It’s quite a normal subject of conversation in this country, though often it is used just as ‘small talk’ in some brief chat, maybe with a shop assistant or postman. Perhaps you watch a forecast before hanging out washing or taking the dog for a walk. We find something similar happening in the time of Jesus, when we are told people would check the colour of the sky in the evening or the morning to work out whether rain was on the way (Matt. 16: 2-3).
The recent storms in the Caribbean have, of course, been on a different level entirely, with people’s lives, homes and livelihoods all at risk from devastating hurricanes. We are told that Irma was the most powerful storm on record, and before that, hurricane Harvey caused unprecedented flooding in Houston, Texas.
One thing we can be sure of, is that these storms do not happen without God’s express knowledge and permission. They happen on his watch, as it were – and he is fully able to control them, if he so wished. When a ‘furious squall’ blew up on Lake Galilee (Mark 4: 37), Jesus was able to turn it into a mill pond with a single command: “Peace, be still!” We read in Psalm 148: 8 of ‘stormy winds that do his bidding’.
So what purpose can God have by allowing these storms to wreak such havoc? One clue is found in Matthew 7: 24-27, where Jesus speaks about the wise and foolish builders, who construct their houses, one on sand, the other on rock. He then speaks of a mighty storm, involving torrents of rain leading to rising flood waters and great winds that batter buildings. In the end, the house built on sand is totally wrecked by the hammering it receives, much as many of the homes in the Caribbean have been over this last week or so.
Is it possible that these storms are a warning from God of what we can expect when we face his final judgement on our sin? Though of course, that judgement will be far more terrible still, bringing about a storm of cosmic proportions, as we read about in Revelation 6: 12-17:
I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
2 Peter 3: 10-13 also speaks of this Day of Judgment and Wrath, describing a situation where ‘the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.’ Perhaps the pictures of flattened buildings in the Caribbean can help us to imagine this; could it be that God is using these mighty forces of Nature to warn us of something even more terrible that will overtake us, if we do not turn to him in repentance and faith?
So, just how seriously do you take the weather?