Was the hurricane Katrina catastrophe an act of God? Or was it simply a natural cycle? Perhaps it was neither—or—both. Countless theories will be offered by many to explain this tragedy.
I am of the opinion that it was not solely an act of God or solely a natural cycle. By that I simply mean that I don’t believe God sent this upon us nor do I believe that nature is exclusively the culprit.
Unquestionably, nature behaves in cycles, and just as certainly, according to the Word, God does punish. I believe the answer lies somewhere between these two extremes.
There is no doubt, for God Himself admits, that He is a jealous God. He will take vengeance when warranted. He is the judge, a Righteous Judge, and all His judgments are upright. He will judge when required. God has punished individuals and nations. He punished Korah for leading a rebellion against God’s leadership in the wilderness. God caused the ground to open and swallow Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, killing them.
God rained burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah as punishment for their sins that had reached all the way to Heaven. God allowed the Assyrians and Babylonians to come against His people Israel in punishment for their sins. Yes, there is Biblical precedent that God does indeed punish peoples when they reject Him. Moreover, God will punish every sinner at judgment. The only ones that will escape that punishment are those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.
I do not believe that God sent Hurricane Katrina to us to punish us. We all deserve punishment, but not by the infliction of a severe storm of weather upon us. The punishment we deserve is eternal death in hell, where our “worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched”. Such is far worse than a mere hurricane.
Neither do I accept that this hurricane is merely the result of a weather cycle. I do not deny that weather cycles occur. The changing seasons are weather cycles. Sunspots occur at predictable intervals. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms have their seasons. Nonetheless, I doubt that Katrina and the other terrible storms we have been having for the past ten or so years are simply the result of a cycle. Perhaps this is a cyclic pattern of severe storms, but I do not believe it is coincidence. I consider that the hand of God is involved.
I am of the firm belief that God has given us over to our own devices and held back blessings from us because of our rejection of Him. The Israelites were blessed of God and got comfortable in their blessings. Because of their comfort, they turned away from God, thinking that their own comforts were enough, and that they no longer needed God.
When they rejected God, He gave them over to themselves. He withheld His blessings. Then their enemies would come and subdue them, causing them to realize their true need for God. They cried out to God; He heard them and rescued them from their enemies. Then the cycle began all over.
Just study the stories in Joshua and Judges to get the flavor of this principle. Read about Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah. God used all of these men to defeat her enemies and restore Israel to Himself.
Now look at the United States of America. This nation had its beginnings because of men who wanted to worship God without interference from the government. They did not want to be forced to worship in a way that was beyond the dictates of their own consciences. Our system of government was based of the rights and freedoms granted to men by God.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.“
The first Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America spells out our basic religious and free speech rights. The Supreme Court in office in 1892 wrote into their opinion, Holy Trinity v United States, that America was a Christian nation. Some say that was in the dicta and has no force. It may have been part of the dicta, but dicta have more than once been cited as legal precedent.
The dictum in the Everson v Board of Education case has the force of law even now. The words “separation of Church and state” occur in the dicta of the Everson case. Separation of Church and State is now the law of the land based upon a dictum in a Supreme Court opinion. Everson cited Reynolds v US which is another source of the dictum that there is a separation of church and state in the USA. To accuse dicta of having no force in an opinion is naïve.
The point of my little tangent is to say that America was once considered to be a Christian nation. Though not all people were Christians, there were enough of them to make the statement that America was a Christian Nation.
There were enough men and women in the USA that believed in Christ as Savior and practiced their beliefs, that God blessed this nation. The Christian element in this country had enough influence to keep the nation well within precepts of morality. The majority of Americans accepted these precepts and lived lives that were in accordance with them. Because of the influence of Christians, God blessed America.
As a result of higher criticism in the nineteenth century, our county began to turn away from God in the mid-twentieth century. The Everson decision made the separation of church and state the law of the land in 1949. That is when the slippery slope toward godlessness began.
