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Katrina’s Wake-Up Call

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Katrina’s Wake-Up Call

Human nature usually ignores warnings—even the most obvious. How many will recognize this wake-up call—or greater ones to come? Then, how many will heed? Read and learn the cause of this disaster, and how everything will change—and soon! While it is always darkest before dawn, hope lies ahead!

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This article will be among the most important you see. Though lengthy, you will want to read it all!

As New Orleans and the coastal regions of Mississippi and Alabama struggle to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many ask, “Why?”

Why were scores of thousands of homes damaged or destroyed?

Why did so many people—especially the poor, the elderly and the young—suffer power outages, flooded homes, overcrowded temporary shelters, shortages of food and fresh water, looting, injury—and even death? Why were millions left homeless? And why are whole cities in Mississippi listed as “gone”?

As soon as the storm left New Orleans, people defied the curfew and ventured into the French Quarter ready to drink and celebrate. At first, it was thought that the city had been largely spared. But soon the nation learned how wrong this was.

Appalling Behavior—Human Nature Unchecked!

An estimated 25,000 people in the Superdome, once thought to be a safe haven for those residents and tourists who could not flee the city, had to be evacuated. The entire parish of St. Bernard was wiped out. Two levees broke, allowing Lake Pontchartrain to pour into New Orleans, which is shaped like a saucer bowl 6 to 13 feet below sea level. This resulted in as much as 90 percent of the city being underwater. Officials projected that electricity was several weeks away. Large numbers took advantage of the confusion, looting stores and homes. Highways and roads were shut down. The causeway that stretched across Lake Pontchartrain was broken into giant slabs. Hundreds were estimated dead along the Gulf Coast. Parts of Biloxi, Mississippi, resembled a war zone. Many remaining homes were left without clean drinking water.

Many volunteers risked their lives to rescue residents stranded in and atop their homes. Other people selflessly shared what little necessities they had on hand. But food, fresh water and medicine soon grew scarce. Thousands of hungry and tired storm victims became restless waiting for buses to evacuate them from the ruined city. In the midst of this desperate situation, human nature reared its ugly head.

Fights broke out. Police were fired upon. Vehicles were carjacked. Stores were looted. Women were raped in the Superdome and convention center. Every New Orleans hospital reported that, as evacuation helicopters tried to land, people shot at them, shouting, “You better come get my family.” At two hospitals, patients had to be moved to higher floors to escape looters. Because street gangs and other criminals vastly outnumbered the police, National Guardsmen had to be sent in to help restore order. Despite this, a National Guard military policeman was shot in the leg as a man scuffled with him for the MP’s rifle. Rescuers in boats and helicopters had to suspend rescue operations when their valiant efforts were met with gunfire.

You may wish to read:

The New Orleans-based newspaper the Times-Picayune reported the following about an Arkansas National Guardsman who was sent to the city:

“…Brooks stepped through the food service entrance of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Monday, flipped on the light at the end of his machine gun, and started pointing out [dead] bodies…Brooks and his unit came to New Orleans not long after serving a year of combat duty in Iraq, taking on gunfire and bombs, while losing comrades with regularity. Still, the scene at the Convention Center, where they conducted an evacuation this week, left him shell-shocked. ‘I ain’t got the stomach for it, even after what I saw in Iraq,’ said Brooks, referring to the freezer where the bulk of the bodies sat decomposing. ‘In Iraq, it’s one-on-one. It’s war. It’s fair. Here, it’s just crazy. It’s anarchy. When you get down to killing and raping people in the streets for food and water…And this is America. This is just 300 miles south of where I live.”

How could a city descend into mass chaos—and so quickly? When human beings are trapped in desperate, hopeless situations, fear, anger and confusion drives human nature to lock into self-preservation mode—the way of get.

Violence ran amok in the flood-damaged streets of New Orleans for a reason: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:12). Iniquity is lawlessness. Human nature hates God (Rom. 8:7)—the Great Lawmaker and Author of peace and order (I Cor. 14:33, 40). Christ foretold in Matthew 24:37 that our age would mirror “Noah’s day” when “the earth was filled with violence” (Gen. 6:5).

