Subscribe to the Real Truth for FREE news and analysis.Subscribe Now
December 31, 2004: Wailing mothers clutch dead babies. Bodies are entangled in fences and caught in treetops. In Thailand, a little boy visiting from Sweden walks among survivors carrying a sign that reads, “Missing parents and two brothers.” And, as the ocean waters continue to spew out the dead, beaches that once thrived with villages and seaside resorts have turned into makeshift open-air morgues.
Days earlier, the most powerful earthquake in 40 years triggered a tsunami that rippled across the Indian Ocean, causing death and devastation along the shores of southern and eastern Asia and east Africa.
After the first wave surge struck, many people rushed to the strangely water-vacant shore to grab fish that had been left on the beach. But all were caught by surprise when a larger set of waves came crashing down upon them.
“Initially we just heard a bang, a really loud bang,” a British vacationer said. “We initially thought it was a terrorist attack, then the wave came and we just kept running upstairs to get on as high ground as we could.”
Massive walls of water—some two and three stories tall!—smashed into bungalows and hotels, hurled fishing boats onto coastal roads and swept away cars, animals and people. Snorkelers were dragged along the coral floor and washed up onto the beach, while sunbathers were pulled into the sea. In an instant, family members and friends were gone. One woman lost all eleven of her children, who were on the beach at that time.
As survivors search for missing loved ones among the stench of hundreds of corpses rotting along the shore—and buried in the sand—there are other obstacles they must hurdle. Food will be scarce, as will shelter. The bodies of humans, dogs, fish, cats and goats threaten to contaminate drinking water. Disease may become rampant. Help from other countries may not arrive in time.
In Sri Lanka, where a 30-foot wave submerged the coastal town of Galle, the country’s president said, “We are not well equipped to deal with a disaster of this magnitude because we have never known a disaster like this.”
The 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck six miles under the seabed, off the west coast of northern Sumatra. A 620-mile section of a geological plate shifted, setting off several aftershocks, ranging from almost 6 to 7.3 in magnitude. According to the New York Post, scientists estimate that the quake was so powerful that it was nearly equal to the force of one million atomic bombs!
The seafloor suddenly shifted up approximately 20 to 50 feet, pushing the overlaying water, with immense force, triggering a tsunami (a Japanese word meaning “harbor wave”). Columns of water thousands of feet deep traveled beneath the ocean’s surface at nearly 600 mph—nearly the typical cruising speed of a Boeing 737. As the tsunami reached Asian and African shorelines, massive wave surges came crashing down upon the beaches of the entire Indian Ocean basin, where unsuspecting villagers and tourists were caught without warning.
Some geophysicists now know that the earthquake was so great that it caused the whole planet to vibrate, and that it even disturbed the earth’s rotation! Others scientists believe the quake caused the island of Sumatra to actually shift by as much as 100 feet! According to one U.S. geological expert, several small islands may have moved as much as 12.5 miles.
Currently, more than 125,000 people—and growing—are feared dead, with thousands still missing. In Indonesia, at least 42,000 are confirmed dead. India estimates that more than 16,000 are dead, with 4,000 still missing. Officials in Sri Lanka say that 22,500 people there have died, with one million residents left homeless. Nearly 7,000 are feared dead in India, and the government of Thailand expects its death toll to reach 2,000. And up to half of all the dead are children. Disease epidemics, resulting from rotting bodies that contaminate water and food supplies, could cause the death toll to double.
What may happen in the wake of this disaster is as frightening as the catastrophe that has already taken place. In fact, an even larger disaster may happen next, turning the lives of millions from bad to worse.
Survivors are left facing the hopeless task of burying or burning the hundreds of corpses fast enough. And, with bloated, waterlogged bodies rotting in the streets—so many that drivers must steer around them—the potential for disease is enormous.
Doctors, aid workers and local citizenry are terrified of outbreaks of malaria and cholera. Many of the areas that were hit were poor and overpopulated, and are especially susceptible to the spread of disease. The fear of epidemics spreading like wildfire is very real, as millions try to cope with their devastating loss.
News photos have shocked and deeply saddened the world. Home videos of the disaster are being televised by the international news media, enabling viewers across the planet to watch in horror—over and over again—as the tsunami waves smash into unsuspecting tourists and villagers.
If an earthquake of this magnitude had struck on land, the damage would have been far more localized. The fact that the resulting tsunami struck eleven different nations—from Somalia in Eastern Africa to Indonesia—has caused the aid response to be a logistical nightmare.
