A Last Resort

What it takes for God to bring such destruction
From the November 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

If the Trumpet is right about all this, and Hurricane Katrina was in fact destruction measured and sent directly by an Almighty God, then you may have some serious questions.

This may rattle certain presumptions you have had about God—dismantle premises on which you have based your thinking about an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving Creator.

After all, an entirecity was brought to ruin.

Could this be the same God of love, peace and joy professing Christians believe in today? Or is this more the work of a brooding, temperamental deity—ready to zap anyone with severe consequences for breaking His strict law?

Let us turn to the Holy Bible—a book that claims to be God’s own words, thoughts, opinions—His own nature. If that Book cannot explain these things, then God is beyond understanding, or His existence is beyond belief.

According to the Bible, Katrina wasn’t the first time God brought punishment on an entire city. Back in Abraham’s day, God wiped out two entire cities simultaneously.

God told Abraham, “Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know” (Genesis 18:20-21).

God wanted to witness the decadence of these twin cities for Himself—to be sure His planned destruction would be warranted. No man could say God destroyed these cities without gathering all the intelligence He could.

Abraham, known as a “Friend of God” (see James 2:23), sensed what God’s verdict might be—that destruction of these cities was inevitable. So He began to reason with God: “Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” (verse 23). A good question, particularly because Abraham had a relative living in Sodom—righteous Lot. In the next verse Abraham proceeded to ask God, What if there were 50 righteous within the city—would you destroy it? He told God this seemed out of character for “the Judge of all the earth” (verse 25).

Amazingly, this all-powerful God answered the question! “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes” (verse 26). The entirety of this festering pool of immorality and decadence would be spared for the presence of 50 righteous.

Abraham, who acknowledged in this bold conversation that he was just “dust and ashes” (verse 27), continued to reason with God: What about 45? Or 40? God said He would spare the city for that.

Abraham, asking God not to be angry with Him, pushed some more numbers—30, 20, 10? God patiently returned, “I will not destroy it for ten’s sake” (verse 32).

Certainly we can look at the destruction that God rained on Sodom and Gomorrah and gain tremendous insight into God’s opinion of their sins: God completely wiped them off the map. (Righteous Lot and those of his family willing to accompany him escaped with God’s help.)

The Bible even uses Sodom later as a warning to those who will not repent—showing that, in the end time, God will bring similar destruction upon entire nations that are steeped in similar perversions.

But there is another lesson we can take from Sodom and Gomorrah—that of God’s mercy. City-wide destruction was a last resort—even with a city so twisted. Read that again: God would have spared the entire city for the presence of 10 righteous people.

Put this together with Ezekiel 33:11, where God says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live,” and you can be sure that, before wiping out entire populations, God surveys the situation intently.

As Katrina submerged an entire city, God surely took “no pleasure” in it. What must God have been thinking?

How must we tear His heart out with our sins!

The rest of that verse in Ezekiel 33 has God asking, “Why will you die, O house of Israel?”

More than just a city is going under before it’s all over. God speaks of an entire “house of Israel”—elsewhere He speaks of “cities”—plural—“without inhabitant.”

As this Trumpet has made clear, more destruction is coming. But consider, as it comes, that God would rather have it an entirely different way. Sadly, we are leaving Him no other choice.

As the Bible shows, however, the greater catastrophes on the horizon will soon humble us to the point where we can know God—where we will submit to His perfect law of liberty and enjoy the fruits and blessings of such living! God’s punishment will have paid off.

This is the only way the “wicked will turn from his way and live.” Only when we humble ourselves and turn to God can we truly live as He wants us to. That is what gives God pleasure. If it takes erasing entire cities, then isn’t it all worth it?

Those who died in Sodom and in New Orleans will have their chance to know God in a resurrection. The Bible records in three places where Christ talked about Sodom’s coming day of judgment (see Matthew 10:15; 11:24; Mark 6:11).

Those who partook of those perversions will have their chance to know God. As will those who died in New Orleans. The destruction that came to these cities—although it was a last resort—will have been worth it.

For more on knowing God and understanding His plan of salvation, please request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s Mystery of the Ages.