There are three assignments given to every believer:
1. To show forth good works (Matt. 5:16);
2. To shine forth a clear witness (I Peter 3:15); and
3. To sustain a life of effective, spiritually impacting prayer (Romans 8:26-28).
In the aftermath of an earthquake, each of us needs to have our souls settled. While everything else is shaking, certain truths sustain those who know God and His Word. Only as those truths are settled in our minds can our souls (which consists of our mind, emotions and will) manage to function with wisdom, peace and a holy resolve. It’s to that goal that I offer these words.
The direct answer to the double question in the title is “Yes.” “Yes,” earthquakes are natural, and “Yes,” earthquakes are the result of sin. That is, they are essentially spiritual at their root reason for happening. Let me give a brief summary to set clear thinkers in line.
First: God created this world as “very good” (Genesis 1:31), and specific mention is made that all the land/water was “in one place” at creation (Genesis 1:9). What God revealed in His Word, science confirmed a few decades ago, when geophysical studies verified that Earth’s land mass was originally one, a place science has named “Pangea” (“all the earth”).
Second: Mankind was assigned the rule, oversight, and development of Earth under God. A situation which was damaged and drastically changed in every respect with allowance of sin to enter through human disobedience. This altered everything: (1) man’s relationship with God and rulership over creation was broken, (2) life, health and the biological order were negatively impacted, and (3) the whole planet came under the curse of brokenness and disintegration (Rom. 8:20-22).
Third: The eventual dividing of the earth, with sliding tectonic plates and the resulting earthquakes caused by this broken eggshell of a planet we live on, was as direct a result of the fall of man. The Bible reveals the earth’s condition was originally different and became divided (Gen. 10:25), and the setting of the tectonic plates in motion occurred at the time of the Flood (Gen. 7:11; 2 Pet. 3:5-6).
Fourth: Remembering that the Bible is not given to us to be a textbook of science, but a guidebook unto salvation and spiritual recovery, we don’t expect details on these matters, but there is revelation. The fact is this: All brokenness is the result of sin. Whether it is man’s broken relationship with God or brokenness in nature (which brings natural disasters along with everything else that poisons our planet), it is all the bitter fruit of sin.
Fifth: All aspects of the curse then are the result of man’s fall and not the design of God’s original creative order. God cannot be blamed for what mankind has allowed to invade an originally perfect order. The whole spectrum of fallen-brokenness is due to the impact of sin, which separated this planet and its inhabitants from our Creator. Harmful things are judgments, because they are a part of sin’s tragic impact on what God made (Luke 13:1-5).
Sixth: “Is God judging the place where the earthquake took place?” The answer is, possibly. Two decades ago, the City of Los Angeles, specifically Northridge and surrounding areas, experienced a large earthquake. Given the sequence of things which have come upon this City in recent years, we would be foolish to overlook an apparent fact: the concentration of sin, human arrogance, and calculated evil which was welcomed and promoted there may well have come to its hour of accounting.
How should a believer respond? Firstly, like Jonah learned, don’t run from the City but rush to it. A larger deserved judgment can be reversed (note God’s mercy on the humble, needy, and helpless of a city, Jonah 4:11). Secondly, as Jeremiah said to sensitive believers “seek the peace of the City…pray for it…(and) you will find peace” (Jer. 29:7).
Seventh: All natural and social disaster, or for that matter any human sinning, should still be an occasion for repentance, prayer, and a call to return to God. At the same time, all such occasions should call for praise to God for His mercies (Lam. 3:22).There are consistent evidences of God’s protection, prevention and divine presence during disasters.
Eighth: The only antidote to all human need is the redemption that has been provided us in Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 3:16). He sent His Son to save and forgive us, and restore relationship with our Father. The enemy’s original goal, which was our total destruction, has been defeated (Rom. 6:23).
Ninth: There is no promise that anyone will find perfection or will recover all sin has cost us in this world, but we are promised Christ’s presence and comfort all our lives!
Tenth: Complete recovery will be realized on this planet when it is wholly renewed by the Creator (Rev. 21:1-8).
In the meantime, let us observe our duties as His redeemed! Let us remember that every earthquake fulfills a prophecy bringing us one step closer to our dear Savior’s return. Let this promise bring hope!