Lessons From Volcano Activity

Charles J. Aebi

As you may know, Mt. Vesuvius, a still-active volcano on the Bay of Naples in southern Italy, erupted in A.D. 79 with such force that it totally destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and suddenly killed the people and animals there in the midst of their daily activities. National Geographic in May, 1984, and a number of other historical and scientific books and journals have had color and black-and-white photos of some of the mummified remains of people and animals caught unawares by the superheated gasses and volcanic ash that suddenly buried them and sometimes preserved their bodies. There had been warnings that went unheeded. Ancient Roman writers told how, for weeks prior to its eruption, Vesuvius had rumbled, shook, and spewed smoke into the air. 

In Guatemala, in 1967, six OVC students and I climbed Mt. Pacaya, an active volcano, with thirty scientists from the University of San Carlos. The mountain, some 15 or 20 miles from Guatemala City, was erupting from a cone on its front (west or southwest) side. We climbed the back side, then walked around so we could look down on the erupting cone. Every four minutes, the mountain shook and rumbled as it spat out a little fire and lava. A week later the whole mountain blew its top during the night, scattering lava and ashes for many miles around. A layer of gray ash lay on everything when we stepped out of the guest house the next morning. We would have been wise to have heeded its warnings and not climbed it. Fortunately for us, we were not there when it blew; if we had been, I would not be writing this today. We were not told how many people might have been killed at that time. 

Mt. St. Helens in the southern part of the State of Washington also issued many signs before it erupted several years ago, but some residents, like one Harry Truman, refused to move and are buried beneath thousands of tons of volcanic ash, mud, and debris from the sudden explosion of that mountain. 

Jesus and the writers of the New Testament warn us that there is a judgment day coming (Matthew 24:42,44; 25:13; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) and tell us how to prepare for it (Mark 16:15-16; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 2:38). 

Will we heed the warnings, or will death or Christ’s second coming catch us like Vesuvius and Mt. St. Helens caught those people? Some may reject warnings as negative, and some may ignore warnings because they ignore anything that may inconvenience them, but a word to the wise is sufficient. 

“Careless soul, O heed the warning, For your life will soon be gone; O how sad to face the judgment, Unprepared to meet thy God.” —2660 Layman Rd., Vincent OH 45784. cjandi@juno.com

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