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  • Writer's pictureDwight Smith

Does Catastrophe Help Us?

“And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1, esv).

forest fires

We see here that God made sure his both-and mandate for Judea and Samaria began. By bringing a disaster to the body of Christ, He made certain that the church scattered as refugees from Jerusalem into these locations: “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ” (Acts 8:4-5, esv).

The persecution then took the disciples beyond Judea and Samaria to further parts of the earth: “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews” (Acts 11:19, esv).

This scattering of the church had a two-fold purpose. First, it forced them out of their secure nest and into the larger world with the gospel message. Second, it reminded Christ’s followers that they will never be citizens of this world: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20).

If God remains consistent in how he has acted throughout history, we should understand that God will continue to bring about catastrophe to the world and to the church. The reason is that the remaining task of completing the Great Commission is not yet complete. Second, we are pilgrims on our journey to heaven, and we need to be continuously reminded that this present world is not our home.

Joel Richardson and Nathan Grave

The mystery of catastrophe

Joel’s trumpet website from free resources


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