Making Sense of the Earthquake in Japan

As you well know the earthquake in Japan had devastating effects even for a nation that is deemed one of the most earthquake prepared countries. Yet homes fell and were washed away, cars were swept along like leaves on rivers, and many were displaced or died in the cataclysm. There are currently estimated 21,000 souls lost or presumed dead in the earthquake and tsunami with many families and friends separated. With such devastating effects we should know that God has made sense of disasters. Let us make some sense from the Bible about the earthquake in Japan.

God is the maker of heaven and earth. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). My help comes from Him, Who made heaven and earth (Ps 121:2). If we are committed to God as creator than we can recognize that it brings more meaning to devastation caused by earthquakes. Without God then really the question of why would something like this happen is pointless. Even in an event like the earthquake in Japan we should know that the earth declares the glory of God (Psalm 19:1) and the earth is His footstool (Is. 66:1). The scripture establishes God at the center of creation. He is neither absent or unaware of situations like this.

Earthquakes come from the presence of God. Since God is at the center of creation He also has the power to do with it whatever he wants.

Psalms 114:3-8
The sea saw it and fled;
Jordan turned back.
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
The little hills like lambs.
5 What ails you, O sea, that you fled?
O Jordan, that you turned back?
6 O mountains, that you skipped like rams?
O little hills, like lambs?

7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the God of Jacob,
8 Who turned the rock into a pool of water,
The flint into a fountain of waters.

Psalm 46:1-3
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

His presence causes the earth to shake an the waters to recede. It is God at the center of devastation. Because the Bible attributes volcanic activity to God in Psalms 18:7-15 then there also can be a reason why something like this happens.

The Purpose of God in Earthquakes

God’s purpose in earthquakes is to achieve His will. Whatever the LORD pleases He does,In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places (Psalm 135:6). If He desires it He will do it. Yet there is something more than Him shaking the earth for no reason as if He did it just because. He is not like a child who for spite makes the mountains quake. In scripture the earthquakes are most often referred to God’s anger or displeasure.

Job 9:1-6 Then Job answered and said:
“Truly I know it is so, But how can a man be righteous before God? If one wished to contend with Him, He could not answer Him one time out of a thousand. God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered? He removes the mountains, and they do not know. When He overturns them in His anger; He shakes the earth out of its place, And its pillars tremble;

At God’s displeasure that mountains are moved and the earth shakes. Jeremiah reiterates this in chapter 4:23-26. We might be moved to be angry with God yet it is sin that is just for God to reveal his just anger. For Psalms 7:11-13 even points out that God is angry with the wicked every day.

Is There Hope?

Absolutely. In the presence of such disaster as we read earlier that God is our help and refuge in times trouble Psalm 46:1. We can have a sure confidence that we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28. For those who go through such experience like this and have their hope in the Lord can have a comfort and joy.

Do you love God?

Loving God is the first and greatest question you can ever answer. A Pharisee Lawyer asked Jesus this question;

Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. (Matt. 22:35-38).

To not love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind is the first and great sin as spoken by R.A. Torrey. To not love God is the greatest trespass that we could ever have. Really to have hope in God is to believe in Him. To find refuge in trouble is to have peace when it seems as though the world is falling apart.

Jesus gives a response to such a question about cataclysmic events. He points to the tower of Siloam in which 13 people die from its collapse (Luke 13:4) and says do you think they worst sinners than all of Jerusalem. The point He is making is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. God uses events like these to call some to Himself, to bring judgement, and to take some home. Some people will be save as a result of earthquakes.

The End Is Soon

The gospels give us a sign that the end is near. The disciples ask in Matthew 24:3 what the sign of the end is near. Jesus gives us a list of signs that the end is near.

  • People claiming to be Christ (present)
  • Wars and rumors of wars (present)
  • Famine
  • Pestilence
  • Earthquakes

May this be a reminder unto us that the end is near and that earthquakes are a revelation of God to mankind. That He uses earthquakes to bring judgment to punish evil doers and to save the lost. And should we face such crippling situations may we yet look find God as our present help in times of trouble.