What you are about to read next will startle you—will truly jar your thinking—and may anger you. This is understandable, considering the human side of the vast devastation and despair so many millions have experienced from this disaster. However, consider reserving judgment and continue with an open mind. This article is not meant to hurt, judge or attack. Like all REAL TRUTH articles, its purpose is to explain world news, trends and events from a biblical perspective.

Again, Why?

Insurance companies categorize damage caused by nature as “acts of God.” But was this God’s doing? If so, does this make God a “cruel monster” who does not have compassion upon the weak and helpless? Or is He doing today as He did many times to ancient Israel—sending a warning before a much more severe punishment comes?

As residents and tourists evacuated the city, a giant, hand-painted sign that read, “Please Pray for New Orleans” was left behind. How would the God of the Bible answer such a prayer—what would be His reaction? Would He ignore that city’s history of lasciviousness, which has generated countless stories of debauchery and lewdness—and for centuries? Does God simply accept people “as they are” and not require a change of heart?

When the twin towers in New York City fell, the nation paused. People stopped to consider their words and actions. They realized how fragile and fleeting their lives were. They became friendlier, more introspective.

But America’s humble mood did not last long. Today, we see a society that is self-centered, self-focused and self-motivated. Servicemen returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have stated Americans do not realize or appreciate how rich, how privileged—how blessed!—they are as a nation.

The wanton, decadent misuse of that prosperity is reflected in the city of New Orleans, truly the original “sin city” long before Las Vegas earned this title.

Paganism Breeds Drunken Promiscuity

Tourism is the city’s most lucrative market. About 10.1 million visitors came to New Orleans in 2004, with above 1.4 million visiting for only a day. Tourist spending amounted to $4.9 billion that year!

Though many come to experience the food and music for which New Orleans is famous, “The Big Easy” is also known around the world for its drunken permissiveness, where alcohol seems to flow through the streets. Many bars stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and one can easily find a bar with a “drink special” virtually any night of the workweek. Customers can legally wander the city carrying “to go” cups filled with alcoholic drinks. Drive-thru daiquiri shops are found throughout the metro area. Sightings of inebriated tourists lying face down in the gutters of the French Quarter are commonplace.

While moderate alcohol consumption is not wrong, drinking in excess IS—and “excess of wine” is tied to “revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries” (I Pet. 4:3).

This is the city that, during every Mardi Gras, proudly honors Bacchus, the false god of wine and intoxication. Just as Bacchus’ ancient Roman worshippers indulged themselves in late-night drunkenness and lasciviousness, so do his followers today.

Almost any fleshly desire can be satisfied in the French Quarter, especially during Carnival season. Like most worldly holidays, Mardi Gras is firmly rooted in ancient paganism, which always involved gross sexual immorality in the forms of religiously-sanctioned prostitution, homosexuality and even bestiality! No wonder, then, that millions of tourists flock to New Orleans every year to indulge themselves in every carnal passion. Women stand on French Quarter balconies and freely expose themselves for all to see. Strip clubs are frequented by “clean cut,” middle class out-of-towners. Certain bars and dance clubs at the fringe of the Quarter’s tourist area offer homosexual rendezvous for visitors seeking anonymous encounters.

In the midst of this truly heathen, licentious environment, spiritism, voodoo and the occult thrive. Some residents freely identify themselves as witches and voodoo priestesses.

“King cake parties” are held every week through the Carnival season; some bring these cakes to work so that everyone can share in this Mardi Gras tradition. Inside each cake is a trinket, often a miniature plastic baby—to symbolize “Jesus”! Whoever finds the “baby Jesus” must bring a new king cake to work the next day.

Would the God of the Bible view this as lighthearted fun? Would He want His only begotten Son to be trivialized as a mere party favor?

