Is God in control of natural disasters? Can He stop Tsunamis and earthquakes if He wants to? If so, why doesn't He? In this message Stephen discusses the implications of Christ's sovereignty over nature and how this truth should effect our worldview.
“Lord of All the Weather”
In the late 1970’s a book was published that created a phenomenal, somewhat unexpected audience. In fact, to this day, the following of fans after Harry Potter and Star Wars and Lord of the Rings cannot come close to matching the attention this particular book received.
Alex Haley was the author of a fictional book entitled, Roots which became a record breaking series on television, watched 130 million people.
In Haley’s loosely told family history, he begins with the story of Kunta Kinte – who 7 generations earlier was kidnapped in Gambia in 1767 and transported to the Province of Maryland to be sold as a slave. The novel follows the story of Kunta and succeeding generations.
While doing his research, Alex Haley went to the village of Jufureh, where Kunta Kinte grew up and which is in existence to this day, and listened to a tribal historian tell the story of Kunta’s capture and abduction from home. Haley also traced the records of the ship, The Lord Ligonier, which he said carried his ancestor to America.
Roots has been published in 37 languages and Haley won a special Pulitzer prize in 1997.
There are many people – black and white who doubt the historicity of Roots. In fact, Alex Haley had to settle out of court on charges of plagiarizing another author. My point is not whether or not everything Haley said was true or original.
My point is in the response of people – literally around the world.
When Haley’s book was aired in mini-series format on television, more than 60% of Americans tuned in.
Why the incredible interest?
For starters, Roots emphasized that African Americans have a long history and that not all of that history is lost, as many believed. But the popularity of this series obviously crossed racial divides – why – it spoke to the human hearts desire and longing to connect with the past.
James Montgomery Boice, Genesis: Volume 1 (Zondervan, 1982), p. 14
One author wrote, “This man’s link to his past gave a sense of meaning to us all.”
Ibid, p. 15
This is really a search for dignity and value, isn’t it? Our search for roots is ultimately a search for the meaning of life.
R. C. Sproul wrote, “If our past history tells us that we have emerged from the slime, that we are only grown up germs, what difference can it possibly make whether we are black germs or white germs; whether we are free germs or enslaved germs? Who cares? We can sing of the dignity of man, but unless that dignity is rooted in that which has intrinsic value, all our songs of human rights and dignity are so much whistling in the dark. If all you have is the present – with not history – there is no dignity, only nothingness.
Ibid, p. 15
No wonder mankind, regardless of race or nation or creed on every continent asks the same questions . . . “Who am I?” and “Where did I come from?” Which is another way of asking, “Do I really matter?”
It’s no surprise then to find out in my research this past week that genealogical studies have literally skyrocketed in the past 30 years. In fact, I discovered there are on average more than 1,000 hits on web sites – dealing with genealogical resources – listen, around 1,300 hits every minute of every day.
Tens of millions of people are involved in tracing their own roots to discover where they came from – in an attempt to help discover who they are and where they might be heading.
One of the benefits of the believer is that we have been given the ultimate resource in genealogical studies. We know the names of our ancestors – beginning with the first ancestor who started the entire family tree – Adam.
Our value is rooted in history, revealed to us by God.
And what tragic confusion abounds not only about our past but our future when this genealogical resource is discarded.
I recently read the NPR transcript of an interview with singer Mary Chapin Carpenter who came out with a hit song called Grand Central Station. She said in the interview that she was inspired by an iron worker who had been on the scene when the towers fell on 9/11. He worked at Ground Zero for days afterward. The iron worker said that at the end of each shift, he felt compelled to go to the train station so that the souls of the victims could follow him. Carpenter said, “He’d find himself just going to Grand Central Station and standing on the platform and thinking whoever wanted to go home could catch the train home.”
National Public Radio, Morning Edition, May 6, 2004:npr.org
This was her inspiration. How tragic is that? How hopeless and meaningless is that?
Listen, if our past is disconnected with the revelation of God, then not only is our past meaningless, our future is equally pointless; we’re just souls floating around hoping to land someplace better than this.
God has spoken here. In fact, He speaks to one of our ancestors named Job, who happened to be wondering about the value of his life. And He informs Job of his roots . . . in fact, He takes Job on a verbal tour of the origins of the universe . . . this planet . . . and life itself.
Our history has its roots in the hands of God. Our future has it’s hope in the hands of God.
As God speaks to Job, beginning in Job chapter 38, he continues to reveal His creative mastery over the present conditions of Job’s world – and ours. He reveals His mastery over the universe by asking Job one unanswerable question after another.
Look at verse 18. Have you understood the width of the earth? In other words, “Job, do you know the measurements of planet earth?”
