The Earthquake in Japan Is Not A Sign of the End!
Don K. Preston D. Div.
When I turned on the computer this morning early (3-11-11), the news was horrible. A massive earthquake has hit northern Japan, devastating wide areas, and then followed by a 30 foot tsunami wave. Thousands are missing, hundreds already confirmed dead. It is a terrible catastrophe by any standard.
I can already hear the machinery of the dispensational world at work, cranking out another book, only slightly revised from the 2005 versions that claimed that the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami was a sign that the end of the world is right upon us! We will be told (falsely) that there has never been another time in history when there have been so many earthquakes. It must be the time of the end.
Prophecy prognosticators will tell a troubled world that, “Look! Jesus said that there would be earthquakes before the end! We are seeing massive earthquakes! The end is surely near!” And a gullible public will snatch up the latest book that sells fear and fantasmagoria.
Did Jesus say that there would be earthquakes, wars and, famines and perils? Of course he did. However, he also said that those things were not, let me repeat that, were not signs that the end was to be near! Read it for yourself in Matthew 24:6/ Luke 21:9). Isn’t there something wrong – inherently wrong – with a theology that turns “these are not signs that the end is imminent” into, “Look, these signs prove the end is near!”?
Here is something that is tragically overlooked in discussions of these natural disasters and the question of signs. When God brought signs of impending judgment, He almost invariably sent His prophets to warn the guilty of that coming judgment. Furthermore, that prophet, or those prophets in some cases, said what the judgment was to be, and, when it would take place. Notice what YHVH said to Israel long ago, before He brought the Assyrians into their land in judgment: “If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it? Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.”
God was not saying that He did not do “anything” without telling the people of it. He was speaking of judgment. So, God was saying that He would not bring judgment on a people unless He first send His prophet to warn them of it, to describe it, and tell when it would occur.
Was the earthquake in Japan a judgment from God? Well, if so, where were the prophets who had been telling of its coming, telling what it was going to be, and saying it was going to happen this morning? Answer? There were none! And that means that the earthquake in Japan this morning was not a sign of the end, and it was not a judgment from God like those described in scripture.
But, didn’t Jesus and scripture give some signs of the end? Yes. What were those signs?
Elijah was to come, “Before the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:5-6). Jesus said John the Immerser was the predicted Elijah (Matthew 11:11-15, 17:9-13). But John, as Elijah appeared in Jesus’ contemporary generation. Jesus emphatically said of John the Baptizer: “Elijah has already come!”
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was to occur in the Last Days before the coming of the Lord (Joel 2:28-32). On Pentecost, the Spirit was poured out and Peter said, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:15f). The outpouring of the Spirit occurred in Jesus’ contemporary generation.
In Matthew 24:14 Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, then comes the end.” In Romans 16:25-26, Colossians 1:23, etc. Paul said the gospel had been preached into all the world. This happened in Jesus’ contemporary generation. See my book Into All the World, Then Comes The End, for full documentation of the fulfillment of the Mission in the first century.
Jesus said that when the Abomination of Desolation appeared his disciples were to flee from Judea because of the coming tribulation. Then, “immediately after the tribulation” the Son of Man would come (Matthew 24:15-29). Church historian Eusebius says the early church fled Judea in about A. D. 66 being commanded to do so by the Lord. The Abomination of Desolation occurred in Jesus’ contemporary generation.
The Great Apostasy would be another sign of the Day of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:2f). In Matthew 24:9-12 Jesus said the love of the “majority” (NASV) of people would grow cold. He said it would be in his generation (v. 34). The rest of the New Testament documents the reality of that apostasy (Galatians 1:6f).
The Man of Sin, was a sign of the parousia. Paul specifically says that Man of Sin was already alive in his generation (2 Thessalonians 2:5-8).
Here is something critical, but of course it is either ignored or overlooked by all of the prophecy teachers of the day. Jesus said that the signs of his coming, and the end of the age, would occur in “this generation” (Matthew 24:34). That was his generation. Yet those who hold that Jesus’ coming has not yet occurred seek to redefine the term “this generation,” and make it apply to our generation or to the future.
Because every major sign of the Lord’s coming did occur in the first century generation it is wrong to look for those signs today. Because every major sign occurred in Jesus’ generation it is wrong to redefine “this generation” to mean our current generation or one that is yet future. Because all of those signs occurred in Jesus’ generation Jesus’ coming must have occurred then as well.
The earthquake and tsunami in Japan is not a sign that the end is near. The end was in AD 70.