Chapter Seven - Apocalypse
IN every vision of the Apocalypse, the final blow is a massive earthquake. In Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, it is the seventh plague from the seventh angel: "And there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the Earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found."
Ezekiel actually predicts that the final war with "Gog and Magog" will end that way: "On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. All the people on the face of the Earth shall tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground."
The destruction of this world by a huge earthquake is constantly threatened and foretold in the plain words of the Bible.
"I will make the heavens tremble, and the Earth will shake from its place," God warns in Isaiah. "Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the Lord when he rises to shake the Earth."
And hidden in the last verse of the original Bible, the words that close the story the Bible says God dictated to Moses on Mount Sinai, is the same warning:
"To annihilate, totally destroy, he hurled a violent force, and for everyone the great terror: fire, earthquake."
It cannot be by chance that the last secret revealed in the Bible code is the final blow threatened in every open prophecy of the Apocalypse.
The code seems to warn that over the next hundred years there will be a series of "great earthquakes" around the world. Three years are clearly encoded with "the great terror": 2000, 2014, and 2113. The distant year is the best match.
It is not clear if the code is stating a series of disasters, or a series of delays. The first earthquakes, however, may come within the first decade of the next century, perhaps even by the end of this century.
THE long-envisioned Apocalypse, if real, will begin not in some mythical, far-off land, but in real cities, in the real world.
The United States, China, Japan, and Israel are all encoded with "great earthquake" and years in the near future.
The Bible code appears to predict that the next big earthquake in this country will strike California. All the major quakes that have already shaken that state were foreseen.
The biggest that ever struck the United States-the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906-was encoded 3000 years ago. "S.F. Calif." and 1906 appear together. "Fire, earthquake" is also encoded with the year, and the hidden text states "city consumed, destroyed."
The biggest recent earthquake to hit the U.S. mainland, again in San Francisco, is also encoded. The year, 1989, the words "fire, earthquake," and "S.F. Calif." all appear in the same place.
But Los Angeles is mathematically the best match with "great earthquake" of any major city in the world.
"L.A. Calif." is encoded with "great earthquake" against very high odds, and both "America" and "USA" also appear with the predicted cataclysm. Seismologists agree that Southern California is the most likely area in the United States to face a major earthquake in the near future. The U.S. Geological Survey in 1995 stated that there is an "80 to 90% probability of a magnitude 7 + earthquake within Southern California before 2024."
The experts who made that prediction missed the last big quake in the Los Angeles area, the one in January 1994 that killed 61 people in Northridge. It was not on a known fault line, and it was not foreseen.
Except in the Bible code. "5754," in the modern calendar 1994, was encoded with "great earthquake" and "L.A. Calif."
That was barely a tremor compared to the predicted cataclysm, and a year in the near future appears with Los Angeles in exactly the same place that the 1994 disaster was foreseen.
Crossing "great earthquake," right below "L.A. Calif.," is the year 2010. And the same year, "5770" in the Hebrew calendar, is encoded again with the name of the city, actually overlapping "fire, earthquake."
It is only a probability. Both the code and the seismologists may be wrong. But the Bible code seems to predict that the big earthquake will hit Los Angeles in 2010.
THREE other areas of the world are also encoded with "great earthquake." All are encoded with the same two years, 2000 and 2006. There is no way to know which might actually be struck in the next decade.
"Great earthquake" is encoded with "China." It was the scene of the worst earthquake in world history, the 1976 cataclysm that killed 800,000 Chinese. That year, "5736," crosses "earthquake" right above "China."
But China may be hit again. Just above 1976 there is another date, "in 5760," the year 2000. "China" appears three times with "great earthquake," again with 2000 and also with 2006.
Israel, which has not suffered a major earthquake this century, is the place most prominently stated in the plain text of the Bible. Ezekiel openly predicts "a great earthquake in the land of Israel."
"Israel" also appears four times with "great earthquake" in the Bible code, but Israel appears so often in the Bible that there is no way to calculate the mathematical significance.
Israel is, however, located on what may be the world's greatest fault line, the Red Sea rift that in prehistorical times shifted so violently it separated Africa from Asia.
But the one country most likely in danger, according to the Bible code, is Japan.
WHEN I first met him, my publisher asked me to predict one world event. I declined.
"I don't know a thing about tomorrow," I told him. "I just know what's encoded in the Bible."
But he kept insisting, and finally I told him that if one thing seemed likely, it was that Japan was going to suffer a series of major earthquakes. Three months later, Japan had the worst. earthquake in over thirty years. It happened in a remote area, so few were killed, but on the Richter scale it was a major event.
I checked it in the Bible code. The exact epicentre of the quake was encoded, "Okushiri," an island so small that even many Japanese didn't know it existed until the earthquake.
The full matrix read, "Okushiri July will be shaken." The earthquake struck on July 12, 1993.
