Earthquakes are natural occurrences all over the globe. Every continent shakes to one extent or another. These are normal natural events. Amos dates his prophetic ministry to “two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1), an apparently large and naturally occurring quake.
However, scripture records for us a number earthquakes that are miraculous and have theological significance. “The earth is the Lord’s” (Exodus 9:7), and he uses it for his glory and our instruction.
Communication & Correction
When God gave the law to the Israelites, he wanted them to understand the gravity of the situation. This would not be a series of suggestions to be accepted or discarded as one saw fit. This was the Creator communicating to his creation. This was the Sovereign speaking to his subjects. When God made this covenant he wanted them to see the gravity of the situation.
The people are commanded to go to Mount Sinai to “meet God” (Exodus 19:17). Mount Sinai was not a normal mountain, at least not on this day. It was wrapped in smoke, as Jehovah had descended upon it in fire, and “the whole mountain trembled greatly” (Exodus 19:18). God demonstrated his power by shaking the mountain. The people were afraid (Exodus 20:18).
Korah along with some 250 men questioned God’s prophet and rebelled against God. God’s judgment came in the form of the earth opening up and swallowing Korah and all his people (Numbers 16:31-33). This demonstration had its desired effect God’s majesty was seen, Moses was affirmed as God’s prophet, and Moses was given an opportunity to intercede on behalf of the people.
Demonstration & Salvation
The disciples were arrested, bullied, and threatened. The message was simple, “Do not speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (see Acts 4:18). The result was not what the religious leaders desired. In response to this abuse, the disciples prayed that God would allow them to “continue to speak your word with all boldness” (Acts 4:29). God’s answer was two-fold, he shook the place where they were gathered and filled them with the Holy Spirit. What an emboldening display by the Almighty toward his servants!
Later in the book of Acts, Paul and Silas were imprisoned for disrupting the livelihood of some who were abusing a girl possessed of a demon. After Paul commanded the spirit to leave the girl, he and his companion were dragged into the marketplace, beaten, and placed into stocks. God opened the prison doors and unshackled the men by means of an earthquake, yet no one escaped. This action caused the jailer to question Paul about salvation (Acts 16:29, 30). This earthquake provided an opportunity for the gospel to reach a pagan soldier and his family (Acts 16:31-34).
Affliction & Jubilation
The Word was the agent of creation (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16, 17). When he entered the world, he stepped into a world of his own making. When the Lord of all the earth was crucified, creation responded. The sun hid its face (Luke 23:44, 45), and the earth quaked (Matthew 27:51). When the spirit of Jesus left his body, the earth trembled.
But the unseen realm could not hold the spirit of him who who designed it, nor could the earth accept his decayed body. Jesus arose, and the earth once again trembled (Matthew 28:2). This time the earth reflected the unmatched joy of the Savior conquering death.
What Cannot Be Shaken
If you experience an earthquake large enough, you’ll see that all physical things can be shaken. But the spiritual kingdom of God cannot be shaken (see Hebrews 12:18-29). The Hebrews writer recalls the giving of the law on Sinai, and contrasts that with what Christians have been given. Those in the kingdom have come to Mount Zion, “the city of the living God.” As the assembly of the firstborn ones, we are in the presence of innumerable angels in festal gathering, the supreme God, his Son, Jesus, and the spirits of the righteous made perfect (Hebrews 12:22-24).
While God shook the earth with his voice, he promised to shake earth and the heavens. This figurative shaking would be the removal of things that have been made, so that the spiritual may remain. We are encouraged to “be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28).
This kingdom cannot be shaken because it will never end (Daniel 2:44) and will never be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14). This kingdom cannot be shaken because it is not of this world (John 18:36); therefore, it is not subject to physical might. We are receiving this kingdom and will possess it forever (Daniel 2:18, 27).
This kingdom is here now. Jesus reigns in heaven (1 Corinthians 15:25), and his saints reign on the earth (Revelation 5:9-10).
Once more the earth will shake. The earth will give up the dead once more. Those who have been reigning on earth, Jesus will take with him. The kingdom will be delivered over to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24), we will reign with him forever (2 Timothy 2:12).
Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah!