Scripture’s Testimony

What, specifically, does Scripture say about “natural disasters”? Does the Bible say that God or the devil causes them? Let’s look at earthquakes first because the Bible speaks of many.

According to Scripture, earthquakes might occur due to God’s judgment upon deserving sinners. We read in Jeremiah: “At His [God’s] wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation” (Jer. 10:10, emphasis added).

Isaiah warns,

From the Lord of hosts you will be punished with thunder and earthquake and loud noise, with whirlwind and tempest and the flame of a consuming fire (Is. 29:6, emphasis added).

You may recall that during the days of Moses, the earth opened up and swallowed Korah and his rebellious followers (see Num. 16:23-34). This was clearly an act of God’s judgment. Other examples of God’s judgment by earthquakes can be found in Ezek. 38:19; Ps. 18:7; 77:18; Hag. 2:6; Luke 21:11; Rev. 6:12; 8:5; 11:13; 16:18.

Some earthquakes that are recorded in Scripture are not necessarily acts of God’s judgment, but nevertheless, were caused by God. For example, according to the Gospel of Matthew, there was an earthquake when Jesus died (Matt. 27:51,54), and one when He was resurrected (Matt. 28:2). Did Satan cause those?

When Paul and Silas were singing praises to God at midnight in a Philippian jail, “suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened” (Acts 16:26, emphasis added). Did Satan cause that earthquake? I don’t think so! Even the jailer was saved after he witnessed God’s power. And that is not the only God-caused earthquake in the book of Acts (see Acts 4:31).

I recently read of some well-meaning Christians who, upon hearing of a prediction of an earthquake in a certain area, traveled to the site to do “spiritual warfare” against the devil. Can you see the error in their assumption? It would have been scriptural for them to pray to God for His mercy upon the people who lived in that area. And if they had done that, there would have been no need to waste their time and money traveling to the potential earthquake site—they could have prayed to God right where they lived. But to battle the devil in order to stop an earthquake is unscriptural.