“The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa—the vision he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake.” (Amos 1:1)
Those five words – “two years before the earthquake” – are important. Professional archeologists tell us that a massive earthquake occurred in the Middle East in 760 B.C. It was such an extraordinary earthquake, bringing destruction to the cities in Israel and Judah, that the Jews remembered this earthquake for centuries to come, referencing time by it. Amos sees his first vision as the LORD’S prophet “two years before the earthquake.”
The prophet Zechariah refers to the 760 BC earthquake as a token of God’s judgment. Zechariah writes about “The Day of the LORD” (judgment) coming to the people of Judah when the Babylonian army would sweep in and destroy Jerusalem and seek to capture its people (586 B.C.):
“You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah” (Zecheriah 14:5)
The people of Judah, according to the prophet, were called to see the 760 BC earthquake – which shook all of Israel – as an expression of YHWH’s anger on the nations of Israel and Judah.
Today, in our politically correct society, it is offensive to speak of natural disasters like earthquakes as expressions of God’s anger upon a nation for immorality, idolatry, and iniquity. But listen to the Scriptures:
5 It is God who removes the mountains, and they do not know how,
When He overturns them in His anger.
6 It is He who shakes the earth from its place,
And its pillars tremble. (Job 9:5-6)
He who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
He who touches the mountains, and they smoke. (Psalm 104:32)
5 The Lord God of hosts,
he who touches the earth and it melts,
and all who dwell in it mourn,
and all of it rises like the Nile,
and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt. (Amos 9:5)
There are numerous other similar Scriptures: Psalm 18:7: “The earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved, and were shaken, because He was angry.” Compare Ezekiel 38:19, 20, with Nahum 1: 5-6: “The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burnt a His presence; yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before His indignation? And who can abide in the fierceness of his wrath? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him.”
An earthquake swallowed up rebellious Korah and his company (Numbers 16:30-33). It was probably by an earthquake, that God threw down the walls of Jericho, and delivered that city into the hands of the Israelites (see Joshua 6). It was an earthquake that shook open the door of the prison, where Paul and Silas were confined, an exhibition of the divine anger against the enemies of God’s people.
And of course, the Scriptures, mention an earthquake that came at the crucifixion of the Messiah when God’s wrath was poured out on Yeshua, the Son of Man who took the place of sinners at the cross.
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.” (Matthew 27:51-53)
The LORD never changes. Those who trust YHWH and live not for themselves but follow the Spirit are promised: “No condemnation (wrath)” (Romans 8:1), for the anger of the LORD for sin was poured out on the One we trust.
But nations still experience the judgment of God. When times of national judgment come for the peoples’ sexual immorality, rampant idolatry, and proud iniquity, the righteous people in that nation will experience the same consequences of national judgment as the wicked (see Ezekiel 21:4).
So, what happened in 760 BC that caused the Great Earthquake in Israel? There are three things:
- The Assyrians, that “wicked nation” to the northeast of Israel (capital Ninevah) repented of their sins under the preaching of Jonah, while God’s people (Israel) longed to participate in the sins of proud Assyrians (see Ezekiel 23:5-7).
- The king of Israel (Jeroboam II) and the king of Judah (Uzziah) were both known for their pride and sexual immorality. Leaders are only a reflection of their leaders, and the people of Israel and Judah reflected the same transgressions of their leaders.
- For the next 40 years, until its destruction in 722 BC, the northern Kingdom of Israel took pride in their immorality, idolatry, and iniquity, mocking the Word of God and ridiculing (sometimes imprisoning) the prophets of God.
Sound like any modern nation you know?
But even in the midst of evil throughout Israel and Judah in 760 BC, God provided the people with some Good News.
Isaiah the prophet, whose name means “YHWH saves” was born in 760 BC. In your nation’s darkest hour, God always provides a message of hope through those He calls to proclaim the Good News that true deliverance from the wrath to come is provided by the LORD.
Righteous judgment and gracious hope are the two attributes most manifested in the world created by the Father of life.
Why write this article? Because some of you will be searching for explanations for a great earthquake that will one day hit the United States. Scientists, geologists, politicians, and mainstream media will give you all kinds of natural explanations.
But the Bible gives you a Divine one.
Earthquakes are a token of God’s wrath for sin.
Turn to the LORD. Trust Yeshua (Jesus) who came to take on Himself the Father’s wrath for your sins. If you trust Jesus and follow after Him, the judgment of God is gone for you personally. There is no condemnation for you, only the love of the Father and His promises to daily provide for your every need.
But if you live in a nation that is in rebellion against the Creator, tough times will come, including earthquakes. Massive earthquakes affect both the righteous and the wicked (see Ezekiel 21:4). All of us will taste the first death, but deliverance from the second death is guaranteed for those who trust Jesus (see Revelation 21:4). That second death is the judgment of those who refuse to embrace Jesus Christ. It is called the Final Judgment. Earthquakes are a temporal reminder for you to “flee from the wrath” that is coming at the Final Judgment.
I take no pleasure in writing this post. There is no delight in anyone’s death and destruction. But the wages of our sin is death, and the Creator alone has the prerogative of life and death over us. There is no escape from God’s righteous anger when you live as if you are God.
Trust Jesus and “flee from the wrath to come.” (Matthew 3:7)
Was this an earthquake? “The earth opened up and swallowed the men…”
It sure was – Numbers 16:32 is an earthquake.
Thanks, my friend!
“If our teaching of the faith is too often tepid and uninspiring, authentic Christian proclamation is as subversive and explosive as the earthquake that shook the prison walls
Wade, you mention the ‘earthquake’ that set St. Paul free . . .
I think you might like this youtube video about St. Paul and the earthquake at Phillipi: