Earthquakes

earthquake-rail-damageFor nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: Matt. 24:7

. . . there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. Mark 13:8

. . . there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. Luke 21:11

As prophesied, earthquakes occurred as a sign of the impending destruction of Jerusalem. It is impossible not to notice the extremely large numbers of them, though out the Roman Empire leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem. Careful interpretation would require us to consider the next most likely fulfillment of the prediction, to be exactly that. Interestingly, many of the first century historians understood that the “heavens” were violently protesting human activities.

The Bible gives us an occurrence of an earthquake near the time of the destruction of Jerusalem

. . . and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one’s fetters were unfastened. Acts 16:26 

Historians record a vast number of earthquakes in the time preceding and during  the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70AD

At one time (c. after Nero) the cities on the left side of the Hellespont were visited by earthquakes according to the second century historian, Philostratus – The Life of Apollonius 6, 41.

Tacitus, a first century Roman historian, records earthquakes occurred near 51AD in Rome:

Besides these manifold disasters to mankind there were portents in the sky and on the earth, thunderbolts and other premonitions of good and of evil, some doubtful, some obvious. Indeed never has it been proved by such terrible disasters to Rome or by such clear evidence that Providence is concerned not with our peace of mind but rather with vengeance for our sin. Histories Book 1 page 3

For a more complete list see the blog, Scripture in light of “1st century history”

Probably the most well known was in 60 AD in Hierapolis, Asia Minor, as this earthquake was so severe that the entire city was destroyed. As well as Laodicea which is in close proximity to Hierapolis. Both cities were completely left in ruins.

Josephus records earthquakes during the time of the Roman Army surrounding Jerusalem in 70AD

After the siege began, Josephus wrote:

And now did the Idumeans make an acclamation to what Simon had said; but Jesus went away sorrowful, as seeing that the Idumeans were against all moderate counsels, and that the city was besieged on both sides. Nor indeed were the minds of the Idumeans at rest; for they were in a rage at the injury that had been offered them by their exclusion out of the city; and when they thought the zealots had been strong, but saw nothing of theirs to support them, they were in doubt about the matter, and many of them repented that they had come thither. But the shame that would attend them in case they returned without doing any thing at all, so far overcame that their repentance, that they lay all night before the wall, though in a very bad encampment; for there broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and any one would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming. Josephus War book IV; chap 4; sec 5.

Historical Interpretation

The fourth century church pointed out that these earthquakes were in fulfillment of the Messiah’s warnings. It is not until the coming of the 19th century Dispensationalist’s hermeneutic that anyone taught differently.

Eusebius, a Christian Exegete, and Roman Historian, also confirms the same earthquakes.

A fourth century Galacian named Paulus Orosius a disciple of Augustine, confirms the earthquakes as well.

The Dispensationalist in the effort to frighten the faithful have invented a future of horrific shocking devastation. This fills their pews and their collection plates, as they seek emotional power over God’s people. However the prophecies were fulfilled within the generation that received them.

Next Post: Famines and Pestilences