There are times when striking and threatening weather-events may remind us that it is time to turn back to God in view of the far worse storm – the impending storm of his fury on the great Day of Judgment. Is this just using outmoded and threatening old-fashioned language going back to Jonathan Edwards and his powerful sermon 'Sinners in the hands of an angry God', or should we take another look?
The Bible reveals that this world is in serious trouble – and that is not melodrama. Soon after our first parents became moral rebels against God their creator, the external physical world was also affected with the same sort of problems into which Adam and Eve had fallen. Self-centred and sin-ruined personalities had their opposite in thorns and weeds that would spoil harvests and various life-threatening diseases would develop to attack both man and the animal creation. But even apart from disease, decay and death became an inevitable reality.
In the area of physical earth science it is clear that, in a biblical context, intense heat and cold, strong winds, blizzards, hurricanes, driving rain, swollen rivers and floods, mudslides, volcanoes and earthquakes, are all part of the birth- pangs of creation. This is clear when the Apostle Paul says 'For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now' (Romans 8:22).
One day there will indeed be 'new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells' (2 Peter 3:13). Meanwhile the external physical convulsions and life-threatening conditions, including fatal accidents, are an environment that is wholly consistent with the Genesis moral fall, but not the false paradigm of Darwinian evolution. So, the inner human heart-aches with man against himself, plagued with psychological complexes and depressions, as well as anger and fear, hatred, lust, violent theft and guilt, which erupt into so much interpersonal and then international mistrust and blotshed, are all taking place in a world that we instinctively know as beautiful but spoiled – a mirror of our own broken humanity. Why, we use metaphors from the weather to describe people with sunny dispositions and stormy tempers!
The world-wide flood of Noah's day is one well-known example of God using a cataclysmic flood to judge the people of that day, who had become continuously violent. Later, God's judgment on the immoral perversion rife in Sodom and Gomorrah came in a frightful deluge of hot burning materials. At other times God used a variety of natural disasters like desert wastes, the waves of the sea, darkness and the shadow of death, and hunger and thirst, to cause people to come to the end of themselves and to turn to him.
All these descriptions are from Psalm 107, which shows how, in so many difficult situations, some caused by their own foolish and sinful ways, God was accessible and willing to hear the cry for mercy and for deliverance, some in times of shocking storms at sea; 'He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed' (Psalm 107: 29).
That Psalm is to remind people of how merciful God is, and how much he is to be thanked for 'his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!' (Ps. 107: 31).
Thus, when, in the fullness of time, God sent his own Son into the world to bleed and die for moral rebels to save them from everlasting condemnation it is clear from the New Testament Scriptures that God has gone to the limits. He did not even spare his own Son, who came willingly, in boundless love, to save sinners like you and me; that is people who had broken God's law, and make no mistake, the verdict is clear, 'for all have sinned' (Romans 3:23).
Seeing that endless hell is the just punishment of all who reject Christ, everyone who has heard the good news of God's undeserved grace, on the basis of Jesus' completed sacrifice for sins, should be under no illusion. This is not about alarming people and frightening them into the kingdom of God. But there is a balanced use of fear on one side of truth and love on the other. Both are to be taken into account, because if the bad news was not as bad as it actually is, neither would the wonderful love that wrought salvation plan, be so astonishing.
So, you should be clear that if you reject God's great love, there are consequences about which you should be warned. God is so holy and so pure in his opposition to all sin that people who refuse to repent and accept the free gift of salvation should expect nothing less than to be the personal subjects of God's holy everlasting judgment.
We still need to share that God has not changed; sin is still sin and hell is still hell, and so too is the welcome news that Christ came into the world to save sinners, and that if you repent and turn to the Savior, he will welcome you and forgive you. Against the backdrop of a terrible hell, remember there are the tenderest benefits of a Savior, who though he made all things, was willing to give himself into that most serious judgment on the cross of being forsaken by God, and who now stands with arms open to welcome all who will come to him for peace with God.
So, whatever storms are battering parts of the earth, take that as a fault picture that this old world is already under God's judgment as it awaits the fulfillment of his purpose in a far worse final storm, the storm of God's holy fury. But today is still the day of salvation – turn while there is time.
Remember, 'The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty … Who can stand before his indignation? Who can end the heat of his anger? … The Lord is good, a stronger in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. ' (Old Testament minor prophet, Nahum 1: 3, and verses 6 & 7).
He, the God of all grace and mercy, is still a refugee in the time of storm, the storm that will make today's weather events look mild and gentle in comparison.