Weather: God’s Bullhorn to Mankind
When I think back on my life as an Aussie farm boy, three activities stand out in my mind: having wounds stitched, working in mum’s garden, and me and my three rowdy brothers being hushed at about 6:25 p.m. every night, when Dad would watch the nightly weather forecast. For a young boy, it was as if time stood still when the weather was on.
Fair enough too. Our existence, as every farmer knows—and which many city slickers have forgotten—was directly linked to the heavens. For people married to the land, the weather is more than high-pressure systems, cumulonimbus clouds, dew points. The skies are the difference between undulating plains of cropland and windswept plains of dust; the difference between comfort and bankruptcy, success and failure, and ultimately, between life and death.
Farming teaches this important lesson: Never ignore or underestimate the power of atmospheric science!
But that’s exactly what mankind does. Disconnected from the land (a phenomenon that began in modern times with the Industrial Revolution and the mass trek from the farm to city), Western societies ignore and underestimate the dominating influence of the weather.
But now the weather is coming back into focus. Violently convulsing weather patterns are wreaking havoc on agricultural industries, food supplies and prices, economies and dinner tables the world over. And people are starting to wonder what’s going on.
Just look at my great southern homeland.
Periodic drought is endemic to the Aussie lifestyle, as the great Australian poet Banjo Paterson so eloquently put it:
Parched are the plains and bare,
Dusty and eaten out: Animals everywhere Perish in dumb despair: For the land is held in the iron grip Of the enemy General Drought!
But never in recorded history has General Drought attacked the “lucky nation” so severely, for such a prolonged time and in such a widespread fashion, as he is doing today. It’s not just a few parched parcels of land groaning for relief. Almost the entire country—which is nearly the size of the contiguous United States—lacks for water to one degree or another.
Water restrictions, many severe, have been imposed in every major city across the nation. In the northeastern state of Queensland, Level Six restrictions imposed across the greater Brisbane region restrict households to 800 liters (211 gallons) of water per day. Watering lawns and gardens via an irrigation system that uses city water is greatly restricted. Washing cars is prohibited, as is using city water to wash external surfaces of a home or building, and filling new swimming pools or spas with city water.
Over the years, periodic droughts temporarily altered the lifestyles of some Australians, forcing some to take water conservation measures, relocate, or sell off their flocks and herds. But this attack by General Drought is different. Even now—and especially in the future, should it persist—it is threatening to transform the Aussie lifestyle!
For many, the transformation is already afoot. Since 2003 the drought has driven more than 10,000 Australian farming families off the land. Thousands of others have gone bankrupt.
Aussie farmers are feeling the effects of the drought first. Nearly every facet of this pivotal industry—including a lot of support industries (like supply stores, machinery suppliers, etc.)—is being affected. But already the squeeze on the farmers is spilling over to the rest of the population. Food bills in Australia, for example, have risen 45 percent in the past decade. Beyond that, it is affecting the world, which relies heavily on Australian agriculture for critical crops.
The great Australian drought is truly a global concern!
Take wheat, for example. Australia is typically the world’s third- or fourth-largest wheat exporter. But drought has slammed Australia’s wheat production in recent years, just as the world is coming to really need its typically overflowing wheat silos. From 2005 to 2006, wheat exports dropped by 46 percent, and then fell another 24 percent last year. Hopes are high at the moment that this year’s wheat harvest will exceed last year’s dismal figure, thanks to some solid rainfall in some prime wheat regions and a 13 percent increase in the amount of land sown to wheat. Despite the cautious optimism, however, Australian officials recently cut this year’s wheat output forecast by about nine percent.
The same goes for crops such as barley and canola. Once the second-largest canola producer in the world, Australia has seen its production slump drastically in recent years. The harvest for the 2005-06 growing season was 1.4 million tons. By the 2006-07 growing season, drought had shriveled that figure to 573,000 tons. This year’s canola harvest is expected to rebound, thanks to some recent rain, but it will take years of substantial and consistent rain before canola production reaches pre-drought levels, which amounted to more than 1.7 million tons a year.
Meanwhile, the decade-long drought in the critical Murray-Darling Basin, a massive region of fertile alluvial soil situated in Australia’s southeastern region, is worsening according to the latest report from the Murry-Darling Basin Commission. The drought in this region, commonly called Australia’s breadbasket because it produces 40 percent of Australia’s fruit, vegetables and grain, is so bad that it’s nearing the point where the ecological damage in some areas will be irreversible. And authorities say there’s no end in sight to the drought gripping the critical region.
