Monday, September 26, 2005

Bad Weather or God's Wrath ... or Both?

As I drove to work this morning (9/26), I heard talk show host Barry Young commenting on what people were saying about Hurricane Rita.

Barbra Streisand and a host of “environmental wackos” maintain our weather patterns are worsening because of global warming. Never mind the fact that a passel of category 5 hurricanes hit the American coast during Streisand’s lifetime.

Young pointed to a few TV preachers and “second coming” nuts who maintain the last two hurricanes are God’s judgment on sinful people and Christ’s return is near. Well it is nearer now than it was yesterday. That’s for sure!

Last winter I heard people commenting that the tsunami that devastated Thailand, India, and Indonesia was God’s judgment on these countries for their unbelief and sinful lifestyles.
Does God send disaster as punishment? Does He pour out His wrath on sinful nations? Is any specific disaster God’s punishment for sin?

I have an answer for that. Maybe!

It isn’t that God can’t or won’t send disaster or crisis as punishment for evil deeds. He has done so in the past and He can do so now. I think about the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, for example. They were horribly sinful and God wiped them out. You might also remember that when Israel entered the Promised Land, God told Joshua to wipe out every inhabitant. In that instance God ordered “ethnic cleansing.” He did so because the Canaanites and others had become despicably wicked.

Does God still do that? Sure he does! Did he do it through the disasters of Katrina and Rita? Possibly.

We need to remember something. God clearly revealed to inspired writers that the disasters that befell Sodom and Gomorrah and the slaughter of the Canaanites were due to His direct action or within the scope of His will.

I know those historical events were “God things” because the Bible tells me so.

Today, I see the results of disasters, wars, and rebellions and am often constrained to think such things might be God’s judgment on wickedness. At the same time, I can’t be absolutely positive that such terrible things result from God’s wrath.

You see, there is another force at work here and I’m not talking about Satan either. According to Genesis 3, Adam’s sin affected more than himself. His sin affected the whole planet. Moses recorded that God “cursed … the ground” and condemned the primeval pair to death. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (verse 22). The earth’s weather patterns changed. The relationship between the beasts changed.

Because of Adam’s sin, “stuff happens!” God can indeed pour out his judgment upon us … and he can use adverse weather, earthquakes, and even human stupidity to do it. But stuff also happens because we live in a fallen world and bad things happen merely because the air currents and moisture act in such a way to create the conditions necessary for a hurricane.

Some day it will all be clear to us, but right now we live in a hazy world and it is difficult to judge from a human vantage point whether Katrina and Rita resulted from God’s judgment. Maybe so! Maybe not! Only God knows why these storms hit and did so much damage. It is wiser to remain faithful to God through “thick and thin” and leave the rest in His hands.