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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Natural Disasters Today - Is God Really Responsible?

Some people believe that God uses natural calamities to discipline humankind. Others reject that notion. Still others do not know what to believe.

But does the Bible teach that God is behind the natural disasters we see today? Not at all! God is not causing the earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and volcanic eruptions that are so often in today’s news. He is not using these to bring punishment on certain peoples. To a large extent, these are caused by natural forces that have been operating since the earth’s creation. God’s judgments as described in the Bible are quite different from natural disasters. For one thing, God is selective; he reads the hearts of individuals and destroys only those he deems wicked. (Genesis 18:23-32) Furthermore, God sends warnings first, thereby giving the righteous opportunity to escape.

Natural disasters, on the other hand, strike with little or no warning, and they kill and maim indiscriminately. To some extent, mankind has made such disasters worse by damaging the natural environment and by building in areas prone to earthquakes, floods, and extreme weather.

Not only does the Bible shed light on whether God sends natural disasters to punish mankind today, but it also sheds light on what is behind the suffering that so many experience.

The Scriptures Provide a Pattern

The Bible reveals two fundamental truths about God, whose name is Jehovah. First, He is the Creator and as such has the power and authority to control earth’s natural forces. (Revelation 4:11) Second, his actions are always in harmony with His personality, qualities, and principles. He states at Malachi 3:6: “I am Jehovah; I have not changed.” With these points in mind, consider two events in the past, one involving a flood and another involving a drought. You will see that in Bible history when God used natural forces to execute his judgments, he always provided (1) a warning, (2) a reason, and (3) protection for obedient worshippers.

                     THE FLOOD OF NOAH'S DAY

Warning. Decades before the Flood, Jehovah told Noah: “As for me, here I am bringing the deluge of waters upon the earth to bring to ruin all flesh.” (Genesis 6:17) Noah, “a preacher of righteousness,” warned the people, but they “took no note.”—2 Peter 2:5; Matthew 24:39.

Reason. Jehovah announced: “The end of all flesh has come before me, because the earth is full of violence as a result of them.”—Genesis 6:13.

Protection for obedient worshippers. Jehovah gave Noah detailed instructions regarding the making of an ark for survival of the Flood. “Noah and those who were with him in the ark kept on surviving.”—Genesis 7:23.

                         DROUGHT IN ISRAEL

Warning. Before Jehovah God brought a severe drought on Israel, his prophet Elijah announced: “There will occur during these years neither dew nor rain, except at the order of [God’s] word!”—1 Kings 17:1.

Reason. Israel’s worship of the false god Baal prompted Jehovah’s action. In explanation, Elijah stated: “You men have left the commandments of Jehovah, and you went following the Baals.”—1 Kings 18:18.

Protection for obedient worshippers. Jehovah provided food for obedient worshippers during the drought.—1 Kings 17:6, 14; 18:4; 19:18.

What the Pattern Reveals

Today there is no evidence that natural disasters are part of a master plan to punish mankind. As a God of justice, Jehovah has never ‘swept away the righteous with the wicked.’ (Genesis 18:23, 25) He made provision for those who were obedient to him. Today natural disasters afflict men, women, and children indiscriminately.

Clearly, current natural disasters do not fit the pattern of divine intervention found in the Scriptures. What is more, these random events are out of harmony with God’s personality. James 1:13 states that God does not try people with evil things, and 1 John 4:8 sums up God’s character in these words: “God is love.” He could never be responsible for the misery inflicted on innocent people by random storms, earthquakes, and similar tragedies. Will such disasters ever end?

The Suffering Will End

Jehovah God never intended for humankind to be plagued by natural disasters. His will is for humans to live forever in peaceful conditions on earth. As he did in Noah’s day, he will intervene in earth’s affairs to remove badness. True to form, Jehovah God is providing advance notice by having a message of warning declared worldwide, thus allowing people to put themselves in line for survival.—Psalm 37:9, 11, 29; Matthew 24:14.

Sources For This Article:

The Bible’s Viewpoint - Does God Use Natural Disasters to Punish Mankind Today? (g 12/12 pp. 10-11; Watchtower Online Library)

Are Natural Disasters Punishment From God? (w08 5/1 p. 30; Watchtower Online Library; AUDIO/VIDEO at right.)

Is God Responsible? (g 9/07 pp. 4-7; Watchtower Online Library)

Acts of God? (g 11/06 pp. 3-4; Watchtower Online Library) 

Is God Punishing Us? - Natural Disasters—Why So Many? (w11 12/1 pp. 4-5; Watchtower Online Library)