Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | October 12, 2016


(4 Minute Read)
Radar image of Hurricane Matthew at 4:48 am EDT on 7 October 2016, as it passed east of Melbourne, Florida. Coverage of the eastern side of the storm is limited by the reach of radar.

Hurricane Matthew
Radar image moving along Florida’s coast.
Eastern coverage limited by radar’s reach.
(4:48 am EDT on 7 October 2016)

Hurricane Matthew hit last week — Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, and the U.S. From this Category 5 storm, deaths totaled 1,042 and damages $6 billion.

Matthew is the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Stan killed over 1,600 in Mexico and Central America in October 2005. It is the costliest one since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Hurricane Matthew caused over one million to lose power in Florida along with a quarter million in Georgia, almost a half million in South Carolina, and three-quarters of a million in North Carolina. Several U.S. states have experienced catastrophic flooding with one NC town requiring 1500 rooftop rescues.

The worst natural disaster in U.S. history was Hurricane Katrina with 1,245 fatalities in August 2005. Its $108 billion damage quadrupled Hurricane Andrew’s 1992 record. Reaching 175 mph winds and 25-foot storm surges, Katrina hit Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, practically destroying New Orleans. Three million lost power; 700,000 lost homes. All fifty states sheltered refugees.

Reporters, preachers, pundits, and politicians often lament flooding of “Biblical proportions.” However, Matthew’s flooding and even Katrina’s flooding which pummeled eight states are trivial compared with Noah’s Flood—when tsunamis crashed across continents and hypercanes pounded the globe. For a year water enveloped earth to a depth of 20+ feet above mountains. Noah’s Flood destroyed the world (2 Peter 3:5-6), including every man and animal that breathed outside the ark.

If hurricanes Matthew or Katrina had been of “Biblical proportions,” who would remain to write or read about them? Ascribing “Biblical proportions” to natural disasters exaggerates far beyond anything I’ve heard in a half-century of news. God will never again send floods of “Biblical proportions,” as rainbows regularly proclaim (Genesis 9:8-17).

What is a Hurricane?

Called typhoons in the Pacific, cyclones in the Indian Ocean, and willy-willies in Australia, hurricanes are huge rotating thunderstorm systems with sustained winds of 74 mph (Category 1) to over 155 mph (Category 5). Hurricanes can generate 100-foot waves, extend 600 miles across, last over two weeks, and travel thousands of miles.

Hurricane formation is only partially understood. When rain condenses from rising moist warm air, the resulting dry cooler air cascades earthward, generating powerful winds. These sweep up more moisture from a warm ocean, continuing the cycle. Earth’s rotation spins the system. Hurricanes produce violent winds, torrential rain, storm surges (causing 90% of hurricane deaths), flooding, and tornadoes.

For northern-hemisphere hurricanes, the most dangerous region is the right side relative to travel direction because of the additive effect of steering winds and counter-clockwise hurricane winds. The right side has the heaviest rainfall and spawns the most tornadoes.

Hurricane season spans June through November. Major hurricanes striking the US were more frequent 1940-1970 than 1970-2000. Hurricanologists think Atlantic hurricane frequency is now increasing. Last century, 24 hurricanes surpassed $1 billion damage. Already this century, 25 hurricanes have exceeded that figure.

After Eden 039biblicalproportions

Hurricane Benefits

Too few hurricanes would be as harmful as too many. Hurricanes are essential for planetary temperature balance, releasing solar heat from oceans and diverting heat from the tropics. In oceans hurricanes prevent CO2 buildup which could lead to global cooling.

Many regions depend on major storms for water. Bringing 6-12 inches of rain, hurricanes relieve drought. Hurricanes prune old growth with winds and lightning fires, making room for new plants. Lightning fixes nitrogen in soil, fertilizing it. Hurricanes significantly enhance marine chlorophyll along continental shelves.

A hurricane releases daily heat energy that’s 200 times earth’s electrical generating capacity. Could man harness and store hurricane energy someday for beneficial use?

Hurricane Theology

Natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes stagger humanity with destruction, suffering, and death. Does an all-powerful, loving God intentionally send hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis? Or does He wish they didn’t happen?

Biblical response to disaster includes compassion, assistance, and God’s truth (Isaiah 45:7).

The same day Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti, a representative of the Christian Relief Fund wrote, “Our team is already on the ground distributing clean water and food and working to provide immediate shelter for those who have been displaced.”

