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Nature Gone Wild

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
October 2, 2023 12:00 am

Nature Gone Wild

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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October 2, 2023 12:00 am

Watch, listen, or read the full-length version of this message here: https://www.wisdomonline.org/teachings/nature-gone-wild // Do you believe that God is in control of natural disasters—every hurricane, tsunami, and tornado? In His sovereignty, God commands and controls the entire natural world, just as He ordains each moment of our lives. It’s a comfort to know that nothing is by accident. Even when our life and circumstances look and feel chaotic, God has everything under control. And, as we learn in this message, natural disasters have much to teach us about living out our faith in the all-powerful Creator.

 

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Can you imagine climbing in that boat along with the other disciples that afternoon and Jesus falls asleep which is a wonderful description of his humanity prior to a description of his deity and this nor'easter rises, a hurricane literally sweeps onto that sea and the text tells us that waves are crashing into the boat and they wake Jesus up and Jesus stands and he says, peace, be still.

Literally more woodenly translated, hush, be quiet. Do you believe that God is in control of natural disasters? Does he control every hurricane, tsunami and tornado? In his sovereignty, God commands and controls the entire natural world, just as he ordains each moment of our lives. It's a comfort to know that nothing is by accident. Even when our life and circumstances look and feel chaotic, God has everything under control. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. His lesson today is called Nature Gone Wild.

At the end of Stephen's message, I'll tell you about a special offer we have, but here's Stephen. Well, in our current series on the subject of nature, I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to deal with the subject of nature gone wild, we'll call it. What do we know from scripture regarding the wild side of nature, what we commonly refer to as natural disasters? What can we learn? More importantly, when we consider what we call natural disasters, you know, where they come from, why did they arrive when they did with whatever strength they had?

And for the believer, what can they possibly teach us? Mankind has been attempting to answer the problem of storms for a long time. In Greek mythology, the god Iolus was considered the divine keeper of the wind. He lived on this strange floating mythical island called Iolia, and he was responsible for keeping the violent winds incarcerated in that island and kept locked away. And most of the time he did, unless other gods were angry enough with mankind and convinced Iolus to let those winds loose, and the storm came. And the Greeks would assume that Iolus was in on it and the gods were upset.

And so people would offer, of course, a few more sacrifices to get them to back down and take those winds and put them back on that island. I found it interesting that just a few weeks ago, the first satellite of its kind was launched with specific equipment capable of providing precise wind profile observations from around the globe, the first satellite ever designed with this capability, and it was named, ironically, Iolus, after the god keeper of the wind. I guess the gods need to be recognized. The Vikings had their own storm version, their own storm god, they called him Odin, and he was often pictured along with dogs, wolves, canines. They became animal symbols of wind. They also believed in witches, and they believed that witches rode their brooms high in the wind and created the swirling of the clouds, and these witches on their brooms were usually accompanied by another animal, a black cat, they believed it, and that became the animal symbol to them of heavy rain.

The expression, it's raining cats and dogs, emerged from that superstition that high winds and torrential rain were the work of gods and witches who were conspiring together to give us all a really bad storm. If you've lived long enough here in the western world, you've probably heard some kind of reference to God, although he's not recognizable as it relates to scripture, but typically he gets the blame for whatever's happening, whether it's the latest natural disaster or suffering in general. Now what would you say to someone who suffered loss in a hurricane?

Well, what would you say to someone like Job? He and his wife lost all ten of their children in a hurricane, a seemingly random windstorm, the messenger delivered to Job, it came, he said, out of nowhere, it leveled the house where all ten of Job's grown children were celebrating a birthday party. Job chapter 1 verse 4 informs us that his children had a tradition of getting together on the Hebrew text as their day, a reference to their birthday, so they've all gathered and you talk about timing, talk about the timing of this tragedy. Well, 40 times in your Bible you'll come alongside the word storm, 35 times in the Old Testament, five times in the New Testament, and let me just tell you at the outset of this discussion, which is really biblical theology 101, but nowhere in the Bible will you ever hear the suggestion that somehow, some way, that storm is unrelated to God, that it's somehow out of his control, that somehow he had nothing to do with it, that isn't the biblical reference point at all, in fact, throughout scripture the description of God's sovereign direction and sovereign control over nature is without any kind of apology or hesitation, even though we can't explain it. In fact, in the book of Job we're given this quite clear description of this idea in chapter 37, the text reads, out of the south comes the storm and out of the north the cold, but let me take you deeper than that, it's as if we read, from the breath of God ice is made, that is ultimately his purposes are behind, and the expanse of the waters is frozen, also with moisture he loads the thick cloud, the clouds scatter his lightning, they turn around and around, that's the description of our hurricane, the clouds are swirling around and around, noticed by his guidance to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the inhabited earth.