The Growing Gambling Addiction

Gambling in Mississippi has been a way of life for centuries, even before the colonial years. In the early 20th century, slot machines and other gambling devices could be found in hotels, grocery stores and other establishments along its Gulf Coast. During the Great Depression, gambling was viewed as a way to stimulate the economy, and expanded along the coast through the 1940s and 50s.

Before Hurricane Katrina hit, there were about 30 gambling establishments along the Gulf Coast and Mississippi River. In 2004, these drew more than 42 million gamblers, the vast majority of whom came from out-of-state. Since the 1990s, Biloxi has been the leading gambling center of the South. Its nine casinos, along with hotels and other complexes, generated millions of dollars.

However, this economic boom was bought with a high price: “Biloxi and Peoria are two casino communities that had large increases in crime relative to their respective control communities…[Biloxi] is the only casino jurisdiction in the current study that has multiple (nine) casinos, and Biloxi draws by far the largest number of tourists of any of the communities examined. Similarly, it is the casino jurisdiction that, arguably, has experienced the greatest increase in crime. These facts are consistent with viewing casinos as hot spots and casino tourists as engaging in the type of routine activities that would lead to higher rates of crime. The significant increase in crimes such as robbery, larceny, simple assault, and forgery are consistent with the types of predatory crime for material gain consistent with routine activity theory” (Does the Presence of Casinos Increase Crime? An Examination of Casino and Control Committees, B. Grant Stitt, Mark Nichols and David Giacopassi).

Neighboring Gulfport also experienced a surge in crime. A report from the city’s chief of police compared the first half of 1993 (just as Gulfport’s two casinos opened) with the first half of 1994. The results showed that robberies shot up 218 percent—burglaries doubled—rapes tripled—vehicle theft went up 166 percent—arson cases increased by 150 percent—assaults were up 66 percent—and vehicular accidents grew by 62 percent.

Clearly, gambling is a breeding ground for criminal activity. It also destroys marriages and families. Perhaps the most insidious form is found in virtually any New Orleans bar, restaurant or even in doughnut shops. Video poker—often referred to as “video crack”—is among the most addictive forms of gambling. Often, players spend hour after hour feeding money into the machines and staring into video poker screens, mesmerized by the instant “rush” that they feel. Some players have wasted their family’s entire savings doing this.

Biz New Orleans magazine reported the following: “A study of problem gambling released in 2002 by the Louisiana Office for Addictive Disorders estimated that the number of people in the local area who fell into the category of ‘problem’ or ‘pathological’ gambler could be above 50,000. More recent information from the office shows that a statewide gambler’s ‘helpline’ received almost 49,000 calls in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2004. About 6,500 persons in the local area received screening for gambling disorders in that period, up more than 40 percent from the previous year.”

As in other parts of the U.S., gambling is an addictive plague spreading from household to household in the South, ripping apart marriages and families.

Poverty and Crime—an Endless Cycle

New Orleans is comprised of roughly 485,000 residents, with an astonishing 28 percent living at or below the poverty level! It is sometimes called a “checkerboard city,” for one can walk through a block of stately homes and plush gardens only to find himself, one block later, in a low-rent projects complex—a ghetto reminiscent of a war-ravaged third world village. Even the police hesitate to enter.

There, little children are being reared in fatherless homes, where residents have subsisted on welfare for three and four generations. In 2003, the local murder per capita rate was nearly eight times higher than the national average—and robbery was nearly double that rate! In an environment of brazenly-open drug deals and drive-by shootings, many youth have seen more dead bodies lying in the streets of New Orleans than soldiers have seen in combat.

In these ghettos, being released from prison is given more value than academic achievement! It is little wonder that the New Orleans public school system is among the worst in the nation. Violence at school, violence in the streets and, often, violence at home conditions young children and teens to settle for lower standards. Young minds are daily being fed real-life images of abject poverty and brutal—and often unsolved—crimes. And, because this is all they will have been exposed to, today’s youths are growing up believing that all this is normal! Someday, this will become the next generation that will perpetuate the same endless cycle of despair.

Sin and Righteousness

For a city so steeped in paganism, sexual immorality, gambling, excessive drinking and other vices, New Orleans does not lack churches that call themselves “Christian.”

