Does God punish people with natural disasters?
God withheld rain from Israel (1st Kings 17:1), sent plagues on Egypt (Exodus 1:19,20), opened up the ground that swallowed up Korah’s household (Numbers 16:29-33) and Jesus controlled the weather when He calmed a storm (Luke 8:24). In the future, He will cause more natural disasters (Revelation 6:7, 8, 12, 15-17). God is indeed sovereign over the entire universe. Since He created it, He can and does interact with it to accomplish His will.
But because He has done so a very few times in the past, does NOT mean He does so on a regular basis. Not every natural disaster is an “act of God”. The Earth used to be a perfect place (Genesis 1:31). He even gave mankind “ownership” over the whole of creation (Genesis 1:26).
But Adam and Eve sinned and fell from a perfect state to an imperfect one. All of creation fell with them, from a perfect state to an imperfect one (Romans 8:19-22). Eventually, God will renew all of creation, including us, back to its perfect state (Revelation 21:1-4).
But, in the meantime, we live in a “fallen” world. There will be earthquakes, tornados, volcanos, lightening strikes, tsumanis, floods, etc. We now live on a violent earth.
The question then becomes how do we know if a particular natural disaster is directly from God. The answer is simple. We don’t know. What we do know is that the ratio of the very small number of God-announced natural disasters compared to the total number of naturally occurring natural disasters is very, very small. So we can safely assume that a natural disaster is probably just that, a naturally occurring phenomena that happens because we live in a fallen world.
The only times when we can know that it’s God causing it is when He tells us that He’s doing it, like in the bible. Since the bible is a closed book (there are no new revelations being added to it), we can safely assume that natural disasters occur because we live in a fallen world. So let’s stop blaming God for something that He didn’t directly cause and is not taking credit for.
The one thing that natural disasters can do for us is to remind us that we live in a fallen world because of sin. And because of our sin, we need a Savior. And that is something that God has directly provided for us thru Jesus Christ.
For His Kingdom,