On July 17th, a tsunami, triggered by a magnitude 7.7 undersea earthquake, smashed into a 110-mile stretch of Java’s coastline in Indonesia. Waves more than 6 feet high reached 200 yards inland in some places, destroying scores of houses, restaurants and hotels. Cars, motorbikes and boats were left mangled amid fishing nets, furniture and other debris. Five days later the death toll had topped 500 with hundreds still missing.

19 months earlier 216,000 people died after a powerful tsunami caught Indonesia and other countries off guard. They were not aware of the fast moving killer wave that would cause such loss and devastation. No warning system was in place. Officials vowed to immediately establish a warning system

But on July 17th the country was in fact warned. A tsunami alert was issued by both the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and Japan’s Meteorological Agency. So what happened? Why did 500+ people perish?

The Minister of Science and Technology, Kusmayanto Kadiman addressed this issue from Jakarta. He said Government received the bulletins about 45 minutes before the tsunami hit but “we did not announce them because we did not want to cause unnecessary alarm.

If the tsunami did not occur, what would have happened?” Kadiman asked the reporters. (1)

It is hard to imagine that officials would receive the warning alert but choose not to broadcast it to the people most likely to be affected. The excuse of worrying over causing unnecessary alarm seems like a lame one in light of what happened in 2004. Far better to receive the warning and take all the necessary precautions than to have the warning withheld resulting in massive tragic loss.

People might not like the warnings in the Bible. They may find the subject of coming judgment, punishment for sin and the danger of eternal damnation very disturbing. Some may refuse to listen to it. But every Christian has a duty to pass along the warnings of Scripture, even if people find it alarming and distasteful. Anyone who stands behind a pulpit or professes to be a spiritual adviser but fails to faithfully warn the listeners of the consequences of their sin, is far more negligent than a politician who is afraid to upset the people unnecessarily.

Here are some warnings from the Bible.

  • The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
  • God now commands all people everywhere to repent: because He has appointed a day when He will judge the world in righteousness by that man (Jesus) whom He has ordained; whereof He has given assurance unto all, in that He raised Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31.
  • Flee from the wrath to come.” Matthew 3:7
  • He that believes on the Son has everlasting life; and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36
  • But the cowards, and unbelieving and the abominable and murderers and fornicators and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8.
  •  “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15

Those are the warnings. What about safety and salvation? That’s what the Bible is all about. Jesus Christ is the safe hiding place. He died for our sins. He took all by Himself the wrath of God our sins deserved. He suffered, bled and died. Today, He wants to rescue you from your sins and from coming judgment. He says: “Come unto me, all you that labour and are carrying a heavy burden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Jesus said:
Truly, truly I say unto you, He that hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into judgment; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24

You have heard the Bible’s warning. It has been announced to you. Are you going to take urgent measures to find shelter and safety? Will you turn to Christ today?

(1) CBC News, Jakarta Didn’t Sound Tsunami Alert, Fearing ‘Unnecessary Alarm’, July 18, 2006