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EL NIÑO HAS BECOME EL HOMBRE!

Publishing Date : 19 January, 2016

Author : MOGOTSI D BALOYI

Thank God for social media. News have always travelled fast, but ever since the advent of social media, they've received rocket boosters. Such is the tremendous velocity of news travel that sometimes I swear news have been reported before they happened! Yes, sir! I lie not! I've lost count of the number of times news went viral that someone had kicked the bucket while they're still alive. But wait for it! Before long, those very people would kick the bucket! So, you see, news of their departure burned our ears before they actually checked out.

And then you claim not to believe in Prophets! I've said all of that because once again I've been following the news from my country from my serene surroundings of Southern California.

I've followed with religious devotion the daily trickle of newsfeeds about the kind of weather phenomenon that's held the entire country at ransom without naming the price. From what I could glean, the sun over Botswana has been taking performance enhancing drugs. It's the only conclusion I could make. Laugh not.

The guys over at the Weather Bureau, who, like Prophets, are tasked with foretelling us how the weather will behave, have been giving the nation dire warnings of the kind of hot weather that's animated! Yes, the kind of heat that's so self-assured and arrogant that it waves! It goes by the name, "Heatwave." You see, heatwave is unlike your regular heat. Uh-uh! Heatwave is born from another mother; manufactured from another lab, with freakish capabilities like the experiment of a mad scientist gone horribly wrong.

Years ago, when the climate decided that we weren't being baked and roasted at the correct temperature, it was introduced by another name - an exotic one. The name bandied about at the time; the name that had us all enthralled in awe and wonderment, was El Niño. Rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it? I love Spanish. It's a very nice language. And, El Niño is Spanish for, "The Baby." I don't know why the climactic phenomenon of a warming planet resulted in such a naming. It's not like babies are hot.

For the life of me, I cannot find the connection between heat and babies. I guess I'll need to pursue that subject further. I'll tell you what I discover. But, you see, it doesn't end there. Here in Botswana, our things are never like the things of others. We're a special people. Our peculiarities and idiosyncrasies are the stuff of folklore and timeless.

Right around the time the phenomenon of El Niño was gaining traction, news blared through our village Omega and Tempo radios that a Motswana man who'd long left for Europe against his will was coming home! But wait! The man in question had left in the 19th century or thereabouts and his remains were in Europe and needed to be returned home. As it turned out, "home" was here - right here in Botswana. Our dear brother, not having a name known by anyone since all his buddies were nowhere to be found, not to mention his next of kin, was given a name.

That name? El Negro! Indeed it never rains but it pours! So, in a very short time while we were still trying to come to terms with El Niño, here comes El Negro! Anyway, to cut a long story short, few of us today remember anything about El Negro, although some kind of national fuss was made over him. He soon got relegated back into blessed memory where he belonged to begin with. On the other hand, El Niño has endured. In fact, the baby has grown into a very strong man. As I write this, the entire globe is at its wits' end trying to contain him.

He has become a big problem child. El Niño the baby has become "El Hombre," - The Man. I kept reading reports and seeing car dashboard photos of temperatures on the wrong side of 40-degrees Celsius. The national outcry was almost reminiscent of the Biblical "weeping and gnashing of teeth." El Niño is here and he's no baby he was all those years ago.

His diaper is full and we are feeling the tantrum. Being a preacher, I naturally had to think transcendentally. Yes, it was hot. Yes, it's hot. But, there is a much, much, much, hotter place the Bible speaks of. In fact, it's so hot that the great part of humanity has chosen to believe, as a self-comfort mechanism, that it's symbolic or even fictitious. You guessed right. I'm talking about Hell.

The word "hell" has in fact come to be universally used to describe all things terrible. Of course, even amongst the devout, beliefs about the existence of Hell are varied. Some believe there is a Hell, while others vehemently refute its existence. To the latter, the idea of an eternal place of damnation is irreconcilable with the theology of a loving God.

