This past year of 2012 has been a strange and troublesome one for many.
Even the usual merriment scheduled for the Christmas season was blighted by grief (Sandy Hook) and disaster (repeated flooding and gales in Europe and tornadoes and snow in the States ).
Not many months before, there was another “sandy” tragedy when that Hurricane devastated portions of the Caribbean and the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States during late October 2012.
Add to that the unusual weather all year – droughts, then floods – plus failing crops, continuing violence in the Middle East including the death of four Americans in Benghazi, and this year’s spike in annual epidemics…
Cruise Ships Hit by Norovirus
The usual relaxation and enjoyment of a winter cruise was blighted for many by a worse than usual outbreak of the Norovirus. Norovirus outbreaks struck a number of luxury cruise ships, including the famous Queen Mary 2. More than 400 passengers on board P&O’s Oriana cruise ship were struck down by the bug. On the Emerald Princess, 166 passengers and 30 crew have fallen ill. The Emerald Princess is currently docked in Florida, while the Queen Mary 2 is in St. Lucia, in the middle of a 12-day round-trip Caribbean jaunt out of New York.
The Norovirus has caused the closure of some hospitals to all visitors, and the numbers affected have risen dramatically. (http://www.bioquell.com/news/norovirus-outbreak-worse-than-first-anticipated/) In November 2012 the Health Protection Agency warned of a possible epidemic, and has now claimed that cases of the winter vomiting bug are up 40 per cent compared to this time last year. Since that warning there have been 38 more outbreaks in hospitals.
For anyone unaffected by these events, I apologise for raining on your parade. I suppose for many the Christmas festivities continued just as usual, and there must be many devoted Christians asking what all the doom and gloom is about.
Nonetheless, speaking personally, I spent this year in a strange disquiet that seemed to distance me from normality.
It caused me to see the world’s frantic fun and enjoyment as if it were a thinly-veiled pantomime show. A reality that wasn’t quite real enough! My own perception of the world became too obvious and bright for me to ignore.
Jesus had observed that, just before his return to this earth, the conditions prevailing would be similar to those in the days of Noah just before the Flood, or of Lot’s city Sodom just before it was destroyed by fire. Jesus implied that people would be eating and drinking, partying, clubbing, making relationships, getting married and getting on with “normal life” right up to the very last day, unaware of what was about to happen.
That in part is what I felt this Christmas, and even more so as we head into a new year. Normality isn’t normal for me any more!
I liken it to the feeling of the penultimate day of a nice long holiday in the sun. (Not that I get to take holidays any more, but I’m speaking in general).
On the first few days, the feeling of liberty is delicious, and every outing to the beach, the local cafe, the tourist spots, feels stress-free, set apart from the normal demands of life.
Then comes that day before the last day, the day before the train or plane home. Even though you go out, visit the beach, go shopping along the beachfront, visit a museum, go down the pier, and half your mind is still in holiday mode, the other half is occupied with thinking “we have to re-pack the cases, and we’ll need to check out tomorrow by Noon, and have we bought a present for Mary and Bill yet? I need to get the timetable out – where did I put it? What time does the bus to the Station leave?”
Despite it still being a holiday, that practical side of your brain is reasserting itself, and even though you are trying to join in with the newcomers in their carefree spirit, you cannot. You have lost the mood, somehow. The day is tinged with disappointment, sadness, the need to begin preparations. And anxiety perhaps, about going back to work.
Well, life isn’t a holiday but that was a description of the feeling I had this year. The sense of expectation is growing, not only of evil growing day by day (such evil!!) but the need to make distinct preparations spiritually, for “going home”. All of that rises above the thoughtless and trivial merriment of Christmas revelry.
The path God led me on this year (in his desire to re-educate me) was one of worry and hardship, and I was also sobered by hearing about one unexpected death in the family – a tragic loss of a wasted life – and severe illness among some friends.
It made this passage more meaningful to me:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 2 Cor 4:16-5:4
Yet in the world and in many churches, things continue as before; there is no anticipation of change, no preparation for hardship, and so “being found naked” is the fate that awaits them.
We were told over and over, this year, that it was a “magical” time, and we had to “believe in the spirit of Christmas” . THAT would overcome even the darkest circumstances.
Well guess what? If you believe in the empty lies of the devil, then all you will experience is emptiness. Magic is a supernatural force that people want to believe in because they refuse to trust in God’s power!
In every movie we see children “praying” to their magical god Santa, only wishing to GET something out of him. Santa’s pixie dust could put everything right – no more environmental damage, no more sadness and loss, no more poverty, no more cruelty and abuse – THAT is the message of the magical Christmas.
But it stands in stark contrast to the words of God, who said:
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say,’I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and NAKED — I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'” (Rev 3:14-22 NKJV)
The coming of Jesus was heralded by a star, and He told us that his second coming would also be attended by signs in the sun, moon and stars. (Luke 21:25) Some have previously reported on the line-up of eclipses that will take place on Jewish feast-days in 2014-2016. These cannot be coincidental.
