While I was sick over the past year, I noticed that low-pressure weather systems would cause my head to pound and my joints to ache. I figured it was just that I’m getting older, but the teacher in me wanted to discover the science behind this phenomenon.
It seems that when the pressure falls (and our cells experience less pressure to hold in their fluids), the fluid in our bodies starts to “leak” a bit into areas surrounding each cell. This extra fluid presses against nerves and other organs, and it causes us to ache just a bit.
The barometric pressure is falling today, in fact, and we have rain predicted for later this evening. The cat acts a little funny today, as if she senses something is coming. We’re told that fish like to bite in a time of low pressure, right before a storm. Bread also seems to rise better at these times, and since today is the day before Sabbath and I have bread rising, this is a good thing.
Kinds of Storms
Just as we experience clues that storms are coming, we also look to the latest news to realize the destruction storms can bring. The recent Hurricane Michael in the United States brought unprecedented destruction to the Florida Panhandle. A city that was thriving one minute has been almost wiped off the face of the earth. It is sobering. No wonder we pay attention to the weather!
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word for “storm” is soo-fah (סוּפָה, Strong’s #5492). It carries the picture of something that twists and turns, with a mouth ready to devour. All who see it raise their arms in wonder!
I recently searched the Scriptures to see what kinds of storms are mentioned. I found at least three:
1. Real Storms in the Physical Realm
Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters,
They see the works of YHVH,
And His wonders in the deep.
For He commands and raises the stormy wind,
Which lifts up the waves of the sea.
They mount up to the heavens,
They go down again to the depths;
Their soul melts because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
And are at their wits’ end.
Then they cry out to YHVH in their trouble,
And He brings them out of their distresses.
He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.
Then they are glad because they are quiet;
So He guides them to their desired haven.
Oh, that men would give thanks to YHVH for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people,
And praise Him in the company of the elders (Psalm 107:23-32).
As the Creator of the heavens and the earth, YHVH has complete control over the wind, the waves, the clouds, and the storms.
Praise YHVH from the earth,
You great sea creatures and all the depths;
Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
Stormy wind, fulfilling His word (Psalm 148:7-8).
In fact, not only does He have control over the storms, but they do not even exist without His power. He holds them together by the Word of His mouth.
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist (Colossians 1:16-17).
This gives me a lot of comfort. I’ll be honest. I’ve never been a huge fan of storms! I’m not too afraid of other things in nature. I’m not bothered by spiders or snakes or bugs (except for bees and wasps at times). I’m not scared of heights or roller coasters or tight places or bridges. But storms! They can scare me!
When I was young, our town often experienced tornadoes or storm warnings late at night, so I have memories of being carried to the basement in the middle of the night by my father. I could see the western sky out a picture window right before we would go down the stairs. Throughout my growing-up years, I would have occasional nightmares of tornadoes. After I had children, my dreams would include tornadoes coming toward us, as I would be the one scrambling my own children to safety.
I had to really dig into the Word to learn that YHVH is the great controller of storms. Nothing — nothing — happens without His permission!
YHVH has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm,
And the clouds are the dust of His feet (Nahum 1:3).
2. People Bringing Storms upon Others
The feelings we get from real storms are similar to the emotions that come when people rise up in anger against us or seek to destroy us. King David wrote about this very eloquently:
Give ear to my prayer, O God,
And do not hide Yourself from my supplication.
Attend to me, and hear me;
I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily,
Because of the voice of the enemy,
Because of the oppression of the wicked;
For they bring down trouble upon me,
And in wrath they hate me.
My heart is severely pained within me,
And the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me,
And horror has overwhelmed me.
So I said, ‘Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
Indeed, I would wander far off,
And remain in the wilderness. Selah
I would hasten my escape
From the windy storm and tempest’ (Psalm 55:1-8).
As we discussed last week, the real storm is “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12, NIV). However, the “face” of the storm looks very much like people, often people we know and trust.
If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me, I could hide.
But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God,
as we walked about among the worshipers (Psalm 55:12-14, NIV).
When the pressure starts to change and the warnings of these storms come, it is hard not to react in fear!
3. YHVH Rising Up to Judge the Wicked
A third type of storm is the kind where the Creator of the Universe says “Enough!” and rises up to judge the wicked.
Suddenly, in an instant,
YHVH of Hosts [armies] will come
with thunder and earthquake and great noise,
with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire (Isaiah 29:5-6, NIV).
This type of storm is mentioned numerous times in the Scripture. This was the storm YHVH brought against the wicked in Noah’s days. For 120 years, Noah preached righteousness and repentance to the people, warning them of the storm to come, but they would not listen.
This was the storm YHVH brought against Israel and Judah in the times of the wicked and idolatrous kings, who led God’s people into terrible sin. For hundreds of years, He sent His prophets to warn them and urge them to repent, but they would not listen.
This was the storm YHVH brought against the wicked nations that surrounded Israel, such as Babylon and Assyria, Moab and Philistia, and even Egypt. They mocked God’s people, rising up in arrogance when God judged His own, not realizing that their own sin was even worse! They had been the ones who taught the Israelites to worship idols!
