“Natural Disasters An Increasing Reality” San Francisco Chronicle, October 3, 2018.
“Is The Pacific Ring Of Fire Getting Ready For The End-of-Days?” BreakingIsraelNews.com, December 17, 2018.
“With A Surge In Tornado Activity, Scientists Want To Know Why?” Washington Post, May 29, 2019.
“Very Unusual Seismic Activity On The West Coast Has Experts Extremely Concerned” Zero Hedge.com, December 26, 2019.
“Locust Plague of Biblical Proportions Threatens African Famine” TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com, January 31, 2020.
“World Economy Projected To Shrink For First Time Since 2009 As Coronavirus Plays Havoc With Global Supply Chains” TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com, February 13, 2020.
“Historic, Unprecedented Flooding Swamps Southern USA” USAToday.com, Febuary 17, 2020.
“Global Crop Failures Continue” TheEconomic CollapseBlog.com, Febuary 19, 2020.
“Astronomers Discover Eleven Dangerous Asteroids That Could Impact the Earth” SciTechDaily.com, March 6, 2020.
These headlines are enough to make you think that all of nature is spiraling out of control. And that, in fact, is exactly what is happening from a human viewpoint. But spiritually, the Bible assures us that God is in control, and what we are witnessing is the fulfillment of end time prophecies.
Even secular writers have recognized the phenomenon. Take, for example, Michael Snyder who maintains a blog called The Economic Collapse. He recently wrote:
Over the last several decades, have we ever seen a year start as strangely as 2020 has? Global weather patterns have gone completely nuts, large earthquakes are popping off like firecrackers, it looks like the plague of locusts in Africa could soon develop into the worst in modern history, and a massive plague of bats is severely terrorizing parts of Australia. On top of all that, African Swine Fever is wiping out millions upon millions of pigs around the globe, the H1N1 Swine Flu is killing people in Taiwan, there have been H5N1 Bird Flu outbreaks in China and in India, and the H5N8 Bird Flu has made an appearance at a poultry facility in Saudi Arabia. And then, of course, there is the coronavirus outbreak…
Those of us who specialize in the teaching of Bible prophecy, refer to all these natural disasters as “Signs of Nature.” They constitute one of six categories of signs that the Bible tells us to watch for in the end times.
This category of end time signs is a very important one, and yet, it is the category that receives the least respect. There are two reasons for this — one that is conceptual, and the other that is philosophical.
Problems with the Signs of Nature
The conceptual problem resides in the fact that there have always been signs of nature. So, when confronted with the prophesied signs of nature, many people shrug their shoulders and ask, “What else is new? There have always been tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes.”
What they overlook is that Jesus said these signs would be like “birth pangs” (Matthew 24:8). That means they will increase in frequency and intensity the closer we get to the Lord’s return. And that is exactly what appears to be happening today.
The philosophical problem many people have with the signs of nature is due to the fact that we have been brainwashed by Western scientific rationalism into believing that for something to exist, you must be able to see it, measure it, weigh it and dissect it.
In contrast, the Bible teaches there is a whole realm of the supernatural that cannot normally be perceived by the senses. This realm includes angels, demons, and the operation of the Holy Spirit. It also includes God’s intervention into history from time to time through supernatural manifestations and natural disasters.
God and Signs of Nature
Sometimes God uses signs of nature to underline the importance of major events. Thus, at the birth of Jesus, God placed a special light in the heavens, probably a manifestation of His Shekinah glory. When Jesus was crucified, the earth experienced three hours of darkness and a major earthquake. And the Bible says that when Jesus returns, the world will experience the greatest earthquake in its history. Every island will be moved, valleys will be lifted, mountains will be lowered, and the city of Jerusalem will be lifted up like a jewel, possibly becoming the highest place on earth (Revelation 16:18-21 and Isaiah 40:3-5).
More often, God uses signs of nature as remedial judgments to call nations to repentance. Both the Bible and history attest to the fact that God has a pattern of dealing with nations. When a nation rebels against God, He responds first by raising up prophetic voices to call the nation to repentance. These are not necessarily people with supernatural knowledge of the future. They simply have the gift of discernment to see where a nation is missing God’s mark. To put it another way, they know how to apply the Scriptures to contemporary events.
If a nation refuses to listen to the prophetic voices, God will then send remedial judgments. These can take many forms. Deuteronomy 28 mentions economic failure, rebellion of youth, an epidemic of divorce, confusion in government, foreign domination and military defeat. The chapter also mentions natural disasters like drought, crop failure and pestilence.
Finally, if a nation digs in against God and sets its jaw against His calls to repentance, a point of no return will be reached — often referred to as “when the wound becomes incurable” (Nahum 3:19, Jeremiah 30:12 and Micah 1:9). At this point, the Lord will deliver the nation from judgment to destruction. That destruction may occur quickly — as with Babylon and the Soviet Union — or it may occur gradually over a period of time, as with the Roman Empire.
Examples of Remedial Judgments
There are many examples of remedial judgments in the Bible that involve natural disasters. Take, for example, the plagues with which God afflicted Egypt in order to convince Pharaoh that he should release the children of Israel from captivity. The Lord sent plagues of frogs, gnats, flies and locusts. In addition, He contaminated the nation’s water, afflicted the livestock with pestilence, struck the people with sores and boils, engulfed the land in a thick darkness and finally took the lives of the firstborn of both men and livestock.
When King Ahab led the Israelites into the worship of a pagan god, the Lord raised up the prophet Elijah to call the king and his people to repentance. When they ignored Elijah, the Lord then put a remedial judgment on the land in the form of a severe three and a half year drought (1 Kings 17 & 18).
The book of Joel tells about a locust invasion that afflicted Judah. This was one of the worst calamities that could befall an agricultural society. It appears that people began bemoaning their “bad luck.” That’s when God sent the prophet Joel to inform them that the disaster had nothing to do with luck. Joel boldly proclaimed that the locusts had been sent by God to call the people to repentance. He warned that if they did not repent, the Lord would send something even worse — an enemy army. The people ignored Joel and the prophets who followed him, and God ultimately sent the army, delivering them from judgment to destruction.
Seventy years later, when the Babylonian captivity ended, the Jews who returned to Judah laid the foundation for a new temple and then quickly lost interest in the project. They turned their attention instead to the building of their personal homes. For 14 years the foundation of the temple stood vacant. Finally, God raised up an elderly, tough-talking prophet named Haggai. He confronted the people by asking them: “Have you noticed that when you plant your crops, they are destroyed by root rot? And when you replant them, they are destroyed again by hail? And when you replant, a wind storm comes? God is speaking to you! He is calling you to repent of your misplaced priorities and give attention to the rebuilding of His temple.” For once, the people listened, obeyed and were blessed.
In the second part of this look at the signs of nature, we will explore Satan’s role in natural calamities.