He didn’t; we do –
- we have approx. 57 million square miles of land surface;
- and 139 million square miles of water surface;
- the equatorial circumference of planet earth is 24,902 miles long.
I had to look that up, trust me; hold your applause. I was barely interested in physics as a kid . . . phys Ed, yeah!
The point God is making is not that these questions are unanswerable by Job and we can answer some of them.
No, what God is doing is bringing Job to the rather obvious recognition that not only does he not understand all of God’s creative handiwork, he can’t control what he does understand – he and we cannot control even the weather.
Anybody in here control the rain? Bring it on! Don’t hold back. Our state of North Carolina is experiencing an historic drought, and anxiety levels are increasing as water levels are decreasing.
Can anybody here time the frost or bring us snow on December 24th? And make sure they melt by the following Monday?
The only person to control the weather by His own power was Christ who walked on top of water and allowed Peter to do the same – although momentarily; Christ then could say to the raging storm, be still and not only did the waves cease their churning, but the raging wind immediately became calm.
What God will do in the remaining verses of chapter 38 is not only reveal His creation of origins and history, but reveal His control over the present conditions of weather.
He will take Job on a verbal tour of a dozen things relative to weather conditions.
And he begins with light and darkness in verse 19 of Job chapter 38. Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And darkness, where is its place, that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home?
One author wrote, “Perhaps nothing in all of physics is more fascinating or more mysterious than light. Light is the single most important source of energy and heat on earth. Without light, life on earth would be impossible for very long. Virtually all the earthly mechanisms we depend on for the transfer of energy are derived, ultimately, from light. Wind, the water cycle, and ocean waves would all cease if the earth were to remain in utter darkness for very long. The earth would quickly turn cold and all life would cease.”
John MacArthur, The Battle for the Beginning (W Publishing, 2001), p. 83
Is it any wonder that the first creative order from God and the starting point of creation was, “And God said, let there be light and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3)
Now the record of Genesis informs us that the light sources of sun, moon and stars weren’t created until the fourth day. So, the form of this light as God’s early act of creation is unknown to us. It might have been some light that emanated from a specific God-ordained place or perhaps the disclosure of His own Shekinah glory.
It shouldn’t be difficult for us to believe that the One whose glory is described as pure light can command light to appear.
In fact, the Book of Revelation tells us that in heaven there will be no need for the sun to shine because the light will be provided by the revealed glory of God and its lamp is the Lamb. (Revelation 21:23)
Job, do you know where the light lives and the darkness hides?
By the way, the more we not only discover about light but harness it opens up amazing possibilities.
Light gives us the ability to heat a cup of coffee in the microwave; listen to radio waves; get burned at the beach with ultraviolet rays; get checked out by the doctor through x-rays; get held up at the airport by security x-ray.
We’ve all seen crews laying pipe along the roads through which fiber optic lines will be lain. Fiber optic material actually moves along tiny pulses of light at literally the speed of light with pinpoint precision. These pulses are basically rapidly flashing on and off signals, carrying everything from digitized telephone calls to video images. All of this is possible because of the marvelous properties of light.
MacArthur, p. 82
Your eyeglasses change the direction of light so precisely that you can see images better because of them.
How did this amazing thing called light come to be?
God said in Isaiah 45:7, “I form the light and create darkness.”
Look at a rather futuristic clue in verse 24 – Job would never have imagined – “Where is the way that the light is divided?”
We now know that the different colors of light are simply varying wavelengths of light in the spectrum.
It was Isaac Newton in 1665 how discovered that the prism wasn’t coloring the light, it was simply dividing the light into its varying wavelengths.
Prisms separate the colors of light because as the light passes through the prism its direction is bent. Different color waves, moving then at different speeds, come out of the prism separated into a visible display.
In Psalm 74:16, David writes, “You have prepared the light and the sun”.
In Psalm 65:8, “You make the dawn and the sunset sing for joy.”
Now, we would normally take this as poetic personification. The dawn and sunset are visual, not audible. They are surely not literal music! Which is interesting in light of scientific discoveries; could God be revealing through David what we have yet to discover? That light actually sings?
Well, if light and heat and sound are vibrations – wave and particle – the mere existence of color may have a musical harmony we have yet to hear.
Adapted from S. Ridout, The Book of Job (Loizeaux Brothers, 1919), p. 222
But wouldn’t it be fascinating to discover one day and hear it for the first time, this symphony of light.
Job, you have no idea about the elements of light and darkness which I have created, God says.
And neither do we.
God moves on to mention forms of water, varied by weather conditions.
Verse 22. Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of distress.