This world’s Christianity talks about “Jesus,” “grace,” “mercy,” “compassion” and “love.” Certainly, these terms are biblical, and they are important. But, very few preachers will talk, particularly with authority, about sin, righteousness, obedience to God, character breakdown or other similar terms. This is because these are considered politically incorrect in a world where “tolerance” reigns supreme. Most are afraid of being called “unchristian” by those who have no idea what true Christianity is. Therefore, it takes courage to speak the truth when it is unpopular. We are not afraid to do this!

In this regard, we must ask: What IS love—how does the Bible define it? Those who talk of “love” ought to know what the God of love (I John 4:8, 16) means when HE uses the word. Notice: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:2-3).

How many televangelists have you heard quote this? How many preach Romans 13:8-10 and explain to their audiences that “love is the fulfilling of the law”—the Ten Commandments? Once in a great while, a preacher might speak about sin, saying that “sin is bad” and that “Christians should avoid sin.” Yet, how many ever teach that the Bible explains exactly what sin IS: “For sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4) and “All unrighteousness is sin” (5:17)?

The world’s religionists and theologians will read aloud what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6:14—“for sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace”—and conclude that God’s Law is “done away.” However, they conveniently ignore verses 15 to 16: “What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness?”

What is “righteousness”? Here is the Bible definition: “…for all Your commandments are righteousness” (Psa. 119:172). The Ten Commandments are “righteousness”! No wonder Paul called God’s Law “holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Rom. 7:12). Yet, churchgoers never hear this from the pulpits of mainstream Christianity. And we will no doubt be called “intolerant” and even “hateful,” simply because we will not speak endlessly of God’s “love,” “mercy” and “grace,” without qualification. But, like any human parent, a loving God punishes His disobedient children. Many believe that Jesus Christ came bringing a different, more “loving” message than that of the “angry” Old Testament God, who was supposedly a different God. Most do not understand that these are one in the same—that Christ IS the God of the Old Testament (I Cor. 10:4). So says your Bible.

The true Christ of the New Testament, like His servants today, also never feared to speak powerfully and with authority when necessary. Many have fallen into mainstream Christianity’s popular, but false, concept of a “sweet Jesus.” They have been conditioned to view Christ as being either a helpless baby in a manger or dead on a cross. They do not think of Him as a powerful God who brought words of authority. Sometimes Jesus said very strong things to people, who got offended and angry. This article is no different.

The scribes and Pharisees were the scholars and highly-educated of their day, much like many of today’s “professors of theology.” They promoted themselves as the chief authority on God’s Word, but exempted themselves from obedience to it. Jesus saw through their intellectual vanity and addressed their true character. Matthew 23:29-38 records what the real Christ said about such people. Before explaining this passage, it is helpful to read it:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore you be witnesses unto yourselves, that you are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill you up then the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”

Does this sound like the “Jesus” that is taught in Sunday school? Does this sound like the “Christ” who only speaks of “love” and “mercy,” as promoted by traditional Christianity? No! These verses reveal the real Jesus Christ—the One who said what listeners needed to hear, not what they may have wanted to hear!

The scribes and Pharisees put on an appearance of being religious and righteous (vs. 29), yet they unwittingly indicted themselves with their own words when proudly claiming they would not have persecuted God’s servants of old (vs. 30-32). (We occasionally receive letters from such people.) Christ called these men hypocrites (vs. 29) for a reason. They knew early in His ministry that He was “a teacher come from God” (John 3:1-2), but would not publicly admit this, despite the many miracles He performed. Instead, they continually looked for ways to discredit Him or even kill Him, just as their forefathers had done to God’s prophets! How many religionists today would be only too happy to help stone those telling them to change their lives?

Matthew 23 shows that Christ does not tolerate hypocrisy. Yet, verse 37 also shows He is a loving God, with deep compassion for all human beings. He wants people to obey Him and keep His laws so that they can experience successful, happy lives. However, when humanity rejects Christ’s instruction, He responds sharply! If people resist Christ, the true Christ will resist them! Make no mistake. Jesus and the Bible speak about much more than “love,” “mercy,” “compassion” and “grace.”

