Volcanoes are making news these days. One of the most disturbing was the eruption on New Zealand’s White Island on December 9, 2019. There were 47 people on the island at the time of the explosion with most from Royal Caribbean’s cruise line’s Oasis of the Sea.
Twenty people were killed (two are missing) and the remaining 27 were injured many of them severely.
Then on January 12, 2020, Taal volcano located just 37 miles (ca. 60 km) from Manila, the capital of the Philippines, erupted forcing tens of thousands of people to flee. According to reports, the blast that included molten lava threw rocks up to 9.5 miles (ca. 15 km) into the sky and the column of smoke reached an estimated 1.2 miles (ca. 2 km).
The government upgraded the hazard level of the volcano to the second highest level of 4 which indicates “a hazardous eruption within hours to days was possible.”
The day before, January 11, 2010, Japan issued a Level 3 warning for Mt. Shintake, found on an island off the Southwestern coast of Japan. Though there was no laval flow, rocks blasted out of the volcano landed 300 meters away from the crater.
Then on Thursday, January 9, 2020, Popocatépetl volcano in Mexico came to life spewing out lava and smoke. According to reports, molten red rocks were thrown 20,000 feet into sky and the explosion was actually visible from space as it was picked up by NOAA satellites.
The government issued a level 2 warning for the volcano located just 43 miles from Mexico City.
The volcanoes are coming to life in the Ring of Fire, a horseshoe shaped region in the Pacific basin that touches the western coast of North America and South America and contains 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes (452 volcanoes) and is also the region where 90% of the world’s earthquakes take place.
With an increase in volcanic activity, many wonder if there are references to this in the Bible’s end-times prophecy. It does and perhaps the clearest reference is found in the book of Joel that warns of columns of smoke at the coming Day of the Lord:
Of course, columns of smoke are iconic symbol of active volcanoes and most conclude that this is what was being prophesied. The fact these columns will be accompanied by fire and blood suggest deaths will be part of this.
Joel also notes that as result, the sun will be darkened and the moon will turn blood-red. Though some have thought these to references to an eclipse of the sun and partial eclipse of the moon that causes blood-moons, the tonnes of ash being blasted into the sky from volcanic eruptions can have a simlar effect.
The eruption of Washinton States’ St Helens volcano in 1980 resulted in a cloud of ash towering 80,000 feet (ca. 24 km) into the sky and it produced a haze in the sky that was seen thousands of miles away.
The fact that Joel says the sun was darkened suggests a more powerful explosion than we witnessed for St. Helens or at the very least multiple eruptions around the same time.
But other than this most obvious description, are there other prophetic references to volcanoes. There is, if you consider volcanic activity is associated with earthquakes.
According to an article entitled Volcanoes and Earthquakes on the US Department of the Interior (US Geological Survey) website, there is a connection between the appearance of volcanoes and earthquakes due to the movement of lava underground, noting:
“Earthquakes are associated with volcanic eruptions. Abrupt increases in earthquake activity heralded eruptions at Mount St. Helens, Washington; Mount Spurr and Redoubt Volcano, Alaska; and Kilauea and Mauna Loa, Hawaii.”Volcanoes and Earthquakes: USGS.gov
When you understand this link, other end-times warnings make sense because while talking about earthquakes the prophets also mention fire and mountains melting in the Day of the Lord.
So if the increased volcanic and earthquake activity is part of the end times promised in the Bible, how does it fit into the prophetic time table.
Jesus says that that their appearance are just the “beginning of the birth pangs” (Matthew 24:7-8).
In other words, it is just starting.