Why is God going to send great shakings and judgments at the end of the age?
According to the Bible, God is going to shake the earth at the end of the age because the earth’s inhabitants are guilty of violating certain divinely-instituted covenant requirements (see “The ‘How’ of the Covenants”). After the Flood, God told Noah and his descendants that they must not do the kinds of evil things that had resulted in an outpouring of his wrath in the Flood event. Ancient Jewish teachers and interpreters concluded from their close study of Genesis 6-9 that there are seven laws that are applicable “to all people, in all places: do not murder do not commit adultery, do not commit idolatry, do not curse God’s name, do not steal, do not eat meat (or blood) from a living animal, and establish a court of law.” 2 God issued these commands in context to the “everlasting covenant” (Gen. 9:16) that he made with Noah, Noah’s descendants (i.e., with the entire human race, since all post-Flood human beings trace their descent to Noah), and all living creatures (see Gen. 9). When God later entered into covenant with the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai (see “Covenants”), he entrusted even greater and more specific wisdom and understanding concerning his will and righteous ways to them than he had to post-Flood humanity in general, enhancing, amplifying, extending, adding to, applying, and expounding upon his previous instruction (see Exodus-Deuteronomy). God’s holy character, righteous ways, and supreme authority are assumed in, and made known through, his covenants, and therefore to violate or disregard them is tantamount to rejecting and rebelling against God himself. In Isaiah 24, God cites humanity’s violation of the “everlasting covenant” (Is. 24:5) as his reason for heaping calamity on the world at the end of the age. Both the land of Israel and the regions of the earth inhabited by Noah’s non-Jewish descendants are defiled by bloodshed, and therefore must be cleansed through judgment (see, e.g., Is 1:15, 1:21, 4:4, Is. 24:5; cf. Gen. 9:4-6; Num. 35:33; Rom. 1:26-32). All humanity is guilty of violating the everlasting covenant, and therefore the whole world is going to be shaken as God unleashes his covenant curse (see “The ‘How’ of the Covenants”) on the earth (see Is. 24:6). However, because Israel was entrusted with greater responsibility and understanding concerning God’s ways (Ex. 19:1-6), her experience of the shakings will be even more intense as God unleashes the curses of her own particular covenant with him (see Lev. 26; Dt. 28; cf. Jer. 30:4-7; Mal. 4). In the words of Luke 12:48, “Everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required” (NRSV). Consequently, “there will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile” (Rom. 2:9, NLT).
As serious and worthy of punishment as covenant violation is in God’s eyes, however, his desire is to show mercy to his creation (see, e.g., Rom. 2:4; 2 Pt. 3:9) and to renew human beings into his image (see, e.g., Col. 3:10). This brings us to some of his other reasons for sending the coming shakings. Although both Jew and Gentile, according to the Bible, deserve to be eternally pummeled by God’s covenant curses (see, e.g., Mt. 25:41), through the Messiah’s death God has made a way for those curses to be removed (see, e.g., Gal. 3:13; Col. 2:13-14). When people repent of their sins (i.e., of their covenant violations) and place their faith in the gospel (see “The ‘How’ of the Church” above), God forgives them and therefore does not pour out on them the wrath that he otherwise would. When people go through difficulties, they sometimes become more responsive to God. “Not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pt. 3:9), God will use the end-times shakings to “rattle” people back to their senses and draw them to repentance and faith in the gospel (see, e.g., Rev. 11:13), in which case he will remove his wrath from them and number them among his people. Not all, however, will respond as he desires (see Rev. 9:20-21). As for those who already know him upon entering the last days, God will use the trials they will face during that time to purify them, test their loyalty, refine their faith, and prepare them for Jesus’ Second Coming (see Rom. 5:3; Eph. 5:25-27; Jm. 1:2-4; 1 Pt. 1:17; Rev. 19:6-9).
2 NIV First-Century Study Bible, 15.