Is Japan’s Tsumani in the Bible?

Derek Ouellette —  March 12, 2011

I have made every effort to resist poking fun at doomsayers yesterday if for no other reason than because the situation in Japan with the earthquake and tsunami is not one to take advantage of. It is a serious, sad, even heart-wrenching situation that deserves our prayers, blood and money.

Friday afternoon a woman came into my office, sat back in a chair and said, “I know you’re not going to like this, but the Japan disaster is in the bible”.

“Really?” I quipped, “Can you show me where the bible says that on March 21st, 2011, an earthquake is going to cause a Tsunami to crush the coast of Japan up to six miles inland?”

“That’s not what I mean.” She said, “What I mean is that the bible says that before the end comes, natural disasters are going to get worse, and Jesus tells us to look for these signs.”

“But according to the news reports, the earthquake in Japan is the eighth worst in history. Do you understand what that means? There have been seven earthquakes in the past that have been worse than this one. And do you know that about 3500 years ago a volcano erupted in Greece which covered the entire Mediterranean sky including large portions of Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. If that happened today, everyone would be saying that it is a ‘sign’ of the end times. But it didn’t happen today, it happened 1500 B.C. And seven hundred years ago a Black Plague swept across the known world mercilessly killing between 45 and 95 percent the human population in various places.[1] If any time we were to suppose – on the basis of natural disasters – that Christ would return, it would be then.”

The conversation came to an awkward end.

Later on that day someone put as their facebook status update:

“’Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great EARTHQUAKES, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events, and greats signs from heaven.’ Luke 21:9-22”


With emphasis on EARTHQUAKE, the implications are clear: the bible tells us that this earthquake was going to happen and it means that Christ will be returning at any moment (say, May 21st, 2011?).

I sigh because the use of this passage in light of current events shows a complete disregard of the scriptures, which is ironic since the implicit worldview by appealing to Luke 21 claims to be a biblical one. But a cursory reading of Luke 21:9-22 shows how we can so easily pluck one verse out of its context and make it bend to the fantasies of our “end times” imaginations.

The verses quoted are 10 and 11. But read the verses immediately after this:

“But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors… When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near….”

Notice, before all this; that is, before “wars and revolutions”, before “nation will rise against nation” before “great EARTHQUAKES, famines and pestilences in various places” he says “you” will be brought before kings and dragged into synagogues. Now I highly doubt very much that the person who wrote Luke 21:10-11 on her wall was ever dragged into a synagogue. In fact, I don’t think that is happening anywhere in the world anymore. But what’s even more amazing is that this passage has nothing to do with end times. Take note: nothing. When Jesus said “you” he was talking to someone specifically within its context, namely, his disciples. The entire passage is an apocalyptic judgment upon Israel’s religious system – indeed the entire reading from Luke 19:45-21:36 is an indictment upon Israel. The text has been fulfilled historically in 70 A.D.

Christian take note: occasions like this are not the proper time to become fanciful in wild end times speculations. Now is the time to focus on helping those in need to the best of your ability – whether by prayer, blood or money –and to keep in mind that the day of the Lord will come suddenly – like a thief in the night. Does an earth shattering earthquake and billboards on every street corner announcing “Judgment Day” sound very quite to you (2 Peter 3:10; 1 Thess. 5:2; Matt. 24:36; Acts 1:6-7)?

So in light of the ever impending return of Christ, what ought we to do in the mean time? Glean theological starting-points from Left Behind science fiction novels? No, rather:

“You ought to live holy and godly lives, as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming… so then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.” – 2 Peter 3:11-15 (See also 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8)

[1] James Payton, Getting the Reformation Wrong, p.27; Payton is a professor of History.

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • Paul

    I was scared when I saw your title pop up on my itouch…thankfully your article was in line with what I’ve come to expect from you. Good take.

    • Derek Ouellette

      Paul, I take that as a great compliment! Thanks :)

  • Brian MacArevey


    I came across this video today…when I read your post I was reminded of it.

    • Derek Ouellette

      Brian, that video was great. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  • Clarence Ku

    Clarence Ku • Matthew 24:8 >>

    New International Version (©1984)
    All these are the beginning of birth pains.

    New Living Translation (©2007)
    But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

    Mark 13:8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

    For my many years of travel to Japan, I witness the Japanese culture emulates a lot that of USA, in self indulgence and self centredness.They worship Shintoism, Buddhism.
    Beyond the two traditional religions, a great variety of popular religious movements exists in modern Japan. These movements are normally lumped together under the name “New Religions”. These religions draw on concepts from Shinto, Buddhism, and folk superstition. The officially recognized new religions number in the hundreds, and total membership is reportedly in the tens of millions.

