PART THREE -  The Miraculous Earthquake
      "- - - - The earth shook and the rocks split." Matthew 27:51 (NIV)
This, the THIRD of the six miracles of Calvary, has a significance of its very own as a link in the chain of wonders. Not only was it the cause of  what followed -- the opening of the graves -- but also was itself a sign of great range and power. Equal with the darkness, the tearing of the veil, and the opening of the graves, it was a supernatural notation, by which God made known the importance of the death of Jesus Christ, and forever fixed the true interpretation of it.
But, first, we need to get before us the statement of fact: vs 50- "And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit." vs 51- "At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split." Matthew 27 (NIV)
The quaking of the earth was at the instant of Christ's death, and followed the loud voice of victory. Christ's death was His victory, and to the power of that truth the trembling earth gave its testimony. This was not a testimony of a slight force. The strength of the concussion is seen in that the rocks split. Even if the splitting was only a trivial one it was still evidence of the exceeding violence in the earthquake. The quake was a result of the Savior's shout of victory proportioned to the grandeur of its cause, an expressive accompaniment of the death to whose power it witnessed.
Why was Christ's death such a victory?  From the very beginning Satan tried every trick he could connive to prevent the birth of Christ. Throughout the Old Testament he tried every trick, such as causing Moses to strike the rock the second time for water, rather than speaking to it as God had commanded. But that did not work, as God picked Joshua to replace Moses. Then in the New Testament, Satan tried to prevent the birth of Christ by rigging things so that Mary had to travel to Bethlehem thus causing a miscarriage. This failed, so he tried to have Him killed by Herod, which failed miserably. Then Satan tried to prevent the cross from happening by having him mobbed, but Christ sneaked away from them. Next Satan tried to make Christ bleed to death in the Garden as Christ was praying. Christ prayed for God to spare him so would not die there in the Garden prematurely. Seeing that he was failing in his efforts, Satan then tried to rescue Jesus, by having Pilots wife beg him to let Him go, as He was innocent.  This also failed. So Christ's second shout was not only one of victory, but shaking His fist in Satan's face. His promise in the Garden of Eden to smash the serpent's head had come to fruition!
We have called the earthquake supernatural and referred to it as miraculous. A supernatural event is brought about by the interference of God. Often God's interference is put forth in accordance with the established order of nature. An example is when we pray for rain. Such an interference  by God is supernatural, but not a miracle, in that He uses forces already at work in nature. However, a miraculous event is one which, though it is the result of the interference of God, it is not brought about by the use of Nature's established order. It is solely and immediately by an act of His will, as when he turned water to wine.
We are, therefore, declaring that this earthquake was not only supernatural, but that it was the direct result of God's interference, and not the result of any of the natural causes, or any combination of them. The earthquake was independent of the established order, being solely by the acts of His will as He gave a shout of victory. To establish this, consider the great coincidences of the occurrence of the earthquake:
FIRST: it coincided with the death of Jesus Christ. The evangelist speaks of it to give the idea that it would not have taken place apart from Jesus' death. SECOND: it coincided with the occurrences of the miraculous darkness and the tearing of the veil. It was one of the cluster of wonders, being viewed in the light of the company it kept. THIRD: it coincided with the shout of victory from the cross. It was not the fires IN the earth, but the voice ON the earth which caused the earth to tremble -- the shout of the Laborer going to His rest!FOURTH: it coincided with the splitting of the rocks and the opening of the graves. And strangely, violent as the quake was, it disturbed no other thing! Calvary itself was shaken, but it did not displace the Savior's cross. It opened graves, yet NOT ALL the graves -- only selected graves -- the graves of the saints!!  It seemed as if the earthquake was a living thing, whose divine intelligence discriminated the various dead at Golgotha.
The law that convicted man of sin was given on Mount Sinai, which was shaken by a great earthquake. Grace came at the cross on Mount Golgotha which was shaken by an earthquake. The wrath and condemnation of the first on Mount Sinai was hushed by the mercy and grace on Mount Golgotha. Sin existed before Sinai, but the utterances from Mount Sinai brought sin into prominence, stripping it of all of its disguises, making it appear for what it was -- SIN!
Accordingly, when god came down on Mount Sinai, ". . . there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. . . . . Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire.The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace . . . ." Ex. 19:16, 18 (NIV)
Thus it is indicated that so great is the burden of sin, so over whelming is God's destruction, it is impossible for man to rid himself of sin. Man is helpless and ruined. For ". . . . Who can withstand His indignation? Who can endure His fierce anger?. . . . ." Nahum 1:6 (NIV)
In a real sense Sinai was shouting forth the message of Calvary. And so " . . . . when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, under law to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." Galations 4:4, 5. (NIV)
Calvary absorbed into itself the fire of Sinai. Sinai was the prophecy of Calvary. Calvary was the fulfillment of Sinai. Sinai was the sinner's wretchedness and ruin. Calvary was the sinner's recovery and blessedness. Sinai was God's voice of condemnation; Calvary was God's fatherly voice of grace and pardon. Why, then, should the earth not have shook by what Christ accomplished on the Cross of Calvary? It becomes apparent that the earthquake of Calvary was not only a pledge, but an earnest, of the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.

a Thought Across The Garden Gate by Parson Don.




Updated March 23, 2010
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