The world continues to spiral out of control with earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, financial devastation, wars, and nuclear explosions. As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, Raleigh residents have been contemplating end time prophecies, especially as these disasters have come much closer to home with the soaring unemployment rate, housing market descent, last spring’s tornado parade, devastating hurricanes over the past two decades, and even a small earthquake tremor this past Tuesday. Part 2 of the series suggested that technological disasters, such as nuclear explosions, could also be associated with end-time prophecies. With several nuclear power plants located near Raleigh and with one only 20 miles southwest of Raleigh, residents find possible allusions to nuclear activity in end time Biblical prophecy especially fascinating. There appear to be several parallels between the Chernobyl accident of 1986 and the third trumpet judgment which describes a blazing star falling from the sky. This star is named Wormwood which means “bitter” and makes a third of the waters bitter (Revelation 8:10-11). Several lessons regarding the ramifications of harboring bitterness can be learned by considering the effects of the Chernobyl accident.
The damage is intense and far reaching.
The Chernobyl accident released 400 times more radioactive material than the bombing of Hiroshima. This radioactive material spread throughout most of Europe. Over 346,000 people were evacuated which was emotionally and socially traumatic and often resulted in the life long social stigma of being an “exposed person” (Source: World Health Organization). Similarly, when a person becomes embittered, those harsh emotions can spread rapidly through gossip, ill-will, and attempts at vindication. Embittered people experience emotional trauma and will have difficulty finding friends as long as an unhappy spiteful spirit pervades their countenance.
The destructive potential is a function of boiling point.
The release of the radioactive isotopes from the nuclear fuel at Chernobyl was controlled by their boiling points. Similarly, the more people are filled by the Holy Spirit, the less likely they are to reach their boiling point, explode, and release hurtful words or actions.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Those who suffer most are those who reach out to help.
Most of those most seriously affected by the Chernobyl accident were fire and rescue workers. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 1,000 on-site staff and emergency workers were “heavily exposed to high-level radiation on the first day of the accident” and over 200,000 rescue and recovery operation workers were exposed over the following year. WHO estimates that 2200 radiation-caused deaths can be expected during their lifetime.
Similarly, when someone is bitter, usually only family members and closest friends go to the effort to listen, comfort, and encourage him/her to repent and release the bitterness (Ezekiel 33, Matthew 18:15). In the process, the embittered person may unleash his or her anger upon those who love him or her most. Or worse, the embittered person could draw loved ones into that same state of bitterness.
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Corinthians 10:12)
Natural resources, plants, and animals suffer.
The Chernobyl accident caused radioactive matter to pour into rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Trees turned red-brown and died. Numerous fish died. Horses, cattle, and other animals either died or suffered thyroid damage. Likewise, embittered people can become so consumed with hurts, anger and inner hostilities that they focus only on themselves and neglect their God given roles and responsibilities as stewards of the earth and misuse its resources.
Just as U.S. nuclear power plants implore numerous, multi-level safety measures to prevent nuclear leaks or explosions, Christians should implement safety measures to prevent bitterness from taking root in their hearts.
13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. (James 3:13-15)
To root out bitterness, begin with these steps:
22Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” (Acts 8:22-24)
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matthew 6:14)
3. Be filled with the Spirit. (Acts 9:17)
4. Put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17)
These steps are not easy, but it is certainly worth the effort because true freedom cannot be experienced until the load of bitterness is released from the heart and then filled with the Spirit of God.
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