To some, Hell exists and eternally so. To others, Hell does exist but is not eternal in duration of punishment for the damned. Many like to argue by using such reasoning as, “I believe these religious views are private matters and should not be pressed upon people.” No one is pressing anything here.

But if you feel pressed, that's too bad. You are reading this column that you chose to read, and you can move on to the Sports section at any time. Others would argue that, “The existence of a burning hell is only the opinion of some, while many others disagree.” Yes, but the opinions of those who believe in a literal burning Hell are based on clear passages of Scripture while the opinions of those who disagree are based on liberal interpretations and outright denials of Scripture.

Pleading innocent while playing the, “I just don’t know who to believe anymore” game is nothing less than stupidity. Friend, your eternal soul could be at stake! Suppose you are asleep one night and someone in your home wakes you and says, “I think I smell something burning.”

Then someone else says, “Oh, go back to sleep. I don’t smell anything.” What would you do? I seriously doubt that the majority of people reading this article would just go back to sleep before walking through the house and making sure of their safety.

However, most people reading this article will brush aside this issue, at least for the time being, and some forever. Why would one not want to know the truth about Hell? It’s really a simple thing: truth calls for a response. People have their busy lives and they do not want to be interrupted with things, especially not negative things, and definitely not negative things that are life-changing in nature. If you know for certain that Hell exists, then you must violate your conscience in order to keep living in sin.

This, of course, would bother you, and you prefer to not be bothered. So, you’ll be tempted to downplay this article and tend to something “more important.” Hopefully, you will not die in the process. Most people do die in the process because “the process” turns out to last for the duration of their lives. That is, they never “get around” to facing eternity seriously.

The words “Hell” and “damn” are extracted from the Bible and used as curse words while the true application of these words is mostly ignored. Others may accept the doctrine of an eternal burning Hell, but then condemn themselves to Hell by refusing to take the “fire escape.” Finding a person who believes the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, can be quite a task these days.

This writer is such a person, but he has learned through the years that most of his readers are not. This article is filled with the words of God and supportive comments on those words. That is, nothing in this article will correct any part of the Bible (KJV) with the opinions of men. This author’s words and the words of any other man used will be used to help explain what God’s word has already said.

Also, no portions of Scripture will be used out of context in order to teach something that the context doesn’t teach. You are about to read a solid and sound Bible-believing and Bible-honoring work on the subject of Hell. If you believe the Bible, then you’ll have no problem with this article.

If you doubt the Bible while having a tendency to read and follow the views of men, then you might as well grab a pizza or roll over and take a nap. If my often straight-forward approach offends you, please accept my insincere apology. However, I believe we are dealing with a very serious subject and some straight talk is in order.

I’ll try to be well balanced and show some grace through this submission, but I will not do injustice to the word of God by addressing the subject of eternal damnation lightly.

After all, if Hell is real (and I certainly believe it is), then souls are dying and going there every second. Yes, every SECOND. You can do your own math, but if you figure the world death rate into Matthew 7:13-14, you won’t get a pleasant picture.

Conservatively speaking, every time you’ve read a line on this page, at least one more person has dropped into Hell fire for eternity. Statisticians tell us that roughly 156,000 people die daily in the world. I wonder how many of those make it to Heaven? If the Bible is anything to go by, then the answer is very few. And I can safely say that most of those who find themselves in Hell got the shock of their lives (or is it the shock of their "after-lives?") since they had lived their lives believing that Hell couldn't possibly exist.

The premise that the Bible is a symbolic book, much less a “highly” symbolic one, is a false and dangerous premise. Yes, the Bible offers some symbolism, as do most writings of men, but Satan has deceived people into over-emphasizing Biblical symbolism. Most of the Bible deals with history - the history of man’s relationship to his Creator. Within that recorded history, one can learn of many things about God and His plan. As He reveals these things to us, He sometimes uses symbolism, but this doesn’t make the Bible a symbolic book.

