not yet effected the strong and the wealthy, but
God is warning that they cannot escape it.
Jim McCaulay the chairman of Mercury Energy in the early days
of the Auckland Electricity Crisis said that it was an "Act
of God". He was correct! Although he was using insurance
jargon, he was unwittingly speaking as a prophet!
The energy crisis is a sign of the times in which we are
living. It should be understood in the same way as the two events
that Jesus was asked about. There are three features of the
Auckland energy crisis that are important
- The crisis was totally unexpected.
- The strong and the wealthy were effected economically.
- The best technology could not remedy the problem with the
- The central government was powerless.
The people of Auckland are no worse sinners than anyone else in
New Zealand. However, they have been more ostentatious and blatant
in rejecting God than the rest of New Zealand.
The electricity crisis was a warning to the rest of the nation
of a judgement that lies in the future. Unless we turn back to
God, something similar will happen to the entire nation, but on a
far larger scale.
- It will be totally unexpected.
- It will be an economic disaster.
- The best technology will be unable to resolve it.
- It will especially effect the strong and the wealthy. They
have treated those who depend on social welfare with contempt,
calling them bludgers and parasites. Things will be so bad
that they will call on the government for help.
- The government will not be able to find a solution.
Most of all it will effect the strong and the wealthy. They are
confident and bold. They consider that they have made their own
success, through their own wisdom and hard work; they donít need
God. They are not afraid of God. Like a child scoffing at a
parent, they boldly mock him and use his name as a curse. When
these troubles come, their laughter will die on their lips and
anguish will be written on their faces. They will call on the
government for help, but it will be powerless.
At this time, if the people of New Zealand cry out to God, he
will hear their prayer and pour out a spirit of humility and
repentance. Godís purpose in sending judgement is not to punish
people, but to shake them up, so that they will look to him for
salvation. Sometimes, he has to pull all other props away, so that
people will call on him. Revival is almost always preceded by
Waves of Revival
A writer in a New Zealand surfing magazine noted that soon
after the Auckland CBD was plunged into darkness, the west coast
of the north island experienced some of the best surf of the
summer. These large perfect waves symbolise the waves of revival
that will come after New Zealand is plunged into the darkness of
economic crisis. When the people of New Zealand turn to God, the
Holy Spirit will be poured out and will bring wave after wave of
Here we see the tremendous mercy of God. At a time when he was
sending a warning event, he also sent a sign of blessing and hope
for those who have eyes to see. The Auckland Energy Crisis is a
warning of what lies a head for this nation. However that future
is not fixed. If we heed the warning and call out to God, he will
have mercy and our future will be changed to one of blessing.
We must be certain of one thing. God wants this nation back. He
will keep shaking until we wake up to his calling and turn back to
him. The more we harden our hearts, the harder he will shake up. I
hope that we will not be like the people of Israel, who could read
the weather signs, but could not understand the times in which
they were living. I hope that we will heed the warning that he has
given and seek his mercy and blessing. That is our best hope.
On the evening after I had finished writing this, my wife and I
went to see the film Titanic. I was disappointed in the film, but
I was struck by the significance of the event. The sinking of the
Titanic was a very striking incident, which would have been
noticed by everyone. It was a warning event of the type
Jesus described in Luke 13.
The Titanic sunk in 1912. During the late 19th century and the
early 20th century Britain was in spiritual decline. God poured
out his spirit in the Welsh revival, but this move of God was
resisted by the established church and the nation at large. The
consequence of this decline was judgement. I believe that the
sinking of the Titanic was a warning of that judgement.
In Britain, people were amazed, but they did not understand the
times, in which they were living, and did not heed the warning.
Consequently two years later in 1914, Britain was plunged into the
most terrible war that the world has known.
The key features of the sinking of the Titanic are as follows:
- The sins of the people on the Titanic were no worse than
any others living at that time, but they were typical.
- The ship builders, the owners, the officers and crew were
quite arrogant. They were totally confident in the Titanic,
believing it to be unsinkable. Yet their mistakes were the
cause of its sinking.
- The disaster was totally unexpected; yet the unthinkable
- There was terrible loss of life: 1500 people drowned.
- The loss of life was greatest among younger men and the
lower classes who were trapped on the lower decks.
- Hundreds of women were widowed and many children were left
fatherless. Many watched from the life-boats as their men
drowned in the cold sea.
The parallels with World War 1 are obvious.
- Two years after the sinking Britain was locked in a
titanic struggle with the nations of Central Europe.
- The war was unexpected. Right up to the outbreak of war,
the people and politicians believed that war would not
eventuate. Yet the unthinkable happened.
- The British military leaders were also arrogant. They
believed that they could win the war easily. Yet their many
tactical and operational mistakes contributed to the tragedy
of the war.
- Although some military leaders suffered, the greatest cost
was borne by the young conscripts and lower classes who
fought the war in the trenches.
- The casualties were enormous. 10 million died. Twice that
number were injured, many being maimed for life.
- Thousands of women were widowed and numerous children were
left fatherless. The women of Britain heard about the
suffering in Europe from a distance.
The sinking of the Titanic was a warning of the terrible events
that would follow. Sadly the significance of the event was not
understood, and the warning was not heeded. This is a pertinent
reminder to us that the principles that Jesus outlined have not