When trying to understand and explain a catastrophe, please remember this from Luke 13 that Jesus said “unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Lk 13:3,5).
In Luke Chapter 13 some people came and reported it to Jesus that Pilate had slaughtered some Galileans and mingled their blood in with the sacrifices being made to him. This is thought to relate historically with what Josephus said about the Galileans that they were a wicked people.
Jesus answered the people by asking if they supposed these Galileans to be greater sinners than all the rest? To me, this question from Jesus was confronting the idea that the Galileans sinned and brought this upon themselves. To ask them, “do you suppose”, is a challenge to what they are thinking. Jesus answers and says that, no the Galileans are not greater Sinners than all of the rest. Therefore in that
instance, it would be wrong to conclude that the Galileans brought this fate upon themselves since as Jesus did not defend such an assumption.
I’m not suggesting that God can’t bring judgment upon Galileans through this means, but only that Jesus seems to be warning against us making that judgement.
What does Jesus want us to focus on instead of this? Jesus says to the people who made the report that they too will perish if they do not repent. The focus here should not be on the Galileans on whether or not they repented, since Jesus did not assign their fate to sin; but the focus should be on all men perishing who do not repent of their sins.
“4 Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5“I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Lk 13:4-5).
Jesus then brought up his own example of people perishing when a tower fell upon them. They perished but there was no blame assigned to their fate. This example that Jesus brings up seems to establish the point that everyone is going to perish who does not repent, which will be divine judgment because of personal sin.
In the wake of the terrible flood that hit South Texas (Aug, 2017), it is tempting to assign a Divine judgment to it. Could a hurricane and flood be an act of God to punish and wake people up? Yes, the scriptures show many times that God has used rain, hail, storms, floods, droughts, winds and much more to mete out his judgment on sinful people. It’s not wise for us to single out a specific catastrophe and assign it to be an act of divine judgment – even if it could be the case.
One thing that is clear from Luke 13 and the message to learn is how we will likewise perish if we do not repent. Are the people in Houston greater Sinners than all the rest of men? Probably not. Could the terrible flood be an act of God? Yes, it certainly could be. But it is unwise to assign any such judgment to it. So instead let us take home the message that if we do not repent of our sins we will perish as some have in Houston.

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