Literally anything can be insured today. Your health, your life, your car, your house, these have long been insurable. But now anything you can buy on Amazon comes with an optional protection plan. Asurion and SquareTrade will sell you piece of mind for any device imaginable. No matter what happens, you’re in good hands. These ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ plans promise to fix anything and everything for any reason. Once plan declares,
…you’re covered from day one for damage caused by common accidents, including: knocking it off a table, dropping it in water, your dog chewing on it
[we] cover your device from all electrical and mechanical failures, including battery replacements if the original battery won’t hold at least a 50% charge. Drop it? Spill on it? No worries. We cover accidents caused by you and people you know.
Sounds like absolute security! But, like all things legal and financial, read the fine print. Theft, loss, and ‘intentional damage’ is not covered, along with other vague categories of disaster which create large liability loopholes. And the list of coverage exceptions always ends with the coup de grace of limited liability, ‘Acts of God.’
Acts of God are serious. No insurance can or will protect us from them. There are things in life that just happen. Things we expect. Things which, though disastrous, we have come to expect. But acts of God are those things so catastrophic and unexpected that they get our existential attention.
For example, in 1755 an earthquake struck off the coast of Portugal triggering a Tsunami which ignited a massive firestorm in the city of Lisbon. The consequences were devastating. The death and destruction triggered by this act of God ignited an existential firestorm. Enlightenment philosophers and churchmen fiercely debated the goodness of God and whether this world constitutes the “best of all possible worlds.”
There are things in our lives that just happen, and then there are acts of God. Those are the things that confront us with the deep existential questions and keep us up at night. Does God exist? What kind of God is he? What does he demand or expect of me? Is he pleased or displeased with me? Can I know the answers to any of these questions? If so, how?
God has a plan and a purpose for the world. The Book of Revelation pictures this plan as a scroll sealed with seven seals. No mere man can open it or look into it. The only one found worthy is the Lamb slain, who yet lives – the Lord Jesus Christ. As he opens the seals in Revelation 6, we see a series of events that, for the most part, are a part of the common experience of men throughout history: conquest, bloodshed, famine, injustice, and persecution. These things are devastating, but not unexpected. They will sometimes draw men’s attention to the greater reality of God and our relation to him, but often men’s focus is more earthbound in such times.
But in Revelation 8, Jesus opens the final seal and reveals the contents of the scroll. The judgements found there move from common experiences of men to remarkable acts of God. While God’s providence extends to all his creatures and all their actions, some providences reveal more clearly his active agency in our lives. Acts of God get our attention. They provoke deeper questions than, “how do I survive.” They provoke us to recognize God’s existence, nature, authority. And to wrestle with our relationship to him.
But even in the dramatic judgements of Revelation 8, we see the grace of God shining through the terror the first four trumpets. God acts in ways similar to the plagues against Egypt, signs given to warn men to abandon their false gods and to find deliverance in the Living God alone. Signs that also warn us not to harden our hearts and flee from the Lamb. But to flee to Him.
The use of trumpets for these acts of God is significant. Trumpets in the Bible are used to signify many things: a call to battle, a warning of impending attack, to call Sons of Israel to the feasts, but the most significant use is to declare the year of Jubilee – to declare freedom for the captive and release from slavery. The trumpets of judgement that begin to blow in Revelation 8 are acts of God that warn us and call us to flee to and not from God for deliverance from the slavery of sin and the righteous judgement we deserve. These trumpets call us flee to the Lamb who was slain, who “by His blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
When acts of God occur, we begin to ask questions. But are we seeking answers? In these trumpets, God is warning us to return to Him. As the unfolding narrative of Revelation everywhere declares, “in wrath, He remembers mercy.” Are you listening? Will you flee from the wrath of the Lamb or flee to the Lamb in the midst of the throne who will be your shepherd, who will guide you to springs of living water and wipe away every tear from your eyes. Join us this week as we examine Revelation 8 and consider God’s gracious warning to us through his undeniable acts of judgement.
We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm, outside on The Pavilion at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube. For the Order of Service, click here.
Photo by Josep Castells on Unsplash