By now, the destruction and devastation caused by Australia’s recent fires needs no introduction. The term ‘unprecedented’ hasn’t only been used as a visceral reaction to the fires, but a shockingly factual summation of their magnitude and impact over the last few months.
We’ve had fires before, but nothing close to this in the modern era. They not only touched an enormous physical area in this nation, but countless hearts and minds both here and around the world.
As Australians it shook us to our core to realise that what’s here today could easily be gone tomorrow.
Attempting to come to terms with a seemingly new reality in this nation, experts and commentators have begun to reflect. Dr Richard Thornton, the Chief Executive Officer of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC in Australia recently stated:
“After each major fire there is a predictable cycle through the issues, around the causes and solutions. That can be a healthy debate when it attempts to give meaning to something that can be so overwhelming and disempowering for so many. But the discussion must be based on fact,” he says. “There’s still a lot that will come out of these fires that we can’t yet know – that we don’t understand. It’s going to require a lot of conversations. And a lot of … thinking.”
While scientists and environmental experts must wrestle with examining the physical causes, those with faith in God must come to terms with possible spiritual causes and solutions. There is all the more reason for doing this seeing as the physical state of the world seems to increasingly be tied to what’s going on spiritually.
Take our nation’s recent history for example:
· In 2017 we decided that same-sex marriage should redefine the traditional idea of marriage.
· In 2018 Queensland decriminalised abortion and New South Wales overturned a 119 year old law to do the same, joining the rest of the nation.
· We’ve led the way in embracing LGBTQ rights, the last 10 years bringing rapid national reforms.
The Bible says we’re made in the image of God, but Australia is joining the rest of the world in assuming it can redefine this image, physically, sexually, and spiritually, and do so with no more than a raised eyebrow from their Creator.
The reality seems to be otherwise, especially in recent years:
Once mostly relegated to only Western Australia, now our East Coast is seeing a significant number of shark attacks take place. Hardly a few weeks go by without hearing of another attack or multiple victims.
Storms and cyclones are seemingly becoming more and more frequent (Cyclone Damian and Uesi hitting already this year), and increasing in severity and duration.
Droughts have plagued our nation in recent years or we’ve suffered the opposite in destructive flash flooding, even as recent as last month across South East Queensland.
We’re not even immune to deadly diseases anymore, with the China-born Coronavirus touching our shores early this year. Although only a handful have come down with the virus, in February Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said 700 people had been tested for the disease and 1000 were in self-isolation across the state.
Storms, droughts, fires and disease—scientists and climate change activists like Swedish born Greta Thunberg will tell us there are natural reasons for the number of these ‘unprecedented’ disasters. While this may be true to a certain extent, the Bible tells us there’s likely another reason: the righteous anger of an all-powerful, all-just God:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. (Romans chapter 1, verse 18)
Doing violence to the truth is no small thing in God’s eyes. Perverting his ways and corrupting morality is not only offensive to him, but also akin to treating him like an enemy because God is against wickedness. And God is not an enemy anyone wants because while the Bible says he is loving and forgiving, it also says he exacts righteous vengeance.
Is this what’s happening to our nation at the moment? It’s tough to deny the signs. As we increasingly turn our backs on Biblical morals, God is turning up the heat of the fiery trials our nation has faced these last few years.
But don’t be mistaken. Although God can’t turn a blind eye to sin, his desire isn’t to harm us. Even when he punishes his desire is to course-correct us so we’ll avoid destructive paths. He even sent his one and only Son Jesus Christ to save us all from the just anger none of us can otherwise avoid.
Jesus took the eternal fire of God’s anger on a cross so we can now avoid the worst consequences of this new perilous time we find ourselves in, what the American fire historian Stephen Pyne in 2015 aptly called “the Pyrocene” — The Age of Fire.
As a nation, our God-call for our much needed God-solution is clear: we must turn back to biblical morality, reject the counterfeit, and place our faith in Jesus Christ. Finger pointing, environmentalism and all the science in the world won’t help us otherwise, and things will likely continue to get worse.
Tim is a high school teacher in Queensland and just finished a season being a youth pastor in America. He has a passion for the gospel and for seeing lives changed by the power, person and love of Jesus Christ.
Tim Price’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-price.html