Earthquakes, Bible Prophecy, and You

BEFORE his death, Jesus foretold events and situations that would give evidence that this world had entered “the conclusion of the system of things.” That period, he said, would be marked by such things as pestilences, food shortages, and large-scale warfare. He also mentioned “great earthquakes” that would occur “in one place after another.” (Matthew 24:3, 7; Luke 21:10, 11) Was Jesus referring to our day?

Many say no. They assert that the number of earthquakes has not substantially increased in recent decades. In fact, the U.S. National Earthquake Information Center reports that earthquakes of 7.0 magnitude and greater remained “fairly constant” throughout the 20th century. *

Note, though, that the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy does not require an increase in the number or power of earthquakes. All Jesus said was that there would be great earthquakes in one place after another. Furthermore, he stated that these events would mark the “beginning of pangs of distress.” (Matthew 24:8) Distress is measured, not by the number of earthquakes or how they rate on the Richter scale, but by the effect that they have upon people.

Earthquakes have indeed caused much distress in our day. In fact, during the 20th century, millions have been killed or left homeless by these disasters. Experts say that many of these deaths could have been prevented. “In developing countries,” reports BBC News, “building regulations frequently take second place to the demands for cheap, quickly built housing to meet the needs of rapid urbanisation.” Commenting on two recent tragedies, Ben Wisner, an expert in urban disasters, states: “It wasn’t earthquakes that killed these people. It was a combination of human error, indifference, corruption, and greed.”

Yes, sometimes the deadliest factors in an earthquake are human selfishness and negligence. Interestingly, such qualities come to the fore in another Bible prophecy concerning “the last days” of this system. During that time, the Bible states, people would be “self-centered, lovers of money,” and “callous.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, The Amplified Bible) Along with Jesus’ words regarding the conclusion of the system of things, this prophecy provides clear evidence that we are nearing the time when God will bring relief to distressed humanity from all present causes of pain and suffering​—including great earthquakes.​—Psalm 37:11.

Would you like to learn more about this Bible-based hope? Contact Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area, or write to the appropriate address on page 5.


^ par. 3 Some say that any reports of an increase in the number of earthquakes are simply due to advances in technology, which enable more seismic events to be detected.