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Victory at Sea

March 31st, 2012 by Anthony Bosman

Growing up in Florida, I’ve experienced a number of hurricanes. From listening to predictions of the storm’s path to surveying the damage left behind, it is difficult not to be overcome with feelings of powerlessness.

We sometimes label natural disasters as “acts of God”. It is true that God has on some specific occasions executed judgment through natural phenomenon, but these cases are limited and are always preceded by a warning and call to repentance. Before the flood, God sent Noah; before the plagues on Egypt, Moses. Hence, we must be very cautious to label a storm as a judgment of God.

Genesis reveals that God never intended for storms. At creation, God gave man dominion over the earth. But at the fall, man forfeited it. In every natural disaster, we are reminded of that lost dominion as roles are reversed and the earth rules over us.

The dominion we lost, another claimed. When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he took him up on a mountain and offered him the world (Matt. 4:9). He was claiming, “Here’s my world, I can give it to whom I please.”

Perhaps this is why the Bible gives the enemy titles such as “prince of the air” and “god of this world” (Eph. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:4).

Some storms indeed are direct attacks by demonic forces (such as in Job 1:19), but in general they seem to be the result of forfeited dominion and the curse of sin. Simply put, the world is falling apart.

Enter Jesus.

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” (Matt. 8:23-27)

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all immediately follow this account with the story of Jesus casting out demons.  This consistency suggests that the gospel writers viewed the two events as closely connected. Indeed, note here Jesus rebukes the winds. The term “rebuke” often is reserved for when Jesus is exercising authority over the demons (for instance Matt. 17:18).

While it’s not clear if this storm was a direct demonic attack or simply a product of a sinful world, Jesus’ actions reveal his authority over nature. The dominion man lost and Satan claimed belongs to Christ. The winds and the waves recognize his voice above any other.

Furthermore, in calming the storm Jesus was offering a preview of his kingdom. The storms, destruction, and suffering we witness today will have no place there.

Until there, we do not need to fear the storms we face as the disciples did, for we know Who really rules the world!

 

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