    Japan even being the world 3 largest economy has very little Christians, Judgement has come to Japan just as why 9/11 and hurricane Katrina were judgments on America for its transgression of God’s laws, in Revelations 19 states:


    * this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:


    Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

    * true and just are his judgments.

    He has condemned the great prostitute

    who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.

    He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

    * again they shouted:


    The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”

    * twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried:

    “Amen, Hallelujah!”

    * a voice came from the throne, saying:

    “Praise our God,

    all you his servants,

    you who fear him,

    both small and great!”

    * I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:


    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

    * us rejoice and be glad

    and give him glory!

    For the wedding of the Lamb has come,

    and his bride has made herself ready.

    * linen, bright and clean,

    was given her to wear.”

    Act 14:15-18

    * why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God,…

    • Derek Ouellette


    • Josh

      We need to stop desiring destruction for our world and start praying for mercy – living out the ministry of RECONCILIATION that Christ has committed to our (too often self-righteous and self-approving) care…

      The only way the darkness (and the world that is in it) will change is if the Church actually lives out the light (love of God and life of Christ) that we’re called to. Time to put up and shut up doomsdayer’s…

      We are the (only) light of the world. How can people see the truth and love of God if you’re so quick to condemn?! Were you not wicked as well before you were relationship with Him, Clarence?! Are not we all?! Why not have pity and pray for mercy?! Aren’t you thankful for the mercy that God shown you?! Don’t you desire that for others?!

      As Paul wrote in 1 Cor 5:12:
      “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?”

      Jesus said in Matt 5:7:
      “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

      And in Matt 18:23-35
      “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

      “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

      “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

      “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

      “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

      “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

      “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

      Luke 6:35
      “Be merciful, just…

  • Aaron

    Derek Great post!

    Clarence, are you seriously giving a hallelujah for the death and destruction that happened in Japan?

    • Clarence

      Aaron, what were the angels doing when God flooded the earth ?, what were the angels doing when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorah?
      What were the angels doing when God sent Katrina? did Katrina came few days before New Orleans were planning for the largest Mardi Gras?

      Job 20:5 that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.
      Psalm 10:3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD

      What and Why did God do to Wall Street? I came across a lady once in Boston, I overheard her telling her friend ” We have so much money that we do not know what to do with it” that was before the crash….sad.

      I can only pray for those who have yet to suffer God’s wrath.
      Our God is a God of love, but dont take His love for grunted.

      Read the whole book of Isaiah, a prophet will always be ignored.


  • Brian LePort

    It is amazing how quickly people move to declare these events at the beginning of the apocalypse. Imagine living through the Bubonic Plague! I bet they thought it was the end of the world. I can list hundreds of other events. People need to settle down a bit.

    And Clarence, there is an important difference between quoting and interpreting Scripture. We need to be careful not to confuse the two.

    • Josh

      Thank you Brian!

  • Clarence

    Brian and Josh, when Derek posted the question is Japan’s Tsunami in the Bible , I responded with Revelations 19
    I am not predicting end times , but we are living in the end of age started 2000 years ago, yes God is gracious, but dont take His grace for granted, our God is an angry God when we dont turn away from our sins. Do ask for forgiveness, if we dont stop sinning.

    • Derek Ouellette


      I edited the comment above and deleted the one before it as per Blog Rules #2 and #4. Please try and keep your posts brief and not spammed with an email sent to another group. (prayer requests are still welcomed :) )

      Much appreciated.

  • Drew Chapados


    good post and you are right on about Luke 21 (imo).
    Many people have difficulty even relating much of the language Jesus used in those texts (Mark 13 & Matthew 24 also) as being common prophet speech for great turnarounds in political affairs etc–especially Isaiah & Jeremiah.
    People sadly are looking at anything to see it as ‘the beginning of the end’. What will happen however if the end doesn’t come for another 150 years? 1500 years?
    An agnostic one time said just before y2k–all you christians who are saying this is the end–we will still be here and you will look foolish!

  • Anthony Fierro

    Balance guys, balance. Yes – these are the birth pangs. Yes – we are to be prayerful and ever watchful for the return of our Saviour. Yes – while we wait we are to patiently endure in the work that He’s given us (being salt, light) – serving humanity through prayer, donations, blood sweat and tears.

    Let’s be passionate about what the Father is passionate about – PEOPLE!!

  • Petra

    Hey there! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!