Matthew 24: 6-14“And you will hear wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of the sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you; and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the entire world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.”
WAKE UP CALL
8:00 a.m. on the 15th of October, 2013– while we’re supposed to savor our holiday in line with the Muslim festival Eid al Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), we experienced tremendous earthquake that reached 7.2 magnitude. I was still sleeping before the incident happened and since our room is located on the 3rd floor of the building, I really felt the shaking of the earth that woke me up and instantly resulted into numbers of falling debris both breakable and unbreakable all over the house. It was the second time Cebu city got hit with the high intensity quake. The recent 6.9 magnitude quake was in February 6, 2012–a year ago wherein Cebuano overreacted for false alarm tsunami alerts.
It is undisputed to say that repetition of natural calamities may add to human beings’ resistance to such and similar events including emotional and mental stress and coping mechanism. That is why, I did not panic the second time this major natural calamity rocked us. Honestly, the first thing that came to me was not on how to survive or escape from that unpredictable situation but to rebuke and whisper “Lord, have it your way.” My adrenaline rush was as obedient as ever. Needless to say, I knew the terrible event would happen. Days before earthquake rocked Visayas and Mindanao, I dreamed about it. Huge tractor-bulldozer with red lights was heading towards a high building and violently hit it. The building got damaged followed by commotions on the street. People were panicking, afraid and emotionally restless. I’m at the corner of the street, knowing what would happen, I suddenly thought about my family and relatives living in other islands. I was so worried then.
When I woke up, I ignored that dream thinking that it’d be far happening. Now, I am more disturbed every time I dreamed of something bad as of calamities or death because it always comes true. I oftentimes complain to God for showing me all those before at hand, but I know He just wanted His children to be prepared for His coming is so near. That He hated some misleading churches, idolaters, lukewarm and disobedient Christians.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Since 20th until 21st century, the Philippines have been facing different crises: economic, political, social justice and natural and man-made catastrophes.
Luzon – Typhoon
Visayas – Earthquake and Fire
Mindanao – Earthquake, Flash flood and War
Why is this so? There are lots of international media comments base on facts about Philippines degrading or declining social and spiritual values, becoming less patriotic and having pathetic political and justice system. Corruption is the number one problem to address poverty in the country. It always is the culprit. Even politicians are throwing dirt at each other. Were these factors enough to gain all these mishap?
READ: Malachi 3: 8-10 “I ask you, is it right for a person to cheat God? Of course not, yet you are cheating me. ‘How?’ you ask. In the matter of tithes and offerings. A curse is on all of you because the whole nation is cheating me. Bring the full amount of your tithes to the temple, so that there will be plenty of food there. Put me to the test and you will see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things.”
Two days after the earthquake hit Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor and other parts of Mindanao, the lord was so prompt when He answered my query through dreams and visions. I saw myself, my mom and unknown people inside the church. We’re wearing our best suits. We entered into a separate room inside the church building before the Sunday service began. I saw a white envelope appeared on my hand. Inside it was an amount of money. I supposed it was my tithe. Same goes to my mom and other members of that church. We stayed longer inside that solemn room. I’ve never seen that place before and the people were all strangers in my sight. I learned that most of them were in their middle age. Inside was so peaceful but I wondered why we need to wait a little longer. We’re isolated from the other church members. I felt we’re asked to wait for instructions.
When I woke up from that dream, I realized that I had forgotten to prepare my tithe (10 % of my salary received) due to the manic earthquake. I usually prepare my tithe right after I received my salary, so I learned that because of the incident, God reminded me not to forget my obligation. Thank you Lord! I knew how important tithing is to God. Thus, my dream conveyed that aside from tithing, we must recognise the importance of isolation, of isolating ourselves from the crowd in order to fully focus to our lord Jesus Christ. He wants our heart, sincerity, purity and full submission to Him whenever we come into His presence.
The famines that we‘ve had won’t be the last. There will be numbers of famines, pestilences and other calamities and destructions coming on our way.
READ: Revelation 22:12-13 “Behold, I am coming soon, my reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the alpha and omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
CATHOLIC CHURCHES COLLAPSED
Why did God allow Catholic churches to be destroyed by earthquake? Can’t He spare it? And why do some Virgin Mary and Sto. Nino statues (stone sculptures) had turned its back from its post after the strong quake? Can those handmade idols move itself just to turn its back? Most devoted Catholic Filipinos who had witness this event inside their own houses had asked these questions but were still hopeful clinging into their spiritual beliefs.
Almost all of the Old Catholic churches in Bohol (Baclayon, Dauis, Loon, Maribojoc, Tagbilaran) and one in Cebu got fully and partly damaged from the quake’s impact. These churches were ancient historical landmarks mostly made up of corals which don’t have modern structures and defences to stand against strong ground shaking.
