“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now…”[Romans 8:22]
The recent 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes in Southern California have many geologists and seismologists on edge about the probability of a catastrophic quake along the San Andreas fault. A massive earthquake near one of the densely populated regions in California would create a natural disaster of devastating proportions.
Likewise, geologists are closely watching the super volcano under Yellowstone Park that has the potential to erupt, creating an explosion substantially more powerful than multiple atomic bombs. We should shudder to think of the devastation such an eruption would cause.
Ever since Charles Richter invented his Richter scale in 1935, scientists have had a standard system of measurement to track major earthquakes around the world. Earthquakes of various strengths are measured every day, but very few are ever felt on the surface. Volcanism in the earth’s mantle and constant tectonic shifting in the earth’s upper mantle and crust keep the surface of the earth moving underneath our feet.
Some data models show a noticeable increase that major earthquake activity over the last 50 years or so, while other reports say that earthquake activity has remained relatively normal since 1900.
The last time the earth experienced a catastrophic tectonic shift on a global scale was during the flood of Noah’s day. The Bible says that the fountains of the deep burst forth, which created the great continental rifts and fault lines around the world.
“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month, all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.”[Genesis 7:11]
Regardless of what the scientific data may show, if we are living in the last days and if we are seeing the very beginning of labor pains, then the we should expect to see a noticeable increase in earthquake frequency and intensity around the world.
Based on the words of Jesus, the beginning of birth pains will lead to an increase of major, new-worthy earthquakes in various places around the world. Here in the U.S., we would expect to see the San Andreas and New Madrid faults begin to produce major earthquakes.
And as devastating as these things may be, God is using the groaning or the earth to shake us up, wake us up, and get our attention through natural disasters. God has always used natural disasters as signs to get our attention and remind us how desperately we need Him in the midst of tragedy.
Earthquakes in the Great Tribulation
Earthquakes also play a prominent role in the last 3.5 years of history, prior to the return of Jesus to earth. The book of Zechariah speaks of a great earthquake in Jerusalem that coincides with the coming of Jesus to judge the nations.
“For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.”[Zechariah 14:2-5]
Ezekiel mentions the same earthquake in his prophecy about the war against Antichrist (Gog) and his armies.
“But on that day, the day that Gog shall come against the land of Israel, declares the Lord GOD, my wrath will be roused in my anger. For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground.”[Ezekiel 38:18-20]
The book of Revelation likewise mentions this same catastrophic earthquake multiple times. Although the earthquake is mentioned during the different seal, trumpet and bowl judgments, I believe the context of each description is referring to the same event — not separate quakes.
“When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.”[Revelation 6:12-14]
The second mention of the earthquake in Rev. 8:5.
“Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.”
The third mention coincides with the resurrection of the two witnesses in Revelation 11, which I believe describes the same quake from Zechariah and Ezekiel.
“And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.”[Rev. 11:13]
The final mention is at the seventh bowl of God’s wrath poured out upon the earth. Again, this description matches all the others from the sixth seal to the Old Testament references, leading me to believe that this is one major quake that coincides with God’s judgement on the Day of the LORD and the Return of Jesus to the earth.
“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 16:17-21]
The earth is groaning, as it awaits it Creator to return to liberate the entire creation from its bondage. As the earth continues to groan from within, we can expect more earthquakes to increase in frequency and intensity, as Jesus said they would.
The beginning of birth pains will continue to increase until the most intense quake the earth has ever seen will shake this planet to its core, just in time for the Redeemer to return in all His glory!
Even so, Lord Jesus, Come!