Earthquakes and Volcanoes
Earthquakes and Volcanoes in Prophecy
David C. Pack, Publisher/Editor in Chief
The Real Truth Magazine
March 5, 2010
Why are earthquakes and volcanic activity on the rise? The Bible speaks of “earthquakes in various places” at the end of the age.
Has that time arrived?
Throughout history, God has used earthquakes in many ways for various reasons. The Bible shows that God used earthquakes in history to show His presence, His deliverance, His wrath and His power. God will also use earthquakes yet in the future to announce Christ’s Return, accompany prophetic events, and reshape the earth’s surface.
In Matthew 24, Christ told His disciples of the signs that would precede His Second Coming. In verse 7, He stated, “and there shall be…earthquakes, in diverse places.”
This meant earthquakes would take place in various places—scattered throughout the world—and would increase in frequency as the time of His Return drew near Mark 13:8 and Luke 21:11.
Had earthquakes been as prolific throughout history as they are today, then they would not indicate that the end of the age was near. They are much more common now than at any other time in history.
For 6,000 years, since the Garden of Eden, a rebellious humanity has rejected the Creator’s instructions. He has patiently allowed this for His own great purpose.
However, this is all about to change.
God is about to involve Himself in the affairs of this world in a way that He has never done before. Earthquakes will play a significant role in what is about to occur.
Earthquakes Resulting from God’s Presence
The Bible reveals that the presence of God can cause the earth to tremble. He uses such upheaval to send a powerful message: “Tremble, you earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob” (Psa. 114:7).
Not only can the earth tremble and quake at God’s presence, but volcanoes erupt as well: “The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt [lava-producing volcanoes]…” (Nah. 1:5).
There was a thunderous trembling when God gave the Ten Commandments: “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off” (Ex. 20:18).
Exodus 19:18 continues: “And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.” God’s presence generated an earthquake! He used His power over the elements to get Israel’s undivided attention.
Accompanying God’s Deliverance
I Samuel 14:15, God was moved by the faith and courage of Jonathan and his armor-bearer and wrought a mighty deliverance: “And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.”
God intervened due to Jonathan’s daring courage: “…it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few” vs. 6). After sending the earthquake, which terrorized the Philistines, God caused the enemy to turn on each other, resulting in the deaths of thousands. The survivors fled.
Other accounts of earthquakes accompanying God’s deliverance occurred shortly after the beginning of the New Testament Church, in AD 31. The first account is Acts 4:29-31: “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto Your servants, that with all boldness they may speak Your Word, by stretching forth Your hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of Your holy Child [Servant] Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy [Spirit], and they spoke the Word of God with boldness.” The quake showed that He had heard and answered their prayer.
Another earthquake occurred when the apostle Paul was accompanied by Silas in the city of Philippi in Asia Minor. They were illegally beaten and cast into prison. But God delivered them: “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed” (Acts 16:26).
A Result of God’s Wrath
Psalm 18:7 briefly reveals this aspect of God’s use of earthquakes: “Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because He was wroth.”
Also: “But the Lord is the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting King: at His wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide His indignation” (Jer. 10:10).
Many earthquakes prophesied for the end time will carry this overtone. This involves, primarily, the major earthquakes listed in the book of Revelation. They will convey God’s wrath to a world that refuses to heed His warnings and correction.
Earthquakes at Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection
Earthquakes have accompanied great events such as the crucifixion of Jesus: “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” (Matt. 27:51). Continuing in verse 54: “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.”
Another “great earthquake” accompanied Christ’s resurrection, three full days later: “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” (Matt. 28:2).
Quakes Preceding Christ’s Return
The book of Revelation prophesies five specific earthquakes. There is strong indication that each of these earthquakes is unique, and that each occurs at a particular juncture of God’s final prophetic timeline.
1. Revelation 6:12: “And I beheld when He had opened the Sixth Seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.”
This earthquake occurs after the Fifth Seal, upon the opening of the Sixth Seal. The terrible time of the Fifth Seal involves the military invasion and the captivity of the modern day descendants of Israel (read America and Britain in Prophecy to learn who these modern day descendants are). This includes the two-and-a-half years of unparalleled suffering and tribulation—the worst time of suffering in all of history, to be brought upon this generation.
By its very timing and context, this earthquake proclaims the end of the tribulation and the beginning of signs that appear in the heavens.
This event is also covered in Matthew 24:29: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.”
Luke 21:25-26 describes this same event: “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring [tsunamis]; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
Yet the context of Revelation 6 reveals more about this earthquake: “and every mountain and island shall be moved out of their places” (vs. 14).
