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Summary: The first thing I learned about earthquakes in the New Testament is that they can be completely positive with no harmful effects. Our text is a case in point. Paul and Silas are delivered from prison by the violent earthquake that opened all the doors.

It was in Santa Clara, California, in the summer of 1988 that Lavonne and I experienced our one

and only earthquake. We were in a motel and the bed began to vibrate like it does when you put a

quarter in the machine at the side of the bed. It only lasted a few seconds, but even that made an

impression on us, and we felt a mild fear to be in the presence of such power. Psychologist say

earthquakes can be more destructive psychologically than natural disasters because quakes strike at

our most cherished belief-that the earth beneath us is solid and steady. Earthquakes shake the very

foundation of our security. We can imagine the awful fear that comes with a powerful earthquake,

like the one that hit that same area where we were.

Earthquakes are a part of this fallen world and they are going on all the time. Some like to

speculate that they are more frequent now than ever, but F. W. Boreham, writing in 1918, said,

"there is an earthquake on the average every quarter of an hour-or about thirty to forty thousand a

year. The earth is like a flea-bitten dog which is always shaking and twitching." Sometimes the

destruction is beyond belief, but experts say we have not seen the worst yet-the big one. But the

world has already seen some really big ones.

The greatest loss of life by an earthquake took place in 1556 in Central China when 830,000

people were killed. The second largest loss of life was in 1976 near Peking, China when 655,000

people died. There have been dozens of earthquakes with tens of thousand of lives lost. It is

estimated that about 13,000,000 people have lost their lives in earthquakes. So there have been big

ones in the past, and there will be bigger ones in the future.

The Bible tells us of the biggest one of all big ones. In Revelation 16:18 we read, "Then there

came flashes of lightening, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a severe earthquake. No earthquake

like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city

split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed." The implication is, the biggest big one

will not be affecting anyone nation only, but will be international. So the experts and the Bible

agree-we haven't seen anything yet.

But what we have seen is very disturbing to Christians and non-Christians alike. Anything as big

as a earthquake gets you into theology, for it goes beyond humanism. You have got to think about

God when you think about earthquakes. The problem is, earthquakes seldom stimulate good

thoughts about God. Paul said whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, what is admirable,

excellent, and praiseworthy-think about such things. These kinds of thoughts lead you to praise

God. But it is hard to maintain this level of positive thinking when the world is collapsing around

you, and you loose loved ones and all you possess.

Earthquakes force you to confront God from a different angle, and they make you tend to blame

God for all the evil that they bring. It is hard to avoid since we have already tried God and found

Him guilty. We call such tragedies acts of God, and so He is the one to blame. Coming to this

conclusion has never been a fortifying factor in people's faith. Earthquakes can wreck everything,

including faith.

In 1755, on Nov. 1, the great Lisbon earthquake hit when the churches were full of people, and

over 50,000 were killed. It was devastating to faith, and Goethe made up his mind the earth was a

chaos that hopelessly out of control, and no longer in the hands of God. Many came to this

conclusion as their faith was shaken, and that is why we need to do some serious thinking about

earthquakes, and tragedy in general, to know just how God fits in, and whether is valid to get mad at

God, and blame Him for the tragedy.

The first thing I learned about earthquakes in the New Testament is that they can be completely

positive with no harmful effects. Our text is a case in point. Paul and Silas are delivered from

prison by the violent earthquake that opened all the doors. Nobody was hurt in this quake. There

was no judgment on the criminals there. Just the opposite, in fact. It was a day of salvation for the

Philippian jailer and his family. God used an earthquake to open the doors of the prison, and the

doors of the Kingdom of God, and a new family was taken into the family of God. This family

would be praising God for the rest of their lives, and for all eternity, for the night of the earthquake.

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