Historian and International Affairs Specialists Arnold Toynbee once said, “The fundamental need of our world today is a rebirth of belief in the supernatural.” The current age is dominated mainly by reliance only on what can be seen and tested. We live in a period of rank materialism, which essentially dismisses the spiritual and argues that all life movements result from material interactions.
For instance, if one were to ask what controls the wind, most people would probably answer it has to do with the relationship between the earth and the sun, temperature, and pressure imbalances. Few people think of God as the wind’s cause or its lack thereof. Yet Revelation 7:1-3 says:
“Then I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds so they did not blow on the earth or the sea, or even on any tree. And I saw another angel coming up from the east, carrying the seal of the living God. And he shouted to those four angels, who had been given power to harm land and sea, ‘Wait! Don’t harm the land or the sea or the trees until we have placed the seal of God on the foreheads of his servants.’”
In this text, the Bible says God employs his angels to restrain the winds to accomplish a specific purpose. The wind belongs to God. The winds are under his control and subordinate to his will. It’s not so much what’s behind the winds and storms; it’s who.
In his commentary on Revelation, William Barclay, the renowned Scottish Bible scholar, says that the Old Testament often pictures the winds as God’s agents employed in his acts of judgment. Here are a few of Barclay’s examples:
“Zechariah has the picture of the chariots of the winds, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth (Zechariah 6:1-5). Nahum speaks of the Lord who has his way in the whirlwind and the storm (Nahum 1:3) … The winds are God’s chariots (Jeremiah 4:13). God comes with his chariots like a whirlwind (Isaiah 66:15). [Chariots were utilized for warfare and judgment on one’s enemies.] The wind is the breath of God (Job 37:9, 10). The wind rends the mountains (I Kings 19:11) and withers the grass (Isaiah 40:7, 24) and dries up the stream, the river and the sea (Nahum 1:4; Psalm 18:15). God’s day [Judgment Day] would be the day of the whirlwind (Amos 1:14). The whirlwind of the Lord goes forth in its fury and falls on the head of the wicked (Jeremiah 23:19; 30:23). The wind of the Lord…will come from the wilderness and destroy the fertility of the land (Hosea 13:15). God will send his four winds upon Elam and scatter the people (Jeremiah 49:36).”
Other passages of Scripture provide a window for looking inside God’s pilothouse, not only for the winds but the weather in general.
God can use the weather to either bless or punish. Job 37:11-13 reads:
“He loads the clouds with moisture, and they flash with his lightning. The clouds churn about at his direction. They do whatever he commands throughout the earth. He makes these things happen either to punish people or to show his unfailing love.”
Perhaps one of the strongest passages which present the way God uses climate conditions to display his sovereignty is in Haggai 1:9-11:
“You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses. It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. I have called for a drought on your fields and hills — a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olive trees and all your other crops, a drought to starve you and your livestock and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get.”
In God’s economy, angels are also associated with affecting weather patterns. Angels have a ministry concerning the earth. They are linked to winds, fires, storms, and pestilence (Psalm 103:20; 104:4; I Chronicles 21:15, 16, 27). Throughout the book of Revelation, they are connected with fire, hail, blood, a plague of locusts, and the poison of scorpions. At certain times in history, God authorizes and directs them to use their tremendous powers to affect meteorological conditions.
The Bible knows nothing of secondary causes. Barclay concludes:
“We say that atmospheric conditions, variations in temperature, land and mountain configurations, cause certain things to happen. The Jews described it all to the direct action of God. He simply said, God sent the rain; God made the wind to blow; God thundered; God sent his lightning.
“Surely both points of view are correct, for we may still believe that God acts through the laws by which his universe is governed.”
Does this mean every natural disaster is judgment for sin? Definitely not.
Since Adam and Eve, who were initially placed in a perfect environment, rebelled against God and fell into sin, this universe, this planet, has been negatively impacted.
We live in a fallen world. Nature itself is broken like humanity and doesn’t work correctly, and it can’t until the redemption of humankind is complete (Romans 8:19). Therefore, natural disasters are often simply the result of an ailing earth in convulsion.
Nevertheless, when a nation or nations operate grievously in sin, ignore God, reject his ways, and despise Christ and His people with increasing intensity, it shouldn’t surprise us if he intervenes and sends catastrophic natural calamities to get people’s attention. These extraordinary misfortunes mercifully remind us of who is in control. They are warnings with redemptive messages to be reconciled with our Maker.
In Where Do We Go from Here? Dr. David Jeremiah, evangelist and pastor, writes that he and his wife, Donna, were watching the television news one morning while having breakfast. Dr. Jeremiah said:
“Every story was more distressing than the one before. We sat there viewing the burning cities, backbiting politicians, runaway infections, heated elections, social upheaval, racial tensions, skyrocketing crime, shouting pundits, deafening lies, eroding sands, and cracking foundations.
“I began to look at these crises in a new way. I realized they are not isolated movements, philosophies, or events. They are interconnected as a spider’s web. Add to that emerging globalism. We’re only one existential crisis from a one-world government.
“And what about the worldwide economy hanging by a strand?
“Think of the degradation of our culture. It seems as if every member is a lover of self, a lover of money, a lover of pleasure – and eager to cancel anyone who disagrees with them. This translates to extreme persecution for the church in much of the world and to eroding religious liberty at home. Across our country, an unprecedented spiritual famine is causing an epidemic of emaciated hearts. In the process, many professed Christians are abandoning the faith. This has created a vacuum for the rising tide of socialism to flood into our land.”
Dr. Jeremiah’s words reflect the words of the apostle Paul to young Timothy, his fellow worker and companion:
“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Could there be a better description of the current times? Probably not!
Therefore, should we be surprised that in this dispensation, we are witnessing an increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions: drought, rampant wildfires, incredible floods, terrifying tornadoes, above-normal hurricane seasons, abnormally powerful thunderstorms, and uncommon heat waves globally.
In their book, God’s Answer for America, Darrel and Cindy Deville rightly state these environmental conditions are referenced as “global warming” or “climate change.” But the Deville’s point to a more likely cause, arguing:
“No matter what they call it, these things are all part of the birthing pains and natural disasters that will increase as Jesus prophesied (Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11, 25-26). These are not ‘global warming’ (or ‘climate change’), but they are part of God’s ‘global warnings’ as signs for these last days. These will continue to increase and shift as the return of Christ gets closer to birth a new age, his millennial reign. We also believe things will be happening and shifting in the days ahead that will cause scientists to be baffled.
“Politicians claim we all need to work together to ‘battle climate change,’ but there is nothing they can do to stop it. Like a woman in labor, the contractions will become more frequent and more intense the closer the new birth gets. So, this is not about ‘climate change.’ But the earth is instead preparing for a ‘kingdom change’ – the coming glorious kingdom and reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 11:15).”
Don’t be blinded to the supernatural behind the natural — the material.
Moreover, it should be remembered the same God who sends large-scale disasters in response to gross collective sinning can also employ his angels to restrain these judgments when there is repentance.
“Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:13).
Rev. Mark H. Creech is Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. He was a pastor for twenty years before taking this position, having served five different Southern Baptist churches in North Carolina and one Independent Baptist in upstate New York.