The Blessings … and Cursings
It seemed the Allies had lost the war even before it started! Having crushed the Dutch and Belgians, the Germans made their way to the English Channel where they encircled the British armed forces. Unless something miraculous happened, the fate of 335,000 British men lay in the hands of the Nazi war machine. King George VI summoned the British people to call upon God for deliverance. The story of what followed at Dunkirk is indeed miraculous.
Officers and men who made it back to Britain in the spring of 1940 told of two weather-related phenomena which turned sure defeat into salvation. The first was a great storm which broke out over northwest Europe on Tuesday, May 28, just two days after King George summoned his people. With the darkness of the storm as cover, British formations were able to retreat eight to twelve miles north to Dunkirk, unimpeded by the German Luftwaffe. Later in life, Winston Churchill felt certain that Hitler assumed “his air superiority would be sufficient to prevent a large-scale evacuation by sea” (Churchill, World War II, vol. ii, p. 68). But the sudden and violent shift in the weather grounded the Luftwaffe and foiled the Führer’s plot.
While storm clouds raged over Flanders, a different yet equally miraculous development occurred. A great calm settled over the usually restless waters of the English Channel. It was accompanied by a cotton-like fog to again shield British troops from the Luftwaffe, as rescue boats carted them back to their island safe-haven. According to an article written at the time, “Those who are accustomed to the Channel testify to the strangeness of this calm; they are deeply impressed by the phenomenon of Nature by which it became possible for tiny craft to go back and forth in safety” (Daily Telegraph, July 8, 1940). And so it was, as the Telegraph went on to say, “two miracles made possible what seemed impossible.” As Churchill declared, “335,000 men had been carried out of the jaws of death and shame to their native land.”
The Weather at Normandy
After being chased off the continent at Dunkirk, Allied forces knew they eventually had to return if they were to completely crush the Third Reich. Four years later, they did—on the beaches of Normandy. And again, the weather played a miraculous role. On September 9, 1944, The Times documented the fascinating story: “For months the meteorological section at Supreme Headquarters had been studying the relative advantages of May, June and July for weather. Using statistics, they found that the chances were about 50 to 1 against weather, tide, and moon being favorable for all services, land, sea and air….
“On the morning of the assault the wind had moderated, and the cloud was not only well broken, but its base was at least 4,000 feet high, ideally suited for the large-scale airborne operations. In the hour preceding the landings, when perfect conditions for pinpoint bombings were so essential, there were large areas of temporarily clear sky, and throughout the critical time medium and light bombers were unhampered.”
What made the picture-perfect Allied landing on June 6, 1944, so miraculous was the bad weather that led up to it. The Times reported on September 11 that year that German commanders were advised by their meteorological service that there could be no invasion by the Allies at that time because of the “continuous stormy weather.” The weather was so bad that General Eisenhower even postponed the landing for 24 hours.
But on June 6, Eisenhower was determined to proceed. Later in life, he recounted the events that unfolded after his decision: “This day eight years ago, I made the most agonizing decision of my life. I had to decide to postpone by at least twenty-four hours the most formidable array of fighting ships and of fighting men that was ever launched across the sea against a hostile shore. The consequences of that decision at that moment could not have been foreseen by anyone. If there were nothing else in my life to prove the existence of an almighty and merciful God, the events of the next twenty-four hours did it…. The greatest break in a terrible outlay of weather occurred the next day and allowed that great invasion to proceed, with losses far below those we had anticipated” (Time, June 16, 1952).
The Times said the brief break in the weather during D-Day came at a time when Normandy was experiencing its windiest month in 20 years. The Allies went on to win the war, thanks in large part to their miraculous escape from destruction at Dunkirk and their weather-aided, flawless landing on the beaches of Normandy.
There was a time in the history of America and Britain, as the examples cited above illustrate, when we looked to God for deliverance from evil. Furthermore, when God did intervene, as He did with the weather on numerous occasions in World Wars I and II, we acknowledged His supreme power and might and gave Him thanks. It didn’t seem strange back then to trust in God for a “break” in the weather. No, for people more familiar with biblical passages than most are today, weather-related miracles did not seem strange at all.
After creating the earth, the vegetation and plant life did not begin to grow until God caused it to rain.
In the days of Noah, God caused it to rain and flood upon the earth for 150 days. An earthwide flood destroyed every living thing on dry land, except for Noah’s family and the animals preserved in the ark. The Flood totally changed the world at that time.
In the days of Moses, God sent hail and fire, among other plagues, upon Egypt so the Pharaoh would free the Israelites. Even after their exodus, the Israelites needed further weather-aided assistance. Trapped by the waters of the Red Sea and the Pharaoh’s pursuing army, Moses lifted his hand toward the sea and God sent a great east wind which divided the sea, creating a path on dry land between the waters!
In the days of Samuel, when the Israelites desired a king like other nations, Samuel told the people they should be ashamed of themselves. He then asked God to send thunder and rain as proof that He ruled Israel, not any human being. God intervened and “the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel” (I Sam. 12:18).