In other words, it's all under, as it were, the command of God. I realize there are well-meaning Christians who would even say that God has nothing to do with natural disasters, it's just the forces of nature and it's sort of gone wild and God really had nothing to do with it and so we're going to just try to hope for the best and maybe God will make something good out of it, at the end of it. But that same Christian who says something like that is probably the same Christian who will pray for sunshine on their wedding day, why would you do that? They'll more than likely pray for rain during a drought season, even the unbelievers are going to send up a prayer or two to God during these times of disasters, it's always interesting to me to hear atheistic leaders, political and civil, talk about, you're in our prayers, well praying to whom?

Odin? Even the unbelieving sailors who began praying to every God they could think of while Jonah was sleeping down below deck and then when Jonah told them that the storm that was threatening to sink their boat was actually at the discretion and under the direction of his God, in fact Jonah chapter 1 verse 4 says, the Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm that's an Old Testament image of a, we think of a professional baseball pitcher who's winding up and throwing the pitch, that's the image. So he's, as it were, hurling this great wind and when the sailors heard that Jonah's God was the God who sent the storm, they started doing what? They started praying to him too.

What was Adam? The end of the, you know, the pantheon, Jonah 1.14. I read some time ago about an earthquake where a group of pastors on the west coast met afterward at a prayer breakfast and they talked about all that had happened and they came to the conclusion that God had nothing to do with it. And then their prayer breakfast was over and one of the pastors prayed the benediction and thanked God for the timing of the earthquake that it had happened at 5 a.m. in the morning when buses and commuters were not on the streets yet on their way to work or school and when he finished his prayer he said amen and all the other pastors chimed in with their echoing amen. How do you thank God for the timing of an earthquake if he has nothing to do with it?

How do you explain? Can you imagine climbing in that boat along with the other disciples that afternoon and Jesus falls asleep which is a wonderful description of his humanity prior to a description of his deity and this nor'easter rises, a hurricane literally sweeps onto that sea and the text tells us that waves are crashing into the boat and they wake Jesus up and Jesus stands and he says, peace, be still. Literally more woodenly translated, hush, be quiet. He says the same thing you moms say to your five year olds and it never works.

It worked for him. Hush, be quiet. And immediately there's this calm and the disciples are filled with this sense of awe and fear and they said to one another who is this that even the waves and the wind obey him? We're just as surprised the biblical revelation of God's design and purpose which might include suffering and sorrow did for Job, pain and death through secondary means like nature has behind it the primary means which is the purpose and the sovereign plan of God and he most often does not explain himself. Nahum the prophet introduces God to a rebellious people as the God who lives in the whirlwind, the God who resides in the hurricane, the God who lives in the storm. Name three verse one. Isaiah records God himself speaking. Listen to God speaking. I form the light and I create darkness. I bring prosperity and I create disaster. I the Lord do all these things.

Isaiah 45, 7. So well meaning Christians are trying to get God off the hook having anything to do with this stuff while God's standing by taking responsibility for it and that might be troubling and unless we avoid the trivial response and dig into the character of God we find that that is actually the only hopeful explanation. It was not random. It was not meaningless. It was not without purpose known to God. God didn't disappear. God didn't mess things up. God didn't lose control of that particular storm.

See here's the confidence of the believer. This is God's universe. This is God's storm. This is God's lightning.

This is God's thunder. This is God's flood for his purposes known only to him like it is his sunshine and his quiet breezes and his beautiful creatures. Is God in control of natural disasters? Well what's Noah hoping for in that ark riding out a global flood?

That he's on his own? Is God in control of hungry predators? That's the explanation Daniel gave to the king the next morning after surviving a night in the lion's den.