Notice Isaiah’s description of this time: “In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake terribly the earth” (2:20-21). The above verses compare closely to Revelation 6:15-16.
2. Revelation 8:5: As the seventh seal is opened, seven angels stand before God and receive the seven trumpets. Another angel took a censer “…and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.”
This earthquake represents the beginning of the seven trumpet plagues. This means the beginning of the fulfillment of the Seventh Seal and the beginning of the Day of the Lord.
Certain scriptures speak of the solemnity of this time: “Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come” (Joel 1:15).
Joel 2:31 shows the precise timing of this event: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible Day of the Lord come.” This matches the sequence in Revelation, as the heavenly signs immediately precede the Day of the Lord.
3. Revelation 11:13: “And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them [the two witnesses], Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city [Jerusalem] fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.”
This particular earthquake occurs after the two witnesses are resurrected. The timing of this earthquake is prior to the time of the seventh trumpet—the Return of Christ, and the First Resurrection (I Cor. 15:51; I Thes. 4:16).
This earthquake appears to be centered mainly in the area of Jerusalem, but could still be worldwide in scope. It cannot be the same one described in Zechariah 14:4, because all nations will not yet have gathered for the Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty (the time of the last plague, or sixth vial of wrath – (Revelation 16:12-15).
This earthquake precedes and announces the pivotal event in mankind’s history—Christ’s Return.
4. Revelation 11:19: “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” This earthquake occurs immediately after the Return of Christ and the First Resurrection—it marks the fulfillment of these events.
This earthquake occurs after the seventh trumpet has sounded (Rev. 11:15). This is the time of the Return of Christ, as expressed in the latter part of verse 15: “…and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.”
Christ’s Return brings the First Resurrection and makes every following event possible. This pivotal event is the most crucial in all history! Earthquakes before and after this event underscore its momentous importance in God’s Plan. No other event bears such distinction.
This earthquake is also one that results from the presence of God. Jesus Christ will then be present on earth as King—assuming rulership in glory over the earth.
At this event, the earth quakes with gladness, along with the whole creation: “Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together before the Lord; for He comes to judge the earth: with righteousness shall He judge the world, and the people with equity” (Psa. 98:7-9).
5. Revelation 16:18: “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.”
This is the final earthquake and will be the most powerful one ever to occur since man was created upon the earth.
This is the great earthquake in which the remaining topography of the earth is changed. Notice verse 20: “And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”
This earthquake appears to complete the process begun by the earthquake of Revelation 6:12-14, in which “every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”
This is the same earthquake mentioned in Zechariah 14. It follows the time when all nations are gathered for battle, coinciding with the sixth vial of wrath of Revelation 16:12-15.
Zechariah 14:4 states, “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount 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.”
Finally, verse 9 states, “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth…”
Earthquakes Reshape the Surface of the Earth
Extending beyond the context of these five earthquakes of Revelation, they will also serve to reshape the earth’s surface. The God of all power, who formed the hills and mountains, will reform them and reshape the surface of this planet (Amos 4:13; Psa. 90:2).
Notice Isaiah 40:4-5: “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”
These verses speak of dramatic changes in the earth’s surface. Vast mountain ranges will no longer exist. Any remaining mountains and hills will be used for a special purpose as God has appointed.
The renewal of the surface of the earth will be to accommodate the vast number of humanity that will populate the earth by the later stages of the Millennium and also the many billions that will come up later in the general resurrection—the White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11).
The earth will be able to accommodate many more billions at that time once more usable land becomes available for farming and for living space.
Not only will mountain ranges be removed, more land will be reclaimed from the deserts and oceans as well. These changes in the topography of the earth will accommodate a change in the weather. It will become favorable, rather than the harsh, threatening destructive element as has been the case throughout human history.
Without droughts and floods, and without the terrible extremes of temperature, precipitation and destruction from other elements in nature, farming will be more productive. Even the waters of the oceans will be healed and purified (Ezek. 47:8-10).
Earthquakes have been instrumental in serving God’s purpose in a number of ways. Indeed there is a purpose for every aspect of God’s creation: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecc. 3:1).
The good news beyond the depressing trends and statistics of this present world will eventually eclipse the human tragedies that occur in this age. Earthquakes will play a role in this transition that ends in peace, security and fulfillment for the entire world.
As frightening and destructive as they are, God will use earthquakes to reshape the earth’s surface, in preparation for the greatest time of peace and abundance that mankind has ever known.