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by Skip Heitzig |
Last week's earthquake in Japan registered 9.0 on the Richter Scale, the fourth most powerful since such measurements have been made. Damage from the quake and tsunami has been terrible. Nobody yet knows the number of lives that have been lost, but some are estimating it will be over ten thousand. Amazingly, scientists say the quake moved Japan eight feet to the east and two feet downward, and that it shifted the earth's axis by six inches.

Now, try to imagine this kind of change and destruction on a worldwide scale. Of course, you can't; no one can. But it will happen.

Revelation 16 stretches the imagination, as far as suffering is concerned. Some people want to skip passages like this and just read a comforting psalm. And yet, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. It shows us that God knows the end from the beginning, He has written about it, and He is warning everyone to repent, to change.

This chapter describes the "Bowl Judgments" of God. The first five judgments are meant to cause people to repent, but instead they blaspheme the name of God. The sixth sets up the final battle at Armaggedon. Then comes the final judgment:

"Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, 'It is done!' And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth...and the cities of the nations fell...Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found" (Revelation 16:17-18, 19, 20).

This is a description of the end of the world. It's the end of the seven years of tribulation, just before Jesus comes again. During this time people will see the miraculous, but they will shun God. In the day of God's wrath, Jesus said, there will be "distress of nations with perplexity...men's hearts failing them for fear, and the expectation of those things which are coming upon the earth" (Luke 21:25-26).

All natural disasters up to this, including earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and diseases—bad as they are—have all been warning signals of this final judgment. They are "previews of coming attractions."

We've had earthquakes since men have been on the earth, and they're increasing every year. In fact, Jesus told his disciples that one of the evidences that you'll know His return is near is by the increase in earthquake activity (see Luke 21:11). But this final earthquake will be felt by the earth in totality.

In Hebrews 12, God says, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven," indicating "the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain" (vv. 26, 27). That means everything you have now is temporary. It will be shaken; it will be dust.

After the curse, the earth was not destined to last. As hard as we try to perpetuate this planet, we can't do it. This earth is not our home, so it's best to live as though we're passing through.

This is what's coming on the earth. You can't prevent it. But you can escape it. How? Through "Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come" (I Thessalonians 1:10). When the judgment for sin was placed on Jesus at the cross, He said "It is done." And there was an earthquake. In the end, God will judge the world, and He will say, "It is done." And there will be an earthquake that will be felt by the entire earth!

In Revelation 16:15, Jesus says, "Behold I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches..." His coming will be sudden and unexpected. Unbelievers scoff at the judgment, but that's why it will take them by surprise.

So here's my question: Are you living for Him? Are you watching for Him? Believe the words in this book, and turn to Him.

In His strong love,

Skip Heitzig

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