THE GREAT EARTHQUAKE TO COMEWhen the soon expected day of the Lord comes, in which the nations shall be gathered against Jerusalem, and the Lord goes forth to confront them (as described in Zech. 14: 1 3), there will be accompanying geological and geographical changes in Palestine.
If you will read beyond the 3rd verse of Zechariah 14, you will get the picture, in verses 4 through 7, of what surely must be a description of a great seismic disturbance.
“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (verse 4).
The magnitude of this earthquake is confirmed in Revelation 16: 18 & 19, in which the seventh vial of the wrath of God is poured upon the earth. This event is described in connection with the latter-day destruction of the Babylonian system so graphically illustrated in the 17th and 18th chapters of Revelation.
This is a word picture of the events immediately preceding the actual return of our Lord Jesus Christ in all His majesty, glory and power to occupy the throne of God on earth and be King over all the earth, when the prayer of Matthew 6: 10 will be finally answered “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
The great valley of the River Jordan, which runs north and south through Palestine, traverses a considerable portion of a great fault in the earth’s crust. The fault begins in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey and continues southward down the Jordan Valley then on through the Gulf of Akaba, thence across the Red Sea to end in the Transvaal in southern Africa. In a sinuous line it covers one-third the distance from one pole to the other.
Part of the Jordan River system is the Sea of Galilee which is over 600 feet below the level of the Mediterranean Sea. The Salt Sea, further south, into which the Jordan flows is 1292 feet below sea level and is called the “Dead Sea” because the excessive heat in the area causes intense evaporation, leaving the sea so heavy with salt, organic life can barely survive in it.
Ezekiel looked into the future and saw a vital change to the Salt Sea (Ezekiel47: 10), “and it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from En gedi even unto En eglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many.”
En gedi is an oasis on the west shore, about halfway between the north and south ends of the Dead Sea. The name means “fountain of a kid”. It is about 35 miles from Jerusalem which lies 15 miles almost due west of the northern tip of the Dead Sea.
En eglaim is associated with Beth hoglah, which is an oasis situated at the northern end of the Dead Sea, a short distance from where the Jordan enters the sea.
The Jordan is appropriately named, for the name means “descender”. Its source is 1000 feet above sea level. It falls tortuously to a point of 1292 feet below sea level where it enters the Dead Sea.
Lieut. Lynch of the U.S. Navy, who in 1848 sailed from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, wrote ‘In a space of 60 miles of latitude and 4 miles in longitude the Jordan traverses at least 200 miles … we have plunged down 27 threatening rapids besides a great many of lesser magnitude.”
Jerusalem, not far to the west is 2500 feet above sea level. The depression through which the Jordan flows is very deep indeed.
The vegetation in the valley traveled by Lieut. Lynch is lush and tropical. Under irrigation the region produces luxuriant crops.
Because of its fertility, Lot chose the plain of Jordan as his dwelling place. He dwelt in the city of Sodom which scholars say was situated at the southern end of the Dead Sea which, at that time, doubtless did not exist in its present desolate condition.
The 19th chapter of Genesis tells of the destruction of this evil city by an upheaval which “overthrew” the city and “all the plain”.
Earthquakes in the region are common and are mentioned time and again in Scripture. Notable are those which destroyed Jericho, situated on the plain of Jordan, at the time of Joshua, and the one which accompanied the crucifixion of Christ causing the veil in the temple to be rent in twain, and another at His resurrection (Matt. 27:51 and 28:2).
When the Lord stands upon the mount of Olives, the land to the west and parallel to the present Dead Sea, from Geba in the north to Rimmon in the south, including the city of Jerusalem, will be turned into a plain (Zech. 14:9). Zechariah 14:8 states that living water shall go forth from Jerusalem going both to the east and to the west. Thus will Ezekiel’s prophecy be fulfilled as the waters of the Dead Sea become purified so as to allow fishing in them. Note that the Hebrew word for living is “chai” and means running water and is so translated in Leviticus 14 where the treatment for leprosy is given.
When Field Marshal Lord Kitchener was a young man, he spent some time excavating in and around this area. He was convinced there was a subterranean lake under Jerusalem and at some time or another a great earthquake would release the water.
As mentioned earlier, the great fault upon which Palestine sits also extends through Africa and any upheaval along its length will affect that continent too. It is interesting to note Ezekiel’s prophecy against Egypt (chapter 29), which states that (verse 10) Egypt, from the tower of Syene (Aswan dam) to the border of Ethiopia will be desolated.
We are living in fearful and yet wonderful times, and we shall do well to keep one eye on prophetical teaching and the other on the signs of the times remembering that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.”