Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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October 29, 2011
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October 29, 2011
The Challenge Of Properly Placing Prophetic Events In Divine Timeline, A Symbolic Or A Literal Interpretation Of Prophecy, Satan Falls Like Lightning, False Angel Of Light, Alien Beings In War Of The Worlds, Symbolic And Literal Stars In The Bible, Spiritual Entities And Spiritual Wickedness In High Places Literal Stars Falling From The Heavens, Men's Hearts Failing Them For Fear, A Great Endtime Global Earthquake Unlike Any Other, One Great Earthquake Or A Chain Of Destructive Quakes, My Personal Lifelong Experiences With Powerful Earthquakes, God Uses The Physical Forces Of Nature As Mechanisms Of His Divine Chastisements, Floods Droughts Fires Pestilences And Our Enemies, Earth Moved Out Of Her Place: Out Of Her Orbit?, Powers Of The Heavens Shall Be Shaken, Like Untimely Figs, God Will Humble Wisdom Of The World, As A Thief In The Night, Beast's Kingdom Full Of Darkness, Time Gaps In Bible Events, God's Universal Laws Of Physics, Upheld By The Will Of God, Intelligent Design, The Heavens Are God's Divine Signature, Creation Is Proof Of God's Existence, We Are Without Excuse
If there is one challenge which has always been presented to Bible scholars and Bible students alike, it is knowing where and when to place certain prophetic events in God's Divine Timeline. Equally challenging is having the wisdom to know when to interpret certain prophecies and verses in a purely symbolic or metaphorical sense, and when to understand them in a very literal sense. Sometimes our task is made easy for us. For example, in the following verse which was spoken by Jesus, I believe that the Lord is speaking in a metaphorical sense:
"And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."
Luke 10:18, KJV
Obviously, Satan really isn't a bolt of lightning; but we know that when lightning strikes, it is extremely fast, it is unexpected, it is very bright, and the thunderous roar which accompanies it can be very loud when one is located near the point of origin. So perhaps the Lord is simply informing us how fast -- and how unexpected -- Satan's fall occurs, as we will see in a moment. Of course, the Apostle Paul also informs us that the Father of Lies can appear as an Angel of Light -- albeit a false one -- as well, as we see by this verse:
"And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."
2 Corinthians 11:14, KJV
On a side note, I find it quite interesting that in the 2005 version of the famous sci-fi movie "War of the Worlds", the three-fingered aliens secretly transport themselves to the Earth in -- believe it or not -- lightning bolts, in order to access their destructive machines which they had earlier hidden beneath the Earth's surface.
Symbolic and Literal Stars in the Bible
When stars are mentioned in the Bible, sometimes they are meant to be understood in a real, physical sense, while at other times -- such as in the Book of Revelation -- they are sometimes used to describe actual spiritual entities; that is, obedient Angels, fallen Angels, demons, and even the Son of God Himself. For example, consider the following verses:
"And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit."
Revelation 9:1, KJV
"And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."
Revelation 12:3-9, KJV
"I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star."
Revelation 22:16, KJV
So as you can see, precisely as the Apostle Paul likewise informs us, there are unseen, spiritual powers, entities and principalities which dwell in the heavens, who have been given different areas of authority and responsibility. In the following verse, the phrase "high places" finds its origin in the Greek word "epouranios". This word basically means "existing in heaven", and is translated in the New Testament as heavenly, celestial, in heaven, and one time -- in this verse -- as "high places":
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Ephesians 6:12, KJV
While the previous verses reveal that stars are sometimes meant to be understood in a purely symbolic sense in God's Word, we must not overlook the fact that at other times they are meant to be understood in a very literal sense as well. It is my current belief that this is indeed the case with the verses that we looked at earlier. In my view, one clue which demonstrates that this is so, is the fact that they are mentioned in conjunction with the Sun and Moon. Unless we somehow wish to likewise interpret the Sun and the Moon in a spiritual sense, then we can only conclude that when Jesus prophesies of the stars falling from heaven, and when the Apostle John describes great stars which fall from the heavens and poison the oceans and the rivers, they must be speaking in a very literal sense.
