Meteorology as a science, what with computers and the high technology that mostly developed for us out of the last couple generations, is an advanced field that is valuable in informing us of changing weather patterns and helping us be prepared for the weather of the next many days. It might be easy to think that man hadn't made any observations as to weather and its effects in the ancient world. What I want to explore here is what the Bible tells us about meteorology. What does the Bible affirm about meteorology? Does it tell us about the weather of the time, the variety of weather, strange weather events, or does it even make prophecies for the weather in the future, perhaps in our day?
I would like to introduce to readers here something they are likely unfamiliar with. That the Bible does make many references to weather, describing God's manipulation of it, how weather can be used as a weapon against apostates, strange weather occurrences, and to conclude with a note drawing attention to what the Bible tells us we can expect in our own day in the changing climates.
Was there a rudimentary system, an awareness, an expectation, of certain weather patterns?
A. In Joel 2:23, the author makes note of the LORD, who hath "given you the former rain moderately, and [Who] will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month." The ancients had taken note for the benefit of the crops at what time of the year the rain was most prevalent. They understood from the weather patterns what to expect in terms of what to plant and when to plant it, and had an extensive system of crops which were planted at different points in the year. The reliance that the rain would come at the time that it was appointed was important to the entire system, more so than it is today. Today, surpluses make money, and shortfalls in harvest mean that more trade is done with farmers in other parts of the country, in neighboring nations or overseas. In the ancient times, famine was an unforgiving catastrophe that decimated populations. Today, in the developed world, we do not know hunger at all, except a small number at the very bottom. These are two major discrepancies of the world we live in today versus the world as it once was. So God made clear to His people Israel, that if they did not obey His commandments and ordinances, He would conspire through weather to bring judgment and death against them.
B. "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out... The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed..." [Deuteronomy 28:15-19,24] God threatened the nation that if they did not hearken to His command, He would send drought and famine against them.
C. Meteorology, as a science, of course, is most helpful to us in terms of what it tells us not only about that that we have observed, but also that that we can expect. It is the predictive aspect that will tell us when to expect a hard freeze, a torrential downpour, a snow. So far as I know, there is one small discourse on the predictive component of meteorology and it was a facetious response Jesus made to the Pharisees and Sadducees. They said if He were a prophet, then He could show them a sign from heaven. Jesus, who was never challenged by their questions as much as He was irritated says,
"When it is evening ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas."
Whatever else was known about predicting weather patterns apparently was not discussed, likely because the Bible was never intended to be a scientific document or make scientifically precise pronouncements. We see often throughout history when the Bible was used by zealots as a manual of science, it had disastrous effects, resulting in persecution of true believers and scientists, and at some points withheld the advancement of science. I personally sympathize with the idea that the Bible is correct in its scientific observations, but I'm at odds with how to interpret it. The Bible is not designed to be a scientific explanation of anything, but only a recollection of the actions of God versus His creation and the history of the creation and His people. It is a theological document, a historical document, you might say a sociological document or an anthropological document. It has been useful to archeology, to cartography, and in terms of its cultural insights. But it is not a scientific document. It is folly to try to adapt a scientific model based on the short list of points it does raise.
Is it man-made?
Throughout the Bible we find descriptions of weather, and we see this in more places than I'm going to enumerate, and many of them have to do with rain and holding back the rain and so forth, but even a few peculiar instances are recorded in the Bible.
D. God is in control of not only the rain, but also the snow.
"For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength... Out of the south cometh the whirlwind: and cold out of the north. By the breath of God frost is given: and the breadth of the waters is strengthened." [Job 37:6,9,10]
This is a most unusual of circumstances. Snow is very rare in the Middle East, or so I have been taught. Nevertheless, Jerusalem and much of Israel have seen a couple occasions of snow just in the last couple years, one of them even being a substantial storm leaving nearly a foot of snow in places just this year. It might have been in those days it was much more common, or it may have been in the region of Uz, where Job lived.
Whatever may be said as to scientific veracity or the state of knowledge of meteorology at the time, God told us through His word that He was in full control. Whether or not 'global warming' or 'climate change' is an accurate assessment of weather patterns at this time, the Bible has one basic guiding principle: God is in total control. It is not man-made, unless you mean that because of our wickedness God has altered our climate.
E. The second strange scenario... Unheard of giant hail.
"And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great." [Revelation 16:21]
Science, I believe, has said emphatically that in theory, a hailstone of this size is not a physical possibility. I also believe I have read that the largest stones known until now were only a matter a couple dozen ounces, far short of even a stone (fourteen pounds). Whether John is forecasting a collision with a body of meteors, such as the Perseids or Leonids, or however it exactly plays out, but that something celestial impacts the earth in a particular region or regions, and are of such an enormous size that they hit the earth in a mass the size of a teenager, I think for all intents and purposes that will fulfill the prophecy. I generally am a literalist but this is a real case of a very unlikely literal application and a compelling demonstration of how a secondary understanding of 'hail' here could have a real fulfillment in a collision of a body of meteors.
