Extreme Weather, Climate Change and Bible End Time Prophecy
See also Climate Paradox
This is a long-term change in average global or regional weather patterns. Key indicators are increases in global land and ocean temperatures, and increases in the frequency and severity of extreme weather such as hurricanes and cyclones, heatwaves, precipitation and cloud cover. In turn, these changes generate increases in wildfires, droughts, floods, sea levels and ice-loss at the poles.
So what is the evidence of climate change? Considering temperatures, according to NASA, the average global temperature (an average over the entire surface of the planet) has increased by more than 1° Celsius (2° Fahrenheit) since 1880. And two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975. When it comes to extreme weather we could refer to reported global natural disasters since these include climatic disasters such as extreme storms, droughts, floods and temperatures. Natural disasters have increased from typically ten/year in the early 20th century to typically 350/year since 2000, link, link. [Natural disasters also include landslides, dry mass movements, wildfires, volcanic activity and earthquakes.]
Climate and Weather
It is normal to distinguish between climate and weather. The difference between the two is the timescale. ‘Weather’ refers to the atmospheric conditions over short periods of time (days), and ‘climate’ refers to atmospheric behaviour over relatively long periods of time (decades or centuries). In other words, ‘weather’ refers to short-term changes in the atmosphere – weather events. As shown below, extreme weather events tend to follow climate change.
Extreme weather events in mid-latitudes are related to the polar jet stream, link. Some climate scientists suspect that climate change (a warming arctic) may be making this jet stream “wavier” and leading to extreme weather in the US and Europe. For instance, when the jet stream dips further south it can lead to intense periods of winter weather.
Recent Extreme Weather Events
The Cost: Global re-insurer Munich RE claimed that natural disaster losses for the first 9 months of 2011 totalled $310 billion, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2011 made new weather records. NOAA announced that there were 12 different weather disasters that each cost more than $1 billion at the time of the event. Such events included blizzards, wildfires and tornadoes.
By 2020 the US had sustained 273 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. NOAA claim the total cost of these 273 events exceeds $1.790 trillion, link. Scientists blame ‘an unlucky combination of global warming and freak chance’!
Extreme Winds: 2013 will be remembered for apocalyptic weather across the globe. Super typhoon Haiyan hit the eastern Philippines with maximum sustained winds of 195 mph and gusts to 235 mph – one of the most powerful storms ever recorded. Powerful tornadoes carved a path of destruction across the US Midwest, with Washington being hit by winds of up to 200 mph.
Extreme Rains: In January 2014 southern Britain saw its wettest winter month on record, and saw its largest wave ever (75 feet)! The highest ever rainfall recorded in UK was in December 2015 at Honister Pass in Lake District with 341.4 mm falling in 24 hours. In July 2021, Zhengzhou (China) had over 550 mm in just 24 hours.
Extreme Heat: The Pacific north-west has warmed by about 1.7C in the past 50 years (much more than the global average), and in 2021 this contributed to historic heatwaves in California and parts of Canada. British Columbia reached 46C, Las Vegas reached 47C, Palm Springs reached 49C, and California’s Death Valley reached 53C (although this is lower than the 57C recorded in Furnace Creek in 1913).
Extreme Cold: In 2010 the UK had the coldest December for 100 years [UK Met Office]. In 2018 (‘the beast from the east’) thick snow blanketed the UK and brought the average March temperature down a whole seven degrees. Rural areas experienced temperature lows of -12°C. In February 2021 Scotland experienced -23°C, and Texas had rare extreme cold – colder than Alaska!
Successive Extremes: The UK has seen three extreme Februaries in succession. February 2019 saw a winter heatwave when London reached 21.2 degrees C. February 2020 was the wettest on record in England. February 2021 saw minus 23 degrees C in Scotland and the river Thames froze over for the first time since 1963.
From these few examples we might conclude that global weather catastrophes appear to track global warming.
Climate, Weather and the Bible
Historically, the Old Testament appears to refer to short-term weather events rather than to climate change. It seems God acted independently of any climate change. But extreme weather events prophesied for the future (see later) may well be the result of climate change. For example, some point to scientific evidence supporting the view that the observed climate change is partly due to the earth emerging from an ice-age some 4000 years ago.