A coalition of nations has formed to help those in dire need, offering hundreds of millions of dollars to the affected countries. Yet, the United Nations is asking for more, understanding that the potential for further disaster is imminent if action is not immediately taken. While the vast scope makes it very difficult to respond in a succinct manner, aid deployment is picking up speed.
With some survivors subsisting only on coconut milk, aid agencies are beginning to respond with food drops. Countries are also donating relief packages, tents, helicopters, sanitation materials, medical supplies, aid workers, medical and search-and-rescue teams, and more.
There are estimates that up to five million people are without the essentials needed for survival. From nation to nation, people are asking, “What can I do to help?” and “Is there anything else we can do?”
Others, closer to the chaos, have wondered why America and other nations have not responded fast enough.
Time and again, whenever natural disasters strike other countries, the United States of America, along with Britain, Canada and other nations of the West can always be counted on to provide aid and assistance. Yet, amazingly, the U.S. has been accused of being “stingy” and not giving enough! It has been said that the greatest way to earn someone’s contempt is to give them too much. It appears that the more America gives, the more she is hated. The generosity of the U.S. and her close allies has become expected—viewed as entitlements!
So far, more than $450 million has been raised or pledged for the relief efforts. The World Bank will divert another $250 million from existing projects.
Due to obstacles such as civil war, lack of communication in desolate areas and lack of transportation, aid may not be distributed to those who need it most. In some cases, more than enough supplies are distributed to an area and are hoarded, creating shortages in other regions.
How long will the more affluent nations be able to help others before they are in need of help? Disasters can—and will—strike the West. God’s Word reveals that even greater earthquakes are on the horizon, bringing with them multiple aftershocks and tsunamis mankind has yet to experience!
As aid agencies and governments rush to provide food, medicine, makeshift shelters and other relief—orchestrating the greatest global relief effort the world has ever seen—the recent tsunami tragedy has left many to wonder, “Why did this happen so suddenly—and without warning?”
While men struggle to answer this question, an even greater “tsunami” looms on the horizon—one that will rock civilization, first upon the nations that have descended from ancient Israel, then upon the whole earth. God’s Word describes it as the worst time of calamity man will ever experience.
Notice: “And these are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus says the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask you now, and see whether a man does travail with child? Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it” (Jer. 30:4-7).
What these nations recently experienced was merely a foretaste of the prophetic events that lie just ahead: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in [various] places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matt. 24:7-8). Christ meant that, as a sign, earthquakes would proliferate as the time of His Return drew near. You can be certain that these prophetic earthquakes, some of which will strike under the sea, will set off powerful tsunamis, even more devastating than what civilization has recently experienced.
Luke 21:25-26 describes what lies ahead: “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring [tsunamis]; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
Whenever a massive earthquake strikes, journalists ask experts, “Was this the ‘big one’?—was this the earthquake of all earthquakes?”
The Bible actually describes the final, most powerful quake man will ever experience! Notice: “And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” (Rev. 16:17-18, 20). The topography of the entire earth will literally change!
The following verses further describe a future worldwide calamity:
“Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger” (Isa. 13:13).
“The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again” (24:19-20).
“…and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at My presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground” (Ezek. 38:20).
“The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel” (Joel 3:16).
“For thus says the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations” (Hag. 2:6-7).
With such devastation certain to come, is there any hope of escape?
It has been reported that some nations received warnings of the recent tsunami as much as two hours before it struck the coastline—but they did not respond. Immediate action could have been taken. Lives could have been saved. Yet, inaction resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of lives. People were living their lives, totally unaware of the danger that would spring upon them. In an instant, they perished!
Today, there is a warning message going out—through the pages of The Real Truth magazine—about the greatest “tsunami” that lies ahead, called the Great Tribulation, soon to strike an unsuspecting world. The Bible speaks of a time of cataclysmic earthquakes, contaminated water supplies, military invasions, starvation—all on a worldwide scale!
And similar to the death and destruction witnessed on December 26, men will be caught unawares: “For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35).
Global calamity will come suddenly—and without mercy. Verse 34 reveals why: “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” People will continue to “eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19), believing that life will go on without interruption.
Speaking of the religious leaders of this world, God says, “they have seduced My people” (Ezek. 13:10), “…from the prophet even unto the priest every one deals falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:13-14; also see 8:10-12).
Like the lull before a mighty tornado, fury will surely come—but there is a way of escape.