F. The consummation... Jesus said that He should be baptized by John because it 'becometh us to fulfill all righteousness...' [Matthew 3:15] He taught us how the Law was fulfilled in Him. And one of the ways this was established was on the raging waters of the Sea of Galilee. The disciples came crying, "Master, carest not thou that we perish? And he arose and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" [from Mark 4:38-41]
In this moment, there was a consummation of the Law and Prophets and an affirmation of Jesus' ministry. Where the Law and Prophets had established God's ultimate supremacy over weather patterns, Jesus establishes the credibility of these provisions, and even of all of the Law. It was merely a reflection both back to the Law and to Him. Much of the Bible is set in terms of shadows, precursors, shades, foreshadowing, symbols, reflections, and prophesying. This story is no different.
We have discussed a variety of areas of meteorology, that the ancients had a rubric of prediction, plotted agricultural cycles based on weather predictions, that they recorded unusual weather phenomena, and yet to be discussed is what the Bible tells us about weather in our generation. The Bible makes several astonishing claims of what to expect in our time that are not popular with Christians, and obviously not with the science sect.
G. The terrific weather events prophesied to occur at the end of the age... "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places." [Matthew 24:7] These are rooted in climate. When the sky shuts itself up and does not rain, this destroys all cycles. The earth withers and dries up, the land stops bearing fruit and grain, wildfires burn up the dry heap, people hunger, famines spread, disease occurs as a consequence of bad nutrition and polluted water.
Earthquakes... I am from East Texas and in the last couple years, we have oddly had a couple ~3 and ~4 magnitude earthquakes. We have had many small shocks although not exactly in the town I live. But in the broader region, it has happened in the recent past. This is something that is happening on a widespread level, earthquakes in DIVERSE places, places where they are not meant to occur. With great devastation, they have struck in our time, history-making quakes most recently in Japan, which have spilled untold amounts of radiation into the Pacific; in Haiti, killing perhaps as many as 300,000+; and in the Pacific region which on December 26, 2004, took, according to some estimates, as many as 280,000 lives. Earthquakes in just the last ten years have been responsible for a number of deaths that is simply unimaginable. When the radiation has realized its effects, the toll of Japan will be horrific. How many of these people did not know the Lord? And how many did not know the Lord because the Christians around them did not perform their duty to that people and tell them about the Lord?
H. Global warming... That pesky issue that the conservatives are possessed over disproving, the liberals are possessed with taking this as an excuse to supersede national governments and install a centrally-run system of taxation and global governance. The irreligious hound the Christians who they esteem as being anti-science and fundamentalists, the Christians esteeming them as being anti-religious and blind devotees to science, which publish false data to support an unlikely theory.
I for one am happy that they are both mistaken. The Bible warned us of climate change (global warming) taking place just before the time of the end. If there is global warming, then the Christians are incorrect because it is not a lie, although that doesn't mean scientists are not being dishonest about their findings. As to the science sect, they are mistaken as well, because the very hypothesis they are suggesting is in affirmation of a document that they are staunchly opposed to and that speaks for a religion they hate. It is a case of an absurd political demonstration, the liberals racing to embrace biblical doctrine yet saying how they hate it, the Christians rushing to distance themselves from the doctrine, while claiming they adore it. It's baffling to me how people can so blindly adopt whatever belief that their party leaders tell them to adopt.
Among the judgments meted out against the wicked inhabitants of the earth at the time of the end is the fourth vial.
"And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory." [Revelation 16:8,9]
Obviously, the global warming hypothesis has nothing to do with the sun reaching its terminal phase of life or some terrible solar system-destroying calamity, but where we can see the 'sun' here is being viewed as the heat source, the life-giving source, then it makes more sense in a first century writing to describe a period of unprecedented summer as being a judgment on the sun. It could not be intimated in any logical manner the relationship of ozone or of its depletion in the atmosphere. Again, this is a demonstration of why the Bible shouldn't be afforded a scientific legitimacy. However, it does make statements as to science, but not with a scientific rigor or any methodical way It simply reflects phenomena in the language of the common man, meant to be read and consumed by the common man, not as a scientific text but as a recording of God's word to His people, both of history and of timeless morals and teaching.
That global warming is a reality, or is tending that way, is given. The full way in which it plays out will uncover itself as time marches on.
If some regions are experiencing record winters, then I would offer this: Jesus warned, "But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day..." [Matthew 24:20] I've always personally considered this statement odd given how the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern climates are not at all cold. Could this be a tacit prediction that the weather pattern in that day will be coupled with extreme heat and extreme cold? That is where I have been leaning. It is not without scientific merit. The extreme heat in the Southern hemisphere can now be explained to have responsibility in the record winters happening in the North. Likewise, the Northern hemisphere may be having a summer of extreme heat just months after record-shattering cold, and this may be inciting extreme cold in the Southern hemisphere. Ergo, extreme heat and extreme cold.
The preceding was a message on biblical meteorology.