Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Are Storms an Act of God?

Does God send storms? It depends who you ask.

According to the Bible, in some cases storms can be used to send a message.

Consider the following from Haggai 2:15-19 (NKJV):
"‘And now, carefully consider from this day forward: from before stone was laid upon stone in the temple of the LORD—since those days, when one came to a heap of twenty ephahs, there were but ten; when one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty baths from the press, there were but twenty. I struck you with blight and mildew and hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to Me,’ says the LORD. ‘Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid—consider it: Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.’"
At first glance, these verses discuss an act of discipline by God towards the Israelites. Yet it is an act of discipline that comes to an end (verse 19). Although it illustrates a bit of judgment on one hand, right along with it is grace. The same idea can be found in Amos 4:7 (NKJV):
"I also withheld rain from you, when there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, and where it did not rain the part withered."
Does this mean every storm or raindrop that falls from the sky is an act of God, though?

If you subscribe to the clockwork universe theory, the answer is no. Local weather events are merely part of larger system set in motion by God eons ago. From Wikipedia:
"The clockwork universe theory compares the universe to a mechanical clock wound up by God, or initiated by the Big Bang. It continues ticking along, as a perfect machine, with its gears governed by the laws of physics, making every single aspect of the machine completely predictable."
This theory implies that God kickstarted the process and has not intervened since. Yet the Scriptures I listed above indicate otherwise. 

That may be all well and great, but the verses I used above were from the judgment-filled Old Testament. Right?

In Revelation 16:21 (NKJV), it talks about hail, too:
"And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great."
What is the "weight of a talent"? According to Wikipedia, it was probably around 130 pounds at the time Revelation was written.

Read that again slowly: 130 pound hailstones. The largest hailstone on record in the United States was about eight inches across and weighed 1.93 pounds. It fell in Vivian, South Dakota in July of 2010. To achieve a 130 pound hailstone, each stone would have to be greater than 14 inches across!

Then there's a curious incident that occured on April 26, 1877 in Minnesota. Governor John S. Pillsbury called for a day of prayer after a statewide infestation of grasshoppers. A massive sleet storm soon arrived and killed all the grasshoppers. In Cold Spring a chapel exists in memorial of this event.

On a side note, it's funny that in an age where American culture tries to evict God from their textbooks and legal documents that insurance companies still often use the phrase "acts of God" to refer to disasters brought on by floods, earthquakes, etc.

Are all storms an act of God? What do you think?

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