In light of these facts, is it any wonder then that Jesus tells us that men's hearts will be "failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth"? It's going to be a very terrible, dreadful, fearful time for the inhabitants of the Earth; particularly for those people who have not placed their faith and trust in the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ. While we Christians will be rejoicing at Christ's imminent Return, nonbelievers of the world will be cowering in fear, and ashamed, in the caves of the Earth, as they try to hide from the Wrath of God, and witness the terrible destruction all around them.
Great Endtime Global Earthquake
In Revelation 6:12-17, which I quoted in part one, we are told that a great earthquake occurs prior to the Sun being darkened, the Moon turning to blood, and the stars falling from the heavens. At this point in our discussion, I would like to draw your attention to some additional verses where we are also told that a great earthquake strikes the Earth. Consider the following:
"Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger. Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea. Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south. Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number."
Job 9:5-10, KJV
"Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger."
Isaiah 13:9-13, KJV
"And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found."
Revelation 16:18-20, KJV
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them."
Revelation 20:11, KJV
It is very clear from the previous verses that this tremor is unlike any earthquake humanity has ever experienced before. No matter which earthquake comes to our minds, it is nothing compared to what is yet to come. This prophesied earthquake will be so powerful and so destructive, that the Apostle John describes it as "a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth." Furthermore, it will be so global in scope, that John informs us that "the cities of the nations fell . . . And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found."
Folks, we are talking about cataclysmic, global destruction which will result from one earthquake; or perhaps there will be a major earthquake which will serve as the catalyst for initiating a whole chain of destructive earthquakes that will occur in rapid succession. After all, Jesus did warn us that there would be "earthquakes in divers places" in Matthew 24. While until now I have assumed that He meant that this would occur over a period of time -- even decades perhaps -- I am now wondering if maybe He actually meant all at once, just prior to His Return.
I don't know how many of you have actually experienced a strong earthquake, but they are not something that one soon forgets. I am not talking about tremors that measure 4.0 or 5.0 on the Richter Scale. In my own life, I have experienced quite a few 6.0 and 7.0 earthquakes over the decades. This is no doubt because I have lived in areas of the world which are more prone to such seismic events. This includes Mexico and Japan, as well as the West Pacific region.
In fact, about two decades ago, I was at the center of an 8.0 earthquake. To be more precise, the epicenter of that tremor was located about eighty miles to the southeast of our home. However, with an earthquake that is that strong, eighty miles is not enough to sufficiently mute so mighty a shaking of the Earth. I can still faintly recall the grinding under our feet as the earth shook and heaved all around us. In fact, they say that it moved our entire island home about a foot on its limestone base.
Mechanisms of God's Divine Chastisements
While we know that the Hand of God is clearly behind all of these end-of-the-world events, we also need to keep in mind that the Bible reveals that quite often, the Lord uses the actual physical forces of nature -- which He designed -- as mechanisms of His Divine Chastisements. One primary example of this, of course, is the Flood that occurred in the days of the Patriarch Noah. God has also seen fit to use droughts, fires, pestilences -- that is, various plagues and diseases on both human and beast -- famines, etc., as mechanisms of His Divine Chastisements.
In fact, as I point out in such articles as "The Fruits of Disobedience", God will even use our enemies -- including our political enemies -- as His instruments of correction, rods of chastisement, and vessels of wrath against us, when it suits His Divine Purposes. These truths are evidenced by verses such as the following:
"Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; And then the LORD'S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you."
Deuteronomy 11:16-17, KJV
"When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance. If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be; What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;) That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers."
