Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Does God cause all natural disasters and sicknesses?

Does God cause all natural disasters and sicknesses?

Question: Does God cause all natural disasters and sicknesses? Or is nature just on autopilot since Creation? I have a hard time believing there is a middle ground. If all natural disasters are caused by Him, what about all weather patterns (each drop of rain, each period of drought, every temperature level in every location which indirectly affects our ecosystem indefinitely)? This question hinges significantly on the sovereignty of God issue - God can, of course, cause a tornado in Oklahoma that kills people, but does He? Everyone wants to say that God would never purposefully send a person to Hell, but in those scenarios He does, because those people could accept Him at some point in the future.

I will answer this question by simply listing some verses in an order that makes sense. Then I will give a brief description at the end. Hopefully this will prompt you to study these passages further. The one that helps make the most sense, if you look at it in detail, is the first couple chapters of Job.

God is in control

Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; 

Mat 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

Summary: Every ounce of our being is held together by God's power. That doesn't sound like autopilot to me.

Natural Laws

Genesis 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

Genesis 8:22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Psalm 74:16-17 The day [is] thine, the night also [is] thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun. Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.

Psalm 104:19 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.

Psalm 119:91 (see context of verse 90) They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all [are] thy servants.

Psalm 148:6 (see context) He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass.

Jeremiah 31:35 Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, [and] the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts [is] his name:

Jeremiah 33:25 Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant [be] not with day and night, [and if] I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth;

Examples: laws of life (biogenesis; Genesis 1), chemistry, planetary motion, physics, mathematics, logic, uniformity of nature.

Summary: God has setup natural laws that govern the universe. Might seem like the universe is running on autopilot, but remember Colossians 1:17.

Cause of suffering and natural disasters

Romans 8:22 (see context) For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

Summary: The ultimate reason for all death and suffering in the world is Adam's sin, passed down to us (Romans 5:12). Since I already know that God is in control, He obviously allowed it to happen.

God creates evil vs time and chance

Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these [things].   (compare evil in Isaiah 47:11)

Psalm 148:8 Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word:

Ecc. 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race [is] not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Summary: In this case, evil is bad storms and the like. God clearly creates those things. Ecclesiastes is not saying that time and chance means that God is not in control, but that good things and bad things happen to everyone.

Hand of the Lord vs hand of the Devil (Job)

Job 1:11-12 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath [is] in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

Job 1:16 While he [was] yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Job 1:21-22 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Job 2:3-6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that [there is] none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he [is] in thine hand; but save his life.

** Was it God or Satan afflicting Job????

Summary: Satan did it, but Job said it was the Lord and Job 1:22 says Job spoke correctly. Therefore, saying that God afflicted Job when it was actually the Devil is a very accurate statement. But how can this be? See next point ...

The Devil as a tool in God’s hand

Isaiah 10:5 O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. (see context, and verse 15)

God using others -- Jeremiah 51:15-23

Zechariah 14:2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

Romans 13 - the powers that be are ordained of God

Summary: Even the Devil is just a tool in the Master's hand. God is working all things, even our sin, even the Devil's evil plans, for God's own purposes and glory. That's how wonderfully powerful and glorious God really is.

End Summary: Sickness, death, and disasters are ultimately caused by man’s sin.  But God is in control and every ounce of our being exists by His power.  Even though the Devil or the laws of nature are working in our world, the Bible attributes it to God.  Even the Devil is just a tool in the Master’s plan.  The laws of nature, the Devil, and others are really just “powers that … are ordained of God”.  So yes, God sends the hurricane and tornado that kills people because the “powers that be are ordained of God”.  God has allowed certain powers (the Devil, the laws of nature, etc.) to be in control, but it is still God on the throne and in charge.  If this seems unfair, remember that the original cause of all death and suffering is our sin, but Christ took the curse for us on the cross (Galatians 3:13).  If God is to blame for allowing/making these bad things happen (and I’m not saying that He is), remember that it is because of our sin but God took care of it all on the cross when He sent His son Jesus to die for our sins, something planned by God before the foundation of the world.

In short, it is a bit more complex than a simple yes or no God causes suffering. But in the Biblical answer, I see the wonderful message of the gospel of Christ - who died on the cross for our sins (the cause of all the world's problems) and rose from the dead - that we might have the promise of eternal life.

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