Tag Archive | earthquake

Holy Fear: The Great Earthquake, part 3/3

This series first appeared on The End Time in March 2011. Today’s essay has been edited & updated.

Part 1 here
Part 2 here

“The earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because He was wroth.” (Psalm 18:7).

The USGS essay regarding the historical New England earthquake of 1727 and its aftermath continues

“The people of New England were affected by this earthquake as they had never been before, being fearful of divine judgments for their sins and lax responsiveness to the call to religious duties. The clergy taught them that it was “a loud call to the whole land to repent and fear and give glory to God.” The next morning great numbers of the inhabitants of Boston gathered at the old North church for prayer and other religious services. The fear of further immediate danger was somewhat dispelled in the pleasant sunlight, but as soon as the sun had set their fright returned, and in greater numbers than in the morning the people crowded to the old Brick church, which could not hold them. The old South was then opened, and those who failed of admission to the Brick church flocked thither, and that was also filled. Rev. Thomas Paine of Weymouth, Mass., and some other ministers, tried to prove to their congregations that the earthquake had not a natural cause, but was a supernatural token of God’s anger to the sinful world.”

“The selectmen of Medford, Mass., appointed the next Wednesday as a day to be observed by fasting and prayer on account of the earthquake; and Lieutenant-governor Dummer recommended that Thursday should be kept in the same way for the same purpose throughout the province. Many sermons delivered on the latter and other days were printed and are still extant. In Salem, Mass., a meeting was held on Saturday at the upper meeting-house (then so called) which was attended by the largest congregation that was ever in that edifice.”

They repented, the fasted, they prayed, and they entreated. The people fell down before a mighty God and supplicated in proper Holy Fear.

In his sermon “A Holy Fear of God and His Judgments” John Cotton defined Holy Fear:

–Trembling for fear of God implies our solemn an awful apprehensions of the great God, who brings such judgments upon us

–Trembling for fear of God means that we are sensibly touched and affected with the consideration of the judgments that are or may yet be brought upon us.

–Trembling for fear of God means our humbling ourselves exceedingly before Him who is thus visiting and threatening us.

Do we tremble? Rarely. We strut, we dismiss, we forget the power He wields, and holds back. Holy Fear, repentance, and awe of His majesty are not popular topics today. Prosperity, ecstatic experiences, all paths leading to heaven are the topics of today, when the bible is even referred to at all.

I remember the bright fall day of September 11, 2001. I was in my newspaper office happily writing the last of the articles for upcoming publication, and then my world shattered. Planes smashed into the Twin Towers in NYC, the Pentagon in Washington DC (where we lost a home town boy) and into the Pennsylvania ground. Our complacency was gone and the world never looked the same after that day.

More to the point, the event shook all of us in America. The next Sunday, churches were full. People wanted – needed – answers. Intuitively we knew any answers that came from ourselves would be inadequate. We sought them from ‘somewhere or something else.’

The rush to church was short-lived, as it inevitably must be in a pagan nation.

After 9/11, a short-lived rush to church: Mark Chaves on how church business boomed briefly after 9/11

Church Attendance Back to Normal

Repenting. Falling down on our faces. These are proper responses when disaster strikes. It’s intuitive that people do these things because as Romans 1:18-20 shows us, we all know, saved or not, that God exists and is in control-

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Do we weep day and night for our own sins, faults, and failures? Do we weep for neglecting to give glory to God? We do not react thus: “When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself.” (Habakkuk 3:16).

We shake our heads at the poor folks way over there experiencing natural disaster, such as the Hawaiians losing their homes to the volcano, and we move on. We do not do the first and proper thing: repent. I am talking to believers who may have forgotten what it means to be a sinner falling into the hands of an angry God.

Why are not the churches in America full today? Why are not people weeping at altars, seeking forgiveness? Do we evidence a Holy Fear? No, we talk of prosperity with a flashy smile.

