Natural Disasters, Divine Judgment, and the End of the World

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Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, Volcanic Eruptions… Where is God when disaster strikes?  Are these things signs that the end of the world is at hand?

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Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: Yes, God does judge in the earth today.  He remains a righteous judge, He does judge, and He can use natural disasters in judgment.  When judgment happens, many people who are not directly involved, “the innocent,” get affected; we are peoples and nations, not just individuals, and things happen on a much wider scale than the one person involved.  That being said, we need to be very careful with making pronouncements.  If there is judgment, I would think that there would be prophetic warnings first, and those prophetic warnings would call on a people to repent from certain sins before judgment came.  That way they would be able to connect the sin and the judgment.  Without specific warnings, I would say clearly that natural disasters still remind us how fragile this world is, and how fragile we are, how sin-soaked this world is, and how ripe for judgment it is. Everything will ultimately be shaken so only God’s unshakeable kingdom will remain, and this does remind us that this world is not eternal in its present form.  The King one day will return and all of us need to cry out for mercy, and extend mercy to those hurting, regardless of the specific nature and cause of this disaster.

Other Resources:

Jeremiah Commentary by Dr. Brown:  combines a detailed introduction, in-depth exegesis of the text, and serious spiritual reflection on the calling of a prophet and the burden of the Lord.

The Great Debate [DVD]: Dr. Brown debates Bart Ehrman on the Bible and the problem of suffering.

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Does God Send Hurricanes? 9/1/08 LOF Radio Show with Dr. Brown

12 Comments
  1. Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. Hebrews 12:26

    The destruction of this earth through natural disasters should not shake a believer in Christ even though they too will suffer lost just as everyone else. What these devastations should be informing us upon this earth is that the normalcy of life as we know it is being taken from us. What these disasters demonstrate to the ungodly is that the nature state of life upon this earth cannot be depend on. I, as a believer in Christ, have the new heaven and the new earth to look forward to whereas the ungodly have taken from themselves any hope in the future in their rejection of God.

  2. I believe that these natural disaster’s are either due to GOD’s judgement on the world or at least HE is allowing these thing’s to happen.I also believe that American’s cannot comprehend that GOD would judge the world or America.American’s seem to think that we are owed something.They seem to think that GOD is all love.Television evangelist’s are mostly responsible for this.I use to watch them and they gave me a distorted and diluted view of GOD.Some of them are actually preaching that we are “little god’s”and i believe they have twisted scripture and taken it out of context.I am certain that we will all know that there is only one GOD and that is the GOD of the bible.I also believe that we havent seen anything yet.I think thing’s are going to get much worse and we are all going to pay a price.One good thing that will come out of this financial crises is hopfully it will put an end to prosperity preaching and the real preacher’s can do what they are called to do.I believe that GOD is a GOD of terror for those who don’t believe and a GOD of grace for those who are HIS.HE can pronounce judgement anytime or way HE choose’s wheather America like’s it or not.AMERICA NEED’S TO WAKE UP!IF NOT LET JUDGEMENT COME.

  3. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Daniel 2:34

    The Bible is the only area in my life in which I give close scrutiny to every word. In this verse, it states that the stone that was cut without hands smote the image. The word ‘smote’ means to hit hard or attack with deadly or disastrous effects. If these current disasters are happening in judgment against the disdain leaders of the nations have exhibit towards Israel, then that fact will come more and more apparent as time goes on, and we need to take that theory into careful consideration. That stone, cut without hands, is to hit the nations and hit them very HARD so as to destroy them!

    The gulf oil disasters and its fix and miraculous healing seem to correspond to the perspective disrespect our President had exhibited toward Israel’s Prime Minister then to their sequential improvement in their relationship. I think that it is wise to ask questions when such disasters happen. When a nation, such as the USA, becomes so powerful that they are beyond the ability of other nations to rebuke them, then God steps in with the rebuke. I have watched time after time the correspondence between the destructions caused by tornados in the US occurring right after our military had caused unnecessary destruction and lost of life in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    As hard as it may sound, I believe these disasters are the work of those four angels in Revelation 7. They are in control of the four winds and it is their commission to hurt the earth. They have begun their work, and our earth is being hurt by these various disasters.

    And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. Revelation 7:1-3

    Notice the four winds reference again in these next verses coupled with the return of Christ. They probably are the same destructive four winds in the hands of the four angels of Revelation 7.

    And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Mark 13:26-28

    I would not give Satan and his angels credit for these natural disasters because their main goal is to take away our eternal life. Just killing our bodies would not do that, but promoting a wicked lifestyle such as homosexuality would doom us to the eternal flames with them.