The main scientific debate has between those who attribute global temperature rise to man i.e. anthropogenic warming and those who attribute it largely to natural causes, such as solar irradiance change. In stark contrast to the IPCC AR6 2021 Report, some claim natural causes could even cool the planet in the next decades (off-setting anthropogenic warming). This view may align with the Biblical promise:
While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not ceaseGenesis 8:22
It seems that the natural cycle of things was promised to continue, and nothing special was meant to happen to the climate whilst man is around. Of course, man may well be upsetting what God had planned!
God’s Extreme Weather Control in the Past
There are graphic Old Testament examples of God using relatively short weather events as a way of arresting man’s attention. Moreover, Bible prophecy says that He will do it again (see later)! Let’s consider some historical events recorded in the Bible:
According to Genesis, when God saw the violence and wickedness of man He was grieved in heart and vowed to destroy all but Noah and his family through a flood:
I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights”Genesis 6:4
As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, God gave them the Ten Commandments, together with many sundry laws. He warned Israel to obey them and if they did not then one of the consequences would be drought;
The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you iron. And the Lord will make the rain of your land powder and dust … (Deut 28:23-24)
If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain … (2 Chron 7:13)
But if they sought God and turned away from their rebellious ways, then God promised to ‘heal their land’ (2 Chron 7:14).
And when some Israelites returned from exile in Babylon, they were more interested in making nice houses than in the restoration of God’s house – the desolate temple. As a result, God caused drought, resulting in a lack of produce (Hag 1:11).
Violent Storms and Hail
The seventh plague of Egypt was severe hail. Because Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go, God said to Pharaoh:
I will send a very heavy hail … and the hail shattered every tree of the fieldExodus 9:18,25
When the kings of the Amorites attacked friends of Israel, Joshua’s army went up to defend them. It is recorded that God helped Israel by throwing large hailstones at the enemy:
… more died from the hailstones than those killed by the sons of IsraelJoshua 10:11
Later, the prophet Ezekiel challenged the false prophets of Israel, saying that God would judge them. The Lord spoke to these false prophets through Ezekiel, saying:
I will make a violent wind break out in My wrath … flooding rain and hailstones …Ezekiel 13:13
When Jonah tried to ignore God’s instructions by taking a boat trip, God sent ‘a great wind and storm’ (Jonah 1:4) that threatened to destroy the ship. Then, in New Testament times, God reversed the situation and calmed the wind and sea in order to save the disciples:
Jesus rebuked the wind and sea … and the wind died down and it became perfectly calmMark 4:39
Darkness and Gloom
The ninth plague of Egypt: when Pharaoh still refused to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt, God said to Moses:
stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land … a darkness which may be felt … and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three daysExodus 10:21-22
Again, when Ezekiel was in exile in Babylon he challenged Israel to turn from their wicked ways, but he also spoke to the surrounding nations like Assyria and Egypt. He warned Egypt of God’s coming judgement, when clouds and darkness would be used as a way of arresting their attention. We read:
It will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nation … all the shining lights in heaven I will darken over you and will set darkness on your landEzekiel 30:3, 32:8
From these few examples we are left in little doubt that, in the past, God has used abrupt weather changes or weather events (not long-term climate changes) to arrest man’s attention.
God’s Extreme Weather Control in the Future
The Bible makes it quite clear that there will be a definite end to life as we know it. Earth’s governmental systems, economic and trading systems, animal kingdom, and even geology will all be changed at the Second Coming of Christ. Our current age is coming to a dramatic end as God deals with rebellious nations. And just before these changes, at the very end of this age, it seems God will intervene in Earth’s weather!
God Protects His People, Israel
Sometimes God uses weather events in a beneficial way. He says to Israel:
Whoever assails you will fall … no weapon that is formed against you will prosperIsaiah 54:15,17
In 2016 some claim God intervened in the Golan Heights to protect Israel from ISIS: “This strange storm of what appears to be dust, cloud and rain did NOT cross the border fence into Israel. It sat like a barrier between ISIS and Israel” [Israel News Online].
In the future, as God brings back His people from the nations and establishes them in their own land, He will also bless their land with the required rains. The wilderness turns green and becomes fruitful with the blessing of the required ‘early’ and ‘latter’ rains (Joel 2:21-27). In Israel the ‘first’ rains usually fall in early November, the ‘latter’ rains in April, corresponding to Autumn and Spring respectively.
