Appendix 7: Earth Sciences & Beyond
Secular Chronology Confirmation
How current trends corroborate the Bible’s revealed timeline
EARTH SCIENCES & BEYOND
For the last few chapters, we’ve been discussing geophysical factors taking place on the earth’s surface—within the habitat of man—that are conspiring to inform us that our planet is suddenly becoming a less hospitable place to live. Indeed, it appears obvious that by the fourth decade of the twenty-first century, Earth will not be able to support the nine billion people who will then be living here (if all things continue at their present pace). Between expanding deserts, shrinking forests, soil nutrient depletion, shrinking aquifers, environmental pollution, marine oxygen depletion, and undersea methane threats, there’s a lot to be pessimistic about.
Or, there would be, had Yahweh not told us in His scriptures precisely what to expect—and, if I’m right, when to expect it. Taken to their logical conclusions, the Bible’s Sabbath principle, the twice-repeated “one-day-equals-a-thousand-years” formula, the Torah’s prophetic “Feasts of Yahweh,” and the unfolding of historical events over the past six millennia all lead us (well, me anyway) to the conclusion that Christ’s Kingdom age will commence on the Feast of Tabernacles, 2033 (Tishri 15—October 8 that year): that is, in the fourth decade of the twenty-first century—precisely when so many of these “doomsday factors” seem poised to reach critical mass.
So we have studied the disasters that look imminent upon the earth. Let us now consider what could happen under it, above it, and beyond it. The time factor is more elusive here, of course, for our knowledge is less advanced compared to the subjects we’ve already explored. But the human race has become, during the past few decades, far more conversant in these sciences than ever before—knowledgeable enough to recognize heretofore unforeseen threats to the world’s status quo. It’s no coincidence that the prophet Daniel was told to “Shut up the words and seal the book until the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4) That seems to be a promise that when “the time of the end” drew near, we humans would understand our world well enough to see it coming.
We should not confuse our awareness of the threats to our world with the threats themselves. The absence of advance knowledge about the Chicxulub asteroid 65 million years ago, or the destruction of Pompeii by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D., made these disasters no less inevitable or destructive. There was nothing anyone could have done to prevent them. But foreknowledge of impending disaster can be useful. If you know it’s coming—if you have enough warning—you can at least try to move away from the threat, seek shelter, get out of the way. Modern scientific advancements often allow us to do precisely that, to some extent: hurricane alerts, early warning signs for earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, winter weather advisories, and so forth, allow us a better chance of surviving what the world throws at us than any previous generation enjoyed.
If you think about it, that’s one of the primary functions of Biblical prophecy: advance knowledge of things that can harm us, allowing us to be better prepared to deal with them—or avoid them altogether if God has so ordained. In broad strokes, there are two basic components to prophetic foreknowledge in scripture: what can harm us, and what will save us. That is, it’s not a parlor trick. God doesn’t tell us what will happen in the future merely to impress us (though it’s certainly impressive). Rather, because He loves us, Yahweh wants us to be equipped with the knowledge we’ll need to make good choices. That’s the rub, however: the choices of whether to avail ourselves of the salvation He provides through Christ, or to take steps to avoid the coming judgment, are ours to make—not His. Because of the nature of love in the context of free will, God won’t make our choices for us: all He can do is warn us, advise us, and provide what we need. It’s up to us to receive His admonition, advice, and provision. It’s all a matter of whom we believe, of whom we trust.
The bulk of as-yet-unfulfilled prophecy has to do with the culmination of this present age—the era immediately preceding the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. It is described as a time of judgment—which in scriptural parlance implies not God’s punishment per se, but rather judicial decision, the separation of the innocent from the guilty, of right from wrong, of holy from profane. (Of course, we tend to read “condemnation” into the concept of judgment because we all know we’re guilty before Yahweh.) The reason God has given us so much information about the Last Days is that He wants us to be able to avoid its horrors. He wants us to be able to choose to leave Pompeii before Vesuvius blows its top (so to speak), or to depart from Jerusalem before Titus Vespasian shows up with his legions (to cite an historical example of practical prophecy). Everybody understands the concept: people were warned to get out of New Orleans well before Katrina made landfall: some heeded the admonitions, but many did not.
