The cause and control of the weather has been one of the great human misunderstandings throughout the ages and even today. In ancient times, pagan societies invented gods to explain weather phenomena. They had gods and goddesses of rain, hail, lightning, wind, snow, and even rainbows. As human knowledge increased, we have come to understand these things are design features of the Earth. However, we still have misunderstandings about weather and climate. The current climate change debate makes that obvious.
The Bible doesn’t embrace the pagan misunderstandings of weather and related phenomena. Essential to our weather is the water cycle beautifully described in Ecclesiastes 1:7, “All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; the place from which the rivers come they return again.” You will also find this in Job 36:27-28. The ancients viewed lightning as weapons of the gods, but the Bible repeatedly references the fact that lightning is a natural occurrence. (See Jeremiah 10:13 and 51:16.) Recently, a local weather person said that lightning never hits the same place twice, but between 2015 and 2020, lightning struck the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago 250 times.
Tornadoes are a significant issue for those who want to blame God for destructive weather. However, few understand that tornadoes are pretty much an American phenomenon that seems related to how we have used the land. Every year, roughly 1,200 tornadoes are reported in the U.S. That is 75% of all tornado reports in the world. I have talked with indigenous people in America, and they tell me that their ancestors never saw a tornado and had no word for it. (They did have a word for dust devils.) Between our plowing and blacktopping the land, we may have provided a catalyst for these terrible storms.
Now, we are seeing global changes in climate and weather. Scientific evidence indicates that the way we use what God has given us is at least a contributor to these changes. Misunderstandings about weather and climate cause some to believe that destructive weather is a vindictive act of an angry God. The truth is that we have caused a very high percentage of our misery from dust storms to recent fires and flooding. We must listen to and obey God’s admonition to “Take care of the garden” (Genesis 2:15).
— John N. Clayton © 2023
Reference: Reader’s Digest for September 2023, pages 26-28.