Japan’s Earthquake and The Bible

The 8.9 – 9.1 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on Friday at 2:46 (their time) and the subsequent tsunami, left such wide-spread destruction that it is natural to question whether such an event is a “sign”. We humans often ask ourselves those type of questions after any major disaster. We might wonder if it’s a sign of global warming, a sign of geological upheaval, a sign of God’s displeasure, or a sign of the end of the world.

From Jesus until now, Christianity has talked about earthquakes as a sign of the end. Revelation speaks of a great earthquake and Jesus mentioned that earthquakes, famines and conflict would be like “birth pains” leading to the end.

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
-(Jesus) Matthew 24:7-8 [NASB]

Birth pangs are characterized as increasing in frequency and intensity the closer they get to the final event. Because of that, many have explained that these events mentioned by Jesus will also become worse, and happen with greater frequency the closer we get to the end. Some teach it has always been getting worse, but with earthquakes at least, that is not conclusively proven by the evidence. Others teach that Jesus was simply speaking about what would happen as we approached the end. They explain that these events would begin to increase in frequency and intensity as the end approached. After all, most pregnancies do not include birth pangs for all nine months, but just as the end draws near.

If you’re wondering, USGS statistics for big quakes over the last 10 years go like this:

Year – Number of Earthquakes 7.0 or higher
2000 – 15
2001 – 16
2002 – 13
2003 – 15
2004 – 16
2005 – 11
2006 – 11
2007 – 18
2008 – 12
2009 – 17
2010 – 22
2011 – ?? (so far 8, on pace for about 25-30)

It does appear that there have been a few more quakes recently. Three of the last four years have had the most big earthquakes for the decade. Last year was THE most in at least thirty years, and this year we are on pace to beat it again. What does that mean?

By itself, nothing. If we had 50 such quakes in one year, I think geologists might start asking questions, but for now, we’re still in the normal range. 2010 might have had the most in the past thirty years or more, but it only beat 1995 by 2.

Biblically speaking, there are things for us to consider. Yes, there might be some prophetic significance given the state of the world. What Jesus said above, has some parallels with what Revelation 6 describes with the seven seals which are unleashed on the earth, especially the four horsemen.

Take three of the horsemen for example: the second rider takes peace from the earth, the third brings famine and economic distress, and the fourth brings death in various ways which could include natural disasters.

(I say it could include natural disasters because the word used in Revelation 6:8 does not mean MERELY “plague” or “pestilence” as most translations write it. There are words that specifically refer to plagues and pestilence and disease, but those words aren’t used here. The word in Revelation 6:8 literally says the Rider called Death will kill by “death.” That can mean any cause of death, not just disease and pestilence.)

Jesus likewise mentioned famines and conflict and certain natural disasters called earthquakes. The similarities in the description of the end by Jesus and the book of Revelation makes one wonder if both places in the Bible are referring to the same period of time? My guess is they are.

It is POSSIBLE that such a time is starting, but for now, that’s all we can say. Jesus also mentioned signs like these are “merely the beginning of birth pangs.” No need to freak out over them immediately. If the revolutions, resulting conflicts, possible economic meltdowns, and resulting death combined with natural disasters do actually arrive in Biblical proportions, well then we’ll find out soon enough.

For now, though, I think there is a more important Biblical principle to glean from the earthquake in Japan. Watching the scenes of destruction as they happened, I was reminded of the sobering truth that fulfillment of end-time Bible Prophecy would be horrifying. As the prophet Amos once said:

Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD, For what purpose will the day of the LORD be to you? It will be darkness and not light; As when a man flees from a lion And a bear meets him, Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall And a snake bites him.
-Amos 5:18-19 [NASB]

If you are one of those folks who loves to study and/or debate Bible prophecy, someone who loves to try and figure things out, or just someone that is beginning to wonder what it all may mean, let the words of God through Amos be a wake up call. Darkness and suffering will not be exciting and fun, but it will be a call to work.

