I know I said I was ignoring Japan, but that was always meant to be hyperbole. I don’t want to get carried away into interpreting events there as more significant than they are. But I was fascinated to read the following, written by David Wilkerson in 1974, and quoted at The Watchman’s Cry Forum in December 2010 – so well before the recent earthquake in Japan (emphasis added by the forum poster, who is probably also responsible for the grammatical oddities):
Earthquakes coming to United States
The United States is going to experience in the not-too-distant future the most tragic earthquakes in its history. One day soon this nation will be reeling under the impact of the biggest news story of modern times. It will be coverage of the biggest most disastrous earthquake in history.
It will cause widespread panic and fear, Without a doubt, it will become one of the most completely reported earthquake ever. Television networks will suspend all programming and carry all day coverage.
Another earthquake , possibly in Japan may precede the one that I see coming here. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind about this forthcoming massive earthquake in our continent.
I am not at all convinced that this earthquake will take place in California. In fact, I believe it is going to take place where it is least expected. This terrible earthquake may happen in an area that not known as an earthquake belt. It will be so high on the Richter scale that it will trigger two other major earthquakes.
This is from Chapter 2 of David Wilkerson’s 1974 book The Vision. This is the same David Wilkerson who is best known for his 1963 book The Cross and the Switchblade. He later founded Times Square Church in New York City. I heard him speak in London in 2003. Although nearly 80, he continues to publish daily devotions (using Blogger software, but this is not a blog as comments are not allowed), but has not mentioned Japan recently.
Wikipedia offers a summary of Wilkerson’s prophecies as published in The Vision and elsewhere. Some parts of this have clearly already been fulfilled. These prophecies include the following from March 2009, published among Wilkerson’s daily devotions:
AN EARTH-SHATTERING CALAMITY IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. IT IS GOING TO BE SO FRIGHTENING, WE ARE ALL GOING TO TREMBLE – EVEN THE GODLIEST AMONG US.
For ten years I have been warning about a thousand fires coming to New York City. It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires—such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago.
There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting—including Times Square, New York City. What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God’s wrath. …
How should we react to such prophecies? In the past on this blog I have discussed modern day prophecies by Smith Wigglesworth and Sharon Stone. On my understanding, the gift of prophecy today is not primarily about predicting future events. However, I believe that on occasions God does reveal the future to his people, not to satisfy their curiosity, but as warnings and to demonstrate that he is in control of events.
Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.
Amos 3:7 (NIV 2011)
Such modern prophecies should not be considered infallible. The prophets, however respected they may be as church leaders, are fallible human beings. Their utterances are not inspired Holy Scripture, not on the same level as the writings of the Old Testament prophetic authors – who were only a few of the many prophets operating in their time.
But when specific prophecies are made and come true, that tends to confirm the prophet and give greater credibility to his or her other prophecies. So it would be right for the people of the USA to take heed of Wilkerson’s warnings for his home country: a massive earthquake following the one in Japan, and major rioting in New York and elsewhere.
These prophecies should be taken as conditional, if the nation does not repent, as was Jonah’s biblical prophecy of the overthrow of one of the greatest cities of his world (Jonah 3:4). Also we don’t know the time scales involved: if the Japan earthquake was nearly 40 years after the prophecy, the US one may be even further in the future. It is wise to be ready, but not to panic. Wilkerson’s 2009 advice is good:
I will say to my soul: No need to run…no need to hide. This is God’s righteous work. I will behold our Lord on his throne, with his eye of tender, loving kindness watching over every step I take—trusting that he will deliver his people even through floods, fires, calamities, tests, trials of all kinds.
We should also avoid giving these events too much significance. They do not mean that Jesus is about to come again. He clearly warned:
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. … 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:6-8, 12-14 (NIV 2011)
These things are not so much signs of the end as warnings that Christian believers should stand firm, and that those who are not should listen to the gospel of the kingdom and start to follow Jesus.