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This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Thousands Flee Dangerous Volcano

Thousands of people fled the fertile slopes of Indonesia’s most dangerous volcano Saturday as glowing lava oozed down the side and ash and rock spewed from the mountaintop, leading authorities to warn that an eruption could come soon.

Villages on Mount Merapi were left virtually empty, although some residents returned to its slopes Sunday to tend their animals and crops…

…Many people already had evacuated from homes closest to Merapi’s crater after the volanco recently emerged from several years of relative quiet, but authorities said as many as 7,000 living farther down the slopes had refused to go and leave behind precious livestock and crops.

It wasn’t clear how many of those obeyed the government’s evacuation order Saturday. Groups of men who sent their families away were seen chatting around fires to keep warm during the night, guarding their homes against looters.

Edi, a 30-year-old villager, said he would stay unless he received a clear signal from the mountain’s spirits that an eruption was at hand.

“People around here believe that if Merapi is going to explode there will be a sign, a magical sign,” he said, sitting on a mat sipping coffee. “Either it comes in a dream, or in the form of a hallucination.”

Although most Indonesians are Muslim, many also follow animist beliefs and worship ancient spirits. Often at full moons, they trek to crater rims and throw in rice, jewelry and live animals to appease the volcanoes.

Chris Brummitt
Associated Press Writer

Analysis:

It is amazing how superstitious people are even in these modern days. The physical evidence is great that an eruption of Mount Merapi is imminent, and yet some of the villagers are unwilling to leave until they get a signal from the “mountain’s spirits.”

This reference reminds me of the passage in Romans 1, where the apostle Paul mentioned individuals who “exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever” (vs. 25).

Such superstition gives the skeptic a reason, however illegitimate, to lump all religion into the same category of ridiculous superstition. However, the Christian faith is based in reason and truth. The gospel of Christ was established through public and irrefutable signs and wonders (cf. Hebrews 2:1-4). Further, the resurrected Christ was witnessed by both friend and foe (cf. 1 Corinthians 15; Acts 9).

Substantive evidence exists regarding God’s existence; regarding Jehovah as the one true God; regarding the inspiration of scripture; regarding the Lordship of Jesus; regarding the hope of heaven. As Christians, we need not fear the examination of our faith. There are the superstitions of the pagans, and then there is the God proclaimed to the Athenians by the Apostle Paul in Acts 17. Concerning this God, the Apostle said we should “seek the Lord, in the hope that [we] might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; ‘for in Him we live and move and have our being'” (vs. 27-28a).