And this is the storm that YHVH says is coming. It is on the horizon for the nations of earth. He has promised it is coming, in judgment for our own sin and idolatry. Is anyone listening to the storm warnings?
God is jealous, and YHVH avenges;
YHVH avenges and is furious.
YHVH will take vengeance on His adversaries,
And He reserves wrath for His enemies;
YHVH is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked.
YHVH has His way
In the whirlwind and in the storm,
And the clouds are the dust of His feet.
He rebukes the sea and makes it dry,
And dries up all the rivers.
Bashan and Carmel wither,
And the flower of Lebanon wilts.
The mountains quake before Him,
The hills melt,
And the earth heaves at His presence,
Yes, the world and all who dwell in it.
Who can stand before His indignation?
And who can endure the fierceness of His anger?
His fury is poured out like fire,
And the rocks are thrown down by Him (Nahum 1:2-6).
Just as fishing improves right before a storm, it seems that the harvest of souls increases right before a storm. This is the time period we’re surely in right now, as we see the judgment of God upon the wicked approaching. Hearts are receptive to the gospel, and it is our duty to share truth with people and warn them of the upcoming storm. In fact, if we do not warn them, then their blood will be upon our hands (Ezekiel 3:16-21; 33:1-9).
The great day of YHVH is near;
It is near and hastens quickly.
The noise of the day of YHVH is bitter;
There the mighty men shall cry out.
That day is a day of wrath,
A day of trouble and distress,
A day of devastation and desolation,
A day of darkness and gloominess,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,
A day of trumpet and alarm
Against the fortified cities
And against the high towers.
“I will bring distress upon men,
And they shall walk like blind men,
Because they have sinned against YHVH;
Their blood shall be poured out like dust,
And their flesh like refuse.”
Neither their silver nor their gold
Shall be able to deliver them
In the day of YHVH’s wrath;
But the whole land shall be devoured
By the fire of His jealousy,
For He will make speedy riddance
Of all those who dwell in the land (Zephaniah 1:14-18).
How to Prepare for a Storm
Before a storm hits, fishermen scurry to grab their poles and bait, and they head out to catch fish. Farmers rush to get sensitive crops harvested. So also, when we see storm clouds of God’s wrath rising, we hurry to share the gospel and warn our friends and loved ones. We urge people to repent and forsake their sin, and to flee from the coming destruction.
And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).
Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation,
Before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff,
Before YHVH’s fierce anger comes upon you,
Before the day of YHVH’s anger comes upon you!
Seek YHVH, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice.
Seek righteousness, seek humility.
It may be that you will be hidden in the day of YHVH’s anger (Zephaniah 2:1-3).
What does it mean to “come out” of Babylon? It means to repent! It means to stop our sin, confessing it to YHVH, and to turn around and “seek righteousness, seek humility.”
We also prepare by hiding in a basement. We take shelter!
Come, my people, enter your chambers,
And shut your doors behind you;
Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment,
Until the indignation is past.
For behold, YHVH comes out of His place
To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;
The earth will also disclose her blood,
And will no more cover her slain (Isaiah 26:20-21).
Even when the storms are the making of our enemies, we can also seek shelter in YHVH our God. He is a shelter to His people!
As for me, I will call upon God,
And YHVH shall save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.
He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me,
For there were many against me.
God will hear, and afflict them,
Even He who abides from of old…
Cast your burden on YHVH,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved (Psalm 55:16-19, 22).
After the Storm Has Past
Storms do leave damage, so after the storm, we have clean-up to do. Our structures take some damage. Roofs blow off. We have debris in our yards.
When the storms come because of the “principalities and powers,” we often see that the Enemy attacks our authority in Yeshua. He makes us doubt whether the Spirit of God is able to do anything at all in our lives. He accuses the brethren, often the leaders of our congregations. He causes discord, strife, jealousy, pride, and evil speech.
But when we see the storm for what it really is — “the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” — then we don’t start battling against people. Rather, we take shelter in our God, trusting in Him to fight on our behalf and to defend us.
Storms also bring cleansing and renewal. Have you ever smelled the amazing freshness of the air after a thunderstorm? The grass is greener, the birds’ songs are clearer.
In the same way, storms refine us, blowing away all the clutter in our lives, focusing our trust on our loving Father.
And the coming storm upon all the earth, when the wicked are judged? Just think about holy and pure our world will be afterward!
And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When YHVH has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then YHVH will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain (Isaiah 4:3-6).
Do You Sense a Storm Is Coming?
I do. A lot of other people have mentioned it, too.
But we don’t need to be afraid. Yes, we might have to hide sometimes, when the storms of life (caused by the wicked) come into our lives. When even our Father allows storms to touch us, we don’t need to be afraid. Things might be different on the other side, but it is all allowed by His love, His providence, and His great wisdom.
He is our shelter. He is making all things new.
We can trust Him.
All Scripture in this blog post taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.