The Philippines, my home, was ravaged yesterday by the worst typhoon (hurricane) to ever make landfall. Ever. It was an significant event in history. It’s also a significant event Biblically.
My house was not damaged by the storm – we live in Manila which was out of the direct path. But I have seen, heard, and felt the impact to the Philippines. I have experienced the chaos that the storm caused. In a similar way, you did too. You saw the news reports, the satellite images, the Twitter trends. We are all aware of the impact of storms like this.
There have been other recent weather related events, in the Philippines and elsewhere, that have caused the world to pay attention. Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Sandy, the tsunami in Japan, the recent earthquake in the Philippines, and now Typhoon Haiyan. And that’s not all of the major events recently, just a handpicked few.
So what is the biblical meaning? Is there a reason that events like this are taking place?
There are two principles that we can definitively see in the Bible that apply here:
1) God speaks through weather
The Bible teaches us that God controls the weather: Psalm 135:7 says He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries. The Bible also teaches us that God makes His presence known through what we would term today “natural disasters”. There was an earthquake after Jesus was crucified (Matthew 27:51-54), at the prayer meeting after Pentecost (Acts 4:31), during the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses (Exodus 19:18) and many other places mentioned in Scripture. God uses great storms and wind to accomplish his purposes, as with Jonah (Jonah 1:4). And in Nahum 1:3 it says that “The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, And the clouds are the dust of His feet.”
Very clearly then, God is the one who controls the “natural disasters” on earth. And He uses these weather patterns and natural disasters to make his presence known. God communicates through His creation. As believers, we must not view weather as just a “natural occurrence”. This is a very Deistic, unbiblical view of God, that assumes He is not actively involved in the world today. We must view significant weather and related events as God making His presence known.
So what is God saying?
In the verses above, we see that God says many different things through “natural” means, but certainly it is always to remind us of Who He is. The point of the earthquakes and storms in the verses above is to make people aware of God. Why should the same not be true today? I believe that through these recent global events, God is reminding humanity of Who He is and what He is planning.
2) These are signs of the end times
“And 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; 26 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. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:25-28
There is no phrase that describes the calamity of the tsunamis, hurricanes, typhoons, and earthquakes better than “distress of nations”. You have seen it for yourself in the wailing mothers, the broken spirits, and the crippled and injured on TV. These nations are distressed. As an American, I remember the videos of people stranded on their roofs after Katrina. I remember the FEMA follow up disasters and everything related. Distress.
And speaking specifically of hurricanes/typhoons and tsunamis, “sea and waves roaring” is a pretty accurate depiction I believe.
Are we paying attention? God is speaking to us. The things that Jesus predicted are happening.
These are not merely isolated “natural events”. God is speaking.
These, my friends, are exciting times to be alive.