By Syed Shahabuddin
July 13, 2020
Muslims believe in one God who created the universe and has power over everything within it. He is unique and exalted above everything He creates, and His greatness cannot be compared to His creation. Muslims believe that Allah is the Almighty, Creator, and Sustainer of the universe, who is similar to none, and nothing is comparable to Him. “Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the Guardian and Disposer of all affairs. To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth: and those who reject the Signs of Allah, – it is they who will be in loss.” [Al-Qur’ a 39:62-63]
Keltz (2010) has written that “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD) is the view that God created humanity with the primary goal of providing for humans and making them happy. MTD can be summarized with five statements:
God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth.
God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
God does not need to be mainly involved in one’s life, except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
Good people go to heaven when they die.”
Oh, God! I, who believe in you and know, as stated above, that you had a purpose for creating this universe, you know what is going on, and I am sure that you know this world is in turmoil. However, I cannot understand whether this what you want, but who am I to question your judgment? I am sure you know the condition of the people, the earth, and the creatures you have put on this universe. Regardless, the world is in turmoil, and everyone is suffering.
Now, the world is facing a pandemic of Covid-19 that currently has no cure. Millions of people are out of jobs, and in many places, children cannot go to school, people are locked up in their houses, economies are shattered, governments are borrowing money they can never repay, and refugees and asylum seekers are locked up faced with the prospect of capturing Covid-19 with no place to run to or be treated as human beings. Hunger is widespread, and poverty is on the rise. Children cannot be educated, raising the prospects of their becoming future criminals or poor and dependent persons. Terrorism is on the rise, and people do not feel safe. We see a strong possibility of civil war between or among races. People live in fear for their family, their future, and humanity. I hope, Oh God, that you do not want these terrible things, but do you?
If this is not what you want, then are these signs indicating the end of the world? Many believe the Malthusian theory of population control, which says that there will be a higher population than the availability of food, and many people will die from the shortage of food. The theory may not apply today due to the advancement of technology, which has made it possible to grow more food than needed by the population. However, if one looks at history, nature has used many methods to control the population. They range from earthquakes, hurricanes, diseases, fires, floods, wars, and civil unrest. Is Covid-19 another tool used to control the population?
Regardless of the cause of the disease, people are suffering and dying with no end in sight. Further, governments and people are desperate and are looking for solutions that have yet to be found. Therefore, does it mean that suffering will continue? The question is: Is this what you want, God?
Mangum (2020) has asked, “Is this pandemic God’s judgment against us?” He suggests that the question is hard to answer. However, one may wonder: are we under either the blessings and curses of theocratic Israel or the apocalyptic doom of Revelation? But he suggests that he see patterns of biblical teaching indicative of God’s ongoing engagement in the affairs of human life and his willingness to use extreme measures to accomplish his purposes.
This pandemic is a clear indication of the seriousness of God’s demand for repentance and receives any discipline God may intend as coming from the hand of my loving Father
The Bible says when confronted with disaster, Scripture calls us to look to God for both comfort and self-censure. Prophets from Moses to Malachi point to sin and the need for repentance as reasons behind various disasters. Likewise, John the Baptist and Jesus launch the New Testament with prophetic warnings and calls to repentance. Apostle Paul says, “the wrath of God is being revealed … against all ungodliness and unrighteousness” (1:18, ESV). When chastising the Corinthians for desecrations of the Lord’s Supper, Paul warns, “why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep [have died]” (1 Cor. 11:30). Paul labels sickness and death as a “judgment” (v. 29), even for these New Testament believers. Hebrews 12, citing Proverbs, tells believers in the same vein, “‘do not regard the discipline of the Lord lightly … for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant” (Heb. 12:5, 11, ESV).
Mangum (2020) writes that, “It is important to clarify that God’s wrath comes with mercy (Hab. 3:2; 1 Chron. 21:13). We can discern his mercy in the pattern of smaller catastrophes preceding greater ones, granting an opportunity for repentance sooner rather than paying larger consequences later. The ten plagues of Egypt increased in severity in part because, early on, Pharaoh and his people “did not listen,” but rather “turned and went into his house with no concern even for this.” (Ex. 7:22–23, NASB). How quick are we to dismiss extraordinary acts of God as quirks of nature, forces we can harness with enough resilience and resourcefulness? Scripture labels this mindset hardening the heart (Ex. 8:19; Prov. 28:14). It is dangerous.”
Some do not see these signs as a signal by God’s unhappiness with us and demand prophetic confirmation of any divine judgment. But Mangum (2020) has written that,” given the full and clear teaching of canonical Scripture at our stage in redemptive history, we are owed no more prophetic confirmation than the rebuff of such expectation at the end of Jesus’ parable about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:27–31).”
Sadly, God has sent many warnings about human behavior; each has sounded loud notes of biblical warnings. Jeremiah expressed God’s frustration at how his people stubbornly closed their ears to (mostly unnamed) prophets “sent again and again” (Jer. 25:4, 29:19). Perhaps this indicts us, too.
Magnum (2020) writes that, “God may disrupt the human cycle of selfishness by awful means and call us to account. Global pandemics thankfully are rare, but when they do occur, they usually spread through trade routes of prosperous, powerful nations—inherently prone to the prideful pursuit of profits and indifference toward God (Deut. 8:10–14). Is this pandemic part of a larger pattern? Consider other catastrophes that have struck North America over the past 20 years.” The question is: are we so tone-deaf to write off a warning as mere acts of nature, or shouldn’t we rather ask if we could be under divine judgment? The answer is “God opposes the proud and uses catastrophe to undermine arrogance. James (4:13–17) calls out the “sin” of living life as functional atheists, operating as though God is paying us no real attention, presuming our security lies simply in planning and protecting our profits” (Magnum, 2020). Therefore, “If this pandemic is a judgment from God, our response should not be to point a sanctimonious finger at others but to lament and repent, with prayers like unto Daniel (9:3–19), where the person of God owns and confesses ‘our sins’ and pleads for God to ‘forgive us’ (2 Chron. 6:36–39, 7:12–14).”
Followers of any religion are not to blame others but to look inward in ourselves and repent. In addition, to understand that the purpose of humanity is to relieve suffering, mourn with the grieving, care for the sick, encourage the weak, and comfort the afflicted as we ask for God’s mercy. This pandemic is a clear indication of the seriousness of God’s demand for repentance and receives any discipline God may intend as coming from the hand of my loving Father.
I guess I am wrong, and as is obvious, God, you are watching and are sending a signal that the world is heading toward a disaster and want us to change our lives or expect more disasters if we continue on the same path.
Syed Shahabuddin is PhD (USA), Professor Emeritus (USA)
Original Headline: Oh, God! are you watching?
Source: The Daily Times, Pakistan
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