Are Natural Disasters a Sign from God?Essays, Featured — By Jeff Fulmer on July 30, 2012 at 8:02 am
As fires roared through Colorado a couple of weeks ago, Pat Robertson and the other self-appointed interpreters of God’s Divine Will were strangely quiet. They are often quick to point the finger of judgment at places that they feel have been deserving of a good smiting; far-away places like Thailand, Haiti, or even New Orleans. Colorado, on the other hand, was a little too close for comfort. With organizations such as Focus on the Family headquartered in Colorado Springs, it has been called the Evangelical Vatican. So, was some sort of miscalculation made in the heavenly realm?
It’s hard to fathom God sending cataclysms to punish people who don’t have much more in common other than an area code. But, perhaps, there is a more obvious message to be gleaned from these increasingly frequent natural disasters. God allows me to suffer the consequences for poor decisions I’ve made in my own life, so why wouldn’t He let the human race reap what we’ve collectively sown? This would include actions such as clear cutting whole forests, stripping mining and mountain top removal, fracturing through shale, and pumping pollutants into the water and air.
Human beings require the earth’s resources for food, shelter, and a whole bunch of other, less necessary stuff. For the most part, corporations have established themselves as the middlemen between the planet and the consumer. While they make our lives infinitely easier, corporations are not in the business of conservation. With seven billion customers and counting, we are stressing the limits of the earth’s capacity. In Brian McLaren’s book, Everything Must Change, he compares this unsustainable relationship with our ecosystem to a ‘suicide machine.’
“The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.” Isaiah 24: 4-6
While this passage in Isaiah sounds like it could be our future, it’s dangerous to apply Old Testament prophecies to our modern day world. What is even more dangerous is to ignore real warning signs that our world is sending to us. Despite the disagreement in public opinion, the scientific community has been agreed on global warming for some time. The fact is there has been a steady upward trend in global temperatures over the last three decades with 2000 to 2009 being the hottest since they started measuring temperatures in 1895. 2012 is already the hottest half-year on record.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a heat trapping (or greenhouse) gas, so it’s not too surprising that as more manmade CO2 has been released into the atmosphere, global temperatures have risen. While some CO2 emissions occur in nature, humans and corporations are adding to the overall effect by burning fossil fuels and cutting down trees at an alarming rate. There is evidence that naturally occurring CO2 helped to end the last ice age. Since we’re not in an ice age, the question is where will the temperatures go from here? The answer is – no one knows where any of this is going…
Increasing CO2 levels will probably mean hotter climates, which will lead to more droughts and famines. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently reported that the ice caps are melting faster than previously thought. Since ice caps reflect heat, their disappearance will only exacerbate global warming. And, of course, melting ice caps will cause water level to rise. Combined with oceanic warming trends, this creates conditions for even wilder weather. It’s also well documented that warmer water is also more acidic and destructive to marine life.
“The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great – and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” Revelation 11: 15
That should serve as a warning to those who destroy the earth, including those who consciously confuse the issues for their own political and financial gains. Of course, everyone shares responsibility. We have to de-politicize the debate and demand a more constructive forum. We have to better understand the problems we face and implement real changes to public policy. The environment is an issue both religion and science should be able to get behind. If God is sending a message, maybe we should answer the call. In the end, no one wants to prove the prophets of doom right.
Jeff Fulmer lives in Nashville Tennessee and is the author of the book Hometown Prophet. http://www.hometownprophetbook.com/, If God spoke through a prophet today, would we really want to hear what he has to say?