Today we hear about natural disasters in the news almost everyday. Tsunami’s, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, fire, droughts, and floods. There is no shortage of natural disasters in the world today. Are these natural catastrophes a judgment from God? Is God using these to punish mankind? In short, are natural disasters from God?
God is in the Storm
When God spoke to Job out of the “whirlwind”, this might seem like God is speaking to humans through nature itself (Job 38:1, 40:6). The Bible is full of judgments from God where natural catastrophes are involved. In Isaiah 29:6 He thunders, “the LORD Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.” In Genesis 6:11-12, “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.” In Jonah 1:4, “the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.”
A Universe in Decay
God is sovereign over the entire universe, including all that happens on the earth. Nothing happens that God does not allow. God is not the author of suffering but He does allow it and suffering accomplishes His purpose (Rom 8:28). Humans suffer from their own making. Sin begets suffering and humans live with the consequences of it. In fact, the entire universe – all that is created – is under the curse of sin at the present time. Romans 8:20-22 shows that “the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Here it says that the creation is in a state of decay and someday that the creation will actually be liberated from it. When and what is the creation waiting for? Romans 8:19 amazingly tells us that “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.” Incredibly, this means that when the children of God – those who are born again (or born from above literally in the Koine Greek) – are glorified into a spirit body at Christ’s return, the creation will become be renewed and freed from the curse that occurred during the fall in the Garden of Eden. There will be a new heaven and a new earth when Christ reigns as it says in Revelation 21:1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”
The Earth and Heavens Restored
What will happen to the old earth? The Apostle Peter clearly revealed this in II Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” Only when Christ returns will the new heavens and the new earth be established (Rev. 21:1). In this new earth and in the new heavens, “‘[God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 21:4).
Does God Cause or Allow Catastrophes?
Whether God causes natural catastrophes or these are the result of sin on the earth or whether it is both, we can not precisely say. Where the Bible is silent, so must we be. However there is sufficient Scriptural evidence where God is at the helm; whether He causes it or He allows it. Either way, God is sovereign and nothing happens anywhere in the universe that does not pass through His hands.
Isaiah 29:6 “the LORD Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.”
Revelation 6:12 “There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red.”
Revelation 16:18 “Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since the human race has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake.”
Tornadoes and/or Hurricanes
Isaiah 29:6 “the LORD Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire”
Ezekiel 13:13 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury.”
Jonah 1:4 “Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.”
Nahum 1:8 “But with an overflowing flood He will make a complete end of its site, And will pursue His enemies into darkness.”
Genesis 7:11b-12 “on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.”
Genesis 6:17 “I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.”
Ezekiel 20:48 “’Hear the word of the LORD. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am about to set fire to you, and it will consume all your trees, both green and dry. The blazing flame will not be quenched, and every face from south to north will be scorched by it.”
Jeremiah 21:14 “But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, says the LORD: and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.”
Genesis 19:24 “Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens.”
Other natural disasters like volcanoes (Micah 1:3-5), hailstorms (Josh. 10:11, Rev. 16:21), famine and drought (Amos 4:6-8, Is. 14:29), and even cosmic disasters (Rev. 8:10-11, Joshua 10:13) are also under the sovereignty of God Almighty. The question is not whether God causes or allows natural disasters and catastrophes but why does He allow or cause these to occur. It’s as if God is pleading with humanity to get right with Him…to seek Him and establish a relationship with Him…to repent and be saved. God desires that none perish but that all would come to repentance and be saved (II Pet 3:9). He doesn’t enjoy seeing humans perish at all (Ezek 18:32). Seek Him while it is still called today as He says in II Corinthians 6:2, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
Safety in His Shelter
Psalm 91 is a very reassuring psalm for those who are believers in Christ Jesus:
1 “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
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