Hey, Job, how’s the Weather?

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Someone has said, “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” We regularly experience irregular weather, whether El Nino or whatever may be the cause, and we hear speculation and alarms about global warming, acid rain, deforestation and other fears about weather on a worldwide scale. Radical weather changes of global magnitude aren’t a new phenomenon (consider Noah’s wet year, for example). It is clear that there have been many shifts in the weather over the millennia. Historical records demonstrate cycles of cooling and warming in recorded history, as well as some geographically significant changes in precipitation. Some of these events may be connected to human activity and others regarded as “acts of God” or weather cycles within the boundaries of the cycles God set in motion (note Genesis 8:22, Ecclesiastes 1:5-7).

If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon or Yosemite or a number of other parks or monuments you’ve probably heard something of the “Ice Age(s)” and glaciers, a time or times when the planet’s temperature was several degrees cooler than our era, and great ice sheets (glaciers) covered large areas of the northern hemisphere. There are many problems in the modern interpretations and time schemes employed to explain the occurrence and duration of the ice age(s), and it can be confusing trying to connect these geological models with Biblical information. We realize of course that the Bible is not an exhaustive account of the geological history of the earth, many things are dealt with briefly or not at all because they do not relate to the necessary message of the Bible, and the Bible doesn’t always discuss the broad effects of events that are mentioned (as perhaps in Genesis 10:25, or the account of the ten plagues in Exodus 1-14).

With regard to ice ages(s) in particular, some creationists who explore scientific issues and also believe in a literal interpretation of the Genesis accounts of creation and the flood, including the time spans mentioned in those accounts, also believe that there was an ice age of several hundred years duration following the great flood (Michael J. Oard, “An Ice Age Caused by the Genesis Flood,” Institute for Creation Research, 1990). Without getting into the science of this interpretation, let’s just consider the circumstantial evidence found in the Bible. Besides the brief descriptions of great change in the world and the global environment found in Genesis 5-11 (and other scriptures, such as 2 Peter 3:5-6) there are also the incidental references found in what is generally considered the oldest book of the Bible (and closest in time to the great flood), the book of Job.

The book of Job, set in a time frame close to that of Abraham, mentions the weather, and severe weather, much more than any other book of the Bible. Of twenty Biblical references to snow,* four are in Job (see Job 6:15-17, 38:22-30 for example; and nine of the non-Job references are not about weather at all but use snow as an illustration to emphasize whiteness). Three of four Biblical references to ice are in Job. Twice Job mentions the cold. There are two references to tempest, five to storms and another to “gale.” Wind is used as an illustration thirteen times, lightning comes up seven times, thunder three times, rain seven times and five times the dialogues of Job mention a flood as an instrument of judgment that destroys the wicked and their schemes. Job does also mention heat and drought twice, a hot east wind once and dry weather three times, so not all the weather references are to cold and wet and storm, but Job lived in the fertile crescent region which has a temperate Mediterranean climate, which can be summarized as rainy winters and dry summers. It is at least interesting that Job’s references to weather include mentioning hot and dry weather only about eight times altogether while cold, wet, and severe weather are mentioned more than fifty times in total.

Of course, the book of Job is “only” around 4,000 years old, which is not nearly old enough to fit into an uniformitarian evolutionary cosmology for the timing of an ice age, but then there are other reasons for questioning the time frame required for traditional evolutionary geological dating. Just based on the references in Job, one could suspect that his homeland, the fertile crescent, was significantly colder and wetter in Job’s time than in more recent historical eras, which would suggest regions further north were colder and wetter still.

We cannot know for certain whether or not the book of Job reflects Ice Age weather on a global scale, but the possibility that Job lived at the latter part of a flood-induced period of planetary frigidity is at least intriguing, and may be circumstantial confirmation of both the antiquity of the book of Job and the far reaching effects of the events associated with the deluge in the days of Noah.

*note: all weather terms are as used in the NIV

At this my heart pounds and leaps from its place. Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that comes from his mouth. He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth. After that comes the sound of his roar; he thunders with his majestic voice. When his voice resounds, he holds nothing back. God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’ So that all men he has made may know his work, he stops every man from his labor. The animals take cover; they remain in their dens. The tempest comes out from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds. The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen. He loads the clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightning through them. At his direction they swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever he commands them. He brings the clouds to punish men, or to water his earth and show his love.
(Job 37:1-13 NIV, the words of Elihu)

Chick·en Little (chîk¹en) noun
A confirmed pessimist, particularly one who warns of impending disaster. [After a character in a story who is hit on the head by an acorn and believes the sky is falling.]

Don’t be a chicken little. Better, perhaps, to be an acorn…

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.–Ralph Waldo Emerson

And watch the little things…

Little strokes fell great oaks.–Benjamin Franklin

And listen carefully…

A wise old owl sat on an oak;
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?
-Edward H. Richards

Remembering the details matter…

For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horse-shoe nail.
-Benjamin Franklin

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