AN AMAZING FACT: Earthquakes conjure up terrifying images of the ground rocking and rolling as if moved by some diabolical forces from the abyss. Unlike tornadoes or hurricanes, earthquakes usually strike without warning. In North America when we hear the word earthquake we typically think of Los Angeles, San Francisco, or maybe Alaska. But there have even been major earthquakes recorded in Boston, Charleston, South Carolina, and even Long Island.
Surprisingly, some of the greatest potential for a powerful North American earthquake is not on the Pacific or Atlantic Coast but rather the states around mid-America. The granddaddy of great earthquakes occurred between 1811 and 1812 on the New Madrid Fault (halfway between St. Louis and Memphis, beneath the Mississippi). These earthquakes shook the entire United States, affecting the topography of the North American continent more than any other earthquakes in recorded history. Judging from their effects, they were of a magnitude of 7.5 or higher. They were felt over the entire United States east of the Rockies. The shock was so massive, large areas sank into the earth, new lakes were formed, 150,000 acres of forests were destroyed, and the Mississippi River ran backwards, permanently changing its course. Many houses at New Madrid were thrown down. One source notes, “Houses, gardens, and fields were swallowed up.” Fatalities and damage were low, because back then the area was sparsely settled. But in the last 200 years those same areas have become heavily populated.
For years geologists have not been wondering “if” but “when” the big one will hit! Earthquake forecasting is a science to determine the time, location, and magnitude of a future earthquake, especially the next big one in a specific region. Scientists believe there is a significant probability for major earthquakes to hit certain epicenters, causing catastrophic loss of life and property damage in the billions. But the science of prediction is still unreliable. That is why, for decades now, several North America cities have been looking down the barrel of a loaded seismic canon, hoping for another day of grace.
Jesus said just before His coming there would be earthquakes in different places. Such natural disasters continue to point us to the importance of being ready for Christ’s soon return.
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. Luke 21:11