We were recently enthralled by the images of the meteor that exploded over the Russian Ural Mountains near the city of Chelyabinsk, injuring nearly 1,000 persons, and damaging many homes and businesses from the sonic boom as the meteor broke up in the atmosphere. Then, there were other great flashes of light over Cuba, southern Florida, and the California coast in recent days. Further, an asteroid, DA14, flew past Earth Friday at a very close, but safe, distance of approximately 17,150 miles from the Earth’s surface, closer than many satellites that orbit our planet.
Are we to make much about this? After all, as we remember from elementary school, meteorites hit the Earth every year, but most meteors break up into small pieces high in our atmosphere. But I wonder whether these recent events are a harbinger of the imminent return of Jesus Christ? Just as the meteorologist can study the sky to make an educated guess about tomorrow’s weather, Jesus encouraged us to use our minds to make educated guesses about His return.
Of course, we know from Matthew 24:36 that only the Father knows the exact day of our Lord’s return. But Jesus gave some indications of what our world would be like before His return. We read in Matthew 24:29 about “. . . the sun being 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.” Further, in Revelation 6:12-13, as the sixth seal from Revelation is broken, we read: “. . . when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.” Jesus described this sixth sign in His Mount Olivet discourse in Luke 21:25-26: “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
Of course, the Lord also gave us other signs to foretell His return, but the fact that we notice an increasing number of frightening heavenly signs should encourage us to grow closer to Jesus Christ. St. Paul, writing in I Thessalonians 4, after he writes about the return of Christ, concludes in verse 18: “Therefore encourage each other with these words.” So, despite the terrifying events in the heavens, we should be encouraged by Luke 21:28, where Christ teaches us, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” And so, what we have seen in the heavens in recent days actually blesses me greatly.