In both Matthew and Luke, Jesus tells us that earthquakes in diverse places are a sign of His soon return. Webster’s defines “diverse” as different, unlikely or varied. All three of these adjectives could apply to a place called Sparta, a small town in the mountains of North Carolina close to the Virginia line. The most powerful earthquake to hit NC in over 100 years shook homes, businesses and residents at around eight o’clock on a recent Sunday morning making headlines all over the nation. Earthquakes of this size very rarely happen in the eastern part of the United States.
According to the U.S. Geological Service it was felt in a seven state area and was preceded by at least four small foreshocks ranging from M2.1to 2.6 and a number smaller aftershocks followed. That is a lot of shaking for an area not used to such activity.
Fortunately, the 5.1-magnitude quake caused no major injuries. County officials estimate 150 to 200 homes suffered some damage. Alleghany County Sheriff, Bryan Maines reported, “There are some residences that had structural issues and some roads had significant cracking and pavement separation.”
“It felt like a big locomotive going by and a big wave coming underneath the bed,” Sparta Mayor Wes Brinegar explained. “A big wave coming to lift you. … I’ve lived here my whole life and have never felt anything like that.”
The earthquake in North Carolina is just the latest in a series of very large earthquakes that have hit diverse locations in our country in recent months. On July 22nd a 7.8 earthquake hit Alaska. Back on May 15th, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake forced the governor of Nevada to declare a state of emergency. It was the largest earthquake to hit the state since 1954. Another earthquake of equal intensity hit the state of Idaho on March 31st. That particular quake was the most powerful that Idaho had experienced since 1983. More than 1000 aftershocks followed the initial event, and that area of the country still “hasn’t stopped shaking”.
A 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Utah on March 18th and dislodged a symbolic part of Salt Lake City’s iconic Mormon temple: the trumpet of an angel statue atop its highest spire. And southern California was shaken by two very large earthquakes just over a year ago, and those initial quakes were followed by more than 80,000 aftershocks.
So exactly why have we been witnessing so many unusually large earthquakes in such diverse locations all over the nation? Many Christians point out that there are a number of end time prophecies in the Bible that warn of an increase in earthquakes in the last days and many believe that seismic activity will eventually be far, far more severe than what we are currently experiencing. Hebrews 12 says that in the end times, God would send a shaking. That shaking is to awaken people to the fact that time is running out. The reality of the matter is that we are living on a highly unstable giant rock that is hurtling through space at incredible speed, and we should not take a single day for granted.
Maybe that is what Mayor Brinegar had in mind when he made this emotional statement shortly after the Sparta shaking ended. “I thank the good Lord for protecting us and keeping us safe. And I strongly encourage you, if you don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ, seek Him out and find Him and let Him into your heart today!”
Will the shaking that we experienced in this diverse place in the Blue Ridge Mountains finally wake people up to the fact that we truly are living in the end times? Let us hope so. There is much work to be done!