You know my God took care of this. Is God in control of that huge fish that swallowed the prodigal prophet Jonah? Well if Jonah didn't believe it if he didn't believe that if he thought that well this was a strange storm and rather random and now here comes this fish and wow you know how do you explain that one?

No no no what do you find him doing? He's in the belly of that whale holding a prayer meeting and he's saying things recorded in his journal like these. Lord you cast me into the depths.

Lord your waves and your billows have passed over me. Jonah the prophet is saying Lord you did this and in that he finds hope and reviving as he submits his life back to God not knowing what God would do. Listen if God can command the natural world he then is in control of everything in the natural world. It's in that biblical framework of the character and sovereignty of God where we actually find hope and confidence and rest even when it's chaos. God is controlling that chaos that is swirling in the palm of his hand even when nature seems to run wild and we along with the Puritans say deeper things like we learn to kiss the wave that has cast us upon the rock of ages. That yes we are shipwrecked but we are shipwrecked on the island of God's sovereignty. What exactly can we learn from the physical storms and natural disasters of life?

Well let me suggest four lessons fairly quickly. First of all natural disasters have a way of revealing to us the frailty of life. They reveal how utterly dependent we are on other people too by the way and things, technologies, blessings that we are enjoying. Nature at times like this has a way of asking us who did we think we were? How big were we? How important were we?

How in control of our world were we? There is something bigger than us at work. There is someone greater than us who is in control.

Lesson number two. Natural disasters have a way of reminding us to remain alert and walk closely with the Lord. By the way believers understand that even though we believe God is in control that doesn't eliminate our responsibility to obey him and to walk with him and to stay alert to spiritual dangers that can come out of nowhere at any time.

Peter the apostle if you were with us in our study you remember he told us to be alert and alert to the danger of that roaring lion who is walking around seeking somebody for lunch, somebody to devour. You never know when a spiritual battle will begin. You don't know what's around the corner so you stay on alert and you walk with God. And this is where by the way a hurricane is different than spiritual battles you face. Here's why it's even more important for you to stay on alert spiritually. With a hurricane you may have several days of warning right? Well in the Christian life we don't have any kind of spiritual doppler radar. We don't have any airplanes dropping into the swirling clouds, different instruments that measure the speed of the wind and the scope of that hurricane. There's no heavenly emergency system that interrupts your television program saying you're going to face a challenge tomorrow you don't know it's coming so I'm going to warn you it's coming. You don't have that. You don't have days of preparation.

So what do you do? It's a reminder to walk with God today so that you're where you need to be tomorrow. Peter tells us by the way in that same paragraph that the Lord will give us the strength to handle tomorrow as we walk with him today. Thirdly, natural disasters have a way of reshaping our value system to focus on better things.

Just sort of turns everything right side up because everything gets upside down. We understand now that really what we're after isn't comfort but character. Not Earth's pleasures but the pleasures of God. Not wealth but wisdom.

Not health but holiness. Our hands are so loaded down so quickly with stuff, so anchored, so heavy. Our hands are filled with things. I'm afraid when the rapture occurs many Christians will go up feet first.

So much in their hands. Suffering and trouble tend to empty our hands and we go back being tutored by that suffering to wise living with the Lord. The psalmist wrote the lesson out when he wrote it this way. It is good for me that I was afflicted. Oh really? That's good? Yes, it was good for me that I was afflicted.

Why? That I might learn your statutes. That I might learn wiser living.

And catch the implication of his words here. The believer can experience affliction in whatever form it comes. Sickness, trial, disaster. Not because they sin but it could be a protection from God to keep you from sinning more.

Have you ever thought about that? Draws you back to him and protects you from sinning more. By the way, that's the testimony of one of the most spiritually minded men that I knew or know on the planet by virtue of his writings, the apostle Paul.

He said after talking about the revelations that God had given him. He said in 1 Corinthians 12, he said, because of the amazing greatness of the revelations given to me for this reason to keep me from exalting myself, I was given a thorn in the flesh. I was given suffering.

Why? Because God was giving me all of this amazing revelation. And so I would not sin even greater in exalting myself. God makes me suffer.

Keeps me close to him. Suffering then kept Paul spiritually minded. And we are all reminded of what matters most.