1 Kings 8:35-40, KJV
Earth Moved Out of Her Orbit
With the previous thoughts in mind, I have begun to wonder about what will be the physical cause of the aforementioned great earthquake which will completely level our planet. Are we to believe that all of the tectonic plates of the world are just going to suddenly start colliding together at once, such as in a domino effect? While the great God of Heaven may possibly choose to bring about so great an earthquake in such a manner in order to reveal His Wrath to the people of this Earth, it has occurred to me that it is possible that He may rely upon some currently unseen external force, which will be responsible for this great temblor which will leave the entire Earth flattened, and human civilization trembling in fear, as it beholds the vast destruction which lays before it.
This takes us back into the realm of personal speculation and interpretation of the Scriptures. In the previous verses, we are told three times that God has already moved, or will move, the Earth out of her place. In Job chapter nine we are told "Which shaketh the earth out of her place'; in Isaiah chapter thirteen we are told "Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place"; and in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Revelation we are told "from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them."
While we may be tempted to interpret the previous verses as referring to regionalized earthquakes, I suspect that this is not what the verses are implying at all. In my view, clearly, they are describing the entire Earth being moved out of its current orbit. Furthermore, we are given several Scriptural clues regarding how this may possibly happen. Please notice that in the verse from the Book of Isaiah, we appear to have what amounts to a cause and effect statement. The Lord says "Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place." In other words, the Earth moving out of her place seems to be related to, and result from, the Lord shaking the heavens. When God shakes the heavens, it seems that something is going to happen which will move the Earth out of her place; that is, out of her current orbit.
Powers of the Heavens Shall Be Shaken
If you recall the verses that I shared with you earlier from the Gospels, then you will know that Jesus said the very same thing in all three Gospels. He specifically said:
". . . the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:"
Matthew 24:29, KJV
". . . the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken."
Mark 13:25, KJV
". . . for the powers of heaven shall be shaken."
Luke 21:26, KJV
Like Untimely Figs : A World Caught Off-Guard
As I already said, while we may be justified in interpreting these "powers" as spiritual powers and entities which dwell in the Heavenly Realm, the fact that Jesus mentions the Sun, the Moon and the stars in the same verses, seems to indicate to me that He is actually referring to the forces of nature -- such as gravity -- which hold these heavenly bodies, as well as planets, comets, asteroids and other Space objects, each in their particular orbit. In my view, that may be why, once these powers or natural forces are shaken, Jesus tells us that "the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind."
Do you really understand what that means? I think it is very significant that the Lord specifically says "untimely figs". Untimely figs are obviously not ripe yet. They are not meant to be harvested or eaten yet. In other words, because these Endtime prophetic events are going to occur "out-of-season" so-to-speak, national governments, astronomers and other men of science are not going to be expecting them to happen. They are going to be caught totally off-guard. What is going to occur will be totally contrary to their learned expectations. These prophetic events which will occur in the heavens and on the Earth will contradict all of their computer models and pet theories regarding how the world -- and the Universe -- are supposed to operate. God will humble the wisdom of this current world, and silence the skeptics. As the Apostle Paul writes in his first Epistle to the Corinthian brethren:
"For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."
1 Corinthians 1:19-21, KJV
"Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;"
1 Corinthians 3:18-21, KJV
As a Thief in the Night
The fact that the unbelieving world at large will be caught off-guard by these coming cataclysmic events is perfectly in agreement with the many admonitions that we find in the New Testament, where we are told that humanity as a whole will be totally unprepared for the Lord's Return. As Jesus tells us, the timing of His Return will be as in the days of Noah. No reasonable person was expecting it to rain. "Ha! Rain? How ridiculous!" they must have thought. Oops . . . it rained! The five wise virgins will be ready for their Lord's Return, while the five foolish virgins will be without oil, and will be caught totally unprepared. One will be taken in the field, while the other will be left behind, when the Lord returns as a thief in the night. As the Apostles Peter and Paul tell us:
"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief."
1 Thessalonians 5:1-4, KJV
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."
