Sean Major-Campbell | Jamaica and God’s next big earthquake!
In Isaiah 29:6 we read, “You will be visited by the LORD of the Heavenly Armies with thunder, an earthquake, and great noise, with a windstorm, a tempest, and flames from a devouring fire.”
JAMAICA, HAITI, and the Dominican Republic all sit on the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone (EPGFZ). In fact, the pressure point that gave Haiti its last major earthquake is on a westerly move. That makes Jamaica its next destination. Jamaica and the Cayman Islands should be on the alert for an epicentre that has its eye on this part of the Greater Antilles!
It is to be noted that the earth does what it has always done in resettling and reshaping itself. Earthquakes are therefore not a result of sin! Some harmless reminders come from the space of ancient religious thought.
1. MAN IS NOT THE ULTIMATE POWER IN THE UNIVERSE
Sometimes material gain and coveted credentials get in the way of how we understand ourselves. Our sense of connection with God, self, and others becomes distorted. We forget that people need people. We need each other more than anything else in this world. Sometimes it takes a catastrophic event to bring us back to this reality. The ancients who lived before the age of scientific enquiry used their experience and observation of natural phenomena to draw attention to the deeper meaning of life.
2. PEOPLE SHOULD HUMBLE THEMSELVES AND TURN AWAY FROM WICKEDNESS
Through the ages, people observed that after certain cataclysmic events, people were automatically forced to depend on each other for survival. Even today, people have discovered new friends and talked with a neighbour for the first time, only after a major storm or earthquake. No wonder then why people of religious faith saw these events as a call from God to return to the basics of peace and love towards everyone. To be clear, living in peace and love will not stop earthquakes. However, our quality of life and living with each other would make a world of difference.
The prophet Isaiah in warning Israel, recognised that they were too often a ‘bag a mout’ (bag of mouth). Full of talk and little action! It was therefore customary for prophets and preachers to use reference to natural phenomena and disasters to draw attention to the human condition and the necessity for change. Isaiah in Chapter 29:13 therefore notes, “Then the Lord said: “Because these people draw near with their mouths and honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, worship of me has become merely like rules taught by human beings.” Jesus makes reference to Isaiah’s preaching when he addressed the hypocrites in Mark 7 regarding a law-centred approach to hand washing.
One does not have to search to find examples of perfunctory talk in Jamaica. From church to the parliament to the boardrooms of corporate society, the darling gem is the capacity to say the “right thing”. Never mind the lack in substance. Too many are only honouring God with their lips as they busily condemn everybody else.
3. PEOPLE AND LIFE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THINGS
If we understood this, many of life’s problems would be adequately addressed. How do we live with our neighbours? Do we understand that religion should not be occasion for prejudice and hatred?
Interestingly, Psalm 18 uses the context of reference to earthquakes to affirm the loving and protective presence of God. Look at what happens before noting in 18:7, “The world shook and trembled; the foundations of the mountains quaked, they shook because he was angry.” The psalmist states, “I love you, Lord, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my God, my stronghold in whom I take refuge, my shield, the glory of my salvation, and my high tower. I cried out to the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I was delivered from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me; the rivers of Belial made me afraid. The cords of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I cried to the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his Temple he heard my voice; my cry reached his ears.” In other words, reference to earthquakes is also used in scripture to celebrate confidence in what is understood to be the awesome power of God!
Today, many use these references to motivate fear. In the Bible, earthquakes are used to inspire confidence in God and invite change in the hearts of human beings. While we remain alert for the inevitable big one, remember Psalm 46:2-3 which provides a sobering word from the place of faith: “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
May we carry on our journey some food for thought from this West African proverb. “Love is an earthquake that relocates the centre of the universe.”