While recent rainfall in some drought-inflicted regions has assuaged concerns about drought and ignited hope that it could soon be over, many aren’t uncorking the champagne just yet. Fact is, some reports indicate that regular and prolonged droughts are becoming the norm across Australia. “We’ve had a string of reports, official reports, over the last fortnight,” said Corey Watts of the Australian Conservation Foundation, that have painted a “pretty grim picture for the climate and the future of our economy and our environment. So now we’re looking at a future in the next few decades where drought will occur once every two years” (emphasis mine).
A drought once every two years!
What an alarming forecast. Not just for Aussies, who will assuredly have to continue adapting to life with a lot less water—or Australian agriculture, which will undoubtedly continue its slide into oblivion—but also for the world, particularly Asia and the Middle East, which relies heavily on Australia for critical agricultural products.
We should all be watching the weather forecast for Australia!
Tragically, however, it’s a fact that most Australians (together with their English-speaking counterparts) have lost contact with nature, the environment and the weather. We have become a city-centric, materially focused people with little appreciation for the natural world we live in. The weather is for farmers, we reason. It has very little bearing on our lives.
What flawed, shallow thinking.
Mankind was created by God and put into a carefully crafted ecosystem that depends on laws, including agricultural, environmental and atmospheric laws (Genesis 1). If you study the Bible openly and honestly, you will see that God created this Earth—its systems of flora and fauna sustained by weather patterns—for the express purpose of mankind’s individual and collective physical, mental and spiritual development. Notice Genesis 2:15: Adam was given the responsibility to dress and keep the Garden of Eden. He was called to be a farmer, and like farmers today Adam understood that the weather sustained his existence.
But Adam had understanding that has been lost by mankind today: He understood that the weather was a function of God’s will and power!
Search the Bible: God says throughout that He pulls the levers governing this world’s weather patterns (e.g. Job 38). The weather was created as a means by which the Creator communicates and interacts with mankind. Righteous men such as Abraham and Joseph understood this. These men were obedient, and then relied upon God to bless the weather that governed their agricultural success, which ultimately resulted in them becoming incredibly wealthy men. They, as the Apostle Paul preached in Romans 1, saw the physical creation as a product of God’s creative power and His presence.
The lesson here is that humble, obedient men see God’s presence in the weather!
God uses the weather as a means of revealing both His love and His anger toward mankind! Few chapters in the Bible explain this as well as Leviticus 26. In the first 13 verses of the chapter, God outlines the blessings that will come should mankind obey His laws, particularly the Third and Fourth Commandments. Read for yourself what the very first blessing is: “Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield her fruit” (verse 4).
Stable, predictable weather patterns are a blessing from God!
Then, in verses 14 through 46 God outlines the curses for disobedience. Notice verse 20: “And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.” Part of the reason Australia’s wheat production is expected to rise this year is that farmers sowed 13 percent more land to wheat this year. But planting more wheat is not the solution to plummeting supplies—their “strength,” says God, “shall be spent in vain.” In Deuteronomy 28 , the counterpart to Leviticus 26, God states the weather curses even more specifically: “And the heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron” (verse 23). Surely Australian farmers would admit the skies over their land are like brass!
This fundamental principle permeates the Bible: Weather is a measure of God’s happiness with mankind!
Here’s another wonderful promise from God: “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways;then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14). What an inspiring promise from our Creator: He will heal our lands, if we humbly submit ourselves to Him, repent of our disobedience and eagerly embrace His law and government.
To learn more about the healing of our land, read this recent column by Joel Hilliker. If you’re interested in learning the truth about real, life-changing repentance—as opposed to the common misleading and stagnant teaching about “Christian grace”—read Repentance Toward God.
Perhaps you’ve never had much of an interest in the weather. Let’s face it: Few of us wake in the morning and wonder whether or not it’s raining in the Australian outback. But as stories about the weather increasingly dominate international news—you’ve got to admit there’s been a deluge of reports lately about devastating droughts, floods, hurricanes, fires and so on—perhaps it’s time to consider getting back in touch with the land and atmospheric science.
Perhaps then you’ll begin to see a divine presence in—and recognize how we can be delivered from—our out-of-control weather patterns!