Chapter-5.2   Nine Signs We Are Under Judgment

5.2   The Whirlwind — Jonah, a Man With an UN-Mission – Plus His Egyptian Friends

 

We came to realize (in chapter-3) that you cannot see someone suffering and necessarily conclude there is underlying sin. We shall now discover that you can look at someone who is blatantly sinning and conclude, within reason, that suffering is in their future — unless they have a change of heart — out of which they begin to modify their behavior.

 

‘Repentance’ is not some form of religious ritual in which I express regret (although such expressions can be a natural outgrowth of true repentance). Rather it is a simple change of heart/direction worked out in our lives persistently over a period of time with God’s grace and help.

 

So I ask again, can we make sense out of tragedy? As we saw when we looked at the story of Job, not always. But as we shall see in the stories of Jonah and the events leading up to the Parting of The Red Sea (two very different Bible stories), sometimes we can. In the title line of this chapter I liken the Egyptians to be friends of Jonah. I do this only in the context that all of these individuals received consequences in their lives that were extremely painful events engineered by the Lord for a specific purpose – a wake up call to obey! With both Jonah and the Egyptians, the Lord used the WHIRLWIND to make that message loud and clear.

 

But before we dive into these rich Bible stories, let’s review some other references in the Scriptures to ‘Whirlwinds’:

 

Jeremiah 23:19-20 (The Holy Bible, NIV / Biblica Inc.):

 

[19] See, the storm of the Lord will burst out in wrath, a whirlwind swirling down on the heads of the wicked. [20] The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand it clearly. *1*

 

Nahum 1:3 (The Holy Bible, NIV / Biblica Inc.):

 

The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. *2*

 
 
Proverbs 1:20-33 (The Holy Bible, NIV / Biblica Inc.):
 
Wisdom’s Rebuke

 

[20] Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; [21] on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: [22] “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? [23] Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. [24] But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, [25] since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, [26] I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you— [27] when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. [28] “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, [29] since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. [30] Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, [31] they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. [32] For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; [33] but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” *3*

 

Part-1 Jonah

 

OK, now on with Jonah, the man with an UN-Mission. The 1960’s favorite TV show, ‘Mission Impossible’, always opened with a scene of the agent listening to a recorded message that described a complex spy mission. The tape would always end with the phrase, ‘Your mission, should you decide to accept it…’ Jonah reminds me of that agent. God had spoken to him and told him to go to Nineveh and call that city to repent of their wicked deeds. *4*. If they failed to turn from their wickedness, the great city would be over thrown in 40 days. *4*. While God was not presenting him with the UN-Mission option, (figuratively speaking) Jonah had not read that email – so, he listened to the tape and basically decided he was not going to accept the mission. Jonah did not realize that this was so important to the Lord, that the Lord was NOT going to accept ‘No’ for an answer.

 

 

Jonah 1:3-16 (The Holy Bible, NIV / Biblica Inc.):

 

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord . Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.” Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land. This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.) The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord , do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord , have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him. *5*

 

 

I find three notable aspects to this story:
 
  1. Jonah’s familiarity with the Lord taught him that the Lord is very gracious and kind (which HE is). Jonah, like many Christians today, was content to RELAX and do his own thing, rather than step up and be the ‘salt and light’ he-was/they-are called to be. It is easy when we choose the WAY OF RELAXATION (as Jonah did) to loose sight of the urgency the Lord feels over some things.
  2. Because of Jonah’s rebellion, birthed in apathy (or maybe fear), a lot of other people suffered horrible experiences and material loss; after all, the materials thrown overboard were likely owned by the merchants who had stocked the vessel for transport.
  3. I think there was more of a sense of concerned accountability in this culture than there is in ours today. Notice how the crew sought to determine whose actions were causing the very adverse circumstances. Their hearts were in the right place. They had no desire for recrimination. And when they found out Jonah was the cause, they worked extra hard to try to save him! All they ever wanted was the destructive WHIRLWIND to stop, which it did when they reluctantly followed Jonah’s instructions and threw him overboard.

