Natural Disasters! Why?

When nature is out of control the consequences can be disastrous


You may have experienced or perhaps viewed on TV, elements out of control – the desolation caused by earthquakes, flooding, landslides, tsunamis, forest fires, to name a few.

I recently watched a series of five natural disasters on Youtube which included one of tall trees falling suddenly across a highway due to heavy rainfall which had loosened the ground. Another showed a landslide down a mountainside and into a village for the same reason.

As I prepared this blog, here in South Africa, the residents of Carltonville were recently terrified because deep sinkholes suddenly appeared in their town as a result of the underground gold mining activity that had taken place in the area in the past.

  • What for you has been the most horrific natural disaster?

The prophet Habakkuk hints at terrifying natural disasters in this week’s study.

Habakkuk 3:10 NIrV

‘The mountains saw you and shook. Floods of water swept by. The sea roared. It lifted its waves high.’

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay


The prophet’s emphasis in this week’s verse is on the effect of God’s devastating power revealed in the elements.

By referring to ‘the mountains’ the prophet repeats the phenomena mentioned in verse 6 

“When he stops, the earth shakes; at his glance the nations tremble. The eternal mountains are shattered; the everlasting hills sink down, the hills where he walked in ancient times.” (Habakkuk 3:6  GNB)

We know that Mount Sinai quaked in the presence of God.

“And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. (Exodus 19:18 NIrV) (Bold mine)


The prophet is using poetical language in the next sentence. Floods of water swept by and The sea roared. It lifted its waves high.

This is a possible reference to the river Jordan in flood at the time that the Israelites passed through it. When the waters above stood and rose up as a heap, the waters below were cut off and passed away into the Salt Sea.

“When the priests got to the Jordan and their feet touched the water at the edge (the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest), the flow of water stopped. It piled up in a heap–a long way off–at Adam, which is near Zarethan. The river went dry all the way down to the Arabah Sea” [the Salt Sea]. “And the people crossed, facing Jericho.”  (Joshua 3:15,16 MSG).

Another possibility is it refers to the time the deep waters of the Red Sea separated to enable the Israelites to pass through. The waters then rose up, made a great noise, and stood in a heap. God led his people through, and they did not even get their feet wet!

What the prophet appears to be saying, is that at the command of God, the waters overflow. His voice is like thunder coming up from the deep. This probably refers to the roaring that accompanies the sea.

Where we live in Summerstrand, a suburb of Gqebetha (formerly Port Elizabeth), we are only a seven-minute walk away from the sea. Most nights, when there is no traffic around, we can hear the roar of the sea.


Despite those occasions when the elements appear to be out of control, they are never out of God’s control. In fact, there are times when God uses the elements to carry out His judgement upon sin.

In the book of Numbers, we read of Korah’s rebellion. Korah along with Dathan, Abiram and On and a further 250 community leaders, rebelled against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Their contention was,

“The whole community is holy. Every one in it is holy. And the LORD is with them. So why do you put yourselves above the LORD’s people?” (Numbers 16:3 NIrV)

After a time in prayer, Moses responded

“In the morning the LORD will show who belongs to him. He will show who is holy.” (Numbers 16:5 NIrV)

The next day Moses and Aaron were instructed to move away from their opponents.

“The ground under them broke open. It opened its mouth. It swallowed up those men. In fact, it swallowed up everyone who lived in their houses. It swallowed all of Korah’s men. And it swallowed up everything they owned.” (Numbers 16:31b, 32 NIrV)

I have highlighted the main gist of the story but you can read about how God dealt with those rebels by using an earthquake in Numbers 16.


In Psalm 136 the psalmist records God’s involvement in the creation and in the history of His people the Israelites.

'When the grandeur of nature overawes you, when its terrific phenomena, thunders, earthquakes, volcanoes seem to overwhelm you, still praise Him. There is goodness in all.' (Psa 136:1-9 The Biblical Illustrator) Share on X

The psalmist goes on to remind us of our loving God

“He split the Red Sea apart. God’s love never fails. The Lord brought Israel safely through the sea. God’s love never fails. He destroyed the Egyptian king and his army there. God’s love never fails.” ( Psalm 136:13-15 CEV)

No matter what life throws in our path … despite worldwide pandemics … regardless of the natural disasters which may come our way,  we who have received God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ have this assurance. The chief characteristic of God is love (1 John 4:8,16) and, as the psalmist says, God’s love never fails.

As we close this session spend time reflecting upon the Lord’s steadfast love. Click on this link and sing along with these words. Then thank Him for His unfailing love for you.

Have a great week!


If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.


Victorious living

I am sure that we all enjoy that sense of victory that we experience from time to time.

