Volume. XXXIV, No. 36
Sunday, 08 March 2020

From the Pastor’s Heart: While We Have Time and Opportunities

Jared Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California and a very popular author of many significant books.  I am not talking about him because he is a Christian author or that he is an influential Christian scholar.  I do not know of his religion, but my guess is that he may not be fond of Christian truths because of his evolutionary biology background.  Many years ago, someone introduced me to one of his books, Guns, Germs, and Steel, which truly impressed me very much.  It is probably a proper expression that I was astounded by the amount of his knowledge and variety of his interests from humanities to science.  He wrote another book, which I just started to read, though I do not know when I will finish reading it, because there are a couple of other books I am currently very keen to finish.  Its title is, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.  I am not recommending you to read this book.  Probably, you will not take any interest in it, because it has 626 pages.  The previous book is not a short essay either.  According to the introduction of this book, “the author explores how climate change, the population explosion and political discord create the conditions for the collapse of civilization.  Environmental damage, climate change, globalization, rapid population growth, and unwise political choices were all factors in the demise of societies around the world, but some found solutions and persisted.” 


I am not writing this article to talk about the author or his views on environmental or global warming issues.  But rather, I found an interesting point he made in the book, which could be a good source for our consideration, if not food for thought.  Concerning climate change, he says, “Climate change was even more of a problem for past societies with short human lifespans and without writing than it is today (Initially, I was shocked at this claim, because I thought climate change was a modern day issue).  Climate in many parts of the world tends to vary, not just from year to year but also on a multi-decade time scale, e.g. several wet decades followed by a dry half-century.  In many prehistoric societies the mean human generation time – average number of years between births of parents and of their children – was only a few decades.  Hence, towards the end of a string of wet decades, most people alive could have had no firsthand memory of the previous period of a dry climate.  Even today, there is a human tendency to increase production and population during good decades, forgetting (or, in the past, never realizing) that such decades were unlikely to last.  When the good decades do end, society finds itself with a larger population than can be supported, or with ingrained habits unsuitable for the new climate conditions.  (Just think today of the dry U.S. West and its urban or rural policies of profligate water use, often drawn up in wet decades on the tacit assumption that they were typical.)”  Today, we have a sort of “relief mechanism” that helps the areas developing food shortages.  However, there was no such  mechanism in olden days. 


This does not mean that we can solve all the problems our world suffers by devising some kind of support mechanism all the time.  Even if we have a relief mechanism to help one another, our resources will not be available for ever.  Diamond says of a volcanic eruption of Indonesia’s Mt. Tambora on April 5, 1815,  “This eruption injected so much dust into the upper atmosphere that the amount of sunlight reaching the ground decreased until the dust settled, causing widespread famines even in North America and Europe due to cold temperatures and reduced crop yields in the summer of 1816 (‘the year without a summer.’)”  What he is saying is that the world may suffer because of climate change but it is not always the case that climate has to be blamed for all problems.  People have mismanaged the environment, including the manufacturing of toxic chemicals and overuse of resources without considering the years when the same level of availabilities of such resources may come to an end, which can be exemplified by the depletion of water sources or fish population.  We must not ignore the human factors contributing to all disasters and collapse of industrial civilizations.  When there is abundance, people get used to misuse or overuse of what they have.  They are not ready for the days, years, or decades of shortages of such resources in the coming years. 


When I bring these observations to our spiritual life and future journey to the heavenly Zion, I cannot but find many similarities.  We are living in abundance today.  We are not under oppression or persecution like the days of the apostles and Church fathers, or even during medieval times (I exclude some countries from this blessed assertion).  We do not lack printed Bibles, but there is probably an oversupply of all kinds of Bibles.  There are commentaries, devotional books, free digital books, and lots of websites providing us with easily accessible Christian materials.  There is free information overflowing everywhere, which could lead us to know God and His truths better.  Nonetheless, Christian churches are not growing, and we cannot say that Christians today are more spiritual than Christians in the past. 


As climate change and environmental exploitation by humans bring famine and sudden collapse of societies and civilizations, so the Bible warns of spiritual climate change and exploitation, which will bring down many into spiritual pain and suffering.  God warned Israel of the famine in the land (1 Kings 8:37; 2 Kings 6:25).  However, my focus now is more than drought and famine in the land, but spiritual famine and drought.  Amos 8:11 says, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”  I call it “collapse,” spiritual collapse.  People will suffer hunger, not for bread, suffer thirst, not for water, but for hearing the words of the LORD.  Hunger for the words of the LORD implies that there is a search, search for God’s Word.  There is a pang, pain for this hunger.  It is a consequence of spiritual climate change, I believe.


The fact that there was hunger and thirst for hearing the words of the Lord, indicates that the people called by the name of the Lord experienced spiritual collapse.  The children of Israel had all the opportunities to hear God’s Words not only from the written law of Moses and kings’ chronicles but also from the prophets of God.  They had opportunities to hear the words directly spoken to them in the name of God.  However, they refused to listen to Him and disobeyed Him.  Their disobedience did not mean removing the worship of Him in the temple or temples (if this is the case of northern Israel).  It did not mean that they did not practice religious duties, including prayers and keeping religious festivals.  Their life and religion could not be separated.  Their life was a reflection of their religion, and vice versa.  In the forms of all the religious worship and practice, one thing was missing, which was “to hear the words of the Lord.”  Finally, realisation hit them hard and they turned about and wanted to hear His words, but…. 


Amos 8:12-13 says, “And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it. 13 In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.”  When they had opportunities to hear, they refused, which led them further and further away from God.  Collapse!  When they sought for the privilege of hearing again, they could not find it anymore.  Are we in the course of collapse?  Beware, while we have time and opportunities to hear His Words. 




Your pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Easter Family Bible Camp registration forms available in the Foyer. Early Bird Special ends next Lord’s Day. Final registration 29 Mar. Please submit forms & payment to Sisters Jasmine Tanuwijaya or Sherilyn Wong at the registration table set up in the Fellowship Hall.
  • Basic Bible Knowledge (Eng) class will start soon. Those looking for baptism or membership transfer are required to complete the class. Please contact Dn Kevin Low for details.
  • Rev Jack Sin will be our guest speaker on Sun, 22 Mar & will also deliver a lecture on cults during Adult Sunday School. He will also be speaking to the YAF on Fri, 20 Mar on the topic of “The 4 Imperatives of the Christian Life.”
  • Seniors’ Fellowship meeting & lunch on Thu, 26 Mar at 10:30 am at the Fellowship Hall.
  • Auscare (Unley) Visitation Sun, 29 Mar at 2:30 pm. Please inform Bro Zach Liang or Sis Sally Teng if you wish to participate.
  • Lunch Duty: Today: Neighbourhood Groups. Next week: YAF.


Looking Ahead

  • Easter Family Bible Camp, 10 – 13 Apr.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily guidance, protection & providence.
  • Church visitors & activities in the past week.
  • Journey mercies: Dn Jason & Sis Tabitha Tan & Joel & Joey (S’pore);  others who have travelled.



  • Healing: Rev George van Buuren; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); and others who are sick.
  • Missions – Possible exposure to COVID-19: Sis Ang Liang Phoa & family.
  • COVID-19 virus – those afflicted & affected.
  • Journey mercies: Those who are travelling.



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041