 

 

So the Lord used the WHIRLWIND to wake up a complacent believer, Jonah. Jonah judged himself and, in ruthless honesty, found himself guilty – which led to ultimate restoration and the fulfillment of the Lord’s mission for him.

 

 

 

Part-2 Egypt

 

Joseph had been a savior to Egypt (during the days of the difficult famine). *6*. His actions also saved his family who came down from Canaan and joined him in Egypt. Where Joseph had stored abundant grain. The Family of Israel (renamed from Jacob, Joseph’s father) grew and grew, faster than the Egyptian people, who began to feel threatened by the Israelite people in their midst. So, forgetting the past, they enslaved them and subjected them to harsh labor.

 

When the season was right, the Lord sent Moses back to Egypt to rescue the descendants of Abraham. In the ensuing struggle that followed between Moses and Pharaoh, God sent 10 judgments upon the Egyptians — HE was punishing the nation as he promised Abraham that he would. The ten judgments are listed below. Note, starting with the fourth judgment (the Plague of Flies), each of the judgments fell only upon the Egyptian people. The Israelites (though they lived in a section of Egypt) were spared.

 

Judgments upon Egypt *7*:
 
  1. The Plague of Blood (Exodus 7)
  2. Frogs Everywhere (Exodus 8)
  3. The Plague of Gnats (Exodus 8)
  4. The Plague of Flies (Exodus 8)
  5. Plague on Livestock (Exodus 9)
  6. The Plague of Boils (Exodus 9)
  7. The Plague of Hail (Exodus 9)
  8. Plague of Locusts (Exodus 10)
  9. The Plague of Darkness (Exodus 10)
  10. Plague on the Firstborn (Exodus 11)

 

 

Notice that the thing that stirred up the Lord’s anger the most in all of this (beyond the oppression and abuse of His people) is reflected in the 1st and 10th judgments. Pharaoh had ordered that all Israelite male children be put to death by the midwives who helped in the birthing process. According to the edict, they were to be thrown into the Nile River. Only the Lord knows how many children perished this way but the judgments that were executed reflected His anger. Judgment number 1 caused the water in the Nile to turn to ‘Blood’. Judgment number 10 caused all the firstborn children (and animals) in every Egyptian home be put to death be an Angel. This is another Biblical illustration supporting my thesis in the last chapter linking the Shootings in our Schools to our Government’s decision allowing Abortions. (I recognize the dramatic difference on the surface, that one was a harsh directive to directly control the population of an oppressed people, while the other was granted in the name of ‘Freedom’). Notice how the 10th judgment was designed to enable the Egyptians to experience how God felt about the killing of His innocent children.

 

Now as we are considering WHIRLWINDS, let’s see what is written about the 7th Plague against Egypt in the Bible:

 

 

Exodus 9:22-26 & verse 27 (The Holy Bible, NIV / Biblica Inc.):

 

[v22-26] Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt—on people and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt.” When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields—both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were. *8*

 

[v27] Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he said to them. “The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. *8*

 

 

 
So the Lord used the storm (or WHIRLWIND) to get the attention of, and punish, a rebellious Pharaoh and his people. Notice in verse 27 above, Pharaoh judged himself and found himself guilty. But the difference between he and Jonah is that Jonah got the message and judgments stopped. Pharaoh temporarily got the message, but didn’t continue on the path of change. He went back to his old ways, so the judgments resumed and got much more severe and painful.

 

 

 

 

Part-3 Our Experience With the WHIRLWIND

 

My curiosity in this area started in the 1990’s when Florida got rocked by hurricanes–Andrew, Opel, Earl and Irene. And it went through the roof in 2004 and 2005, when it again got slammed with Charlie, Francis, Ivan and Jeanne, as well as the whole Gulf Coast being swallowed up by (category-5), Katrina.

