It was really big news when the story broke. An earthquake in the capital of the United States of America. A 5.9 magnitude tremor of the earth that shook the monuments, statues, and political epicenters of America had struck. As many in the area braced for aftershocks, many in the Christian world began the “what does this all mean,” work that takes place after every widely publicized natural disaster.
Joseph Farah, wrote for World Net Daily, that God was using the earthquake to “shake things up,” so that people would turn back to Him. Maybe so. Christians believe that God, as Farah points out, is sovereign, and that all things work together for His good and purpose. However, none of us can say with certainty what the reason for the earthquake is no matter how tempting it is to read ourselves into the Bible.
I don’t disagree with much of what Farah had to say. As stated above, Farah could be right. I did have a problem though with a statement that Farah made in his editorial. Farah writes:
Washington, D.C., deserves more than the wallop it got today. It needs a much bigger shaking up than it got. And I have no doubts that it is coming – unless there is a real change of heart in the leadership of this country.
After all, if America doesn’t face judgment soon, God will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. And God doesn’t offer apologies.
As I read this portion of Farah’s article, I could not help but think of Jonah. Called by God to deliver the good news of God’s salvation to the people of Ninevah, Jonah, with much coaxing from God, followed through. Then after delivering the message, Jonah who should have been happy for having the opportunity to share the news of a merciful God, begrudges the fact that God had spared the people of the pagan city based upon the message that Jonah had been sent to deliver.
Once Jonah learned of God’s deliverance of the people he became angry. Jonah was so angry in fact that he wished to be dead. Like Joseph Farah, Jonah was well aware of the sinfulness of the people who he had been sent to teach the good news of God to. Also, like Farah, Jonah was unhappy when God did spare them, when God did follow through with his promise.
Farah exemplifies this attitude when he says that the people of Washington D.C. deserved more than what the earthquake delivered. Is Farah not, like Jonah, now questioning God (assuming that Farah is correct in his assumption about the meaning of the earthquake)? Jonah wanted the people of Ninevah annihalated. I have read Farah’s statement several times and I cannot find where Farah differs from Jonah at all in this manner. Farah wants to see God’s judgment fall on people who are sinful and even when he sees what he deems as that judgment, Farah is still not satisfied. Is this Christian?
Farah’s statement that God must apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah if He does not bring his wrath soon is also out of bounds. Where is the humility in this? Who is Farah, or any of us for that matter, to begin telling God when and what for He must apologize? I can picture Jonah, sulking in his self-righteous posture, telling God that if He does not destroy the people of Ninevah that God would owe an apology to the entire population destroyed when God sent the flood in the days of Noah.
God used Jonah’s attitude to teach Jonah a lesson on mercy. Joseph Farah may need the same lesson. If Farah is a Christian, just like Jonah he has been saved and sent with a message. It is, like Jonah’s, a message of salvation and mercy and unfathomable pardon. Instead, like Jonah, Farah has focused on the sinfulness of the people rather than how wonderful God is to grant His pardon to mankind. Farah has made an industry out of shaming the sins of others and holding his breath in anticipation of God’s swift and sure hand of judgment.
Unlike Jonah, Farah has lived to hear and know the fulfillment of God’s ultimate plan of mercy. The good news that is the gospel has been laid upon the ears of Farah, giving him faith.
Yes Joseph Farah, the people who have denied Christ may have earned God’s wrath and they are truly blessed to have received God’s mercy today. How does that differ from your own life though? How does it differ from mine? Have we all not earned God’s wrath through our sins and rebellion or would Joseph Farah lead his readers to believe that he has lived sinless since making Christ His Lord?
At the end of the book of Jonah, God asks Jonah “should I not pity Ninevah…” Jonah had lost sight of God’s mercy and how it had been bestowed upon him. Perhaps the same has happened to Farah? Perhaps it is time for Farah to begin teaching the message of good news that He has been called to deliver and stop watching and anticipating God’s judgment to fall upon those who have not made Christ their Lord. Just as Farah feels God showed pity to the people of Washington D.C. yesterday, God has shown him and any other person who is a Christian the same pity.