God could be referring to one of His plagues in Exodus 9 as He sent the hail to devastate the land of Egypt. Perhaps a reference to Joshua 10:11 when God protected his people by sending hail upon the invading armies. Perhaps it’s a reference to the final judgment of God during the tribulation period where, in Revelation 16, John writes, that huge hailstones, about 100 pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe. (Revelation 16:21)
The storehouse of snow and hail is surely nothing less than the hand of God.
The creation of water is one of God’s marvelous creations. Without it we wouldn’t live. In fact, we wouldn’t exist.
The human body has been called a water machine‚ designed primarily to run on water and minerals. Listen to this: In just the last 10 years medical science has begun to focus more on the healing ability of our body and its dependence on water. The human body is made up of over 70% water. Our blood is more than 80% water‚ our brain is over 75% water. The function of every cell in our body is controlled by electrical signals sent through our nervous system from the brain. Our nerves‚ in reality‚ are an elaborate system of tiny waterways.
Article posted on Aquasana.com
And that’s just the beginning.
Job, have you ever thought about water – in so many different forms.
How about snow – where cold temperatures turn its molecules into crystals of lovely and varied form.
Why do snowflakes have such intricate beauty and symmetry? Why don’t they all look alike?
What did Job understand in chapter 28 where he said that God made the weight for the wind and weighed the waters by measure.
We today have the entire science of water known as hydrology, which studies the occurrence and behavior of water.
We now know that the global weights of air and water must be in critical relationship to each other in order to maintain life on earth. In fact, if the weights of either air or water were much different than they are, life as we know it could not survive. Planet earth was uniquely designed for life.
By the way, this passage also informs us that air and wind have weight. This wasn’t confirmed until nearly 4,000 years after Job wrote these words. What do you know?
The study of air and its weight has developed into the science of aerodynamics, which became the basis for aerospace developments.
God asks Job in verse 28 of chapter 38, look there, “Does the rain have a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew . . . look back in verse 26. Who brings rain on a land without people, on a desert without a man in it, to satisfy the waste and desolate land and to make the seeds of grass to sprout?
Job, can you explain how we get rain?
He couldn’t . . . we can’t fully, I learned this week which rather surprised me.
We know that water is converted by solar energy into the vapor state. Since water vapor is lighter than air, it rises and then condenses around dust particles and salt particles. We’re not sure how, but water droplets bind together to form larger and larger drops, which finally become so large that their weight is greater than the wind, causing them to fall to the ground as rain or hail or snow.
Look at what God says to Job in verse 37. Who can count the clouds by wisdom – in other words, I know the weight of the air and keep it balanced by my wisdom. Read on, “who tips the water jars of the heavens, when the dust hardens into a mass and the clods stick together.”
God is delivering truth that will take centuries for us to discover.
There’s more mystery however in rain than we can understand. One scientist asked, “What causes the small droplets to 9join with others and) become large enough to do this? Some clouds fall – or rain – while others grow dark and heavy but don’t. Job gives the answer, which only the believer will appreciate in Job 28:26, “God made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder.”
Henry Morris, The Remarkable Record of Job (Master Books, 2000), p. 38.
In other words, God makes it rain.
Henry Morris writes, “With the right combination of air turbulence and clouds, the complex forces generate an electrical field that produces lightning discharges and these violent electrical currents, in an complex energy exchange we don’t yet fully understand, causes the small water droplets to bind together with others to form larger drops than then become too heavy to remain in the clouds but fall to the thirsty ground.
Ibid, p. 39
God said centuries ago to Job, here in chapter 38 and verse 25, Who has cleft a channel for the flood, or a way for the thunderbolt – literally, the lightning of thunder, to cause it to rain.
Job . . . the order my handiwork uses everything from vapor to lightning to bring rain.
Listen to The Message paraphrase this paragraph:
“Have you ever traveled to where snow is made,
seen the vault where hail is stockpiled,
The arsenals of hail and snow that I keep in readiness
for times of trouble and battle and war?
Can you find your way to where lightning is launched,
or to the place from which the wind blows?
Who do you suppose carves canyons
for the downpours of rain, and charts
the route of thunderstorms
That bring water to unvisited fields,
deserts no one ever lays eyes on,
Drenching the useless wastelands
so they're carpeted with wildflowers and grass?
And who do you think is the father of rain and dew,
the mother of ice and frost?
You don't for a minute imagine
these marvels of weather just happen, do you?
The theme of this display was intended to reveal to Job that God not only created everything, He controls everything. He has established the laws of hydrology which water the earth and make life possible.
This is His doing . . . this is His providence.
David McKenna, the former president of Asbury Theological Seminary recalled in his commentary on Job a television show he watched where a panel of economists were asked a final question – which received an interesting answer. The question was this, “What is the greatest influence upon world economy?” The economists responded unanimously, “The weather.” After all our efforts to manage money and stock markets in order to control the economy, the honest confession is that the weather – a factor completely out of human control – will determine bull markets and bear markets, prosperity and depression, deficits and surpluses.
