What if you or I could become recipient of an important message from below?A lingering radio transmission maybe, or a note in a bottle, swirling up from the icy depths of the North Atlantic. What might it tell us?
Won’t happen, of course. ...like that.
But few stories grip our imagination like that of the RMS Titanic.
What went wrong?
What can we learn?
What if I had been on that ship?
And maybe by exploring these questions we can avoid disasters of our own.
Maybe there is a message for those who dare look.
In checking the various accounts, some fascinating facts emerge.
First the obvious.
The Titanic was not unsinkable.Though a marvel of engineering and craftsmanship, she was not invincible. Extravagantly designed and painstakingly constructed in 3 years at $400 million (equivalent), she succumbed to utter ruin in 2 ½ hours.
What could be a greater shock to her proud owners and builders?
Sometimes in man’s greatest achievements we can discover his greatest flaws.
The overconfidence factorMuch has been made of the overconfidence of the White Star Line and Titanic’s crew. It may be tempting to quickly cast them as capitalist villains or arrogant buffoons.
That's way too easy. Still, numerous errors made during the incident leave behind compelling questions.
For more information click on the links in blue.
Lapses in communication“West-bound steamers report bergs, growlers and field ice in 42° N…”
“Greek steamer Athenia reports passing icebergs & large quantities of field ice…”
“Amerika passed two large icebergs in 41° 27’ N, 50° 8’W…”
These and 18 other warnings reached by the Titanic in the four days leading to the disaster (see titanic.com). Several of the final warnings never made it to Captain Smith.
Why not? Why the failure to communicate and respond? Clearly Titanic suffered an infection of carelessness and overconfidence. And maybe something else.
Captain Smith and his crew may have grown weary dealing with another issue.
One that only now comes to light.
The danger within
In recent years, questions have intensified about an uncontrolled coal fire on Titanic. One that reportedly raged next to one of the boiler rooms for 6 – 10 days! This week, a Smithsonian Channel documentary, Titanic's Fatal Fire, explores "new, explosive evidence" about the significance of the fire. According to Titanic journalist-researcher Senan Molony, news of the fire was purposely kept quiet during and after the tragedy. He proposes that the ship's hull was likely weakened by the fire, playing a major role in Titanic's demise (USA Today, 03/14/2017).
I'd like to think that had good Captain Smith known the gravity of this fire, he would have turned back, the White Star Line would have rectified things for the disappointed passengers... but I suspect this documentary might nudge me toward the capitalist villain theory.
A timely lesson and an urgent message
Maybe hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. But only if you’re awake and looking.
Like Titanic, our society is on a collision course with disaster! One unseen, but no less real. There’s no lack of warnings. They continue to echo through church sanctuaries, beam from radio towers, and traverse the far reaches of the World Wide Web. Their basis is not the fallible hearsay of men, but the eternal word of the living God. The danger is not a massive iceberg or freezing water. It is the fiery wrath of God.
Like Titanic, we face both the rapidly-approaching reality of judgment and the relentlessly-burning reality of sin. The one is disbelieved; the other kept secret, its significance downplayed. The lounging passengers have scarcely a clue of their looming peril, and many trusted leaders have kept them in the dark. Lifeboats, of a sort, are available; if only they can be boarded in time!
Consider this urgent biblical warning:
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. I Thessalonians 5:2-3
Sudden destruction. Unexpected. Inescapable for those unprepared.
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Matthew 24:38-39
Meanwhile, for those who've prepared in advance, the escape to safety is guaranteed.
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief…. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. I Thessalonians 5:4, 9, 10
That bold reassurance is given to all who are prepared. They've turned from the worn-out, worthless advice of their old captain and former companions. They've placed their eternal destiny in the hands of the mighty rescue captain, Jesus Christ! His perfect work of redemption serves as an invincible rescue ship--currently nearby, soon to depart. Compared to the doomed luxury liner, the small lifeboats may seem small, weak and less comfortable, but they are infinitely more hopeful.
What are you waiting for?
Most passengers of Titanic were initially unaware of any iceberg collision, and then slow to respond when told to abandon ship. Even with a shortage of lifeboats, it's believed that a more immediate response would have saved many more.
Our post-Christian era is most like the 2.5 hours following Titanic's impact. A quiet but devastating breach has occurred in western society. The initial stage of God’s judgment, we read, is a “giving over” of mankind to his own devices (see Romans 1:18-32). It's increasingly evident that mankind, ever going his own way and headed for death, has now apparently passed a point of no return. We’re witnessing the wholesale caving-in of conscience and self-restraint described in Romans 1. The sinful behaviors involved are not only ungodly and evil in themselves, but are also evidence of abandonment by God. There’s an eerie, dark quiet, similar to that described by Titanic survivors just before the final sinking of their ship.
Will you be a survivor?
Although the biblical idea of society being doomed is an unpleasant and offensive one, there’s no time to argue.
Jesus calls us to abandon ship. To absolutely let go of whatever in the world we’re clinging to and throw ourselves into his lifeboat. Isn't that what he meant when he said,
Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25
What is the lifeboat? The answer is Jesus himself. Or to continue the analogy begun earlier, Jesus is the Savior, the great Captain of the good ship Redemption, and the lifeboat is what gets us there—his Gospel. The Gospel is the “power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). To reject the Gospel is to consign oneself to eternal destruction in hell. The world system is doomed*.
Although we’re all sinners of various sorts, the essential issue above all is our response to the Gospel. Will we accept God’s wonderful offer, reject it outright, or delay our decision? Make no mistake; delay can be as deadly as rejection. Maybe more so in light of several passages of Scripture**. To delay is to dishonor and disparage the Savior who died on our cross! This suffering Savior is the one returning as supreme Judge. To delay is to flirt with damnation.
Consider the seriousness and urgency of II Thessalonians 1:7-9:
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
For some, the door to salvation is already closed.
The clock is ticking.
Be saved today!
For help understanding the Gospel, visit How To Get To Heaven
* I John 2:16-17
**see Luke 14:17-24, Revelation 3:15-16, II Thessalonians 2:11-12