I found that just before a scheduled trip to Japan. I felt compelled to share what I knew. If the Okushiri quake was so accurately encoded, then the other predicted earthquakes might also be real.
I went to see the Japanese Cabinet Minister in charge of earthquake preparedness, Wakako Hirônaka. Her husband is a famous mathematician, and she was interested but perplexed.
"What can I do?" she asked me. "Evacuate Tokyo?"
In fact, "Tokyo will be evacuated" was encoded in the Bible. But not when, or why.
A year later, the port city of Kobe was devastated by a massive earthquake that killed 5000. That, too, had been foreseen in the Old Testament. "Kobe, Japan" was encoded. With it were the words, "fire," "earthquake," "the big one." And the year it happened, 1995 ("5755") crossed "fire, earthquake."
"Japan" is also the country most clearly encoded with a future "great earthquake." The years 2000 and 2006 appear in the same place.
Again, there is no way to know if the stated danger is real. But there seems to be an Apocalyptic urgency to the warning about Japan, just as there is about Israel. In fact, in the Bible code, there seems to be an almost eerie link between the two countries.
Both are repeatedly stated to be in unprecedented danger.
"Japan" and "Israel" appear together with the two Biblical statements of the "End of Days." "Japan" is encoded with "holocaust of Israel." "Israel and Japan" are again together in the hidden text of the Bible as a single phrase, and the names of the two countries cross the only encoding of "year of the plague." And "Japan" is the only country in addition to Israel encoded with "Final Battle."
A disaster of Biblical proportions seems to be threatened throughout the Bible code for both countries. In Israel, the immediate danger appears to be nuclear war. In Japan, the immediate danger appears to be a catastrophic earthquake.
And if the entire world might be endangered by the war the Bible code predicts will start in Israel, the entire world might also be shaken by an earthquake that strikes Japan.
"Economic collapse" is encoded one time in the Bible. The year the last Great Depression started, 1929, is encoded in the same place. And "economic collapse" is also encoded with the words "earthquake struck Japan."
Japan is now so central to the global economy that any great disaster in that country would impact the whole world. The true global upheaval may be a great "economic collapse" rather than a "great earthquake."
But the ultimate danger we face may be the greatest natural disaster mankind has ever witnessed.
SIXTY-FIVE million years ago an asteroid bigger than Mount Everest struck the Earth, exploding with the force of 300 million hydrogen bombs, and killed all the dinosaurs.
"Asteroid" and "dinosaur" are encoded together in the Bible. The Biblical name for the first creatures God created on Earth is also encoded in the same place.
"And God created the great Tanin," states the first chapter of Genesis. The word means "dragons" or "monsters." It describes some huge animal that no longer exists.
And "dragon" is encoded across "dinosaur," just above "asteroid." With them is encoded the name of the dragon that, according to legend, God slayed before Creation.
It is surely intentional that the name of the dragon the Bible says God fought-"Rahab"-appears in the Bible code exactly where the "asteroid" hits the "dinosaur."
In fact, the full hidden text states, "It will strike Rahab."
It suggests that the extinction of the dinosaurs was the real slaying of the dragon, the cosmic event recalled by Isaiah: "Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces, and pierced through the dragon?"
Scientists now agree that mankind would never have evolved unless the dinosaurs had been wiped out by the asteroid.
But they also wonder whether mankind may face a similar fate, if we too will be wiped out by a rock hurtling in from outer space.
A leading American astronomer, Brian Marsden, director of the Smithsonian Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., first sounded the alarm in 1992.
He calculated that a comet named Swift-Tuttle that had just been sighted would reappear 134 years later in 2126. And he said that it might then collide with the Earth.
The comet was at least as big as the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. Marsden's very low-key warning-"a change by + 15 days could cause thecomet to hit the Earth in 2126"-was a Doomsday alert. It was front-page news around the world.
"The International Astronomical Union, the world astronomy authority, has for the first time issued a warning of a potential collision between Earth and a speeding object from the fringes of the solar system," the New York Times reported. "The size of the comet is in the range that scientists assume is sufficient to end civilization."
"It comes screaming out of the sky like a Scud from Hell, bigger than a mountain and packed with more energy than the world's entire nuclear arsenal," stated a lurid cover story in Newsweek, painting the frightening scenario.
Marsden later called off the alert. New calculations showed that the comet would pass safely at the end of July 2126. But if it came just two weeks later, in mid-August, the ten-mile-wide rock would crash into our planet.
No astronomer was within two weeks of predicting the actual 1992 appearance of Swift-Tuttle. Most were years off.
But the exact day the comet was spotted, Sunday, September 27, 1992, was encoded in the Bible 3000 years ago. It happened to be the eve of the Hebrew New Year. The Bible code foresaw the moment: "Eve of New Year, Swift."
"5753," the Hebrew year of the 1992 appearance, was encoded with "comet" and its full name "Swift-Tuttle."
And in the Bible code, "Swift" is also encoded with "5886," the year the comet is due to return, 2126.