But in addition, in 2013-2014 we will see the arrival of perhaps the brightest comet ever seen.
Comet ISON is expected to be “spectacularly bright” so that it is visible in the daytime, and could be brighter than the full moon. It will be seen from Nov/Dec 2013 and also Spring 2014. As it moves away from the sun it will have a visible tail.
The comet will come to perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) on 28 November 2013 at a distance of 0.012 AU (1,800,000 km; 1,100,000 mi) from the centre point of the Sun. Its orbit is nearly parabolic, which suggests that it may be a NEW comet coming fresh from the Oort cloud.
On closest approach, the comet will pass about 6,700,000 mi from Mars on 1 October 2013, and it will pass about 0.42 AU (39,000,000 mi) from Earth on 26 December 2013. Some of the orbital elements of comet ISON are similar to that of the Great Comet of 1680 which suggests the two comets may have fragmented from the same parent body.
People today tend to view comets, eclipses and astronomical events as being without any significance, but in earlier times and in the bible, they were taken seriously as signs from God, or prophecies.
The “wise men” of the East were capable not only of anticipating and recording the star that appeared to them, but also of interpreting its meaning: that a notable Hebrew King would be born! If Herod had not believed in this sign, he would not have murdered all the young male children as a result.
A comet seems to appear just before some major war or victory. Around the time of the destruction and re-dedication of the Jewish Temple in 164BC there was a notable comet seen in the sky. This happened again in 66AD leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple. The historian Josephus commented that it was, “stretched out over Jerusalem like a sword.”
In the significant year 1066, William the Conqueror used Halley’s comet as his omen for victory over Harold II of England. The 1066 comet was very bright, had a short tail, and its shape was depicted on the Tapestry of Bayeaux.
Once again, just before the First World War, and on the eve of Israel’s 1967 war there was a brilliant appearance in the sky:
GREAT JANUARY COMET OF 1910: The first people to see this comet – then already of first magnitude – were workmen at the Transvaal Premier Diamond Mine in South Africa on Jan. 13. Two days later, three men at a railway station in nearby Kopjes casually watched the object for 20-minutes before sunrise, assuming that it was Halley’s Comet. Later that morning, the editor of the local (Johannesburg) newspaper telephoned the Transvaal Observatory for a comment. The observatory’s Director, Robert Innes, must have initially thought this sighting was a mistake, since Halley’s Comet was not in that part of the sky and nowhere near as conspicuous. Innes looked for the comet the following morning, but clouds thwarted his view. But on the morning of the 17th, he and an assistant saw the comet, shining sedately on the horizon just above where the Sun was about to rise. Later, at midday, Innes viewed it as a snowy-white object, brighter than Venus, several degrees from the Sun. It became a stupendous object in the evening sky for the rest of January for the Northern Hemisphere.
COMET IKEYA-SEKI, 1965: This was the brightest comet of the 20th century! On Oct. 21 it swept to within 744,000 miles of the centre of the Sun. The comet was then visible as a brilliant object within a degree or two of the Sun, and wherever the sky was clear, the comet could be seen by observers merely by blocking out the Sun with their hands. From Japan, the homeland of the observers who discovered it, Ikeya-Seki was described as appearing “ten times brighter than the Full Moon” corresponding to a magnitude of -15. Also at that time, the nucleus was observed to break into two or three pieces. Thereafter, the comet moved away in full retreat from the Sun, the head fading very rapidly but its slender, twisted tail, reaching out into space for up to 75 million miles, and dominating the eastern morning sky right on through the month of November.
On this page (http://www.icq.eps.harvard.edu/brightest.html) you can see a list of the brightest comets in the latter part of the 20th century and you’ll notice that at the top of the list is the one I have just mentioned, heralding the victory of 1967 when Israel, in the space of only six days won a decisive land war, taking the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
But not far below that entry are two further comets occurring in 1947 and 1948, Israel’s foundational years!
Can we then ignore the appearance of a “spectacular” comet in 2013/2014? Does it speak of a war? A destruction? A change of direction for the world?
Seals and Signs
I must add to this my personal studies, with which some of you may be familiar from my website Birthpangs. Recently I have been looking at the various possibilities for the birth of Jesus, discounting the years 1BC/1AD which are impossible. I don’t want to start a debate about it, but merely to refer to it for another reason: that if Jesus were conceived in the year 7 BC and born in BC 6, then his 2000th ‘birthday’ would have been in 1993/1994.
This coincides with the opening of the first seal to loose the Spirit of Apostasy and False Christ. On that date, and every 7 years thereafter, there has been a spectacular event in the skies:
1994 Jan 18th – A fireball streaks across the sky and crashes to earth with a mighty explosion! This was the “The Cando Event”, a possible meteor impact in Cando, Spain. Witnesses claim to have seen a fireball in the sky lasting for almost one minute. Local residents claim it was a meteor, as an object “the size of a full moon” was seen in the skies of the Spanish region of Galicia.
