Storms, floods, and earthquakes are indeed a part of the present world. We sometimes call them “natural disasters,” but they are not a surprise to God. Yes, God certainly can control the weather and send deadly storms.
Some have concluded that suffering occurs because it is beyond God’s control. This is incorrect. God has indeed established certain laws and principles that govern nature, but he remains sovereign over these laws. Psalm 148:8 declares that storms “do his bidding.” Concerning Jonah, it was the Lord who “sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea” (Jonah 1:4 KJV).
Old Testament writers did not hesitate to attribute the forces of nature to God: “thy waterspouts … thy waves … thy billows” (Psalm 42:7 KJV). Today, God’s creation is too often depersonalized. He is in control, and has His reasons for all kinds of weather, both fair and stormy.
Job’s family killed by a severe storm
One biblical example is the story of Job. Severe weather had killed Job’s sheep, his servants, and all 10 of his children.
As Job suffered further physical affliction, he asked, “Why is there evil in the world?” His friends were not of great help in answering the question.
Finally, after much dialog, God spoke directly to Job out of a whirlwind (Job 38-41). The Lord made clear that His control over nature and His ultimate purposes are to be trusted. We simply cannot understand all the details of the Divine plan.
Job’s testimony demonstrates how trials should bring us closer to God, instead of driving us away.
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord…” —Job 1:21 KJV
Job 37:13 declares that God sometimes brings storms to punish people. This brings to mind the experiences of both Noah and Jonah; storms played a major part in their lives.
Divinely directed weather that changed history
Scripture contains many examples of God controlling the weather and using it to direct people and nations…
Global deluge rain storm (plus eruption of the fountains of the great deep)—all humans on Earth killed in Divine global flood judgment, except 8, and all air-breathing, land-dwelling animals killed, except those saved by Divine intervention on the Ark Genesis 6:5-9:19
Tremendous hailstorm, and continuous thunder and lightning against all Egypt—struck down all unprotected people, animals, trees and plants—except in the region of Goshen where there was no hail (Exodus 9:23-29 NASB)
Great hailstones on the Amorite army—killing numerous soldiers (Joshua 10:11)
Tornadoes, hurricanes and drought
“The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries,
And He reserves wrath for His enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
And the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.
In whirlwind and storm is His way…
He dries up all the rivers.
Bashan and Carmel wither;
The blossoms of Lebanon wither.” —Nahum 1:2-4 NASB
Very great thunder sent to confuse and disperse the Philistine army at just the right moment—saving Israel (I Samuel 7:10)
Drought and famine judgments (Leviticus 26:19-20; Deuteronomy 11:13-15; 28:24; II Samuel 21:1; Hosea 13:15; Zechariah 14:17)
Sin bring drought punishment and repentance brings reward
“The heavens are shut up and there is no rain, because they have sinned against You” (I Kings 8:35-36 NASB)
Severe divine drought prophecied, it immediately begins and lasts for years, and, then, through prayer is withdrawn in a single day of miraculous events (I Kings 16:30-18:45 —see: Elijah)
Rain given or withheld from certain cities by God (Amos 4:7)
Thunder and rain to get people’s attention and induce rightful fear of the Lord
“So Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.” —1 Samuel 12:18 NASB
Sea storm sent to punish a disobedient man and redirect him and Nineveh was saved from Divine annihilation (Jonah 1:4, 10-15 —see: Jonah)
Future huge hailstones judgment—about 100 pounds each (Revelation 16:21 NASB)
In more recent centuries, there are various examples that seem to show the providence of God in history using weather…
GEORGE WASHINGTON. In a famous painting, General George Washington is shown crossing the Delaware River on Christmas night 1776. With snow falling, his forces were able to surprise and defeat the enemy. This victory fanned the revolution’s fading embers. Weather continued to play an important role in America’s Revolutionary War.
DUNKIRK. In June 1940, 400,000 British and French soldiers were trapped on the north coast of France at Dunkirk. The Nazi forces were only 10 miles away and could have cornered Allied troops. However, at this time thick fog and clouds settled over the beaches. The English Channel also became unusually calm, and many small boats from England were able to ferry soldiers across to safety. The protective weather pattern lasted nine days while the men were evacuated. The Allied army was thus preserved to fight another day. Winston Churchill called the evacuation of Dunkirk a “miracle of deliverance.”
(See: Christian Spotlight article—“Behind Dunkirk’s evacuation—repentance and divine mercy”)
SPANISH ARMADA. Four centuries ago, Philip II of Spain set out to rule the world. His goal was to reunite all of Christianity under the Catholic faith, and also under Spanish control. Philip was a heartless leader who had earlier supported the harsh measures of the Spanish Inquisition. He did not get along well with either Britain or Holland. When the Netherlands declared their independence from Spain in 1588, Philip sailed north with an “invincible” Armada of 130 warships and 30,000 men.
Then, while far from home, bad weather hit the fleet. With no port available the ships were forced to anchor at sea. The smaller British fleet under Sir Francis Drake than harassed the Spanish by releasing flaming “tar ships” among the anchored fleet. The Spanish Armada fled north through the English Channel and around the coast of Scotland, where continued fierce storms pushed the fleet onto the rocky shores.
As the history books used to say, “God blew and they were scattered.” Only half of the original Spanish fleet finally limped back home. The great Spanish sea power had been diminished by the weather, instead of by war. Perhaps a worldwide dictatorship was averted by this defeat of the Spanish Armada.
Earth’s weather changed by degeneration and catastrophe
A serious flaw in secular environmentalism is that it sees nature as inherently good and normal. The biblical record says that creation and the weather were originally “very good,” from the time when God created the world until the first man sinned.
“And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good…” —Genesis 1:31 KJV
Due to man’s sinfulness, the world did not stay “very good.” Not long after Creation, all of nature was affected by man’s fall to sina and God’s curse. The pain and sorrow of this present world, along with severe weather, demonstrate an imperfect world.
Furthermore, the worldwide flood of Noah’s time would clearly have caused radical changes in our environment. Before the Flood, the weather was evidently very mild and different from today; it did not even rain (Genesis 2:5-6, 7:11-12).
Thankfully, a new world is coming, when God will burn up this universe and create a new heavens and new Earth (II Peter 3:10-13, Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21). Paradise will be restored. Once again, deadly storms will not be a part of our world.
See also: Has our atmosphere evolved over time?
Author: Dr. Donald DeYoung, Ph.D. (Physics) with Paul S. Taylor. Content adapted from Weather and the Bible, pages 105-106, 123-125, published by Baker Book House / Supplied by Films for Christ (used with permission)
Article Version: September 13, 2017
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer
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Article Version: September 15, 2017