I want to dwell here upon our visit to Pompeii. The city of Pompeii was obliterated by volcanic ash emitted as a result of an eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24, 79AD. The city has been re-discovered through archaeological excavations which have taken place over the last 250 years. We visited it on Monday, November 4th.
It is an interesting place to visit. The audio guide was not so helpful, but speaking to the personnel who were situated at certain parts of the site to keep watch and guide people was most helpful. They all spoke good English and seemed to be archaeology students at Naples University.
One thing that became apparent through visiting was that Pompeii was a place of gross immorality. Sexual licentiousness, fornication and lasciviousness were de rigeur in the place. It really had resemblance to a Sodom and Gomorrah type place. Here is one view on how we can consider the burying of Pompeii in volcanic ash as a judgemental intervention of God.
Further information on the happenings on that fateful day can be found here. I make two further observations:
- South westerly winds were normal at that time of year in Southern Italy. For Pompeii to be devastated required North-westerly winds. This again points to the finger of God.
- The previous day the Romans had been celebrating Vulcanalia which focused upon their devotion to the god of fire including volcanic fire. There is only one God of fire and that is the true God known through Jesus Christ.
In reviewing this whole matter we must be careful of saying this event happened as an act of judgement by God because of the sin of the people. The Lord warns of the danger of such cause and effect reasoning in Luke 13:1-5 where He says:
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish
I conclude with three observations:
- When we see calamities in the world rather than rushing to apportion blame or attribute responsibility we need to realise that we are in a world destabilised by sin. And I am a sinner and I need to repent so that I will not face judgement.
- The similarity between what happened to Pompeii and what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah are striking. So striking that we hear the voice of God echoing through the Pompeii events and saying sexual immorality is detestable to me and devastating to humanity and my anger stands against those communities given over to it.
These two observations should gave us much pause for thought as to our own personal situations and the precarious position we find ourselves in in the West through the embracing of a multitude of sexual perversions
The biggest surprise we should have concerning life in the UK is that things have continued to be so stable for so long. The fact that we seem to be entering a time of turbulence should not be a surprise.
One of the themes of scripture is the collapsing of government and societies which set themselves against God and His ways. The ejection of Adam and Eve from the Garden In Genesis 3:22-24 was the first example of this. The flood events in Genesis 6-8 and disrupting of the people through diverse languages in Genesis 11 all showed God causing upheaval on account of the people’s sin.
The rejection of God’s ways over the last century in the UK through the propounding of alternative moralities and the exaltation of man, must inevitably have consequences. The foundations of have gradually been eroded and the new superstructure of society is standing on very flimsy foundations.
So as we face increasing turbulence. In so many ways not only though the shenanigans surrounding Brexit, but also through the knife crime on our streets, extensive drug use, dismembering of families, etc. As we face these things we should not be surprised.
I have written here previously about how long the West might last.
But praise God amidst turbulence we can turn to the Rock. Let us rejoice in these words of David from Psalm 40:1-4
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
In turbulent times we cannot find rest in the times, but only in our God. May the days we are set to go through be days when the church of God draws away from the “rocks” of this world to the only true rock, our God Himself. And in the Lord’s grace may many who have placed their hope in this world repent and come and join us there.
After the drought of the summer (I wrote about that here) the rains have come. What is our reaction to this? For many it is assumed that this is just what happens. We have sun and cold; we have dry and wet. It all evens itself out in the end and all is well. Our crops grow and there is water in our taps and there is no problem
However, I am left wondering about how such a presumption does not entertain God in the calculating of things. It is, after all, God who sends the weather. He is in control of all things. Continually He sends his blessing on these islands of the British Isles, just off mainland Europe. But will it always be so?
I am left wondering about the advance of so many God dishonouring ways among us. The Word of God is not considered in the making of legislation by our leaders and in the living of lives by the people. The God who is the living Lord is ignored and despised.
We live in a country under the judgement of God. This is seen in Romans 1:21-32 in the swift embracing of all things homosexual. In that passage we see people rejecting the Word of God and embracing idolatry in its place. As a result, in His judgement, He gives them up to dishonour themselves with their bodies; men with men and women with women. From that the society degenerates into all kinds of moral chaos.
The rejection of marriage as the fundamental building block of society does not bode well. Neither does the continued onslaught of transgender dogma in our society, Both of these are examples of our God-rejecting ways. How long will the Lord continue to send the cold and heat and the rain and sun? We are in His hands and we cannot presume that it will always be that way.
