A two-foot snowfall in Los Angeles -- a severe drought this summer in the Midwest that dropped water levels in the Missouri River to their lowest on record -- a heat wave of temperatures of over 110 degrees that in one week killed more than 20 people in Arizona -- hurricanes in Florida, Carolina, and of course, the monster of all storms, Hurricane Katrina, which essentially washed away the city of New Orleans. All, says Ross Gelbspan of the Boston Globe, are the results of human-induced global warming. According to Gelbspan, it's not just America, but places around the world like Scandinavia, Spain, Portugal, and India that are feeling the heat of catastrophic environmental changes.
Singer Barbra Streisand recently commented on the phenomena. In an interview with Diane Sawyer of ABC News, Streisand insisted: "We are in a global warming emergency state, and these storms are going to become more frequent, more intense. There could be more droughts, dust bowls. You know, it's amazing to hear these facts, I mean; the Andes have no ice caps on the mountains in winter. The glaciers are melting ...." Streisand's solution was that America and the world sign the Kyoto Protocol, regulating the emission of carbon-dioxide gases.
WorldNetDaily, however, reports experts tend to disagree about what's really taking place. Dr. Sami Solanki, director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, says dramatic weather changes are caused not by man-made activity, but the result of the sun heating up, which "may now be affecting global temperatures." Max Mayfield, head of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, and Hurricane forecaster William Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, essentially say the current "onslaught of storms 'is very much natural.'"
It's hard to believe what's been occurring of late is simply "very much natural." The succession and intensity of these events have rightly caused people to sense something isn't right in the earth, and scientific data alone can't explain it.
Interestingly, the Old Testament book of Haggai describes a time not unlike ours, when the people of Israel were wondering why so many natural calamities had befallen them. Like us, they had thought of every reason but God. Of course, they were too sophisticated, even too pious, to blame Him. Yet God said to them: "You counted on much; and see it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that is in ruins, while you each busy yourself with his own house. Therefore for your sake the heavens have withheld the dew and the earth withheld its produce. I called for a drought upon the land, upon the mountains, upon the grain, upon the new wine, upon the oil, upon what the ground produces and upon men, upon cattle and upon all the labor of their hands" (Haggai 1:9-11, The New Berkeley Version). In other words, God was saying: "I'm the reason you've experienced the storms -- the drought -- the scorching heat -- the crop failures -- the strong winds -- this heightened intensity of natural disasters. I did it. And I did it because I wanted to get your attention about the way you've forgotten me and my business and focused exclusively on your own."
Could there be any better description of our day? Radio Bible teacher, the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee, once said something more than 20 years ago in his commentary on Haggai 1:9-11 that was incredibly insightful for our time, especially for America, and even more specifically applicable concerning recent Katrina events in New Orleans.
"In our day," Dr. McGee said, "the tendency is first to blame the police -- they should have been on the job. Then we blame the mayor, we blame the legislature, and we blame Washington. Very possibly all of them are guilty. But, my friend, has it occurred to you that you yourself are to blame? Although we blame men and machines for the conditions of the world, God has brought it all to pass. Do you want to blame Him? Go ahead. He told Israel that He was responsible. But He also told them why. They had neglected Him. You see, the solution to our problems is very simple; yet it is complicated. We think that if we put in a new method or a new machine or a new man, our problems will be solved. My friend, why don't we recognize what our problem really is, who caused it, and how it can be solved."
One needn't think the natural disasters in New Orleans, Biloxi, or any other place were because the people in those cities acted more wickedly than others. Jesus warned against that kind of assessment in Luke 13:1-5, declaring: "Unless you repent you will all similarly perish." But this unusual barrage of climatic catastrophes should be seen as a wake-up call for people everywhere -- the handwriting on the wall that God is ready to judge the nations. God gets no pleasure in afflicting men. His actions are not retaliatory. But the Sovereign of the Universe cannot simply allow His law to be spurned. His will and way must be paramount to everything else. His business must be attended to first.
In 1787, George Mason, one of the largest plantation owners in Virginia, stated his views on national accountability before the Constitutional Convention: "As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins, by national calamities."
Global warming? The sun heating up? A natural cycle? Have you ever considered the fact that recent natural disasters might have more to do with you -- your neglect -- my neglect -- America's neglect -- the nations' neglect of God's business for their own?
[Editor's Note: This article was originally published on October 18, 2005.]
Rev. Mark H. Creech (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.