Greater Sins?

Does the Katrina disaster mean that those who suffered injury, death or loss of property were worse sinners than the rest of the nation?

Again, God’s Word reveals the answer, and from Jesus’s lips. Luke recorded, “There were present at that season some that told Him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose you that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think you that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish” (13:1-5).

The same Jesus inspired Paul to write in Romans 3 that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (vs. 23). This is why, in verses leading up to that passage, Paul wrote, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes” (vs. 10-18)!

The scriptures are plain: all have broken God’s Law—no one seeks after God; He must draw people to Him (John 6:44, 65). Yet, prophecy reveals some within God’s plan do receive special punishment. In the case of certain Western nations, this is foretold to begin in a general way, but will lead to specific, more intense chastisement still ahead. Therefore, we do not seek to condemn or “judge” Gulf Coast victims, in particular, but rather to teach God’s perspective. This is the duty of every true servant of God. (Additional literature offers more of the big picture at the end of the article.)

Also realize that the residents of the Gulf Coast were not the only ones who suffered—the rest of America was left suffering as well. They have had to endure the loss of family and friends, many of whom are missing. Actually, those who died in the wake of Katrina have been relieved of suffering. For them, their next waking moment will be in a world without war, crime and misery. (This is addressed later in the article.) The rest of the nation is to learn from this calamity.

Of those who did not live in the hurricane-ravaged areas, how many have asked themselves about their own lives? How many have considered the way that they live? How about you?

Many of various non-Christian religions—who have not been taught traditional Christianity’s false idea of “Jesus”—can see Katrina as God’s punishment, and are freely saying so. How ironic that so many who profess to serve the God of the Bible do not recognize this God rebukes and punishes.

Should Christians Never Judge?

Some will quote Matthew 7:1—“Judge not, lest you be judged”—to claim that it is “unchristian” to identify the sins that plague a society. But is this what Christ meant?

For instance, how can a Christian be expected to stay away from people of bad character (I Cor. 5:1-5; I Tim. 6:3-6) if he is not allowed to judge their actions? Also, how could Paul instruct Christians to “mark” and “avoid” divisive people (Rom. 16:7) unless the conduct of such people be examined?

The word “judge” in Matthew 7:1 comes from the Greek word krino, which can mean “to try, condemn, punish” or “to distinguish, decide.” The context depends upon how the word is used.

The apostle John wrote, “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn [krino] the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). Yet, Paul used this same Greek word to teach that true Christians are in training to judge the whole world—including angels: “Do you not know that the saints shall judge [krinos] the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know you not that we shall judge [krinos] angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?” (I Cor. 6:2-3). Four chapters later, he added, “I speak as to wise men; judge [krinos] you what I say” (I Cor. 10:15). Obviously, Paul did not intend for the Corinthians to condemn his words, but rather to judge—“decide”—whether he was teaching sound doctrine.

When Jesus said, “Judge not, lest you be judged,” He was talking about condemning others. If He had meant Christians should never judge, period, then He would have contradicted Himself when He said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge [krinos] righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

Some criminals robbed, looted and raped in New Orleans during the crisis. Is it unchristian “to distinguish, decide” or discern that they broke men’s laws? Of course not! Then how is it unchristian to judge or discern when society breaks GOD’S laws? There is a cause for every effect. Here, the physical effects of Katrina’s aftermath were brought on by spiritual causes. And what took place in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast regions is just a small taste of the punishment awaiting America and her allies.

A World Cut Off

In ancient times, the inhabitants of Jerusalem were convinced that God would not utterly destroy their city, for the sake of His temple (Jer. 7:1-5). Using this as license to sin, their religious leaders portrayed a pretense of worshipping the true God, while secretly serving other gods (Ezek. 8).