  • On those occasions when our favourite team scores a goal, we cheer.
  • When our kids do well in school or on the sports field, we are quick to show our pride.
  • Upon the graduation of friends or family from university, it’s almost as if we had done all the hard work ourselves.
  • After a long struggle to achieve a particular goal, when it is finally achieved we are elated.
  • No doubt, we like to be part of a victorious team.

The prophet speaks of the victorious conquests of the God of Israel

Habakkuk 3:8 NIV

‘Were you angry with the rivers, LORD? Was your wrath against the streams? Did you rage against the sea when you rode your horses and your chariots to victory?’

Image by Zsolt Nagy from Pixabay

Over and over again the God of Israel has proved Himself to be victorious over individuals, nations, and situations.

In our last session, we focussed on man’s inevitable fearfulness. We saw that as opposed to a natural inborn human fear there is an encouragement to grow Godly fear. We also saw that, in place of fear, the Lord offers us His peace which far surpasses any level of peace the world may be able to generate. 

When our fear is overcome by God’s peace we begin to enjoy that sense of victory.


Asking a series of rhetorical questions, the prophet confirms that God was not angry with the rivers – Not the Rivers Nile or Jordan, nor with the Red Sea.

Habakkuk is reflecting on God’s involvement in rescuing Israel from Egyptian slavery. 

First, His wonderful work in the passing through the Red sea, where Habakkuk envisages the Lord at the head of the Israelites in His chariot of war,  to rescue them from their cruel oppressors, the Egyptians.

The next is His intervention in stopping up the flow of the flooded Jordan River so that the Israelites could pass through into Canaan. This was in contrast to the chariots of Pharaoh which pursued the Israelites, then subsequently sank in the Red Sea. Like a mighty warrior riding in His chariot, God used His power to save His people.

“He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.” (Psalm 104:3b)

The horses and chariots which the Lord is pictured as riding upon are the elements — the clouds and the winds. 


“As they sailed, he [Jesus] fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.”( Luke 8:23,24)

Here we see the Lord God having control over the elements on the Sea of Galilee.

Yet there are times when He seems to allow the elements to get out of control, are there not?

As I prepare this blog there have been severe thunderstorms in the Gauteng area of South Africa. In the meantime, along the Garden Route of the Southern Cape, many miles away,  several towns experienced flash floods of devastating proportions.

By contrast in our area of the Eastern Cape, the dam levels are so low that at times we are without any water in our taps (faucets).

When this happens we are inclined to ask ‘Why Lord?’

  • Could this be the Lord’s way of prompting us to determine new ways of harnessing the rainwater when it does come so that it does not simply flow back into the sea?
  • Or is it a result of neglect of the infrastructure (As a nation, South Africans are experiencing water shortages due to failure to maintain the dams we have at present and to build new dams to cater for our population growth.)
  • What could be done to harness the rainwater?
  • How about desert regions, where they don’t see rain clouds for years on end? What could the Lord be telling them?


  • What are some of the elements, objects, or people, you allow to dictate your plans and actions?

 For example here are some of the reasons given for not attending church:

  • We are going to be without power for a few hours so the service will be affected.
  • It’s my child’s birthday and a gang of kids is arriving this afternoon so I need to prepare.
  • The preacher for this week tends to be very longwinded and boring.
  • I don’t get on with certain church members.
  • I have had a busy week and there are urgent tasks to do around our home etc.
  • Are any of these genuine? What do you think? Can you think of others?

Think on these words of Jesus:

“But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.”(Matthew 6:33 CEV)


Pharoah’s pursuing army, along with the elements—the Red Sea, the dry and dusty desert of Sinai, and the flooded Jordan River—as well as opposing nations en route, all threatened the progress of the children of Israel from Egypt to Canaan.

God’s wrath was not directed at the elements—the rivers or seas,  but at those who opposed His people.

Our adversary uses whatever means are available, including the elements, to thwart our efforts to live a God-glorifying life. God still opposes those who seek to destroy His people. However, He may allow the devil a certain degree of leeway in order to teach us a valuable lesson.


Jesus never promised His followers an easy life. In fact, He warned that they would face persecution. However, He does assure us of victory.

David who certainly had more than his share of persecution wrote, Now this I know: The LORD gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. (Psalm 20:6)

In a Psalm by the Sons of Korah we read, “…but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame.” (Psalm 44:7)

The Apostle Paul wrote, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)

And the Apostle John adds, “…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

In the book of Revelation in His message to the seven churches God gave this assurance, “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7)

In what area of your life are you experiencing a victory? How about spending some time praising God for His goodness! Think of a song expressing your joy, and sing it through now.

P.S. If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.