Two days later, Randy Clark introduced what became known as the “Toronto Blessing” at the then Toronto Airport Vineyard church.
Randy Clark of St. Louis, Missouri had been influenced by the ministry of Rodney Howard-Browne, the earliest known proponent of the “holy laughter” revival phenomenon. Clark preached at the Airport church for two months starting January 20 and “the fire fell”. It was announced that “the spirit has fallen” and the promised “revival” had begun. Thus this present apostasy was launched as thousands opened their minds and bodies to receive a spirit that was not of God. (source)
Most astronomers consider the fiery, dramatic collision of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with the planet Jupiter in July, 1994, to be the Astronomical Event of the Century! This was a one-off, as befitting the opening of the First Seal of Revelation.
The impact from the collision of just one of a score of cometary fragments with the giant planet had energy estimated at six hundred times that of the combined nuclear arsenals of Russia and the United States. This event has been estimated to happen only once in millions of years in the solar system.
2001 A massive storm on Mars, the Red Planet associated with bloodshed and war, erupted in the summer of 2001. On June 27th, the growing storm exploded and by July had enveloped the entire planet! “This is a big deal,” says Phil Christensen, the principal investigator for TES at Arizona State University. “Although Mars is smaller than Earth, its surface area equals the sum of all the continents on our planet. Imagine a dust storm on Earth that blanketed every continent at once!”
Then a few days later (23 July 2001) we had “The Great Daylight Fireball” which flew over Pennsylvania causing an atmospheric explosion that broke windows. Followed on 17 August 2001, by the brightest fireball over Colorado in recorded history, which fell nearly vertically over the San Luis Valley at 10:44 PM.
As we all know, in September 2001 a different kind of fireball devastated the Twin Towers and launched this era of violence, the second seal that loosed a spirit of violence upon earth, which will only escalate until the coming of Jesus Christ.
The Financial Bubble Explodes
2008 Seven years later, we see another “first”. The summary from SpaceWeather.com’s Comet Holmes Photo Gallery reads: “Comet 17P/Holmes shocked astronomers on Oct. 24, 2007, with a spectacular eruption. In less than 24 hours, the 17th magnitude comet brightened by a factor of nearly a million, becoming a naked-eye object in the evening sky.” The apparent size of the coma, or, extended atmosphere of the comet is growing dramatically. According to astronomers at the University of Hawaii, “It continues to expand and is now the largest single object in the solar system,” exceeding the diameter of our Sun.
On March 19, 2008 the BRIGHTEST EVENT EVER RECORDED BY MAN occurred.
This event, called GRB 080319B could be seen with the naked eye! A powerful gamma ray burst detected March 19th by NASA’s Swift satellite has shattered the record for the most distant object that could be seen with the naked eye.
“It was a whopper,” says Swift principal investigator Neil Gehrels of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “This blows away every gamma ray burst we’ve seen so far.”
Swift’s Burst Alert Telescope picked up the burst at 2:12 a.m. EDT on March 19, 2008, and pinpointed the coordinates in the constellation Bootes. Telescopes in space and on the ground quickly moved to observe the afterglow. The burst was named GRB 080319B and registered between 5 and 6 on the visual magnitude scale used by astronomers. (A magnitude 6 star is the dimmest visible to the human eye; magnitude 5 is almost three times brighter.)
“No other known object or type of explosion could be seen by the naked eye at such an immense distance,” says Swift science team member Stephen Holland of Goddard. “If someone just happened to be looking at the right place at the right time, they saw the most distant object ever seen by human eyes without optical aid.”
GRB 080319B’s afterglow was 2.5 million times more luminous than the most luminous supernova ever recorded, making it the most intrinsically bright object ever observed by humans in the universe. The most distant previous object that could have been seen by the naked eye is the nearby galaxy M33, a relatively short 2.9 million light-years from Earth.
Accordingly, exactly seven years after 2001, in 2008, the opening of third seal loosed “The Great Recession” a marked global economic decline that began in December 2007 and took a particularly sharp downward turn in September 2008. The global recession affected the entire world economy, with higher detriment in some countries than others. It is a major global recession characterized by various systemic imbalances and was sparked by the outbreak of the Financial crisis of 2007-2008.
Now we are told that another fireball – one brighter than the full moon – is due to arrive in 2013-2014 heralding we know not what at the next seven-year marker of September 2015. We already know that there will be a Solar Eclipse on the Feast of Trumpets, September 13, 2015 and a total Lunar Eclipse on the Feast of Tabernacles, September 28, 2015. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of North and South America, Europe, Africa, and western Asia.
If the sequence of events remains the same as for the first three seal judgements, 2015 will give permission to Death and Hades to wreak havoc across the world in various ways (including the sword, hunger and beasts according to Revelation 6:8)
Of course, the times and seasons are in God’s hands, and if He wills, events may slow down or speed up. Nonetheless, the trend towards a separation between believers and the world will continue, and the sense of disconnection will grow. There may perhaps be very trying times ahead, but:
“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”(Heb 12:1-2)