The name of the comet intersects the year. And right above 2126 are the words, "In the seventh month it came." That suggests it will pass the Earth safely in July.
But a terrible warning is encoded in the Bible with the word "comet."
IT was not until another comet collided with Jupiter in 1994 that our world recognized the true danger.
That impact created fireballs the size of the Earth, and left Jupiter scarred with massive black craters. It was the biggest explosion man ever witnessed in our solar system, and if it had happened here it would have wiped out the human race.
The Jupiter cataclysm was also foretold in the Bible code, found months
before it happened. The name of the comet, "Shoemaker-Levy," was encoded with the name of the planet, "Jupiter," and the exact date of impact, July 16, 1994.
In 1995 the Pentagon and NASA began searching the skies for asteroids and comets that might slam into the Earth. "We could face a surprise encounter," said Dr. Eleanor Helin, the U.S. government scientist in charge of Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking.
She estimated that there are at least 1700 "Earth crossers," asteroids and comets whose orbits intersect ours, and might be big enough to destroy all life on this planet. The odds of a collision are remote. It happens perhaps once every 300,000 years. But no one knows when the last one struck, or the next one will strike.
"It's sobering," said Dr. Helin, when the first organized effort to locate the "Earth crossers" started. "These things have been lurking out there all these years, but we've never seen them."
The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs landed in what is now the Gulf of Mexico, blasting all of North America with a firestorm that apparently destroyed every living thing on the continent. The dust and ash and debris that shot up into the atmosphere then blotted out the Sun across the entire globe, causing world-wide extinctions.
It is estimated that two-thirds of all the species that ever walked, flew, or swam on Earth became extinct because of impacts from outer space. We are the first species that might be able to prevent it.
When Swift-Tuttle caused the first alarm, and the bombardment of Jupiter vividly demonstrated the danger we face, scientists began to plan the defense of the Earth.
The inventor of the hydrogen bomb, Edward Teller, said we could shoot down an asteroid with a massive nuclear-tipped rocket.
Other scientists suggested that simply exploding a nuclear device near a comet would melt the frozen gas, create jets that shot out like the thrusters on a rocket, and divert the comet from its collision course.
There was even a plan to land a spacecraft on any big rock headingtoward Earth, attach rocket engines to it, and steer the comet or asteroid away from this planet.
But those are all untried schemes, at best sketchy diagrams and a few equations, and no one knows how much time, how much warning we might have.
"It may be only days or weeks," says Gareth Williams, Marsden's colleague at the Smithsonian Observatory. "If it's a comet on a very long orbit, it may catch us by surprise, it may be totally unknown."
Until Shoemaker-Levy bombarded Jupiter, there was no organized effort even to track the rocks in outer space. There are still no concrete plans to stop one hurtling toward us.
THE Bible code warns that a collision with the Earth may be a real danger. There are a series of near encounters indicated, right up to the time Swift returns in 2126.
But the first year clearly encoded with "comet" is only 10 years away"5766," in the modern calendar 2006.
Running across 2006 is a chilling statement: "Its path struck their dwelling." The warning that overlaps the year ends with the words "starlike object."
Right above 2006 is an apparent confirmation of the time: "Year predicted for the world."
Other probabilities are encoded. Both "5770" and "5772"-the years 2010 and 2012-also appear with "comet."
"Days of horror" runs across 2010. "Darkness" and "gloom" cross "comet" right below.
"Earth annihilated" states the hidden text right above the year 2012.
But where 2012 is encoded there is also a statement that the disaster will be prevented, that the comet will be blocked: "It will be crumbled, driven out, I will tear it to pieces, 5772."
That is very much what happened to the comet that hit Jupiter. Before it struck the planet it crumbled into 20 separate pieces. But then each of them bombarded Jupiter every day for a week.
There is an ancient tale, told in the Talmud, of a king who became angry with his son, and swore that he would hurl a massive stone at him. Later, he regretted it, but could not go back on his oath. So he ordered that the stone be broken up into small pebbles and that each of these be thrown, one by one, at his son.
The parable, played out on a cosmic scale with Jupiter, may also foretell the fate of man on Earth.
THERE is a theory that a collision by a comet in prehistoric times may have inspired later Apocalyptic tales in the Bible.
"Current studies indicate that there must have been at least one ten-gigaton impact within the past seventy thousand years," wrote Timothy Ferris in the New Yorker, "a horrific blast, which would have blacked out the sun, flooded much of the world, drenched the land with fire and the smell of brimstone, and otherwise brought down a whole Biblical Apocalypse."
But a hundred million years may pass between impacts big enough to cause a global extinction, and a million years between explosions that could destroy a country, and thousands of years between comets that could level a city.
And at the time I discovered that this cosmic danger was encoded in the Bible, the predicted "atomic holocaust," the "holocaust of Israel" that might trigger a World War, was only weeks away.
The countdown to what could be the real Armageddon was coming to an end.