The earthquake that hit Washington, D.C. will undoubtedly lead prophetic speculators to conclude that we are nearing the end of all things. There’s nothing new in these types of prognostications. For decades, modern-day prophecy writers have been claiming that the increase and severity of earthquakes are sure indicators that we’re living in the “last days.” It happened when an earthquake hit Haiti January 12, 2010. The earthquake that sent a tsunami to Japan revved up current end-time speculation. Tim LaHaye, the best-selling co-author of the Left Behind series of Bible prophecy novels had this to say about the Japanese earthquake:
“The Bible tells us in Matthew 24 that one of the signs of the last days – one of the birth pangs to occur – is an increase in earthquake activity and intensity. We’re seeing that happen here. It’s not just earthquakes, but hurricanes and all kinds of natural disasters.”
This type of comment is not uncommon. Notice LaHaye’s use of the word “increase.” Jesus does not say anything about an increase in the number of earthquakes or their severity (Matt. 24:7). The period prior to Jerusalem’s destruction that took place in AD 70 was filled with earthquakes: Crete (AD 46 or 47), Rome (AD 51), Phrygia (AD 53), Laodicea (AD 60), Campania (AD 62 or 63), Pompeii (AD 63), and Judea.
The United States is not immune to earthquakes, and the one that impacted the nation’s capital on August 23, 2011 was not unusual. An earthquake occurred on April 24, 1758 that affected sections of Washington. “Its probable center was near Annapolis, Maryland, and it was felt into Pennsylvania. An earthquake in March 1828 was felt over a wide area, including seven Eastern States and the District of Columbia. Although no damage occurred, it was reported to be ‘violent’ in D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland. John Quincy Adams, then President of the United States, left the following account in his diary of the occurrence as he observed the shock at the White House:
“March 9, 1828. There was this evening the shock of an earthquake, the first which I ever distinctly noticed at the moment when it happened. I was writing in this book, when the table began to shake under my hand and the floor under my feet. The window shutters rattled as if shaken by the wind, and there was a momentary sensation as of the heaving of a ship on the waves. It continued about two minutes, then ceased. It was about eleven at night. I immediately left writing, and went to my bedchamber, where my wife was in bed, much alarmed.”
Here are some dates of earthquakes that impacted the nation’s capital: April 29, 1852, August 1861, September 1884, October 1885, May 1897, February 1925, and November 1935.