Tornados, Earthquakes, Floods and God

The second weekend of December and the week following America was shocked by a killer tornado that was reportedly “on the ground” for 200 miles, claiming as of the time of this writing more than 75 lives with the death toll expected to be in triple digit figures before the final assessment is made. Following that devastation, the Midwest was hit with multiple tornados days after the monster had made its way through Arkansas, Kentucky and other states; plus, winds of upwards to 80 and 90 mph raged through some midwestern states leaving a path of death and destruction.

It is altogether well and should surely be expected that the elephant in the room question, “What is God doing?” be asked. At the onset, it should be understood there is no simple answer to that question, but there is a Biblical train of thought woven throughout scriptures that will give us ample clues as to what the Almighty God of the storms is doing and/or saying. Warning: it should be instructive to anyone who sets out to study the question that three friends of Job and a fourth acquaintance, trying to make some sense out of the calamity that visited the ancient patriarch the day he lost all of his ten children and all of his material possessions, missed the bulls-eye entirely. They misjudged that what Job suffered in the worst 24 hours of his life was God’s heavy hand of judgment upon the man who feared God and eschewed evil. Their conclusion was that Job was to a degree a hypocrite, harboring some secret sin(s) for which God was disciplining him severely. We, with finite understanding and only a limited vision of the field, will make the same mistake apart from direction in our thinking from God’s Holy Spirit. Our conclusions, if we come to any, must be rooted in Biblical theology, not popular psychology, meteorology or humanistic philosophy.

I love some of the wisdom that Winston Churchill displayed in his thinking and writing and, seeing what was happening politically and nationally in 1935 with the rise of fascism and the weakness of western leadership, Churchill said something that bears upon our current discussion:

“Who is in charge of the clattering train? The axles creak and the couplings strain; and the pace is hot, and the points are near, and sleep has deadened the driver’s ear; and the signals flash through the night in vain, for Death is in charge of the clattering train?”

Like many who read this, I wonder in contemplating the calamities that have besought our nation and the world in the past few years– including earthquakes, floods, fires, pandemic viruses– what the masses are thinking about it all. Those who believe the Bible and who have sought answers from His Word are in the minority. The masses of humanity, seven billion or so, must be wondering “who is in charge of the clattering train?”

Well, Bible-believers come to the query with certain foundational bed-rock principles as a starting point.  First, we absolutely believe that God is in charge, ultimately, of His world. Satan, the “god” of this world (2 Cor.4:4), has usurped God’s authority through deceit, and he is in the business of wreaking havoc and destruction and death wherever and whenever possible, but God can and does limit his power and the exercise of his usurped authority. God is in charge and has the absolute, ultimate power over all of His created world.

Sometimes, God speaks with a thunderous voice to command the attention of this world’s inhabitants who have otherwise made themselves deafened to His voice. “Wherefore when I came, was there no man? When I called, was there none answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh because there is no water, and dieth for thirst. I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.” (Isa. 50:2,3)

“The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord…the heavens declare His righteousness and all the people see His glory.” (Ps. 97:5,6)

“He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it was dried up: so, He led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.” (Ps. 106:9)

“The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burnt at His presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.” (Nahum 1:5)

God does use what we call “nature” to speak to the world, and so, when it is easy to observe an intensity of these “natural calamities” it is only to be expected that one should wonder, “what might God be doing or saying through these troublesome times?”

First, let it be noted that in the Nahum 1 passage quoted above that in two verses following the prophet affirms that “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him.” (Nahum 1:7) Whatever the situation, bad as it might be, God is good. Period. And God has not forgotten you if you by faith have been born into His family and have been adopted by His grace with all the blessings attendant to that humbling status. God is good. He is not the author of evil; He still is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet.3:9)

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Romans 8:22) Paul the Apostle wrote those somber words, acknowledging that because of sin’s entrance into the world, not only was man immediately estranged from God, but that the beautiful, tranquil Garden of Eden and the whole of nature’s realm became “out of joint” groaning under the weight and burden of the blight of sin. This will be corrected in the millennium when Jesus comes to restore the world to its Edenic like tranquility when the Lion and Lamb shall lie down together. The violence which we observe in “nature” as seen in monster storms, floods and fires are part of this convulsing of creation; never intended by God but given as part of the curse of man’s original disobedience and continuing until Jesus comes again to “make all things new.”

This discussion can and will continue; I trust that I have shared some foundational, scriptural truths which will stir up “pure minds” as we attempt to reconcile what we are living through with what we believe to be absolutely true. Your comments are, as always, welcomed.

That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:6,7)

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