In the last two weeks there have been 15 ‘major’ earthquakes in the world. Major quakes are considered above 6.0. The month of May seems to be continuing the pattern for an increased number of large earthquakes. The Atlantic reported the following about April’s earthquakes:
April Had a Record Number of Big Earthquakes
This year there was a typical pattern of quake activity up until the end of March, and then things went bonkers.
In a typical month, the planet is shaken by an average of one or two medium-to-large earthquakes. This past month was not typical. Things were running on track up until the end of March, and then the ground went totally bonkers. There was an incredible 13 quakes of magnitudes 6.5 or higher in April. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which issued bulletins for each one, says that is “easily a record for this institution.” Five of these temblors were powerful enough that the center also put out tsunami warnings.”
If as the article says, the globe is shaken once or twice a month by a large-ish quake, then what of 15 large-ish quakes in 15 days? And what of the information reported in these two articles?
Unusual Arctic earthquakes intrigue scientists
“In recent weeks, two powerful earthquakes have rocked the Northwest Arctic, leading some to ask why, and if these two are a sign of things to come. On April 18, the first quake rang in at a magnitude of 5.6, while on May 3 a second quake shook the region at 5.5. Before the first one in April, it had been more than 30 years since an earthquake that strong struck the region, said Mike West, a seismologist with the Alaska Earthquake Center. “This got our attention,” West said. “It’s not unprecedented, but it is unusual.“
Study: 300 Earthquakes In Parker County Since December
There have been more than 300 earthquakes reported in Parker County since December, according to just-published research conducted by an earthquake study team. In preliminary findings released Wednesday, the team reported that the quakes show a complex fault system in the area near Reno and Azle, which started experiencing quakes for the first time in November.
Prophecy is packed with predictions of earthquakes. At this late stage of history, we read the last book of the age, Revelation, which contains predictions of at least five major earthquakes, the final one being so large that ‘none like it has ever occurred on the earth’. You might remember the recent 9.0 quake at Japan that sparked the tsunami, devastated millions across continents, jogged the earth off its axis, and shortened the astronomical day. The one in Revelation will be worse. Read this account from Tacitus in his Annals, where a large quake occurred sometime between 16-19 AD, and a dozen Asiatic cities crumbled.
In the same year, twelve important cities of Asia collapsed in an earthquake, the time being night, so that the havoc was the less foreseen and the more devastating. Even the usual resource in these catastrophes, a rush to open ground, was unavailing, as the fugitives were swallowed up in yawning chasms. Accounts are given of huge mountains sinking, of former plains seen heaved aloft, of fires flashing out amid the ruin
The last predicted earthquake is a judgment poured out from seventh bowl of wrath and the description of what is to occur is similar to what happened in Tacitus’ day. Except for one thing. It will be much, much worse.
The Seventh Bowl
The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe. (Revelation 16:18)
There are people who say that the bible doesn’t teach that earthquakes will increase throughout the end of the age. By the way, we are in the end of the age. It has been the end of the age since the Messiah was announced at Pentecost. The Messianic age, or the Age of Grace, began at the resurrection of Jesus and will end with His return.
It is true, the bible doesn’t directly state that earthquakes will increase at the end of the age. But the bible doesn’t directly state that God is a Trinity, either. That doesn’t mean the concept isn’t indirectly taught.
Jesus said that a sign of His coming will be earthquakes. In prophecy, this is a two-fold event. The five or so major quakes predicted in Revelation are one such concrete sign. Jesus said so in Matthew 24:3,7. Certain, specific quakes are predicted which will kill a certain, specific amount of people or do certain, specific damage.
However He also taught that earthquakes in general will occur and they will increase as time goes on. How? In The Olivet Discourse, He spoke to the Disciples on the Mount of Olives as a long response to their query as to the signs of the end of the age, that the end of the age will be like birth pangs. (Matthew 24:8). Paul echoes this analogy in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, where he is also discussing the Day of the Lord-
While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
The notion here is compared to the Days of Noah or the Days of Lot. Just as the people of Noah’s day were thinking themselves secure and happy, all things going along as they had been, sudden destruction came in the form of the rains and the wells of the deeps opening up to drown them. Or in Sodom, all things were going along as they had been, and suddenly brimstone rained down from the sky and destruction came.
And yet, all things had not been going on as they had been, in Noah’s day sin was getting worse and worse and worse from the time of the expulsion from the garden and one murder (Abel, Genesis 4:8) to the situation where all men were always thinking and doing evil continually. (Genesis 6:5). This time period was around 1500 years. (source)
In the days of Lot the outcry against the sins of the cities of the plain (Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim) was reaching God’s ears. Between the time of the Flood’s subsiding with 8 righteous people left upon the earth, and the four cities’ destruction for sin, it was about 433 years. (source). Both were situations were things descended gradually but inexorably from a state of near-perfect righteousness to almost all men exhibiting a deep rebellion.
Well if there are metaphorical birth pangs, there must be a metaphorical pregnancy. If there is a pregnancy, there must be a gestation. In gestation, it takes time for the babe to grow and grow and grow. The water breaks. The pains begin. The bloody birth. And then new life.
Even within the birth pangs, they begin spaced apart, then grow in intensity and painfulness as the climactic moment approaches. Jesus could have used any metaphor but in specifically answering the question about the signs of the end of the age, including earthquakes, He said it will be like birthpains. Not only that, but the earthquakes being the beginning of the birth pains, indicating once again that things will intensify as events unfold. The quadruple judgments of Revelation show us this The judgments themselves intensify and increase in frequency as the Tribulation proceeds. (Seals, Trumpets, Thunders of Revelation 10:3-4, Bowls).
I could be wrong of course in interpreting the birth pangs this way. But I’m not wrong about saying that sin begins small and grows widespread, as seen between the time between Adam and Eve’s expulsion to the Flood, or the advancing and retreating pattern of sin-judgment-repentance evidenced by Israel in that cycle shown to us as a demonstration of God’s long-suffering. Or the outcry against Sodom growing to the point where God sent His angel to judge it. Sin and rebellion grows to a certain point and then God decides to judge in His timing. So birth pangs are an apt description. Things get worse and worse and worse, then destruction.
Earthquakes are an interesting sign of the end of the age. Jesus declared they are a sign in Matthew 24:7. Earthquakes in prophecy are a sign of power and sovereignty of God. Isaiah 29:6 says
“the LORD Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.”
It is wise, I believe, to watch the earthquakes. Don’t read too much into them, but as a sign, if Jesus said they are a sign then they are a sign. That they are verifiably increasing is a fact.
There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21:11)
And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;…before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. (Acts 2:19, 20b)
I believe the earthquakes increasing is one sign among many others that show the time is growing short. I’ll close with the next verse from Acts 2:20:
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.