Thursday, November 01, 2012

God or Mother Nature?

This week's catechism question and answer has been very well timed as we have listened to the news and seen online images of the devastation caused by what was named Hurricane Sandy.
Q: What are the decrees of God?
 A: The decrees of God are his eternal plan based on the purpose of His will, by which, for His own glory He has foreordained everything that happens.

This is what we read on Monday:
God had a purpose for everything He made. He has a purpose for everything that happens: God's purpose is to glorify Himself. Before He began to create, God planned how every single thing He would create would fit together and how all of it together would bring Him glory. To be certain that everything would happen just as He had planned it, He foreordained, or gave orders in advance, for everything that would ever happen. We call these orders God's decrees. Read Psalm 33:11. We often make plans and have to change them. We might plan a picnic, then have to change our plans because of rain. When we made our plans we did not know it would rain and rain is outside our control. God never changes His plans. Nothing surprises God because He knows everything. Nothing is outside His control because He is all-powerful. God's plan is eternal. It is based on His purpose, which never changes.
Tuesday's reading taught that God's purpose for all He has made and for everything that happens is to make His glory known. Here Habakkuk 2:14 and Isaiah 40:5 were read.

Tomorrow's reading deals with how the things that seem contrary to God's purposes, sad things and bad things, still fit into His plan. We will read Isaiah 45:6,7.

Next week in learning how God carries out His decrees we will look at the world's worst evil act, the most wicked plan ever devised and executed, the torture and killing of God's Son, Jesus Christ. And we will read in Acts 4:27,28 that the disciples understood that God used the actions of His enemies to carry out His decree.

All of this leads me to say that I can say with certainty that the Bible leaves no room for some version of Mother Nature. The only active force behind storms and other natural events(and indeed everything) is the Lord God, Creator of heavens and earth, the Ultimate cause of all things.
 Praise the Lord.
 Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. 
 Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. 
 Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. 
 Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.
 Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. 
 He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away. 
 Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, 
 lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,  
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, 
wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, 
kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, 
young men and maidens, old men and children. 
~Psalm 148:1-12
So while we grieve over the loss of life and the destruction of homes and property,(and it is terrible) we should never assent to any view that substitutes Mother Nature or Mother Earth for the power and decrees of the God who first revealed Himself through the Old Testament and finally through His Son, Jesus Christ as seen in the New Testament. Invariably people want to find a purpose for this horrendous destruction, they want to know that this destruction matters and is not just a random purposeless act and if they can identify a purpose, they will feel empowered to prevent something similar from happening in the future. And while there may be a genuine problem with the way we treat God's creation, we be assured that God is in control of all things and no storm or catastrophic event can occur without His express order and purpose. Understanding this then leads you to appropriately and meaningfully seek God's help for protection, wisdom and understanding through prayer and the study of His Word.

Our family was fairly removed from the brunt of the storm but we spent many anxious moments asking God to protect our families and friends who were directly in the path of the storm. Knowing that God is in control and is all-powerful causes me to rightly seek His help. He can and will act as He has decreed. What a comfort to know that He has purpose for His actions, they are not capricious or random, but come from His infinitely wise and eternal plan. That is why we can say with Job in the midst of life's terrible trials, "Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him." Job 13:15.

I hope you are encouraged, like me, to look at your own trials as coming from an all-powerful God who not only sees your trouble, but has with purpose sent them to you, that you may praise His name and make His glory known among the peoples, even while you cry out for His help. Psalm 96:7-10

 I speak to myself first and have written about thinking this way before, especially about the birth of Kate. You can read that here.

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