In 1835, Charles Darwin was in the midst of one of his famous voyages aboard the HMS Beagle. He and his party were near Concepción, Chile, when the area was struck by a massive earthquake. Historians estimate it to have been an 8.2 magnitude quake.
Darwin wrote that the quake "came on suddenly, and lasted two minutes, but the time appeared much longer." As someone who has been through earthquakes while living in California, I can confirm that time seems to stand still when the earth on which you're standing is rolling beneath your feet.
He then wrote, "A bad earthquake at once destroys our oldest associations: the earth, the very emblem of solidity, has moved beneath our feet like a thin crust over fluid -- one second of time has created in the mind a strange idea of insecurity."
He's right about the psychological impact of major earthquakes. They create a sense of dread and fear quite unlike anything else.
After a big one, some people are never the same. Others choose to move far away from the earthquake's area and never return.
As we grow closer to the end of this Age of Grace, it may become harder and harder to find places that are beyond the reach of earthquakes. In Matthew 24:7, Jesus warned that in these final days there will be an increase in the frequency and intensity of earthquakes in the world. In Luke 21:22, He spoke of "...great earthquakes...."
Just this past month, in the span of one week, the earth experienced three major earthquakes. A 7.3 magnitude quake shook parts of South America and the Caribbean, off Venezuela. Later, a 7.1 quake hit Peru.
Then, an 8.2 struck in the South Pacific near Fiji. That one fits the definition of "superquake."
Scientists can only proffer estimates of the power and magnitude of earthquakes that occurred prior to the 20th century. However, they have fairly high confidence in their estimates going back about 500 years.
And what they tell us is eye-opening. Especially when viewed in the light of Jesus's warnings about the increase in frequency and intensity of earthquakes worldwide.
Consider this: Scientists estimate that from the years 1500 to 2000, there were 30 earthquakes of 8.5 magnitude or greater. In this young century, we've already had six of these enormous quakes.
Think about that. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, in five hundred years the earth suffered 30 of these monster quakes. And in just the last 17 years (2001-2018), we've already had six!
Further, in the known history of the world, there have only been five earthquakes of magnitude 9 or greater. Two of those five have occurred in this young century.
And all five have occurred since 1948.
Does that date sounds familiar? It's the year that Israel officially became a nation again.
Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
And here's something else that's a little unsettling. Especially if you live in an area that's considered an earthquake "zone."
My friend, Pastor Tom Hughes of San Jacinto, California (near the infamous San Andreas fault) wrote this about the recent quake activity: "The scary thing about these two recent superquakes is that they weren't supposed to be possible. Scientists did not think either of those fault systems were capable of producing such massive quakes. That's scary because our building codes are based on these now-outdated scientific predictions. For instance, scientists have long said that the southern section of the San Andreas fault is capable of a 7.8 magnitude quake. Now we know it could be much, much bigger."
(That alone makes me glad I moved back to my native Texas!)
But the important thing is Jesus said it would happen, and it's happening!
A prophecy in Isaiah warns that, "The earth is shaken violently. The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard." (Isaiah 24:19-20 NASB)
Some see that prophecy as symbolic. But in the prophetic timeline, it coincides perfectly with Revelation 16:18, which says, "There was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth." (NASB)
When that earthquake finally hits this earth, the world will seem to sway like a drunkard. Now, that could refer to the ground being "shaken violently," as Isaiah described, in the region near the epicenter. But the 9.1 earthquake near Japan in 2011 literally knocked the earth off its axis by as many as 10 inches. This prophecy could also refer to something like that.
If a 9.1 quake can shift the earth by almost a foot, then think how massive and terrifying the earthquake will be that makes the "earth [reel] to and and fro like a drunkard...."
I think it's safe to say that none of us want to still be on this earth when that happens! That's why it's important to get ready NOW to leave this world when Jesus returns for His church. And that could happen at any moment!
But world-shaking earthquakes aren't the only reason to get ready for the Rapture. This old world is unstable in a lot of other ways, too!
Some experts are warning that another global financial meltdown lurks on the horizon.
