3. Earthquakes and Other Natural Catastrophes
God prophesies that earthquakes and other natural catastrophes will increase as we approach the end of this age.
Los Angeles is regarded as the media capital of the world. More rotten, vile movies and television shows featuring murder, mayhem and illicit and perverted sex are produced in Los Angeles than in any place else in the world. California has long been regarded as the “leading edge” of almost any form of perversion known to man. So the great God who guides the affairs of men and nations has every right to punish such degeneracy and rebellion against His laws and His ways by a people He has blessed so much. And the people in California—as in most parts of the English-speaking world—have had many chances to learn the Truth in the past if they had any genuine interest.
“Why pick on Los Angeles?” some local journalists have asked. The better question would be, “Why not?” Maybe a good shaking up will get people’s attention!
Yet earthquakes affect people all around the world—not just in southern California. And Scripture tells us that, before Jesus Christ returns, there will be increasing “earthquakes in various places” (Mark 13:8; Matthew 24:7). In the last few years, most of you realize that there have been frequent earthquakes, sometimes in unusual places. This trend will continue because the Bible indicates that it will. Jesus Christ prophesied of them. And you, too, should be expecting them. Watch, as the number and magnitude of earthquakes grow, because they will become extremely devastating.
There had been earthquakes even in ancient times, as mentioned in the writings of Josephus (Antiquities, bk. 15, chap. 5, sec. 2). The Bible records specific instances of earthquakes in the past and predicts them in the future (Zechariah 14:4–5).
These earth-jarring occurrences arise from natural shifts and changes in the earth’s mantle, especially along worldwide earthquake belts or fault lines. As journalist William Broad pointed out, a million people died in earthquakes during the 20th century, and scientists acknowledge that the 21st “might see 10 times as many deaths, with a million lost in a single blow” (“Earthquakes: A Matter of Luck, Most of It Bad,” New York Times, September 28, 1999).
U.S. Geological Survey scientists reported in May 2008 that a 7.8 magnitude quake along the San Andreas Fault would likely result in more than 50,000 injuries, thousands of deaths, and $200 billion in quake-related damage (“The ShakeOut Scenario,” U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2008-1150). That is in a region where for decades there has been extensive warning about, and extensive preparation for, earthquakes. Yet human nature often leads people to ignore warnings. In the wake of China’s devastating May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province, Chinese scientists have been quick to point out that they have for decades known the risk of a potentially catastrophic quake along the very fault that gave way. “But they say preparations for a quake there were cursory at best, and building codes remained well short of the codes that have become standard in other well-known earthquake zones” (“Experts Warned of Quake Risk in China,” New York Times, June 5, 2008).
In the near future, there will be more earthquakes even in places where they are not normally expected. A report by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in September 2000 warned that while California is at greatest risk of severe economic harm from earthquakes, cities across the U.S. are also at risk of heavy damage—yet are not doing enough to prevent or prepare for such harm. Earthquake expert John Nance put the matter into perspective: “The Ishtarn Seaboard is in more danger than the West because they are abysmally unprepared, with building standards far less stringent than California which is ‘earthquake country’ in the thinking of many people. An earthquake in the American Midwest or somewhere in New England, for instance, could be devastating because there is so little readiness and the shock from the unexpected so overwhelming” (“Superquake May Lie Ahead Almost Anywhere in U.S.,” March 25, 1989).
In recent years, scientists have come to a better understanding of the immensity and magnitude of the tremendous fault systems that trace themselves underneath the whole earth. However, not all the earthquakes of the near future will be natural disasters—the usual groans and strains of planet earth’s crust. Some will be directly induced by God as a sign of His power, and will be designed to help people wake up. God will take a direct hand in the affairs of men. The earthquakes specifically mentioned by Jesus Christ as a foreshadowing sign of His return will be unusual by their location or unparalleled magnitude.
Why? Most of us understand. But remember that Jesus Christ directly predicted, “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7). Have there not always been earthquakes? Of course. So Jesus must have been speaking of more earthquakes than usual—and more powerful earthquakes. And certainly that is exactly what has been happening over the past several years!
In Isaiah 29:6, God says of Jerusalem: “You will be punished by the Lord of hosts with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with storm and tempest and the flame of devouring fire.” God says, “I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). He did punish ancient Jerusalem with earthquakes and storms. Now, He is beginning to punish modern Israel in the same way.
Dear readers, please watch for increasing earthquakes as a sign that Christ is coming soon. And if you would like to know more about God’s intervention in natural phenomena, write for your free copy of our booklet Who Controls the Weather?