Washington Mudslide, Punishment or Chance?

Washington National Guard going through mud and debris after Saturday’s mudslide
Photo was posted on Twitter by WA National Guard, a govt agency, hence image is public domain

My day took an emotional turn after I learned of the report on “Woman loses 4-month-old daughter, mother in deadly Washington state mudslide“.  Natasha Huestis learned her mother’s body was found in the wreckage on Sunday, the day after the mudslide, and her mother was watching her 4 month old daughter, Sanoah.  Yesterday evening, Sanoah was found not far from her grandmother.  To her credit, Natasha still intends to go out helping to look for missing neighbors.

“Sanoah”, in case you were wondering, means “mist in the mountains” in Hawaiian.  I just cannot help but think of what James 4:14 (CEB) says:

14 You don’t really know about tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for only a short while before it vanishes.

Of course, the skeptics will ask, “How can God exist if such things happen?” and “What did a 4 month old do in order to be punished like this?”

Past Acts of God

God has stepped in from time to time to radically alter the flow of world events.  That much is true.  In fact, the Bible does make it clear that even in the midst of seemingly random events in the world, God is still in control.

This time of year, our thoughts turn to Egypt, from which the Children of Israel were cast out after God punished Pharaoh and the entire nation with ten plagues for refusing to release them.  Life Hope & Truth has an excellent article on “A Deeper Look at the 10 Plagues” by Kevin Epps.  He makes some interesting points in that sometimes Moses used his rod but at other times God simply commanded him to speak to Pharaoh the things that were to occur.

We also cannot ignore Noah and the Flood, given the recent Hollywood film, but again you should “Read This Before Seeing the Noah Movie“.

So, we must not shirk from the fact that God does at times step in and make a difference in world events.  However, He more often does not, simply allowing sinful human beings to suffer the fate of a world separated from Him by sin.

A Different Perspective

The Bible also makes that latter point clear.

11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Ecc 9:11

It seems that this verse trips up far too many for no good reason.  Too many are hamstrung by the Calvinistic idea that God manipulates every little detail every little microsecond in order to have everything turn out exactly His way.  In this view, even the evil are mere puppets on a string, which means God creates wickedness as well as righteousness.

In fact, I’ve even had Isaiah 45:7 quoted at me:

7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

However, what is the opposite of peace?  War, famine, destruction and disasters, right?  Who sees it as “evil”?  Even the wicked view something as “bad” when things turn against them, even if those things are just!

The word for “evil”, in fact, probaby should be translated “bad”, “trouble” or “calamity” instead.  It is raStrong’s H7451, which is variously translated as: “evil (442x), wickedness (59x), wicked (25x), mischief (21x), hurt (20x), bad (13x), trouble (10x), sore (9x), affliction (6x), ill (5x), adversity (4x), favoured (3x), harm (3x), naught (3x), noisome (2x), grievous (2x), sad (2x), misc (34x).”

Notice what CARM says about “Does God create evil?“:

Notice that the context of the verse is dealing with who God is, that it is God who speaks of natural phenomena (sun, light, dark), and it is God who is able to cause “well-being” as well as “calamity.” Contextually, this verse is dealing with natural disasters and human comfort issues. It is not speaking of moral evil; rather, it is dealing with calamity, distress, etc. This is consistent with other scriptures. …

We must balance these Scriptures with others such as:

13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?

~ Hab 1:13

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

~ Jas 1:17

Jesus’ Perspective

Even if that were not convincing of the fact that God does not need to control every minuscule element of time and space, then something Jesus said should certainly shake us out of that mindset, just as the Jews of His day seemingly had similar thoughts in His day.

13 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?

3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?

5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

~ Lk 13:1-9

I quoted more of this than is customary because the points of what Jesus was saying and the parable are the same.  Namely, there is a time for everything.  There is a time for God to step in and show His sovereignty, and there is a time for Him not to.

