The morning sun finally had begun to defrost the Alaskan landscape. It was a welcome relief after another tough night…and winter. Now it was spring—April 1, 1946, to be exact—and the long wait for a kinder and gentler Mother Nature finally had paid off. Everything, it seemed, was right with the world. All that would soon change.
Suddenly, without warning, the earth began to move. It was just a stir at first, then a violent jolt from side to side, then up and down. An earthquake, certainly no stranger to the Pacific Rim, once again made a hostile and unwelcome visit. Everything along the nearby Aleutian Islands was jarred from their moorings.
The impact was monstrous, measuring 7.8 in magnitude. Even in this isolated area, the loss of life was significant: six Coast Guard employees died as their lighthouse rocked from side to side and burst. Just as quickly as it came, the quake was gone; but the earth’s stillness was a false barometer. The worst was yet to come.
From the cold waters of the north Pacific, the Alaskan earthquake spawned a tsunami, sending its killer waves far out to sea. For five quiet hours these massive watery muscles rolled 2,500 miles to the unsuspecting tropical beaches of Hilo, Hawaii, where another 159 victims became easy prey.
Tsunamis are the world’s most powerful waves. Unlike the common wind-swept variety, tsunami waves are products of seafloor disturbances usually caused by seismic activity. Powerful collisions of tectonic plates below the ocean’s bottom push the overlying water upward. This displaced water-mass is then forced across the sea at jetliner speeds, often undetected.
A tsunami wave is cruelly deceptive. In deep water, it might only rise several feet high, but its length can extend more than 500 miles. Even the word tsunami seems to disguise its deadly demeanor. “Harbor wave,” is what the Japanese called it because of its gentle and innocent behavior in the open sea.
However, as this massive force enters shallow water, the tsunami slows to about 50 miles per hour. This sudden slow-down causes the watery surge to back up into a series of ferocious skyscraper-size waves. Upon reaching land, the violent walls of water unleash their fury, wave after destructive wave.
In an effort to defend against these stealth monsters, Tsunami Warning Systems have been strategically placed in the most frequented paths. From the ocean’s floor, sensitive monitors detect even the smallest tsunami wave passing overhead. The indicators relay a series of messages to various Tsunami Warning Centers to alert would-be victims of the impending danger. As a result, lives are saved.
The parallel between the Tsunami Warning System and the role of Christ’s followers is obvious.
To each generation, God has methodically placed His children in strategic areas for a similar purpose: to warn those whom He loves of imminent danger.
A quick look back at the Old Testament shows God’s elaborate warning system to the nation of Israel. Prophets, equipped with His sure Word, issued constant warnings of lurking enemies, idolatrous worship and disobedience to His Word. “I have made you a watchman over My house. Therefore, hear My voice and give the people My warnings” (
Then in the New Testament, God gave pastors to the church for the same reason. Their duties were written in stone. “Preach the Word, be instant in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction.”
The warning-system procedures aren’t only for the professionals. God also gave the same assignment to every member of His family. Each of His children has the responsibility to sound the alarm for two reasons:
• To warn the church: “We urge you brethren, warn the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak…” (
• To warn the world: “If you do not believe [Jesus is the Savior], you will die in your sins” (
To accomplish this, God has placed each of us strategically in neighborhoods, on job sites, on school campuses and in churches to offer His compassionate hope to a desperate world. Eternity hangs in the balance.
Your assignment is: Sound the alarm; send out the message. No one should miss the news of His timeless compassion and salvation!