Earthquakes in the Bible 

This post, Earthquakes in the Bible, grew out of my study of Amos. I took a look at the faults and volcanoes in the area and will mention several of the “major” quakes in the Bible. If you want to do your own study and are using a Bible app search tool, adding these terms will increase your hits. I used the NIV-earthquake, quake, earth open, shook, shake, melt, trembled, split, and mountain moving. 

A little science first. (Names have been an interesting problem and are different depending on what map you look at.) The main crack in the crust is called the Levant Fault and seems to follow the Jordan River. There are many smaller faults on the east and west sides of the Levant. This fault line is a border between the Arabian Plate (east) and the plate under the Mediterranean Sea (west). This is a transform fault (it moves laterally). The Arabian Plate also has a divergent line (spreads apart) in the Red Sea, and a convergent zone (comes together or is pushing into or under another plate) that runs through the Arabian or Persian Gulf. The divergent zone is associated with the fault that runs through the eastern side of Africa. Earthquakes in this region are numerous and would not have been anything new to the people of the Bible. There are also several volcanoes in the area, though none seem to have erupted in the last four thousand years.  

Korah, Dathan, and Abiram 

Numbers 16: 30 is the story of a rebellion against God and Moses. God stops it by removing the conspirators. For the location, this was on the east side of the Jordan and Dead Sea. “The earth opening up and swallowing” is something that can happen during a quake. Korah was a Levite and Dathan, and Abiram is from Ruben. In the layout of the camp around the Tabernacle, these two families/groups would have been next to each other in the heart of the camp on the south side. This just adds an extra level to the story, for me; God opened that hole in the middle of a busy “city” and did not harm anyone else. This power and judgment were talked about for a long time, it made a “second-level” telling in Psalm 106:17.  

Elijah also records a specific earthquake in 1 Kings 19:12. The man of God, was about to meet his Lord in a one-on-one encounter. I have heard it preached many ways, but I do not think God was pleased with Elijah being in that cave. This meeting has some parallels with Moses on the mountain when God came to him. God’s entrance also has wind and fire. When you study other mentions of quakes; severe weather, storms, landslides, and violent waves are talked about several times. 

Amos 1:1 tells of a quake that occurred during the reign of Uzziah. Zechariah uses that earthquake to tell a future quake that will happen when the Messiah returns and touches the Mount of Olives. Isaiah has many references to earthquakes (I counted 6x), the references in Isaiah 5:25 and 29:6 could be speaking of the one mentioned by Amos. The one in Isaiah 29 has thunder, great noise, windstorms, and fire, it may also talk of the one I mentioned in Zachariah and/or the quake in Revelations 16. 

Matthew tells of a quake and its aftershock in chapters 27 and 28 that occurred during the Passover when Jesus was sacrificed and reborn. The first quake occurred when Jesus breathed His last breath (verses 50-54). The thick curtain in the Temple was torn revealing the empty Holy of Holies and tombs around Jerusalem were opened. The timing convinced the centurion and soldiers that Jesus was the Son of God. The aftershock was provided by an angel who rolled the sealing stone out of the way, so the women could not find the body.  

There is a movie/documentary called the Crucifixion Quake. I saw three strands in this movie. The main strand was a geologist trying to find evidence of the earthquake talked about by Matthew, he did. He used fieldwork, lab work, and some impressive studying of ancient text to confirm that the quake actually happened. Strand two was a priest and several scientists that supported the Bible and the Christian beliefs of this quake and other events of that day. Strand three had a New Age pundit and several “New Testament experts” that did not believe Matthew’s account or spun the story to neutralize Jesus and that day. Okay, I did a lot of fast-forwarding because strand three was giving me a headache. I may try watching it again and doing a better review, but.   

In my study I used this link for the word seismos. σεισμός | billmounce.com 

Luke records a specific earthquake that set Paul and Silas free from chains and helped to get the jailor and his family saved. Philippi is far removed from the Levant but is no stranger to fault lines, earthquakes, and volcanoes. 

Metaphors, Prophecy, and Quakes 

Many writers talk about earthquakes in the Bible. Jerusalem and the Land are the epicenter of these really and predicted quakes. There are several references to the hills and mountains melting like wax. Of course our modern minds go to lava. But active volcanoes near the Holy Land are few, so may I suggest that a landslide or rockslide could be described like that. 

