There are seven prophetical earthquakes mentioned in the bible, all of which are designed by God to punish evil, particularly in the last days and chiefly against the enemies of Israel (Read Isaiah 29:5-6).
As Jesus has told us, one of the signs of His coming and the end of the age are great earthquakes in various places (Mt. 24:7; Mk. 13:8; Lu. 21:11). And we are seeing this more and more; it seems that as each year passes we see more and larger earthquakes (click here to see an up-to-date earthquake chart).
This study, however, is dedicated to only those great earthquakes mentioned in the bible that are specifically designed by God to bring His wrath against all evil and specifically against the enemies of Israel and of God.
1. The Earthquake in the Days of Uzziah
The words of Amos, who was among the sheepherders from Tekoa, which he envisioned in visions concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.
2 He said,
“The Lord roars from Zion
And from Jerusalem He utters His voice;
And the shepherds’ pasture grounds mourn,
And the summit of Carmel dries up.”
This is a prophecy regarding a large earthquake that occurred in 760 B.C., which God probably caused because of Uzziah’s sin of usurping the role of a priest (2 Chr. 26:16-23). This earthquake is obviously not an end-time earthquake, but it is prophetically significant as it was mentioned in Zechariah 14:5, which refers to the glorious time in our future when Christ, when He comes, will touch down on the Mount of Olives, and this will cause the mountain to split apart—one half to the north and one half to the south. And the prophet Zachariah prophesies that the Jews will flee by the created valley just as they fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah.
2. The Ezekiel 38 Earthquake
18 “It will come about on that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel,” declares the Lord God, “that My fury will mount up in My anger. 19 “In My zeal and in My blazing wrath I declare that on that day there will surely be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. 20 “The fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all the creeping things that creep on the earth, and all the men who are on the face of the earth will shake at My presence; the mountains also will be thrown down, the steep pathways will collapse and every wall will fall to the ground. 21 “I will call for a sword against him on all My mountains,” declares the Lord God. “Every man’s sword will be against his brother. 22 “With pestilence and with blood I will enter into judgment with him; and I will rain on him and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, with hailstones, fire and brimstone. 23 “I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the Lord.”‘
This is a great earthquake that God will bring as a weapon of His wrath against many nations who will come against Israel. The main nation will be Gog, which many scholars believe to be modern day Russia. The other nations will be Gog’s allies—Persia, Libya, Gomer (Turkey), Ethiopia, and Togarmah, all of which are Arab Muslim countries, haters of Israel (vv. 1-17). As you can see, the earthquake will be centered in Israel, but it appears that it will be felt all over the world. Many think this quake (and this invasion) comes at the end of the tribulation, and is the same as the one described in Revelation 16:18-21. However, I see these two quakes as entirely different: the circumstances of each quake are different; the Revelation quake I think will be much larger; and I think it is possible that this Ezekiel 38 quake (and invasion) will come very soon, before the tribulation period, and possibly before the rapture.
3. The Great Earthquake Described in the Breaking of the Sixth Seal
I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
This earthquake called a “great earthquake” is no doubt a global earthquake, for the above passage says “every mountain and island were moved out of their place.” Thus by this earthquake it may be presumed that all the earth’s faults will be fractured and the continents will be realigned. Moreover, by the language here (“stars falling to the earth”) there may be large meteor showers, and volcano eruptions (the blackening of the sun). The result is that great fear will come upon all men and women, and they will know that God has caused it.
4. An Earthquake That Will Occur As an Introduction to the Seven Trumpets.
When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
We have no information describing the damage of this earthquake, however, since it is mentioned here and it seems to be an introduction to the trumpets judgments, I have to believe it is another global earthquake, felt by all people of the earth. But in my opinion, since it is not described as a great earthquake, and since this there is no description of it, I think it is smaller than the quake in Revelation 6.
5. A Great Earthquake That Will Occur Just After the Two Witnesses Are Resurrected and Before the Seventh Trumpet.
11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. 13 And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
This earthquake, though great, will probably be local—in the area of Jerusalem, which was meant to give glory to God for the ascension of the two witnesses, and also to bring God’s wrath and judgment to evil men, possibly the forces of the antichrist. In contrast, those who gave glory to God are possibly people who will be saved.
6. An Earthquake That Will Occur After the Sounding of the Seventh Trumpet.
Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. 18 “And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”
19 And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.
This earthquake will come with lightning, thunder and great hail. It is no doubt God’s introduction to the bowl judgments, which will occur during the last 3 1/2 years of the tribulation, and has been called the great tribulation. This will not be a “great earthquake,” however, since I think it is an introduction to the great tribulation, it will be felt globally.
7. The Greatest Earthquake Ever.
17 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.” 18 And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nation’s fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.
This will be the greatest earthquake ever! It will occur during the last bowl judgment; and according to the previous verses (vv. 13-16), it will occur just after all the nations have been gathered together (by demons) for war at a place in Israel called Armageddon. The destruction of this great earthquake will be phenomenal, destroying (by the movement of the earth, lightning, by winds and storms, and by 100 pound hail stones) all the cities of the world, including Babylon, the capitol of the antichrist empire. (I wonder how all the Armageddon troops will survive during this earthquake with all the hail; I imagine that many will die before Christ comes to personally slay them.) But Jerusalem will not be destroyed; it will only be split into three parts, which will be God’s improvement and a preparation for the city in the coming kingdom.
The phrase “it is done” indicates that this last quake completes God’s wrath on the earth until He comes to judge the world (to slay all the unbelievers) and set up His kingdom. That glorious event of His coming, when His feet touch down on the Mount of Olives may appear to create another earthquake, for as Zechariah describes it (in Zechariah 14:3-5), “And the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.” This phenomenal occurrence I don’t think will be an earthquake, but it will be a miraculous event, which will provide for all the believers (mostly Jews), at that time of judgment, to flee for safety, just as Israel fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah (Amos 1:1-2).