On February 7, 2023, the president of Turkey declared a three-month state of emergency in the southern areas hit by two powerful earthquakes the previous day that have killed more than 20,000 people (as of this writing) and destroyed thousands of homes there and in northern Syria. Online pictures depict the immense devastation, while snowfall, freezing temperatures, and blocked roads hindered rescue efforts. We pray for them, hoping that God will comfort those who lost loved ones (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
Regrettably, some will use this occasion to try to teach false doctrine. During His prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus warned, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24:7; cp. Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11). There is abundant historical evidence of earthquakes occurring before the destruction of Jerusalem: Crete (A.D. 46 or 47), Rome (A.D. 51), Apamaea (A.D. 53), Laodicea (A.D. 60) and Campania (A.D. 62 or 63). The multiple signs included false Christs (Matthew 24:5; Mark 13:6; Luke 21:8), wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9), persecutions (Matthew 24:9-10; Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-19), false prophets (Matthew 24:11; Mark 13:22), the “abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:14-15; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20), people falling by the edge of the sword (Luke 21:24; Mark 13:19) and the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24).
The Lord uses figurative language to depict the city’s fall; similar language is used to foretell the judgment of nations (Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-27). Finally, in the parable of the fig tree (Matthew 24:32-33; Mark 13:28-29; Luke 24:29-31), if one would pay attentions to the signs, they could flee Jerusalem and be saved.
But Jesus continues His discussion and says that there will no signs for the end of the world. All one can do is be prepared. It contradicts the truth and is in poor taste to use these tragedies to propagate erroneous theories of the end of the world. There has certainly been enough suffering. Let’s not add to it by condemning people’s souls to an eternity in hell by claiming that a made-up series of “end events” are just around the corner.