On Sunday, two minor earthquakes shook Israel, setting off the aptly-named Teruah warning system. While experts institute practical measures to prepare for the much-predicted devastating earthquake, the Biblically minded are making more spiritual preparations for the prophesied pre-Messiah shake-up.
According to the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command, the epicenter of the first quake was some 16 kilometers (9.9 miles) southeast of Tiberias and measured 4.1 on the Richter scale. The second quake measured 3.7-magnitude and was centered near Bet Shean in the Jordan Valley.
Though there were no injuries, IDF Home Front Command engineers assisted the Tiberias municipality in surveying 60 buildings that residents reported were damaged by the earthquakes.
According to data presented by Kan News on Sunday, about 60 % of the homes in Israel are still not protected from missile attacks, earthquakes, or collapse due to obsolescence. More than half of Israeli citizens live in a building not properly protected against such events.
According to Kan, a major earthquake is predicted to cause about 7,000 deaths and 145,000 injuries, with 170,000 people left homeless and 320,000 buildings damaged.
The earthquakes on Sunday triggered the Teruah early warning system that was installed in 2019. The system, composed of 120 sensors running along a 400-kilometer length of the Dead Sea Rift from Eilat to the Golan Heights, can issue an earthquake warning of several seconds up to several minutes, depending on the location of the earthquake’s epicenter. In a manner that is counterintuitive, the EEW system (Earthquake Early Warning) warning, issued via cell phone, travels faster than the destructive waves of the earthquake. Hence, people located further from the epicenter will receive a more advanced warning.
When an earthquake occurs in the northern Dead Sea, the warning for Jerusalem residents will be about three seconds, for Tel Aviv residents about 18 seconds, and for Haifa residents about 30 seconds. However, if an earthquake occurs in the Beit Shean Valley, Jerusalem will have 20 seconds warning, Tel Aviv 19 seconds, and Haifa 12 seconds.
The system includes a multi-national radar-based early tsunami warning system. The Mediterranean is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to tsunamis. Some 25 percent of all documented instances of tsunamis hitting took place in the Mediterranean. Every 250 years on average a tsunami hits Israel’s coast and every 700 years on average a devastating tsunami hits.
Teruah in Hebrew means a shofar blast. Hence, the holiday of Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year in which the Shofar is prominently featured, is referred to in the Bible as Yom Teruah. But the Shofar is also prophesied to play a significant role in the end-of-days, as written in the Book of Isaiah as a signal for the dispersed Jews to return from exile as the first stage of the final redemption:
And in that day, a great shofar shall be sounded; and the strayed who are in the land of Assyria and the expelled who are in the land of Egypt shall come and worship Hashem on the holy mount, in Yerushalayim. Isaiah 27:13
It should also be noted that massive earthquakes in Israel are also part of the prophesied end-of-days. These earthquakes will be so severe as to cause geographic changes in the Temple Mount, requiring the construction of an entirely new city. The quakes will cause springs of water to burst forth around Jerusalem, bringing about the prophecy in Zechariah.
And it shall come to pass in that day that living waters shall go out from Yerushalayim: half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in summer and in winter shall it be.” Zechariah 14:8
The earthquake will also split the Mount of Olives in two.
On that day, He will set His feet on the Mount of Olives, near Yerushalayim on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall split across from east to west, and one part of the Mount shall shift to the north and the other to the south, a huge gorge. Zechariah 14:4
In addition to the aptly named Shofar/Teruah early warning system, Israel is also making practical preparations to make the final pre-Messiah earthquakes slightly less devastating. In 2005, the Israeli government initiated the TAMA 38 plan, encouraging residents to strengthen their buildings’ structures. But it currently takes 3-5 years for a building to be approved under the TAMA program. According to Kan, since 2005, only 27,000 buildings have been reinforced under the plan.
Israel’s Jordan Valley and Dead Sea are part of the Syrian-African Rift Valley, which stretches from Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley to Mozambique in Southeastern Africa. Large earthquakes usually hit Israel approximately once every 90 years and there is concern that another one is due – considering that the most recent one occurred in 1927. That event saw more than 400 people killed and extensive damage to buildings in Jerusalem and Hebron.