My wife, Jan, and I had long planned a family visit to the United States, booking a flight from London Heathrow to Atlanta months in advance. But Mt. Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland apparently had other ideas. For several days just before our scheduled flight virtually no flights were allowed at Heathrow and most other British airports. Would we fly? Or perhaps be delayed for days by the presence of volcanic ash in the atmosphere, potentially very dangerous to airplanes?
Putting aside my family's personal situation (insignificant when compared with many marooned in foreign climes for days—often bereft of adequate financial resources), consider the larger effects of this volcanic disaster that severely stalled world travel of both passengers and high priority air freight. Each day of disruption cost the British nation alone many millions in pound sterling. Multiply that through much of Europe and you get a picture of the staggering financial loss.
Volcanoes are often triggered or accompanied by earthquakes, which are directly mentioned in Bible prophecy. Jesus Christ included earthquakes in His famous Olivet Prophecy. He prophesied of "famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places" (Matthew 24:7, emphasis added throughout).
Prophetic passages in the Old Testament warn mankind of phenomena described very similarly to what we call volcanoes today. "You will be punished by the Lord of hosts with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with storm and tempest and the flame of devouring fire" (Isaiah 29:6).
These biblical prophecies are often associated with catastrophic events leading up to Christ's second coming. "Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming…a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness" (Joel 2:1-2).
The Song of Moses also speaks prophetically of similar divine punishments. "They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; they have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols… For a fire is kindled in My anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell; it shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains" (Deuteronomy 32:21-22).
The apostle John describes major events leading to the second coming in the final book of the Bible. "I looked when He [Christ] opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood… And every mountain and island was moved out of its place" (Revelation 6:12-14).
Whether or not these prophecies specifically refer to volcanoes, they are all dire warnings of disasters brought on by humanity's sins and rejection of God.
Watch and pray
You can casually dismiss these biblical prophecies as mere metaphorical word pictures without real meaning for us today. Or you can take them as true representations of literal events yet to come. That's your choice!
Yet you should remember the sobering words of Jesus Christ in His Olivet Prophecy: "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36).
So, about our flight… Members of the United Church of God we know well in both Britain and America prayed that we would make our flight—and we did! God is in control of nature and can intervene at will in the world He created. This was a reminder that our only truly reliable safety, security and protection rest in His capable hands.
To understand much more about what the Bible tells us about God's prophecies for your future, read our free Bible study aid booklets The Book of Revelation Unveiled and Are We Living in the Time of the End?