Almost every commentator and news anchor on the airwaves in the past week has characterized the Asian tsunami as being of “biblical proportions.”

I’ve noted wryly in the past that whenever something bad happens, it is labeled as being of “biblical proportions” or, alternatively, (insurance companies like this one) an “act of God.”

God seldom gets any credit for limiting the scope of a disaster, and never gets credit for preventing one. But when one happens, He usually bears the brunt of the curses.

Although the tsunami was the result of a massive earthquake for which nobody on this planet is to blame, the United Nations still found a way.

Immediately after hearing of the disaster, the United States put together an aid package worth $15 million, dispatched emergency relief teams and naval patrols, and, as the scope of the disaster came into view, earmarked another $20 million – bringing the total of immediate aid to $35 million – with a promise that more was on the way.

Although the United States topped the list of donor nations (as we usually do), U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland criticized the United States for its recent pushes to cut taxes. Egeland called us “stingy” and suggested if our taxes were higher, we would have more money to send.

He criticized “Western nations” (that would be the United States) for “believ[ing] that they are really burdening the taxpayers too much, and the taxpayers want to give less.”

The remark is typical of U.N. thinking. Use human suffering as an excuse to forward the United Nation’s own leftist economic agenda.

The fact is, it is because of our “stingy” taxes that individual Americans give $34 billion a year in private aid, which dwarfs the U.N.’s total budget, of which we pay more than one-fifth. We pay more than half the total budget for the World Food Program. We pay a quarter of the U.N.’s peacekeeping budget.

For the record, the only country whose initial offer of aid approached that of the United States was Japan at $30 million. Canada put up $4 million.

And those generous Frenchmen! Paris is sending $139,000 – less than two dollars per victim as the tally now stands. (That’s even less than France earned per victim in its backroom dealings with Saddam Hussein)

Getting back to catastrophes of “biblical proportions,” the anchors had it right, whether they realized it or not.

When Jesus was asked what the signs of His return would be, He painted a picture of a world torn by ethnic strife and war, famine in the midst of plenty, rocked by great earthquakes and ravaged by pestilences.

And there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

– Luke 21:11

Jesus said that in an interim period from His time until all these signs would appear:

But before all these things, they [Jews] will lay their hands on you [the believers in Jesus] and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake … and they [the Jews] will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

– Luke 21:12, 24

Then after this historical interlude would be fulfilled, Jesus added more signs of His Coming:

There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

– Luke 21:25-26

Sunday’s catastrophic tsunami was caused by the fourth most powerful undersea earthquake on record, an earthquake so powerful it moved the entire island of Sumatra 100 feet to the southwest from its pre-quake position.

It was so powerful that geologists said it set the whole earth to vibrating and it interfered with the earth’s rotation to the degree that time stopped for three microseconds.

Then Jesus told His disciples:

But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

– Luke 21:28

In another passage about this same prophecy, Jesus likened these signs to a familiar human occurrence, “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” Birth pangs are well known to every generation. A pregnant woman gets severe pains in her abdomen that increase in intensity and frequency just before she gives birth.

In the same way, Jesus indicates that all the natural disasters will begin to increase in frequency and intensity in concert with each other shortly before His return. And it is as these “birth pains” begin to take place that believers in Jesus are to know that their deliverance is near.

I believe we are at that time in history. As Jesus promised, He will come and deliver His own out of the worst that is to come. That is our hope. And God has never failed to keep His promises.

Related column:

“Natural” catastrophes increasing worldwide

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