Saturday, 20 August 2016

Bible for Emergency Workers

Regular readers will probably have twigged that I'm a bit of a bible-thumper.  I started wondering what particular passages might be relevant to my other passion: emergency work.
The SES's core responsibilities are storms, floods, earthquakes and tsunamis.  The Bible turned out to say quite a few things to say about each.  Regarding storms -
A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.  And they went and woke him up, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!".  And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?"  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a dead calm.  They were amazed, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him? (Matthew 8:24-27; see also Mark 4:37-40 and Luke 8:23-25).
Picking a verse for flood was hardly difficult.  After the great flood of Noah, God promised that "never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth" (Genesis 9:11).

An earthquake accompanied Jesus' death on the Cross  "At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  The earth shook, and the rocks were split" (Matthew 27:51)

Finding a verse for tsunami was more difficult.  The one I found is also suited to a comet strike, but a catastrophic wave is also hinted at -
The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea.  A third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed (Revelation 8:8-9.).
As well as these core functions, a large part of the Service's work is road crash rescue.  The Scriptures actually seem to require this sort of rescue: "You shall not see your neighbour's donkey or ox fallen on the road and ignore it; you shall help to lift it up" (Deuteronomy 22:4).  It makes sense that if we're required to rescue someone's beast of burden from an accident on the road, we're even more required to rescue other people!

Finally, we're regularly asked to carry out land and water searches when people have gone missing.  The last two searches I've been to ended with the missing person being found deceased.  This is a sad ending; I try to remind myself that our role is simply to find the person.
On the next day ... Judas and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kindred in the sepulchres of their ancestors .... He also took up a collection ... and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering.  In doing this he acted very well and honourably (2 Maccabees 12:39-43)
If we have find the person alive, it's a great outcome.  If we haven't, then we've allowed them to be returned to their loved ones so that they may do what they consider right.

Disasters - natural and otherwise - are sometimes called Acts of God.  Why a loving God would commit such acts is one of the tougher questions of philosophy, but one can't ignore the verses from Matthew 27 and Revelation above.  Well and good.  But Matthew 8, and Deuteronomy and Maccabees tell us something more encouraging.  When we go to relieve the effects of disasters or accidents, we can be sure we're doing the best thing we can possibly do.

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