2 Peter 3:10, KJV
The fact that national governments, the scientific community and the world in general will be caught so off-guard by the events of the Endtime leads me to another interesting topic. As we saw earlier in this series, in Matthew 24:29, Jesus said "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken." In Revelation 16:10, we were also informed that the Beast's kingdom "was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain."
The big question in my mind is this: What is the source of this darkness? Now obviously, if the Sun has been darkened, then the Moon will not be able to give her light, being as the Moon reflects the light of the Sun. If we were to take a simplistic approach in our endeavors to understand Matthew 24:29, we could say that at the time of His Return, Jesus is simply indicating that there will be a New Moon, accompanied by a total solar eclipse, as well as a meteor shower, all in the same day, or perhaps at least in very close proximity to each other. Whether or not it is even possible for a New Moon and a total solar eclipse to occur in the same day, I am not certain, being as I have not conducted any degree of research concerning this matter.
Let me also remind you that because of the fact that we read the Bible in black and white print, in a linear fashion, at times is can be difficult to determine whether or not there are any time gaps between different events. The individual who wrote the verses may perfectly understand what he has written, but for those of us who are reading his words a few thousand years later, the clarity can easily be lost. So are there any time gaps between the Sun being darkened, the Moon failing to give her light, and the stars falling from heaven? I honestly do not know. I can only speculate that if there is any time between these various Endtime events, it is very minimal. The reason why I say this, is because Jesus tells us that these celestial events will occur "immediately after the tribulation of those days", and right before He returns.
Universal Laws of Physics / Intelligent Design
However, the main point I wish to emphasize here, is that as I have already indicated in previous paragraphs, personally, I am not fully convinced that the Lord is describing solar or lunar eclipses. Jesus clearly states that "the powers of the heavens shall be shaken." The word "powers" is derived from the Greek word "dunamis", which implies strength, power and ability. The word "dunamis" is in turn derived from "dunamai" which means to be able, or to be capable.
In other words, my understanding is that everything in the physical Universe -- stars, planets, moons, etc. -- is able, or capable, of maintaining its rotation, its revolutions, its brightness, its atmosphere, its trajectory through the stars and its very composition and existence, as a direct result of the very laws of the physical Universe which were created by God. God's universal laws of physics are the invisible forces that make it possible to keep everything in its proper place, and doing what it does.
Of course, these universal laws of physics are upheld by the very Will of God. As a result, planetary bodies never cease to follow their assigned orbits. Day after day and year after year, the Sun and the Moon also faithfully follow their paths through the sky. Likewise the stars, asteroids, comets and so many other Space objects, both known and unknown, keep to an established course, as ordered by the Lord. The Bible offers us hints of this Intelligent Design and order by our Creator in verses such as following. As King David writes, the very heavens are the Signature of our Divine Creator:
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth . . . And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good."
Genesis 1:1, 14-18, KJV
"They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera."
Judges 5:20, KJV
"Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea. Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south."
Job 9:7-9, KJV
"Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?"
Job 38:31-33, KJV
"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;"
Psalms 8:3, KJV
"[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.] The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof."
Psalms 19:1-6, KJV
"To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever. To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever. To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever: The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever: The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever."
Psalms 136:5-9, KJV
"He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names."
Psalms 147:4, KJV
"Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights. Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created."
Psalms 148:1-5, KJV
"Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:"
Isaiah 40:21-22, KJV
"Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;"
Isaiah 44:24, KJV
"Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:"
Jeremiah 31:35, KJV
"Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:"
Amos 5:8, KJV
As I stated a moment ago, King David basically said that the heavens are the Signature of our Divine Creator, and proof of His existence. It should come as no surprise then that over a thousand years later, the Apostle Paul would make a similar statement, in which he too would declare that, because of the Lord's Creation which exists all around us, we have absolutely no excuse for denying His existence, as we see here:
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"
Romans 1:20, KJV
Please go to part three for the continuation of this series.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .