Volume. XXIV, No. 37
Sunday, 14 March 2010

Earthquakes: The Voice of God to the World and to His People

Our Lord predicted in the Olivet Discourse that a pronounced increase in the frequency and intensity of earthquakes would occur just prior to His return to the earth (Mt 24:7; cf. Lk 21:11, Lk 21:25-26). The recent Haitian quake, on January 12th, measured a magnitude of 7.0. On February 27, an 8.8-magnitude quake hit near Concepcion, Chile, the country’s second-largest city. The same day, there was a 7.0-magnitude quake off the coast of Okinawa. Slightly more than a week ago, a magnitude-6.4 quake hit southern Taiwan. This cluster of major quakes is certainly enough to make anyone wonder if there’s something bigger brewing, either geologically or spiritually. Is God sending a message to the world and to His people through a series of powerful earthquakes through the centuries and in recent years? 

Jesus Christ spoke of them as "signs" of His coming again to earth. He said, "…there shall be…earthquakes, in divers places" (Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8). It is a fact that verified by the global distribution of earthquakes recorded on seismographs that earthquakes are happening in divers places. Our Lord also said this sign is the "beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:8; Mark 13:8). The word translated "sorrows" in many other English Bibles is the Greek word for "birth pangs." Just as we know that a woman is going to give birth to a child because of birth pangs, Jesus says we know that the intolerable anguish of God\'s judgment and His return is at hand. Certainly, our Lord’s return is near though no man can know the exact date or hour.

The “birth pang” theme is also alluded to by the apostles Paul and John. Paul speaks in cosmic dimensions of all creation "groaneth and travaileth in pain" (Romans 8:22), awaiting the new birth of the world; John speaks of the sign of the pregnant woman travailing in pain in Revelation 12:2 and later describes “the great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth” when islands and mountains will be displaced (Revelation 16:18-20). This great future earthquake will be associated with the physical return of Christ on earth (Acts 1:9-12; Zechariah 14:1-11), and is described as imposing severe topographic and geologic alteration on a planetary scale. It is a fact that increasing earthquakes will be one of the signs of the second coming of Christ; however, are we already at the end of times as the Bible predicts?

Many suppose that earthquake frequency and intensity have been increasing significantly in recent times, and that this is fulfilling prophecy. Hal Lindsey, the world\'s best known Bible prophecy teacher and author of 17 books on prophecy, writes in one of his latest books: “Earthquakes continue to increase in frequency and intensity, just as the Bible predicts for the last days before the return of Christ. History shows that the number of killer quakes remained fairly constant until the 1950s - averaging between two to four per decade. In the 1950s, there were nine. In the 1960s, there were 13. In the 1970s, there were 51. In the 1980s, there were 86. From 1990 through 1996, there have been more than 150.” With the recent cases of major earthquakes around the world and the more frequent detection of earthquakes (ie. more seismographs with greater sensitivity), more and more Christians are convinced that the return of the Lord is near!

Some, however, argue that it is because earthquakes inflict greater damage on today\'s larger, urbanized populations, and, therefore, make the news more often. Since good seismographs went into operation late in the 1890\'s, no steady trend suggesting increased frequency or intensity has been demonstrated. The Chairman of the Geology Department at Institute of Creation Research, Steven A. Austin says, “For the decades of the 1950\'s and 60\'s, twelve great earthquakes with magnitudes greater than or equal to 8.0 occurred (Figure 1A), but for the decades of the 1970\'s and 80\'s, only three have occurred. Similarly, shallow earthquakes, with magnitudes greater than or equal to 7.0 for the period 1899-1970, averaged ten events per year, but during the decades of the 1970\'s and 80\'s, they have averaged just seven events per year. Perhaps the best illustration of the erratic trend in earthquake frequency and intensity is seen in the total energy of large earthquakes. A pronounced peak in global earthquake energy release occurred from 1952 to 1965. For the year 1989, the global energy release may be one-tenth the yearly release of the early 60\'s. Global seismic activity is very non-uniform in time; it is like waiting for birth pangs. When will there be another global upturn in seismic activity?” Note that Dr. Austin was not denying the authenticity and validity of the end time biblical prophecy. He does believe that “birth pangs” will be one of the signs of the end times, but he simply and humbly asserts that he does not know “when” there will be another “global upturn,” based on the data available to him as a geology expert. Earthquakes, however, I believe are a series of warnings from God to the world that the world will be divinely judged by God one day! It is a means to gain man\'s attention of the gospel of Jesus Christ! It is almost as if God is “shouting” to the world that the wicked and Christless need the gospel to escape both from the temporal judgment (Rev 15-19) and eternal judgment to come (Rev 20:11-15)!

