On Sept. 21, 1989, I went out to dinner with my husband and two of our friends. It was a beautiful, balmy evening with a summer-like temperature in the 80s. I remember standing outside in the restaurant’s parking lot after dinner and looking at the crystal clear evening sky with the fading colors of the sunset.
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I remarked that unless a person had been listening to the weather reports, no one would have any idea a hurricane was poised to hit within 24 hours.
But it did! Within 12 hours of that observation, Hugo—a category 4 hurricane—hit Charleston, S.C., then roared inland at a 90 degree angle that went full speed straight through my state of North Carolina.
By the time it had dissipated into a tropical storm on Sept. 22, 34 people were dead, 100,000 were homeless, and a bill for $10 billion in damages added up to the costliest U.S. storm to date.
Once again, I see storm clouds gathering on the horizon. Not the meteorological kind, but clouds warning us that God’s patience is running out. Judgment is coming.
READ MATTHEW 24:36-51
The Self-Delusion Before the Storm:
- To what world event did Jesus compare the days immediately prior to His Second Coming?
- Give three or more signs of the approaching storm of God’s judgment in Genesis 6:1-13.
- What warnings were the people of Noah’s day given? Read Genesis 6:7; 2 Peter 2:5-10.
- How did the people of Noah’s day respond? Read Matthew 24:38.
- What was wrong with how they responded?
- What similarities do you see between the response to storm warnings in Noah’s day and that of the end of the age? See 2 Peter 3:3-7; 2 Timothy 3:1-4.
- How did the Ninevites respond to storm warnings? See Jonah 3:3-10.
- How was God’s response to the Ninevites a fulfillment of His promise in Joel 2:13-14?
- What warnings do you see today of an approaching “storm?”
- How did Jesus use the example of storm clouds to rebuke those who were self-deluded? Read Luke 12:54-56.
- How are people in general responding to the storm warnings today? How are you responding?
The Suddenness of the Storm:
- Give the phrase Jesus used to describe the suddenness of the storm. Read Matthew 24:39.
- Explain in your own words the example that Jesus used to emphasize the suddenness of His judgment. Read Matthew 24:40-41.
- What phrases describe the surprising suddenness of God’s judgment in the following verses? Genesis 7:11; 19:14-15, 24; Joshua 6:2-5, 20; Isaiah 29:5-6; Luke 12:40; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53; 2 Peter 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3.
- Will God’s judgment on our nation and world catch you by surprise? What do you need to do to get ready so that you are not caught by surprise?
The Seriousness of Storm-Watching:
- What do you think Jesus meant by “keep watch” in Matthew 24:42? What does it mean in 1 Chronicles 12:32; Luke 12:56 and Acts 17:11?
- Why is watching important? Read Matthew 24:42-44; Luke 12:35-40; Matthew 24:48-51.
- What are some practical things you can do to “keep watch?” Read Revelation 1:3; 1 Peter 4:7.
- When ultimate judgment falls at the end of the age, what does Jesus want to find you and me doing? See Matthew 24:45-47; John 4:35-36; 9:4.
- If judgment falls and/or Jesus returns in the next five minutes, what will He find you doing? What will you wish He had found you doing?
- What difference should serious storm-watching make in our personal lives? Read 2 Peter 3:11, 14, 17-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8.
- Would you choose to live your life with a minimum of regret from this day forward?
The Shelter During the Storm:
- In what four ways is God described to a believer when the storm breaks out? Read Psalm 46.
- How did Noah experience shelter in the midst of world judgment? Read Genesis 7:11-13, 23.
- What is a believer’s hope when the storm of judgment falls? See Joel 3:16; 2 Peter 2:4-9.
- What specific encouragement does Paul give in 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11?
- Give the promise that is the most encouraging to you from Psalm 91. Claim it in prayer.
God told the Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel, “I have made you a watchman … so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me” (Ezekiel 3:17). Unless we as a church—God’s people—humble ourselves, seek God’s face, pray and repent of our sin, the storm of God’s judgment will come. Suddenly. On us and on our nation. May the God who is the refuge and strength of His people have mercy on us.
©2016 Anne Graham Lotz
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.