David McKenna, Mastering the Old Testament: Job (W Publishing, 1986), p. 289
The weather is the marvelous engine created by God which brings both blessing and sorrow, joy and suffering – all of it fulfilling the plan and purposes of God.
Just as we cannot understand the lightning, we cannot understand the hand behind the lightning.
It was not irony that God spoke from a whirlwind and referenced lightning. It was lightning that killed his flocks and his employees and it was a whirlwind which toppled the house and killed all 10 of Job’s children.
By being given revelation about God’s creation and control of nature, Job was brought to trust and worship the nature of God.
When God speaks it is done.
And our answer is not in what is done but in who it is which speaks.
The leper came to Christ, riddled with this fatal disease and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, I am willing – be cleansed.” (Luke 5:12-13) The Creator stood before the tomb of Lazarus and cried, “Lazarus, come forth. And he came back to life.” (John 11:43-44)
John Phillips, Exploring Genesis (Loizeaux Brothers, 1980), p. 40
The Creator of life speaks healing and life and the elements both seen and unseen obey Him.
And on that day – as Christ hung upon that cross – at this final sacrifice, at noon – when the sun was at its hottest and highest point, the sky suddenly grew dark and the light of the sun disappeared as if a curtain had been drawn – the Gospels indicate that the sun was no longer visible. It seemingly disappeared as the sky grew dark and dangerous. All nature seemed to hide for three hours as the dreadful judgment against its Creator fell from God the Father. Then Jesus cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” The anguish of God the man, separated in judgment from God the Father. And all of His creation seemed to agonize with Him as an earthquake shook the planet and rocks literally split open as if ripped apart in pain. He cried again, “It is finished” and He died. It’s interesting to me that the skies grew bright again for at His death at 3:00 o’clock the darkness lifted. The wrath of God was satisfied – it’s as if nature could uncover its head and come out of hiding. The debt of sin had been paid in full.
Job, can you call out and make it dark . . . or dawn? Can you command the rain to fall? Or bring on the snow?
“No – but I the Creator who commanded everything have
everything under my command.”
One more visual demonstration Job . . . notice verse 31. Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? 32. Can you lead forth a constellation in its season, and guide the Bear with her satellites? 33. Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, or fix their rule over the earth?
Look up Job . . . beyond the rain clouds and the lightning. Look at the stars. Can you manage and control them?
Some point out that Pleiades is the constellation that belongs to the Spring, as Orion to the Winter. In other words, God is asking Job, can you change the seasons? Can you bring on Spring and delay the Winter months? Do you have that power?
Adapted from Ridout, p. 233
And of course Job would answer, “no.”
While the Bible isn’t a handbook on astronomy, whenever it speaks to the subject, it is without error and with precision.
Consider the fact that the ancients thought the moon was larger than the sun. Ordinary observation would lead to that conclusion. It’s closer and seems larger.
How did Moses know that the sun was larger than the moon – as he wrote, “The greater light God ordained to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night.”
He didn’t. But God’s Spirit, breathed His infallible word through Moses and the truth was recorded.
And today, we know that the Sun could gobble up 6 million moons.
And the comparison of the earth and the sun in size? If the sun was the size of a basketball, the earth would be the size of the head of a pin – planet earth is a speck in comparison.
But Moses could have erred and referred to the Sun as the greatest or largest object in the sky – which he didn’t. He said it was the greatest light in direct reference to the earth.
And now we know much more. We now know that the star Antares, for example is so large that it could hold 64 million suns.
There is another constellation which includes the star Epsilon which is 27 billion times larger than the sun.
Ibid, p. 41
Teddy Roosevelt used to take guests that visited the White House out on the White House lawn after dark to look up at the stars. Sometimes he’d even lie down on the grass and invite his guests to do the same. I would invite you to do the same sometime. Then after some time he’d get up, brush himself off and say, “Well, I believe we are now small enough . . . let’s go on to bed.”
How small are we?
Who are we? Where did we come from? Do we matter?
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You are mindful of him?
Who are we that you would take thought of us?
This One who breathed the stars and planets into being – by the word of His mouth (Psalm 33) . . . this transcendent Lord of the universe condescended to become a human being – robed in flesh, fully man – yet still fully God. He came to our little blue speck. And having taken on flesh we will see Him and walk with Him and worship Him and serve Him and reign with Him as His redeemed Bride for He soon have us with Him inhabiting the royal city and ruling with Him the universe.
This is who we are . . . this is where we’ve come from . . . this is how much we matter . . . this is where we are going!