Rev Cotton finishes, “Oh, what need we have then to cry mightily unto God that He will make the impressions lasting on the souls of parents, children, young, old, rich, poor, bond and free! We have done it already. We will continue to do it, and we hope the Lord will not turn away our prayers nor His mercy from us.”

Will the dreadful impressions of God after 9/11-Japan quake-Indian Ocean Tsunami-Joplin tornado swarm-Hawaiian volcano- etc last in you? In me? It is an awesome thing to see His power in creation. It’s even more powerful to see His work in a human soul.

Give glory to God for His power. Give glory to Jesus by repenting, and living an obedient, honorable, and moral life in Him.

Holy Fear: The Great Earthquake, part 2/3

This series first appeared on The End Time in March 2011
Part 1 here

The events of late summer-early Fall in New England, described in Part 1 of this three-part essay, were fear-inducing to a high degree. The strange events culminated in an earth-shaking display of mighty power, ripping into the consciousnesses of thousands of slumbering Colonials at a quiet moment in the middle of the autumn night. People ran shrieking out of their homes in their night-clothes, never having experienced such an earthquake before.

Then as now, people try to make sense of the events. Many a preacher was spiritually burdened to preach about it on the next Sunday, and one such was the New England preacher, John Cotton. (1693-1757). The old Puritan preachers were learned, well-versed in the bible, and devout. Most importantly, they preached the correct response to an earth-shattering event: Holy Fear.

We don’t evidence much Holy Fear these days, it is not a popular topic. But Rev Cotton did, and here are a few excerpts to his eminently readable and wonderful sermon. I encourage you to read it in its entirety. Part 3 of this essay will examine how the people of today respond to a similar earth-shaking event. In his sermon, Rev Cotton lays out the procession of thought throughout:

————-begin John Cotton sermon————–

 

DOCTRINE. The condition and circumstances of a people may be such that their flesh may well tremble for fear of God, and they may wisely be afraid of His judgments. In the prosecution of this doctrine I will show:
1. What is meant by the judgments of God and what judgments we are exposed to that we ought to be afraid of.
2. What is meant by trembling for fear of God and being afraid of His judgments.
3. That our condition and circumstance are such that we have abundant reasons and occasions to tremble and be afraid.

A Holy Fear of God and His Judgments
by John Cotton (1693-1757); Preached November 3, 1727
My flesh trembleth for fear of Thee; and I am afraid of Thy judgments” (Psalm 119:120)

To fear God means that we adore His sovereignty and righteousness even in His awful dispensations and that we employ our serious, devout, and solemn thoughts on these an other glorious excellencies and perfections of Almighty God displayed in His judgments. They must be the subject of our frequent and solemn meditations so that we may always maintain in our hearts suitable apprehensions of the great God who sends His judgments upon us.

Surely the consideration thereof should fill us with the greatest fear and concern of spirit that God has been so provoked that He has had to come out against us in His anger and to threaten our utter ruin and desolation

Did we ever have more reason to stand trembling before God under fearful apprehensions of impending vengeance when we consider the many scandalous, provoking evils abounding among us including oppression, injustice, fraud, deceit, falsehood, evil speaking, pride contention, intemperance, drunkenness, unchastity, excessive and inordinate love of the world, and may I add, the rudeness and profaneness of young people? God Himself, and our duty to Him, is evidently neglected and forgotten by many, and a form of godliness is maintained and kept up without the life and power of it. The sacred and dreadful name of God is dishonored and blasphemed by profane cursing and swearing. His holy Sabbaths, instead of being strictly observed and sanctified, are very much profaned by idle, vain, trifling and unsuitable conduct. Some forsake the house of the Lord, frequently neglecting and needlessly staying away from the public worship of God. Has not manifold contempt been put upon the Lord’s holy ordinances and institutions? Are there not many who disregard coming to them in a serious and worthy manner? Must we not acknowledge that mutual Christian love and charity grow cold? Are not both the love of men to God and the love of men to their neighbors treated with a visible coldness and indifference that clearly mark the lack of the power of godliness? Alas, for this people!

