Earthquakes, Famines and Wars. . .
Vol: 101 Issue: 27 Saturday, February 27, 2010
Back in the early 1990s, we used to do a lot of prophecy conferences. By “we” I mean the Lalonde brothers and the “This Week in Bible Prophecy” television ministry.
I mean, we did them everywhere. (Well, everywhere except where it was snowing.)
In the winter, we found most people preferred to attend conferences in the deep South where it was warm. (And it wasn’t just us, honest. You don’t see a lot of Bible prophecy conference is being held in Maine in mid-February.)
Anyway, at almost every conference, on both coasts, there was this one lady that would come to challenge me with a list of earthquake statistics.
We came to call her “The Earthquake Lady” because she wanted to debate the premise that earthquakes have been on the increase in both frequency and intensity since 1948.
We woke up this morning to news of yet another massive earthquake, this time just outside Concepcion, Chile. The quake measured 8.8 on the Richter scale, making it one of the most powerful in history.
Chile is also the site of the most powerful earthquake ever recorded. On May 22, 1960, a massive 9.5 temblor struck near Santiago, Chile, killing more than 6000. The resulting tsunami caused deaths from Japan to Alaska.
The Indonesian earthquake that sponsored the Christmas day tsunami Asia that claimed a quarter million was, by comparison, about a 9.2.
The Indonesian earthquake was so powerful that it rocked the planet, shifted the island of Sumatra by more than 100 meters and actually tore the space time continuum by a millisecond or so.
It’s important to understand what the Richter scale actually measures. Not everybody is a scientist and for some of us, its a little hard to grasp. It is for me.
A 2.0 earthquake is 1000 times as powerful as a 1.0 earthquake. A 9.0 earthquake is 1000 times as powerful as an 8.0.
Or, expressed in terms of explosive power, an 8.0 earthquake is the equivalent to that generated by a one gigaton underground nuclear explosion.
A 9.0 earthquake is the equivalent to 32 gigatons, a 9.1 to 67, and so on.
(A kiloton is a thousand tons. A gigaton is a thousand Kilotons.)
So we’re talking a really big earthquake in Chile, coming on the heels of a pretty big earthquake in Haiti. Earthquakes have killed more than a quarter million people so far in 2010, and it’s only February.
The “Earthquake Lady” would always produce charts and graphs to support her contention that earthquakes were not increasing in frequency or intensity, but rather that we were getting better at detecting them.
I always gave her a respectful hearing and kept an open mind. After all, I wanted to be sure in my own mind that I wasn’t reading Bible prophecy in light of current events, instead of the other way around.
The major earthquakes of the 21st century have so far been pretty easy to detect, even without special equipment. And all the charts are pretty much in agreement — talk about your ‘hockey stick’!
I had to squeeze the chart down so it would fit — click the chart or click here for the larger image.
Nobody in Chile needed a seismograph to detect this morning’s temblor. It released about 800 times more energy than the earthquake that destroyed Haiti.
I often wonder what became of the “Earthquake Lady”. And I wonder, is she still skeptical?
Earthquakes are the big sign that Jesus said to watch for. All the rest of the signs are subjective; “wars and rumors of wars” sounds different from the middle of Saskatchewan than it does from the middle of Israel.
To Israel, a “rumor of war” means keeping one room sealed against potential incoming chemical or biological attack. To Saskatchewan, a ‘rumor of war’ means they heard of a war . .. somewhere.
The same can be said for “pestilences” and “famines”; they too, are subjective. Pestilences and famines, like wars, have always been part of the human condition.
So whether or not they’re on the increase depends largely on one’s perspective. If you live in parts of Africa, it isn’t hard to believe famines are increasing.
The same could be said of the sub-Saharan African AIDS epidemic. It is easier to argue increasing pestilence to someone living in South Africa than it is to a person living in Saskatchewan.
Additionally, all the signs are influenced in some way by human activity. So it can be argued, (weakly, I think,) that any increase in frequency or intensity can be explained by the increase in population.
But earthquakes aren’t like that. An earthquake is an earthquake. We have nothing to do with them, and can only replicate, not cause them.
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.” Mark 8:3
Looking back over the 20th century, one can almost chart the beginning of ‘the beginning of sorrows’. The “War to End All Wars” was actually the beginning of wars capable of ending all life.
That’s why it’s called the FIRST world war. The first two world wars were essentially ethnic European wars; ‘nation against nation’. The Cold War was between two political super-power “kingdoms”.
The Jews were restored to the land of Israel which was recognized by the United Nations in 1948. The frequency and intensity of earthquake activity began to spike at precisely that same point in history.
I believe there is strong evidence that 1948 started the countdown to the fulfillment of all prophecy in one generation. The generation that witnessed the rebirth of Israel will witness the return of Christ.
Since all the subjective signs seem to be coming together one would expect an objective, neutral sign like earthquakes to reflect the same trend.
And son of a gun, what do you know? It does. In spades.
Major earthquakes began to increase measureably in frequency and intensity in the second half of the 20th century, averaging between 18-25 per decade.
But in the eleven years between 1997 and 2007, the USGS listed 99 earthquakes with magnitude 7.0 or greater. This is more than a six-fold increase on any previous similar period in history.
The USGS lists 32 major earthquakes (frequency 6.0 or higher) in 2008. There were 18 major earthquakes in 2009 (as compared with 18 per decade during the 20th century). And the five earthquakes of 2010 have claimed more lives than in any one single decade of the last century.
It was only 15 years ago that the Earthquake Lady was making the rounds of prophecy conferences debating an increase in the frequency of earthquakes.
It was only 15 years ago that it took a whole team an entire week to write and produce a single 30 minute television program highlighting apparent fulfillments in Bible prophecy.
Fully half of the time it took to produce each program was spent picking credible examples out of the overall news cycle.
Today there is enough material for your daily Omega Letter. Every Monday, I work with Hal Lindsey producing the script for his half-hour television broadcast.
Between the two of us, it takes us about a half a day to produce what it took a whole team five days to assemble only fifteen years ago.
Nobody is arguing against the increasing frequency of earthquakes and natural catastrophes anymore. The best anyone can do is downplay their significance.
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)
You’re NOT imagining it. It’s all true. Every word. We ARE eyewitnesses to the unfolding Plan of the Ages. The Lord is coming back. He is coming back soon. And He’s coming back for us first.
We have His Word on it.