As you know, the end of the world has been major media fodder for the last couple of weeks. Harold Camping’s apocalyptic predictions along with the tragic rash of tornadoes have dominated the news. Some have speculated that there is a connection- that the violent weather is some kind of sign of end times and that we contributed to this string of deadly storms by aiding (through our growing carbon “footprint”) in climate warming.
Quite a bit to digest there.
The first part of this (the apocalypse) is not too difficult to sort through. As a believer in God and in the inspiration of Scripture I will trust God on this one. According to his Word only he knows when Christ will return and begin God’s plans for the end of times as we know them (Mark 13:32). Really, there are no definitive signs to clue us in on when this might be. The langauge many use to try to identify signs in Matthew 24 is mostly connected to an event already in the history books- that is the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Roman military in approximately 70 A.D. (Read the text. How is running to the hills going to help if the world is ending? What difference does it make if a woman is pregnant or what season of the year it occurs?) So, neither Mr. Camping, the apostle Paul (who thought Christ would return in his lifetime) or anyone else can accurately predict when Christ returns. He will come as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2).
As for violent weather being a predictor of end times- again there is no such evidence in Scripture of this. Deadly storms are nothing new to history. Unfortunately they are a part of our fallen creation. According to the Bible our earth has been under a “curse” since the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:17). From a biblical perspective tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, etc. are a part of a suffering creation. A creation that according to Paul now “groans” and “was subjected to frustration,” but now eagerly waits for the time it will be “liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (See Romans 8:18-25). This time will come when the new heaven and new earth is ushered in by Christ (Revelation 21:1-4; 2 Peter 3:1-13), but no where does Scripture indicate that weather will predict when this will happen.
Concerning global warming- well, who knows for sure, but God? Maybe we are contributing to an increase in violent weather by not being ecologically responsible or maybe we are not. Certainly there are facts, stats, and valid debate from both sides. I do believe that from a biblical perspective that we as believers have been called to not abuse the earth God has gifted us (see this post), but I am not sure any of us are smart enough to have all of the answers on this. I think back to what God told Job:
Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid out the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand who marked off it dimensions?… Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain and a path for the thunderstorm?… Does the rain have a father?… Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? (Job 38:1-35)
Granted most unbelievers (and many believers) now view Job as more myth than reality, but I still believe. I believe that even with apocalyptic predictions and tragic weather and climate change and my own human weakness and failings- God is in control.
I believe he loves us all- every one of us and continues to work his redemptive will being very patient with us in our weakness because he so much desires all of us to find rescue in him (2 Peter 3:9). I believe that one day, the trump will sound, the clouds will part and the brilliance of Christ will emerge and all will be made right and wonderful. We will not have to be concerned then about storms or global warming. Oh glorious day!
So in all of the death, destruction, pain and confusion of storms (please keep praying for those affected) and in all of the climate debate and failed apocalyptic predictions- just keep faithfully hoping and praying- Come, Lord Jesus!