Haiti and Chile are reeling from terrible earthquakes. As we see the pitiful images of smashed homes, broken bodies, looting and chaos, it is normal to ask questions. Why did God allow these earthquakes? Will similar earthquakes strike our nations? And, if God did allow these earthquakes, then what does He want us to learn from them?
While some natural disasters are indeed just the natural effects of geology or meteorology, Jesus did warn that earthquakes would increase just prior to His return (Matthew 24:7-8). And, scientists agree that around the world, the risk of "megaquakes" is increasing. In fact, recent research concludes an 80% chance of a "megaquake" striking the US west-coast in the next 50 years … or sooner (Associated Press, "Northwest at risk of megaquake like one in Chile," March 2, 2010)! As we watch the suffering and chaos in Haiti and Chile, this should be sobering (BBCNews.com, "Pleas for calm amid Chile rubble," March 3, 2010).
But why Haiti? Why Chile? Were people in those countries worse than elsewhere? Did God love them less? Let us be very careful before we ascribe "greater sin" to others!
As Dr. Roderick C. Meredith explained in his recent Tomorrow's World article, "With all the rebellion against God's laws and ways throughout the entire world – the vicious wars, tortures and rapes, the crime and violence, the fornication, adultery and sexual perversion – there is plenty of sin everywhere!" ("Why Earthquakes?" March-April 2010). And, as he noted, when Christ answered a similar question about "why," Jesus explained that those who suffered were not necessarily "worse sinners" than others elsewhere, and they all needed to repent, or all would be in the same peril (Luke 13:1–5)!
So, let us not conclude that those "elsewhere" are somehow worse than those in our nations. And, let us also not conclude that these terrible tragedies will always happen "elsewhere!" Scripture specifically indicates that devastating earthquakes will strike the land of "modern Jacob" – the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and other British-descended nations – before the end of the age (Isaiah 2:5-19).
God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). Likewise, no Christian desires to see suffering. In fact, true Christians are "full of mercy" (Matthew 5:7; James 3:17). But, because humanity has continuously transgressed God's laws, He is angry with humanity's rebellion.
As Isaiah 2:17-21; 13:13; 24:5-19 and numerous prophecies show, because humanity has continuously transgressed God's law (24:5), He will "shake terribly the earth" (2:21) and the earth will be "utterly broken down" (24:19). Sadly, earthquakes and other natural disasters will continue to bring destruction, chaos and death. Revelation 6:12-17 reveals the culmination of these disasters during the "sixth seal." The sixth seal will unleash the most terrible earthquake ever, as well as terrifying heavenly signs! In utter fear and despair, kings and leaders will literally beg the mountains to fall on them!
But, while Jeremiah 10:2 reveals that "the Gentiles" (unbelievers) will be terrified at the signs in the heavens, God's people will not be dismayed! God's righteous saints also know that while tens of thousands may perish in pestilence, earthquake or other disasters, they need not fear during this time (Psalms 91:7-8)! God's people also know that these tragic events are only the precursor to a most fearful and wonderful event – the rapidly approaching Day of the Lord and the return of Christ – the only real hope for humanity!
So, what does God want humanity to learn? God wants humanity to learn humility, and obedience to His word (Isaiah 66:2). After 6000 years of man's disobedience, God will powerfully intervene and teach humanity to love and honor Him and keep His commandments (Psalms 111:10; I John 3:22; Revelation 22:14). Humanity will then experience blessings, peace, hope and abundance in the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-6).