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Ipswich Christadelphians

"Prove all things, hold fast what is good" 1Th 5:21

After The Earthquake

houses destroyed by the tsunami and an abandoned childs bicycle in the 20km radius exclusion zone around the fukushima nuclear power plantIt is almost a year since the Fukushima Nuclear plant, was wrecked by a huge 8.9 earthquake and a 30ft tsunami, triggering reactor meltdowns and radiation leaks that caused mass evacuations and widespread contamination. Nearly 80,000 people are still unable to return, even though many of their homes are physically intact. Because of the high radiation levels it is thought that an area roughly the size of Luxembourg, may need to be decontaminated

This tragedy came very soon after another which rocked the world. On 22 February2011 a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand’s 2nd largest city. It was New Zealand's worst natural disaster since 1931; 181 people died and around 100,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged leaving many homeless and traumatized. Christchurch is still suffering aftershocks even today.

The awesome force of power unleashed by these earthquakes and the subsequent Tsunami in Japan remind us all of the man’s miniscule abilities to withstand the power of Almighty God. While it is evident that these events are not direct judgments of God ; they do demonstrate His power as described in Job 41:31:

He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.

The pot boiled over last year and swept away thousands of lives, reminding us of our mortality and how precious and fragile life really is.

When ‘natural’ disasters like this can occur, out of the blue; it ought not to surprise us that the Lord Jesus at his Second Coming will use his power over ‘nature’ to bring the world under his rule. After all, at his first Coming, he astounded the Jews with his miracles so that his disciples could say Luke 8:25  ‘What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him’.

In the past awesome events have been used to bring about God’s will and demonstrate His hand at work. Like the Flood, when God cleansed the world of wickedness, or the plagues on Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea. Later, again to save Israel, He caused the sun and the moon to stand still. When the Son of God was born a “star” appeared in the heavens and when His Son died there was darkness in the middle of the day and an earthquake. It is therefore not unlikely that similar powers will be used at the Return of Christ.

Changes in the land of Israel *

Past articles have shown that the Lord’s return will be triggered off by trouble in the Middle East (Zech. 14:1-3). For Israel must learn that their only Saviour is God and that they cannot rely either on their own military strength, or their allies, for so long as they do, they do not trust in God.

The Lord Jesus Christ will return to save Israel at ‘their time of trouble ‘; when God will  “shake terribly the earth”(Isa 2:21) and there will be a time of peace when, ‘they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and not learn war any more,’ (v4). It is clear that, as well as the world’s political systems being shaken, there will also be a literal earthquake. This won’t be a mindless upheaval which merely destroys and terrifies; it will bring about great and long term changes in the landscape.

The earth shattering phenomena which accompany the Lord Jesus’ return are most clearly shown in Ezekiel (chs. 38-39) and Zechariah (ch. 14). Ezekiel  speaks of an attack on the revived nation. Then, when all seems hopeless, God summons an earthquake: (38:19-20).

19  Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;

20  So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.

Zechariah also makes it plain that a huge earthquake will occur at just the crucial moment. When Jerusalem is taken and half its population are prisoners, God breaks His silence and intervenes “as when He fought in the day of battle” (Zech. 14:1-3).  As the Lord Jesus returns to stand upon the Mt of Olives, the quake will split the mountain in two to form a very wide valley (14:4). It will be an unnatural day with an unearthly light which will persist through the night **(14:6-7). Isaiah speaks of the ground yawning open with chasms, and of the earth rolling like a drunken man (24:17-20 RV). Ezekiel speaks of fire and brimstone (sulphur )(38:22). And Habakkuk, describes the approaching conquering army of Christ, and the manifestation of God splitting the surface of the earth and opening up new rivers, causing mountains to tremble and generating a roaring tidal wave (3:3-11).

If we take these prophecies literally, it is clear that the Return of Christ will be accompanied by gigantic physical upheavals in the earth which will affect the whole world.

And, sadly, recent earthquakes make it clear that our hold on this earth is very tenuous. Seemingly permanent fail-safe structures, like Nuclear Power Stations can be brought to ruin in moments by 15 ft waves and even strong proud cities can be turned to rubble. Such cataclysms have occurred before, for example Chile in 1960 where a tract of land 25 miles long dropped 1,000 feet, and  generated a 400 m.p.h tidal wave across the Pacific . In 1883 the island of Krakatoa, disappeared in a series of stupendous explosions, heard up to 3,000 miles away and in 1908, a large unidentified body (meteor?) exploded over Tunguska in Siberia and devastated an area up to 40 miles across!

Now the good news

Jesus said of the time of his return: “There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity . . . For the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Lk. 21:25-26). Doubtless he was speaking figuratively of the upheaval of world powers in the Political Heavens, such as we are seeing now, but many Scriptures make it evident that Jesus also meant that literal earth-shaking signs would accompany his return. However, these changes are for the good of mankind and the glory of God.

 Zechariah says not only that the Mount of Olives will split to produce a huge valley (14:4-5), but also that the area of Jerusalem is to be elevated, making it “beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth” (Psa. 48:1-2).As Jerusalem is lifted, the hills roundabout will be lowered to form a great plain from Geba (about five miles north of Jerusalem) to Rimmon (about 28 miles south-west). The earthquake will also release a gushing spring of water from the sanctuary built on the transformed hill of Zion (Jerusalem), which will flow both down to the eastern sea (ie Dead Sea) and western (Mediterranean) sea (14:8), making the Dead Sea swarm with fish (Ezek. 47: 1-12).

After these terrifying upheavals, which will undoubtedly affect the whole world, the survivors will be greatly blessed. Through Jesus’ wise rulership, life will be prolonged, sickness and disease will be conquered and the earth will become fruitful beyond all imagining.

Climate Change

We hear so much bad news about ‘Climate Change’ but this could be the other side of the coin. The Scriptures state that one of the blessings of the Reign of Christ could possibly be due to a change in the world’s climate, as a result of these upheavals. “Behold the days come”, says Amos, “that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt” (Amos 9:13). And David, in a Psalm full of the glories of God’s future Kingdom, says that there will then be a handful of corn (ie “abundance” RV) upon the top of the mountains, so that places now barren will then be heavy with grain (Psa. 72:16).

Paul, wrote to the Corinthians 1Co 2:9 ‘ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’ However, the Scriptures do give us a glimpse of what God’s Kingdom on earth will be like.  Jesus gives us a warning and a ray of hope. He said that when we see signs like these catastrophes which make men’s hearts fail for fear , then...

‘ look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.’ (Luke 21:28) The true Christian hope is centred on a world to come and God’s Kingdom. The Signs of the Times show that our Lord’s return is very near. Now is the time to seek the Lord.

Hosea 10:12 ‘ Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.’

 

* More information on this subject can be found in the Testimony Magazine.

** as a result of meteor strike in Siberia in 1908, for days afterwards it was possible in towns in Russia to read in the middle of the night without illumination, because of the light scattered around the earth by the quantities of matter in the atmosphere (cf Zech. 14:6-7).

 

Photo STRINGER/Reuters: Houses destroyed by the tsunami and an abandoned child's bicycle in the 20km radius exclusion zone around the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

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