We cancelled services yesterday at Oak Grove Baptist Church because of the threat of flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Florence. The forecast was for our Nebo, N.C., area to receive 6 to 12 inches of rain, with the heavy rain beginning shortly after daybreak Sunday morning and continuing through the day. In reality those high rain totals didn’t fully materialize — Nebo got somewhere around 4 to 5 inches, I think — but I suppose it was better to err on the side of caution.
Sadly for the residents of the North Carolina coast, their forecast wasn’t exaggerated. The town of Swansboro received over 34 inches of rain from the storm. The town of Hoffman received over 25 inches. The city of Wilmington got almost 24 inches, as did Morehead City. The worst part of it all is the fact that the death toll from the storm currently stands at 17 in North Carolina and another 6 in South Carolina. That’s 23 eternal souls who lost their earthly lives in some way that was directly related to a storm that began as a tropical wave off the west coast of Africa in the closing days of last month.
But before we start blaming God for all these deaths, we need remember that hurricanes — along with tornadoes, tidal waves, thunderstorms, hailstorms, electrical storms, floods, heat waves, snow storms, blizzards, droughts, and volcanic eruptions — were not part of God’s original plan for life on earth. When you read the first two chapters of the book of Genesis, you won’t find any of those things in there. To the contrary, the description given is of a world, really an entire creation, that was by God’s assessment all “very good” (Genesis 1:31). I myself agree with the interpretation that it didn’t even rain during those days. Instead, God kept the earth watered by way of a mist that rose up from the earth and watered the whole face of the planet (Genesis 2:5-6).
Dr. Henry Morris, who received a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, was the founder of the Institute for Creation Research. He authored several books, one of them being The Genesis Record, a book he described as “a scientific and devotional commentary on the book of beginnings.” In The Genesis Record, Dr. Morris explains that the “firmament” (the Hebrew word “raquia” literally means “expanse”) that God created on Day 2 of the creation week (Genesis 1:6-8) trapped a vast body of water, most likely in vaporous form, above the atmosphere of the earth. Consequently, this “vapor canopy” created greenhouse-type conditions upon the entire earth. According to Morris, the results of this “global greenhouse” were:
- A uniformly pleasant temperature was constantly maintained all over the world.
- Great air-mass movements were inhibited and windstorms were unknown.
- There was no global air circulation and, thus, no hydrologic cycle.
- No hydrological cycle meant no rain.
- The temperature change of the day-night cycle created a bit of evaporation.
- That bit of evaporation was enough to form dew or mist.
- The world was filled with lush vegetation.
- There were no deserts or ice caps.
- The “vapor canopy” filtered out all ultraviolet radiations and cosmic rays.
- No such radiations and rays meant extended lives for humans and creatures.
You see, the earth of the opening two chapters of Genesis was vastly different than the earth we know now. So, what happened to cause the change? Oh, that answer is easy: sin happened. Romans chapter 8 explains that because of Adam’s sin the whole creation was “subjected to futility” (verse 20, N.K.J.V.) and bound in “the bondage of corruption” (verse 21, N.K.J.V.). Consequently, creation now “groans and labors” (verse 22, N.K.J.V.) like a woman desperately trying to give birth. As an example of this, God Himself told Adam that the soil of the earth was now cursed because of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:17-19).
You might be asking, “But what about that protective ‘vapor canopy’ up there in the firmament? Doesn’t that still protect us?” No, that’s long gone. All of that moisture was poured down upon the earth as part of the waters of Noah’s flood. As Genesis 7:11 tells us: “…on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” (N.K.J.V.). The Hebrew word translated there as “heaven” is “samayim,” and it’s the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 1:8, which says: “And God called the firmament Heaven…” (N.K.J.V.). This means that during the great flood the windows of the firmament were opened and all that moisture held in check by the firmament was released.
By the way, don’t let the fact that the King James translation and the New King James translation use the word “heaven” to describe the firmament confuse you. The apostle Paul does the same kind of thing in 2 Corinthians 12:2 when he talks about being caught up to the “third heaven.” His use of that term to describe the heaven where God dwells shows us that the “first heaven” is the earth’s atmosphere and the “second heaven” is deep space.
Anyway, to get back to the point, Adam’s sin ruined God’s original set-up for all creation. It also caused Adam’s entire race to became poisoned with a nature of sin that provoked them to behavior bad enough to cause God to wipe out the entire race, except for Noah and his family, by way of the great flood. What all this means for us is that the pre-sin, pre-flood world is a thing of the ancient past. That’s why we are now all too familiar with: sickness, disease, aging, death, hurricanes, floods, droughts, snow storms, etc. These things are all part of us living as a broken race on a broken planet that’s part of a broken creation that no longer functions the way it was designed to function.
What I’m saying is that if you are going to blame God for every hurricane, you might as well also blame Him for every case of cancer. If you are going to blame Him for every flood, you might as well also blame Him for every fatal accident. If you are going to blame Him for every drought, you might as well also blame Him for every death regardless of how it occurred.
The question to ask is not, “Why are there deaths and hurricanes?” The question to ask is, “Why hasn’t God fixed His creation, including mankind, yet?” And the answer is, “All in due time. All in due time.” The Bible teaches that God has a precision plan of prophecy for when and how He is going to accomplish this fixing. If you want to learn all the details of this plan, I encourage you to read my extensive 26-post blog series “Bible Prophecy in Chronology.” In those posts, I go into a ton of detail on this whole subject. For the purposes of this post, however, I’ll simply offer the highlights of the plan as the close to the post. Here goes:
- The Rapture (the snatching away to heaven of the bodies of all Christians and the glorification of those bodies)
- The 7-Year Tribulation Period (featuring the Antichrist and his False Prophet)
- Christ’s 2nd Coming (which includes His victory over the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the armies of the world at the Battle of Armageddon)
- Christ’s 1,000-year reign upon the earth (which is marked by Satan and the other fallen angels being imprisoned for the 1,000 years and planet Earth being restored to a pre-sin state.)
- Satan’s Release & Final Rebellion (which doesn’t last long).
- The Great White Throne Judgment (where Jesus sits upon a throne and eternally banishes all of history’s lost to the eternal lake of fire, which is not the same place as the hell that exists now)
- The New Heaven, The New Earth, and The New Jerusalem (I favor the interpretation that the “New” Heaven and Earth will be the current Heaven & Earth purged of all taint of sin by fire. As for the New Jerusalem, that will be the glorious city where all of history’s saved will spend eternity with the Lord.)