Jesus Christ predicted "earthquakes in various places" before His return to earth to set up the Kingdom of God. The Greek word translated "earthquakes" in the original language means "tumults," which can refer to any kind of environmental or human disaster.
So far 2011 has been a year of gargantuan natural tumults that have devastated broad areas of the world's greatest, most advanced nations and caused enormous global economic impact. In a virtually continuous explosion, today's headlines push out the headlines of last month's disasters before the full story is in on any one of them.
Massive flooding in Oceania
January's torrential rains and floods throughout the southern hemisphere inundated so much of Australia that government officials quickly acknowledged it as the greatest natural disaster in the nation's history. Queensland alone had floods the size of South Africa, with preliminary estimates of $10 billion in losses. That was without counting the impact on the enormous coal and coking operations, 90 percent of which were disrupted, and accounted for most of the immediate 20 percent rise in world coke prices. Coke is essential for manufacturing iron and steel products. Australia is the world's leading coal exporter.
As the floods spread south to New South Wales and Victoria provinces, the total area flooded was the combined size of Germany and France. The flood destroyed major parts of Brisbane, a metropolis much larger than New Orleans with scenes of devastation similar to Hurricane Katrina.
Simultaneously, 5,000 miles to the west, rains rampaged much of Sri Lanka's countryside, wiping out 21 percent of the rice crop. The same week, flash floods killed 626 in Brazil.
2011 defined by earthquakes
New Zealand's February earthquake flattened much of Christchurch, center of the region's population of 500,000. New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key observed, "We may be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day."
Japan's March 11th earthquake was the greatest in Japan's history and one of the greatest recorded in world history. The 24,000 death toll would have been much greater were it not for that nation's amazing social cohesion, high building standards, preparedness and ability to contain the ongoing nuclear disaster. But the 30-foot tsunami rolling over the coastal landscape is being followed by a tsunami of economic consequences for Japan and potential worldwide economic disruption.
Like a tsunami watch, analysts and central bankers are surveying the tides of capital flows, watching to see if the shock suddenly surfaces like a tsunami in capital markets in New York, London and the interconnected web of the global system of capital markets. Japan's earthquake disaster is far from over.
North America not excluded from disaster
April's outburst of tornadoes in the American South and Midwest is the most devastating in American history. In fact, the recent volume of tornado activity defies explanation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the official weather service of the United States and the most sophisticated on the planet. This April's total of more than 600 tornadoes far exceeds the monthly average of 125. On April 25th, there were 305 tornadoes in 24 hours, resulting in yet uncounted billions of dollars in damage and an estimated 100 deaths
The NOAA website states: "It should be noted, due to the extreme nature of the tornado activity this month, that it will take several months for the count of tornadoes and tornado-related fatalities/injuries to be finalized. Numbers reported here will likely change in the coming months. A special report on all of the extreme weather and climate conditions of April 2011 will be released by early summer 2011.''
The insurance industry is likely to sustain billions in losses from the disaster. But even this is only the beginning of economic impacts on the United States. As part of the weird North American weather pattern, excessive rainfall combined with continent wide snow melt has led to flooding in the vast Mississippi River system similar to Australia's in January, flooding millions of acres of prime cropland just as planting of essential grains was to be completed.
And most recently a massive tornado swept through the city of Joplin, Missouri, killing over 100 people and causing massive damage. While Joplin is no stranger to tornados, the size and ferocity of this one was both unusual and horrifying.
Where does this all end? This may only be the storm before an even bigger storm of geopolitics in the Middle East and Europe. The unprecedented scale of these natural disasters certainly constitutes "tumults" as Jesus predicted.
Throughout these events, millions have prayed daily for relief, bringing meaning to the words of Christ to His followers: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Before the Kingdom comes, those words will be prayed by countless millions more.
For further reading about Christ's biblical statements regarding the events leading to the Kingdom of God, please read Are We Living In the Time of the End?