************ Campout Talk on Earthquake ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This talk was given on July 31,2005


When we moved from Wisconsin to California the people in our last church were worried we might end up in an earthquake. So, as a good-bye present they gave us an earthquake kit:
-helmet - for falling rocks
-flashlight & batteries & candle - for when the power goes out
-candy bar & canned peaches - you can't cook food
-matches - to test for a gas leak
-life-raft & inner tube - because Visalia will become ocean front property or even end up in the ocean
-bottled water - water lines are broken
-blanket - to keep you warm after the shock

This weekend we've been looking at different elements of the outdoors you experience when you are camping. Friday night we looked at fire. Saturday night we looked at water. Today I want to spend some time with you looking at earthquakes.

Does anyone have any idea how many earthquakes are mentioned in the Bible. GET A RESPONSE OR TWO. There are nine of them. I want to list the nine and tell you what we can learn from them.

1. At Mount Sinai when God gave the Ten Commandments:
(Ex 19:17-20) Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. (18) Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, (19) and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. (20) The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up

2. In the wilderness when Korah and others rebelled against Moses and the Lord:
(Num 16:28-34) Then Moses said, "This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: (29) If these men die a natural death and experience only what usually happens to men, then the LORD has not sent me. (30) But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt." (31) As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart (32) and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah's men and all their possessions. (33) They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. (34) At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, "The earth is going to swallow us too!"

3. When Jonathan attacked the camp of the Philistines:
(1Sam 14:13-15) The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him. (14) In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre. (15) Then panic struck the whole army--those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties--and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.

4. When Elijah fled from Jezebel and God met him at Mt. Horeb:
(1Ki 19:11-13) The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. (12) After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. (13) When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

5. In Uzziah's reign:
(Amos 1:1) The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa--what he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel.
We don't know anything about this earthquake except what Amos and Zechariah tells us. However, it must have been a major catastrophe. Apparently everyone knew exactly what event Amos was talking about. So clearly did the people of Israel remember this earthquake that some 200 years later around the year 530 B.C. the prophet Zechariah could threaten them by saying, "You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah" (Zech 14:5).

6. At our Lord's crucifixion and death:
(Mt 27:50-54) And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. (51) At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. (52) The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. (53) They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. (54) When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"
At the moment Christ died, at the moment He gave up His spirit, at the moment His soul separated from His body, at that moment the earth shook. The earth shuddered when the Christ died. The Spirit wants us to realize that even the earth mourned when the Prince of Glory died.
Understood here, but not mentioned, is that the creation knew Who it was hanging upon the cross: the second person of the triune Godhead, He Who was with God in the beginning, He through Whom all things were made. Of everything in creation only man did not seem to realize Who was hanging there on the cross. The creation shuddered when the human form of its Maker died.
This means, of course, that the earthquake cannot be dismissed simply as a "natural phenomena." Rather, it was a sign from God. But, then, all of the wonders surrounding the cross the 3 hours of darkness, the torn curtain, the earthquake, the resurrection of the dead are miracles wrought by God.

7. At our Lord's resurrection:
(Mt 28:1-2) After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. (2) There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
When the earth shook for the second time in three days we are to assume that again Hades or Sheol gave up its dead; but this time it was the Lord of glory Who was raised to life, raised in glory. And this time the Creation was rejoicing that the human form of its Maker was alive again and raised in glory.

8. The Spirit-filled church:
(Acts 4:31) After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
I always have a hard time imagining this scene. The Christians prayed and the building literally shook on its foundations. Imagine that happening with us: the walls, the ceiling and roof, the very floor itself all shaking when we pray.

9. Paul & Silas at Philippi:
(Acts 16:25-27) About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. (26) Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose. (27) The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.

On top of these 9 instances, we also know that earthquakes are one of the signs of the end of the age.

Now, what does all of this tell us?

First, we are told something about God. Fire and water and earthquake show God's power and might. Our God uses fire and water and earthquake to carry out His purposes. Our God controls all the forces of nature and they are but instruments in His hands. Imagine the might and power of the God Who can control nature's might. Think of the greatest powers of nature: a volcano blowing its top, a category 5 hurricane hitting the coast, a mile-wide tornado, an out-of-control forest fire, a 50-foot high tsunami, a desert sand storm, a 7.0 earthquake. He is greater than them all and He uses them all.

Second, in the Bible God's greatest miracles involve fire and water and earthquake. They are a sign that God is at work and doing marvelous and wonderful and amazing things.

Third, God uses fire and water and earthquake to punish the wicked. And they are a sign of coming judgment. They are a warning to us right now, today, to repent before it is too late.

Fourth, God uses fire and water and earthquake to symbolize His presence and the work of His Spirit.

Fifth, fire, water, earthquake are signs of life new life, abundant life, future life. There is more to life than our body or this earth. There is a future life and a new heaven and a new earth.

I wouldn't want to camp without the fire and the water. I think I can do without the earthquake though I suspect a tent would be better than a home or an apartment building if a big one struck. Amazing, isn't it, that such basic things as fire, water, and earthquake play such a big role in faith and salvation and salvation history.
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