But some of you are going to go straight to the Olivet Discourse, (Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21). However, we need to understand something crucial here. All three of these chapters are the same sermon. In order to get a complete picture as to what Jesus is saying and means you need to read all three together, and especially Luke. Matthew is the most cryptic because his audience are Jews who knew their Old Testament Scriptures. Luke is writing for a predominately Gentile audience and explains in plain language what Matthew says in obscure Old Testament metaphors. If you do this, you will realize that the Olivet Discourse is a Judgment prophecy upon Judea and Jerusalem. Here is a prime example:
"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand: ) " (Matthew 24:15 KJV)
Notice how Luke describes this:
"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh." (Luke 21:20 KJV)
That they refer to the same thing is proven by the next verse in each:
"Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains" - Matthew 24:16 KJV
"Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains" - Luke 21:21 KJV
This prophecy concerns the Second Temple, and the City of Jerusalem. Jesus said that everything he says in this discourse would happen within 40 years and it did. In 70 A.D. the Romans Armies destroyed Jerusalem just like Jesus predicted. The earthquakes mentioned in this discourse do not relate to the Second Coming or the end of the world, but the end of the Jewish Age in A.D. 70.
Besides, those who claim that Earthquakes are getting worse and more frequent and use that as a sign that the end is nigh are mistaken. Those earthquakes that make the news headlines are obviously those that cause chaos and destruction to humans. But there are as many as 50 earthquakes around the world every single day, they just don't get elevated from local or national news onto the world stage.
If every earthquake was a harbinger of an impending apocalypse then I think I would go look for a different omen or live in perpetual disappointment.
From an official US Government site:
Q: Why are we having so many earthquakes? Has earthquake activity been increasing? Does this mean a big one is going to hit? OR We haven't had any earthquakes in a long time; does this mean that the pressure is building up?
A: Although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes, earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant throughout this century and, according to our records, have actually seemed to decrease in recent years.
There are several reasons for the perception that the number of earthquakes, in general, and particularly destructive earthquakes is increasing.
1) A partial explanation may lie in the fact that in the last twenty years, we have definitely had an increase in the number of earthquakes we have been able to locate each year. This is because of the tremendous increase in the number of seismograph stations in the world and the many improvements in global communications.
In 1931, there were about 350 stations operating in the world; today, there are more that 4,000 stations and the data now comes in rapidly from these stations by telex, computer and satellite. This increase in the number of stations and the more timely receipt of data has allowed us and other seismological centers to locate many small earthquakes which were undetected in earlier years, and we are able to locate earthquakes more rapidly.
The NEIC now locates about 12,000 to 14,000 earthquakes each year or approximately 50 per day. Also, because of the improvements in communications and the increased interest in natural disasters, the public now learns about more earthquakes. According to long-term records (since about 1900), we expect about 18 major earthquakes (7.0 - 7.9) and one great earthquake (8.0 or above) in any given year. However, let's take a look at what has happened in the past 32 years, from 1969 through 2001, so far. Our records show that 1992, and 1995-1997 were the only years that we have reached or exceeded the long-term average number of major earthquakes since 1971. In 1970 and in 1971 we had 20 and 19 major earthquakes, respectively, but in other years the total was in many cases well below the 18 per year which we may expect based on the long-term average.
2) The population at risk is increasing. While the number of large earthquakes is fairly constant, population density in earthquake-prone areas is constantly increasing. In some countries, the new construction that comes with population growth has better earthquake resistance; but in many it does not. So we are now seeing increasing casualties from the same sized earthquakes.
3) Better global communication. Just a few decades ago, if several hundred people were killed by an earthquake in Indonesia or eastern China, for example, the media in the rest of the world would not know about it until several days, to weeks, later, long after such an event would be deemed �newsworthy�. So by the time this information was available, it would probably be relegated to the back pages of the newspaper, if at all. And the public Internet didn't even exist. We are now getting this information almost immediately.
4) Earthquake clustering and human psychology. While the average number of large earthquakes per year is fairly constant, earthquakes occur in clusters. This is predicted by various statistical models, and does not imply that earthquakes that are distant in location, but close in time, are causally related. But when such clusters occur, especially when they are widely reported in the media, they are noticed. However, during the equally anomalous periods during which no destructive earthquakes occur, no one deems this as remarkable.
A temporal increase in earthquake activity does not mean that a large earthquake is about to happen. Similarly, quiescence, or the lack of seismicity, does not mean a large earthquake is going to happen. A temporary increase or decrease in the seismicity rate is usually just part of the natural variation in the seismicity. There is no way for us to know whether or not this time it will lead to a larger earthquake. Swarms of small events, especially in geothermal areas, are common, and moderate-large magnitude earthquakes will typically have an aftershock sequence that follows. All that is normal and expected earthquake activity.
See NEIC's Earthquake Statistics webpage for the tables of earthquake counts by magnitude and year.
There is a passage of scripture that can be applied here though...
"There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Luke 13:1-5 KJV
Suppose ye that these Japanese were sinners above all the Japanese, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those ten thousand, upon whom the tsunami waters fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt on Earth? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.