IN sacred history we find occasions when the Almighty God took measures to punish men for their sins while He placed under His refuge His faithful worshippers. Any of such doings was an act of God. However, what may appear in the eyes of many people in the world to be an act of God may not in reality be so. It requires divine knowledge and spiritual understanding to know what truly is an act of God.
According to JACK'S REFERENCE BOOK, the phrase "Act of God" is used by lawyers to indicate "a direct, violent, sudden, and irresistible act of nature, which could not, by any reasonable care, have been foreseen or resisted". This is said to be "one of the few defences open to a common carrier who fails to safely deliver goods; he is always freed from liability if he can show that an act of God proved the sole, direct and irresistible cause of the loss".
The American Peoples Encyclopedia states: "ACT OF GOD, as a legal expression, signifies any occurrence not caused by human negligence, or intervention; such as storms, lighting tempests, the consequence of which no party under any circumstances (independently of special contract) is bound to make good to another. The chief applications of the term are in insurance, where Act of god is an exception to the insurer's liability; and in the law of contract, where it often excuses from performance." (Vol. 1, page 129).
From the interpretation given the phrase act of God as a legal expression we can rightly judge that the ordinary understanding of the makers of the law could not be much different from what many people think up till today as regards an act of God. We agree as legally defined that unforeseen, sudden and violent occurrences caused by spiritual forces cannot be humanly resisted. But is it correct to say that ALL such occurrences are from God? Considered from a religious or scriptural standpoint, certain occurrences such as those under discussion, which have been passed by English law as acts of God, do not really proceed from God Almighty.
It is recorded that Satan went forth from the presence of God and persecuted Job. He caused the loss of Job's oxen, asses, sheep, camels and even servants with such a stroke as was capable of breaking the heart of any man. Moreover at that time of those heart-rending incidents, one of Job's servants brought to him the most tragic news saying, "Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: and, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee." - Job. 1:18, 19.
But did Job blame God for his troubles as some so-called Christians do today? He never did. Rather he worshipped God and said: "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." And it is written: "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly." - Read Job 1:20-22.
The faith and understanding shown by Job was exemplary. When he said that God gave and He had taken away, he did not mean that it was God who killed his cattle, servants and children but that God allowed the tribulations to come to him hence the devil had his way.
Yes, God allows such things in order to test the faith of His worshippers. And where thy prove steadfast and faithful He showers blessing upon them. Job had this understanding; that was why he did not charge God foolishly but blessed Him and maintained his integrity till the end. "So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning." - Job 42:12-17; see also James 5:10, 11.
However, the point we are making is that those troubles of Job were caused by the devil and they were therefore acts of Satan. But today similar things that happen to people are termed, ignorantly of course, acts of God.
The devil has power to cause storms or violent winds and other things purposely to do havoc as in the case of Job's children whom he killed with a storm. He did similar things in the days of Christ on earth but Jesus showed his superiority over him by commanding his storm to calmness. As it is written: "NOW it came to pass on a certain day, that he (Jesus) went into a ship with his disciple: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! For he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him." - Luke 8:22-25.
In the genesis of the human race when the population of the earth was growing dense, God found that wickedness had become the order of the day. Every imagination of the thoughts of the hearts of men was evil continually, and so the Great Creator decided to put an end to their iniquities by destroying them. Nevertheless, Noah, whom God found righteous, was sent to warn the inhabitants of the earth against the consequences of their sins and the impending destruction.
And because the people paid no heed to the voice of God represented in Noah's preaching but continued in the pleasures of sin, God caused the historic Deluge to destroy the world. But He saved Noah and his family of seven by means of the ark which He provided. The full account of this ancient event is recorded in Genesis chapters six to eight. And St. Peter stated that God "spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eight person, a preacher of righteousness, bring in the flood upon the world of the ungodly". (2 Peter. 2:5) This was an act of God pure and simple.
Another example is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in which Lot, who was a just man, with his daughters was delivered by God. - Genesis 19:1-30; 2 Peter 2:6-8.
Furthermore, mention can be made of the plagues with which the Egyptians were punished in the days of Moses the prophet, as acts of God. Those wonders were so distinctive as of divine force that the magicians of Egypt were compelled to confess to pharaoh: "This is the finger of God." (Exodus 8:16-19). And when the Israelites on their way to Canaan were being pursued by the Egyptians with a sinister motive, God destroyed them (Egyptians) in the Red Sea. Then the children of Israel under the leadership of Moses sang saying, "I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea." - Exodus 14:5-31; 15:1-13. This again is an act of God.
Concerning those happenings, Moses later told the Jews: "..For I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the Lord your God, His greatness, His mighty hand, and His stretched out arm, and His miracles, and HIS ACTS, which He did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land. But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which He did." - Deuteronomy 11:1-3, 7.
Let no one therefore blame the cause of his ills upon God for He is not responsible for our temptations. James the apostle stated: "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man." - James 1:13.
However, be it known to everyone that the day of the Lord's strange act, which is going to be the greatest catastrophe of all time, is drawing near. it is those who serve God faithfully and in truth that will be fully protected and delivered at that time by His grace and power.