Where is God amidst storms, disasters, and catastrophes? If God is all-powerful then why do these tragic events occur?
“The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.”
- Nahum 1:3
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Transcript: Hi, welcome to Five Minutes With Pastor Lutzer. I’m so glad that you have joined us again as we continue our study on the attributes of God. And today, we continue thinking about and contemplating the omnipotence of God. That simply means that God is able to do everything. And in the next segment, by the way, I’m going to be discussing whether or not any of God’s plans have ever been thwarted.
But today our text comes from the book of Nahum chapter 1, verse 3 where it says, “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.” And now, notice: “His way is in the whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” Let’s talk about the omnipotence of God as it relates to natural disasters and the weather.
Now, I have promised at the beginning of this series that I would not, by God’s grace, sidestep difficult questions. So today we’re gonna get into some difficulties, but I want you to see God in the midst of storms and in the midst of natural disasters, and will even try to answer what they try to teach us. But first of all, after Katrina happened, there were theologians that were interviewed on television. And I remember one saying this: “Well, God didn’t know it was going to happen.” Of course, a God like that is unworthy of worship. But then someone else was on and said, “You know, this is not a theological question. It’s a geological question. In other words, you know, the plates of the Earth, the movement of the water and the wind. All of that can be explained. God had nothing to do with this, with Katrina and with other kinds of devastation in the world.” And I thought to myself, I wonder what Bible they are reading.
Now, of course, it is true that the Earth is fallen. I get that. I also get that Satan can be involved. He was in the book of Job, when Job lost his children to a windstorm and to hail. So Satan can be involved. But I want you to grasp this: nothing happens without God’s approval. That’s why Satan kept going back to God and asking permission to continue his work.
What that means in practical terms is natural disasters happen with God’s permission. You say, “Well, do we blame God?” Well, I don’t like the word “blame,” because that implies culpability. It means somehow that God is to be charged with evil. But is God responsible, ultimately, even if He uses secondary causes? The answer is yes.
And of course, if you disagree with this, all that we need to do is to turn to the Scripture. It’s almost on every page. I mean, who sent the flood during the time of Noah, when you have 40 days of rain? Who sent the darkness during the times of the plagues of Egypt? And if you’re still unconvinced, what does Jonah chapter 1 verse 4 say? “And the Lord hurled a great wind on the sea.” The same Jesus who stood at Galilee and said “Peace, be still” and the wind and the waves obeyed Him, is the same Jesus who could have said no to Katrina; to the terrible tornadoes that are happening here in our country and around the world. God is sovereign. We’re discussing the omnipotence of God.
You say, “Well, this is somewhat scary.” Well, yes, it is. Let me tell you this, and this is one of those times when I wish five minutes would be 10 minutes or 15, but let me give you a very quick reason as to why God allows these natural disasters and what we can learn from them. First of all, let us remember that natural disasters are undoubtedly a result of the curse. They are undoubtedly a judgment from God.
Now we must tremble and walk very carefully here. That does not mean that there is a direct connection between a natural disaster and the people who experience it. We cannot say, for example, that Katrina happened to New Orleans because it is a more evil city than, say, Las Vegas. There have been tornadoes in some of the smallest towns of America, in Oklahoma and elsewhere, and there’s nothing that these people did to deserve that in terms of a cause-effect relationship. So from our standpoint, they happened randomly, but they are a reminder that the Earth is fallen and the Earth is under judgment until it is redeemed.
You say “Well, Pastor Lutzer, what are we to learn from natural disasters?” Well, very quickly. First, the uncertainty of life. There was a couple that left California because of the possibility of earthquakes there. They came to Missouri and died in a tornado. There’s something about natural disasters that remind us that we do not know how many days we have.
But there’s a second lesson, and that is that they are a preview of coming judgements. When I looked at the return of Jesus, the glorious return of Jesus, I noticed that there are at least five or six different natural disasters that take place. And in the final judgement, there are going to be many different natural disasters. So what God is saying to us today is judgment is coming. Prepare to meet your God. Or in the words of Jesus, “Unless you repent, you shall likewise perish.”
Now, this is chilling, but I’m actually gonna quote from the book of Revelation. And as many of you know, I memorized all of my verses years ago in the King James Version. So I’m giving it to you in the King James Version. But listen carefully and see what the final judgments are going to be like. Chapter six. We read words like this:
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo: there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood. And the stars of the heaven fell onto the Earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs when she is shaken of a mighty wind; and the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island moved out of their places. And the great men and the rich men and the bond-men and the free men hid themselves in the dens and the rocks of the mountains, and said unto the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the day of his wrath has come, and who shall be able to stand?”
Natural disasters remind us that judgement is coming, and it’s gonna be terrifying. That’s why my heart’s desire, and I hope it is yours as well, pleads with people to run—don’t walk—run to Jesus, who spares us from the wrath to come. Every time you hear about a tornado, a tsunami, remind yourself that life is uncertain, and judgement is on its way. I quote again the words of Jesus: unless you repent, you shall likewise perish.
Today as you think about this, be sobered, worshipful, thoughtful; and I hope that you’ll join us next time, but for today, go with God.