  • Debroah-Judges 5: 4+5 
  • Micah 1:4 
  • Nahum 1:5  
  • Jesus – Matthew 24:7, Mark 13, and Luke 21 
  • David – Psalm 68:8 this echoes Deborah, Psalm 18:7, 2 Samuel 22:8 
  • Moses – Psalm 97: 5 (I think he wrote this psalm) 
  • Asaph and the sons of Korah – Psalm 77:18, 75: 3, 46: 3  
  • Isaiah14:16 (a reference to Satan); 29:6; 5:25; 24:18,19; 42:15; 45:8 
  • Zechariah 14:4,5 
  • Ezekiel 38:19 
  • John – Revelations 16:18,19; chapters 6, 8, and 11 also reference earthquakes 

Seismos is a Greek word that references more than earthquakes. What other events does it talk about? 

Many of the earthquakes mentioned by the prophets talk about a great earthquake that will happen on the “Day” of His return. This may not be all of the references to earthquakes in the Bible, but it should get you started in your studies. 

Many or Polys

Greek Interlinear Bibles can be the start of grand studies, like this one about many or polys. This study started in John 15:5 with us bearing much fruit and then went to Matthew 24 or Holy Tuesday when Jesus was teaching on the Mount of Olives. (Now, if you are a Greek scholar, please bear with me, I am not.) Polys and its various forms can be translated-many, much, great, loud, and various other words that speak to these ideas. Poly in science class was always many of something, so I am stuck on that. In John, I like the sound of many fruits, not just one type or a lot of just one thing. The Strong’s number is G4118 and several others. Matthew 2:18 is another verse that could be affected. Ramah’s voice weeping with many mourning (people) and a lot of it is probably what happened.

Matthew 21—25 is currently catching my attention because of the Sermons on the Two Mounts. Seven polys in Chapter 24 are a lot, and it led to a verse in John that I found interesting. His disciples asked Jesus about His second coming, so this is one of the several pure-teachings (non-parables) He gave that day. The references below are KJV, I added the Bold effect. I used Bible Gateway.

Matthew 24

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

(If these verses and that teaching upset you, may I suggest you learn about Jesus and the work He did on the cross. Fear and doubt are not from Jesus. Producing much fruit will help also.)

30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

All of this led to John 6:66-From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. The back story of that verse is important. Jesus had fed the 5,000 and the people liked the free meal ticket. In verses 57 and 58, Jesus said He was the heavenly mana, and that people needed to be eating His flesh and living forever. Cannibalism is not okay and I am sure the crowd went with that thought first. Another level of stumbling occurred because Jesus implied that His work was greater than what Moses had done. One more level is that Jesus claimed to be from heaven and that He could supply life everlasting.

Personally, I loved the 666 of the reference and how it perfectly matched with the end-time message in Matthew 24. God has a sense of humor!

Many thoughts or few, I found polys an exciting study. 

Scrolls

This post on scrolls will highlight several important ones that are found in Scripture and one that may have been given to several people. (My imagination may have taken over.) The number of Bible verses that have the word scroll in it depends on which translation of Scripture you read. The numbers can go from in the fifty’s to well over one hundred-I offer no explanation. See the article below for information about the Torah, it is an interesting article.

Since scrolls were the books of the day it is no surprise that things people wanted to remember were written on them. Here are a few examples-

  • Malachi 3:16 (add this one to your favorite 3:16 verses) God had this one written in Heaven. He purposed to remember the people that talked right about Him.
  • Isaiah 30:7-9 This scroll is to be an everlasting witness against people who refuse to listen to God’s instructions.
  • Exodus 17:14 The scroll is for Joshua, so he remembers to blot out the Amalekites.

Kings in Israel were to write a copy of the Law. It is not recorded that any of them did.

  • Deuteronomy 17:18 is the original command before Israel ever thought of crowning a king.
  • 1 Samuel 10:25 has an unhappy prophet writing down what the king’s duties were and he puts it before the Lord.

A strange use for a scroll is in Numbers 5:23. Curses would be written on it because a husband thought his wife had been unfaithful. The writing would then be washed into a cup and the woman had to drink it. Her innocence was determined by what happened to her. 

Isaiah 8, 29, 30, and 34 uses scrolls for various reasons that are object lessons. They speak against Israel of that day.

Zachariah 5 has a flying scroll. The prophet is having a vision that condemns thieves and those who swear falsely. Besides flying and being very large this scroll is written on both sides. I am not sure if this was a common practice, but a Torah is only written on one side. What was written on both sides was the tablets of the Law (according to tradition). Zachariah was part of the team that got the Second Temple built.

