As our country, even the world, is being afflicted by these hurricanes, some Christians are advocating that they are God’s punishments upon our nation for our sins. This dangerous error has plagued God’s people before and it is doing so again through these misguided believers. No greater example of this erroneous belief is plainer seen than in the case of Job and the actions of his three friends.
Job lost everything, his servants, his livestock, and even all his children. Everything. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, Job’s friends, came to him in his time of suffering comforted him as best they could (Job 2:11-13). Had they continued in their mourning, their comforting, and in their moments of silence, Job’s grief would have been lessened. But they didn’t. They certainly didn’t remain silent.
Eliphaz: “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty” (Job 5:17).
Bildad: “Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice? If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression; If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty; If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous” (Job 8:3, 5, 6).
Zophar: “…Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.” (Job 11:6).
Job’s friends turned into his worst enemies. They unanimously concluded that Job brought these perils upon himself because of his sins and mercilessly pressured him to repent.
Did they forget that Job just lost everything? That he just lost all his children? That he himself was smitten with painful boils from head to toe? It was as if the three instantly became deaf, blind, and dumb to their friend’s suffering. In Job’s darkest hour, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar forgot his misery and saw him as a hardened sinner in need of firm correction.
But it was Job’s friends who needed to be corrected. Job strove to make his friends understand that in their ungodly course towards him, they were treating him like an enemy, but they gave his pleas no regard.
“But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you…” (Job 12:3).
“…ye are all physicians of no value. O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom… Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?” (Job 13:4, 5, 24).
“…How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words? These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me” (Job 19:1-3).
Real friends, real Christians, comfort others in their time of suffering, but their enemies rise up against them and judge them. This is where many Christians have stumbled in their faith and right now, in openly condemning the afflicted, they are stumbling and causing others to stumble.
Job’s friends could not see then what many Christians cannot see now. Satan moved upon men to attack Job. He turned the very elements of nature against this servant of God. The Scriptures themselves suggest that the “great wind” Satan used to murder Job’s children (Job 1:19) was actually a hurricane. Do we see the pattern here? Christian and non-Christian alike have lost all they have because of these hurricanes and their Christian brethren across the country are boldly proclaiming that their sins brought God’s judgment upon them as Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar proclaimed to Job!
The Great Controversy highlights how Satan uses the same unnatural disasters to turn men against God today as he tried to do in Job’s day.
“Satan works through the elements also to garner his harvest of unprepared souls. He has studied the secrets of the laboratories of nature, and he uses all his power to control the elements as far as God allows. When he was suffered to afflict Job, how quickly flocks and herds, servants, houses, children, were swept away, one trouble succeeding another as in a moment… he will bring trouble upon others and lead men to believe that it is God who is afflicting them…Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power (GC 589, 590).”
In crediting God with the disasters that have destroyed the lives of countless thousands, these misguided believers have hardened many hearts against Him and given the wicked occasion to blaspheme against Him.
Have you forgotten that we are living in the days before our Lord’s return? In the time He said that Satan will bring disasters like these upon the world (Matt. 24:7)? What did Jesus teach those who told him of those who suffered at the hands of Pilate or at the hands of a disaster?
“…Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?…Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:2-5).
The disciples also fell into this error. They assumed that the man was born blind because he or his parents were being punished for their sins (Jn. 9:2). But what did Jesus say?
“…Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (Jn. 9:3).
It is not for you or any other man to pass final judgment against other men, for it is written, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matt. 7:1, 2).
In judging those who are suffering because of these satanic hurricanes, God’s rebuke to Job’s friends is upon you. “…the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.” (Job 42:7).
Those who have condemned those suffering souls must repent and as far as possible, make restitution for their sins, lest the Lord deal with you after your folly (Job 42:8). Should any of those evacuees renounce God in the crisis to come (Rev. 13:11-18), they will die in their sin, “but his blood will I require at thine hand” (Ezek. 33:8).