It will be a call to help those in need, to give and to sacrifice as Christians have done throughout the ages to relieve suffering and bring comfort. Don’t rejoice at an increase in earthquakes, instead figure out ways to help and bring assistance.

And don’t just read this blog to see if the quake in Japan has anything to do with the Bible. Pray for the people, send some aid their way if you can, and remember that God called you to be a light that shines during a day of darkness.

Whether those dark days are close to the end or not.

31 thoughts on “Japan’s Earthquake and The Bible

  1. For me, a stronger, but subtle ‘sign’ is the fact that things are ‘normal’ most of the time!
    I mean, God made gravity. In Job 38:9 he talks around this fact, using the normalcy of ocean waves to illustrate it: Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt?”.
    Gravity, which no-one can explain is one of the ultimate signs that He IS!
    I agree with you that for Christians, all of life is framework for service to others, our Thank-You note to God.
    I want to be Corrie ten Boom for people. Jesus…in the guise of me!
    Thanks for a great article.

  2. If you use Corrie ten Boom as an example, it’s hard to go wrong. Jesus used her in amazing ways. Appreciate the comment Jim!

  3. Myra

    Thank you for this awesome article. This is the only article on this topic that encourages people to stay strong in their faith and isn’t as negative as other articles. Thanks Brian. You made me feel better with this article. I’m only 16 and I had a feeling the world was ending when a lot of bad things starting happening. The Japanese earthquake was just too much for me and I wanted to understand what on earth was going on. I try and read the bible but, although it’s in English, i don’t understand a word. I come on the net and I just keep reading articles about God punishing us because we’re bad and we never listen. That we’re all sinners and that now the time has come when we have to pay. Reading stuff like that just freaks you out. So, I want to thank you for not freaking me out and reminding me to turn to prayer. To pray for those who are hurt and for help. Reminding me that God does love us. So thanks Brian. Oh, and sorry for this really long comment!

  4. Myra, thank you! That was a really nice thing to write. You just made my day! I wish you all the best, and stay strong with God!

  5. Myra, I just want to ditto Brian’s response to you, and to remind you what Romans 8:28 says, “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” So you just make sure you are saved by the Blood of Jesus, and nothing can touch you but what God determines is for your good, and then live free in the knowledge that you live now for others, not yourself.
    As Paul said, I would be better-off “dead” and with Jesus, but He has decided to keep me “in this tent”, alive her on earth, so it must be because HE wants to reach others through me.
    You might like to read some biographies to gain the confidence that God won’t abandon you. Look up Corrie ten Boom and learn about how God used her!
    And don’t ever apologise for a really long comment like you wrote! Thanks for having written it. You never know who may be affected by what you do or say. I trust many have just agreed with what you’d written.
    Keep it up.

  6. Ah, the ditto is all mine! That’s some great counsel for lots of young people Jim. (and some of us older ones as well) Thank you for posting it!

  7. Leah Syberg

    I agree with focusing on helping when needed. I don’t have alot,but I am going to donate. As a prophetic christian, I have had many sleepless nights over the past three months. I have known something was coming. When the Middle East issues rose, I knew in my spirit that this was the beginning. I am saddened by what is to come and my heart goes out to anyone who has and will suffer. The Lord told me something that brought me some comfort. He told me that the time has come to make all things new. I will make a new heaven and a new earth. When you think about it, our understanding of making things new is different from God’s. All we can do is hold on, pray,and help. I pray that people turn to God and accept the free gift of forgiveness he has offered us.

  8. Enjoy your comments, practical wisdom, sound Biblical instruction and “anti-hyperstericalpropheticators.” now there’s a new word! We know how it all ends, let’s complete the mission! Your blog is really a breath of fresh air and fulfills your mission purpose.

  9. lw

    Global warming maybe, polluting our environment maybe, stripping our planet of its resources maybe, but a sign from GOD? there is no practical wisdom in any of this. I am sick and tired of people like you attributing everything to GOD.. Common sense prevails and prophetic predictions have no place in the new world.

