Just a few weeks ago Nepal was hit with a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake. It devastated the nation, causing enormous damage, injuring more than 18,000 and killing more than 8,000. Today, they were struck with another 7.3 magnitude earthquake. 30 minutes later, a 6.3 hit as well. So far at least 1,200 have been injured and 68 killed. Without a doubt, we should pray diligently for these people.
Among the damage and devastation, there are some who believe these earthquakes are signs that the end of the world is near. They point to Matthew 24:7 and how it speaks of “famines and earthquakes.” Doomsayers claim all the warnings of Matthew 24 are signs that the end of the world is coming. Are they right? Are the earthquakes we see warnings of the end?
It’s very helpful to look at the context of Matthew 24. Jesus and His disciples are walking through Jerusalem looking at the buildings (vs. 1), when Jesus throws in a twist, “And He said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down’” (vs. 2).
Jesus just revealed that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed! This was obviously going to raise some questions. Notice verse 3, “As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’” The disciples are asking three questions here: (1) When will these things [the destruction of Jerusalem] happen, (2) what will be the sign of your coming [in judgment against Jerusalem], and (3) what will be the sign of the end of the age [the end of the world].
In verses 4-35, Jesus answers the first two questions about the destruction of Jerusalem. He tells them they will see several signs that destruction is coming (vs. 4-14). One of which are earthquakes (vs. 7). These earthquakes have nothing to do with the end of the world, and everything to do with the destruction of Jerusalem. In fact, this is why He goes on to say, “woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days” (vs. 19). This is also why He says they should pray that it does not happen in the winter or on the Sabbath (vs. 20). If this is talking about the end of the world, why would it matter if someone was pregnant or nursing? If this is talking about the end of the world, why would it matter if it was in the winter? This make no sense for the end of the world, but perfect sense if the city is about to be destroyed and they need to flee for their lives. Doing so while pregnant, nursing, or during the winter would make things very challenging.
Verses 4-35 specifically address the destruction of Jerusalem, but then notice the major shift in vs. 36, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Jesus is clearly talking about something very different. He is now addressing the final question about the end of the world. Several times Jesus points out that there are no signs of this event and no one except God knows when it will occur (vs. 36-44). If verses 4-35 were talking about the end of the world as people claim, then they would directly contradict vs. 36-44. Obviously verses 4-35 address the Destruction of Jerusalem, and 36-44 addresses the Judgment Day.
To boil it down, the earthquakes Nepal is experiencing right now are terrible, but they have absolutely nothing to do with the end of the world. Let’s make no mistake, however, the judgment day is coming, we just don’t know exactly when and there will be no warning signs (vs. 36-44). So, let’s make sure we’re always spiritually ready (vs. 45-51).