Sunday, January 14, 2018

False Alarm: Hawaii's Close Call With a Ballistic Missile


Yesterday, the state of Hawaii fell into a state of panic. At 8:05 a.m, the state's 1.4 million residents and hundreds of thousands of visitors received on their cell phones the following alert: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL." The alert also blared on Hawaiian television stations.

People took screen shots of their phones and starting posting the pictures on social media. Islanders starting tweeting and texting their goodbyes. Parents lowered their children into storm drains. Friends and even complete strangers hugged in the streets and cried tears together.

Within twelve minutes of the alert, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard posted online that it was a false alarm. But it would take 38 minutes for another push-button notification to be sent out to everyone's cell phones informing islanders of the false alarm, and that there was no real danger.

What could possibly have been the cause of such a message? Very simply, it was human error. "A state emergency management employee apparently pushed the wrong button," reported Hawaii News Now. The state's emergency management was attempting to run a drill, but rather than a test, they accidentally ran the real thing.

Considering the rising tensions with North Korea, it's of little wonder why such testing would be so important. North Korea, under their tyrannical leader Kim Jong-un, has demonstrated their nuclear capability, not only by successfully detonating nuclear weapons but also launching an intercontinental missile that can reach Hawaii and further.

It's important to be safe, but surely the islanders were not happy about the unnecessary panic. The governor also expressed his frustration with the bungled drill. But all things considered, yesterday's false alarm could have been worse. A lot worse. And I'm not talking in the sense that it could have really been the real thing.

Had North Korea received word of the drill, which included the words, "This is not a drill," they might have assumed the United States was attempting to launch a preemptive strike. Maybe the U.S. wanted to alert their own residents of an inbound "ballistic missile threat" to prepare them for an inevitable retaliation.

This false alarm, this mistake, this error, could very well have provoked North Korea into launching a nuke. Like I said, it could have gone much, much worse. Praise the Lord that it wasn't.

I pray there are some strong evangelists on Hawaii's islands that are able to use this terrible experience to share the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ will a population of still-shaky people. What if yesterday had been the day you would die? What would have happened to you? Are you prepared to die? Is your family prepared?

What do you think will happen to you on the day that you die? It is an incredibly important question. The Bible says it is appointed for a man once to die, and after that comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27). If you appeared before God in judgment, what would He say to you? Would He say, "Well done, good and faithful servant" and let you into heaven? Or would Jesus say to you, "Depart from me, I never knew you," and then cast you into hell?

Everyone has sinned against God (Romans 3:23). Sin is why there is so much misery in the world. It's why there's sickness and disease and death. It's why there's evil and injustice. It's why people fear the itchy trigger-fingers of hot-headed dictators that could annihilate millions at the push of a button -- because this world is full of wicked, fallen people.

What we deserve for our sin and rebellion against God is death (Romans 6:23). But two thousand years ago, God sent His Son to this world as a man, Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life and died on the cross for our sins. He rose again from the grave in His own body, then ascended into heaven where He is seated at God's right hand. Everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but will have His everlasting life. Our sins are forgiven and we're made innocent before God by faith in Christ.

Everyone who believes in Jesus belongs to Jesus. If you belong to Jesus, you will obey Jesus (1 John 2:4-6). Whoever has Jesus Christ will have eternal life. No matter what happens to you in this life, you will not perish in the next. You will live forever with Him in His eternal kingdom, where there is no more dying, no more tears, no more suffering or panic of any kind (Revelation 21:4).

But whoever does not obey Jesus does not have life, but the wrath of God remains on him (John 3:36). The wrath of God is on every person who doesn't follow Jesus. However you meet your end in this world -- accidental death, fatal disease, old age, or a ballistic missile -- it won't even compare with the suffering that you will endure for all eternity if you didn't believe in Jesus in this life.

But if you do believe in Jesus, the suffering in this world doesn't even compare to the glory that awaits us when we meet Him on the other side. You are saved from your sins by faith. Jesus took the penalty from you on the cross. He took the bomb of God's wrath so you won't ever have to know what that's like. Believe in Him, and do not be afraid. The Lord your God is with you.