Posts Tagged ‘earthquakes’

Walking in a Smoking Volcano on the Greek Island of Nissiros

September 16, 2012

My memories of our recent summer trip to this volcano, aptly named the “sleeping giant,” are still fresh in my mind this autumn. One morning we took an early morning trip to the nearby harbour at Kéfalos where we boarded a boat bound for the small picturesque island of Nissiros (also known as Nisyros). What a turbulent sea journey it was! However, although I normally get seasick quite easily, on this occasion I sat out on the deck and somehow the fresh air helped. Something else which greatly helped was the fact that I didn’t wander around the boat; I sat still, determined, keeping my eyes on one solid unmoveable object when conditions were at their worst. That solid unmoveable object did not include one of my fellow passengers – for they could quite possibly let me down in this respect, especially when most of them seemed to be having a hard enough time dealing with the conditions too!

Later I was struck by this wonderful spiritual parallel… when life presents us with some turbulent conditions; the only safe place is to have our eyes firmly fixed on the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, our unmoveable Rock and Fortress.

At one point I noticed a distant rocky and misty coastline and asked one of the Greeks where it was, to which he replied shortly… “That is Turkey.” On arrival at this little island of Nissiros, home to around just 1,000 people who are distributed over four villages; we boarded a coach which drove away up into some very barren, but fascinating countryside. As soon as we reached the site of the volcano, I was struck by the fact that this was a very unique experience for me and quite possibly something I may never do again in my lifetime.

Outside the coach I was immediately overwhelmed by the unpleasant smell of sulphur – I could only describe it as being like very rotten eggs mixed with dust and ashes. By now it was around mid-day and the heat in the area of the volcano was almost too much to bear but I was still determined to say that I had walked in a volcano!

Looking down from a height, I noticed tiny figures walking right in the crater and knew that soon I too would be another one of those distant tiny figures when we had reached it. The barren, lunar-like landscape of the area was strange and somehow overpowering and the smell of the sulphur reminded me of  a story that I had heard once of someone who had claimed to have had a vision of hell. He had described the smell there as being of ‘sulphur.’ Even the concept of hell is not a subject that anyone wishes to dwell on and yet I know that hell is a very real place and that Jesus talked more about this horrific destination than about heaven, for He is “not willing that any should perish.”

Clambering down into the crater, the soles of my feet felt extremely hot, as a fierce wind blew dust all around us. In fascination I stared for a long time at the smoking holes all around my hot feet and after a while decided that the mid-July heat that day, combined with the choking smell of sulphur was just too much! By now the water in my flask was very hot too (it is said that one can fry eggs quickly in that crater) and soon we were clambering up the slope again towards our coach which thankfully had the air conditioning running!

The “sleeping giant” is indeed an ever present threat to the people of the island of Nissiros. It is a very beautiful island in many respects but I could still smell that sulphur even when we had returned to the small village of Mandráki where we had some time to wander around the lovely narrow little streets before we once more boarded our boat for the return journey.

In 1996 and 1997 the islanders also experienced terrifying earth tremors for many months and some cracked dwelling places had to be vacated at this time. Scientists are constantly monitoring the “simmering giant” too, but what can mankind do against the forces of nature – but flee to safety when they receive a warning?

Boarding the boat for our return journey, I clutched a piece of volcanic ash – my souvenir from that unforgettable day trip. Staring back at Mandráki, I watched the waves of the sea crash against its ancient walls and then turned to see the sun go down over the sparkling waves on the horizon. I had left little John 3v16 Greek bookmarks with some of the villagers – and some in a monastery to which we had climbed from the narrow streets. But what are these among so many? Nissiros… 1,000 people and yet another lovely Greek island, for whose inhabitants my Saviour died. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Luke 10v2)

“Behold I Come as a Thief…”

December 26, 2011

It is hard to believe that seven years have now passed since the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake which occurred on Sunday, December 26, 2004. ‘Tsunami’, a Japanese word, originally meant ‘a large wave in a harbour’, but is now used to describe the most destructive of all waves. Unlike other waves, it is caused by neither the influence of moon or sun – but by a giant disturbance under the sea, which may be either a volcanic eruption or an earthquake (as in this case). As coincidence would have it, my reading was in Revelation when this disaster struck. Earthquakes are mentioned more in this final book of the Bible, than in any other, and are very much associated with the end times. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24v7&8: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. And these are the beginning of sorrows.”

As the months and years of our ageing universe pass, we know from God’s Word that there will be more and more earthquakes in ‘diverse places.’ In the latter times, our earth will suffer the most violent tremors ever experienced in the history of mankind. Those of us in western Europe, to date, have had very little experience of earthquakes, and yet, some day every nation of the world will be affected by that great earthquake mentioned in Rev. 16v18: “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.” In Verse 20 of this chapter we learn that: “…every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”

As the terrible story of the Tsunami unfolded, so too did many stories of heroism and fortitude. I read a newspaper report of one young girl, a tourist in the region, who saw and recognised the signs of the Tsunami before it struck. Being a student of geography, she was well read in this particular phenomenon, and knew the tell-tale signs of approaching catastrophe. The result was that she raised the alarm within the little area where she happened to be at the time, and was able to save the lives of at least one hundred people. Surely, we too, as Christians, need to be well read in God’s Word? His will for us is that we should know the warning signs that accompany the times we live in, and be prepared to warn those souls around us to “flee from the wrath to come.” (Matt. 3v7;Rom.5v9). I am sure that it took courage for this young girl to shout the warnings to the formidable adults around her. It takes much courage for us also, to visit our neighbours, and warn them of the things that we have gleaned from God’s Word. But proclaim it we must, going in His strength, for Jesus tells us: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 10v32&33). And in Mark 8v38 we learn that… “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Just as God told Noah to be prepared for the coming flood, we are exhorted to be prepared for “that day and hour” which no man knows. (Matt. 24v36). “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would have not have suffered his house to be broken up.” (Matt. 24v42&43).

The Tsunami ‘came as a thief.’ People were not expecting this sudden dreadful devastation which overtook them. Those masses of people who checked in at airports during the pre-Christmas rush would have made excellent preparation for their holidays. Perhaps weeks, even months of meticulous planning and anticipation filled their lives. How much more should we anticipate and be prepared for “the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord!” (Mal. 4v5). “Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Rev. 16v15).

Some day that curse upon our earth shall be removed, and terrible events like Tsunamis shall be no more, for we read: “And there shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 22v3-5). And so, this life is but for a season, but the years of eternity are indeed “for ever and ever.” Without the Lord, those ages of eternity are too awful to contemplate, for we read: “And whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20v15).

To those who know Him, He says: “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Rev. 3v11). So long as we are followers of Jesus, and “Walk in the Spirit,” (Gal.5v16) this day and all our tomorrows belong to Him.

To those who do not know Him, He says: “Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev.3v20).

“I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22v16&17). “He which testifieth of these things saith, ‘Surely I come quickly,’ Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus.” Rev. 22v20). May God bless His precious words to the hearts of all who read, and may “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Rev. 22v21)