We were attending Faith Bible Church on Sunday evening, May 18, 1980, exactly 34 years ago yesterday. Before we went outside we noticed that it had become prematurely dark. In this part of the Mountain Time Zone, it doesn’t get dark this time of year until nearly 10 p.m. and church was from 7:00-8:00 p.m. As we left the church building, we noticed the sky was an eerie gray and then saw that our cars were covered with a powdery gray dust. What we hadn’t heard was that at 8:32 a.m. that morning (PDT), Mount St. Helens had blown its top, spewing tons of ash thousands of feet into the air. The prevailing winds took the ash on an eastward direction, dropping the gray silica dust all along the way, going even further east than here in NW Montana.
Geologists had been predicting the eruption and warned all who lived near the danger zone around the mountain to vacate. One elderly gentleman, a World War I veteran by the name of Harry Randall Truman (Oct. 30, 1896- May 18, 1980) refused to heed the warning. He had been caretaker of Mount St. Helens Lodge on the south end of Spirit Lake at the foot of the mountain for more than 50 years. He lived at the lodge along with his 16 cats. No amount of coaxing could get him to leave and on that Sunday morning 34 years ago, he and his cats and his lodge perished, buried by at least 150 feet of mud.
It seems that whenever warnings are given concerning a coming earthquake, wild-fire, tornado, hurricane, tsunami, etc, that there are always some who stubbornly refuse to leave their homes. Many of them end up having to be rescued or end up perishing–needlessly.
In the Bible, whenever God was going to send a judgment upon the earth and mankind, he gave a warning first. Before the world-wide flood that covered the whole globe, God warned people through his servant Noah as he built the strange barge over a period of 100 years or more. No one listened. Only Noah and his family and his daughters-in-law survived on the Ark.
God, through the Old Testament prophets, gave many warnings to His chosen people, the Israelites, of coming judgment if they didn’t repent. They had turned from Him and were serving false gods. But, for the most part they refused to repent. They ignored the prophets, or killed them to shut them up, and went on living in rebellion against the true God, Jehovah, and just as was prophesied, judgment came. The ten northern tribes of Israel were conquered by the Assyrians, and not long after, the southern tribes of Judah were conquered by Babylon. Although some got to later go back to their land and to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls and the beloved temple, the Romans destroyed it in 70 AD (as Jesus prophesied would happen) and today they have no temple. Instead, there is an Islamic Mosque.
Jesus and the writers of the New Testament also gave many warnings of the judgments to come upon this earth prior to Christ’s coming back to reign. Though no dates are given for when Christ will return (though many have unsuccessfully made predictions), there are all kinds of “signs” given for the coming end of the age in which we live. Jesus, for example, said “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars…for nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes…and many false prophets will arise and mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold” (Mt. 24:5-12). The Apostle Paul wrote: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods…” (I Tim. 4:1-3). “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power…always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Tim. 3:1-7). “I solemnly charge you…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires” (II Tim. 4:1-3).
The Apostle John also wrote of the events that will take place just prior to Christ’s return to judge the nations and to reign. They are recorded in the book of Revelation and I believe will take place after the Church is removed to heaven in what we term the “rapture,” or “catching-up” of the Bride of Christ, the Church (I Thes. 4:13-18). John speaks of three series of judgments which intensify in severity as they proceed from one to the next, culminating with Christ coming from heaven with His Saints and angels to judge the nations on earth which have gathered against Israel in a place called Armageddon (Rev. 19).
Even though God is always very patient, He is also just and holy, and for those individuals, and nations, which do not repent, and return to following Him, there will be judgment. The Apostle Peter warned, “The Lord is not slow about His promise (of His return), as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. BUT the day of the Lord (when He acts as judge) will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all this things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” (II Pet. 3: 9-12).
Nations will be judged for their treatment of the Jews and Christians and each individual will give an account before God (Ro. 14:12). Since we are all guilty sinners deserving of judgment, our only hope is to trust Jesus Christ and the work He did on our behalf at the Cross, where He bore our sins and was punished on our behalf, “that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…” (I Pet. 2:24). “He (God) made Him who knew no sin (Christ) to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21). By trusting Christ as our personal Savior, we are placed in Him and He in us, and “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro. 8:1....Praise God!).
I believe our nation is being warned by God in many ways of the need to repent and turn back to Him, just as Israel was warned. Will we heed the warning? How about as individuals? God is telling us it is time to awaken from our complacency and get serious about serving Him, about “making the most of our time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:18) and His return for the Church is imminent. Don’t stubbornly stay mired in your comfort zone like Harry R. Truman. Heed God’s warning that the time is short and let Jesus be Lord of your life in the time you have left, “inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Let’s help warn and rescue as many people as we can before it is too late.