Word on Fire

Paul writes to Timothy

'I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you'
(2Tim 1:6)

so, to help the church with this, we offer this brief word, because

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord'
(Jeremiah 23:29)

Hurricanes & Heavenly Barricades

Hurricane Katrina follows Tsunami,
followed by Hurricane Rita …What Can We do?

Revised September 26 2005

Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendour, O Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again. Isaiah 52:1 (NIV)

In my short book, ‘God of the Sea’ [1] I address one of the dominant questions of people whose homes were struck by the Indian Ocean Tsunami: “was there a spiritual power behind this tragedy?”. What does the bible say to help us make sense of this? Led by the Holy Spirit, who gave me the message to preach in affected areas where I minister, I look at what the Bible says about the sea, and I unmask the so-called ‘god of the sea’ to reveal the work of Satan as the destructive cause.

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and nearby parts of Louisiana and Mississippi September 28, the effects were similar to the tsunami, but were the causes? At first look, they were very different. The tsunami was caused by an earth shift; Katrina’s damage by the wind. The storm whipped up a hurricane that reached Category 5, and brought winds up to 160mph driving a dome of water up to 30 feet high before it.

However, we might well ask whether Katrina had anything more to do with the tsunami – whether the message of God of the Sea has any relevance to America’s south. Is there anything to be learnt from New Orleans’ international reputation as a crime capital, a city of sin, a place of blatant immorality, gambling, and idolatry? Does the city’s prevalent idolatry - the Voodoo worship of loas (demons) of sea, storm, wind, thunder, lightening, and serpents (the universal and biblical symbol of Satan) - have anything in common with the idolatry and sin of the Indian Ocean countries hit on December 26? India, specifically, is well known to have millions of idols including gods of the sea, one of which is named in the bible from centuries ago!

In God of the Sea I show from the bible that God made the sea, and it was good. It was Satan’s arrival as Prince of this World, and mankind’s fall from grace, that allowed Satan to copy and distort God’s power and one-time (one-time only!) use of the sea to destroy. In the same way, after Noah’s Flood, God used winds to bless creation (Genesis 8:1) and again to bless his people in the Wilderness (Numbers 11). When God ‘measured out the waters’ he also ‘established the force of the wind’ (Job 28:25). Just as he put a boundary in place that the sea could not cross, the wind was ‘established’ or limited. It was good. It was not to be extreme or destructive. It took an empowered Man of Lawlessness to rebel against these Laws.

Satan, according to Paul in Ephesians 2:2 is the ‘ruler of the kingdom of the air’ (NIV), the ‘prince’ (per KJV), literally the prince/ ruler ‘of the power of the blowing’. It was Satan who destroyed the house in which Job’s children were partying (Job 1:19). It was Satan behind the fear that overcame the disciples in the boat with Jesus (Mark 4). It was Satan who lessened Peter’s faith when Peter walked on water yet ‘saw the wind’ (Matthew 14).

Satan is a usurper of power, a lawless angel, seeking to be seen as a god by mankind. In many ways he seeks to immitate the power of the true - but good - God Most High. Satan, however, in addition to frequently attacking an unwary, unwatching army of the Lord, is unable to prevent his malevolent fallen nature from being revealed and implemented against his own worshippers and against anyone else who happens to be in the way.

Visiting the USA on ministry just after Katrina, I heard it said that the nickname of the hurricane meant ‘Cleansing’. This is possible, as ‘cleansing’ in New Testament Greek is katharizo (from which Katrina can be derived) and we know that in all things God works for the good … (Romans 8:28). Personally though, I don’t believe it was God’s judgement against New Orleans (or Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India etc). At least, I don’t believe it was active judgement. In active responsibility the boy swings the baseball bat and sends and sends the ball crashing through the window. In passive responsibility the batter does the same, but this time there is a catcher who is ready and able to catch the ball, if he’s given the call to do so. He’s not given the call, so he fails to stop the ball. With the tsunami in heathen Asia, and with Katrina in (supposedly) Christian America, could it be that God wasn’t given the call?

I know there must be many good Christians and churches in New Orleans (although I am also told that they may not be working together as closely as they might). Were they actively and in faith opposing the wind and the waves? Jesus did so, and he told us that ‘greater things’ we would do. I have seen a cyclone turned aside by the power of believing intercession, as I know many have in Tulsa, Oklahoma (‘tornado alley’), where last week I preached this message to a receptive church that included escapees from Katrina’s attack on New Orleans. Is there any significance to the fact that today, on TV, Houston Christians are giving thanks to God for answering their prayers for deliverance and for turning aside the storm at his childrens' request? Rightly, I believe, Christians in Texas (and elsewhere) are observing that this was a warning, a wake-up call to the church and the nation to purify itself and turn back to the consuming fire of the Lord!

What about Christians who are caught in the path of the storm? I believe that the bible shows us that even if, by minority influence on an area (living as a spiritual minority amongst the heathen), Christians are caught by the storm, God will deliver us:

"when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you" Isaiah 43:2;

“Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him Psalm 32:6;

If we are negligent in our duty of preventing idolatry in our land, and if we turn back to God through Jesus, he will hear us, save us, and heal the land (2Chr 7:14). God of the Sea contains just a couple of the testimonies of salvation that are coming out of tsunami regions, and many, I’m sure, will arise out from the mud of New Orleans and the spiritual bastions of Houston. We will hear of 'the Rock' (Jesus) lifting his people to set them above the flood waters, on a rock "that is higher than I" (Ps 40:2, 61:2).

But we don't need to just lie back and endure all that Satan throws at us! We can fight back! We can defeat him in the same way that he will ultimately be destroyed - by fire, the fire of our faith. I hear that ‘down south’ in Louisiana they have some pretty hot Cajun food. What the Kingdom of God needs is some pretty hot religion! Some faith on fire to rule in this world (Genesis 1:28, 2:15; Psalm 115:16), on fire to drive back the storm and the sea. Am I getting too radical here? It may be hard for some to hear ... reminders of King Canute, eh? Yeah. Why not? More like King Jesus (Matthew 17:20; John 14:12; Philippians 4:13 etc)! Satan, with Katrina, struck the eastern end of ‘refinery row’, where a line of oil refineries produce 25% of America’s supply, then he turned his 'power of the blowing' to the western end, at Houston/ Galveston, with Rita. Praise the Lord, Houston's church was awake and watching! We at Heavenfire Ministries were joining with them in faith for their deliverance. I believe we'll see that the good brothers and sisters of Texas learned a lesson from Katrina. They awoke (had they been sleeping?). I believe we'll see that they used their spiritual responsibility, authority, and power, Texas did something about the coming storm!

Awake, awake, O Zion! Clothe yourself with strength! Such occurences aren't ‘natural’ phenomena or ‘acts of God’. This isn’t a battle against neutral world weather forces, even less so against politicians who build (or don’t build) levees. It’s a spiritual battle, Satan is increasingly coming against us. but we have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

1) Diggory Press, 2005, available at www.diggorypress.com, amazon, borders, barnes & noble etc. or on our TheShop page