"Two Hands Revealed"

This Christmas was a beautiful white Christmas in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. At the Woolsey home, the full moon had lit up the snowy winter wonderland outside. It was about 7:00 in the evening. We had had a delicious Christmas dinner, closed the Sabbath with worship, and our extended family was sitting in the living room having Christmas together, opening the colorfully wrapped gifts, and sharing quality time in the peace and serenity of our cozy home.

At that same time, around on the other side of the world, a catastrophe was in the making that would become known as the modern world’s greatest disaster. Hundreds of thoushands of people were caught up in a nightmare from hell.

Sunday, 12/26/04, 8:00 AM, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck just off the coast (100 miles) of Sumatra, near the Indian archipelago, sending walls 4 of water, (some 30 feet high), racing across the Indian Ocean, (500 miles per hour), and wiping out coasts in 11 nations. Due to the magnitude of the quake, islands were actually moved measurably out of their places. As of this printing, the death toll has exceeded 160,000 and is still climbing.

Much discussion has been generated in pulpits, articles, and radio programs regarding the hand of God in all that is happening. Many people are struggling for answers to their questions:

“Why do bad things happen to good people…?”

“Was this an act of God…?”

“Where was God when this happened…?”

“Why didn’t God stop it, prevent it, step in, do something…?”

“Why would God do this to me, to us, to them…?”

“How could a loving God allow these things to happen…?”

It is interesting to notice how, in times of catastrophe, that immediate reference is generally made to God. And this, my friends, is exactly what Satan wants ‚€“ to bring reproach upon the name of God through all this world’s tragedy.

As stated above, the death toll in the Indian Ocean rim and the African continent exceeds 160,000 and is still climbing. Indonesia, the hardest hit nation, said its toll, now at 80,000, could reach 100,000, and officials began to acknowledge that the number of dead may never be known with precision, because the towering waves that smashed into the island of Sumatra swept entire villages with their inhabitants out to sea.

Five million people are homeless in the affected region. But the worst may be yet to come. New reports say that the death toll in Banda Aceh alone, the region worst hit by the December 26 tsunami, may exceed 400,000 as many affected areas could still not be reached for search and rescue operations.

After Indonesia, Sri Lanka was the next hardest hit, with about 28,500 deaths. A total of more than 300 were killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Somalia, Tanzania and Kenya.

On India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands, rescue workers in the archipelago believe thousands (as many as 10,000) of uncounted bodies remain in the debris of crumbled homes, downed trees and mounds of dead animals on several islands. India has officially reported 7,763 dead in the tsunami disaster.

Thailand packed bodies in dry ice as the government announced its death toll had doubled to more than 4,500 people, almost half of them foreigners who had been vacationing on the country’s renowned white-sand beaches. Tens of thousands were still missing, including at least 3,500 Swedes, more than 1,000 Germans and 500 each from France and Denmark.

How can we make sense of this incomprehensible tragedy, and the future ones that are sure to follow? Are these catastrophes truly “acts of God,” our God of love? Or is someone else to blame? Let us go to the word of God, Job chapter 1.

“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

“And his sons went and feasted in their houses every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou?

“Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

“And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

“Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.”

Notice how Satan is setting up this situation. God had already touched Job, and His touch resulted in abundant blessings. But Satan wants God to let him, Satan, at Job to do him harm. However, the harm will be presented as “the touch of God,” “the hand of God,” or, “an act of God.”

“And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power, only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD…

Satan couldn’t wait to get at Job. However, God had said in essence, “This far, but no farther.” God allowed Satan to exercise his power against God’s children, but for a reason. And in one day’s time great calamity fell upon Job and his household. One thousand oxen and 500 asses were stolen and the servants slain; fire fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and servants. Three thousand camels were stolen and the servants slain. A cyclone, or great wind killed all 10 of his children.

This loss of life and prosperity seems unexplainable to a faithful steward in tithes and offerings. Terrible things happened to this good man. Why would a loving God do such a thing…? Or allow such a thing…?

But this is not the end of the story. Later, we read in Job 2:1-7 that Satan’s plan to bring down the integrity of Job had failed, so he appeared once again before the Lord. Ever the accuser of the brethren, he now rationalizes before God regarding Job, “all that a man hath will he give for his life.” Then again he challenges God, “But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.”

“And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.”

“So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.” This loss of health might seem unexplainable to one such as Job who lived in harmony with all the laws of God. The same questions may be uttered today regarding many righteous, health conscious people who are smitten with unexplainable disease.

My question to you, friend, is this: “Was all that happened to Job an act of God? Or, was it an act of Satan? Who brought fire down from heaven and burned up his sheep and servants? Who caused the great wind that swept away the lives of all his children?”

God had said to Satan, “Behold, he is in thine hand‚€¶” Surely, credit must be given where credit is due. These were all acts of Satan, permitted by God, yes, but for a very good reason.

As we consider current world events, let us try to put things into perspective, and likewise give credit where credit is due, and see where God’s hand is in all that’s going on.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us that it is our “adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

Revelation 12:17 speaks of the wrath of the dragon, Satan. “And the dragon was wroth with the woman‚€¶”

Let’s look at The Hand of Satan (Wrath) in this tsunami castastrophe:

The only warning Sunday of the disaster came when shallow coastal waters disappeared, sucked away by the approaching tsunami, before returning as a massive wall of water. The waves wiped out villages, lifted cars and boats, yanked children from the arms of parents and swept away beachgoers, scuba divers and fishermen. The death toll exceeds 160,000. Aceh province at the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra island found that 10,000 people had been killed in a single town. 1,000 people were dead or missing and feared dead from a train that was flung off its tracks when the gigantic waves hit.