 

These events in conjunction with Columbine [1999] and the World Trade Center [2001], really peaked my curiosity.

 

I couldn’t help but wonder, where is God in all of this? I was employed in the insurance industry and was aware that many insurance companies had taken a significant hit and some did not survive.

 

Then I stumbled upon the verses in Isaiah 45:5 & 7 NIV that say, “[5] I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God… [7] I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.” *9*.

 

A good portion of my early career in insurance was in support of the Personal Lines Homeowners Insurance Rate Making Process. Many rating elements were considered at the time when determining the rates that a company would charge for a homeowner policy: distance from a fire department, the age of the dwelling, the material used in construction, did the house have a monitored fire alarm system, and many more factors.

 

Apart from the insurance industry, if you gathered a team of meteorologists and scientists in a conference room and asked them to come up with an explanation of ‘HOW’ and ‘WHY’ so many intense hurricanes have struck Florida and the Gulf Coast since 1990, from what I read, ‘global warming’ would certainly be among the reasons they would likely give. They would also cite water surface temperatures, the condensation rate of the water at the center of the disturbance, and the absence of sheer force winds in the upper atmosphere that might disrupt the system. They would also include wide spread ocean currents and air pollution. But according to the Chicago Tribune, they are (would thus be) divided regarding why there are periods with more hurricanes and some with less. *10*, *11* & *12*

 

It never ceases to amaze me how effectively an insurance company can dissect the potential risks tied to a massive Hurricane (like evaluating the precise distance a house is from the water, etc., etc.). Or, how scientists and meteorologists can analyze the causes and statistical variants that contribute to such storms, while never considering the one who controls such events.

 

We are certainly taking no small potatoes here. According to Wikipedia’s ‘List of Costliest Atlantic Hurricanes’, the ten most expensive Hurricanes since 1992 have totaled 612.4 billion dollars in damages. *13*

 

 

     NAME     YEAR   BILLIONS CATEGORY 

 

1    Katrina    2005       125              5

 

2    Harvey    2017        125              4

 

3    Maria      2017          91.6           5

 

4    Sandy     2012          68.7           3

 

5    Irma       2017          64.8           5

 

6    Ike         2008         38              4

 

7    Wilma    2005         27.4            5

 

8    Andrew   1992         27.3           5

 

9    Ivan       2004         26.1           5

 

10   Rita       2005         18.5           5

 

                                    612.4

 

 

For just Hurricane Katrina alone, according to the Insurance Hunter Team that published its findings on their website

 

In an article, ‘The Impact Of Hurricane Katrina On The Insurance Industry’, “…the insurance industry paid out approximately $41 billion in claims through homeowners and business insurance policies.” *14*. According to the Christian Science Monitor, “Money from charitable contributions [pegged at $7.37 billion *16*] and $142 billion in federal funds have produced a substantial recovery in metro New Orleans.” *15*. Thus the total spent for Katrina Relief alone was $150.37 billion not including personal money spent, nor including those people who just walked away and never rebuilt. These numbers for Katrina alone are $25 billion (20%) more than Wikipedia number suggesting that the total for the top 10 Hurricanes might actually be in the $735 billion range.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
So, if the Lord has created these disasters, might we discern what has gotten Him so angry? Or, is it more comfortable to continue to separate ‘Faith’ from anything to do with real life, and just cling to the scientific /meteorological model. That way we can move on and write these storms (and all their destruction) off as ‘living in a fallen world’. But if we take that approach, are we missing the opportunity to possibly see such storms be reduced in their intensity and frequency?

 

It seems to me since we have clearly seen in Scripture that God does use storms to get the attention of people and to punish them, perhaps we might find wisdom in asking Him to help us get what He might be saying to us.

 

The model I have proposed earlier is that we learn to ‘endure hardship as discipline’. If we take this model to heart, we look at these massive numbers, align our lives with what Scripture says about how we should live and what we should avoid, and judge where we have crossed over a line, we make adjustments with the hope that God will likewise make adjustments in His treatment of us.