In Deuteronomy 11:26-30 we see the prophesied establishing of the mountain of curses and the mountain of blessings. Mount Gerizim was to be the mountain of blessing and Mount Ebal the mountain where the curses were read. These were real places in the promised land with epic implications. These were mountains and so were big, unmistakable, indestructible. They were there for all to see and were always a reminder of a God who loves righteousness and hates sin.
So what of me? When I see Ebal how do I respond? At Ebal I see me in all my sin. I see at Ebal that in my flesh in my natural state, I am properly set for judgement and under the curse of God. I see my just desserts I see me as the cause of all my peril and I grieve and mourn and tremble and am petrified.
When I see Gerizim I see a total contrast. At Gerizim I see Christ. I see the One who, not only is the source of any blessing, but is the One who is my blessing. I see in Jesus Christ my Lord the one who takes away my sins and gifts the Holy Spirit to me. I see One who has given me eternal life and in Him I have all spiritual blessings. And when I look at Gerizim I am thankful. And I proclaim without Him I am nothing and I can do nothing.
So go and ponder upon Gerizim and Ebal today!
I was clearing some things out at home yesterday and decided to discard an old frame with a decorated text in it. The frame was falling apart and so I thought I would throw the whole thing away. So it ended in the bin.
However, I pondered upon it this morning and felt uncomfortable about binning the text. And as I have pondered I felt I needed that text. So I have retrieved it from the garbage and have placed it in front of me at my desk. The text is: Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).
This justification is ours now if we are in Christ. The acquittal before the judgment throne of God took place those years ago at Calvary’s cross. And I stand righteous before God in Christ totally righteous. Amazing. Whether I feel it; whether I remember it; or whatever, I am accepted and that forever. Praise the Lord.
Worth taking a look at at least once day I reckon.
In Joel 1:15 we read:-
Alas for that day!
For the day of the Lord is near;
it will come like destruction from the Almighty.
The shocking thing about this verse is that we read about destruction coming from the Almighty. We so very easily operate on a dualistic approach to life. This means that we determine that anything bad that comes into our lives comes from Satan and anything good comes from God. Verses like Joel 1:15 upset that reasoning. Here destruction (and that sounds pretty bad) comes from the Lord.
So our notions of a dualistic universe need to be corrected. A better way of expressing the reality of how things function is to say that this is a unitary universe with one Lord and King who determines all. He is the sovereign Lord.
Moreover, we read that the Lord did not just allow destruction He is the author of such destruction. If we have a thorough Biblical theology this should not surprise us because it is established that God’s whole nature is repulsed by sin. Sin is an offence to His holy being. Sin is a breaking of His holy law; that law reflects who God is through indicating what he loves and hates. When His law is broken His holy wrath comes forth and is poured out upon all those whose lives are contaminated by sin.
Thus we return to the day of the Lord which Joel speaks of. The day of the Lord is a time when God breaks openly in history. It is a time when the curtain which hides His workings is removed and His workings are “in your face”. What we see in Joel 1:15 is eternal judgement invading time. Today, we see, God’s workings hidden in so many ways. Faith can see them, but the natural eye does not. In the day of the Lord the activity of God are indisputable.
As we ponder on the reality of God’s judgment against sin and sinners, well might we be led to thanksgiving when we realise that all destruction from the Lord fell upon my Saviour, the Lord Jesus at Calvary. He was destroyed for me there, so that I might never need to be under destruction. Praise Him.
It is one of the great travesties of how the Bible is commonly appreciated by people that the account of Noah and the Flood is represented to be a fairy story about animals and boats. In Scripture it is not so. It is an utterly frightening event and when we read it we should be shocked to our core. And we should be provoked to be asking lots of questions.
Consider this scripture in Genesis 7:20-23:
The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. Every living thing that moved on land perished – birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
Please ponder that scripture and be sobered by it. If you had not entered the ark then you were wiped out: Every living thing (including mankind) that moved on the earth perished. Ponder the account as it developed in Genesis 6-7:
- The Earth was wicked
- Noah sought to follow the Lord and was found to be in His favour.
- The Lord promised judgment.
- The Lord commands Noah to build an ark
- The requisite animals and birds went in the ark
- Noah and his sons and the four wives went in to the ark
- The Lord shut the door.
- Then the rain came.
- Then utter total devastation.
If you went into the ark, you had salvation! If you did not go in you perished! Today if you respond to the gospel and go into Christ you are saved. If not, if you refuse the gospel offer, you face a greater perishing event than those in Noah’s day; an eternal perishing.
Please ponder that.