In the days of Elijah, there was a devastating drought and famine in the land of Samaria. Seven times Elijah prayed for rain. Once again, God answered the prayer. It rained hard.
Time and again, God’s hand changed weather patterns because of the faithful few who lived by Leviticus 26:3-4: “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.”
God promises mild, seasonable weather to those who remember His commandments. The faithful prophets of old understood that. So did many Western leaders during the days of World War II. They knew God intervened in the weather because it was His will that the Allies win the war. They knew that, because God intervened on their behalf, the responsibility was on their shoulders to honor and obey their Maker—the one who controls weather patterns.
Perhaps no one summed up the responsibilities set before Western peoples after World War II better than Sir Archibald Sinclair, the air minister of England. Before the general assembly of the Church of Scotland, he said, “We have been most miraculously preserved. We must have been preserved for some purpose, and we must seek humbly to discover what that purpose is and be faithful to it…. I feel sure that we must strive for the utmost for victory, and when we get victory it will solve none of the great problems which are troubling our hearts and minds, but it will give us opportunity. Then the question will come: what use…shall we make of that opportunity. The thing that seems clear to me is that we shall not succeed in making the most of that opportunity if we forsake the commandments of God” (Evening Standard, May 21, 1943).
Fifty years later, the question is, Have we made the most of our “opportunity”? Is God blessing us with good weather because we have walked in His statutes and remembered His commandments? It doesn’t take a meteorologist or a Bible scholar to answer these questions.
Since the National Weather Service began keeping detailed records in the early 1950s, it has been easy to track the substantial rise in hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, floods, droughts and earthquakes in America.
Consider tornadoes as an example. From 1951-1960, there were 5,255 recorded tornadoes. The next decade there were 6,809. There were 8,791 in the 70s and 8,462 in the 80s. And in only the first five years of this decade, we have had nearly 6,000 tornadoes! We are on a pace to record well over 10,000 tornadoes in the 90s—twice as many as we had in the 50s.
Early this year, a band of El Niño-driven tornadoes swept across central Florida, killing at least 40, and leaving 250 injured. One twister sucked an 18-month-old toddler right out of the arms of his screaming father. The baby was found dead later that day.
But in America, stories like this seem almost commonplace anymore. In May of 1997, a twister ripped through the small Texas community of Jarrell where it killed at least 27 people. Two months earlier, a giant swath of tornadoes swept through Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, killing 29.
Like tornadoes, the number of tropical storms and hurricanes to reach U.S. coastlines the last two decades has risen sharply. (Tropical storms have maximum winds of 39 to 73 miles per hour; hurricanes have winds over 73 miles per hour.) During the five years from 1991 to 1995, we had almost as many tropical storms and hurricanes in the U.S. as we did during the 20 years from 1961 to 1980!
Of the 30 costliest hurricanes to hit the United States this century, 20 of them struck after 1960. (And that is figuring the damage according to today’s dollar value.) Hurricane Andrew in 1992 by far caused the most damage—over $27 billion! The next closest this century was Hurricane Hugo in 1989—over $9 billion. Other hurricanes which hit in the 90s include Fran (1996, $5
billion), Opal (1995, $3 billion), Marilyn (1995, $2.1 billion), Iniki (1992, $1.8 billion), and Bob (1991, $1.5 billion). And those are just hurricanes! Add to that all of the tropical storms to hit this decade, like Alberto in 1994, which dumped 10-25 inches of rain on parts of Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Alberto’s final price tag: $1 billion.
Ever Increasing Intensity
Last year, the National Climatic Data Center compiled a listing of billion dollar U.S. weather disasters which have occurred since 1980. There have been 30. Of the 30 disasters to strike over the last 18 years, 21 of them occurred between August 1992 and May 1997! Those 21 have racked up a cumulative price tag of $90 billion and have killed 911 people. That in five years!
In addition to hurricanes and tornado strikes, consider some of the other disasters Americans have endured in this tumultuous decade. Last year, parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota experienced severe flooding due to a heavy spring snowmelt. In 1996, the Southern Plains finally made it through a $4 billion drought. Then there was the blizzard of ’96 which hit the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast causing 187 deaths and $3 billion in damages. In 1995, floods submerged parts of the Midwest and California. Estimated damages: $8 billion, 59 deaths. The floods of 1995 were like small ponds compared to the massive Midwest flood of 1993 which killed 48 people and cost between $15 and $20 billion! The floods in 1993 and 1995 sandwiched the Northridge earthquake in California in 1994. Final damages: $15 billion, 61 deaths. In March 1993, what was referred to as the “Storm of the Century” hit the eastern seaboard. That blizzard caused at least 270 deaths and between $3 and $6 billion in damages. And then there was 1992, the year Hurricanes Andrew and Iniki carved their deadly swaths of destruction. Add to this list the recent adverse weather patterns stemming from the effects of El Niño and we have the makings for a terribly violent decade, as far as “natural” disasters are concerned.
