There has been a lot of speculation over the last 20 or so years about what is happening to our climate. Firstly we were told by the mass liberal media that ‘Global Warming’ was the cause of the strange weather patterns and sudden freak weather changes. Many, many scientists, in good faith and based on the available data at the time, stood shoulder to shoulder in defence of their theory.
Now many of those same scientists tell us that we are in a period of ‘Climate Change’; caused by ‘Global Warming’. One thing is for sure; the climate of the Earth is changing. From a Christian perspective though; who is in control of the weather? Is satan able to cause floods, tsunamis, hail or even earthquakes? Is God in control of the weather? Or satan? The answer actually has big implications on the character of God. He is either sovereign in all things or not.
To answer this let’s examine the account of Jesus and the disciples in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 8:23-27.
Jesus sleeps whilst the disciples start to panic at the sudden storm that threatens to overwhelm them. The Greek word for storm here is normally translated as ‘earthquake’ as is literally means a ‘shaking’. The emphasis Matthew was clearly trying to convey was the seriousness of the physical danger.
I have heard preachers imply that Satan was behind the squall that threatened to overwhelm the boat. My old Pastor even said to me that the text seems to imply that it “was an assignation attempt by the devil”.
What does scripture have to say on this? The Bible says in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”. Furthermore the account of creation in Genesis 1 makes it clear that God made the Earth, He filled the seas, land and air with life and He created the weather (Genesis 1:7) and controls it (Jeremiah 51:16, Psalm 135:6-7). Therefore God is sovereignly in control. He made the weather and it belongs to Him.
Let’s just pause a moment to examine whether or not God has ever handed control of the weather to satan. Are there any instances in the Bible where this is true?
We do have two examples in the Book of Job where satan came to God and asked for power to harm. This was when God allowed satan to test His servant Job. Satan was allowed to bring “fire of God” (Job 1:16), which was probably lightning, upon sheep and servants. This fire completely consumed them. This account is consistent with the power that is given to the false prophet in Revelation 13:13.
Then again we read in Job 1:18-19 that a “great wind came from across the wilderness and struck” a house that Job’s sons and daughters were dining in and completely flattened the house killing all but a servant that escaped to tell Job.
What is clear from this account in Job and Revelation that satan has to ask God for power and that any power that is given has defined restrictions on it, i.e. God said to satan that, “..everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” (Job 1:12).
However the Bible only gives us a couple of specific examples where satan is allowed to use lightening and wind. I do not believe, as there is no scriptural evidence for it, that satan has ever used earthquakes to bring harm. Every account of earthquakes in the Bible is when God is using them either as His weapons of war (Psalm 60:2, Isaiah 29:6), to demonstrate His power (1 Kings 19:11, Matthew 27:54) or to bring judgement (Matthew 24:7, Revelation 11:13).
Also there is no suggestion from the passage in Matthew that this was an attempt by satan to end Jesus’ life. Rather, by the suddenness of the storm, the panic of the disciples and subsequent calming of the storm by Jesus, clearly demonstrates the glory of God in the power of the storm and the glory of Jesus in its calming.
God, not satan is sovereignly in control of the weather and even though we may not understand at the time why God allows certain ‘natural phenomenon’ to occur, we must “pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).