Aftermaths of God

I, Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days’ ~ Daniel 8:27

I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground’ ~ Daniel 10:8-9

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead’ ~ Revelation 1:17

My heart is broken within me; all my bones tremble. I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the Lord and His holy words‘ ~ Jeremiah 23:9

When we walk through dark alleys and evil seems to be prevailing, we catch a glimpse of light. Of God. David rightly says, ‘my God turns my darkness into light’ (Psalm 18:28). When we go through the roaring storm, we catch a hint of calm. Of God. We get to know that it is God ‘who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters’ (Isaiah 43:16). When the furnace becomes too hot for us and our faith and hopes seem to melt away, we sense a cool wind blowing. We sense God. Like the three Hebrew boys thrown into the fiery pit, we see another man with us, one who ‘looks like the Son of God’ (Daniel 3:25). For, ‘Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages’ (Psalm 50:3). When we are in the valley of death, amidst our despair and hopelessness, an urge to live on arises. God arises. We come to realize that, ‘The Lord is God of the hills’ (1 Kings 20:28), and ‘God of the valleys’ (v28) too. Like David, we can say that, ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me’ (Psalm 23:4). In the seismic activities that shake us up, threaten to waste us away, and seek to tear us down, if we are careful enough to take time and be still and observe, we will feel faint vibrations of God amidst the chaos and destructive forces. God even assures, ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour’ (Isaiah 43:2-3).

The aftermaths of God are felt everywhere and in all things, because ‘Christ is all, and is in all’ (Colossians 3:11). When He created the heavens, the earth and everything in them, fragments of Him were left. Paul says, ‘For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse’ (Romans 1:20). The heartbeat of God lies in everything He created, so that His aftermaths are felt eons later, as one generation gives way to another. When the Flood covered the whole earth and ‘waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet’ (Genesis 7:20), ‘Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out’ (v23). It was only Noah and those with him in the ark that were left. When the waters receded after ‘a hundred and fifty days’ (v24), Noah sent out a raven to see if the water had dried up. When the water had receded to a considerable amount, Noah then ‘sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground’ (v8), but it returned because there was still water on the surface, and so ‘could find no place to set its feet’ (v9). Noah was sending out the dove so that he could catch a glimpse of God’s restoration in the aftermath of the Flood. After seven days, he sent out the dove again and ‘When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf!’ (v11). There was restoration. There was God! And so, ‘Noah knew that water had receded from the earth’ (v11). Noah who had known that God was in the Ark, now knew that God was outside of it too, in the Flood – because he felt and saw His aftermaths.

Unlike Noah who sought out God’s aftermaths, Jonah was trying to escape them. He tried to escape God. ‘He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went abroad and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord’ (Jonah 1:3). Jonah probably thought that in Tarshish, God’s constant voice telling him to preach against Nineveh would not be heard. But God was about to make Jonah feel His aftermaths in the wildest of places. So ‘the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights’ (v17). Forget Tarshish, one would think that God’s aftermaths simply cannot be felt in the belly of a fish. But Jonah learns otherwise and exclaims, ‘From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry’ (2:v2). Jonah who was buried deep into the sea and in the belly of a fish, now knew that God was inescapable. His aftermaths could be felt even there and so Jonah says, ‘When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to your holy temple’ (v7). Jonah now clearly knew that God’s aftermaths can be felt in Joppa, Tarshish, and even in the belly of a fish!

For those who try to escape from God like Jonah did, He asks, ‘Am I only a God nearby, and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ (Jeremiah 23:23-24). David resounds to this question with a negative when he remarks to God, ‘Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast’ (Psalm 139:7-10). David continues, ‘If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light will become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you’ (v11-12). Clearly, the aftermaths of God are inescapable, no matter where one may be or where they go. God ‘hem(s) us in –  behind and before’ (v5), so that Job asks, ‘What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment? Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant? . . . O watcher of men?’ (Job 7:17-19, 20). Job realizes that aftermaths of God are felt in everything, even in hardships.

The aftermaths of God are also felt so that one can allow Him into their life. They are like knocks to the doors of our hearts. The sooner one realizes that, the better. God wants His aftermaths to be felt more assuredly, and so seeks to dwell in us. This is because His aftermaths are better felt when one allows them to penetrate into their hearts. Jesus says, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is’, because the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:20-21). Mankind, created ‘in the image of God’ (Genesis 1:27), ought to reclaim that image by accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour, after becoming convicted by the aftermaths of God in whichever way. Many, however, choose to ignore and harden their hearts to God’s promptings because, ‘how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?’ (Job 26:14). But those who by faith receive Jesus are the ones who get to understand and experience the thunder of His power. The aftermaths of God start to explode within them, because of the workings of the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit. That is why a Believer knows that ‘greater is he who is in you, than he that is in the world’ (1 John 4:4). But the wicked say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty that we should know him? What would we gain by praying to him?’ (Job 21:14-15).

Many, many bodies – flung everywhere! Silence!’ ~ Amos 8:3

The gaiety of the tambourines is stilled, the noise of the revellers has stopped, the joyful harp is silent. No longer do they drink wine with a song; the beer is bitter to its drinkers. The city of confusion is broken down; every house is shut up, that no man may come in. There is crying for wine in the streets; all joy is darkened, all gaiety banished from the earth‘ ~ Isaiah 24:8-11

Every stroke the Lord lays on them with his punishing rod will be to the music of tambourines and harps, as he fights them in battle with the blows of his arm’ ~ Isaiah 30:32