Is God Punishing Japan?

Justin Johnson

This article was written just after a tsunami devastated Japan in March of 2011.

One of the largest earthquakes in history occurred near Japan causing a 20 foot tsunami to sweep cars and buildings off the Japanese coasts like children’s toys. The damage has affected multiple nuclear power plants causing wide spread panic. A few days later a volcano exploded and hundreds of aftershocks have occurred. People all over the world mourn the deaths of thousands with thousands more missing.

After every natural disaster there are those who in the name of religion explain a connection between the disaster and God’s wrath. Mystical religions say that it is Mother Nature’s response to pollution. Monotheistic religions say that it is God punishing for sins. Mormon television pundits say it could be a message from God.

Those who believe in God know that God is powerful to control nature. They also know that God hates sin. Japan is known for their large population of non-Christian and irreligious people. Their conclusion: God punishes Japan. But, they would be wrong.

The Bible Rightly Divided Has the Answer

People come to wrong conclusions about what God is doing today because they do not understand how to rightly divide the Bible. It is not enough to know what God could do, or has done at some time in the past; we must know what he is doing now. This is where dispensational Bible study is useful.

The Bible, rightly divided, says this about God’s attitude towards the earth in this dispensation:

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” – 2 Cor 5:19

Christ died for our sins. He took God’s wrath towards us upon himself two thousand years ago. In this dispensation God is not imputing trespasses to people, but offering all men reconciliation with him. Paul describes his attitude and his offer as “grace and peace”.

He is not punishing Japan today, neither is he punishing you. He is offering free salvation before the future eternal judgment on sin.

God Not in the Earthquake

The Bible explains that God is not always in natural disasters. He was not in the earthquakes near Japan either. That the earthquake and tsunami did not come from God neither diminishes his power nor his love. Neither does it give evidence to the ludicrous notion that he doesn’t exist.

“… but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire:…” – 1 Kings 19:11-12

The recent disasters occurred because of a broken creation which causes tectonic plates to shift. They are such a tragedy to our fragile lives. Yet, God has offered deliverance from this present evil and tragedy filled world.

“ Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:” – Gal 1:4

What is God Doing?

Human life is fragile. People all over the world have responded to helping the lives remaining in Japan, and rightly so. Perhaps you should prayerfully consider helping with their physical needs. One day things can get physically better for the Japanese.

Yet, people have died, and death is eternal. God is offering eternal life and salvation. He has been offering it for two thousand years in rain, sun, snow, and disaster. People reject it, then they ask “where is God?” when tragedy strikes. Many people hear the gospel for the first time in a tragedy. Some trust it and gain eternal peace with God (Rom 5:1). Others look at it and say, “it is not enough, why didn’t God prevent the deaths!”

Every day thousands of people silently die across the world of natural causes. They die without any large outcries from callous humanity. Just silent long and painful deaths from cancer, disease, hunger, and other ailments. All of us are dying. God sees the world and sees that we are dying. He provides what we all need: eternal life. The continual tragedy is that people reject the gospel in times of peace and health. They are not prepared for death and sudden disaster.

When sudden tragedy strikes it is hard to know what to do. It is right to grieve and comfort those that mourn (Rom 12:15, 2 Cor 1:4). You bring the diapers and food. God has provided the eternal hope and consolation. If you’re his ambassador bring God’s salvation and consolation with you to the charity.

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18

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Published: March 19, 2011
Last Modified: November 16, 2019
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