Sixteen years ago yesterday, America was forever changed by a storm of terror that claimed 3,000 American lives. Every September 11 we pause to remember and to honor the memory of the many heroes who gave their lives to save others.
Last Sabbath we paused to process the meaning of nature’s terrors in the form of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose, along with earthquakes in Mexico and nuclear threats from North Korea. Jesus warned that these “storms” would be like “labor pains on a pregnant woman, …” (see 1 Thess. 5:2-4).
“The days in which we live are solemn and important. The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth. Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous…Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones.”—9T, p. 11
Many attribute the increase in massive storms to global warming, but we believe the increase is a global warning issued by God to get His people to safety.
Rewind to Luke 6:46-49. Here we learn that if you want to stand in the storm, you’ve got to stand on His Word. And to “stand” on His Word means to put it into practice.
In verse 48 we also see that the storms of life are inevitable, but drowning isn’t. Storms come to all of us—Christian or atheist, smoking or non-smoking, vegetarian or meat-eating, democrat or republican. We’re all shaken at times, but we don’t have to be stirred. As Paul puts it: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8,9)
In advance of the approaching storm to end all storms, God has issued evacuation orders that we must heed if we intend to survive.
- Get out of Babylon. (See Rev. 14:8 and 18:4.) The two great sins of Babylon were doubt of God’s Word and defiance of God’s will. But just because you don’t like God’s vision of the future, doesn’t mean you get to create your own. To do so is Babylonian.
Babylon is an apocalyptic symbol of all religious bodies and movements that have fallen away from the truth, especially the fallen Roman church. God’s storm warning is “Get out of religious and philosophical confusion before the storm of my coming sweeps it all away.”
But Babylon can also be a confusing rationalization that we can be like the world and still be like Jesus. That we can play in the dark, but still walk in the light. We’re fooling ourselves and we need to get out!
Babylon can be ingratitude—a neglect of opportunities and blessings that leads to spiritual indifference and a lack of love. “There is a stupor, a paralysis, upon the people of God, which prevents them from understanding the duty of the hour.” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 303)
Babylon can be anything that we love more than God and causes us to live a lie. God’s storm warning is to get out of that kind of confused Christianity.
- Get out of “Your Own Way.” If you plan to go with Jesus when He comes again, you need to get over yourself! “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Rom. 12:3). Get out of “your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; [and] be made new in the attitude of your minds” (Eph. 4:22, 23).
- Get out of bed. “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Rom. 13:11) The storm is coming! We’ve got to get out of bed and get on our knees. “Satan is working in the atmosphere; he is poisoning the atmosphere, and here we are dependent upon God for our lives—our present and eternal lives. And being in the position that we are, we need to be wide awake, wholly devoted, wholly converted, wholly consecrated to God. But we seem to sit as though we were paralyzed. God of heaven, wake us up!” (2SM, 52)
No matter what storm you’re facing today, God’s word to you is: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” (Isa. 43:2) Come hell or high water, build on the rock and hide in Him. He’s our only shelter in the time of storm.—Pastor Randy