Author: Thomas Cosmades
Wars of attrition maliciously raging, sweeping terrorism, universal hunger, burgeoning deadly diseases and various other alarming actualities are causing deep anguish among the dwellers of our planet. In the midst of the disquieting chain of events natural disasters are accelerating at an alarming rate. They trigger apprehension everywhere.
In Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, the Lord Jesus Christ drew an alarming panorama of harbingers which are to precede his triumphant return to earth. All these are indicative of the radical upheavals buffeting our race. One of them is fear-provoking earthquakes (cf. Matt. 24:7; Mark 13:8, Luke 21:11).
The word seismoi denotes tremors, shakings, commotion. This term is not used exclusively for earth tremors as such, even though it pre-eminently conveys this meaning. For example, in Matthew 8:24, it is used for ‘storm in the sea’. In Matthew 21:10, during Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the entire city was stirred. Natural earthquakes are recurrent calamities. In this single word the Lord of the whole creation, “in whom all things hold together” (Col. 1:17), is talking about the broad, all-inclusive natural catastrophes, ‘great earthquakes’ as Luke tells us.
Our earth is enduring a series of natural catastrophes: hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, tsunamis, floods, volcanic eruptions, and various other disasters resulting in part, at least, from man’s tampering with nature. These include bursting of dams some of which are built on fault lines. One may even point to Chernobyl-like tragedies. All these and other happenings are accelerating rapidly. The warming of the climate caused by fuel emissions and numerous other pollutants thrust upon the vulnerable environment are melting arctic ice, causing sea-levels to rise and even islands to disappear.
In reference to the events of the eschaton there are six allusions to earthquakes in Revelation, along with other disasters touched upon. It will serve the reader well to check these references: Revelation 6:12; 8:5; 11:13, 19; 16:8. The word ‘shaken’ in 6:13 is the verbal form of seismos, i.e. seio. The worsening of massive earthquakes in our day captivate the attention of observant and non-observant individuals. Whole cities are flattened, with tens of thousands killed in a few seconds. Reflect on the Marmara-region earthquake, the quake in Bam, Iran, and now at the foot of the Himalayas, with others probably forgotten. What population, what property, what irreplaceable values have been wiped out! Also ponder the disasters caused by the uncontrollable surge of waters as seen in the tsunami onslaught, the catastrophes in the Gulf of Mexico, causing seas of mud in the whole wide Central America region.
This exposure leads us to a pronouncement by the Judge of all in Haggai 2:6,11, quoted in Hebrews, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven”. And the writer to the Hebrews tells us ‘what cannot be shaken will remain’ (12:26-28). “We know that the whole creation is groaning in travail until now” (Romans 8:22). We live in a time of natural earthquakes and also quakes of spiritual magnitude, engulfing both physical and spiritual realms. The careful student ought to also consult references regarding the mention of waters in Revelation (cf. 8:8-11; 11:19; 14:7; 16:4,5) It seems that our earth will be up against ferocious, destructive waters until the day when there is no more sea (cf. Rev. 21:1). Then the river of water which flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb will replace the former bodies of water. The translation of 22:2 is not accurate, we can say, in any version. The only logical translation I ran across is in Richmond Lattimore’s translation of ‘The Four Gospels and the Revelation’, who renders it like this: “Between the great street of the city and the river which were on one side and the other was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit month by month, and the leaves of the tree for the healing of the nations.” In Matthew 19:28, our Lord uses the meaningful words, ‘palin genesia’ (born anew), to describe the glorious age which he will bring in and heal the groaning, created order. So he will culminate the course of history. “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20)
© Copyright Thomas Cosmades