Many churches and Christian schools in Florida and North Carolina promptly opened their doors as shelters for Hurricane Matthew victims, with believers rallying to provide food, bedding, and other immediate needs.

The first “boots on the ground” after Hurricane Katrina were compassionate Christians. World magazine reported 9,000 Southern Baptists from 41 states contributed 120,000 workdays serving 10,000,000 meals and boosting recovery. Salvation Army personnel served 5,000,000 hot meals from 11 field kitchens. Christian agencies, megachurches, and small congregations embodied Christian compassion with shelter, clothing, and food—often including Bibles and prayer.

Why do catastrophes happen? The reason is sin—we live in a broken world (Genesis 3:16-19; Romans 8:20-22). Nonetheless, God has a clear purpose for catastrophes.

How did Jesus answer when asked about tragedy? His astounding answer was that catastrophes—like the Siloam Tower collapse killing eighteen and Pilate’s Galilean massacre—are warnings to repent (Luke 13:1-5). Jesus was echoing God’s words to Solomon: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land, or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)

After Eden teachable moment

God sends famine, drought, blight, plague, and war—to call mankind to repentance (Amos 4:6-11).
I killed your young men with the sword…yet you did not return to Me,” declares the Lord.

Who sent the Flood? Who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah? Who inflicted plagues on Egypt? Who sent Assyria and Babylon to chastise Israel and Judah? Who sent Jesus to the cross (Acts 2:23)?

Many times I told my children, “Don’t waste your discipline. Learn the lesson so you won’t have to repeat the discipline.” Most people waste catastrophes—they miss God’s message. Either they babble nonsense about the power of nature, or they curse God and refuse to repent (Revelation 16:9,11,21).

People usually miss and ignore God’s message in natural disasters. According to Jesus, the message of tragedy is, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5) The proper response to calamity is repentance.

Why expect good weather? If everything developed via random evolutionary processes, catastrophic weather should be the norm. Expectations of good weather presuppose a benevolent weather Controller. Last century only 24 of 5200 weeks saw hurricanes of $1 billion damage. Do we thank God for good weather?

The God who “hurled a great wind on the sea” to drive Jonah to repentance orchestrates all weather (Jonah 1:4; Psalm 107:29; Zechariah 10:1). Matthew, Mark, and Luke report Christ stopped a storm so severe that veteran sailors trembled for their lives, gasping in awe, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25)

God controls all creation, from sparrow deaths (Matthew 10:29), to storm paths (Job 37:9-13), to rulers’ rise and fall (Isaiah 40:23-24; Daniel 2:21,37-38,44; 4:17,32).

Hurricanes are God’s “merciful megaphones” to get man’s attention. The crucial message of every calamity is “Repent and follow Christ.

The God who “hurled a great wind on the sea”
to drive Jonah to repentance
controls all creation—from sparrow deaths,
to storm paths, to rulers’ rise and fall.

What Hurricanes Cannot Destroy

People scramble to safeguard life and property against hurricanes, but neglect essential preparation—repentance for sin and commitment to Jesus Christ.

Eventually life and property will be destroyed anyway (Hebrews 9:27; 2 Peter 3:7,10-12). Prepare for life’s hurricanes by turning to Jesus Christ. The gain is eternal life which hurricanes cannot destroy.

The greatest tragedy of history, the Crucifixion, provided reconciliation with God. Christ died for my sins and gave me eternal life. Why fear hurricanes, bad-hair days, or anything else?

Questions to Ponder
  1. Have you allowed the reports of Hurricane Matthew to work fresh repentance and reverence in your heart?
  2. What personal benefits have you observed following your own life’s disasters?
  3. Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday October 12, 2016 A.D.

“But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities
And lack of bread in all your places,
Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord.
“Furthermore, I withheld the rain from you
While there were still three months until harvest.
Then I would send rain on one city
And on another city I would not send rain;
One part would be rained on,
While the part not rained on would dry up.
So two or three cities would stagger to another city to drink water,
But would not be satisfied;
Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord.
“I smote you with scorching wind and mildew;
And the caterpillar was devouring
Your many gardens and vineyards, fig trees and olive trees;
Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord.
“I sent a plague among you after the manner of Egypt;
I slew your young men by the sword along with your captured horses,
And I made the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils;
Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord.
“I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,
And you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze;
Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord.
(Amos 4:6-11 NASB)


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