Earthquakes! Sign of the End Times?

images.duckduckgo.comWe Are The Earthquake Generation?

I was born and raised in south Louisiana!  In all my years living “way down south” I can’t remember having experienced even one earthquake.  Hurricanes we have lots of but not earthquakes.  However, when I lived on Hokkaido, Japan for a year I experienced my first of many small earth tremors.  When that first earth tremor hit, I can remember thinking “what in the world was that?”  Just a little earth tremor, nothing to worry about – no damage was done!  I could just imagine what a real earthquake must feel like.

Years ago, in the early 80’s, while studying Bible prophecy, I remember reading a book entitled “We Are the Earthquake Generation” by Jeffery Goodman.  You can still purchase a copy of the book on Amazon.com for 1 penny plus $3.99 shipping!  Wow, the shipping costs more than the book.  It predicted that California and much of the West coast of the United States would suffer massive earthquakes and fall into the ocean by 2000.   Oops – didn’t happen did it?  Today more

Today more “end time” prophets are still predicting the “end of the world” as we know it.  Especially anytime there’s a large earthquake or tsunami.   The question I’d like to explore in this article is whether “earthquakes in divers places” are signs of the times?  Honestly, there are so many earthquakes happening every day that they don’t even make the news.  Why is that?  Well, it’s because earthquakes are a common everyday occurrence.

The internet has made earthquake data available to anyone.  You can check it out yourself through the US Geological Earthquake Hazards Survey Program at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/.  What you will find is that there are so many earthquakes that occur daily that the USGS only measures those of a 2.5 rating or higher.  Therefore most of the earthquakes occurring in California wouldn’t make it to the USGS website because the magnitudes are under 2.5.

Christ’s World – First Century and Bible Prophecy

To understand prophetic events in the New Testament the student of the Bible must be familiar with the culture, lands and times of that era.  This will eliminate most futurist speculations about the future.

First, we need a clear picture of the world of New Testament Bible prophecy.  The New Testament was written during the days of the Roman Empire.  The Roman government was the one-world government of that day!  That being the case, now ask yourself what would it be like to live in that world 2000 years ago?

Were all of the countries that exist today in existence then?  Have new countries come into existence since those days?  The United States is not much more than 200 years old. Now didn’t the people of Christ’s day have access to the scriptures?  They certainly had access to what we today call the Old Testament.  Through their priests, they were able to read the prophecies of a promised Messiah.  Now ask yourself, do you think any of the first century Christians would assume that countries (such as America) would be the subject of end times prophecy?  I don’t think so – do you?

When Christ and His disciples spoke of the “last days” or the “time of the end” their world was the Roman Empire.  Roman controlled the then known “world.”  This fact must be kept in mind if we are to make sense of prophecy.  Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Take a Count – A World Wide Census

 Luke 2:1-5 (KJV) ” And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2  (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5  To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

So here we have Caesar Augustus, who was the ruler of the entire known world of that day, ordering a census to be taken of “all the world.”  Now does “all the world” really mean “all the world”?  Well, certainly those living in what is now the North American continent were nowhere in sight.  Obviously, “all the world” of that day refers to the “world” of the Roman Empire.  Even though this taxation was a “worldwide” event, it was limited to the Roman Empire that existed in the 1st century A.D.  Likewise, we would be in error to apply this text and event to any modern day census taking.  This was a census of Caesar’s empire of the 1st century.

Earthquakes in Divers Places, Sign of the Times?

The same logic holds for the occurrence of earthquakes predicted by Christ.  Do you think that He had any other area in mind outside of the Roman Empire of His day?  Jesus’ focus was on the geographical world that He and his disciples lived in.   Therefore in studying Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24:7 we must understand the time and the geographical setting.

Matthew 24:7 (KJV)  – For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

Don’t you think the world that Christ lived in was the same world in which His parents lived when they registered for the census?  Of course!  The fact of the matter is that evidence exists in the New Testament and recorded history that indicates that all of the conditions mentioned in Matthew 24:7 actually did exist nearly 2000 years ago.

Scripture records that there was an earthquake when Jesus died on the cross (Matt. 27:51-52) and again when He rose from the dead (Matt.28:2). History tells us that during the years just preceding the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 that there was unusually high seismic activity.  The most famous earthquake of that period was the destruction of Pompeii in A.D. 63.  The writers of that period also tell us about earthquakes at Colossae, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Campania, Crete, Rome and Judea.

Finally, Christ declared that all those things (in Matt. 24:7) would occur before His generation passed away (Matthew 24:34).  Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that the “world” must be the “world” of Jesus’ time not ours. The earthquakes that would occur in “divers places” would occur in Jesus’ generation.

Also of note is that Jesus does not say anything about an increase in the number of earthquakes.  He only says that there would be earthquakes in various (divers) places.  Luke writes in Luke 21:11 that there will be “great earthquakes” in divers places.  The book of Acts records “a great earthquake” that shook “the foundation of the prison house” (Acts 16:26).  All of these earthquakes happened before the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  The Jewish historian Josephus, describes an earthquake in Judea of such magnitude “that the constitution of the universe was confounded for the destruction of men.”

Ellicott’s Commentary on the Bible writes:  “Perhaps no period in the world’s history has ever been so marked by these convulsions as that which intervenes between the Crucifixion and the destruction of Jerusalem.”

Therefore since the generation alive between 30 and 70 A.D. is past, there is no reason to attach prophetic significant to earthquakes in our day as the fulfillment of Matthew 24:7.  Earthquakes in our day are not signs of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Earthquakes were a sign to those 1st century Christians that the end was near for the Old Testament Temple sacrificial system.  They were one of the many signs that Jesus would come in judgement upon apostate Israel.  The Old Covenant was done away with opening the way for the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.

I’m sorry Mr. Goodman, but we are NOT the “earthquake generation”.  Today’s earthquakes are not unique.  There were powerful earthquakes in Jesus’ day just as there are in ours.  There’s nothing special about earthquakes.  Biblically the real “earthquake generation” was the generation alive during the 1st century!  They remembered the words of Jesus when referring to the Temple, He said that soon not one stone would be left on another (Matt. 24:2).  The followers of Jesus heeded His warning to flee the city of Jerusalem when it was surrounded by “armies” (Luke 21:20-22). They escaped the doomed city, fleeing to the mountains of Judea.  It was this “earthquake generation” that would spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the then known world.  The world of a crumbling Roman Empire.

The Kingdom that Jesus promised would begin to be established.  This would be a spiritual Kingdom.  A kingdom of “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).  This kingdom started on the Day of Pentecost and continues to this present day.

Related articles: Preaching the Gospel to the Whole World    

Scripture

Ron

Managing Editor at Scripture Revealed
I’ve studied and taught the good news of Jesus Christ and His kingdom since 1985. My goal is to reveal the biblical truths I’ve come to see through prayer and study. I believe that the scriptures are revealed to those that study and rightly divide the "Word of Truth.”
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Ralph Crawford
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Ralph Crawford

A good article, Ron. It seems to me that your recent articles have been used to interpret Scripture with a general feeling of “Don’t read so much doomsday prophesy into it, this description is of a past, or fulfilled, event. Quit reading the signs to try to predict when the end will come.” I agree with you wholeheartedly. Is that just because we think alike, because you are a good writer, or both? I think a little of both? 🙂 If I am correct in thinking like this, then your back story is one of “Just Be Ready.” And as… Read more »

Riley Powell
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Thank you, Ron, for your article and the way it both speaks truth and calms unnecessary fears. Keep up the Good Work!
Riley

Lenn Chiasson
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Lenn Chiasson

Great Article Ron,