As Christians, it is needful that we be watchful and vigilant. I want to emphasis that it is essential that we be ready for Christ’s return and observe the signs of the end times (1 Thess 5:1-7; Lk 21:34-35; Rom 13:13). Yet, the recent earthquakes should perhaps also speak to us in another way. Could it be that God is sending a message to His people to come out of their lukewarmness? Speaking of lukewarmness, the church at Laodicea was judged to be lukewarm and neither “cold nor hot” by our Lord (Rev 3:15) and was warned that they might be spewed out (Rev 3:16).  Laodicea is mentioned five times in Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Colossians (Col 2:1, 4:13,15,16b,16c). The church of Laodicea was perhaps planted by Apostle Paul’s disciple Epaphras, Paul’s fellow servant (Col 1:7, 4:12) who served the Lord with “great zeal in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis” (Col 4:13). This means that the presence of Christians in the city can be traced back as early as the AD 50\'s. Perhaps, from the beginning the church of Laodicea was plagued with materialism (Rev 3:17) because they were literally “rich” with goods and were complacent about serving the Lord, neither were they interested in spiritual matters. Our Lord said that He would rebuke and chastise those who He loved (Rev 3:19) and would "knock" on the door to restore fellowship with the backslidden (Rev 3:20). How many of them repented and restored their fellowship with Christ?  The Scripture is silent. One thing we do know is that the city was destroyed by a powerful earthquake, perhaps only a few years after the church was established. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, “In the year 60 AD, the city was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake, but so wealthy were its citizens that they rejected the proffered aid of Rome, and quickly rebuilt it at their own expense (compare Rev 3:17).” I believe the earthquake was a way which God spoke to His people as if with a “megaphone”. The message perhaps was, “You Laodiceans need to wake up and set your focus aright. Be fervent in the service and stop trusting in your own riches.”  Unfortunately, the message did not seem to get through, at least it was not heeded by the subsequent generation of Laodicea Christians. AD 95 was the year when the book of Revelation was penned by the Apostle John. After almost four decades, the church either still continued to be lukewarm or became lukewarm again (Rev 3:15). Do we need God to speak to us in a powerful “earthquake” before our love for him and our zeal for the ministry can be revived? I rather God to speak to us in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12) than in “strong wind” and “earthquakes” (1 Kings 19:11).   


Earthquakes have been used of God at special times, with special people, for special purposes, often times as God’s powerful “message”. Increase in frequency of earthquakes is or will be one of the signs of the end times. However it often also serves as a means to gain unregenerate man\'s attention of God\'s future judgment to all people, or to cause His people to consider their spiritual standing before God when they need a revival. May the Lord help us to be ready always for His return and to consider our need for a personal or corporate revival if we have been lukewarm and backslidden.


Ps Weng


More Lively Hope



Kitchen Rosters: Team Leader: Bro Lucas Yiew. Next Lord’s Day Kitchen Roster: Team Leader: Bro Daniel Volvricht.
Congratulations to Rev Edward Paauwe & Convenant B-P Church (Perth) on the Inaugural Worship Service today.
Earthquake in Chile: If you would like to help, monetary donations to our Chilean B-P Churches & brethren will be greatly appreciated.
Christian Books available from:
1) Faith & Freedom Ministries, PO Box 1117 Innaloo City, Perth WA 6018;
2) Reformation Book Centre, Magill Free Church, 496 Magill Road, Magill. Open for book sale on Weds, 4:30 - 6:30 pm.
Reminder: Please come to the Corporate Prayer Meeting. Pray for our Church, family, friends, etc…
Looking Ahead
Sunday School Workshop, Sun, 28 Mar, at 7 pm.
Family Bible Camp, Easter weekend, 2-4 April 2010.
Gospel Sunday at 7:30pm on 25th April, 2010.
24th Anniversary Thanksgiving on 20 June 2010.
Prayer Items
Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev Stephen Khoo, Dr & Mrs S H Tow; Rev & Mrs James White; Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Colin Creaser, Makoto Kobayashi (JPN), Elton Law, Jonathan Liao, Len & Richard Pearson, Fred Volvricht; Mr Swee Liang Ng; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Auntie Oei; Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth, Annie D’Mello & her mother (Mumbai), Lydia Fan, Myung Ki (UK), Choon Fong Lee (KL); Fiona & Lehia Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson; Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden; & others in affliction.
Radio & chemotherapy treatments - Bro Winston Selvanayagam.
Cambodia Missions - Rev Stephen Choi & ministry (Phnom Penh); Bro Chanthon (Siem Reap), Bro Thi Chhay (Kratie BPC); & Bro Paul Sokha (Battambang).
Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam.
iSketch&Tell Studio - Pr H S Lim (Melb).
IBPFM (USA) - missionaries & funds.
Ps & Sis Ki & ministry in New Life BPC (Lond). For guidance, wisdom and protection.
Hopefuls in S’pore; In Kuching: Teo family.
God’s guidance & help: Bro Richard Tee (Melb) & Sis Mag Yu (S’pore).
God’s comfort - All those in grief.
Study in Sydney: Bro Joshua Chung.
Journey mercies: Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser (Melb), Bro Simon & Sis Demelza Ting & Hannah (Jpn/Taiwan/S’pore), Dr Joseph Seow (S’pore) & Bro Youwen Yeap (Adl); Sisters Sooi Chin Gong (KL), Suzane Lim & Peng Ha Yeo (Adl).
Bro Richie & Sis Myra Hornung (Mindanao).
Family Bible Camp at Easter: Rev & Mrs Tracy Minnick, organisers, & participants.
Revival in Church: more to come for Bible Study.
Job - Sisters Xiandrea Cai, Marion Chan, Judy Li, Corinne Teng.
Good health in pregnancy - Sisters Josephine Wong & Bernadette Ng.
Unity of fellowship & doctrine of Australian B-P Churches.
B-P Churches affected by earthquake in Chile.
Work & new life in S’pore: Bro Patrick Phua.
SA State Elections next Sat: Wisdom in voting.
God’s guidance & help: new overseas students in Adelaide
Praise & Thanksgiving
Journey mercies:Dr Joseph Seow; Bros Cong Pham (Adl) & Patrick Phua (S’pore); & Sisters Suzane Lim (S’pore) & Chrisanthi Selvanayagam (Adl) & all others who have travelled.

Church activities - over the past week.
Daily mercies, protection & guidance.
Covenant BPC (Perth) Inaugural Service today.



© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041