“They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD, and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the LORD. – (Isa 65:23-25 ESV)
We are a long way from the Garden where and when all things were gentle and under the dominion of sinless humanity. And Isaiah foresees a time when the natural realm will be restored to that preferred condition — at least in part. But for now, Nature does not yield to us anymore; rather, she fights us and kills us in countless ways.
This post represents an attempt to explain what Scripture means by the term “powers”: the governing forces which control our physical realm. These are the “metaphysical” powers which encapsulate the tangible world, and are linked to the spiritual realm. They are profoundly influenced by both the natural and the supernatural.
I drove under a tornado in the Spring of 2008, just outside Memphis, TN in the flats of Arkansas. There was nowhere to go for shelter. It was night and the rain was heavy. The wind was fortified with the weight of water and I could feel the truck being blasted and shoved to the side in pulses. When the rain stopped falling, it was because the tornado was overhead, lifting everything. I guess that it was static electricity, but there was an orange glow that illuminated everything for a distance of 100 yards or more in all directions.
The truck felt light in the back and bounced a few times as I crept along I-40. I left one of those messages on the wife’s cell phone. . . one of those, “I love you, baby” voice mails. But the tornado overhead never came down again. 22 died that day.
Japan recently endured a monster quake and tsunami that followed. We have record flooding in America. The tornadoes in the South have been disastrous — not a pleasant way to pass from this life, I am certain. Some 5 million chickens were killed in Alabama. Ecological disasters are costing us dearly in many ways.
It seems that the Creation is “angry”. And it is, in a way. Every sentient person is going to ask, “Why is the world so dangerous if God is both kind and has the strength to fix it?” We all ask that question and every world-view attempts to answer it. The best-seller “Why bad things happen to good people” was one rabbi’s goldmine, but the author’s answer was that God would fix our woes if He could, but things are just too far gone for Him to correct.
The exact opposite is the case. God is totally aware of what is happening AND He has the power to stop it all with one word. But now is not the time. We are not ready for it yet.
There are also passages that clarify that it is the LORD who sometimes orders these “catastrophes” — ordains them. The “Tribulation” to come will be a time when the wrath of Satan, the wrath of men, and the wrath of God will be poured out on the World. I pray you watch that time from the balcony section.
And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. [But] Rejoice over her, heaven, and [ye] holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. – (Rev 18:19-20 KJV) And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: – (Rev 19:1 KJV)
So, yeah, sometimes God causes these natural disasters through a direct intervention upon Creation. Whereas He only speaks to us with a “still, small voice”, He knows how to get our attention through Nature when we refuse to listen. While God is ultimately in control of everything that happens and could resolve all our troubles by the pacification of Nature, there is another generalized problem with Nature that is my fault — at least in part.
Yes, we often bring it on ourselves with war and cruelty and foolishness. But there is a power behind nature that is tending to run amuck, and that has to do with you and me.
I cringe to write this, but — in a strange way — all of these horrible disasters are needful. And I am to blame, at least in part.
Here are few of the verses of Scripture that address these “powers”.
Mat 24:29 ESV – “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Luk 21:26 ESV – people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Rom 8:38f ESV – For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Eph 6:12 ESV – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
1Pe 3:22 ESV – who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to Him.
There are POWERS which govern the natural world. They are not to be considered as “personal” the way that angels are “persons”. But these forces over nature do seem to be very alive and responsive to both Good and Evil. The presence of Good in the world seems to set them in harmony, while the growing presence of Evil in the world sets them into discord.
Yeshua had exercise authority over each demonic “person” He encountered and all the people recognized that He was truly great — perhaps the Messiah. But when the God-man spoke to the forces of nature saying, “Peace, be still”, and the winds and the waves were pacified, His disciples became terrified that they were in the Presence of the One who could shut down these rogue “cosmic powers” with a Word.
These powers were once perfect before the Fall of Man. There was a time on this earth where there was no Death — nothing died. And after the Fall, when the World was only recently bent away from the Maker, the natural world was still lovely and humans lived for hundreds of years in rigorous health before they eventually died. Adam and Noah were nearly contemporaries, the first man having died when Noah’s daddy was 56 years old (Noah being the tenth generation). But the world was nearly new then and the machinations of Sin had not been so highly developed.
In my generation, I have seen that the natural world has turned more against us through the years. Charts of earthquakes throughout the planet are reflecting a parabolic increase, both in number and severity.
As the World reaches toward the end of this Age, the World will be reaching for the AntiChrist. Expect him to be a truly great and talented man, embraced by the deluded as actually being the messiah. He will be given miraculous powers by the Evil One and thus, worshiped by millions. Expect that he will be hailed as the missing link to the next evolutionary step for our species: a person with intense psychic powers. And he will succeed for several long years — at first in relative peace and prosperity, but certain to turn sinister, cruel, and grasping. With this further deflection away from godliness, the natural realm will respond as it always does with decreases in order — in every way. Earth, wind, and water will seem to be possessed with wild powers to kill us like never before. There will be disastrous meteor showers, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes that are off the charts, and the animal kingdom can be expected to become more ferocious and deadly.
However, this is not the perfect will of our loving Father. After this needful time has passed, the Evil One will be banished from this planet for 1000 years so that you and I can witness what life on this planet can and could have been like had you and I only sought Righteousness through Obedience to our Maker. The God-Man will reign from Jerusalem during that Age and Sin will not be tolerated — he will rule with a rod of iron. Only then will the wolf and the lamb graze together in the fields.
As a child, I assumed that this would be a miracle — for carnivores and lambs to “hang out” in peace. It will be purely natural. The presence of God’s Will being done on this planet will set things right. I would be surprised if the thorns on the rose did not soften, but perfection will not come until the following and final Age wherein there shall be no more curse as found in Rev. 22 and Genesis.