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There Shall Be Earthquakes

by Tom Stewart
August 19, 1999

On August 18th 1999, the Associated Press reported on the recent earthquake near Istanbul, Turkey: "Terrified earthquake survivors sought the safety of open ground Tuesday as the enormity of Turkey's Monday night tragedy became clear: more than 2,000 people killed, thousands injured and 10,000 more missing, and incalculable damage after an overwhelming show of nature's power." This very event was predicted by the LORD Jesus Christ, more than 1,900 years ago. "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers [or, various] places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows" (Mark 13:8). The U.S. National Earthquake Information Center reported that Turkey's earthquake was "one of the most powerful recorded in the 20th century", having been initially reported by U.S. scientists with a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale. The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was a 7.9 temblor. "I will shake the heavens, and the Earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and The Desire of All Nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of Hosts" (Haggai 2:6-7).

Earthquakes have the reputation of causing the greatest amount of death and destruction in the least amount of time, i.e., landslides, mudslides, tsunamis, and collapsing man-made structures.
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:22). An earthquake is "any abrupt disturbance within the Earth that is tectonic or volcanic in origin and that results in the generation of elastic waves. The passage of such seismic waves through the Earth often causes violent shaking at its surface" (from Britannica CD 99). "He looketh on the Earth, and it trembleth: He toucheth the hills, and they smoke" (Psalm 104:32). Scientists postulate that earthquakes are caused by plate tectonics, where the Earth's surface is composed of large, rigid plates that move relative to one another, often interacting violently at their boundaries. "Then the Earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because He was wroth" (Psalm 18:7). Seismographs measure the oscillation of the ground using the Richter scale, where each increase in magnitude of one unit represents a 10-fold increase in earthquake size. "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). An earthquake of magnitude 8 is 10,000 times as large as one of magnitude 4. But, "I will shake the heavens, and the Earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of Hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger" (Isaiah 13:13).

The following was written in my "
Commentary on the Book of Revelation" ---New Window , concerning the Church of Philadelphia. That church was located in Asia Minor, which is modern day Turkey, in the region affected by Turkey's August 16th 1999 earthquake, whose epicenter was Golcuk (pronounced GULjik):

"Revelation 3:7- 'And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;'

The Philadelphia of the Revelation, the city of brotherly love, is now a small village known as Alasehir. It is situated in modern Turkey, about 28 miles southeast of Sardis and 75 miles from the Aegean Sea coast. Numerous pagan temples dotted the skyline of the ancient city, with their columns dedicated to noteworthy citizens. An earthquake that devastated Sardis in 17 AD did the same to Philadelphia. During the ensuing years, Philadelphia was plagued with recurring quakes.

Revelation 3:12-
'Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of Heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My New Name.'

Remembering the earthquakes of ancient Philadelphia, you can easily imagine the frightened citizens of Philadelphia scurrying out of the temples, whose pillars were inscribed with their names, with each after shock. By comparison, our LORD
'will write upon' the esteemed inhabitants of the New Jerusalem, His 'New Name'-- signifying His ownership, for we 'are bought with a price' (1Corinthians 6:20), and signifying a New Chapter in our lives, for 'He will dwell with' us forever (Revelation 21:3). And, the dwellers of New Jerusalem 'shall go no more out'. This is perfect tranquility. 'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee' (Isaiah 26:3)."

While seismologists and geologists grapple with the scientific mechanics of earthquakes, we ought to consider the spiritual reasons for why God shakes the Earth. God uses earthquakes to execute His Judgments. "5 The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt, and the Earth is burned at His presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. 6 Who can stand before His indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him. 7 The LORD is good, a Strong Hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him. 8 But with an overrunning flood He will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue His enemies" (Nahum 1:5-8). The LORD of All the Earth (Joshua 3:13) uses all the power of His created planet to accomplish His purpose of Judgment. "19 The Earth is utterly broken down, the Earth is clean dissolved, the Earth is moved exceedingly. 20 The Earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again" (Isaiah 24:19-20).

How man responds to God's Judgments demonstrates his heart before God. The True Saints rejoice in God's Judgments.
"It is joy to the just to do Judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity" (Proverbs 21:15). The impenitent of Noah's day were irretrievably lost to any sense of repentance or appreciation of God's Judgments. "5 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... 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the Earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them" (Genesis 6:5, 7). But, some may actually pause to consider their ways, and turn to the Salvation that is in the LORD Jesus Christ. "Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54).


Tom Stewart


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