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A.  Introduction.

            1. There are three things which cause the earth to move:  the motion of its center, the rotation around its center, and any variation of the shape of the earth.

                        a. Rotation around its center refers to the rotation of the earth around its polar axis. This movement does not come under the category of earthquake.

                        b. The motion of its center refers to the earth’s revolution around the sun.

                        c. Variation of the shape of the earth is what causes earthquakes. The earth is continually altering its shape.

            2. There are four causes for earthquakes.

                        a. Movement of tectonic plates cause slippage along faults. The two sides of a fault (or plate) rubbing together cause shocks to run through the earth. The slow cooling process of the earth causes its crust to contract. This produces stress in the strata composing the crust of the earth. The crust is often too rigid to bend; therefore, it breaks, causing faults. The shock caused by the break brings earth waves from the center of the break.

                        b. Volcanic activity sets up earth shocks.

                        c. Collapse of limestone caverns or abandoned mines cause shock.

                        d. Plutonic earth shocks occur at depths greater than 100 km. There have been shocks recorded as deep as 700 km. These are explosions of streams or gases in the earth.

            6. In the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, the San Andreas fault split for 275 miles in length.

                        a. A study of the San Andreas fault indicates that, over a long period of time, forces acting on the earth’s crust from below tend to drag the coastal region of central and northern California to the north.

                        b. But the inland side of the fault isn’t moving. Eventually the strain on the rocks of the fault becomes so great that all of the rocks break.    The breaking of rocks releases the potential energy held within them, resulting in an earthquake.

            7. There are other movements in the earth that cause earthquakes.

                        a. One cause of movement is the cooling of the earth’s surface. Mountains have roots. When the roots of mountains are eroded in cooling, they rise. The mountain moves upward.     Ocean bottoms move in underneath.

                        b. The continents are moving.

                        c. There is radioactivity. Radioactive heat accumulates under the continents and is released when it becomes liquid. The earth comes underneath the mountains and the gas is turned to liquid. This starts displacement, causing an earthquake.

                        d. Tidal waves cause earthquakes. In deep water, a tidal wave may only be three feet high, but in shallow water it can be as high as 150 feet and travel at 400-450 miles per hour.

B.  Earthquakes in Scripture.

            1. The purpose of all earthquakes, regardless of the cause, is to warn or administer judgment to individuals in history for apostasy, reversionism, and evil, Isa 29:6. Groups are punished by earthquakes. The Dead Sea is a result of an earthquake destroying Sodom and Gomorrah.

            2. Ex 19:18 cites an earthquake that occurred in 1441 B.C. with Moses on Mt. Sinai. This was to warn Israel to be occupied with Christ.

            3. An earthquake ended the revolution against Moses, Num 16:31.

            5. In 1 Sam 14:15, an earthquake in the Philistine bivouac in the time of Saul, 1000 B.C., was a warning to the Philistines not to attack Israel.

            6. 1 Kgs 19:11 mentions an earthquake as a warning to the Northern Kingdom to recover from reversionism.

            7. Amos 1:1 and Zech 14:5 cite an earthquake in the time of Uzziah, in 785 B.C., to remind him of the importance of Bible doctrine.

                        a. The earthquake in the time of Uzziah was a judgment earthquake because of reversionism and the influence of evil. Disasters are never for carnality. 2 Chron 26:16; Amos 1:1; Zech 14:5.

                        b. Therefore, an earthquake is often the result of divine discipline. Uzziah himself was judged by leprosy. The people were judged by the earthquake, 2 Chron 26:17-23.

            8. The great earthquake which took place at the death of Christ is mentioned in Mt 27:51-54. This was God’s warning that the world must believe in His Son or go to the Lake of Fire.

            9. An earthquake occurred at the resurrection of Christ, Mt 28:2. This was a reminder to the Gentiles that Christ had risen.

            10. Sometimes an earthquake is used for deliverance, as in the case of Paul and Silas in jail at Philippi, Acts 16:26.

            11. The last great earthquake in Palestine occurred in 1837, destroying a village near Mt. Hermon. Israel is on the edge of an earthquake circle.

            12. Whether it is an earthquake caused by natural occurrences or whether it is simply an act of the omnipotence of Jesus Christ, the Mount of Olives is split by an earthquake at the Second Advent of Christ, according to Rev 11:13,19; 16:18-21.

           13. The analogy in Zech 14:5 indicates a series of earthquakes prior to and during time of the Second Advent are a warning, Mt 24:7; Lk 21:11.

           14. In the seventh trumpet of Rev 11:15-19, the Second Advent and millennial reign are mentioned. Just prior to the Second Advent, part of Jerusalem will be destroyed by an earthquake, Rev 11:13. So just as Jesus Christ leaves heaven to return to the earth, there is an earthquake which destroys one-tenth of Jerusalem. At that time, seven thousand reversionists are killed who were responsible for killing Moses and Elijah.

          15. Rev 11:19 says there is a second earthquake when Jesus Christ appears in the Temple at the Second Advent.

          16. The threat of this natural disturbance is picked up in the seventh vial of Rev 16:18-21. This greatest earthquake ends the Tribulation. Jerusalem is split into three parts. All the islands in the Mediterranean are swamped and washed away.


 © 1989, by R. B. Thieme, Jr.  All rights reserved.

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