Since then Americans have steadily rejected God little by little until now when we have a full scale rejection of God in all levels of society. The God rejecters outnumber the Godly. The influence of the Godly has become just a whisper. Thus the scales are turned and now the anti-God crowd influences America while the pro-God crowd has little influence.
We are in wholesale rejection of God in this country. Not only have unbelievers rejected Him, but professed believers are becoming ever worldlier, thus tacitly rejecting Him themselves. The move toward seeker friendly churches and the acceptance of extramarital intimacies and homosexuality as normal has turned many a congregation to the world and away from God.
However, the sins of the flesh are not the most troubling issue. By far the most troubling issue with the church today is placing a higher priority on worldly things than on God. That is idolatry, which is spiritual adultery. Many Christians have begun to place a higher premium on work, bank accounts, real estate, luxuries, power, influence, sexual mores, etc., than they put upon God.
The Israelites would go “a whoring” (e.g. Hos 4:12, KJV) after other gods causing God to be extremely jealous. He would send prophets to them, would send natural warnings, and would finally punish them for their idolatry.
Today, people do not go out and worship Baal, Milcom, Ashtoreth, Molech, or other pagan gods (though a few still do). We are too sophisticated to believe that statues have any power. But we will go out and worship the dollar, our luxuries, or even our church buildings. We don’t think a thing is wrong if we neglect bible study, prayer, or church attendance for a day at the beach. Work comes before all, including the fear of God. These actions are idolatrous. We are an idolatrous nation. God hates idolatry.
Add to the idolatrous generation we live in the lust, decadence, and sins we revel in as a nation, and you have a recipe for the wrath of God. Luckily He is longsuffering. He is withholding His wrath until the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. We are stiff-necked but He is patient. But His patience will eventually run out.
We can already see the withholding of God’s blessings in our country. We have rejected Him as a nation and He has withdrawn many blessings. Our children are not as educated as they were in the last generations. Child perpetrated violent crime is on the increase. Our debt is increasing. Our reputation is suffering in the world. Police forces are at all time high levels and yet crime continues to spiral.
Mad cow disease, which has not been seen in America in a very long time, is on the rise. Diseases we considered to be eradicated, like polio and smallpox have come back. Terrorist acts are routinely perpetrated against Americans. The list could continue for quite some space yet. God is no longer blessing this country like He once did. For further information on the subject of withheld blessings, see “Rejected.”
I don’t consider this to be punishment. It is just God doing what He said He would in Romans 1:28, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient [proper]”. He has turned us over to our own resources because of our rejection of Him. That is why things are steadily worsening in America.
God has sent prophets to us. Today’s preachers that expound the Bible and make known the mind and counsel of God to us are prophets. The word prophet can be defined as a seer of the future, but it can also be defined as one who gives “a discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden1.
Preachers that stand in the pulpit and expound the Word of God mightily week in and week out are modern day prophets. Today it seems as the church is even rejecting these prophets. Many seek out seeker friendly churches that do not expound the Word and do not teach about sin, repentance, or hell so as not to offend anyone, causing them not to come to church.
Their message is about being happy and successful as opposed to repentance and turning away from our sins. Their messages are lukewarm and do not make us uncomfortable. I say to you brethren, if a message delivered by a preacher of the Word does not occasionally put you out of your comfort zone, it is not a Biblical message at all.
The courts are busily engaged in removing every vestige of Christianity from the fabric of our society. Any mention of Christianity or even of God in any court proceeding may render the verdict of that court unacceptable on appeal. Any mention of God at a high school football game is strictly forbidden.
We have rejected God’s prophets. We have rejected his Word, and we have removed Him from public life in our country. We have seriously undermined the blessings we receive from God.
When God withholds His blessings from us, we are at the mercies of the inadequacies of our flesh, and we are subject to the perturbations of evil and of the evil one. We are at the mercies of nature, and we are in a steadily declining moral state. Not only do our morals decline, so does the use of our God-given common sense.