    Ignorance is the mother of destruction.

  10. I do agree with your last sentence that ignorance is the mother of destruction, but I submit to you that God does indeed exist, and does indeed have a hand in everything.

    “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” -(Jesus)

    Since you don’t yet have the new world order and can’t silence me (or keep me from praying for you) then I urge you to at least consider the fact that fulfilled Bible prophecy has historically been a very good evidence for God’s existence and work in this world. This article above is merely speculation based on the knowledge that what God predicted in the past, did come true.

  11. Jeff Randleman

    Not to mention the idea that several significant scientific minds have rejected the idea of global warming; and not just Christian scientists.

    On top of that, pollution and misuse of our natural resources, while serious issues that need to be addressed as stewardship issues, can hardly be blamed for disasters such as the one in Japan. I seriously doubt whether anything mankind can do will significantly harm God’s creation. If we could do that, then God’s not as big as we think he is. I think his creation will stand until he decides for it to end.

  12. Mei

    Thank you for this article. I was actually googling to see if there’s a site with encouraging Bible verses for my very anxious Japanese Christian friend. Could you post an article with Words to meditate on? Thank you from Australia

  13. Great idea Mei! I posted a few thoughts and Scriptures about it in a post called “Hope in the Midst of Crisis.” Hope it’s helpful. God bless!

  14. Will

    I don’t fully understand why God does this. Does He make us suffer so that we’ll pray to Him for He to help those who are affected? Does that mean that before He saves us and those in need we must plead and pray to Him first? And I wonder why our faith is to be tested and if anyone fails will not be saved, why He created us all if everything is meant to suffer, perish and die, that everything is predetermined whilst He given us the so-called “free will.” Is He that selfish and arrogant? Does He really loves us? If He does, why would He give us such disasters that kills us? To test us? Was everything just a test? And that we’re merely test subjects?

  15. Those are good questions, Will.
    Nobody fully understands; nobody can fully explain.
    God is sovereign and can do anything He wants to do.
    You might want to read the book of Job. You won’t fully understand it, either, but it might help you to reset your focus on God and not on your circumstances.
    Also please consider that Jesus came to suffer and die for our sin…not just the sin of the world, but specifically your sin and mine, and he does say to us, don’t worry, fear not, take heart, I will be with you always.
    As a believer, like Paul, I am better-off with the Lord, but He allows life here in order that I might serve Him and others.
    The framework of life…our circumstances…is the structure unique for each of us, within which we do the work of our Thank-You-Note lives.
    I am sure Brian will have much more to say. In the meantime, keep talking to God. As a Father, he is not offended by questions or even anger. He just wants you to talk with Him. With, not always to. Listen, too. He loves you.

  16. So much

    Who can know the Truth so that he can speak..

    Who knows what signify from the happenings..

    Who has the wisdom & understanding to discern things more clearly with a line..

  17. SO,
    I am not sure from what perspective your questions come, but I can tell you that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and He is knowable.
    Your capitalization of the word Truth indicates that you may know He is Truth. Do you know also that He told us that He would remind us of what to say, by His Holy Spirit, so that we can speak?

  18. kalpna patel

    time to speak truth,help each other,be faithful,be kind heart,good atitude for everybody.because no one knows what will happen next.may be end of the world.

  19. kalpna,
    I agree with every word of your wonderful comment.
    The reason is because we each have no idea how much time we have left.
    I may not live to get off this chair.
    So for me, the next 30 seconds may be the end of the world.
    In the meantime, I hope to engage the qualities you listed.

  20. Anonymous

    The Bible says that all suffering is a result of mankind’s sin at the beginning, and that the Creation itself is subject to death until Christ comes to restore all things. If that’s true, then the earthquake in Japan is simply part of living in this world in its current state. It may be that God is allowing more things to happen because He is going to return soon, but in the end, these things are also part of living in this world right now. Makes me look forward to Christ returning and making everything new.