Now, from the inspired pen, RH, March 14, 1912, “In accidents and calamities by land and by sea, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hail-storms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes,—in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. The visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast. “The earth mourneth and fadeth away, … the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.”

And Satan tells the Lord, “Oh, I’ve just been walking to and fro in the earth.” Yes, but with the heavy hand and big foot of wrath and destruction. His walking to and fro is not a stroll in the garden!

In contrast, let us now look at The Hand of God (Mercy):
It was Sunday morning, not Monday morning… Shops were closed, and many people were still at home, not at work. It was reported that had it been Monday morning, the death toll would have been 10 times as high.

8:00 & 9:00 AM - Other than the fishermen, fewer people were on the beaches and in the water than had it been late morning, or early afternoon, or late afternoon.

A 20-month-old baby was found floating at sea on a mattress and later reunited with its family. A Hong Kong family was rescued after 6 hours holding onto a mattress. A super model was among a number of people rescued after clinging to trees for hours. A two-year-old Swedish boy was found sitting alone on a road in Thailand and taken to a hospital where he was later reunited with his uncle.

A California couple in sail boat were spared as they were behind a sand bar and went on to pull 50 men, women, and children out of the water and off the cliffs after watching them being attacked by the killer wave.

In this the modern world’s greatest catastrophe can be seen two hands revealed. But why does God allow Satan to play his hand in this way?

The hand of Satan (and his character) must be revealed in order to eventually bring his power and government down. The hand of God (and His character) is more clearly revealed as the hand of Satan is revealed. The character of God is vindicated as the character of Satan is revealed.

Satan, by guile and deceit and usurpation, is the prince of this world, the governor of this world. The character of the government of Satan is one of lawlessness, anarchy, violence, injustice, survival of the meanest, biggest, strongest, wealthiest, elitist, etc. This character of the government of Satan must be allowed to be fully revealed in order for the population of the universe, specifically of this earth, to finally recognize that the government of God in stark contrast is good, is just, is right, is best, is perfect; yes, with its law of liberty, laws of health, and its civil laws regarding the welfare of all.

The character of Satan must be allowed to be fully revealed in order for the character of God to be justified in the eyes of His accusers in bringing Satan to his deserving end.

Death and destruction must be allowed in order to bring death and destruction to an end.

Sin must be allowed to play its hand in order to inoculate the universe against the killer disease of sin throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity.

1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is love.” And in His love, He has forewarned us of these violent acts of Satan, so that we might be mentally prepared to correctly sort things out, give credit where credit is due, and awaken out of our own Laodicean slumber, and prepare to meet our God.

“Troublous times are right upon us. The fulfilling of the signs of the times gives evidence that the day of the Lord is near at hand. The daily papers are full of indications of a terrible conflict in the future. Bold robberies are of frequent occurrence. Strikes are
common. Thefts and murders are committed on every hand. Men (& women) possessed of demons are taking the lives of men and women and little children. All these things testify that the coming of Christ is near at hand.” {RH, March 14, 1912 par. 1}

However, they do not testify to being “acts of God,” rather acts of Satan.

Matthew 24:6-8, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences (widespread fatal infectious, contagious diseases, i.e. cholera), and earthquakes, in divers (diverse, various) places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”

Then follows religious oppression & persecution, according to the following context of Matthew 24.

So, What is this world coming to as the hand of Satan is ever increasingly exercised…?

“Courts of justice are corrupt. Rulers are actuated by a desire for gain, and love of sensual pleasure. Intemperance has beclouded the faculties of many, so that Satan has almost complete control of them. Jurists are perverted, bribed, deluded. Drunkenness and revelry, passion, envy, dishonesty of every sort, are represented among those who administer the laws. ‘Justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity can not enter.’ Men are rushing on in the mad race for gain and selfish indulgence as if there were no God, no heaven, and no hereafter.” {RH, March 14, 1912 par. 3}

“The doctrine that men are released from obedience to God’s requirements has weakened the force of moral obligation, and opened the flood-gates of iniquity upon the world. Lawlessness and dissipation and corruption are sweeping upon us like an overwhelming tide. In the family, Satan is at work. His banner waves even in professedly Christian households. There is envy, evil surmising, hypocrisy, strife, betrayal of sacred trusts, indulgence of lust. The whole system of religious principles and doctrines, which should form the foundation and framework of social life, seems to be a tottering mass, ready to fall to ruin.” {RH, March 14, 1912 par. 2}

So, How does the story end?
“And the Lord turned the captivity of Job.” (Job 42:10-17) As the hand of God touched Job once again, all was restored to him double, except for the children. He had again 7 sons and 3 daughters.

And, in the end, the Lord will turn the captivity of this world:
Revelation 21:1-5, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new…”

What are we to do in the meantime…?
“Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ. Not even by a thought could our Saviour be brought to yield to the power of temptation. Satan finds in human hearts some point where he can gain a foothold; some sinful desire is cherished, by means of which his temptations assert their power. But Christ declared of himself, ‘The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.’ Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept his Father’s commandments, and there was no sin in him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble.” {RH, March 14, 1912}

Ezekiel tells us that “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it [the land], they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God.” “Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.” (Ezekiel 14:14,20)

It is surely time for us, friends, to daily examine our hearts and minds, our very souls, to see if there be some wicked way in “me,” to fully submit to the hand of the Fuller to be cleansed from every sin whiter than snow, to fully submit to the hand of the Refiner, and trustingly go through the Refiner’s fire, that we may come through it all in the end as pure gold, as precious gems.

“Those who believe that Jesus can and will save them personally from sin, are the elect and chosen of God; they are His peculiar treasure. They obey His call, and come out of the world and separate themselves from every unclean thought and unholy practice.” (RH 8/1/1893)

AMEN!