Like their Old Testament counterparts, most modern “Christian” leaders do not distinguish right from wrong, good from evil: “Her priests have violated My law, and have profaned My holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from My Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them” (Ezek. 22:26). Instead, they teach that God’s Law is no longer in effect. People in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi cried out in anguish to a God they did not really understand. Their churches and denominations never taught them Isaiah 59: “But your iniquities [lawlessness] have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (vs. 2).

Gambling, drunkenness, pagan celebrations, spiritism, sexual immorality and crime are not unique to New Orleans. Like a cancerous disease, these and many other sins plague America, Britain, Canada and every other Western nation. Wise King Solomon wrote, “Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). How true today!

Offering Lasting Relief

For years, men’s governments—local, state and federal—were warned that New Orleans would be devastated by a severe hurricane. However, nothing was done to prepare for this. Katrina’s destructive effects resulted in individuals, organizations and governments around the world offering aid and relief to countless victims. Yet, the most important aid to offer is right knowledge—identifying and understanding the true causes for this regional catastrophe, explaining from God’s perspective why this happened—and how you can escape the greater calamity that lies ahead.

Each organization decides how to contribute aid. This article is our contribution for lasting relief, and our contribution will outlast all the temporary measures offered by so many. But we were not the only ones to connect the dots to God’s punishment.

After witnessing the chaos and destruction that swept his city and hearing talk of “Sodom and Gomorrah,” the president of the New Orleans City Council said, “Maybe God’s going to cleanse us.” Some organizations reached the same conclusion and rushed out to proclaim this disaster as punishment from God. However, they did not fully explain why this punishment was sent—or why God allows suffering—or that there is a way of escape from future calamity. And they did not point to the good news that waits just around the corner for humanity. But we do!

An Unpopular Message

Just before ancient Israel was to enter the Promised Land, Moses reminded the nation that their success hinged on whether they faithfully kept God’s laws. Notice: “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us” (Deut. 6:24-25).

God added this warning: “See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply: and the Lord your God shall bless you in the land where you go to possess it. But if your heart turn away, so that you will not hear, but shall be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that you shall surely perish, and that you shall not prolong your days upon the land, where you pass over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live: that you may love the Lord your God, and that you may obey His voice, and that you may cleave unto Him: for He is your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (30:15-20).

Psalm 106 records that, despite God’s abundant mercy and many acts of deliverance, the Israelites turned their backs on Him. Instead, they served idols—manmade images of wood, stone and metal.

Today, people serve “idols of the heart” (Ezek. 14:3-7). In America and her sister nations of the West, covetousness reigns. Magazines, movies, television programs and commercials continually flash images designed to inspire lust—this is especially true during the Christmas season. We are a consumer nation that covets the best goods, foods, drinks and latest fashions. These are our idols, for “covetousness…is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).

The Bible also reveals another unseen force has played a major role in what happened in the Gulf Coast. It speaks of “the god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4)—Satan the devil—who “deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). As “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), this great fallen being continuously “broadcasts” wrong thoughts, attitudes and impulses through his spirit to an unsuspecting humanity (same verse). He uses his “broadcasting” powers to create panic and chaos in drastic situations. This is why so many were led to acts of violence. Satan’s “power of the air” is also literal, and allows him to bring violent storms like Katrina, but only under the all-wise plan of God.

Most will be tempted to reject God’s warning and stubbornly continue to rebel against His Way, as did the Israelites (Ezek. 2:3-5). But God likens rebellion and stubbornness—then and now—to witchcraft and idolatry (I Sam. 15:23). (Consider also that “Southern Decadence,” an annual Labor Day festival for homosexuals [110,000 attended in 2004], had to be cancelled because Katrina destroyed New Orleans. We might ask: Was this mere coincidence, or the hand of God at work? Remember Sodom and Gomorrah.)

This is an unpopular message. God’s servants have been (and will be once more) persecuted, even martyred, for preaching in the spirit of Isaiah 58:1—“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” For centuries, God sent His faithful “messengers, rising up [often]…because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place” (II Chron. 36:15). God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:21-23). Again, like any parent, He has compassion on those of His children who are suffering. But this does not stop Him from punishing when necessary. (You may wish to read our article “Why Does God Allow Suffering?” to learn more.)

