Tectonic Events

O lord my God, thou art very great;. . . who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. Thou hast set a bound that they [the waters] may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth” (Psalm 104:1, 5, 9). Tectonic, according to the dictionary, refers to a “carpenter, builder” (a technic). “Designating, of or pertaining to changes in the structure of the earth’s crust, the forces responsible for such deformation, or the external forms produced.” Of course God is that great carpenter and builder of the earth. “All things were made by him” (John 1:3), and He continually sustains them, “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).

Our Changing Earth

We tend to think the earth we stand on is very solid. However, occasional catastrophic events demonstrate that it can turn fluid at times, and very quickly geologic evidences show colossal tectonic events have renovated our earth in the past (Job 12:15).

On August 17, 1959, a severe earthquake hit West Yellowstone Park in Montana. A tidal wave swept down the 7-mile Hebgan Lake and over the dam. A 20-foot wall of water continued down the Madison Valley. As it neared the mouth of the valley half of a 7,600-foot high mountain broke loose and rushed into the valley and slid up the other side like water. Eighty million tons of rock dammed the valley and forced the water back onto a campground area. Twenty-eight people were estimated drowned or buried in the slide.

Another tectonic event that shows how quickly and massive geologic change can be, took place in 1929 in the Atlantic Ocean. On that day, twelve transatlantic cables were broken one by one. More recent research has revealed that an earthquake dislodged a block of the continental shelf near Newfoundland. It slid into the deep ocean and started a turbidity current that traveled 430 miles at 60 miles per hour. It laid down a 2-3 foot thick sediment layer over a 40,000 square mile area.

Down through history, geologic events have caused tidal waves (called tsunamis in eastern countries). Submarine landslides, volcanoes, earthquakes, or extraterrestrial objects such as asteroid impacts can set off these waves. Volcanic explosions cause depressions, called calderas, in the ocean floor. From the void left by expelled material, waves are generated. Physical features in the Mediterranean region indicate that the explosion of a volcano called Santorini near Italy in 1490 B.C. left sea deposits 750 feet above sea level on a nearby island. It also deposited a thick sedimentary deposit over much of the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Geologists also have discovered about 18 impact areas where asteroids from space are thought to have struck the earth, causing tremendous waves.

Water “Overturns the Earth”

The catastrophic geologic upheaval of world destruction in Noah’s flood (Genesis 7) deposited sedimentary rock layers an average of two miles deep around the world. Some of these layers contain numberless fossil life forms of plant and animal life. This was a hydraulic event in which “all the fountains of the great deep [were] broken up, and the win-dows of heaven were opened” (Genesis 7:11). Waters covered the highest mountains and “prevailed exceedingly” upon the earth for 150 days (nearly half a year). Currents flowing back and forth exerted tremendous forces. After a year, the waters receded and the “mountains ascended and the valleys descended” (Psalm 104:8 [original Hebrew]). God “set a bound” (v. 9) by different elevations and gravity, that the waters would not overflow the land again. The continental plates now remain largely exposed.

The tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean on the morning after Christmas, December 26, 2004, was set off by a deep-ocean earthquake near Sumatra. It sent about a 90-foot wave across northern Sumatra and a wave up to 30 feet as far away as Sri Lanka southeast of India. It reached Africa where many died along the coasts in Somalia and Tanzania. No one will ever know the exact death toll of people living on coasts and islands around the Indian Ocean. Estimates are that 175,000 were killed and 106,000 were missing.

The cause of all this havoc was a shift in the deep Sunda Trench off the east coast of Sumatra. Within three or four minutes a 750-mile length of the sea floor ruptured and displaced a section half the size of California up about six feet. The power exerted was equal to about 100 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. Since water can’t be compressed, a shock wave was generated. It could travel as fast as 480 miles per hour. This force, though imperceptible in the deep ocean, built up to a plateau of water as it climbed the shore and inundated the land.

The multitudes of lives snuffed out and the magnitude of suffering and grief caused by such an event raises a moral question in many people’s minds. If there is a Creator God, who can control the elements, why does He do this?

The Big “Why” Question

For those who deny God, this of course should not make a problem. To evolutionists, we are just material elements, like the earth, with no purpose and no future. They advise getting over it by talking a lot about it, then moving on. Some use drugs to numb the feelings of the moment and forget it. Without God, people often harden their hearts to human agony and to God’s call in a disaster (Psalms 90:3).

Is there a moral question, or do things just happen? Since God is Creator and Sustainer of the universe, why such misery and loss of life from natural events (and human atrocities)? Jewish people in Israel are also asking, “does God care” when their children, women, and men are blown to pieces. Even Americans can be back to business in a few minutes when another suicide bombing hits the news. Innocent people being killed, maimed, and mangled doesn’t appall us as it once did.

Our Western society today, with its sanitized version of Christianity, cannot tolerate the concept of a God who will turn the wicked “into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17). Most think “surely my lying, hatred, stealing, adultery, abortion, and so forth is not that bad. God loves me.”

God and Satan Are at Work

In a world where the Ten Commandments are ignored and wicked acts and relationships are condoned, good and evil are reversed (Isaiah 5:20). People follow Satan in sin and then, in rebellion, accuse God for trouble that comes. This is implied in a U. S. News column titled, “Mother Nature, Terrorist.” While events such as the Indian Ocean tsunami are called “acts of God,” we do not equate Him with evil, merciless killers. Terrorists follow an ideology of intimidation, fear, and murder until all submit to their idea of God. Their doctrine says, “If any turn back, then seize them and kill them, wherever you find them.”

It is Satan who uses the fear of physical death to bind people (Hebrews 2:15). Jesus never did anything Mke that. He is the minister of life. His children are to return gi/_ d for evil, turn the other cheek, and suffer wrong (1 Corinthians 6:7). God is merciful and kind. Even in these “acts of God,” he turns “man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men” (Psalm 90:3). If God, with a word, raises the ocean and brings a warning to millions through the death of hundreds of thousands, it is God’s call to repent. In Indonesia, Asia, and Africa churches are being burned and Christians are being killed by the thousands for confessing Jesus. (The media doesn’t seem to notice.)

Terrorist threats of death are nothing compared to what God will finally do to a world rejecting His Saviour. To God, “The nations are as a drop of a bucket” (Isaiah 40:15). Although God’s judgments are certain, He is compassionate and offers men a plan for salvation or deliverance. In the days before the destruction of humanity by a worldwide flood (Genesis 7), God’s longsuffering waited 120 years (1 Peter 3:20). Actually, the truly innocent, through the shed blood of Christ, are released from the horrors of heathen cultures and are the largest population in heaven.

The proof of the true Creator God is that He loves His work. Job says, “Thou shall call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands” (Job 14:15). Will you accept His call? Unlike the terrorists, God is merciful and gives you a voluntary choice in life. But man does not determine the consequences.

Resources: “The Night the Mountain Fell,” Ed Christopherson, Acts and Facts—April 2005, Impact article #382.

-By Elvin Stauffer

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