Like any city in the hours beforeÂ dawn, Christchurch, New ZealandÂ outwardly was quiet and asleep. ButÂ strange things were happening in thisÂ city â€“ and most of them had to do withÂ animals. Many a family couldnâ€™t sleepÂ because their normally quiet dog continuallyÂ barked, demanding to be letÂ out then back in again. Cat ownersÂ were wakened to find that their cat wasÂ batting them on the face with a paw!Â A family wondered why its pet rabbitÂ kept bringing its back foot down withÂ loud, rhythmic thumps. And in manyÂ households, families had gone to bedÂ distressed because their loved dog orÂ cat had disappeared.
Things were strange, too, out inÂ the countryside. A farmer, bringingÂ his herd in for milking, stared in disbeliefÂ as the cows â€“ all 500 of them â€“Â suddenly sat down as though the legsÂ had been cut out from under them.Â Another farmer had just risen to let hisÂ agitated dog outside, and he stood forÂ a moment in his doorway. Suddenly,Â the birds in the nearby hedge startedÂ to chirp loudly, the neighbourâ€™s pigsÂ began to squeal, and his own cowsÂ to bellow. Then, just as suddenly,Â all went dead quiet. He stood there,Â unnerved…. Something did happen,Â in the early morning hours a terrifyingÂ 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the area.Â Somehow the animals had sensed theÂ coming disaster. No one knows exactlyÂ what it is that creatures sense at suchÂ a time, although there are theories.Â What we do know is that the CreatorÂ Himself has implanted in animal creationÂ a sensory awareness that you andÂ I know nothing of.
Nothing can prevent an earthquake,Â even if people could know it wasÂ coming. So it is in eternal things. Godâ€™sÂ judgment is coming on this sinfulÂ world and nothing will prevent it. InÂ Acts 17:31 we read, â€œHe has appointed aÂ day on which He will judge the world inÂ righteousnessâ€.
In 1995, a major earthquake struckÂ in Japan. Hippopotami in the zoo submergedÂ themselves in their pool – andÂ stayed under! The zoo staff eventuallyÂ had to drain the pool to â€œrescueâ€Â them. You canâ€™t immerse yourself, evenÂ in religion, hoping to hide from Godâ€™sÂ wrath. Heâ€™ll drain your pool! NeitherÂ can you flee, or fly away, as birds haveÂ often been seen to do before a bigÂ earthquake.
The Christchurch animalsâ€™ behaviourÂ could have served as a warningÂ to their owners. The problem wasÂ that the people didnâ€™t realize this untilÂ afterwards. Ah, afterwardsÂ â€“ when itÂ was too late. But God doesnâ€™t leave usÂ puzzled or worried like the animalsâ€™Â owners, then condemn us when itâ€™s tooÂ late to be saved.
- God speaks with unmistakableÂ clarity through His Word, the Bible.Â He warns of coming judgment andÂ tells us what we need to do aboutÂ it. â€œGod â€¦ now commands all menÂ everywhere to repent â€ (Acts 17:30).
- God speaks through creation,Â Romans 1:19-20 says, â€œ…God hasÂ shown it to them. For since the creationÂ of the world His invisible attributesÂ are clearly seen, being understoodÂ by the things that are made …so thatÂ they are without excuse.â€
- God has implanted in every personÂ an â€œinternal warning systemâ€. Itâ€™sÂ called conscience. It means that youÂ know when you have sinned.
- God often uses circumstances; manyÂ have testified to a tragic or traumaticÂ event that led them to trust theÂ saving power of Christâ€™s death.
As with any major earthquake,Â many strong aftershocks occurred inÂ Christchurch. Some dog owners cameÂ to recognise the signs of a comingÂ shake. One personsâ€™ dog began aÂ particular low growl that reachedÂ a crescendo before a major shake;Â another took to licking its ownerâ€™sÂ hand. One dog barked all of the nightÂ before the first earthquake, then didÂ the same on a subsequent night, priorÂ to a major aftershock. When it barkedÂ the third time, the family recognizedÂ the signal. They arranged to stay homeÂ the next day â€“ and were comfortedÂ to be together when, sure enough,Â another big shake came. They heededÂ the warning.Â Godâ€™s word tells us, â€œGodÂ may speak in one way, or in another, yetÂ man does not perceive it â€ (Job 33:14).Â We ignore His voice at our peril. â€œHowÂ shall we escape if we neglect so great aÂ salvation?â€ (Hebrews 2:3).
Those who live in earthquake-proneÂ areas are regularly reminded toÂ be prepared. But, in spite of the bestÂ preparation, when the earthquakeÂ comes, you can but hope for the best.Â Thatâ€™s what many souls do when itÂ comes to their future beyond life â€“ theyÂ hope for the best! That wonâ€™t do! ListenÂ to the Lord Jesus Christâ€™s promiseÂ to those who trust Him: â€œI give themÂ eternal life, and they shall never perish â€Â (John 10:28). Tell me, why would youÂ not come to the Saviour today andÂ accept His guarantee of safety andÂ security before it is too late?
L. M. Thompson
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