An 8.9 earthquake hit just off the coast of Northeastern Japan last week, causing immediate catastrophic destruction. Then, as if it that wasn’t enough, tsunami waves thirty feet high swept three miles inland destroying everything in their path and taking thousands of precious lives. We lament this horrific event, and we sympathize for the Japanese people who have lost so much but who God loves so much. This devotional is not meant to go Jerry Farwell and bring condemnation down on Japan, but it’s a good time to learn some lessons about who God is and our response to Him.
Japan has for decades been one of the world’s most prosperous nations, but now much of its world class infrastructure is ruined, thousands of homes are leveled, nuclear power plants are on the verge of melting down, its stock market has plunged and the Japanese people are saying they distrust their government.
We watch the news and these images of complete and utter destruction, send out a quick prayer for Japan, then we turn off the TV and go about life as usual. But what if that happened here? American scientists say that our nuclear power plants are built too well to fail like they’ve failed in Japan, and that the tectonic plates underneath our state aren’t unstable enough to yield such an earthquake. Yes, there’s logical evidence for that, but does God not defy logic? Has He not parted a massive body of water, or has He not caused people to rise from the dead, or has He not sent His Son to the earth and into the uterus of a virgin?!
So knowing the sovereignty of God, knowing that He calls the shots – no questions asked – can we ultimately trust in what scientists say? Can we ultimately trust in a government? Can we trust we’ll have roads tomorrow? Houses? Family or friends? When we think about it, as long as we live on this earth, God’s the only one we can fully lean on.
There’s possibly no one in the Bible (other than Christ) who understood the sovereignty of God more than King Nebuchadnezzar. He was the proud king of Babylon, a mighty nation with incredible wealth and power. In the book of Daniel, there’s a story of him having a dream that really unsettles him. Upon summoning the Jewish prophet Daniel to interpret the dream for him, Daniel gives this explanation of the dream:
“It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”
– Daniel 4:24-25
This indeed happened to King Nebuchadnezzar as he didn’t repent of his pride and rejection of God:
Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws.
– Daniel 4:33
But after being humbled through the mightiness of God, he came to repent:
At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”
– Daniel 4:34-35
King Nebuchadnezzar put his hope in things other than God and he was dramatically confronted with the consequences of that decision. Fortunately, he turned from his pride and idolatry and put his hope in the only One truly worth having hope in.
So what is it you have placed your hope in? Has it been in the greatness of our nation and its government or military? A bank account? A job? An education? A relationship? A sound mind? Your health or beauty? Jesus calls us to “build our houses upon the rock” (Matthew 7:24). That rock is Him and His Word. So is your house built upon the sand where a tsunami – whether real or metaphorical – will come and wash it all away? Or is it built upon the rock where its foundations are sure and the trials of your life simply find you securely placed in your Father’s hands?