Earthquakes Affect Everyone
HAVE you been in an earthquake? If so, then you know the sickening dread that comes over one as “solid earth” wiggles like jelly. A few seconds become like hours. Buildings crunch and collapse, with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of persons trapped in the debris. Those living through such an experience do not soon forget it. On the other hand, maybe you have only read about earthquakes.
In either event, your life is affected by earthquakes. Why do we say this? Because modern earthquakes fulfill the prophetic words of Jesus Christ. They supply proof that we live in what the Bible calls “the conclusion of the system of things.” Consider the evidence.
“While [Jesus] was sitting upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: ‘Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?’ And in answer Jesus said to them: . . . ‘nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.’”—Matt. 24:3-8; Mark 13:4-8.
And the Bible historian Luke adds that Jesus said: “There will be great earthquakes.”—Luke 21:11.
NO DIFFERENCE IN EARTHQUAKE PATTERN?
Yet some persons say: ‘There have always been earthquakes. This time in history is no different from the past in that respect.’ A scientist asserts in Natural History magazine:
“One notices with some amusement that certain religious groups have picked this rather unfortunate time to insist that the number of earthquakes is increasing. . . . It is worth remarking that the number of great earthquakes from 1896 to 1906 (about twenty-five) was greater than in any ten-year interval since. Apparently this religious concern is associated with some of the words of the Gospels referring to the last days . . . [Jesus’ prophecy] still impresses a seismologist [earthquake expert] as not much of a prediction.”—December 1969.
Is this a valid objection? To answer that question, in your own Bible notice carefully what Jesus went on to say. He did not predict that the above-listed events (including earthquakes) would occur within any “ten-year interval.” Rather, he said: “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matt. 24:34) A whole “generation” is much longer than ten years.
Further, remember that Jesus foretold “great earthquakes.” What is it that makes an earthquake “great”? Is it not its effects on lives and property? But modern earthquake students tend to consider an earthquake “great” only if it rates high on the Richter Scale, which rates “magnitude,” the power or force a quake releases. Some of the earthquakes with the highest magnitude ratings, however, are under the oceans! These have had virtually no effect on men. On the other hand, quakes with relatively low Richter Scale ratings have been among the most disastrous. The Agadir, Morocco, quake in 1960 rated “light” on the Richter Scale. Does that mean that it was not “great”? Certainly not. Twenty thousand persons died!
We must remember that Jesus’ words had a certain fulfillment in the first century C.E. on the Jewish “system of things.” They had no sophisticated scale to measure earthquakes then. But there were, nevertheless, “great earthquakes” and earthquakes “in one place after another” in that period prior to 70 C.E. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.
Bible commentator A. Barnes attests to this, saying: ‘Many earthquakes are mentioned as preceding the destruction of Jerusalem.’ Large ones are known to have struck places in Asia Minor, Judea and Italy, including the destruction of a large section of Pompeii in 63 C.E. Obviously, what made those quakes “great” and what fulfilled the prophecy was not the reading on a then unknown instrument, but, essentially, their effects on people.
Yet Jesus’ words, scholars admit, were to have a greater fulfillment. How do they know?
ANOTHER FULFILLMENT OF JESUS’ WORDS
Portions of Jesus’ same prophecy must come true at a later period. Jesus spoke of certain things as taking place “when the Son of man arrives in his glory.” That did not occur back in the first century. (Matt. 25:31-46) Also, on other occasions Jesus referred to “the conclusion of the system of things” and meant more than just the end of the Jewish system. (See, for instance, Matthew 13:36-43.) We therefore should not be surprised to find a greater fulfillment of Jesus’ words concerning earthquakes. This would be at Jesus’ “presence” and the “conclusion of the system of things,” and it would take place in a broader, worldwide sense. When, then, would this begin to take place?
In the year 1914, as has been shown many times in this journal. In that year World War I broke out; nation waged war against nation and kingdom against kingdom as never before. A terrible chain of unprecedented events followed. There were massive food shortages and disease epidemics (such as the Spanish flu). These things took place at a time and on a scale that made clearly evident that they fulfilled Bible prophecy. But what about the earthquakes? Has there been anything unusual about these in the generation since 1914?
EARTHQUAKES SINCE THE YEAR 1914
One way to prove clearly that the generation since 1914 is unusual as far as earthquakes are concerned is to consider how many deaths they have caused.
“During the past 1,000 years,” according to the 1971 Nature/Science Annual, published by Time-Life Books, “more than three million people (possibly four million) have died from their effects.” But how many of these three (or, possibly, four) million persons have perished since the year 1914?
Nine hundred thousand—at least!
In other words, up to 30 percent of all those killed in earthquakes over the last thousand-year period have died since 1914! The other 70 percent or so of the deaths were spread out over almost nine hundred and fifty years.
These modern earthquakes have been widespread, some occurring in places where they have never before been known. They have also been “great” in terms of the number killed, property ruined and even in their power. In highly respected reference works we read, for instance, of some of the great earthquakes in this generation: China (1920), “one of the most appalling catastrophes in history.” Japan (1923), “the worst disaster in [Japan’s] history.” Pakistan (1935), “one of the greatest earthquakes of history.” El Salvador (1951), “the most destructive quake in El Salvador’s history.” Egypt (1955), “Egypt experienced the worst earthquake in its history.” Afghanistan (1956), “believed to be the worst in the history of the country.” Chile (1960), “No earthquake in history has ever had a greater range than this.” Alaska (1964), “the largest earthquake ever recorded in North America.” Peru (1970), “the worst natural disaster on record in the Western Hemisphere.”
This partial list should impress on us that Jesus’ words, “there will be earthquakes in one place after another,” and “great earthquakes,” have indeed come true in the generation living since 1914. But what does this mean for you?
EARTHQUAKES INVOLVE YOU!
Scientists have learned a great deal about quakes in this same period. Yet, have men really shown wisdom and acted on this knowledge? Consider:
Experts know the general area where most earthquakes occur. Have men moved out of these areas? Have enlightened governments refused to allow further building in danger zones? Just the opposite has been the case! Some of the most dangerous earthquake zones also remain among the most heavily populated and industrialized. Managua, Nicaragua, was hit by a devastating quake in 1931, then again in 1972. Said the New York Times:
“The question inevitably arises why Managua was rebuilt and greatly expanded on the same location in the years after 1931. But of course the same question has to be asked of people who live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo and many other great cities where similar danger signals abound . . . Recurrent tragedies can only be avoided if the lessons of history and of science are taken seriously rather than ignored in the planning of cities and the building of homes and factories.”—December 25, 1972.
Observant men see the unwisdom of not heeding warnings about earthquakes. But even if you do not live in such an area yourself, are you able to see the greater warning inherent in what Jesus said?
The earthquakes of our time fulfill exactly what he predicted. They, along with other features of his “sign,” clearly mark ours as a special time. It means that soon there will occur from God a “great tribulation” in which this entire wicked system will be swept away. Thereafter, under the direction of God’s heavenly government, this entire globe will be made a paradise. No harm will then come to any righteous inhabitant of the earth. Would you like to live then?
If so, remember, we are almost sixty years into ‘the generation that will not pass away until all things occur.’ Its time must be running out! Ask Jehovah’s witnesses to explain in detail Jesus’ prophecy about our time. It is vital to get an accurate knowledge of God’s requirements if you are to survive the fast-approaching end of this wicked system into that foretold paradise earth.—Matt. 24:21; Rev. 21:1-4.
[Graph on page 73]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
EARTHQUAKE DEATHS EACH YEAR
Before 1914 3,000
Since 1914 15,000
(Approximation based on the past thousand years)