The Bible says that God is omnipotent; he can do anything (Gen 17:1, 18:14, Ex 6:3, Job 42:2, Luke 1:37, Mark 10:27, Rev 19:6). Man's fate is in God's hands (1 Sam 2:6-7).

God is omniscient (Ps 139:1-6, Prov 15:3, 5:21, Isa 44:7, Matt 12:25, and many others).

God is also good, just and righteous (Deut 32:4, Dan 9:14, and many others).

God also created everything (Gen 1, Prov 26:10, Col 1:16, Eph 3:9, Rev 4:11, etc.). Including evil (Isa 45:7, Amos 3:6, Lam 3:38).

The greatest natural disaster in the Bible, the Deluge, was God's work, not Satan's (Gen 6-8), where God (not even with Satan's help) flooded the whole world and destroyed practically every living thing. Although he promised never to use flood again to destroy the world, he didn't promise that he would never send little floods.

God controls the rain (Deut 11:14-17, 28:12, Job 5:10, Matt 5:45, James 5:17-18), lightning (Ps 97:4), thunder, snow, whirlwind, cold, frost, flood, clouds "that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth. He causeth it to come, whether for correction, ... or for mercy" (Job 37:2-13, 21, also Job 28:10-11, Ps 107:25, 29, Nahum 1:3-4). Jesus also had the power to control the wind and sea (Matt 8:27, Mark 4:39).

God is the cause of tempest, hailstones (Isa 30:30). Fire, hail, snow, vapors "fulfill his word" (Ps 148:8, Ezek 28:32).

God causes earthquakes, especially when he is angry (Job 9:5, 28:9, Ps 18:7, 77:16-18, 97:3-5, Isa 2:19, 24:20, 29:6, Jer 10:10, Nahum 1:5, Heb 12:26). He causes the mountains to be thrown down and the valleys to fill (Ezek 38:20).

God has control over plague (Ex 7-12, Num 11:33, ch 25, 1 Sam 5:6-9), hordes of locusts (Joel 2:25), hordes of snakes (Num 21:4-6), famine (2 Sam 21), death in general (e.g. Ex 12:23, 29, 1 Sam 2:6-7 and many others).

God causes human suffering so that his great works can be demonstrated (Isa 30:20, Ezek 38:16, 23, John 9:1-9).

God seems to be in complete control. He can cause disaster or he can prevent it. He controls every detail, even the fall of a sparrow (Matt 20:29).

God decides that some should be blind, deaf or dumb (Ex 4:11).

God will afflict those who are not righteous (Isa 30:20, for just one instance), and the Bible also says that nobody is righteous (Rom 3:10, 23, Ps 14:3). For a fairly complete list of what God can and will do to those who are disobedient to him, see Deut 28:15-68 and Lev 26, which are lists of just about all the terrible "natural" calamities that can occur to human beings.

God also promises the faithful that such disasters and evil will not befall them, which implies that God has the power to prevent such things. They are protected against flood and fire (Isa 43:2), against evil and harm (2 Thess 3:3, 1 Pet 3:13). God is their shield and safety (Deut 33:27, 2 Chron 16:9, Ps 3:3, 4:8, 78:53, 91:11, 119:117, 145:20, Prov 29:25, 30:5, Dan 6:22, Zeph 3:17). This promise apparently did not apply to Job.

The Book of Job is a special case, apparently, where God permitted Satan to afflict Job. The implication is clear that Satan could not have afflicted Job without God's permission. The reason God permitted it is not clear, but it looks like God did so only because Satan challenged God. God apparently could have prevented Job's affliction, which was undeserved (Job 1:8), since he had the power to limit the extent of Satan's power over Job (Job 1:12). And the author names God, not Satan, as the source of the "evil" which Job suffered (Job 42:11). Clearly, God, not Satan, is ultimately responsible for Job's afflictions.

Nowhere in the Bible can I find a passage which clearly attributes power over weather, natural phenomena or disastrous events to Satan. Satan is sometimes called the god or prince of this world (2 Cor 4:4, John 12:31, 14:30, Eph 6:12), but his precise powers in connection with these titles are not named anywhere, other than the power to tempt and deceive. One passage calls him the "prince of the power of the air" (Eph 2:2), but the meaning is not clear, and does not seem to mean that he has power over the weather, but rather that he flies about and can be anywhere. Paul punishes sinners by handing them over to Satan (1 Cor 5;5, 1 Tim 1:20), but if it is God who punishes sin (as many Bible passages say), then Satan is here only doing God's bidding. Only one passage (Heb 2:14) says that Satan "had the power of death," but it is in the past tense, and refers to Christ's having conquered death, so that does not refer to death which continues to occur nowadays from disease or disaster.

Thus, Satan's powers seem to be extremely limited, and it is God, and God alone, who sends the floods, earthquakes, storms, plagues and other "natural" disasters, according to the Bible. And whatever power Satan has, it must be with God's permission, or God would not be omnipotent. Even if one tries to make God look better by saying that these things are usually caused by the forces of nature, one ultimately gets back to the Creator of Nature and his complete ability to prevent the disasters.

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©  1998 Richard Packham    Permission granted to reproduce for non-commercial purposes, provided text is not changed and this copyright notice is included


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