A fig tree does not produce fruit right away.  In fact, most fruit trees do not make any in their first year, or if they do, then it is usually quite small and not much good for anything.  However, fig trees can take much longer than even regular fruit trees like we have in the Midwest.

Fruiting fig trees have a long juvenile period compared to other fruit trees. Most figs will not produce a crop for the first four to five years, notes Rutgers University. If the fig is severely injured by over-pruning or an unusual frost, it may take longer to fruit for the first time.

~ SFGate, “When Does a Fig Tree Bear Fruit?

Why was the master impatient after 3 years?  It’s hard to say for sure, but notice what the Law says about fruit trees:

23 And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.

Lev 19:23

I am going to assume that the master in the parable was not so foolish as to go out the first year looking for figs, nor that he was so ignorant to not realize that fruit trees are “uncircumcised” for three years, so I’m going to assume from the context that he was talking to the servant in the fourth year, which means he had been waiting three years and some change.

The point is that in order to get the results you want, you might have some work to do, but there is only so much you can do to rush things.

If this does not illustrate it well enough, there is something God told Abraham about his descendants and when they would inherit the Promised Land.  Before turning to it, consider how “Canaan” usually is the overall name given to the region promised Abraham.  However, the Canaanites were only one grouping of the overall nations there.  There also was Moab and Ammon, which descended from Lot.  Then, there were the mixture of peoples descended from Ishmael and Esau.

Therefore, when God chooses a word other than “Canaan” for a description, we should take note.

16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

Ge 15:16

GotQuestions.org says of “Who were the Amorites?“:

Answer: The Amorites were an ancient nation mentioned frequently in the Old Testament. They were descended from one of the sons of Canaan (Genesis 14:7). In early inscriptions, the Amorites were also known as Amurra or Amurri. The “land of the Amorites” included Syria and Palestine. Some of the southern mountains of Judea were also called the hill country of the Amorites (Deuteronomy 1:7, 19-20).

God was using a specific lineage of Canaan to determine when to return Israel to the Promised Land.  He was waiting patiently.  Why?  God is full of compassion, grace and mercy (Ps 86:15119:64145:8Jas 3:17).  Undoubtedly, He was waiting in order to give them time to repent!

He was waiting for the right time.

24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Mt 13:24-30

Everything in its time …

The Lesson of Adam and Eve

It seems that many, including some supposedly Christian leaders, really just miss the point altogether.  I mean, we’ve probably all heard about pronouncements from false teachers about some natural catastrophe being God’s wrath upon a particular region or people.  Pat Robertson seems to be one of the worst at this.  When Jesus speaks about every idle word coming under judgment, I think people like him should take note.

The entire world is a mess.  Adam and Eve had the opportunity to have dominion over the earth — real dominion.  However, they caved to Satan and thus placed their authority under Satan instead of under God!

HWA often spoke of the two trees.  He spoke of the choice they had.  He spoke about how Adam and Eve had the opportunity to qualify to replace Satan as the king of this earth.  Instead, they disqualified themselves!  All of their descendants have paid the price for their sin.

“But, that’s not fair!” some will cry.

Yes, that is correct.  That is not fair, is it?  However, that too is a lesson.  Our sins don’t just work against us.  They work against all who are around us.  They contaminate even the weak and helpless among us.

You know something else that isn’t fair?  God will save us out of it all.  Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins.  Now, that’s not very fair, either, is it?

This should sober us up.  This is how far God is willing to go in order to save us!  This was the price of love.  You want to know what real love looks like?

13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Jn 15:13

While that is true, it is still only part of the story.  For Who made the first move?  Did He wait for us to become His friends first?  If we were still sinners, then we were still His enemies!

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Ro 5:8

Words for Passover, don’t you think?  Part of our examination should be to truly understand how much love God has for us in providing a way out from eternal death and enduring such pain and agony on our behalf.


  1. Amazing post and such a great way to get the mind flowing on thoughts of examination, but also even more importantly, as you put God’s unfailing love for us.

    A Blessed Sabbath to you friend