According to Dr Avi Shapira, the chairman of Israel’s inter-ministry steering committee for earthquake preparedness, a strong earthquake can be expected in Israel within the next fifty years, reports Amiram Cohen (“Before the next big shake-up”, Haaretz.com, 17 December, 2010[1]). “Israel is one of the countries of the world where a devastating earthquake (that is, of a magnitude of six or higher on the Richter scale) occurs with some frequency; indeed, according to the statistics, one occurs on average every 80 years”, writes Cohen. He says a significant earthquake in July 1927 caused damage to Jericho, Nablus, Ramle and Jerusalem, and almost a century earlier, Galilee was shaken by an earthquake in January 1837 that killed thousands of people in Safed and Tiberias.

There are historical records of quakes in Israel from earliest times, and the Scriptures often use the figure of an earthquake to describe God’s judgments (eg Psa 18:7). The prophets Amos (1:1) and Zechariah (14:5) refer to a powerful earthquake that occurred in the reign of Uzziah king of Judah causing widespread panic at Jerusalem, and Matthew describes an earthquake at the crucifixion of Christ that rent the veil of the temple and tore apart the earth (Matt 27:51).

Cohen reports that since 1975 buildings in Israel have been constructed according to engineering standards that should prevent collapse in an earthquake, but thousands of buildings built before that date do not meet safety standards. Although the government has attempted to encourage owners to reinforce buildings against earthquakes, figures from local authorities indicate that only twenty buildings countrywide have been upgraded.

Strengthening foundations and pillars of buildings, however, will be of little help when the crisis of Armageddon breaks upon Israel. The coming earthquake at Christ’s return will shift the Mount of Olives and cause worldwide devastation (Zech 14:4–5,10 and see Henry Sulley, The Temple of Ezekiel’s Prophecy. 6th ed. Trustees of Henry Sulley, 1956. p. 299–308). But the benefits of this earthquake will outweigh the damage, for all people will receive of the goodness of God’s Kingdom under the rule of His glorious son (Isa 25:6-8).

Names of four million Holocaust victims now known

The names of four million of the six million Jews believed to have perished under Hitler’s persecution in World War 2 have been confirmed by Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Jerusalem (Nir Hasson, “Yad Vashem has compiled list of over 4 million names of Holocaust victims”, Haaretz.com, 21 December, 2010[2]). Over the past ten years, Yad Vashem has added the names of 1.5 million Jews to its list of Holocaust victims.

Yad Vashem chairman, Avner Shalev, said: “It is a moral imperative, an obligation for us, to retrieve information and commemorate each and every individual who perished.” Names have been supplied by families of victims and European archives, but many Jews murdered in mass executions in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union may never be identified as there is little or no record of the victims’ names. For countries such as France, Holland, Italy and Germany, virtually all the names of Holocaust victims are known and confirmed.

Tragic as the events of the Holocaust were, in 1948 the post-war world witnessed the birth of the Jewish state. Hitler’s determination to liquidate the Jewish people had instead created “a Jewish nation without a home” in Europe (Richard Crossman, Palestine Mission: a Personal Record. New York: Harper, 1947. p. 202), and many now desired to settle in the newly established State of Israel. Sadly, anti-Semitism still haunts our world, but the time is soon to come when God will save His people and “get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame” (Zeph 3:19).

References

[1] http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/week-s-end/beforethe-next-big-shake-up-1.331116)

[2] http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/yad-vashem-hascompiled-list-of-over-4-million-names-of-holocaustvictims-1.331862)