Jesus in Revelation 5. This is the scroll that seems to be in several places in the Bible. In Revelation, only Jesus can undo the seals that are sealing this scroll. (This is where my imagination kicks in.) I can see this same scroll with Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. To be fair John may have a part in this one but he gets his in Revelations 10.a

John, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel have a similar experience with scrolls/God’s word. All of them eat or taste them, they start out sweet and then turn bitter. Jeremiah (15) and Ezekiel (2:9-3:3) are not to surrender to the people and their attempts to sway the prophets. The last two are not happy about what happens to them as the bitterness is rooted in physical problems. Ezekiel’s scroll is written on both sides. These two prophets took the message to their own people. Ezekiel has the people being thorns and briers and scorpions. (I just did a post on thorns.)

This scroll is not the one that Jehoiakim (Chapter 36) burned but one in Jeremiah 51, the curses that overtake Babylon. Yes, Jeremiah threw it in the river but may I purpose a spiritual counterpart to that one. (There is no proof of that in Scripture.) Ezekiel gets the same spiritual scroll and continues the writing-Chapter 3. Finally, Daniel has his part in Chapter 12 and is ordered to seal it up until the time is right. Only Jesus, because of His obedience to going to the cross, is worthy to undo the seals.

What binds these three prophets together is when they lived and their witness to the destruction of Jerusalem and the deporting of Judah and Jerusalem. I would go so far as to say that the scroll was passed on after each prophet died-Jeremiah was first followed, by Ezekiel, and finally Daniel as an old man who sealed it for Jesus to open.

John in Revelation 10 gets handed a little scroll. Like the first one, it is sweet in the mouth but turns bitter when it hits the stomach. This scroll is connected to the mystery of God (10:7) that is revealed in the end times. That mystery deals with Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 3:6 and others) being made one and becoming the Bride of Christ. 10:11 is actually an encouragement to John, he is told that he still has work to do. A reason I think it is a different scroll, it is little.

Disclaimer- Scroll is a STUDY, not doctrine. There is still a lot to study about scrolls but this was a fun start.

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/torah-scroll/ a good reference for the making of the Torah scroll.

Kingdom Wedding

Matthew 25:1 compares the Kingdom of Heaven to ten girls waiting for their wedding. This post continues the ideas in the Ten Virgins Who Woke Up by examining components of a Jewish wedding. Marriage and the Wedding are core to the Kingdom of God. It is the third thing that God provided to Adam in the Garden-a place to live, a way to support himself, and a wife (life is a given). Genesis 2:24 is the first explanation or commentary in the Bible. The verse explains the “why” for the first recorded words of any man: “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”. Yes, Adam spoke names of animals, but they are never listed. This shows the importance of marriage. Because this joining reflects how God wants us to relate to Him, is there any wonder why marriage between a man and a woman is being attacked? The serpent’s assault on the Kingdom in the Garden is intended to separate mankind from God and to tear apart the union of Man and Woman. What if Adam never ate the fruit? Eve was deceived, but sin entered when Adam followed his wife in eating the forbidden fruit. How would things look now if Adam followed God’s voice and instructions? Okay, back to the symbolism in a Jewish wedding. 

In Luke 2, Mary is betrothed to Joseph. This part of the wedding is the erusin and, according to custom, they are bound to each other. Joseph’s father paid the mohar or bride’s price to Mary’s father (Exodus 22:16). This money should follow Mary into the marriage, but the money or services belonged to Mary’s father. I am sure that the money became part of Joseph’s concern when he found out Mary was with child. Father God paid the mohar; Jesus came to earth and died for us to pay the price. Our erusin began when we choose to accept that payment of Jesus’ blood and the work of the cross.

The mattan are the gifts given to the bride by the groom over and above the mohar. This thought is overwhelming! Jesus sent the Holy Spirit and with Him are the gifts. Charis is the Greek word used for the gifts of the Spirit and for grace. Are you picking what part of the mattan you want and fits in your BOX, or are you taking all the Gift? 

For the next parts of the wedding, I will list and explain as I see them and how they fit into the Kingdom.