Britain certainly has experienced weather extremes over recent decades. Many see Britain as a rebellious, post-Christian nation in danger of judgement, and, as discussed, extreme weather is one form of judgement. See Prophecy over Britain, 2011. But Britain is just one example of how God will use extreme weather events to exact a series of judgements on the Gentile nations! Recall:
For when the earth experiences Your judgements the inhabitants of the world learn righteousnessIsaiah 26:9
Some of these judgements could be short-term weather events (as in the Old Testament), whilst some may be the result of end-time climate change.
An idea of these changes is described by the prophet Isaiah. Chapters 24-27 of Isaiah are sometimes called ‘Isaiah’s Apocalypse’ since they describe God’s judgement upon the world for its rebellion against God – see the APPENDIX. To reiterate, these are global judgements and they correlate well with the global judgements on the earth described in Revelation. Consider:
Drought and Scorching Heat
One of the judgements predicted by Isaiah appears to be drought:
The earth will be completely laid waste … the earth mourns and withers, the world fades and withers…Isaiah 24:3-4
Drought is one of the consequences of disobedience (Deut 28:23-24)(Zech 14:17). Another form of judgement prophesied by Isaiah appears to be extreme heat – heat severe enough to kill people:
Therefore … the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are leftIsaiah 24:6
The book of Revelation appears to speak of the same end time events and predicts extreme weather as part of God’s judgement upon the nations. There will be fierce, scorching heat:
The fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun, and it was given to it to scorch men with fire. Men were scorched with fierce heat …Revelation 16:8-9
Extreme Weather: Storms, Torrential Rain, Snow and Hail
When questioned about the end of the age, Jesus hints at wild weather:
There will be … dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the wavesLuke 21:25
The root meaning of the Greek in this verse can mean nothing else but literal sea and literal waves. The word ‘roaring’ comes from the Greek ‘echeo’ meaning ‘to make a loud noise’. Hurricanes and coastal flooding spring to mind.
Torrential rain is also prophesied for the near future:
For the windows from on high are openIsaiah 24:18, NKJV
Here, the English word “windows” is translated from the Hebrew word “arubbah” (Strong’s 699) which is also translated ‘windows’ or ‘floodgates’ in Genesis 7:11. The term denotes an opening in the atmosphere like a sluice or floodgate. It seems that torrential rain as experienced at the Genesis Flood will also feature at the end of this age as part of God’s judgements on the rebellious nations.
Meanwhile the nations (and specifically the IPCC) attempt to counter such events with their CO2 reduction programme, link.
Weather events decide a Middle East War
Consider the prophesied Gog-Magog War. At some point in the foreseeable future it seems Russia and Iran, together with other Islamic nations in the Middle East, will invade Israel from the north (see Ezekiel 38-39). But just as God intervened to release Israel from the grips of Pharaoh, so He will intervene to protect Israel from the invading armies. As with Joshua and the Amorites (see above), the weather plays an important part in their defeat. God uses torrential rain and great hailstones:
I will rain on him (Gog) and on his troops … a torrential rain, with great hailstones …Ezekiel 38:22
Hail features high on the weather ingredients list at the end of the age. It is part of God’s judgement upon the nations. Besides fierce heat there will be extreme hail and snow storms:
Or have you entered the storehouses of the snow … which I have reserved for the time of distress … (Job 38:22-23)
… and huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men … (Rev 16:8-9,21)
Clearly, God intends to use short-term weather events to influence world affairs in the future. Since there is clear Biblical support for God’s control of past and future weather, it is logical to ask “Is God beginning to speak through the severe weather events seen today? Are the traumatic events now seen across the globe the start of Bible end-time prophecy?”
Summarising: Is it man, natural, or God?
