God Causes


I’m posting on Saturday! That’s to make up for not posting yesterday. I’ve been tinkering with my work schedule in order to be more efficient with my time, but obviously what I did yesterday didn’t work! So that leaves me with a Saturday post.

No problem really. I wasn’t sure what to say yesterday, but today as I read in the book of Habakkuk, something clicked.

I’d already noted when I read through Jonah all the things that God directly caused in order to get Jonah where He wanted Him. First He sent His prophet a message. An order, really—Go to Nineveh and give them My message.

Jonah boarded a ship and high-tailed it in the opposite direction. So God “hurled a great wind on the sea” bringing up a great storm.

To stop the storm from crashing the ship and taking the lives of all on board, Jonah told the sailors to throw him overboard. Eventually they did. Then God appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah.

After three days Jonah thanked God for saving Him and remembered his commitment. Then God commanded the fish to vomit Jonah onto dry land.

Jonah went to Nineveh and preached, warning of God’s judgment on them because of their wickedness. Who wouldn’t believe the message of someone bleached albino-white by fish stomach acid and smelling of fish throw-up? OK, that’s all conjecture on my part, but the truth is, the people of Nineveh repented because they believed in God. They mourned and fasted and called on God earnestly that he might relent of the judgment Jonah had declared.

God heard them and did just that.

Which made Jonah mad—maybe because he hated the Assyrians, maybe because he knew that a prophet’s words were supposed to come true, so some might now question his role. At any rate, he decided to wait out the time (forty days) to see if by any chance God would still judge Nineveh.

God appointed a plant to grow to shade him, but the next day He appointed a worm to destroy the plant. Jonah grieved the death of the plant, and God used the object lesson to teach him something about compassion.

What struck me in the story was all the things in nature God caused—or appointed, as the NASB says. The wind/storm, the fish to swallow Jonah, the fish to throw him up, the plant, the worm.

How can we read a story like Jonah’s and not understand that God rules nature? He didn’t wind it up and let it go. Instead He holds it together. The “laws of nature” are no laws but observations of how God works. The “natural” things are the way they are because that is how God ordained them to be and how He maintains them to be.

At any moment He can check those “natural laws,” reverse them just as He reversed the sun and made shadows retreat instead of advance as a sign to Hezekiah, just as He “relented” and staid His hand against the Assyrians.

But I mentioned Habakkuk. God told the prophet He was doing something he would have a hard time believing: God was raising up the Babylonians “to march throughout the earth/To seize dwelling places which are not theirs” (Habakkuk 1:6b). Interestingly He says a verse later “their justice and authority originate with themselves” (Habakkuk 1:7b).

Here’s the point. What Man can observe is incomplete at best. We don’t know what God does behind the scenes unless He tells us, as He did in Jonah. How many other “great winds” were anomalous events God caused for a particular moment, a particular reason. Storms arise in the natural course of things—the God sustained natural course of things. But He also sends storms or prophets or cruel nations.

To observe weather patterns or political trends or human nature and believe we can figure out how to manipulate our environment is shortsighted at best and idolatrous at worst. We are not God. We ought to stop trying to take on His role.

Published in: on May 22, 2010 at 10:09 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: