By John Ogunjimi
Please permit me to take a break from my break for the sake of this very important post. And, please, find time to read it to the end. It’s very important.
I was in the middle of something I was writing when Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm in, in August. Shortly afterwards, it flooded Houston as it finally slowed down to a tropical storm after displacing thousands of people and wrecking havoc.
I took particular interest in following the news probably because it resonated with the tenor of what I was writing at that time. I was writing about my experience on one Sunday morning last year: an account of how the sermon I took that morning had to take an unplanned different course from what I had on the outline.
That morning, around November or December last year, I felt strongly compelled to warn certain folks (especially the complacent and recalcitrant) in the congregation according to the Scriptures in Colossians 1:28: “Whom we preach, WARNING EVERY MAN, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus”.
I reminded them of the time of Lot in Sodom. Of how the angels told Lot to warn his relatives of the impending danger. But what happened? Bible says, “Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.” Genesis 19:14 (KJV).
I reminded them of the time of Noah too. Of how God Himself commissioned Noah to warn the then world of the impending deluge. Of how for one hundred years, this ‘preacher of righteousness‘ was unable to convince up to ten people to take refuge in the ark. Of how they eventually perished in the flood–every singly one of them that was outside the ark!
I reminded them of how Hurricane Matthew caused great devastation in Haiti and the United States just few weeks before that Sunday morning. Of how about 600 deaths have been attributed to that storm.
I told them particularly of the preparations the government made between the time Matthew was formed in September and the time it made landfall. Of how schools were closed, malls locked, regular flights cancelled, shelters built, and helicopters deployed for evacuation of those in the way of the storm, and despite all, several still died.
My curiosity on why people still die in such floods despite the preparations on ground had led me to a website where I’d read different reasons why some people refuse to evacuate. I’m not in position to judge their decision because I can’t say what I would have done, since I’ve never been in their shoes…
I was writing about my sermon that Sunday when I heard about Harvey. Now, Harvey has come and gone, and while the affected people are still trying to pick up the pieces of what’s left of their destroyed houses, storm warnings are coming in again.
Hurricane Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida as a Category 5 storm in less than 72 hours, and it is already killing people, flooding and taking off roofs in the Caribbean, leaving a trail of destruction. After NASA released a satellite image of the hurricane from their space station, weather experts have described this storm as ‘apocalyptic’ and the worst to hit the US in many years. As I type this, I’m watching the storm causing massive devastation and almost sweeping a camera man off his feet.
Like before, preparations have been made, and are still being made. The governor of Florida and other local authorities have been making update upon update on evacuation plans and available shelters from the storm. The level of preparation is impressive as always and while our prayers are with the people there, the bitter truth is that more people will still die. Why?
You see, escaping is voluntary. Even in the face of mandatory evacuations, some will still choose to ‘ride out the storm’ by fortifying their houses. It has worked for some in the past, but with the predictions on Irma, everyone on the storm’s way is advised to evacuate.
This is a parable to our generation. Jesus Himself said it this way:
“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:37-39 KJV.
I want to think that there were people in the time of Noah who were realists. “C’mon,” one may have said to another, “have you ever heard of such thing as a rain that would flood the whole world? Be realistic my friend! Noah is crazy.”
Perhaps, another was an atheist who mocked Noah, “You are a deluded old man. How did you see God? Prove to us that your big guy in the sky exists before you deliver your message of doom.”
Maybe there was another there who was a free thinker or agnostic. “I don’t care if your God spoke to you or not. I don’t have time for religion. I want to exercise my mind and use my brain. I can’t shift all my responsibilities to an imaginary deity and enslave myself.”
And maybe there was someone there who had a tinge of conviction in his mind on the possibility of truth in Noah’s message. “I would join Noah, but for my friends,” he thinks. “What will they say of me?” Eventually, he decides, “Just before the rains begin, I’ll join Noah in the ark. I’ll run into the ark before the flood becomes terrible. I’ll make it before it becomes too late.” He was almost persuaded, but he still perished with the flood because he didn’t know God was going to lock the ark by Himself.
As I said before, all that is happening around us (home and abroad) are parables to our generation. Why do I go through the trouble telling you all these?
I’ll answer in the words of Billy Graham, from Part 1 of his book, Storm Warning, published about 25 years ago; prophetic, I must say!
“Today’s headlines ring with the warnings of approaching storms, and the language of John’s prophetic writings has never seemed so contemporary… The figurative language of the Apocalypse is indeed complex and profound and at times difficult to understand fully…”
“However… Let no one make mistake of interpreting such passages as mere fiction or hyperbole. In the face of so much hopelessness in every corner of the globe, we need to recognise the Word of God for what it is: the Word of God.
“So my ultimate goal is to… point to the ultimate source of peace, which is faith in Jesus Christ. There is a way out of despair. There is an answer to the world’s crisis. There is a way to have peace with God. That is why this storm warning must be sounded now.”
A storm is coming, friends. A mighty, big storm is coming! And only those who are sheltered will be saved. The Ark of God is loading now. Jesus is the Ark. Come on in while you may. Be saved before it’s too late. There won’t be time to repent when the trumpet sounds. There won’t be time to make peace with God when the rapture takes place.
Friends, we are in the last moments of the last days. The end of the age is drawing nearer. Romans 13:11 (KJV) says, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” The return of the Lord is at hand. Heaven has made adequate preparation for our evacuation from this world. Join this life-boat–Christ.
If you are a believer already, stand fast and join to spread this news to others. It is our collective responsibility as believers, not just the pastors’. If you aren’t a believer yet, don’t gamble with your soul, your destiny, your eternity.
Believe and be saved.
Be born again.