It is simply a book that contains some symbolism. In November, 1993, Evangelist Billy Graham told Time magazine that he didn’t believe in a literal burning hell. He said that the Biblical hell was “possibly an illustration of how terrible it’s going to be - not fire, but something worse, a thirst for God that cannot be quenched.” As great a man as he is and much as I respect him, Graham had no Scriptural authority for making such an assumption.

He was merely giving his opinion, possibly designed not to alarm people. A preacher’s duty is to preach all the counsel of God (Acts 20:27), not speculate about things that might “possibly” be an “illustration.” To make matters worse, Graham “air conditioned” Hell by describing it as merely a “thirst for God,” something that wouldn’t move any sinner to repentance.

Why didn’t Jesus describe Hell this way, rather than leaving its occupants smoking with fire and brimstone? Graham’s symbolism is unscriptural symbolism, as is that of many other preachers. When the Bible uses symbolism, it is quite obvious. Jesus once said, “I am the door" (John 10:9). That statement cannot possibly be taken literally, so it must be taken as symbolism.

Jesus is definitely not a door in the literal sense! El Niño would have fried your brains if you took that literally! He also said, “I am the good shepherd" (John 10:14). Jesus wasn’t literally a shepherd, His followers aren’t literally sheep, and literal wolves (John 10:12) are not a threat to Christians. In fact, most Christians have never seen a wolf nor will they see it in their lifetime.

Those are symbolic terms because they can’t be literal. Hell, on the other hand, can be literal. Is it possible that a Christian can be a sheep with four legs in a pasture? No, that’s not possible. Is it possible that a literal lake of fire can exist somewhere? Yes, just open any standard text book on physical science, and you can see a lake of fire. For that matter, just run an Internet search on “earth’s core,” and you’ll see plenty. The only question is, "Does God condemn sinners to such a place?" According to the Bible, He does.

The term “hell” occurs 54 times in the Bible, and never once is it impossible for the word to be taken literally. Take the first occurrence, for instance, which is Deuteronomy 32:22: “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” To say that “hell” in this verse is symbolic would demand further commentary regarding the earth and the mountains. Are they symbolic as well? “Maybe they are,” one might suggest. Well, if they too are symbolic, then convenient symbolism becomes the standard by which men read and understand the Bible.

If that’s the case, then why bother reading it at all? Everything in the Bible could mean anything, and no one would know anything for certain! There must be a safe standard by which we can distinguish symbolism from literal application. The safest standard is the "possibility" standard: if it’s possible that a given passage can be literal, then it is literal.

If it’s impossible, then it’s symbolic (“I am the door,” etc.) Anyone who seeks a lesser standard is not a Bible believer and is not worthy of your learning time. Whatever your theological leaning, one thing we all associate with Hell is intolerable heat and suffering. And, of recent, the ravaging savagery of El Niño has been intolerable. The recent temperature surges have made theologians out of atheists.

I happen to have heard on more than one occasion people asking themselves and no one in particular, "If we cannot handle 40-degrees Celsius, how can we then possibly handle the fires of Hell?" I could only nod in agreement and contemplation. Religious or not, the recent temperatures have got to prod you to ask yourself uncomfortable questions.

Granted, you can continue on an assumed scientific or natural paradigm whereby your idea of the physics of the universe is self-governing. You are well within your rights to altogether banish the possibility of there being a Hell and just focus on getting past the heatwave or investing in air conditioning.

Or you can start to ask yourself questions like, "What if there is a Hell?" If 40-degrees Celsius has you speaking French, how do you think you'll fare should you find yourself amongst those in Hell? Assuming that Hell is in the center of the Earth as the Bible suggests, then that mean we're looking at the Earth core surface temperatures of between 4,400-degrees and 6,500-degrees Celsius! That's over one hundred times the average temperature of the recent heatwave.

Let that sink in for a minute. I think El Niño has now grown into El Hombre because we didn't take him seriously enough. Now he has upped the ante and we are starting to talk. I just hope that as we talk, we will end up remembering the God who is still in control even when nature seems to be out of control.

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