Yes, everyone talks about the weather. Certainly, in Minnesota, that has recently been the case. This year we had a cold and long winter. June was then one of the wettest on record and summer has been anything but hot (some people like it that way). So much for global warming in Minnesota this year. All of this has caused me to think about the weather, natural disasters and the Lord. Let’s start off with the question, ‘What causes these things to happen?’ Could it be the devil at work in our world?
THE DEVIL AND DISASTER
Recently, a friend of mine Jay West sent me a copy of a book he had written. Something he wrote caught my attention, ‘I did a study of the weather and looked up over 150 verses of all sorts of weather related issues in the Bible and could not find any scriptures or references that gave any credit to the devil for the weather but rather gave them all to God. I did this study because I often hear Christians blaming or praying against the devil regarding the harsh weather. . . ‘
That is worth thinking about. Some people would use the verse that the devil came to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10) but that’s not talking about the weather, rather it is in a passage about the shepherd and his sheep. If it is not the devil, then what causes it all. What is it? Actually a number of factors effect it –
MAN MADE DISASTERS
Many of the natural disasters that have beset the planet have originated with or been aggravated by ‘man’s actions.’ Wildfires that are caused by careless or deliberate lighting of fires. People building their homes too close to the ocean or rivers that make them ripe for flood damage. One sympathizes with people caught up in natural disasters, but one can also ask the question, ‘Why did they build there in the first place? Why do they choose to rebuild as if waiting for the next disaster? Why build homes and cities on fault lines waiting for an earthquake.
Beyond that, we have the issue of pollution. One only has to see pictures of the man made smog over Peking, China to see the effect of modern life on nature. This brings us to climate change –
There is no doubt that at the climate is changing however, I am not convinced people can be sure exactly why. Is it simply the cyclical changes that have happened over centuries and beyond or is it man made due to burning fossil fuels etc. Back in the 1970’s, a front page edition of Time Magazine predicted a new ice age and now the prediction is about an ever warming planet. Time alone will tell what is it really all about?
Beyond all that, the Bible gives us some clues that have spiritual meaning –
CREATION IS GROANING
Romans 8:18-22 gives us insight into the big picture. Creation, like man, was impacted by the Fall and like man, it is waiting for the manifestation of a new creation. Paul describes it being subject to futility, under a bondage of corruption, eagerly awaiting the consummation of our redemption. J.B. Phillips puts it this way, ‘The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality . . . . and the hope is that in the end, the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay.’
In other words, until then, we will see natural disasters until the end of time and creation of a new heaven and new earth.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Another aspect regarding the weather and natural disasters is Matthew 24, in which Jesus declared that at the end of the age ‘there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.’ Many would see the natural disasters and weather changes as signs of the times and the end of the age.
THE WEATHER AND GOD’S PEOPLE
Time after time, the Bible records the hand of God at work in the weather conditions of ancient Israel.
Going back to Noah, we have God’s action in dealing with sinful mankind, ‘I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights . . . ‘ (Genesis 7:4) When you come to Sodom and Gomorrah, it is declared, ‘Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire’ on those cities. Famines are also attributed to God, as in the case of Joseph in Egypt and his family in Canaan. Psalm 105:16 declares God ‘called for a famine in the land.’
When you get to Moses, you have a whole range of phenomena related to God at work in the natural world including the ten plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea. With Job you have the Lord revealing His omnipotence in and over all nature. (Job 38-42)
Through it all, it is clear that God is the supreme Lord over all for ‘the earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell there in.’ (Psalm 24:1) God is in control. He is Lord, even of the weather. Nothing happens unless He permits it.
Also, we need to remember that God, who knows the end from the beginning can prophetically give warnings and allow His people to make preparations for coming natural disasters. Acts 11:27 recalls, ‘And in those days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them named Agabus stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.’ As a result, aid was sent from churches in Asia back to the church in Jerusalem.
MAN AND THE WEATHER
God is in control of the weather, but by His Holy Spirit man can be used to change it. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And then he prayed again and the heavens gave rain the the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:17) Likewise, we see Jesus rebuking the wind, saying to the sea, ‘Peace, be still’ and the winds ceased and there was great calm. (Mark 9:39) Bearing in mind Jesus declared His disciples would do greater works than He did, it raises the idea that as we are led by the Spirit, we can pray about the weather. I don’t know what you do, but my wife and I consistently pray about approaching storms and the like. As in all things, prayer and authoritative Holy Spirit declaration can change even the weather.
Let us remember, God is in control and that includes the weather and its natural disasters. Let us live with faith and the confidence that God will be with us no matter what, ‘ as our times are in His hands.’
Note – I would be interested to receive feedback, other insights on the weather, etc as I have not seen very much written about this subject. Maybe you have a story about the weather to share.