We often hear reports of earthquakes occurring throughout the world. Some cause great devastation in the surrounding area while others result in no destruction of property or loss of life, depending on the location. There are over 80,000 earthquakes a year; many of these are too small to be felt. Perhaps the reader has experienced an earthquake in another country; something you will never forget. It must be a feeling of helplessness or perhaps fear and terror as the earth, which usually is so big, stable and immoveable, begins to move under your feet. In Australia we seem remote from these large ‘natural disasters’ because we are not in the earthquake zone, so we may think it will never happen to me. It always happens to other people!
Earthquakes are not only present day phenomena. In fact, it may surprise you that the Bible tells us of some important and memorable quakes. There are two unique earthquakes in the New Testament. You can read about the first one in Matthew chapter 27. The Lord Jesus is on the cross, suffering for our sins. He is paying the supreme price to secure salvation for sinners. It is 3 p.m. and the sun is ashamed to shine, darkness covers the land (verse 45) and we hear His touching cry: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” He was forsaken as “He bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). John’s gospel records His last words on the cross: “It is finished” (John 19:30). By this the Saviour meant that the price for our eternal salvation was entirely paid. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9). As He finished this mighty work, the earth, which He had made, quaked—(verse 51). It shuddered at the thought of the Creator dying for men and women, His creatures.
The second earthquake took place 3 days later as the sun began to rise on the first day of the week. As some women were going to the grave to anoint His body with spices, we read: “There was a great earthquake.” (Matthew 28:2). How the women were amazed as an angel of God rolled back the stone from the door of the sepulchre, not to let the Saviour out, but to show that the grave was empty. “He is not here: for He is risen” (verse 6). The earth shakes for joy—The Creator Lives!
An earthquake at His death and an earthquake at His resurrection! What importance God places on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Does this mean anything to you? It meant everything to a prison warder who lived and worked in Philippi that we are told about in Acts chapter 16. This man experienced an earthquake. It awakened him from sleep and it also made him realise his need to be right with God as he faced death. What will it take for you to realise your need as a sinner before God – an earthquake or some similar dramatic event in your life that brings you face to face with the reality of life and death?
This man in Acts 16, having been awakened and shaken by the earthquake, asked an important question—“What must I do to be saved?” (verse 30). Is that your question too? The answer given to the prison warder is still the best, indeed, the only answer—“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (verse 31). What a simple, yet assuring message to a person that faced death but who was not ready to face God. He immediately put his trust as a guilty sinner on the Lord Jesus and we read – “he … rejoiced, believing in God” (verse 34). His future was now secured on the ‘Rock of Ages’, a solid foundation for eternity, which could never be shaken like the earth under him had been.
We read in Zechariah 14:5 of people of a past day fleeing “from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah”. The Bible also tells us of coming events for this Christ-rejecting world which include “a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great” (Revelation 16:18). This means that this earthquake would do more damage than the one that occurred in China in 1556 where more than 800,000 perished and many cities were destroyed over many months. How ironic it will be though, in a future day when the Bible tells us of people who manage to escape the earthquake only to have to face the more fearful wrath of a holy heaven. Then these people will call “to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne (God), and from the wrath of the Lamb (Christ)’” (Revelation 6:16). You can escape that dreadful day by preparing for eternity now—“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). If you accept Him as Saviour now, you’ll never have to face Him as Judge then.
Earthquakes result in massive destruction of property and tragic loss of lives. It reminds us of the fragility of this sinful life and the need to be ready to face God at any moment. Why not have your sin forgiven by believing in the atoning work of Christ today? “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
We did not see Him lifted high,
Amid that wild and savage crew;
Nor hear His meek, imploring cry,
“Forgive, they know not what they do!”
Yet we believe the deed was done,
That shook the earth and veiled the sun
… Yes, we believe His faithful word
And trust in our redeeming Lord