Something is dreadfully wrong with our weather. Shouldn’t we consider why this dramatic shift in weather is occurring?
Blessings or Cursings
Just as sure as God will bless a nation or people with good weather for obedience to His laws, so will He curse us with inclement weather for disobedience. Leviticus 26 bears this out. It has been called the “blessings and cursings” chapter. We already covered verses 3 and 4 where God promises rain in due season and bountiful crops for obedience. But notice verses 18-20: “If even then you will not listen to me, I will punish you seven times more for your sins; I will break the power of which you are so proud, I will make the sky hard as iron for you and the earth hard as bronze, till you spend your strength in vain; for your land shall bear no crops and your trees shall bear no fruit” (Moffatt). Quite a contrast to verse 4.
Identifying who the United States and Britain are in Bible prophecy makes this prophecy in Leviticus especially pertinent. The passage is addressed to Israel. Our free booklet The United States and Britain in Prophecy proves that those nations are the modern-day descendants of ancient Israel—the very nations upon which the blessings of Abraham have been showered.
Consider the once-dominant British Empire. The sun never set on her possessions. In all of the Commonwealth nations which were once under her control, God truly provided the British people with some of the choicest real estate on earth.
Consider the astonishing wealth and power of the United States. America has been called the land of opportunity; a place where freedom and justice reign. It has also been called the “bread basket” of the world. Where else can we find such an abundance of fertile farmland and a climate so well-suited for fruitful abundance?
God truly has showered wealth, prosperity, and great power upon our peoples. But that’s just it! God gave us all of those blessings. And now, because of our sins, He is rapidly taking them away—actually turning them into curses. And the natural disasters which have intensified in the last several years are only one indicator that we are under a curse.
Notice Amos 4:7: “And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and 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.” God causes this! Floods in one region, drought in the other; just like in 1993, when the Midwest was flooded and the Southeast plagued by drought.
Notice why God causes this: “So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord” (v. 8). God causes it because we haven’t returned to Him. Clearly, as Amos points out, extreme weather upsets come as a result of sin.
In Leviticus 26, Amos 4 and several other passages, God reveals that there is a direct connection between how we live and the weather we experience! But somewhere along the line, we forgot that God controls the weather (Nahum 1:3-4; Ps. 107:25). And somewhere along the line we “discovered” that how we live has nothing to do with what we experience—whether good or bad.
But God does control the weather! And character does matter! And until we turn to God in repentance and change our ways, the Bible forecasts even worse weather ahead—worse than what we have already experienced.
Prelude to Christ’s Return
The very fact that bad weather is increasing in intensity is in itself prophetic. Jesus Himself said the increase in chaotic weather would actually be one of the signs of His imminent return to this earth. “What shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?” His disciples asked in Matthew 24:3. Jesus answered, “And there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (v. 7). Famine and pestilence result from chaotic weather.
Skeptics say there have always been famines, pestilences and earthquakes. “Disastrous weather is nothing new,” they argue. And that’s true. But what is new is the rapidity at which these disasters now strike—so much so that a hurricane which rips through Florida now seems commonplace. Jesus said chaotic weather would get worse and worse leading to His return.
Other critics like to point out that storms of 60 or 70 years ago killed more people on average than storms today—and that is true. But consider why. Advance warning technology, reinforced skyscrapers, and general education of what to do in a disaster have all contributed to lower death tolls today. The modern technology of man truly is a wonder to behold. (See “Science vs. Nature” on page 8). But this hi-tech society has done nothing to prevent these unnatural disasters from happening. And they are happening more often than ever before.
The civilization which developed after the flood in Noah’s day also relied heavily on developing technology. They endeavored to build a tower that would reach the sky. Surely no flood could ever destroy mankind again, they reasoned. God has His way of eventually dealing with such pomposity.
God has always intended nature to be an absolute blessing to man. But God bestows those blessing upon us when we live right. When we turn from God in disobedience and arrogance, He withdraws those blessings and sends curses—chaotic weather being one of those. The world in general, and especially the end-time descendants of Israel, are under a curse. The question remains, what are you going to do about it?
Our peoples may be so deeply entrenched in sins and selfishness that they will not repent until it is too late. But you as an individual can be spared from the violent crescendo of increasingly chaotic weather. Perhaps you’ve seen pictures or heard stories about that lone house which weathered the storm, even when everything around it had been demolished. God says you can be like that preserved house—protected from the mass destruction to come upon our peoples. In Philippians 2:12, Paul admonished us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
If we turn to God and keep His commandments, as it says in Leviticus 26, God promises abundant blessings and divine protection when disaster strikes. Like Noah during the Flood, like Lot when God rained fire upon Sodom, like the Israelites during the plagues in Egypt, you can be spared! But it will take a willing and submissive attitude. It requires obedience to God’s law. That is the only sure protection any of us have during these violent times. That is our only sure salvation.