"Though the Mountains Shake"

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 6
San Francisco. April 18, 1906. Dawn was just breaking and the city was beginning to wake to the new day. There was a clip-clop, clip-clop of horses pulling milk and delivery wagons, but most of the people were still in bed.
Then came the rumble of deep thunder—but not from the sky. From below, deep underground along the fault lines in the Pacific belt, the earth's crust buckled and cracked. Shock waves raced through the ground. Earthquake!
The heaviest damage was in the main business section of the city. It was largely built upon filled land—land built up from the sea. Sand and mud, pumped in together for a foundation, were shaken into a "thick soup"—and the buildings fell.
Fires broke out, great fires that swept uncontrolled for miles in spite of the efforts by the firefighters. There was no water to combat the fires; the water mains for the whole city were laid across that unstable filled-in land.
The best estimate was that 3,000 people died in that disaster. Damage was estimated at $300,000,000—a tremendous sum in those days.
Again, San Francisco. October 17, 1990. This time the city was not sleeping; it was 5:04 in the afternoon and rush hour was well under way. In Candlestick Park 62,000 people were gathered; the third game of the World Series was to be played. Again the tectonic plates slipped along the fault lines, and again the earth rippled and shook. Highways cracked, hillsides collapsed and slid down with a roar and buildings shook, cracked and fell. In Oakland, across the bay, columns supporting a section of Interstate 880 failed and some 26,000 tons of concrete crashed down on the roadway below.
The greatest damage to buildings was in the "Marina" district, which was built on land filled in after the 1906 quake. In the rush to rebuild and to prepare for an international exposition in 1915, San Francisco used rubble from the collapsed buildings to fill in yet more of the shallow water of the bay. As before, the built-up land was the most unstable.
What about the 62,000 people in Candlestick Park? They were shaken, but the structure was sound. The many tiers of seats did not collapse, one upon another, on the frightened people below. Candlestick Park was built on rock—on solid bedrock! It stood firm.
Where is the safest place to be in an earthquake? Firmly on the rock! Where is the safest—no, the only—safe place while our world is shaken around us? Again it is the rock—but this Rock is Christ.
"Earthquakes" are not only geographical today. Governments that claimed to be formed to "last a thousand years" are collapsing almost overnight. Nations are rising—falling—being divided—being reunited. Nearer home, businesses are failing, bankruptcies are common, and the rising tide of crime and violence threatens every area of life.
In the midst of the turmoil there is still a firm foundation for our hearts. It is a foundation, not on a sandy, shifting base of human ideas and efforts and promises, but on the absolute Word of God. The Bible tells us that other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus Himself said, Come unto Me... and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:2828Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28).)
To those who come to Him He promises: My peace I give unto you.... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:2727Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27).) Rest—and peace—a sure, a certain promise.
For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God? (Psa. 18:3131For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God? (Psalm 18:31).)
On Christ salvation rests secure,
The rock of ages must endure;
Nor can that faith be overthrown
Which rests on Christ, the living stone.