Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Thought about Weather

At various times throughout my theological education, I have heard it taught that Satan controls the weather. Preachers and teachers get this idea from Ephesians 2:2, where Satan is referred to as "the prince of the power of the air." Since Satan is the prince of the power of the air, so the argument goes, then he is in direct control of all movement of the air, or, in other words, the weather. (See, for example, the entry on Ephesians 2:2 in the Bible Knowledge Commentary, edited by Walvoord and Zuck.)

One of the reasons why, I believe, that certain teachers want to see Satan as being in control of such things is that it is hard to justify God as being one who would send a tornado or hurricane to destroy lives and property. They would rather shift the 'blame' or the responsibility of such actions to Satan. Of course, that does not really remove God from the responsibility for these events, since in the book of Job we indeed see Satan causing such ruckus, but we also see God squarely as the authorizer of such destruction (Job 1:8, 12).

I had an interesting thought about this idea today, though, when I considered that last Sunday, as I was laying out the planned activities of the week to the congregation, I neglected to say, "If the Lord wills" (James 4:15). And, sure enough, on Wednesday of this week, we did not have our planned prayer service. That's when I got to thinking about the difference between saying "if the Lord wills" and "weather permitting." They are essentially saying the same thing, if we understand God as controlling the weather. But what if we believe that Satan controls the weather? Wouldn't then the phrases "weather permitting" and "if Satan wills" be identical?

Well, we certainly don't want to go around saying "if Satan wills", so we better get a more accurate handle on what Ephesians 2:2 is saying!

In the ancient world, the air was thought of as the home of evil spirits. In fact, the word for spirit could also mean wind or breath, so there is clearly a connection. When Paul refers to Satan as the "prince of the power of the air", he is referring to Satan's chief status among the evil spirits. He is the prince of the hosts of the demons, but he is certainly not the lord of weather.

The Bible declares that it is Yahweh who raises the stormy winds (Psalm 107:25). All types of weather obey his commands (Psalm 148:8, cf. the plagues of the Exodus). Jesus himself had power over winds and waves. Even in the one place where we might say that Satan commanded the weather (Job 1), the fire that fell from heaven was reported by the servant to be the "fire of God" (verse 16), which is reminiscent of the fire that fell on Sodom - clearly from God's hand.

No, we cannot declare that Satan is the master of the weather because of Ephesians 2:2. The unanimous declaration of God's word is that God alone controls the storms and winds of heaven. We must never make our plans contingent upon "if Satan wills", but rather upon "if the Lord wills", and "weather permitting" ought to always have that connotation in our minds.

1 comment:

Joe Blackmon said...

I was trying to explain just this sort of thing to my brother--the absolute, invioble soverignty of God. His arguement was that God doesn't bring sickness or pain on people cause God is a God of love and that Satan is the one who does those things. Made me want to pull out what is left of my hair.