The Dead Sea Geology and End Times Prophecy
In Revelation chapters 1, 2 and 3 the Lord addresses the seven churches "which are in Asia." That specific geographical area is the western coast of modern-day Turkey, located north of Israel and Lebanon. The Middle East is the focal point of End Times prophecy.
In the Gospels, the Lord Jesus Christ mentions "earthquakes" three times in His prophecy of the End Times:
"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places."
(Matthew 24:7 KJV)
"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows."
(Mark 13:8 KJV)
"And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven."
(Luke 21:11 KJV)
These are verses we all have heard preached over and over again, and with every TV news report of another earthquake somewhere in the world, a preacher somewhere is inspired to preach it as a sure sign that the end is near. The problem is, earthquakes happen all across the Earth every day and the yearly averages of quake activity have remained fairly constant for many decades.
Active Seismic Activity Map from http://ds.iris.edu/seismon/
Click the link to go the site's interactive Monitor page
The Earth's crust is divided into about 12 major "plates" which are constantly shifting, producing earthquakes and volcanic activity on every continent. The Middle East and the countries on the eastern rim of the Mediterranean basin are situated at a geologic crossroads of tectonic plate boundaries:
The region is crisscrossed by several major fault lines. The arrows on the chart above indicate the directions the respective plates are moving in relation to adjoining plates. Both Turkey and Greece have experienced major quakes in recent times and geologists have noted that the floor of the Mediterranean sea is fracturing like a sheet of glass as the plates shift. But the focal point of End Times Biblical seismicity is driven by a Transform Fault that's just east of Jerusalem.
The prophesied major future activity will occur along the Dead Sea Transform fault, a continuation of the Red Sea and East African Rift system. This fault runs directly under the Dead Sea, up through the Jordan River valley, the Sea of Galilee, and northward through Lebanon.
The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Abraham's day was in an area towards the southern end of the Dead Sea. The Bible's mention of a rain of fire and brimstone from heaven on those wicked cities (See Genesis 19:24 - 29) indicates that the Divine judgment came from sudden volcanic/tectonic activity in a "plain" area which is now submerged and part of the floor of the Dead Sea. There is evidence that suggests the present configuration of the Dead Sea is only about as old as the time of Abraham. In the days of the Garden of Eden, there was no Dead Sea (like today), but a river flowed through that part of the rift zone towards the south. This is discussed in more detail on our page, The Lost Rivers of the Garden of Eden.
Historically speaking, the Dead Sea transform fault has displayed catastrophic tectonic activity in the geologic past and should be expected to do so again in the near future. It should be assumed that, in addition to increased tectonic activity along the Dead Sea transform, there will also be increased tectonic and volcanic activity across the globe during those times. But for the sake of this study, we will focus mainly on the Holy Land.
The Dead Sea fault boundary passes about 25 miles east of Jerusalem which, according to the Bible, will be the epicenter for at least two great future earthquakes, the last of which will be the strongest quake to shake the world since man was created.
"And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven."
(Revelation 11:13 KJV)
"And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great."
(Revelation 16:18 KJV)
Earthquakes however will not be the only geologic activity to occur in Israel between now and the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. There will also be volcanic activity in the regions south of Jerusalem and west of the Dead Sea, according to the prophet Isaiah:
"The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch."
(Isaiah 34:6-9 KJV)
This "Idumea" is a region that in Greco-Roman times was bordered on the east by the Dead Sea and also encompassed Hebron and Beersheba, a large area south of Jerusalem. The word translated "pitch" is a Hebrew word which means "to liquefy" and speak of asphalt, which liquefies when heated by the sun or any heat source. The reference to "brimstone" suggests volcanic activity. If taken literally, this passage says that the burning asphalt will flow like streams. Is there asphalt in the land of Idumea? You bet there is! It is a documented geological reality:
Footnote: At the end of 1985, OEIL ( later called INOC, Israel National Oil Company-a government owned entity ) suspended all drilling operations in order to carry out a comprehensive basin analysis study over all of Israel. Only limited exploration work continued by private operators, including the drilling of two Jurassic wells in the northwestern part of the Negev which yielded oil shows but no discoveries. INOC recommenced exploration around the Dead Sea area where a large amount of asphalt oil shows encouraged continued exploration without resulting in any commercial discoveries. Additional info on Asphalt Oil in Israel can be found on this link: http://www.zionoil.com/info-packet-contents/12_Jacobs_Blessing_Booklet_Final.pdf
Can volcanic activity spew asphalt instead of lava? Yes, it happens! Read more about it at this link: What is an asphalt volcano?
Will volcanic activity outside of the immediate Middle-East region also factor into End-Time Geology and Prophecy? It is a possibility. In Revelation 9:2 we find this verse:
"And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit."
