Where Does God Fit in Earthquakes & Tsunamis?


January 2005

Dear Ministry Partner,

Many people are questioning where God fits in the big picture of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and other calamities and "natural disasters". Insurance companies exclude these events — which they call "acts of God", which further confuses the issue. (If God causes every natural disaster, then God causes everything that ever happens — and therefore no insurance company needs to pay for anyone's loss under any circumstances, because they are all acts of God!) Does God get mad at the people of Indonesia, for example, and kick the earth in the middle of the Indian Ocean to cause an earthquake and the resulting tsunami tidal wave? If so, then He was only mad at the people who live on the coast. Surely there was just as much sin in the big cities further inland as the little fishing villages on the coast, right?

To accuse God of being guilty of everything that happens is to blame the righteous (which by default excuses the unrighteous). Greek Theologian Costas Kyriakides said, "God is always the fall guy. We incriminate Him completely unjustly." The Bible does not teach that God causes everything, and in fact is very emphatic that man "reaps what he sows" (Genesis 8:22, Luke 6:31 & 38, Galatians 6:7, etc.). People — including religious leaders — have always been confused about what is really done by God (John 8:42-45).

God created the world, and then said, "It is good." It was good in its original condition. Many creation scientists believe there is ample evidence to state that the earth once was covered by a perfect, uniform cloud cover which created an ideal "green house" climate with no storms. This is the only rational explanation why, for example, fossilized plants have been found buried under the ice in Antarctica.

After God created the world, mankind sinned, yielded our authority to Satan, and took God's blessing and protection off of the earth. The Bible clearly points out that many things changed as a result of the Fall (the earth, the animal kingdom, and mankind — Genesis 3:13-19). So our problem is not God, but sin. And if God protected mankind from the negative consequences of sin, He would effectively protect sin — not a Godly thing to do.

God further clearly instructed us that if mankind in any particular geographic region continued in sin, the earth would "vomit him out" of the land (Leviticus 18:28, 20:22). The most notable manifestation of this was Noah's flood. As a result of sin, the earth is deteriorating and destabilizing — and wherever God's special protection is not on a people group, natural disasters are much more likely and deadly. The United States itself has experienced many increasing natural disasters in recent years — earthquakes, Mount St. Helens volcano, the Mississippi flood. 2004 had a record number of tornadoes in one year (1,717 which significantly beat the previous record of 1,424 in 1998) and record hurricanes (there were 16 named storms in 2004 with an Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index rating of 270 which has never been higher). Jesus said that in the last days, "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man...the flood came and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:26-27).

In spite of the winding up of God's timetable moving toward the Great Tribulation of the earth, we believers — God's children — can be protected by our obedience and faith in God. The testimonies I heard from the Indian Ocean tsunami included Tonya Zunigha from El Reno, Oklahoma. She was with a group of 11 people who all planned to be on the beach that day in Thailand. She said, "For one reason or another, no one [from our group] was there. I feel like the Lord protected us."

And for a more supernatural example, Focus on the Family broadcast a radio interview with Pastor Dayalan Sanders who had a Christian orphanage called Samaritan's Children's Home right on the beach in Sri Lanka. He said his wife happened to see the giant wave coming, and alerted Pastor Sanders who called for all 28 children to run to the boat they had tied up. He said it was a miracle they all were in that boat in just 15 seconds, but there was nothing they could do about the huge wall of water driving right toward them. The only available time that Pastor Sanders had was just enough to raise his hand at the 20 foot wave about to crash upon them and say, "In the name of Jesus — I command you to stop!" All 28 children, the 2 adult workers, along with the Sanders saw that great wall of water slow down and dissipate in front of and around their boat. As water went around them, that great wave slowly melted down and floated their boat higher. They were able to supernaturally navigate over the next huge wave — with the boat floating so low in the water from so many people on board that there was only 6 inches of sideboard showing above the water.

God is able to save those who belong to him. Just ask Noah. God is faithful to warn His children, but we have to be listening. "Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts...." (Hebrews 3:7-8). A minister I know once said, "Warnings are given to cause people to change, alter their course of action, or redirect their pathway. Warnings are given to keep you from experiencing the penalty, the problem, the difficulty, or the obstacle that is ahead. Warnings are also given to prepare you for something that is yet to come. When you heed a warning, you can benefit. You can avoid disaster." Psalm 19:11 says, "Moreover by them [God's words] Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward." (Psalm 19:11).

Before Mount Saint Helens erupted, there were rumblings and tremors. The U.S. Park Service warned all people to leave, but one older man would not leave in spite of repeated warnings. That man died and is now buried under many feet of volcanic ash. It is speculated that even animals heed warnings better than humans. Many people felt the tremor from the recent earthquake that caused the tsunami, but hardly any fled. However, it appears that animals heeded the warning and fled away from the coast line. CNN news reported that Sri Lanka wildlife officials said that the giant waves which killed over 24,000 people along the Sri Lanka coast did not kill a single wild animal. The waves washed up to 2 miles inland at Yala National Park, Sri Lanka’s biggest wildlife reserve and home to hundreds of elephants as well as many other wild species. But the Deputy Director, H.D. Ratnayake, said, "No elephants are dead, not even a dead hare or rabbit."

As an example of God's protection, my grandfather H.C. King built a small lake cabin in 160 acres of woods in north Texas in the early 1960's. He had his pastor come out and dedicate the cabin to the Lord. In 1966, one of the largest tornadoes on record was bearing down right on that property. People in a nearby town said the tornado was over a half mile wide and causing unbelievable destruction. When it came to the fence at the edge of my grandfather’s property, it lifted up into the air, flew over the 160 acres, and came back down on the other side of the property resuming its destruction. God is able to save what has been dedicated to Him.

In 1989, Judi and I went along with a large group of people from the church we were attending to a restaurant to eat. Just as Judi and I were finishing our meal, I told her I felt like we should leave. I could not explain it, and the others were all very occupied visiting with one another. I stood up, said goodbye to a few people near me, wrote a check to pay for our meal, and drove off. The next Sunday, members of the group told me that right after I left, 4 armed men came in to rob the restaurant — and went table-to-table robbing each of the people of their valuables where they sat. By obeying the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, even when I could not articulate what I was feeling, I was delivered from getting robbed.

We do not need to live in fear of robbers, tsunamis, earthquakes, or tornadoes. Those are a natural part of this fallen world around us. We just need to walk closely with God, seeking His guidance, and heeding His still small voice when He is speaking a warning to our heart. There is a potential disaster coming — a day of judgement facing everyone — and it is not the tsunamis that need to be concern #1. Each person needs to have asked Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior. Our eternal destination is the most important event we need to be addressing. The multitudes of every day potential calamities we face in daily life are what faith in Jesus after salvation is for. He is able to save those who have received Him and follow Him.

Saving Others for Eternity,

Dale & Judi Leander


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