Prophetic Blizzard

Prophetic Blizzard January 27, 2015

I had students reading some of the Hebrew prophets recently. I pointed out to them that they never threaten people with punishment in an afterlife. Instead it is always judgment within history. Plagues, famines, pestilence, earthquakes, war, and so on.

Do you know what else the Israelite prophets never threaten their nations with? Blizzards. Freak snowstorms.

That is worth reflecting on. The prophets are not predicting things that will happen, which otherwise would not have happened – God miraculously bringing an ice storm to their Eastern Mediterranean setting. They are not so much “predicting” as interpreting things which happen regularly, and will inevitably happen again.

Let me say that again. They are not predicting that God will do something miraculous. They are interpreting the kinds of things which happen, based on the assumption that God is behind them.

Is that how you have understood the prophetic writings in the Bible in the past? If not, why not? Do you think this is how they ought to be read and interpreted?

Of related interest, The Onion shared this:

Onion NYC Mayor Tempest

"Claiming someone is wrong does not imply certainty. I believe very strongly that certain claims ..."

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  • Andrew Dowling

    This needs to be said more.

  • Jim, as a Jewish reader, I can tell you about an oral tradition in my family, about a Hebrew prophet from the 8th Century BCE names Mort (or was it Sol?), who said that if we didn’t mend our ways and destroy those pagan altars, then 2,900 years later a massive snowstorm would hit a city on the eastern seaboard of a far-away continent, populated mostly by Gentiles, but there’s be some Jews there too, and the sky would grow angry that day, and traffic would be terrible. And Jim, my ancestors back then meant to listen, but you know about what happens when you’re real busy trying to eke out a subsistence living, some things just slip through the cracks no matter how good your intentions. Besides, there was some other prophet contemporaneous with Mort (maybe THAT was Sol) who warned a neighboring family that they’d face 7 lean years if their dog kept him awake another night, and for some reason it was Sol’s prophecy that grabbed everyone’s attention. Go figure.

    In any event, we’ve kind of forgotten about Mort and Sol. Only so much room on a scroll, as we liked to say back in the day, when we weren’t fending off starvation. But I didn’t want you to think we didn’t know back then what snow was. Heck, there was 50 cm of snow on top of Mount Hermon earlier this month. I don’t know how much that is in real numbers, but it’s gotta be a couple of inches, right?


  • Bethany

    I’m thinking of an episode of the TV show Angel (the Buffy spin-off), where Wesley seeks a prophesy from the oracular hamburger drive-through statue:

    Loa: “The first portent will shake the earth. The second will burn the air.
    The last will turn the sky to blood.”

    Wesley: “An earthquake? That’s the first portent? We live in California!”

    “An earthquake? That’s the prophecy? Have you SEEN our rift valley?” (Alas, war has always been a pretty safe prediction in the Holy Land as well.)

  • ChuckQueen101

    Yes and No. There is prediction too. Just preached the parable on Jonah where the prophet goes through town shouting: “Forty Days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Repentance averted their destruction, but the fire blizzard was going to come. Didn’t the ancient Hebrews believe in a God who controlled the elements of nature, who controlled the wind and storm. Granted, that’s a lot of interpretation, but there was a lot of “Repent or perish” kind of thing going on.