  4. I think that looking at natural disasters as God’s judgment seems so misguided. No one can read the mind of God. Part of the difficulty of mature faith is that we have to live in an uncertainty about so many things.

    Vengence is the Lord’s. That means it is HIS. It is not for you or I to speculate on–it only leads to viewing God as some kind of comic book superhero (or supervillian) with magical powers that he uses to impose his will. That is not MY God. Rather, why not try to better understand the values that God has demonstrated and figure out how to live our lives in accord with that?

    Speculating on who has gotten God’s judgment for what–all that is, is trying to become God yourself!

  5. The view as expressed by Michael Tawl is the main mindset of Americans. They like to live as if God doesn’t exis; therefore they continue to ignore all indications that God has passed judgment upon them. The ignorance of this mindset will just bring harsher disasters until we begin to acknowledge the one true God who sit upon the mercy throne, and that He is Lord over all things.

    And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Isaiah 6:9

    “Speculating on who has gotten God’s judgment for what–all that is, is trying to become God yourself!”

    I refused to let society persuade me that being in the mindset of God is something that is not chic, but playing Satan with all the evil immoral ways is ok. Look at what God says about His own…

    …for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. Hebrews 8:11

  6. Did this last part of the audio on this program get cut off? It seems like the show posted on-line is not the entirety….?

  7. Are Natural Disasters God’s Judgment?

    Whenever America experiences a natural disaster or “act of God,” as insurance companies label it – the following questions seems to resurface in some Christian circles: What is God angry about this time? What did they do? It’s a topic for discussion every time a storm hits, especially if it hits where we don’t live.

    Usually, the obvious target of God’s wrath is a situation or people group about which the person needing clarity feels very strongly about (“It’s the homosexuals! It’s the abortion doctors! It’s the war! It’s the greedy government. It’s because they took prayer out of our schools!)

    There’s quite a list that gets discussed in the aftermath of a disaster, like Hurricane Sandy, or the tornados that are devastating places such as Moore, Oklahoma. God does have lots of options it seems.

    I’m not sharing anything new here. Even Jesus pointed out that sin can have devastating results. He was once asked if a tower’s collapse in Siloam was a judgment from God on a well-known bad group of people. His response was: “Do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? No! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:4-5) In other words, if we’re trying to figure out who deserves judgment, we should start with ourselves.

    Many Christians today don’t see things as Jesus did. They observe modern Siloam towers fall and assume God is particularly unhappy with a specific group. “Thank God it’s not me!” (say all those who live far enough away).

    This perspective ignores the perspective of Jesus. If a tornado or towers collapsing impacts some, it’s deserved by all.

    However, here is a more fundamental question that needs to be addressed: Does God use natural disasters to punish America?

    According to the Bible, it is clear that God used this method at times. The Old Testament is full of stories where God used nature to further His purposes, or to send a message of blessing or judgment. So I’m asking, “Does God still use this method today in America. I believe He does not, and I have several reasons.

    First, Hurricane Sandy’s arrival in November of 2012 gave a lot of options. Was it the election? International politics? New York City’s recent decision to hand out more contraception? Abortion? Homosexuality? Greed? Halloween? The Bible does not portray a God who slaps people around and then makes them guess why. The prophet Amos wrote to the Israelites that when it comes to judgment, “God does nothing without first telling his prophets the whole story.” (Amos 3:7). A punishment without a known reason accomplishes nothing. We do not have a record that Pharaoh ever asked, “What was that all about?”

    When God brought judgment to a situation in the Bible, there was a pattern: people were engaged in known wickedness; they received a clear, prophetic call to repentance; they were given an opportunity to escape. The book of Jonah provides a great example of how this works.

    Second, if large natural disasters are national referendums, what do local storms mean? If we believe God was angry at America because of a hurricane, a tornado, an earthquake, was He in addition mildly irritated with Mytown? A few days ago we got some very heavy wind, rain, and hail along with a few downed trees and power outages. A tree fell on a neighbor’s house, but not mine. Should I read something into that?

    In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus noted, “[God] causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). I’m not sure we should use any kind of weather to gauge the character of our neighbors, be they local, national, or international.

    Third, and I use this example because I have experienced the following town via business trips and stop-over’s when driving cross-country. If we use natural disasters as a means of gauging God’s displeasure, why hasn’t Vegas been leveled? It’s “Sin City”; it’s the poster city for pretty much everything for which Christianity hates. On an international level, why doesn’t Amsterdam (with all its decadence) or certain Islamic areas (for their persecution of Christians) get nailed? That would seem like an easy choice.

    Luke 9:51-55 records this interesting window into the mindset of Jesus: “Jesus set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples, James and John, saw this, they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?’ But Jesus turned and rebuked them.”

    I wonder what Jesus is saying to us today.

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