Turkey sees a lot of earthquakes, many of them with devastating loss of life. The first millennium alone saw two in Antioch that each killed roughly a quarter million people.
The 2020 Aegean Sea earthquake
On October 30, 2020, a 7.0M earthquake hit near Izmir in the Aegean Sea. Fortunately, the death toll was comparatively low (64) but is still the highest number of deaths from an earthquake in 2020 and, since it happened in the last quarter of the year, it may retain that notoriety. The event triggered a tsunami, too, which was responsible for at least one of the deaths and many injuries, and caused much damage to the region.
7 churches of Asia
John the Beloved addresses the Book of Revelation to the seven churches in Asia:
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. — Revelation 1:4-5
He lists them:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, “Write on a scroll what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” — Revelation 1:10-11
And then, John writes what the Spirit gives him, starting with seven greetings, one to each of the churches in Revelation 2 and 3.
Here is a map of where the seven churches were:
And here is that map with an overlay of the Aegean Sea earthquake:
The maps also cover Patmos, where John was when He wrote the Revelation, being in exile there for preaching the Word of God boldly:
I, John, your brother and fellow participant in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. — Revelation 1:9
High-frequency earthquake zone
The area around Patmos is no stranger to earthquakes, as you can see on any given day at Earthquake Track:
Since earthquakes are really common occurrences in the region, we have no cause to think it is anything special, let alone prophetic.
In fact, we know for certain that this is not one of the earthquakes described in Revelation. How do we know this with such certainty?
Earthquakes of Revelation
There are five earthquakes listed in the Book of Revelation. In the Holy Bible, five symbolizes God’s grace. How is God’s grace shown through five devastating earthquakes?
Because of what happens before and after each, especially the last one.
Revelation earthquake 1
In Revelation 6, we see the breaking of the seven seals and the riding forth of the four horsemen.
War, famine, plague, and death ride out across the earth as the first four seals are broken. And then, the fifth seal shows the martyrs under the altar of God, those who thought not to save their own lives but to hold true to His Word to the bitter, bloody end.
They cry out to God then,
“How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who live on the earth?” — Revelation 6:10
God reaches out His grace unto them as they are given a white robe and told to rest a little while longer. They already rest in Him, in His deepest grace and love.
And then, when the sixth seal is broken:
(T)here was a great earthquake; and the sun became as black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. — Revelation 6:12-14
Since all those things did not happen with the 2020 Aegean Sea earthquake, we know it is not the first of the earthquakes of Revelation.
Revelation earthquake 2
Revelation 8 opens with the seventh seal broken and the mysterious half-hour silence in heaven. Seven angels are given seven trumpets, and then one angel, not one of the seven, stands at the altar of God, holding a golden censer. He is given a large amount of incense that he would burn in the censer and then add to the prayers of the saints.
In Revelation 5:8, the 24 elders fall before the Lamb holding, “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” In chapter 8, these prayers are “on the golden altar which was before the throne.” The prayers of God’s people, of all time, The fragrance of the prayers, like incense, are pleasing to God, as David prayed his would be:
“May my prayer be counted as incense before You;” — Psalm 141:2
There is God’s grace in the assurance that not one prayer is unheard or forgotten but all prayers of all time of all of His children are still present and active with Him.
And now, the prayers of the saints are answered . . .
The prayers of God’s own are patterened after His own, as Jesus Christ taught His disciples:
“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father, who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven . . .’ — Matthew 6:9-10
And in the next move of the LORD God of the universe and beyond, it begins when the angel fills his censer with fire from the altar and throws it to the earth:
and there were peals of thunder and sounds, and flashes of lightning and an earthquake. — Revelation 8:5b
The trumpets then sound:
The first, hail and fire mixed with blood;
The second, something like a great mountain burning with fire is thronw into the sea;
The third, a great star, burning like a torch, falls from heaven and turns the waters bitter;
The fourth brings darkness over the earth as a third of the sun, moon, and stars are stricken;
The angel then cries out:
“Woe, woe, woe to those who live on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”
And so we know that the recent earthquake in Turkey is not the second earthquake of Revelation.
Revelation earthquake 3
The next two earthquakes of Revelation are found in chapter 11.
The first is at Revelation 11:13 and is so great that it causes a tenth of the city to fall.
It follows the resurrection of the two witnesses which God grants grace unto the people — anyone who will hear — to know the truth of His great salvation in Christ Jesus. The witnesses testify of God and His Word for 42 months — three-and-a-half years — in the city square outside the temple.
God gives them power to defend themselves and to demonstrate their authority, such as to shut up the sky so it will not rain, as Elijah did. They are also given power to perform miracles of the Exodus to turn the waters into blood and strike the earth with every plague.
All the world can see and hear the two witnesses so that no one can deny the truth of the Word they speak. We know this is possible because the entire world rejoices when the witnesses are struck down at the appointed time. The people who live on the earth rejoice and send gifts to each other, and the bodies of the two witnesses are left in the street for 3-1/2 days.
After those days, God raises them up and the people of the world are frightened. It is then that the third earthquake of Revelation comes, destroying a tenth of the city and killing 7,000 people.
Those who survive the earthquake give glory and honor to God. Amazing grace.
Revelation earthquake 4
Following the first earthquake of Revelation 11, the seventh angel declares:
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” — Revelation 11:15b
The prayers of believers are answered. His Kingdom has come, forever and ever, amen.
The Ark of the Covenant in Heaven appears, with:
“. . . flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder, and an earthquake, and a great hailstorm.” — Revelation 11:19b
Revelation earthquake 5
The fifth earthquake of Revelation occurs in chapter 16, which begins:
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” — Revelation 16:1
The LORD God has promised that His children will be spared from His wrath. The seven seals are not His wrath, nor are the seven trumpets.
Three angels previously declared to the whole world:
The first angel says, “Fear God and give Him glory . . . ” — Revelation 14:7
The second cries, “Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great . . . ” — Revelation 14:8
And the third, with a loud voice, ““If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God,” — Revelation 14:9b-10a
It is those who worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark, that deserve and receive God’s wrath.
For the children of God in time remaining, the LORD says:
Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.” — Revelation 14:12-13
This is God’s grace to His children even as His wrath is poured out upon His enemies.
Back to chapter 16, we see the seventh bowls of wrath pour out, the first being a painful sore upon those with the mark of the beast.
As the final bowl of plagues is set upon the earth, and God says from His Temple, “It is done.”
The fifth and final earthquake of Revelation brings the final destruction to the city. It is the greatest earthquake ever known to mankind, with great thunder and lightning, hail weighing 75 pounds, so powerful that the city is split in three parts, every city of every nation falls, and no island or mountain remains.
And still, they blasphemed God (Revelation 16:21).