Is the Tribulation Near?
A 2014 World Net Daily article shouts the question, "WILL TRIBULATION BEGIN A YEAR FROM NOW?"
Pastor Mark Biltz authored the article and I view him with great respect for his discovery of the "blood moons" phenomena back in 2008 well before anyone else was speaking about it. In his tribulation article, Pastor Biltz makes note of several factors suggesting that the end is near and the tribulation is about to begin:
- - The outbreak of diseases globally including the major Ebola outbreak in Africa
- - An increase of terror attacks in Israel and across the world
- - Drought and famine across large areas with storms and flooding across others
- - A huge jump in the number of major earthquakes
During my "day job", I lead a team of data analysts and use earthquake data as an example in some of our discussions with new employees. There has not been a huge jump in the number of major earthquakes.
The World Net Daily article includes a chart that shows a huge increase in magnitude 6+ quakes since 2000 so I set out to examine the data for myself. The chart referenced the US Geological Survey (USGS) website so I went there and retrieved a fresh copy of the the data.
When I graphed out the data it revealed there has been a big increase in recorded 6.0+ earthquakes but it goes back to 1964. I was curious so I dug a little deeper and found the increase can be attributed to three things:
- - more sensors capturing more sensitive measurements over time
- - more data in the < 6.5 magnitude range
- - an increased number of organizations providing data
(the USGS data grew from 1 source in 1900 to 16 sources by 2013)
If we pare the data down to the "big quakes" that are 7.0 and greater we find a completely different picture. Based upon a 10-year average going back to 1900, it seems like the number of big quakes has decreased over the past century. It seems like the 10-year average for big quakes was about the same in 1978, 1954, 1937, 1923, and 1911.
So no... we aren't having more big quakes than normal.
Well... maybe it's the severity. Maybe they aren't happening any more often but when they do, they're bigger.
I changed my approach to the data in order to consider the severity and found that, too, was not the case. Earthquakes aren't getting more severe.
I contacted the the USGS directly and here is what they offered on the subject:
Although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes, earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant.
A partial explanation may lie in the fact that in the last twenty years, we have definitely had an increase in the number of earthquakes we have been able to locate each year. This is because of the tremendous increase in the number of seismograph stations in the world and the many improvements in global communications. In 1931, there were about 350 stations operating in the world; today, there are more than 8,000 stations and the data now comes in rapidly from these stations by electronic mail, internet and satellite. This increase in the number of stations and the more timely receipt of data has allowed us and other seismological centers to locate earthquakes more rapidly and to locate many small earthquakes which were undetected in earlier years. The NEIC now locates about 20,000 earthquakes each year or approximately 50 per day. Also, because of the improvements in communications and the increased interest in the environment and natural disasters, the public now learns about more earthquakes.
According to long-term records (since about 1900), we expect about 17 major earthquakes (7.0 - 7.9) and one great earthquake (8.0 or above) in any given year.
So... earthquakes aren't getting any more frequent or any more severe.
On that particular point, it appears that World Net Daily and the good pastor miss the mark. What about all the other factors? Well... those are a topic for a different article.
For now, let us remain serious and sober awaiting the Lord's return and remember Paul's exhortation to Timothy:
I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time — He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. (1 Timothy 6:13-16)