Because God has withheld His blessings, allowing us to go it alone—as we wished—we are at the mercies of the fury of nature. The blowing of the Shofar in ancient Israel was used as an urgent call to action or a clarion call. God has allowed hurricane Katrina to come ashore and destroy New Orleans and the southern Mississippi and Alabama coasts as a clarion call to us. That call is a call to repentance so that our blessings may be restored.
Perhaps you have not yet considered the ramifications of the loss of the port of New Orleans, the port of Mobile, and the mouth of the Mississippi River. A large percentage of raw materials pass through the mouth of the Mississippi. These raw materials supply our manufacturing base in the Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri river valleys. Those supplies have stopped.
Gasoline and oil flowed into the United States through the Mississippi and the port of Mobile. Those supplies have stopped. The hurricane severely limited our ability to pump crude and natural gas because of the oil platforms it shut down in the gulf. The hurricane severely damaged a large percentage of our gasoline refineries.
Our country’s life blood is oil in the form of gasoline and diesel fuel. Our food stores and our department stores rely on daily shipping, which relies on oil, to keep the shelves stocked. The dent made by Katrina in our oil and gasoline production will have a direct impact on our ability to get food and supplies to our people.
At this very moment, waiting lines are the norm at gas stations. Will there soon be lines at grocery stores? I hope not, but Katrina may have an effect even there.
Hurricane Katrina has taken a grave toll on our country. At this very moment in September 2005, our nation is quite vulnerable. We could see an attack by our enemies who perceive us to be weakened at this moment. A terrorist attack is possible at this point. Our economy is weakened and the possibility of a market crash is also feasible. We are in straits more dire that we have been in for a long time.
Hurricane Katrina is a call from God for His people to repent. It is a call for America to turn away from wickedness. It is a call for us to replace our trust in God and bring Him back into our lives. It is a call to turn from our wicked ways and back to Him. He has allowed this to happen to get our attention.
There are two more things worthy of mention here. Why did Americans visit New Orleans? We went there to view or take part in wild celebrations of sin. Mardi Gras is an annual excuse for indecent acts in public. We went there to celebrate wanton decadence. Overt sexual and homosexual acts took place in these celebrations. The city advertised the decadence of its orgies. New Orleans is known as a city of decadence and lustful behavior in its public celebrations.
The other thing worthy of mention is the casinos of southern Mississippi. It is of interest to note that all of the casinos were moved from their moorings and destroyed. Gambling in Mississippi is big business. It brings in lots of tax dollars. The State of Mississippi derives a substantial portion of its tax income from gambling at those casinos.
The state set aside its morality in the name of tax dollars from gambling casinos. Gambling is a vice that ruins families. Additionally, gambling attracts organized crime. It attracts prostitution, debauchery, drunkenness, lasciviousness, and greed. Gambling adds to the immorality of our society, especially gambling sanctioned and taxed by the state.
Certainly gambling brings money into state coffers. But at what cost? How many ruined lives are caused by gambling. How man young women are turned to prostitution to service the patrons of the casinos. How many children go without food and clothing because mom or dad blew all their food money on gambling? How many are killed by organized crime trying to muscle in on the profits of gambling?
I understand that New Orleans and the casinos will be rebuilt. But it is very curious that Katrina made a bee-line for Bay Saint Louis, Pass Christian, Biloxi, and Ocean Springs. The heart of gambling in the state of Mississippi is centered in that area of the state, with Biloxi being the center.
Katrina devastated the Biloxi-Pass Christian area with a direct hit. But she also devastated New Orleans with a brush hit. Considering their legacy, it is curious indeed that Katrina did such destruction in these areas.
“America, DO YOU HEAR ME NOW?” is the cry of God to us. He used Katrina to make that cry. I am reminded of the words of Jesus, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Luk 13:34). God is currently making that call to us right now.
Copyright © 8/04/2005, Mark Oaks. All rights reserved.
Addendum Many of the problems discussed in this narrative are still with us today, AD 2013-MSO.
- Prophet; “A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Joseph Henry Thayer,” or simply “Thayer’s Lexicon” ↩