Let me give you one more lesson. Nature gone wild is a way of reminding the world of coming disaster and a final judgment. And with that, of course, the added point would be the joy we have in being delivered from the wrath of God. But every storm you see compared to the storms revealed to us at the end of human history as God's wrath is poured out on the earth to prepare for the final judgment. Following the rapture of the church, the Lord is going to unleash his wrath in such horrific ways they are unimaginable.

Whatever disaster you might imagine, you start reading from Revelation chapter 6 and onward, describes the final days, drought, flood, hailstorms, wildfires that will literally burn up a third of all the trees on the planet, the loss of drinking water, famine, disease, rampant epidemics, predatory animal attacks that are so horrifying that sweep across the earth, plagues, mega earthquakes, meteor strikes on the planet, massive worldwide panic, and on and on. So no matter what you might observe now, it's just a whisper of the coming thunder of his judgment. It's a way of asking us, are we on the right side of his justice in Christ?

It's a mere shadow. Whatever we see now is just a little blip of the lightning of his holy judgment which will come upon the earth and ultimately eternal judgment on all those who do not believe. The evolutionist, by the way, is scrambling to give mankind this escape clause like Voltaire, the French atheist who wrote a hundred years ago plus, he wrote that we, the human race, are insects living for a few seconds on atoms of mud.

Mankind will only wish one day that were true. But you and I are immortal souls who will live forever experiencing either the justice of the Lord or the joy of the Lord, either facing the full effects of the curse forever or trusting in the Savior who faced down the curse for us and our deliverance. In fact, I thought we'd spend a little more time when we're not going to, but we could go to Genesis chapter 3 where that curse is delivered because of Adam's sin. It's interesting as you go and you explore what God says to Adam and Eve. Some of the things he says to Adam, from this point forward, you're going to sweat.

First time the word appears. Been sweating ever since. You're going to sweat in toil. He said you're going to try to tame the earth and it'll get along so far, but it's going to battle you as you try to get out of it, produce, because thistles and thorns are going to proliferate. Thorns. Finally, he says to them you'll experience physical death and that's been true to this day, but Jesus, the second Adam, Paul called him, entered into this cursed and chaotic world and in that garden of Gethsemane, what did he do? He sweat. In the toil of his redeeming work he sweat. He's crucified and placed upon his brow as a crown of what? Thorns. And then he dies.

We sang this earlier and I jotted the lyrics into my notes, not knowing we'd sing it. A second Adam walked the earth, whose blameless life would break the curse, whose death would set us free to live with him eternally. Exactly the scriptures. The chaos and turbulence of a cursed universe was entered by God, the Son, the Lord Jesus, so that he would feel the effects of that curse die for us, rise from the dead to promise us life in him forever. In the meantime, nature around us not only reflects God's gracious attributes, we're talking a lot about that, but it also reflects his attributes of wrath and judgment.

These are precursors, these are warning signs, if there ever were. So let every thunderclap remind you of the awesome power of God. And you go to John the Apostle's description of the throne of God sitting upon the sea of glass and it says, he said, I saw and I heard it's just constant claps of thunder. Let every thunderclap remind you of the awesome power of God. Let every lightning bolt cause us to reverence his holy purity. Let every rainstorm and flood remind us of the justice of God that is rolling ever forward, piling ever higher, piling ever higher, as Paul said to the Romans. He's storing it up, it will soon overflow its banks, R-U-N, as the Puritans would say, in the safe bark of Christ.

It will overflow one day. Let every hurricane remind us of our weakness and our frailty, our inability to save ourselves from that tiny breath of God. Are we safe in him? Let every trial, let every suffering, let every heartache remind us of our confidence in the coming glory of Christ. Bring us back in the middle of whatever storm it is you're facing to what matters most, to that rock of ages cleft for me. Let me hide myself in thee. I hope that truth brings you comfort, as you've seen that the God who controls the weather is the same God who loves you deeply.

This is Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen Davey is working his way through a series entitled In Living Color. Today's lesson is called Nature Gone Wild. Stephen has written a book based on this series.

It's also called In Living Color. That book is available today at a deeply discounted rate. I encourage you to add it to your library of biblical resources. Visit wisdomonline.org or call us at 866-48-BIBLE. Join us next time for more Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-02 03:27:53 / 2023-10-02 03:37:00 / 9

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