  1. In the erusin, the groom is to prepare a place for the bride to live (John 14:2+3). Search in Bible Gateway for-prepare a place. The results are interesting. https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=prepare+a+place&resultspp=100&version=NIV
  2. The bride (and the groom) are to wash in a mikveh. This is a spiritual preparation. A mikveh is a pool of living (moving) water. I will equate the washing to baptism, but there are many types and reasons for washing in Jewish customs. 
  3. Nissuin is the wedding, and a part of this is a colorful parade. This procession is in the parable of the Ten Virgins. The Bride was never sure when the groom would come, so they had to be ready. The Father of the groom decided the exact time for the procession. Jesus said this in Matthew 24:36. I did not find this in my current research, but I believe the nissuin was two parades, one going to get the Bride and one going home. If that is the case, I would like to call the Palm Sunday ride into Jerusalem the first parade and the second parade is yet to happen.
  4. The chappah is what the Bride stands under, and that symbolizes the marriage chamber. May I offer the tongues of fire when they settled above the disciples’ heads on the Day of Pentecost as the chappah? They represent the glory of Heaven as first seen on Mount Sinai
  5. The Bride has responsibilities and duties during the erusin. Her price has been paid, and she is now married (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The free.messianicbible.com site uses the Parable of the Virgins as its focus, so I am good with that. Again, I don’t have sources, but many of the things they say I have heard/read in other places. The bride had to be ready and part of that was a lamp filled with oil. She was to be concerned about her clothing and ornaments. She needed to be listening for the shofar (the trump) that will announce the groom’s coming. In our current customs, the bride and her family are busy doing all the work for the perfect day. That is not what it looked like in the first century. The groom handled the marriage feast.

Another post will focus on verses in the Bible about this topic. They are surprising. Psalm 45, which is labeled a wedding song, will provide a new twist on Kingdom, weddings, and brides. 

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/465162/jewish/The-Jewish-Marriage-Ceremony.htm

https://www.biblegateway.com

myjewishlearning .com

jfedgmw.org

free.messianicbible.com

I apologize about the URL for the last three websites. All deal with ancient Jewish wedding practices. Facebook is creating links that I did not wish to have in my post.

The Garden and the Thousand Year Reign

The thousand-year reign of Revelation 20 and the Garden of Eden may sound like two strange concepts to put together, but this is today’s study. (SPOILER ALERT – this a study, only a study.)  The question that inspired this study was – Why was Satan to be bound and then released?  (Revelation 20:2,3, and 7 NIV).  So, I am not questioning what is going to happen in that thousand-year period but why a thousand years.

Since I have been musing on the Garden I have noticed many connections between Genesis and Revelation. Things from the Garden show up in both – the Tree of Life and the River.  So, the thousand-year reign also stirred my interest.  Was this another thing that had its foundation in the Creation story?

Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8 are used frequently to speak of an eternal God and His idea of time.  One thousand years equals a day in the sight of God is not a new in theology or eschatology.  For me they are a reminder of just how limited I am compared to God.  Pulling this thought into Revelation 20 does not seem right, so I will leave it alone.  But that still left me with – why bind Satan for thousand years and then release him for a short time? 

Having noticed so many similar things in Genesis and Revelation, I have to wonder if the first Adam (and Eve) had a thousand years in the Garden before the Tree of Knowledge.  One thousand years of just pure fellowship with the Eternal Father and spending time under His rule and reign.  Just man and God walking in the Garden.  It could possible follow a pattern that some have seen in the Creation story – chaos, peace/Creation, and chaos.  I will try to explain that last statement.  Genesis 1:2 has a formless earth that is empty and dark, followed with God casting His light over everything; then to have the deception in Genesis 3. In Revelation it may look like the Antichrist, the thousand years, Satan loose, the eternal Kingdom of God.

Was the Tree a test for Adam and Eve?  Job’s story could loosely fit into the scenario of peace, chaos, and then peace.  That would then lead to the question of – Did Satan have to get permission to trouble Eve?  That thought might have you look at Revelation 20 as a thousand-year reign, Satan loose and deceiving people again, and then his last judgment.  Which ushers in the Father/Jesus’ Kingdom.

Man’s freewill is the issue here.  Eve, then Adam, choose knowledge over fellowship.  Abraham had knowledge and choose faith over doubt.  Judah and Israel were split on what to choose, some choose God, some did not.  People today, especially the Church, are in that same Garden.  Do I really choose Jesus and His way, or do I choose knowledge and its way?  The Father’s Kingdom will only have people that truly chose to fellowship with Him.  Will it come down to Revelation 20:6 (the Garden) or 20:7 and chaos.  Your choice!

Pic is from http://clipart.christiansunite.com