Pastor Jeffrey Khoo
The recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria has left more than 50,000 dead and millions homeless. There were worse earthquakes in the last two decades: In 2004, the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami killed 230,000. Both the Kashmir and Sichuan earthquakes left 90,000 dead each. And there was Haiti in 2010 which took 160,000 lives. Since the year 2000, there have been 40,000 earthquakes worldwide with a magnitude of at least 5 on the Richter scale.
The Bible already predicted such catastrophes. In Matthew 24:3, when Jesus was asked, “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus gave a list of things to look out for, and among them were these, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matt 24:6–8).
The whole earth and mankind is groaning in pain. “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Rom 8:22–23). We are living in a sin-cursed world with a whole lot of evil and wickedness which bring about tremendous pain and suffering. The friction caused by sin produces a lot of heat and fire and we are burned.
Earthquakes are one of the signs of a groaning earth writhing in pain. So, what do earthquakes tell us about God and His work? It tells us of these two things: (1) His Judgement and (2) His Salvation.
Earthquakes of Judgement
There are a number of earthquakes recorded for us in biblical history, and the worst is undoubtedly the one found in the time of Noah when God destroyed the whole world through a cataclysmic Flood. In Genesis 7:11, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” The Flood caused the earth to be pushed up which give us the great and high mountains of today (eg Mt Everest, 9000m/30,000ft high) and the deepest crevices in the sea (eg Mariana Trench, 11,000m/36,000ft deep).
Why this great global judgement? It was because of the grievous sins of the people in the world at that time, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen 6:5). Only Noah and his family were saved, the rest perished.
The Bible warns of another global judgement, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matt 24:36–39). Is there great wickedness in the world today as in the days of Noah?
Consider another earthquake of judgement, the one that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.” (Gen 19:24–25). When the Lord “overthrew” Sodom and Gomorrah, He literally turned them over. The ground under them was churned up and overturned, brimstone and fire spewed out of the earth and rained upon the two cities.
Why were the two cities destroyed? It was because the inhabitants were totally given to sexual perversity, to homosexuality which is an abomination, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Lev 20:13). There were not even ten decent men in those cities (Gen 18:32).
The judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah is a forewarning. God will judge the world again which is today becoming more and more like those two wicked cities, “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly” (2 Pet 2:4-6).
Earthquakes of Salvation
Can we be saved from the judgement to come? We certainly can. The Bible records for us two earthquakes that speak of God’s salvation.
The first was at the crucifixion of Christ. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:6–8).
Jesus died in our place to save us from our sins, “the just for the unjust” (1 Pet 3:18). On Good Friday, AD 30, He was nailed to the cross and was there for six hours (9am to 3pm) shedding His precious blood to save us from our sins (Rom 3:25). Finally at 3pm, He cried, “It is finished” and breathed His last, “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (John 19:30, Matt 27:51). The earthquake saw not only the renting of the rocks but also the renting of the temple curtain into two. The temple curtain separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies), The Holy of Holies symbolises the very presence of God. With the renting of the temple curtain, this barrier into the Holy of Holies is removed. Sinners now have direct access to God for the remission of sins through the sacrifice of Christ accomplished on the Cross once and for all. “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace” (Eph 2:13–14). Jesus Christ is our peace for He is our Mediator to reconcile us to God, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5).
The crucifixion is not the end, there is also the resurrection, for without it, there is no salvation (1 Cor 15:13–17). Jesus must conquer death and the grave for us. He must rise from the dead and He did rise on the third day. Matthew 28:1–2, 5–6, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it…. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.”
The earthquake at the resurrection was to announce Jesus’ victory over the grave. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 15:55–57). If you believe in Jesus—His death, burial and resurrection according to the Scriptures—and receive Him as your Saviour, you shall be saved; “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Rom 10:9).
Once you are saved and your sins forgiven, you are delivered from eternal judgement at the end when Jesus returns.
Earthquakes of Judgement and Salvation
There will be a stupendous earthquake when Jesus returns. Revelation 16:17–19 says, “And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.” This unprecedented earthquake at the Second Coming of Christ will flatten the “cities of the nations”. It is an earthquake of global magnitude and impact.
Not only that, but Israel’s topography will change for the city of Jerusalem will be divided into three parts. The Mount of Olives will also be split into two when Jesus steps on it, “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” (Zech 14:4).
Jesus will return to redeem His chosen nation Israel from her enemies—the Antichrist and all who have his mark, “And I saw the beast (ie the Antichrist), and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse (ie Jesus Christ), and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” (Rev 19:19–20).
When Jesus returns, those who belong to Him shall be resurrected and shall reign with Him a thousand years, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Rev 20:6). Make sure when Christ returns, you fall on the right side of the quake—the side of salvation and not destruction.
Jesus said, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev 21:6–8). Jesus invites all to have a personal relationship with Him, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev 3:20–21).
1 Goldhill Plaza, #03-35, S(308899) firstname.lastname@example.org 6254 1287
© 2023 True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church