331. And, behold, there was a great earthquake, signifies the state of the church with these altogether changed, and terror. "Earthquakes" signify changes of state in the church, because "the earth" signifies the church (n. 285); and because in the spiritual world, when the state of the church is perverted anywhere, and there is a change, there is an earthquake, and as this is a prelude to their destruction, they are in terror. For the earths in the spiritual world are in appearance like the earths in the natural world (n. 260); but as the earths there, like all other things in that world, are from a spiritual origin, therefore changes occur according to the state of the church among the inhabitants, and when the state of the church is perverted, they quake and tremble, yea, sink down and are moved out of their place. That this was the case, when the Last Judgment was at hand and accomplished, may be seen in the small work on The Last Judgment. Hence it may appear what is meant by "earthquakes," "shakings," and "commotions" of the earth, in the following passages:
There shall be pestilences, famines, and earthquakes in diverse places (Matt. 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11).
This is said of the Last Judgment:
In the fire of indignation have I spoken; surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake, and every man upon the face of the earth shall tremble, and the mountains shall be overturned (Ezek. 38:19-20).
There was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth (Rev. 16:18).
I will shake heaven, and the earth shall be removed out of her place in the indignation of Jehovah of Hosts (Isa. 13:13).
And the foundations of the earth have been shaken, the earth is moved exceedingly, for the transgression thereof is heavy upon it (Isa. 24:18-20).
The earth is shaken and moved, and the foundations of the mountains, because He was wroth (Ps. 18:7).
The mountains tremble before Jehovah, and the rocks are overturned (Nahum 1:5-6: and so in other places; as Jer. 10:10; 49:21; Joel 2:10; Hag. 2:6-7; Rev. 11:19; and elsewhere).
But these things are to be understood as being done in the spiritual world, but not in the natural world; in this respect they signify such things as are explained above.