  21. Ryan

    I love this blog Brian!!! I actually came across it while searching for info on the new movie Battle: Los Angeles. What an amazing find for me!!! Like a pearl hidden in a field. I absolutely love your perspectives on everything and your tolerant and gentle spirit towards others. I too contemplate if we are in fact living in the end times. As an ex, full time professional sinner (now saved by the grace of our magnificent Savior) I would like to submit to Myra that, it is NEVER too late to get straight with our heavenly Father. He knows your heart, and will comfort your fears. I know you are still young and might not completely grasp this. But, as a father myself, I can see how God leads me and sometimes chastises me to get me back on the right track, just as I do with my own children. I am but a wicked human but, I WOULD NEVER forsake my children because I love them with all my heart. How much more would God, who is perfect and IS Love, not forsake His children? Also, I’m really sorry about the long post. You actually got off easy. If we were in person and I was actually speaking, you’d never get me to shutup. I’m the guy who LOVES to talk politics and religion. Lol. God bless, and just keep on keeping on. God’s got your back.


    15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdome of God is at hand: repent ye, and beleeue the Gospell.


    1 Forasmuch as many haue taken in hande to set foorth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely beleeued among vs,

    2 Euen as they deliuered them vnto vs, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses, & ministers of the word:

    3 It seemed good to me also, hauing had perfect vnderstanding of things from the very first, to write vnto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

    4 That thou mightest know the certainetie of those things wherein thou hast bene instructed.

    5 There was in the dayes of Herode the king of Iudea, a certaine Priest, named Zacharias, of the course of Abia, and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.



    1 There were present at that season, some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

    2 And Iesus answering, said vnto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners aboue all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?

    3 I tell you, Nay: but except yee repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

    4 Or those eighteene, vpon whom the towre in Siloe fell, and slew them, thinke ye that they were sinners aboue all men that dwelt in Hierusalem?

    5 I tell you, Nay; but except yee repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

    LUKE ~KJV BIBLE 1611~

    the Messages of God’s Servant Prophet Elijah are on the internet at:

    23 July 2010 When America leaves the scene soon, then China will be the key

  24. Tony

    Hello Everyone, what a great blog with thoughtful tolerant answers.

    Some secular “authorities” wnat us to believe that there has been no significant increase in Earthquakes, is that really true though? I have done some careful research and would like to share some faith strengthening conclusions.

    Did Jesus ever tell lies? Jesus stated that one of the signs that he was about to step in and take over the running of the world was “great earthquakes” (Luke 21:11).

    Bear in mind that God does not directly cause these quakes or any of this dreadful suffering (read Job Chapters 1 & 2 for who is really to blame)

    I thought, well let’s do some research and see if anything has happened; I looked into Great (category 5 and above) Earthquakes since 1900.

    I used the highly respected USGS as my data source.

    Some years there were none at all, the peak was 16, in fact for the whole 20th century the average was just 6.9 great quakes per year. 1999, 2000, 2001 nothing out of the ordinary, then…

    In 2002 something amazing happened, there was a massive “spike”. Each year since 2002 the trend has continued upwards. In 2010 there were 58 category 5 earthquakes or worse! This year we are on track to have over 70! Remember that the average for the whole of the 20th century was only 6.9 per year, can you see a trend emerging?

    Was there something in Jesus warning in Luke 21:11? Only people with humble hearts will accept this of course, but they are the very “lost sheep” that Jesus is looking for!

    As they seem to know the Bible better than most, next time they call ask a JW to show you other encouraging prophesies from your own Bible. Jesus promises us that some really wonderful things are about to happen.

    Remember that Jesus taught us to pray for massive changes in the way Earth is run.
    Matthew 6:9-10
    “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”

    God’s Kingdom is about to come and his will is about to be done!

    Isn’t that the best possible news for troubled mankind?
    With Christian Love

  25. This is good, Tony.
    Would you mind supplying the links to the statistics-sources?
    If I can supply the sources along with a copy of your post, may I put it on my blog?
    I hope you will consider this.

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