In the past two weeks the world has witnessed some incredible seismic activity as fault lines buckled and mountains belched forth fiery plumes of destruction.
On Wednesday, April 22, the Calbuco volcano in southern Chile erupted for the first time in four decades. Quiet since 1972, it's blew its top twice, generating striking images and concerns over the effects of both the lava and a mammoth cloud of debris. The column of smoke and ash that was ejected from Calbuco measured nearly 7 miles into the atmosphere, so powerful that the blast generated its own lightning storms.
In the wake of falling ash, entire towns have been buried in several feet of the noxious slag, turning them into grey deserts. Amazingly, one hiker captured on video the exact moment that Calbuco erupted the first time. The video (click here) couldn’t be a more stunning contrast of beauty and calamity, as the exploding mountain is captured in the background of a picturesque scene of gently falling waterfalls.
If that wasn’t enough to threaten mankind’s fragile existence, nature wasn’t done yet. On Sunday, April 26, Nepal experienced its worst earthquake in eighty years—a magnitude 7.8 that took the lives of more than 3,800. At least 18 were killed and dozens more were injured on Mount Everest, where the quake launched an avalanche. Meanwhile, the capital of Nepal, Katmandu, lay in ruins with centuries-old Buddhist temples and towers toppled.
Disasters like this provide the Church with the opportunity to minister those who are hurting and displaced by the devastation. In fact, Samaritan’s Purse and other Christian relief organizations have already mobilized to make sure the people in Nepal have the basic necessities. Even though you and I may not be able to take a plane to ground zero we can donate our funds and prayers to help (click here to donate).
When the church responds to the physical needs of the hurting we become the hands and feet of Christ, which also opens the door to meet spiritual needs as well. And so, the Church ministers to broken bodies, while the Gospel ministers to broken souls.
We can also use disasters like this to witness to the lost here on the home front. In Jesus’ private briefing to the disciples about His second coming, also known as the Olivet Discourse, He gave a list of signs correlating to the end-times scenario, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains” (Matt 24:6-8).
A careful study of the Olivet Discourse will show that Jesus was describing the events on earth during a seven-year period of judgment known as the Tribulation. These catastrophes will happen after the Church is raptured (1 Thess. 4:13-18) and the reins of power are handed over to the world’s final tyrant, the Antichrist (Rev. 13).
The days just prior to the return of Christ will be a time punctuated with an intensification of natural disasters, much like the two back-to-back seismic events we just witnessed. In fact, Jesus used the analogy of birth pangs. Just as a woman giving birth experiences more intense and more frequent contractions as the time of delivery draws near, so too the earth will experience the same build-up as the last days draw closer. The quakes and eruptions of late are merely previews of coming attractions.
It has been said that, “future events cast their shadows before their arrival.” A thunderstorm is signaled by a drop in barometric pressure and the budding flowers are evidence that winter is giving way to spring. There is no doubt we are in the last days because of the preponderance of signs emerging (Luke 21:24), but it’s impossible to know the day or the hour of Christ’s return (Mark 13:32).
This is why Jesus spoke of the coming tribulation with such clarity. He has graciously given us warning signs so that we might discern that we don’t have much time to find refuge. The worst possible thing to do is ignore the warnings signs because of unbelief. The only way to escape the coming tribulation is to know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. Are you ready? –DM
 Bill Chappell, “Watch A Time-Lapse Video Of The Calbuco Volcano Erupting In Chile,” NPR: The Two Way, 23 April 2015 <http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/23/401682275/video-of-volcano-erupting-in-chile-is-amazing-in-time-lapse?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20150426&utm_ campaign =mostemailed&utm_term=nprnews>
 Avianne Tan, “Chile Volcano Eruption: Hiker Witnesses Exact Moment Calbuco Erupts,” ABC News, 24 April 2015
 Katharine Lackey, “5 Things to Know about the Nepal Earthquake,” USA Today, 27 April 2015