Fires in California. Hurricanes in the Atlantic and Gulf states. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, drought, floods. The world is getting hammered right now by “natural” disasters. How are we to understand these things? There are two competing interpretations in our day.
First, there is the minority view, espoused by the Bible. It is the view that God is causing these calamities and He is doing so because He is angry with sinners. This is an unpopular view, and few subscribe to it. But truth is not determined by an opinion poll or by the numbers of people in support of it. Truth is determined by God Himself.
The mere mention of this old view is enough to make some people’s blood boil. In their minds, God is a God of love, and "love" means He does what we want. He has no wrath. He never gets angry over anything. He doesn’t even control the weather, and if he did, he would never bring such destruction on innocent people. This god either does not pay attention to our weather problems, does not care about them, or is too weak to help. Consider what Scripture says about “natural disasters.”
“If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?” -- Amos 3:6
"I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.” -- Isaiah 45:5-7
Disasters aren’t natural. They’re supernatural. God is the author of calamities. He takes responsibility for them without embarrassment. While many preachers nervously tell the world that God has nothing to do with these disasters, God in His Word declares just the opposite. The obvious question is this: “Why would God cause so much human suffering? Why would He inflict such pain on innocent people?” Listen to the answer by Jesus.
“Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish’" -- Luke 13:1-5.
Jesus taught the disciples several important lessons: 1) People who suffer calamities aren’t necessarily worse sinners than others. 2) Calamities are not the result of bad luck, nor solely the result of human malice. 3) Calamities carry a message from the God who ordains them, and that message is: “No one is innocent. Repent, or you will likewise perish.”
God is the author of right and wrong. He holds the keys to morality. There is no legitimate morality other than that which God has instituted. God is also the only one who can measure a person’s actions, thoughts and motives and determine whether a person is truly innocent or not. God has already conducted a thorough investigation of the human race and His findings are recorded in Psalms 14:2-3: “The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.”
God does not bring calamities on innocent people. He brings them on guilty people, and we are all guilty. He sees the guilt, even if we do not. When God brings a calamity, whether by natural disaster, war or plague, the message He sends is: “Repent of your sins and turn to Me, or else you will perish in your sins.”
To be clear, I assert God’s sovereignty over calamities while at the same time sympathizing and grieving with those who suffer under those calamities. They have come to my family, too. I do not rejoice when I see death and destruction. But I also don’t think there is any comfort to be obtained by denying that God is in control of the weather.
The second view of how to interpret weather calamities should be quite familiar. It is the majority view, espoused by the news media, the entertainment industry and by many educational institutions and politicians. It is the view that calamities are caused by “climate change,” or “global warming.”
The reason we have hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, floods, etc., is because the earth is getting warmer, and it is getting warmer because humans produce too much carbon. This view is quite interesting due to its religious overtones. Though it professes to be secular and scientific, it nevertheless mirrors the biblical view, complete with a god, a list of sins, and a message of repentance.
The god is “Mother Nature,” who expresses wrath and fury. She punishes us with storms because of our sin of harming the environment. We drive too many cars. We burn coal. We use too much electricity. These are our “sins.” We must repent of these sins in various ways: we must adjust our thermostat, buy electric cars, put up windmills and solar panels, and in all ways, “Go Green!” These are our acts of penance to appease Mother Nature.
It makes me wonder. Why is this message so palatable and the biblical message so contemptible? Why is it OK for Mother Nature to be angry with us and punish us for our environmental sins, but it is not OK for Father God to be angry with us and punish us for breaking His commandments? Could it be because deep down inside we know that Father God is the one true God and Mother Nature is a fairy tale? When we experience great loss, is there really more comfort to be had by denying Father God’s involvement and instead blaming Mother Nature or the human race for its alleged carbon excess?
The real calamity is when sinners fail to comprehend the message God is sending; when men ignore the one true God and invent another one; when they substitute fictitious sins for actual sins; and when they prescribe useless solutions to appease a false god. How can we hope to recover if we don’t know who is punishing us, don’t know what our sins are and don’t know what to do about it?