An Act of God

An Act of God

By Andrew Barnhart

The current pandemic and its effects have dominated the news cycle.  I was recently listening to the local news on the radio and something they reported on caught my attention.  They mentioned that the state of Illinois would continue to pay school teachers through the end of the year under a pay category called, “an act of God.” (which - in and of itself is interesting, but that’s another topic).  It caused me to consider why we often as a society label things - especially bad things - as “an act of God.”  Insurance policies have clauses in them for “acts of God,”  including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes.  And now add viruses to the list of “acts of God.”  It’s interesting to me that bad things happening in life tend more toward bearing that label.  It fits along with the age old question of, “if there is a God, why do bad things happen?  Why is there suffering? 

As I ponder this question it’s important to view my thinking of it through the lens of Scripture.  I went to the book of Exodus and reviewed the story of Israel held captive in Egypt.  In this story, we do see specific “acts of God” upon Pharaoh and Egypt.  The 10 plagues recorded there ARE instances of where God did specifically act.  Pharaoh REFUSED to obey God (although he was given the option to), and so God acted.  This action DID include catastrophic events.  God acted with judgement after Pharaoh refused to obey His command. 

Sometimes, when bad things happen, it’s because the Devil acted.  In the book of Job, the Devil approaches God about this man.  We read that God wasn’t the one who brought calamity on this man, it was the Devil. (Although God did allow it to happen).  Job 1:16 describes a scene where Job’s servant is telling Job what happened by saying it like this - “The fire of God fell from Heaven…”.  Unbeknownst to the servant, this wasn’t an act of God, but an act of the Devil.   This was mistakenly labeled an act of God when it was more of a specific act of the Devil.  

Sometimes, people act.  God created man with a free will.  Man can (and does) take that free will and choose to do some pretty terrible things.  It’s hard to understand why someone would kill, steal, kidnap,abuse someone - or even fly planes into buildings.  People can get angry at God in those instances, but God isn’t to blame.  After all, He did give the command to “love your neighbor.”  He has given the command to not murder or steal.  If man violates those commands, is God at fault for it? (NO).

However, the most important “act of God” in history has gone unknown by millions of people, blatantly ignored by many, perhaps labeled a myth by others.  God, in His patience, mercy, and kindness - looked upon the condition of man's soul.  He describes how He sees it as:
“Desperately wicked.” (Jer 17:9).
“Spiritually dead in sin.” (Eph 2:1)
“Having turned away from God.” (Is 53:6)

But then, God acted.  This act allowed, “Him (Christ) who knew no sin to become sin for us - so that we might become right with God.” (2 Cor 5:21).  His sacrificial death was part of this act.  His resurrection from the dead (Acts 2:32) COMPLETED and SECURED eternal life to anyone who will call upon His name for it. (Rom 10:13).  The one who receives this gift will walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:4).  It describes this new life as, “old things passing away, and all things becoming new.” (2 Cor 5:17).  If this act of God has been received by us, then we are commanded to “go and love your neighbor,” and “to make disciples of all nations.” 

This “act of God” is not something awful that is happening or has happened.  It’s not something to be frightened or afraid of - unless it is rejected (for whatever reason) in your life.  

“Praise be to God for His unspeakable gift.”


Ed Sapp - April 11th, 2020 at 3:33am

Thank you Andrew. Wonderful thoughts to ponder!!

Kim Medrano - April 12th, 2020 at 7:28am

This is fantastic, Andrew. Thank you for sharing!!

Mary Matijevich - April 13th, 2020 at 8:46pm

Excellent Andrew!

Linda - December 2nd, 2020 at 9:15am

Thank you Andrew, love this.