End of the World Countdown: When God Shakes the Earth
by Steve Sterling 11/15/2011 / Prophecy
The occurrences of natural disasters, especially in the form of earthquakes have become more frequent with the turn of century. We have seen it in Haiti, Japan, Venezuela, Spain, and South East Asia, and these are just a small sample of many other such disasters which had occurred in the last decade. However, in the biblical countdown of events leading up to the end of the world, it seems as if catastrophes of this nature will become more frequent and more intense. According to the scriptures, most of these incidences will take place after the probation of earth's inhabitants comes to a close.
Apart from Jesus' prophecy of end-time events in Matthew 24, whenever I think of a prediction of natural disasters to affect the world the main passage of scripture that often comes to mind is Revelation 6. The theme of this chapter is the opening of the seven seals. In his description of the odd behavior in the natural world, the prophet John stated:
"And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places." Rev. 6:12-14.
After the sixth seal was opened the natural elements seemed to be in disarray; for the first time in the history of the world men are going to see the opening of heaven as it rolled up like the leaf of a scroll while the mountains and islands move from one place to the next! While to the sinners this will be a frightening sight, to the saints it will be the work of their Father signaling the nearness of their redemption. According to verse 15, as a result of these strange occurrences, the fear-stricken multitude will interpret them as a sign of the beginning of divine retribution.
Therefore, they will seek refuge in the hills, begging the rocks to fall on them and hide them from the face of an avenging God. In other words, they would rather to be crushed by the rocks of the mountains than to face the wrath of God. Such will be the response of a guilty conscience, seared through a lifetime of indulgence in sin. As the natural elements of the earth are thrown into disorder, the wicked will be seized with conviction of sins of which they are incapable of repenting.
The next incidence of shaking that will affect the earth on a massive scale is graphically portrayed, again, by the prophet John Revelation 16 (the thing I love with the way in which John gives his account in the book of Revelation is that he does not mince words; he tells it like it is, exactly as he saw it in vision). This chapter is about the seven last plagues. Here is what he said when the seventh vial is poured out:
"And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice but of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found." Rev. 16:17-20
This particular occurrence in Revelation 16 is somewhat similar to what we just discussed in chapter 6. However, there are some glaring exceptions. While chapter 6 speaks of mountains and islands moving out of their places, chapter 16 is now telling us that these mountains and islands fled away and were no where to be found! Very frightening indeed. The next exception is seen in the fact that the cities of the nations shall fall. It seems as if the Bible is here speaking of all the cities of every nation.
This should not be a surprise to even the average prophecy student; a city is often idolized as the pride of a nation, and while it is usually the centre of commercial activities, it is also the place where there is a concentration of legitimized immoral activities. It is at this point in time that they will receive their due reward for the evil that is allowed to flourish in them. Thus, there is going to be a point in time, just before the end of the world, when it will be highly risky and dangerous to live in a city!
Incidentally, Babylon is one of those cities to face the wrath of God. From the above text, it seems as if God has reserved a special punishment for her because of her leading role in the spread of iniquity in the last days. The nature of her punishment is spoken of in chapter 17.
In his countdown of end- of-the-world events, the apostle Paul in the book of Hebrew made an interesting remark concerning the shaking of the earth. Here is what he said:
"See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." Heb. 12:25-27
The apostle, under inspiration, said that God will use the shaking of the earth to signify something significant. When something is used to signify a reality, the thing that signifies is a parable of what it signified. According to the book of Hebrew, the shaking of the earth in the last days will indicate the removal of things which can be shaken so that the things which cannot be shaken will remain.
As is the case with Phillipians 2:10 and Colossians 1:20, the word 'things', as used in the above text is referring to people. There will be two classes of people on the earth just before the world comes to an end; those who can be shaken and those who cannot be shaken. When God shakes the earth, those who have rejected the final message of mercy will make it manifest that their hope is built on sinking sand, while the saints of God, rooted and grounded in the gospel truth, will be secured from the influence of sin. Our only means of surviving this great shaking of the earth is to make our application for citizenship of that "kingdom which cannot be moved" (Heb. 12:28).