 

Perhaps we should consider God’s words to Jeremiah that deal with this very topic:

 

 

Jeremiah 18:5-11 (The Holy Bible, NIV / Biblica Inc.):

 

[5] Then the word of the Lord came to me. [6] He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. [7] If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, [8] and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. [9] And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, [10] and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. *17*

 

 

 
So America, to the tune of $825.2 billion, is the Lord inviting us to judge ourselves.

 

The bulk of the damage from these storms was in the southeastern portions of our country (with some touching the eastern shores of Texas and a couple reaching as far north as New England).

 

Is there anything that happens in the Southeast that the Lord might be trying to get our attention about? Or since we are all paying for it is there something we are all doing that he wants us to change?

 

Lord willing, I will share my reflections at the end of this book. In the mean time, food for thought.

 

America, where are you?
 
 
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REFERENCES

 

Note: all Scripture references in this chapter are from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission of Biblical, Inc.® All rights reserved worldwide.

 

*1*. Jeremiah 23:19-20 NIV. https://www.bible.com/bible/111/jer.23.19-20.niv

 

*2*. Nahum 1:3 NIV. https://www.bible.com/bible/111/nam.1.3.niv

 

*3*. Proverbs 1:20-33 NIV. https://www.bible.com/bible/111/pro.1.20-33.niv

 

*4*. Jonah 3:3-4 NIV. https://www.bible.com/bible/111/jon.3.3-4.niv

 

*5*. Jonah 1:3-16 NIV. https://www.bible.com/bible/111/jon.1.3-16.niv

 

*6*. Genesis 41:39-43 NIV. https://www.bible.com/bible/111/gen.41.39-43.niv

 

*7*. To refer to these chapters, click on the links below:

         Exodus-7

         Exodus-8

         Exodus-9

         Exodus-10

         Exodus-11

 

*8*. Exodus 9:22-27 NIV. https://www.bible.com/bible/111/exo.9.22-27.niv

 

*9*. Isaiah 45:5-7 NIV. https://www.bible.com/bible/111/isa.45.5-7.niv

 

*10*. “Harvey, Irma and more: The science behind the sudden end to the U.S. hurricane ‘drought'” / Chicago Tribune / Chris Mooney (Washington Post) / 9-7-2017 / http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/science/ct-science-hurricane-onslaught-20170907-story,amp.html

 

*11*. “How do hurricanes form? A lesson in the science behind the storm” / The Globe and Mail / IVAN SEMENIUK AND ERIC ANDREW-GEE / SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 / https://www.theglobeandmail.com/amp/technology/science/hurricane-irma-how-do-hurricanes-form-understanding-the-science-behind-the-storm/article36221091/

 

*12*. “Hurricane Irma and more: Why are there so many hurricanes right now?” / CBS NEWS / September 17, 2017 / https://www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/hurricane-irma-hurricane-jose-hurricane-katia-questions/

 

*13*. Wikipedia, List of Costliest Atlantic Hurricanes https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_costliest_Atlantic_hurricanes

 

*14*. ‘The Impact Of Hurricane Katrina On The Insurance Industry’ / Insurance Hunter / 11-4-2015 / https://www.insurancehunter.ca/blog/impact-hurricane-katrina-insurance-industry

 

*15*. Katrina anniversary: How well has recovery money been spent? / Bill Sasser / Christian Science Monitor / 8-27-2010 / https://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/amphtml/USA/2010/0827/Katrina-anniversary-How-well-has-recovery-money-been-spent

 

*16*. Katrina Compassion Drives Disaster Donations to a Record / Jacqueline L. Salmon / Washington Post / 6-19-2006 / http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/18/AR2006061800619.html?noredirect=on

 

 

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–©️2018, Dale Petersen, all rights reserved. Published for Non-profit by Pleasepraywithus.info