Are Natural Disasters Really “Acts of God”?

Insurance policies frequently have specific disclaimers for “acts of God,” like tornados and hurricanes. Is that really the case? Are these natural disasters part of the wrath of a vengeful god?

As Hurricane Harvey continues to dump millions of gallons of rain on Texas and Louisiana, some areas are expecting over 50 inches of rain, in a matter of these few days. The unprecedented storm’s winds and waters have made yet a second landfall, in densely populated sections of the affected areas.  Innumerable homes, churches, and businesses are flooded, some up to their roofs!  Some residents have crawled up to their attics and then broken through the roof to gain access to potential rescuers.

I’ve not, yet, seen displaced people shaking their fists at God, but I have seen the “Cajun Navy” and other good hearted neighbors joining with organized first responders in hundreds of home rescues and transport of stranded motorists. One lady was assisted by helpful neighbors from her flooded home to a working hospital when she went into labor during the early hours of the “wind and waves.”

Some news journalists have referenced this coastal calamity as wrecking devastation “of biblical proportions.” They were referring to the biblical account of a 40 day-long, worldwide flood which destroyed “all living things,” except for one family of eight people and the animals which they had gathered in a large, three-storied ship. You can read all about it in Genesis, chapter six, of the Old Testament.

In this biblical record, the disastrous flood was an act of judgment by a holy God on a wicked people. In contrast to others of his time, the man Noah “was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (6:9). Unsurprisingly, Noah found favor in the eyes of God (6:8).

But, this holy God observed that “the people on earth had corrupted their ways” and the earth was “full of violence” and “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time”  (6:5,11-12). The Creator God “regretted that he had made human beings on the earth.” He was deeply troubled and determined to destroy the wicked population and start over. Only Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives escaped the devastating deluge and repopulated the earth (9:19).

The process of redemption and restoration of humankind on earth also brought a significant promise from Creator God. He told Noah and his family that “…Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” As a sign or symbol of this everlasting agreement or covenant, God “set My rainbow in the cloud” as a reminder of His promise that flood waters would never again “destroy all life” on earth.

While some biblical critics choose to discount the authenticity of this recorded account, one should note that Jesus himself acknowledged the biblical patriarch and his family, along with the divine judgment which came upon the rest of mankind (Matthew 24:36-39).

Jesus said his second coming will be “as the days of Noah were.”  The unrighteous people of that day were preoccupied with selfish pursuits and wicked practices.  Anger gripped their wicked hearts and violence prevailed.

Look around at our world today:

Are the “unrighteous” among us preoccupied with selfish pursuits and wicked practices, as they were in the days of Noah? Are some professing believers doing this, as well?

What violence will dominate our news and our nights this week? A radical-Islamic-jihadi-terrorist attack? Black Lives Matter marchers chanting for the death of police officers? KKK and white supremacists attacking or being attacked by violent, masked Antifa thugs.  “Alt-right” and “Alt-left” slinging their vitriolic obscenities and violent actions at one another?

The American Center for Law and Justice reports that “ISIS jihadists bomb Christians as they worship and behead them for refusing to convert to Islam. In Syria, they are crucifying Christian kids. In Iraq, they are burning Christian girls alive.”

Demigog dictators are threatening nuclear missiles at our country and allies in the Middle East and the Pacific Rim, while religious barbarians are kicking down the doors of Western Civilization in Europe.

Recognized Bible teacher John MacArthur was asked about racism and the recent vicious riots and murder of a peaceful protester in Charlottesville, Virginia. A YouTube video of his response is insightful for our day. He quoted Jeremiah 17:9 and said the human heart is evil and the events in Charlottesville were not really about racism but were the angry response of wicked people. He said, no one can tolerate the KKK or White Supremacists, but the lawless breakdown of moral law and governing authority only stirs up racial injustice and increases human anger and hatred.

This is the kind of world that we read of “in the days of Noah.” Jesus said it is this kind sinfulness and wickedness which will initiate the persecution of believers and great tribulation for God’s chosen ones at the end of this age.

This great distress, “unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21) will be climaxed by the glorious return of Jesus Christ.  The exact day or hour of this great event is unknown. Only Father God knows it.

However, the season of this triumphant return of King Jesus IS discernable, by the extreme wickedness and violence of mankind.

Revelation chapter six declares that some will plan for peace conferences, while other will instigate all kinds of international conflicts. The scarcity of food and financial resources will develop and dominate large sections of our world. Martyrdom by the sword will kill millions, as followers of a “cult of death” do “beastly things” in the name of religion. During all of these tragic events,  great cosmic disturbances will cause great fear and destruction. Yet, the majority of wicked mankind will not turn to God—just as in the days of Noah.

The Apostle Peter prophesied that in the last days scoffers would laugh at biblical warnings of the “acts of God.” Let us read and be forewarned again at how we should live in these final days:

2 Peter 3:3-12 New International Version (NIV)

3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word, the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.

May we live holy lives and seek to serve others, as “acts of God.”

Gary Curtis

Gary Curtis is a recently retired minister who writes a blog, where he seeks to relate a biblical worldview regarding societal issues of public interest. Trying to be “salt and light,” as Jesus commands, these brief blog-posts are primarily pro-life, pro-family and pro-religious liberties, while also speaking up for the people and nation of Israel.

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