Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Luke 21:10-11 earthquakes, famines and plagues

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, February 22, 2019

10 Then he went on to say: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

Evolutionists, idealists and social Darwinians believe that eventually, after some bumps along the way, the world will become a better place, where famine and greed are done away with forever. Even popes have fallen into this way of thinking. But Jesus assures us: Sin will always plague the world until the very end. Nations will not get along amicably. They rise up against one another today, and they will keep rising up against one another tomorrow, right up to the very end of all things. Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you” (John 12:8), and the same is true for the greedy, the hateful, the vengeful, the intolerant who hide behind a hypocritical mask of self-tolerance, and countless other sins of pride and self.

11 From place to place there will be great earthquakes, famines and plagues; not only fearful events but also great signs from heaven.

The phrase translated “from place to place” (kata topous, κατὰ τόπους) is distributive: these signs will not be limited to one region, or only to Palestine. They will happen here and there and all over the world. If mankind occupies more worlds than this one in the last days, then these things will happen on all worlds and not just this one.

An earthquake is a terrifying thing to live through. On the 28th of February, 2001 (Ash Wednesday), my wife and I and our sons Jon and Ben were packing for a move across the country. The earthquake hit suddenly; everything was shaking, and then everything was shaking even more violently. A light fixture began to sway back and forth and around in a circle as the house moved. The pipes rattled. Kath and I each held a boy and tried to get away from walls and anything that might fall. Books came off shelves. Most of our breakable dishes were packed securely in boxes all around us, but a lot of things were still left in the cupboards to rattle and clink. My wife remembers worrying about the whole house collapsing, and cracks opening up in the ground. After a long couple of minutes, the shaking and vibrating and the roar of the quake lessened, and our emotions were soaring. It reminded me of a small tornado I experienced when working as a hand on a farm ten years before, and I thought back to the destruction of the fire that gutted my dad’s paint store ten years before that. Tragedy, fire, sickness, cancer, earthquake, storm, tornado—Jesus calls them “fearful events.” But he also warns about other things, unexpected things: “great signs from heaven.” What will be happening in the skies?

Perhaps there will be comets, meteors, or other things. Perhaps the objects that heave their bulk around the sun out beyond Pluto’s orbit will come crashing to the sun; some of them missing our world, some of them grazing our atmosphere; some of them slamming into our little world. There will be storms and huge waves and dust that will bring on winters that could last for years, but the world will have no more years left. For the Christian, it will be a frightening time, but we have the assurance that “for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:22; Mark 13:20). God will have compassion on us, even when he is busy with the task of unmaking the whole of creation. He will have mercy on you, and he will remember you. His mercy endures forever, and because he is merciful, you will endure and live and rejoice for ever and ever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.



Browse Devotion Archive