DOES GOD CAUSE NATURAL DISASTERS?

Does God cause hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and other natural disasters? If so, then why does He cause them? If He doesn’t cause them, then why does He allow them to happen?

WHY ARE THERE NATURAL DISASTERS?

God created the world and everything in it. When He did so, He did it perfectly and it was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). This is Hebrew terminology that means complete and perfect. When Eve and Adam sinned by being led away by their own desires, sin entered the world and everything changed (Ja. 1:13-15). As a direct result of their sin, the world itself was “cursed” (Gen. 3:17). In Romans 8:20-21, Paul speaks about how the creation (literally “everything created”) was subjected to futility.

“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:20-21).

In Genesis 6-9, we read about how God sent the flood to destroy the world. Scholars have suggested that weather conditions would have been different before the flood than those we see today (Rehwinkel, 1951; Whitcomb and Morris, 1961; Dillow, 1981). Whitcomb and Morris have stated:

“This is inferred from the fact that the ‘breaking-up of the fountains of the great deep’ (Genesis 7:11), which implies this sort of activity, was one of the immediate causes of the Deluge; therefore it must have been restrained previously…. Thus the Biblical record implies that the age between the fall of man and the resultant Deluge was one of comparative quiescence geologically. The waters both above and below the firmament were in large measure restrained, temperatures were equably warm, there were no heavy rains nor winds and probably no earthquakes nor volcanic emissions (1961, pp. 242,243).”

The drastically changed components of the Earth’s crust (e.g., fault lines, etc.) give rise to earthquakes. Vast bodies of water and large global climatic variations spawn hurricanes and tropical storms. The sin which entered the world in Genesis 3 caused the earth to be cursed. The sin that entered the world continued with the wickedness of mankind in Noah’s day (which precipitated the Flood). Therefore, ultimately, sin is the cause of natural disasters. Brad Bromling has observed:

“While we may never know with precision what conditions prevailed between the Edenic period and the Flood, it seems that the weather systems with which we are familiar were largely absent at that time. The fossil record bespeaks a period when the entire Earth enjoyed a temperate climate. This storm-free era most certainly predates the Flood. Since that event, man has been imperiled by tornadoes, blizzards, monsoons, and hurricanes…. Upon whom should we heap blame for the suffering resultant from such weather? Is it fair to accuse God, when He created man’s home free from such things (Genesis 1:31)? In all honesty, the answer is no. Sin robbed us of our original garden paradise, and sin was responsible for the global deluge (Genesis 3:24; 6:7) [1992, p. 17].”

CAN GOD CONTROL THE WEATHER?

Since God is the almighty creator, He ultimately controls the weather (Job 5:10; 26:8-9; Psa. 135:7; 147:8; 148:8; Jer. 10:13; Prov. 3:19-20; etc.). This means He can allow the natural laws which are in force to act, but He can also intervene. There are clear examples when God used the weather.

  • The Flood (Gen. 6-9).
  • Fire/Winds in Job (Job 1:19).
  • Plagues on Egypt, which included hail and darkness (Ex. 9:13-35; 10:21-29).
  • Drought in Israel (1 Kings 17:1; Ja. 5:17-18).

While the above is not an exhaustive list, God has used the weather (or allowed the weather) to be used as a sign, a test of faith and also punishment. Jesus also controlled the weather to show His superiority over His own creation:

“But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, ‘Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him’” (Mt. 8:26-27).

Some believe that God no longer uses nature in the ways in which He once did. We do know that not all of nature has some sort of hidden message or meaning. Notice the words of Jesus:

“that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt. 5:44).

WHY DOESN’T GOD STOP BAD WEATHER?

If God can stop bad weather, then why doesn’t He? Sometimes God may allow bad weather to happen as a test of faithfulness as He did with Job. Other times, He may allow it as punishment or a “wake-up call” as we see throughout the Old Testament. Sometimes God is just allowing the natural course of the fallen world to take place. God allows choice and humans sinned, thus, creating a fallen world.

The truth of the matter is we simply can not pinpoint why bad weather strikes a certain location—and we must abstain from making certain judgments. Remember, Job’s friends accused Job of living unfaithful when quite the opposite was true. Since God is not communicating directly with people today as He did in times past (Heb. 1:1-3), we must be careful not to assign an intent or reason when bad (or good) weather occurs.

– Kevin Pendergrass

For any questions or to be added to the newsletter list, please send an e-mail to kevin@kevinpendergrass.com.