Are not the iniquities I have just described, and many more, prevailing among us and testifying against us, loudly proclaiming our impiety and great degeneracy, declaring that we are an impenitent, incorrigible, and unreformed people still, ripening rapidly for a destruction without remedy? Surely then, if this is the case with us, we have reason to tremble for fear of God and to be greatly afraid of His judgments. We might wisely be afraid of temporal plagues and judgments of a far heavier and sorer nature than we have yet been visited with, for the transgressions of God’s covenant people are exceedingly provoking to Him and richly deserve to be severally punished. I beg of you, do not forget that our sins are the more offensive and provoking to God for we are a people in covenant with Him.

What awful symptoms there are of blindness and hardness of heart right in our midst. Ought we not to fear that men are dreadfully blinded and hardened in their sins when there is not so much as external reformation in connection with such an awful judgment of God as this earthquake?

We learn from this text that it is not cowardly to be afraid of God’s judgments but very agreeable to true Christian courage.

God is no fit match for us to contend with. No one has ever hardened himself against Him and prospered (Job 9:4). He is our Creator, we are His creatures. We are as clay in the hands of the potter. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. God cannot err on His end, as the princes of this world may in the execution of their displeasure through impotency or want of knowledge, for He is infinite in knowledge, wisdom, and power, and there in no comparison between infinite and finite. It is not cowardly then to fear God. Our Saviour advises us,

Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

Such wise fear is agreeable to true Christian courage. This should be expressed in our lives by maintaining a reverential fear of God upon our minds, in fighting against the enemies of our salvation; in mortifying our lusts; in steadfastly persevering in all the duties of our holy religion; in not disobeying His commands, despising His judgments, scorning His rod or setting ourselves in opposition to His threatening, which is the most daring and prodigious folly and madness and will be found so in the end.

How very surprising and amazing was the first sudden shock and convulsion we felt! Our houses and beds were shaking, and the earth was trembling and reeling under us like, I suppose, none ever felt in this part of the world before. And how many times has the awful noise been repeated, though not to such a fearful degree? Well may the people in this city and in the country round about be filled with the surprise and consternation of which we see and hear. Multitudes seem to be under great conviction, distress, and concern about their soul and eternity. Oh, that the impressions might abide until conversion to God is accomplished and the great work of their salvation is completed.

————-end Cotton sermon—————-

Rev Cotton was fearful that the initial impressions regarding a just, angry, and powerful God would diminish in the light of day and diminish even further as time passed. How well the Reverend knew the sinful nature of craven men. But the response Cotton preached is the ONLY proper response to a God who is wroth with us. He is the Creator, we are His creatures! We are clay in the hands of the potter. We should fall down before Him, seeking forgiveness as we entreat Him to forgive our sins. But do we? Part 3 coming up.

cracked sidewalk

Holy Fear: The Great Earthquake, part 1/3

This was first published on The End Time in March 2011

The greatest earthquake that New England has probably experienced since its settlement by the English occurred October 29, 1727. The people had suffered much in various ways through the summer and early autumn. A drought continued from the middle of June to the middle of September, the month of July and the first week of August being exceedingly hot. No rain fell in April after the first week, and but twice in May, only one of two slight showers occurring during the sultry, parching heat of the summer. The earth dried to a great depth, and many wells and springs, which had never failed before were now dry. There was much lightning and thunder, but very little rain. On the evening of August 1, at the close of a scorching day, the heavens burst out into a blaze of flame and a roar of thunder, the terrific display continuing for two or three hours. The flashes occurred so frequently that the sky was continually light with them and a writer of that time said it seemed “as if the heavens being on fire were dissolving and passing away with a great noise, and the earth also with its works was to be burned up.”

After the drought was broken a violent northeast storm came on, doing much damage among the vessels along the coast, and the trees on shore. This occurred September 16. It caused a high tide which carried away about two hundred loads of hay from the marshes at Newbury, Mass., and drove eight or nine vessels ashore at Salem and thirty-five at Marblehead.

After the lightning, thunder, and tempest the country was visited by a tremendous earthquake. October 24, 1727, the weather was very cold; three days later, snow fell, and on the 28th the temperature was still exceedingly low for the season. Sunday, the 29th, was fair and pleasant, and in the evening the moon shone brightly, the air was calm, and no noise disturbed the peacefulness of nature. People retired at their usual hour, and were fast asleep, when at twenty minutes before eleven o’clock a terrible noise followed by a roar and a rush suddenly woke them, and in about half a minute, before they had time to become conscious of what was taking place around them, there came a pounce as if gigantic cannons had rolled against each other from opposite directions. Latches leaped up and doors flew open, houses rocked and trembled as though they would collapse, timber worked in and out of mortises, hearth-stones grated against each other, windows rattled, tops of chimneys pitched and tumbled down, cellar walls fell in, beds shook, pewter fell off shelves, lids of warming pans jumped up and fell back with a clang, and all movable things, especially in the upper rooms, tossed about.

Most people got up in a moment, and many of them ran out of doors in their night clothes, being so frightened that they knew not what to do. The earth shook so much that they could not stand, and were compelled to sit or recline on the ground.

People that were awake when the earthquake came said that a flash of light preceded it. It was seen as it passed the windows, and a blaze seemed to run along the ground, dogs that saw it giving a sudden bark as if frightened. Before they had time to consider the source or cause of the light a sound like a gentle murmur floated to them on the still evening air, followed by a slight ruffling wind. Then came a rumbling as of distant thunder, which approached nearer and nearer and grew louder and louder till it sounded as if innumerable heavy carriages were being rapidly driven over pavements, or like the roaring of a great furnace, but incomparably fiercer and more terrible, having a hollow sound as if it came from under the earth. Then the shock came suddenly and severely and the houses were felt to totter and reel with the trembling and heaving of the ground.

The noise and shake came from the northwest, and went in a south-easterly direction. The whole disturbance occurred within the space of two minutes of time. The cattle ran bellowing about the fields, being thoroughly frightened at this sudden and fearful commotion in the still hours of night. They acted as though suffering from the greatest distress. “the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the tress of the field. The beasts of the field cry also unto Thee;…” (Joel 1:19, 20).”

Source: USGS Historic Earthquakes. More at link

Stay tuned for part two.

cracked sidewalk

Thursday Picture Mixture: Baby elephant, Maria, Old postcards, beauty, more

Photographer Finds Locations Of 1960s Postcards To See How They Look Today, And The Difference Is Unbelievable

Not long ago an old matchbook laying on photographer Pablo Iglesias Maurer’s desk caught his eye. Or rather, it was the postcard-like picture on it, of a resort complex built in the 1960s. It got Pablo wondering how the place looked now, and the answer has led him to make an amazing photo series called Abandoned States.

I love how this series is displayed. The old postcard is shown and in that same spot the photo fades to the exact view of the scene today. It is a stark reminder to us that nothing on this earth is permanent, no matter how large, luxe, or solid it looks. The series is wistfully melancholy.

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This baby elephant runs around chasing birds. He slips and falls, and what he does next is so precious. Babies are cute, whether pachyderm or human! 25-second video.
Baby Elephant Chases Birds

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The recent quakes and quake swarms, not to mention hurricanes, remind us that the earth is under a curse. only to be lifted by its Creator, Jesus, in His timing. Below, workers race to find survivors of the 7.1 quake at Mexico City which collapsed a school. Reuters photo.
reuters mexico quake

Scientists say recent quake swarm at Rainier is rare but not unprecedented

rainer

Rescue teams take to Puerto Rico streets in darkness amid warnings that power could be out for months following devastating hit from Hurricane Maria
Below, damage on Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria. Our infrastructure, including electrical power, is so tenuous. Only God is power.

 

daily mail maria damage

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And yet, amid the damage and heartache caused by a restless earth, beauty. Jesus created all the beauty we see in creation in under one week. Wow.flower