Climate change is hotly debated. Certainly some effects associated with climate change have been observed over the last century:
- The world warmed by about 0.8 degree C
- Most glaciers retreated
- Sea level rose about 9 inches
- Water tables fell significantly (China: 1.5m/year, India: 1-3m/year)
But who or what is responsible is another matter: is it anthropological warming (greenhouse-gas emissions) as proposed by the IPCC, or simply natural causes? The consensus is that greenhouse-gas emissions must be reduced to net zero by 2050 if we are to preserve a livable climate [UN, 2021]. But many eminent scientists take the natural view. This is based essentially upon changes in solar activity and is summarised below:
- Global Sea Surface Temperature correlates well with solar irradiance change (sun spot number)
- Cloud cover is one of the key factors determining whether we have global warming or global cooling
- An active sun (as in the last part of the 20th century) means less low clouds and higher temperatures
- During solar minima the weaker magnetic field allows more cosmic rays to Earth
- Cosmic rays create aerosols which then seed clouds (so a solar minima means more low clouds)
- Temperature rise and CO2 increase seem weakly correlated
- CO2 increase lags temperature increase – sometimes by hundreds of years
- Temperature rise due to anthropogenic CO2 increase seems hard to detect
- All anthropogenic greenhouse sources contribute only about 0.3% to the Greenhouse Effect
- Glacier retreat commenced some 150 years before sharp CO2 rise
- Sea levels started rising some 100 years before sharp CO2 rise
So some maintain that any climate change observed during the last few decades of the 20th century could be attributed in the main to increased solar activity and the resulting reduced cloud cover. If this is indeed the primary cause of climate change, then what can man do about it?
ConclusionGiven the scientific controversy over the cause of climate change, why not turn to Bible prophecy? Prophecy has serious things to say about future extreme weather events and implies that:
It is God who has final control over the climate and related weather events!From the Bible we can say with certainty that:
- God has used the weather to influence nations and individuals in the past
- Bible prophecy says that God will use severe weather events to ‘speak’ to the nations at the end of this age
- Prophetic signs and the state of the world suggest the end of this age is imminent
If we are indeed close to the end of this age, then extreme weather events are imminent and are to be expected. God will soon use extreme weather events to speak to, and judge, the nations. Clearly, it is a very effective tool to arrest the world’s attention!
Now the Good News
There is no need to worry! Those who trust in the Lord Jesus (Heb: Yeshua) are eternally safe in the hands of the living God:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16)
You do not have to go through the extremes of these end time judgements (the ‘wrath’ of God). The Bible promises all those who put their trust in Jesus will be exempt from ‘the hour of trial that is coming upon the whole world’ (Revelation 3:10). Many believe that those who trust in Christ will be rescued from what is coming, just like Noah was rescued before the Flood. Jesus said that at the end of this age:
There shall be two men in the field: one will be taken, and one will be left
Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken, and one will be left (Mat 24:40-41)
Don’t delay, put your trust in Jesus and receive His peace, forgiveness and security in an insecure world.
THE CLIMATE PARADOX
Isaiah chapter 24 states why the earth experiences God’s end-time judgments in the form of extreme weather events. It is because the nations have rejected the God of the Bible (the God of Israel) and His laws for living:
The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together against the LORD and against His Anointed [Christ], saying, “Let’s tear their shackles apart and throw their ropes away from us!”Psalm 2:2-3
For example, Christianity is rapidly declining in the US and in Europe, and God is totally missing from the EU Constitution. When it comes to the Middle East, Christianity is suffering virtual genocide, and China’s Communist party is intensifying religious persecution, link.
So, as the prophet Isaiah says, at the end of this age:
The earth suffers for the sins of its people, for they have twisted God’s instructions, violated his laws, and broken his everlasting covenant.Isaiah 24:5, NLT
To take a few specific examples of how man has rebelled:
- Western faiths now embrace “other gods” as well as the God of Israel, so violating the first of God’s commandments
- Nations have passed laws permitting abortion on demand (Pro-Choice) but many believe this is breaking the fifth commandment (the killing of an unborn person)
- The media widely promotes marital infidelity (so violating the sixth and ninth commandments)
- Nations have legalised homosexual acts, and even the church is redefining marriage as “between two persons”, as opposed to the biblical definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24)
On the one hand, God has given man the creative ability to improve his lifestyle, as for example in better housing, better food and water supplies, better transport and better medical practice. But, because of man’s greed and selfishness this improvement has often been at the expense of poor nations. In particular, the IPCC claim such lifestyle improvement (essentially industrialisation) has created destructive climate change.
Assuming global warming is largely CO2 induced (many scientists debate this), the IPCC also claim that it is still within man’s capability to counter the worst effects of global warming. Hence the drive towards clean, renewable energy and the move away from fossil fuels. All this seems very reasonable – but for a glaring paradox: