Flash Floods, Scorched Earth
At the Main Street Eatery in parched Summerville, Tenn., a local farmer laments, “Did you hear it’s so dry, they’re only running the river three days a week?” “God will send the rain before it’s too late,” a waitress reassures customers.
They are among the many people worldwide who would consider even a single day of rain heaven-sent.
Many others, however, cry with exasperation when storm clouds begin to sprinkle—swelling already-swollen rivers, adding to already-damaging floodwaters.
Headlines such as “Fires and Floods From East to West U.S.” highlight the wide scope of disasters simultaneously walloping a nation once renowned for weather-driven agricultural prosperity. While one state simmers in a heat wave, another drowns in a deluge. The biblical phrase “rain in due season” is sounding more and more like a distant dream.
The story is the same in nations all over the world as people try to come to grips with weather patterns that are increasingly erratic and deadly. Never in living memory have so many nations witnessed such dramatic and destructive extremes of simultaneous droughts and floods. Weather calamities are erupting everywhere: Africa, Britain, China, Australia, Europe, Israel, and the list goes on.
Mark Twain famously said weather was the subject everybody talks about but nobody does anything about. The weather lately has given people more to talk about—and left them feeling more helpless—than ever before.
Why is this happening? Government officials and relief groups struggle to find solutions and clean up the aftermath, but are they missing the bigger picture?
Never have God’s words in Amos 4:7 been so vivid: “I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.”
The prophecy in Amos of cities suffering devastating drought is all too real for much of the United States.
Arizona and New Mexico have seen their worst drought in 500 years. Los Angeles and other Southern California cities baked in the driest six months of “rainy season” in 130 years. And the Colorado River basin—from which Southern California imports half of its water—is set to have its driest year yet.
These record droughts are igniting the land in wildfire. California’s “fire season,” which typically starts in June, began three months early—torching 2,046 acres in Orange County alone. Another 800 acres blazed near Pasadena, and a 4,750-acre inferno forced 3,300 people from Santa Catalina Island.
Firefighters to the tune of 1,200—the equivalent of 1 _ army battalions—tried to beat back 236 individual blazes in Florida. Typically, humid states like Georgia suffered the largest fires on record.
The accumulation of all these problems is taking its toll on crops. As Amos wrote, the cities not rained upon have withered. Drought, combined with a bitter frost earlier this year, destroyed all of Georgia’s apples and three fourths of its peaches. Unending droughts in states like California and Florida—two of America’s largest agricultural producers—could mean widespread job losses and higher food prices nationwide.
The parched conditions are being likened to the dustbowl of the 1930s, only worse. “The 1930s drought lasted less than a decade. This is something that could remain for 100 years,” said Richard Seager, lead researcher of a report published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
These disastrously dry conditions have people hoping, longing, even praying, for rain. One farmer in the Tennessee Valley said that for the first time in his life he was “wishing for a tropical storm.”
That is essentially what happened in Australia, where the worst drought in a century prompted Prime Minister John Howard to urge his people to pray. If rain didn’t come, he told Australians, he would have to cut off irrigation for the Murray-Darling river basin, Australia’s most productive farmland. This area, which hosts half the nation’s sheep, a quarter of its cattle and three quarters of its irrigated land, accounts for 40 percent of the country’s agricultural output. Suffice it to say, the prime minister’s threat sent shockwaves through the country.
Not long afterward, however, Australia’s skies began to rain down a torrent of curses.
When It Rains, It Pours
In June, the land Down Under witnessed the other half of Amos’s prophecy: rain as a curse. While providing relief to some farmers, major storms wreaked havoc across southeastern Australia. Parts of New South Wales suffered their worst flooding in 30 years, while Victoria experienced its worst in nearly four decades. Cyclone-strength winds, torrential rain and huge seas forced thousands to evacuate. Rivers burst their banks and floodwaters engulfed farms.
In the United States, you wouldn’t know there was a drought if you lived in New Jersey, New York, near the levees of the Missouri River, or in Oklahoma City—which experienced 20 days of consecutive downpours and broke records going back to 1937. Cities in Texas, South Dakota and North Dakota declared disasters or asked the president to declare a disaster due to the June flooding. One person called it a “rain bomb,” with rains in Austin falling at the astonishing rate of 8 inches per hour.
In Britain, the rains have been catastrophic. While Europe fought dozens of fires and endured record-high temperatures (claiming dozens of lives in Eastern Europe), swift flood currents in the UK drowned people and livestock.
Too much rain also takes its toll on crops. British farmers reported losses of up to 70 percent thanks to rain-induced rotting.
Whether torrential rain or dry heat, flood or fires, the weather balance is off. You need to know why. You also need to know if anything can be done to change these epically disastrous conditions.
What Controls the Weather?
Meteorologists have trouble predicting the weather even in the short term; they certainly cannot forecast weather changes or climatic variability in the long term. They admit they don’t know why major globe-impacting weather forces, such as high-altitude jet streams or powerful ocean currents, shift as they do.
Meteorologists are only able to rely on scientific observation, experimentation and reason—physical evidence—to forecast weather. But this tells only part of the story. There is another, little-used source we can turn to for the other portion of the picture. It claims to pinpoint the causes of weather cataclysms, and to forecast long-term weather trends. Yet it is a source whose veracity most people would question.
That source is God’s revealed Word: the Holy Bible.
Can this Book really tell us the true cause of weather crises?
The God of the Bible claims He controls the weather. He challenges us to believe Him! He says He causes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. He sends the snow and ice as well as drought and heat. He bathes the Earth with gentle rain to show His loving concern, yet also sends flood and mildew to punish (Matthew 5:45; Job 37; Deuteronomy 28:22).
The Bible also reveals that God has set spiritual and physical laws in motion, and that He is presently allowing humans to develop their own ways of living—contrary to His laws—and to reap the natural consequences that result from those ways, including weather upsets.
Further, God in His great purpose also allows Satan—the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)—to have a role in producing catastrophic weather, for man’s ultimate learning (see Job 1).
Whereas humankind, in explaining weather, looks only to material causes—physical phenomena measured by scientific instruments—the Bible shows that there is a spiritual dimension to this question!
Most people today consider themselves too sophisticated to believe such a thing.
God tells us that the real cause of our upset weather conditions involves sin—which is the transgression of His law (1 John 3:4). God uses weather to correct and discipline His creation—to help us realize the error of our way of living.
In the June 1995 issue of this magazine, our editor in chief wrote, “Why all these disasters? They are a warning from God to repent! The disasters will keep coming until we repent. That is our only hope.”
Anciently, wise King Solomon understood the connection between the transgression of God’s law and bad weather. When he dedicated the temple of God, Solomon prayed, “When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance” (2 Chronicles 6:26-27).
Weathermen and news reporters would scoff at the idea that chaotic weather bears any relation to our wrong ways of living—wrong lifestyles, morality and thinking. They consider themselves wiser than Solomon! But in reality, they, along with the majority of mankind, have been deceived (Revelation 12:9) and will end up being victims of the very prophecies they reject.
The Future Forecast
What does the Bible forecast? The answer to that question directly relates to the moral and spiritual condition of the world. Because that is prophesied to decay (a reality we see well advanced around us), so too is the state of our weather.
When leaders like Australia’s prime minister point a nation to God in prayer, it is a step in the right direction. But until people genuinely turn to God and obey His law, all the praying in the world will not fix problems with the weather.
In fact, the chaotic weather of recent decades will soon seem tame by comparison. In the near future, our weather is prophesied to go completely haywire (see Revelation 6:5-8; 8:4-12). The powerful forces of nature are going to be unleashed upon a disobedient world to bring it to its knees in repentance.
We should consider the worsening weather trend a warning from Almighty God—a warning to the nations today to turn from materialism, false religions and the sundry sins that are leading us away from the true path of peace and abundant living.
In Leviticus 26, God promises “rain in due season” and that “the land shall yield her increase” (verse 4)—but notice the condition: “if ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them” (verse 3). Were the nations to do so, we would find ourselves blessed with beautiful weather and stable climates. We would not have to fear climatic changes, crop failures and famine, or dying in a severe weather event.
We can experience prosperous living with pleasant, healthful weather—when mankind is willing to recognize God, His laws and His government. That will mean the dawning of a new age—the wonderful World Tomorrow. If you would like to know more about that soon-coming world, request a copy of our free booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like!