We should pray for the people of Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake and the tsunamis which left this nation in devastation. Earthquakes and tsunamis are events that should bring us to our knees in repentance (Luke 13:2-5), or at least cause us to pause and reflect on the judgments of God upon humanity for our lack of repentance. This event will either harden hearts more toward God, or by God’s grace will break them with contriteness—there is no neutral response. When we view pictures and video of the devastation they remind us of how fragile we really are. We should understand how our reliance upon things can easily be wiped out. It should humble Humanity, especially how we so easily love to elevate our “greatness” instead of acknowledging God’s. As we have seen in recent days, the disturbing phenomena and violence of tsunamis strikes terror in the hearts of people.
Through the events in Japan we see the future prophetic events spoken of by our Lord Jesus Christ casting their shadow upon us. Since coming events cast their shadows beforehand, when we see these things begin to come to pass we know that Christ’s coming will be soon. The budding of the fig tree (Matt 24:32-35) for instance, has been interpreted as a symbol of the restoration of the nation of Israel (which has come to pass). The phrase “and all the trees” (v. 29 KJV ) may indicate the growth of nationalism among the nations of the world. And in recent years, we have certainly seen a tremendous increase in nationalism.1 “This generation vs.34” refers to the generation alive when all these things take place.1
In the future, just before the Day of the Lord there will be a cluster of celestial and earthly disturbances that will act as a prelude warning to the Day of the Lord.
The sixth seal informs us that there will be this “huge earthquake” accompanied by a cluster of catastrophic celestial signs:
“Then I looked when the Lamb opened the sixth seal, and a huge earthquake took place; the sun became as black as sackcloth made of hair, and the full moon became blood red;” – Rev 6:11-12
And I don’t believe this will be some regional earthquake; instead, it will be global, since “every mountain” will be moved from its place. Given the magnitude of this earthquake, it makes perfect sense why the Bible employs tsunami language in two passages on the sign of the Day of the Lord:
“And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth nations will be in distress, anxious over the roaring of the sea and the surging waves” – Luke 21:25. The Greek describes the surging waves as the tossing or swell of the sea. These cataclysmic events are not simply metaphors; they will actually happen. These signs signal the end of the age simultaneously extinguishing all natural lights in the heavens, plunging the earth into total darkness. Accompanying this celestial sign the earth will experience worldwide earthquakes causing tsunamis mankind has never witness before.
Nations do not “distress” over mere ten foot waves. This will be global tsunamis on a massive scale. Interestingly, the Greek term for “surging waves” (salos) can mean “earthquake.” Also, the text indicates that the nations on the earth are not so much distressed and anxious over the celestial signs as much as they are with the roaring of the sea and surging waves.
The other text is Rev 6:14b:
“and [every] island was moved from its place.”
Again, mere ten foot waves do not accomplish this. No wonder Scripture prophecies that “people will be fainting from fear and from the expectation of what is coming on the world.” When these bewildering events occurs, unbelieving mankind will panic and desperately seek hiding places among the rocks and in caves because they will then know with horrifying certainty that the wrath of God is about to commence.
This is a sober truth. Do not fall into the Amos syndrome, in which his audience was deceptively self-assured that they were right with God and that the Day of the Lord was for those “other people.” “Woe to those who wish for the day of the LORD! Why do you want the LORD’s day of judgment to come? – Amos 5:18 Today is the day for self-examination.
However, the signs given for the end of the age and for Christ’s return will have different effects on different individuals. For those who have chosen to worship Satan’s king, they will be gripped by incredible fear. But for those who have chosen to be true to Christ, God’s King, they will know incredible joy. Charles Haddon Spurgeon showed a remarkable understanding concerning the relationship of these events and summed them up beautifully. The following are excerpts from his sermon entitled “Joyful Anticipation of the Second Advent.”
“I must leave this first point, concerning the terrible time [a time of fearful national trouble] when this precept is to be carried out, by just reminding you that, when the Lord Jesus Christ shall come, the heavens shall tell us: “There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars.”…Now I come to the remarkable precept itself: “Then look up, and lift up your heads.”…Let there be no looking down because the earth is quaking and shaking, but let there be a looking up because you are going to rise from it; no looking down because the graves are opening; why should you look down? You will quit the grave, never more to die. “Lift up your heads.” The time for you to hang your heads, like bulrushes, is over already, and will certainly be over when the Lord is coming, and your redemption draweth nigh. Wherefore, “look up, and lift up your heads.”2
Wiersbe, W. W. 1997, c1992. Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament . Victor Books: Wheaton, Ill.
2The Treasury of the New Testament, vol. 2, “Joyful Anticipation of the Second Advent,” Luke 21:28-31 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, n.d.), p. 130.
3Written by Alan Kurschner on 03/11/11 Edited, Changed and expounded on by Myself.