DENTON, Texas, July 11, 2012 — Jesus said to some Pharisees and Sadducees, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:2-3, ESV). From ancient times to now, man has been trying to interpret the sky. Today, with computer models to help, we can still only try to interpret and predict what we cannot control: weather and climate.
God told Adam and Eve to subdue the earth and dominate the animal world (Gen. 1:28). But, God said nothing about controlling earth’s climate; he would not give people a job beyond their ability. After the Flood, God promised, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22).
The sun is under God’s control. He created it (Gen. 1:16). On one unnaturally long day, God kept the sun from setting so that Israel could defeat the Amorites (Josh. 10:13-14). God commands the morning and the dawn (Job 38:12) and “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Matt. 5:45). As easily, God can hide the sun, causing a blanket of pitch black to fall over Egypt (Exod. 10:21-22), or turning mid-afternoon into nighttime during Jesus’ crucifixion (Matt. 27:45).
Precipitation is under God’s control, as evinced by rhetorical and humbling questions which God put to Job: “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass? Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew?” (Job 38:25-28). God “sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45).
In an amazing commentary on the power of prayer to activate divine providence, the Bible reminds us, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth” (Jas. 5:17; cf. 1 Kings 17- 18). The next rain on a parched landscape may or may not be due to prayer, but it will definitely not be due to government policy. “Ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring rain, from the Lord who makes the storm clouds, and he will give them showers of rain, to everyone the vegetation in the field” (Zech. 10:1).
Whether cold or hot, the temperature is for God to govern. “From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven? The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen” (Job 38:29-30). The hubris of people who think mankind can either make or melt a glacier! The appearance or disappearance of ice on earth is the domain of Almighty God, not Al Gore.
As easily as he can turn down the temperature, God can turn up the heat. “When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint” (Jon. 4:8). Man-made global warming is a man-made theory that forgets who made man.
Should it be thought incredible that a God capable of speaking a planet into existence could also manage its weather patterns?
“Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!” (Psalm 148:7-8). What about storms? While the Bible does not say every tornado, hurricane, flood or tsunami is the direct result of God’s will, neither can the possibility be discounted. Many things are not spelled out for us to know, and are beyond our ability to discover.
If God wants to use what we call “forces of nature” to accomplish his purposes, he certainly can. God can send a storm. God can end a storm. In a boat tossing on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus “awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39). People can react to weather, but God can rule it.
No one knows how drastically earth’s climate was affected by the global flood in Noah’s day (cf. Gen. 7:11-24). The Flood was the result of human sin. It may be that, in experiencing storms today, we are still feeling the effects of the sins of our ancestors.
There is another factor to consider. When “a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people” (Job 1:19), it killed Job’s children. Who sent that wind? It was Satan himself, pushing to the limit the permission God had given him to afflict Job. This passage raises the question of how many weather tragedies today just may be the devil’s doing.
One thing is certain. Whatever human sin has contributed to the equation, and whatever the devil is allowed to do within the boundaries of divine permission, it remains that God is ultimately in control of his creation.
Elihu, one of Job’s friends, made a salient point about how God can use the weather. After talking about God’s command of lightning, snow, downpours, whirlwinds, the cold, ice, and clouds, Elihu remarked, “Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen” (Job 37:13). So, per Elihu’s astute observation, God can direct weather for the purpose of correcting people. Or, God can manipulate weather for the good of the land. Likewise, God can send particular weather because he loves man.
The weather—from serene to stormy, from freezing to frying—can achieve various purposes, according to whatever God wants to accomplish. We will always be able to ask more questions on this subject than there are answers at the ready.
Though man will not cause it, the earth’s end will come by way of a sudden and melting heat, which sparks the apostle Peter’s observation: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!” (2 Pet. 3:11-12).
For the sake of argument, let us imagine that man is causing the earth to either warm or cool. Let us imagine that countries take drastic action, pass stringent legislation, collect exorbitant taxes, and, with everyone doing his part, we are able to keep earth’s temperature from changing more than a degree or two.
Then what happens? Sooner or later, Christ returns to collect his people and the earth melts at God’s command. That being the case, where should our emphasis be? Should we expend all kinds of time, money and energy attempting to control what is out of our control? Or, should we do whatever it takes to become a holy and godly people, who will outlast the planet and get to spend eternity in the presence of God, in a place where “the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat” (Rev. 7:16)?
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