According to Genesis 1, at the beginning of human history at the Creation, everything that exists was made by God to be originally perfect. But then, sin entered and corrupted everything, so God placed a curse upon the world (Genesis 3). Mankind has long awaited the restoration of the Creation, which will happen upon Christ’s return, for then “the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
Christians have long been waiting for that glorious day when Jesus Christ returns and fixes all that has fallen into sin. But, in the meantime, we live in a world where nature has been thrown into a great upheaval. Because of this great upheaval, extreme weather often occurs due to our out-of-kilter weather system.
Weather Used to Signify Important Events
God, at times, uses signs in nature to underline the importance of major events.
For example, when God etched the Ten Commandments and then gave them to Moses and the Israelites, the Bible says in Exodus 19 that this divine event was covered in smoke and rumblings and great fire on the mountain.
“Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled… Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly” (Exodus 19:16-18).
Also, when Jesus was born, God placed the star of Bethlehem up in the sky to show people where the Messiah had been born. The wise men asked: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:2).
And again, when Christ was crucified, for three hours, darkness blotted out the daylight, and Jerusalem experienced a great earthquake: “from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land… and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split” (Matthew 27:45,51).
God used and still does use weather to point to significant events in history.
Weather Used as Remedial Judgments
At other times, God uses the signs of nature, such as extreme weather, as remedial judgments for the purpose of calling wicked nations to repentance. For example, in Deuteronomy 28, Moses warned the Israelites that if, as a people, they became exceedingly wicked, exactly which curses would befall them:
- “Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks” (v. 18).
- “And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron. The Lord will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed” (vv. 23-24).
- “You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but shall not gather its grapes” (v. 30).
Moses noted God’s purpose for His remedial judgments should the Israelites refuse to repent and return to Him and live by His moral law:
“Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever” (vv. 45-46).
Sure enough, once the Israelites had become steeped in sin, God would inflict them with remedial judgments through extreme weather. When the Prophet Elijah called King Ahab and the nation of Israel to repent, Ahab flat-out refused, and so God sent a drought that withered the crops for three-plus long years (1 Kings 17-18).
Another time when Israel had become lethargic in their relationship with their Heavenly Father, God cursed the land with a great locust swarm that quickly consumed all of Israel’s crops. As God had desired, the Israelites did repent (Joel 1-3).
Also, after the Jews had returned from captivity in Babylon and were tasked with rebuilding the Temple, they only got as far as the foundation before they gave up and stopped working for 14 long years. God waited until, finally, He decimated their crops with root rot and mildew and sent furious hail storms to cut the remaining plants down. Again, as God had desired, the people repented and right away started back working on the Temple’s reconstruction (Haggai 1-2).
Now how do we know the difference between a natural disaster caused by a fallen world and when God uses nature as a remedial judgment? Three points. One, the timing of the event as it relates to the sins of the nation can help the people discern which is which. Two, the magnitude of the event reveals whether God is speaking or not because remedial judgments are designed to produce great shock value in order to capture people’s attention and force them to think with an eternal perspective. And three, the prophet’s declaration, for the prophet speaking for God would say, “I am doing this to get you to repent.” So, we can know the difference based on the timing, the magnitude, and the prophet’s declaration concerning natural disasters.
Pointing to Christ’s Return
Some may be thinking, “That’s the Old Testament! Aren’t we living in the Age of Grace? God doesn’t use the sign of nature anymore, right?” Well, not according to Jesus Christ. In the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13), Jesus provided ten signs that would point to His soon return. He said they would increase in frequency and intensity – like the birth pangs of a woman in labor – the closer we got to His return. “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:8). Note in particular how birth pains increase in frequency and intensity the closer to the baby’s birth.
Some of the signs of the end times that would grow increasingly worse until Christ’s return: war: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7). Other signs would involve “fearful sights and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11). Likewise, “there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26).
This is the point when these signs become so violent and happen so frequently that “then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). Haven’t Christians been longing for Christ’s return? Jesus adds great hope that “when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28).
The Apostle Paul confirmed that Christians are meant to be able to discern the signs that point to Jesus’ soon return so as not to be taken unaware. He noted this in 1 Thessalonians 5:1.
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day…” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-5)
For those who know Jesus Christ as their Savior, they are a son or daughter of the light and son or daughter of the day. They can most certainly recognize the signs of the times that Jesus has provided that foretell His return to this earth.
In the second part of this teaching about the end times sign of nature as it relates to extreme weather, we will scour the data to see if, in truth, natural disasters are indeed increasing in frequency and intensity.