Our country is once again reeling from the death of little kids. This time it’s not at the hands of a crazed gunman but a massive tornado that left a path of destruction including an elementary school in Moore, Oklahoma. As I write this blog, hundreds of folks are being treated in local hospitals and dozens are confirmed dead.
At least nine children won’t be celebrating their next birthday.
The news networks are calling this a “natural disaster.” I want to press into that a bit…
Bad theology has distorted our image of God. The Bible says God is the giver of every good and perfect gift (see James 1:17). But insurance companies say otherwise. For example, there is a phrase in many homeowners and car insurance policies that refer to natural disasters like tornados as “Acts of God.”
Think about what that phrase is saying about the character of God.
Here is what Bill Johnson (lead pastor – Bethel Church) says: In 2,000 years there has been such a shift in people’s theology that a large part of the body of Christ now believes God took over the devil’s job. It used to be believed that the devil came to kill, steal, and destroy. Now we give God the credit for doing those things.
In John 10:10, Jesus gives us Satan’s job description — to kill, steal, and destroy. In contrast, Jesus says He came to give us life to the full. And “life to the full” cannot be a tornado that ripped through America’s heartland yesterday, can it? Tornados can’t be considered “good and perfect gifts coming down from the Father of heavenly lights” (James 1:17), can they?
I don’t believe tornados that steal, kill, and destroy are “Acts of God.” They aren’t “good gifts.” Tornados very well may be be “Acts of Satan” but they aren’t Acts of God.
The gospel of Luke backs up my claim. Here is one verse from the passage detailing how Jesus calms a storm. It says, “He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.” (Luke 8:24).
The gospel of Luke was originally written in Greek. And Greek is a very precise language. Jesus is TALKING to a storm – to wind and waves. Here’s what is interesting…
The Greek word for “rebuke” (epitimao) in Luke 8:24 is the same Greek word that is used when Jesus cast demons out of people. For example: Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked (epitimao) the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. (Luke 9:42).
Don’t miss this. The word “rebuke” in the Greek – when it says Jesus rebuked the storm — is the same word used when Jesus cast demons out of people.
In Synoptic Miracles, James Kallas writes: “If language means anything at all, it appears that Jesus looked upon this ordinary storm at sea, this ordinary event of nature, as a demonic force, and he strangled it.”
Jesus treated this storm like it was demonic. Why? Because it was demonic in origin! There was nothing ordinary about this storm at sea. There was nothing ordinary about this event of nature.
So when a “natural” disaster happens. A disaster that steals joy. That kills people. That destroys homes. That levels elementary schools. Don’t assume it is a “natural” disaster that is simply the result of living in a fallen world.
It may be a natural disaster, but it may not be. Natural disasters aren’t always natural. They very well may have a supernatural origin.
Either way, those things that steal, kill, and destroy aren’t Acts of God.
***Please carve out time this holiday weekend to join us at The Eastside Vineyard Church. I’ll be preaching one of my favorite types of sermons: “answering tough questions of our faith.” This one is based on Matthew 22:41-46. We take for granted that Jesus is God in the flesh, the 2nd person of the Trinity, but if someone asked you WHY you believe that…what would you say? May 26. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***