Yesterday, we had an earthquake here in the eastern U.S. It was not a large one, measured by California standards. Actually Californians are snickering at us for all the coverage we are giving it. But, to be fair, we aren't use to the earth shaking beneath our feet anymore than they are to being hit by any category hurricane or tropical storm (Yo, California bros., when have you experienced that?)
Shortly after I took a kiddie ride on my office chair, thanks to Mother Nature, I noticed a friend posting the question when the doomsday criers will begin their shouts of the Apocalypse. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter - instantaneously. Now most people are rationalized and recognize that the U.S. has over 5000 earthquakes each year (Thanks Mark for those stats), but most are so small we never feel them (and yes, they happen here in the east too - just go to the USGS website). But that doesn't stop the alarmist, does it.
But surely, I hear, this must be the fulfilling of prophecy - the end times are at hand - a 5.8 earthquake along the eastern seaboard. Well, we had one similar in 1944, the Great Charleston, SC earthquake of the 19th century, and the monster earthquake in Madrid, MO in the 19th century.
And we are still here.
Now let me say, I am not being heretical, not by any means. Let's look at what scripture says though, specifically what Jesus says about the end times. Mark 13 is specifically what is known as the apocalyptic (end time) chapter of the gospels. Note what Jesus says in Mark 13.7-8
7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.
Some point to this (and have abundantly on the Internet since yesterday) as proof of the end times being here. But allow me to ask this question - since when has these things not occurred? Has there not been wars and rumors of wars since the beginning (go back and read the Bible starting at say Genesis forward and also read some history books). Hasn't the world always experienced earthquakes (again refer to the Bible and those history books). Famines? Guess where you can look for your answers.
The point Jesus was making was that when He returns, it will be during the status quo. That's why He made the allusions to the thief in the night, one worker or sleeper taken while another is left. He could have easily said that the end will come when the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. These things always happen - that's the point. You are to live each day as if it is the last - not just until a great neon sign appears in the sky and says, "Hey Ya, get ready because I'm on my way!" No, we are to live each day following Jesus, loving God and each other, helping out our neighbors, forgiving our enemies, and do the best we can.
There are gonna be aftershocks. Some will be felt, others won't. Guns will be fired at human beings. People will starve. But followers of Jesus are to look to how they can be Jesus ambassadors - loving God and loving others.