Others are sounding the alarm about a new environmental concern over "megadroughts." They say that if the western United States goes through another dry winter like last year, we'll be in big trouble.
For instance, El Paso, Texas, depends on the Elephant Butte Reservoir for half of its water supply. By the end of last month, that underground reservoir had dwindled to 3% of its capacity. In 1990, it held 2.2 million acre-feet of water. It now has about 65,000 acre-feet.
CNBC is reporting that a "nuclear-powered Russian missile (the one that Vladimir Putin recently touted as having "unlimited range") remains lost at sea after a failed test last year."
Hopefully, it's lost in a deep part of the ocean so that terrorists can't get to it. The "nuclear-powered" part of the missile is what is of concern. Devices like this can be used to create "dirty bombs." A dirty bomb is a conventional bomb laced with radioactive material. When exploded, that radioactive material would be spread over a large area, possibly making it uninhabitable for years.
It's a true terrorist weapon.
But here's what's even scarier. TIME magazine recently reported that, "In 2016, 189 incidents of missing or unauthorized nuclear and other radioactive material from all over the world were reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency."
And that's only what was "reported!"
In July, The Wall Street Journal revealed, "Hackers working for Russia claimed 'hundreds of victims' last year in a giant and long-running campaign that puts them inside the control rooms of US electric utilities where they could have caused blackouts."
Does this mean they could take down our electric grid at a time of their choosing?
While Russia gets all the publicity, several other countries are actively involved in cyberwarfare against the United States.
The big one is China. The most ruthless may be Iran.
For me, though, the most concerning part of all of this is not how dependent on computers and computer networks our banking systems and electric grids are, but how dependent on them the US military has become. Unfortunately, to ask any modern army to fight without its computers is a bit like asking a man to run a race without his legs.
This is one of those situations where we should daily ask God for His mercy and protection for our nation. The more "modern" we become, the more vulnerable we are.
Finally, back in September of 1974, President Gerald Ford offered disgraced (and soon to be indicted) former President Richard Nixon a "full, free, and absolute pardon." If you were Nixon, that would seem like a no-brainer, right?
You see, in an earlier Supreme Court decision (Burdick v. United States), the justices had ruled that a pardon can be extended without an indictment and without being requested. But to be valid, it must be accepted.
The justices further noted that "a pardon carries imputation of guilt; acceptance, a confession of it."
Well, Mr. Nixon resisted accepting the pardon because he found it abhorrent to admit his guilt.
Of course, he later relented and accepted the pardon. And, in President Ford's opinion, confessed.
(Interestingly, I believe Nixon's acceptance of that pardon eventually made possible his return to a position of acceptance with the nation and a restoration of much of the respect his Presidency and its accomplishments actually deserved.)
That's where many people find themselves spiritually. They don't want to confess their guilt and admit their need for a Savior.
You see, the Good News starts with bad news. We are guilty. And we need a pardon. We are sinners. And we need grace. We are not worthy of salvation. We deserve hell, not heaven.
But Jesus extended a pardon to each one of us before we asked for it and before we were indicted. He extended it from the cross before we were even born.
The problem for many folks is that accepting God's pardon means admitting their guilt.
But here's the Good News. If you will just swallow your pride and accept His free gift of pardon, He will write across your record in heaven those precious words, "Paid in full!"
Because that is precisely what Jesus did with His death on Calvary. He paid off your sin debt in full. He redeemed you, which means He "purchased you out of slavery." He set you free "by paying the price of a ransom!"
But only your "acceptance" of this pardon will gain you entrance to a life of eternal joy when our time on this earth is over.
Romans 1:16 says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." "Everyone" includes you.
God is offering salvation to you right now. All you have to do is acknowledge to God that you are a sinner and ask Him for His forgiveness.
The Bible says that He will freely forgive anyone who asks with genuine sincerity.
When you do that, He will grant you the pardon that Jesus bought for you with His death on Calvary's cross.
Don't wait. Do it now!
And you won't have to live through the earthquake to end all earthquakes!