(Revelation 9:2 KJV)
Could what the prophet described here be effects from the eruption of one (or more) of the Earth's "Supervolcanoes" during the Great Tribulation period? Certainly, as the above verse says, under the scenario of a Supervolcano eruption the sun and the air would be darkened globally by the smoke and ash from such a mega volcanic event. Global temperatures would fall, crops would fail, and famines would be triggered. Air traffic would come to a standstill because jets could not fly through the gritty ash plumes ejected high into the sky. Satellite communications would fail in many regions as the atmospheric borne ash blocked out or severely disrupted Ku band communications. Collectively these events would precipitate a melt-down of the global economy and the world would be plunged into utter chaos. Population centers downwind of the Supervolcano eruption would be buried under meters of volcanic ash. It would certainly be a hell-on-earth that modern mankind had never experienced, would be helpless to prevent and sore pressed to deal with on a global scale. The "Holy Land" is just 'downwind' from two nearby known Supervolcanoes, Campi Flegrei, near Naples, Italy and Santorini, an island of Greece.
But such an occurrence is only speculation and is based on a geologic possibility. So, let's return our focus to the immediate Middle-East geology and examine another prophecy. It is the prophecy of a mountain in Israel being split at the very moment of the Lord's return:
"Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee."
(Zechariah 14:3-5 KJV)
This passage indicates that when the Lord returns, the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem will split and form a valley through which the Jews will escape at the height of the battle of Armageddon.
The world will be so devastated at the time of the Lord's return that the prophet Jeremiah compared it to the condition of the Earth before it was restored in the seven days of Genesis:
"I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger. For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it."
(Jeremiah 4:23-28 KJV)
It should be pointed out that the above passage has been mistakenly cited by many as a proof passage for the Genesis Gap Doctrine because the phrase "was without form, and void" exactly matches the words to describe the Earth's condition in Genesis 1:2 before the start of the seven days. That assumption is an error. The passage above is a reference to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know this because of the key phrase: "...the PRESENCE of the LORD, and by his fierce anger ..." and the mention of "cities" in ruin during this time. No cities were built on the earth in Adam's world until after he left the Garden of Eden (See Genesis 4:17). So the time context here is most certainly future, not past.
The specific phrase, "was without form and void" for this future event is very instructive. At the end of the great tribulation period, the condition of the Earth and heavens is one of total devastation, resulting from the effects of global warfare, geologic upheaval, great plagues and the great wrath of God poured out on an unbelieving world. By the time the Lord Jesus Christ Returns the world will require complete regeneration.
"And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
(Matthew 19:28 KJV)
This "regeneration" is spoken of in Isaiah Chapter 65:
"For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands."
(Isaiah 65:17-22 KJV)
This "new heavens and a new earth" spoke of here is a REGENERATION). It is the same type of creative work God did during the seven days of Genesis. The phrase "was without form and void" at Genesis 1:2 referred to the condition of the Earth before the creation of Adam's world. The phrase "was without form and void" at Jeremiah 4:23 refers to the condition of the Earth at the coming of the last Adam and His new world (See 1 Corinthians 15:45). The Bible's interpretive Rule of First Mention supports this scriptural comparison.
What the prophet Isaiah's passage is speaking about is the coming future world and restored conditions on the face of a regenerated Earth following the terrible events of the great tribulation. The time of this correlates to Revelation 20:1, at the beginning of the "thousand years" Kingdom of Heaven on the Earth. This creation of a new heavens and Earth is not to be confused with the new "heaven and earth" of Revelation 21:1, because that is a separate creative event which happens at the end of the one thousand years. Proof of this distinction is found within the above passage where it says the "child shall die," which shows that this is a time when death still has a grip on surviving mankind. It should also be noted that in the 1,000-year coming Kingdom, with the Lord Jesus Christ ruling the Earth from His throne at Jerusalem, the newly-created heavens and Earth have been restored to conditions similar to those which existed on the Earth from Adam to Noah. That is, those born during that time will live long lives, like antediluvian man. We know this because the life spans are described as "the days of a tree" and most trees live a few hundred years. Death is not finally defeated until the end of the one thousand years (see Revelation 21:14).
At the end of the 1,000-year Kingdom of Heaven on the Earth, the entire universe will be completely destroyed, including the present Earth, the stars, and all physical things. Death will be once and for all done away with and the unsaved consigned to eternal torment. Then God will make a new heaven and Earth (see Revelation 21:1), and will make all things new. The story will have come full circle. That is the future. Today we must deal with this present evil world and be prepared to meet God. Great geologic upheavals, astronomical events and worse are coming in the near future according to the Bible.
"And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call."
(Joel 2:30-32 KJV)
"That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung."
(Zephaniah 1:15-17 KJV)
In the next chapter we are going to discuss the visions of Daniel and how show you just how close the world is to the brink of end-time prophecy fulfillment.
Disclaimer: External Links from this website are for instructional or promotional purposes and do not constitute an endorsement
by the The Bible, Genesis & Geology Ministry.
All original text © 1997 - 2021
Gaines R. Johnson, D.D., D.Th.
The Bible, Genesis & Geology Ministry
Materials from this site may be freely copied to paper for personal use or church Bible studies.
They may not be reproduced elsewhere on the Internet, for either personal or commercial use, without the express written permission of this Ministry.
Are you saved? Are you Sure? Click the image below for the Gospel Truth about the Lord Jesus Christ in your native language!