READ: Acts 17:22-32 “Paul stood up and said, Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. 24. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man He made every nation of men, which they should inhabit, the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…29. Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. 30. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. 31. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof to this to all men by raising him from the dead.
7 IS GOD’S PERFECT NUMBER
READ: Revelation 16: 15 “Behold I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keep his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”
This “Old church bulldozer 2013 Earthquake” (my way of calling it since unlike typhoon, we can’t name them) that hit Visayas and Mindanao tremendously, particularly in Cebu and Bohol had enlisted itself to the facts and figures in Philippine geophysical catastrophes with the highest intensities.
In November 30, 1645, Manila Cathedral and other newly-built churches in Manila were severely damaged by a 7.5 quake in Luzon. Similarly, the recent Bohol quake which was considered the fifth worst seismic that rocked the country as it registered 7.2 in the Richler scale had beaten old churches in Bohol and Cebu city. It pulverized most of those in Bohol and destroyed the bell tower of Cebu’s.
These comments caught my attention:
“The earthquake and other calamities will come inevitable, because they are signs of the coming of Christ. God will allow these things to places where idolatry and other sinful deeds are given greater attention by people rather than God.” – alex duransky
“This is the warning to all people not only in the Philippines. It reminds us not to worship graven image because Jesus is God, the jealous God. God is spirit so worship Him in spirit and in truth. Not the idolatry and made in the hands of man.” – TheTRUTH-SET-YOU-FREE
“Now it is obvious that God’s protection was not in that place. It means that if we worship the true God, let us worship Him in spirit and in truth…worship Him alone. You’re not going just to pray but repent your sins and turn to God and seek Him with all your heart and you will find Him. God allowed such things like earthquake to destroy even the church buildings because God was hurt by the deeds of the people…like worshiping idols instead of Him. – alex duransky
GOD’S PERFECT TIMING
Not in a school and working day but in a holiday the catastrophe happened in the daylight. What could have been its effect if it shook us in the night wherein most people are asleep? How many children could have been panicking, injured and psychologically distressed and traumatized if it took place in regular school days? Truly God loves little children. The children’s rhyme “Jesus loves the little children” keeps on echoing inside me as I pondered upon these events. Jesus always reminds us that His kingdom in heaven is made especially for His little children.
“Children are a heritage from the Lord; offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Psalms 127:3-5) A concern faithful Christian has just shared this verse to me and it’s so amazing how timely she did so since I’m looking for the verse that best defines this. She’s like an angel sent from above. Of course, she didn’t know that I’m in need of a verse suitable for every example or situations that need spirit-filled inspiration. I wonder how coincidentally things fall into its right place at the perfect time. Truly God knows everything our hearts’ desire. He even knows our requests before we could have uttered it in prayer.
On the other hand, why do this catastrophe coincide the Muslim festival? Despite the fact that the Muslims in Visayas experienced turmoil on their festivity, they remained hopeful and undisturbed saying that the earthquake is celebrating with them. Their intention for the festival is good so how they took the outcome whether good or bad reflects by how graceful they must be for it.
CONCERN IS WORRY AND WORRY IS A SIN
I had filed the leave of absence two weeks from my day-job. At the end of the week, I went to get something from my classroom. I was shocked, irritated and totally concern upon seeing my classroom disorganized, dirty, some personal things missing, and generally speaking, yeah it was really a total mess. Hence, I don’t want to blame the teacher who was temporarily occupying my classroom. I don’t even want to complain to the office about it so I just sealed it myself except that I told the secretary that my pen and pencil were lost while I’m not around.
Well, friends, what seem to be the importance of all our earthly properties to us? Of course, we’ll say some were of great importance and have sentimental value especially if received from loved ones or any person close to our hearts. But when we say sentimental values, do we have the right to claim of putting or casting down our emotions over these earthly things?
The day after the earthquake rocked, I received an information that our workplace got destroyed resulting to have it closed temporarily. Whether the damage is major or minor, the fact that the ceiling had collapsed, I’m certain that our office and school properties were damaged. I could imagine how my personal belongings inside that building which once made me peeved had now gone totally ruined more than just a mess.
REACT: humbling ourselves
While I am meditating, I gradually realized the less value of things in the world since we already knew that all things in the world will come to pass. It’s true that GOD made the world out of love for His people to enjoy everything on it. However, He doesn’t want us to immerse ourselves into loving it more than Him. His words says, “Those who love their own life will lose it; those who hate their own life in this world will keep it for life eternal.” (John 12:15)
Thank you lord Jesus for being with me all the days of my life. Thank you for guiding me in every word to use in writing this. Thank you for the Holy Spirit that you let my mind, my heart and my hands do as what it commands. Thank you so much for the assurance that if we put our trust unto you and our total dedication for accomplishing your work, we will not be put into shame, in vain or in agitation. Glory to you and the highest praise!