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As the clock struck midnight, it ushered in another promising day for beautiful San Francisco. That fateful day crept upon the city quietly and peacefully, while most of its residents slept.
It was approaching that early, quiet hour just before a great city awakens for a new day. Suddenly the earth heaves and shakes, and great stone buildings begin to rock back and forth. With frightened cries, every sleeper leaps from his bed and rushes into the street. The shaking increases and becomes violent, and the people run in panic. Cries and shrieks pierce the early morning darkness along with the thundering crashes of falling walls and breaking timbers. For three minutes there is a deafening roar as structure after structure buckles and then collapses. Magnifying the horror of the scene, fires break out, and for four days they burn out of control.
Thousands of people perished; 300,000 were suddenly homeless; $250,000,000 worth of property was destroyed. How tragic! How devastating!
But listen to the story of an even more momentous day and of a much worse tragedy that took place about the year 33 A.D. A man was tried for false offenses and a prejudiced crowd declared Him guilty. His accusers persuaded the governor to waive his power of pardon and to sentence the man to death by crucifixion. The angry crowd surged about this man as He patiently carried His cross up the hill where He was to be “lifted up” for all to see. On the brow of that hill they crucified Him. A title was placed above His thorn-crowned head. It read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
“They crucified Him … and sitting down they watched Him there. … Then were there two thieves crucified with Him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads, and saying … If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; Himself He cannot save.
“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. … After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, said … It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost. … The sun was darkened … and the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. … THE EARTH DID QUAKE, and the rocks rent. … But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (the Gospels).
It was an appalling and unjust act on the part of those who crucified Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But the shedding of His blood on the cross that day is the basis on which He is able to offer you today salvation from your sins and the certain knowledge that you will be with Him in heaven for all eternity. “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold … but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18‑19). Have you ever really considered the fact that the Son of God has given His life so that you can stand in guaranteed peace in the presence of a holy God?
You may say, “I don’t want to think about the next life right now. I’m too busy; I’ll think about it later when I have more time.” But wait. How many millions of dollars would some of those earthquake victims have given if only they could have been given one more year, day or hour. But no, God’s time had come, and in a moment they were swept into eternity. Did their wealth help them? No! All their possessions, money and businesses were transformed into a heap of ruins. Truly, “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (1 John 2:17).
Don’t ignore the certainty of coming judgment and the realities of eternity! Weigh these serious questions: Are your sins forgiven? Are you saved for an eternity in heaven?
You may answer, “I am doing my best; I hope to get to heaven based on my religious life and in the mercy of God.” However, the Bible states the opposite: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [Jesus as Lord], and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). God doesn’t ask you to do anything to receive salvation. It is offered to you by His loving-kindness, and He asks you to do nothing but believe by faith. The work has already been done. “Even so must the Son of Man [Jesus] be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14‑15).