Yet, how did Israel react? Notice: “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy” (II Chron. 36:16). God’s messengers have long been accused of being “doomsayers” and “Jeremiads” for bringing “bad news.” Nonetheless, punishment is coming, no matter the opinion of scoffers. (See II Peter 3:3-10.)

But God’s servants also bring wonderful good news. The God of the Bible wants all humanity to enjoy peace, happiness, prosperity, abundance and every good thing in life. He wants every human being to experience supreme joy. Chastisement is intended to point the way to receive these things—to get people’s attention so that God can explain that bad causes bring bad effects and good causes bring good effects!

Message of Hope

The family unit is deteriorating. There are now more single-parent households than those led by married couples. The national divorce rate is staggering. Teenage virginity is rare, and virginity before marriage is almost unheard of. Speaking against homosexuality is considered “politically incorrect,” “insensitive” and “hate speech.” These and many other factors are destroying the family.

People talked about rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast—yet, how many spoke of changing—rebuilding!—their lifestyle, their character and of drawing close to God and seeking to obey Him? How many understand that human beings cannot determine their own steps? How many will admit they need their Creator to correct their “paths” (Jer. 10:23-24; Prov. 14:12)? Will you?

The modern age has coined a new phrase—“disaster fatigue.” Because news cycles are so much faster, while people’s attention spans have become shorter, viewers and readers quickly grow tired of “yesterday’s news.” How long will Katrina remain in your focus?—how long will it hold your interest? What happens when it’s San Francisco? Washington, D.C.? What will happen when other cities of the West are hit—London? Paris? Sydney? Toronto? Will you grow tired and forget Katrina’s wake-up call?

Human nature is not limited to one area. This article certainly does not lay all sin and unrighteousness at the feet of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. What has been described here is not just an “American problem.” Human nature exists in every society, including every “civilized” one. The evils and vile practices found in Canada, Australia and Britain, for instance, are too many to enumerate.

One third of the Bible is prophecy, but only about ten percent of prophesied events have come to pass. Thus, 90 percent is yet to be fulfilled.

God’s servants of old preached that horrific disaster would come upon Israel and Judah because of national sins. This did happen. However, God did not do this all at once; He gradually stripped away His people’s great wealth and military might, while warning them of what would come next if they did not repent.

The curses that ancient Israel suffered, which God foretold in great detail (Deut. 28), were only a type of the ultimate catastrophe (Matt. 24:22; Dan. 12:1)—“the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7)—that awaits the modern-day descendants of Israel, who are committing the same sins as their forefathers: idolatry, Sabbath-breaking, preaching lies in God’s name, perverting justice, stealing, murder, whoremongering, drunkenness, etc. (Our powerful book America and Britain in Prophecy explains this in extraordinary detail—and that there is a way of escape!)

However, just as God preserved ancient Israel and Judah through their punishment, He will also preserve the modern-day Israelites through the greatest time of tribulation just ahead. He will make a new covenant with the remnant of His people, and will offer them His Spirit. Stubborn minds will change. They will no longer rebel against their Creator. Then these same peoples will lead all nations as God’s model in the wonderful world tomorrow (Jer. 31:31-34; Deut. 4:6).

A new, world-ruling government will be set up by Jesus Christ at His Return. It will teach all men the right way to live. It will finally bring an end to all wars and establish lasting peace. It will replace poverty with prosperity. It will restore true justice, fairness and integrity in place of injustice and lawlessness. This government—the kingdom of God—will lead humanity into a glorious and wonderful new age! Satan will be bound, unable to any longer to deceive mankind. How this will come about is thoroughly explained in our book Tomorrow’s Wonderful World – An Inside View!

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Two Years After Katrina
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina barreled across the Gulf of Mexico, ripping into the United States Gulf Coast. The storm resulted in 1,577 deaths in Louisiana, as well as insured losses in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana totaling more than $40 billion dollars.

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