In the Olivet Discourse, Yahshua offered two parallel examples: the flood of Noah’s day and the rain of fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah from which Lot escaped (both catastrophes caused by asteroids, if I’m not mistaken—a factor that continues to loom large in Last Days prophecy). Because God removed His faithful before disaster struck, both of these events define the concept of judgment: the physical separation of the saved from the lost. As we have seen, both Noah’s flood and Lot’s rescue from Sodom are prophetic precursors to different elements of future judgment—judicial separation, that is. Lot’s extrication from Sodom prefigures the rapture of the Church. (And please note: if we consider the sorry state of Lot’s chosen environment prior to his removal, Christians should be less gleeful than we usually are at the prospect of having to be rescued like this. Many of us are all too comfortable living in “Sodom.”) Noah’s experience is prophetic of something else: the divine protection of Israel’s remnant during the Tribulation (see Revelation 12:14). It’s a good news-bad news story: Israel’s reawakening to Yahweh’s reality and purpose will come as a direct result of His protection of their nation during the Battle of Magog (see Ezekiel 39:22)—placing their national epiphany after the rapture (even if some Jewish individuals are technically part of Christ’s ekklesia). So just like Noah, they will return as mortals to a devastated earth—this time, however, with Yahshua the Messiah as their King.
All of that should serve as background information for our current topic: the geophysical and astrophysical upheaval that can be expected to befall the Earth during the days leading up to the Kingdom age. Several well-known prophetic passages tell us what to expect.
Earthquakes? As a sign of the Last Days: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in various places.” (Matthew 24:7) During the invasion of Islam—the Battle of Magog: “For in My jealousy and in My blazing wrath I declare, on that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. So that the fish of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at My presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.” (Ezekiel 38:19-20) During the seventh bowl judgment: “And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.” (Revelation 16:18) And scores of similar examples could be offered.
Storms? The Greek word translated “earthquake” (seismos) also indicated (in Matthew 8:24) a tempest that arose on the Sea of Galilee. So we may safely infer that storms—cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes, and especially tsunamis (earthquake-generated ocean “tempests”)—are included in Christ’s prediction. A few Last Days examples illustrate this concept. When dealing with Israel’s Arab enemies: “Like fire that burns the forest, and like a flame that sets the mountains on fire, so pursue them with Your tempest And terrify them with Your storm. Fill their faces with dishonor, that they may seek Your name, O Yahweh.” (Psalm 83:14-16) Concerning the defense of Jerusalem: “But the multitude of your foreign foes shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the ruthless like passing chaff. And in an instant, suddenly, you will be visited by Yahweh of hosts with thunder and with earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire.” (Isaiah 29:5-6) The Last Days’ wrath of God: “Behold, the storm of Yahweh! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. The anger of Yahweh will not turn back until He has executed and accomplished the intents of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly.” (Jeremiah 23:19-20)
Volcanoes? “Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord Yahweh be a witness against you, the Lord from His holy temple. For behold, Yahweh is coming out of His place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains will melt under Him, and the valleys will split open like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place.” (Micah 1:2-4) “He stood and measured the earth; He looked and shook the nations. Then the eternal mountains were scattered; the everlasting hills sank low…. The mountains saw You and writhed. The raging waters swept on; the deep gave forth its voice; it lifted its hands on high.” (Habakkuk 3:6, 10) The second trumpet judgment: “The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.” (Revelation 8:8-9) The seventh bowl judgment (again): “And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.” (Revelation 16:20-21)
Solar flares? The fourth bowl judgment: “The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give Him glory.” (Revelation 16:8-9) Concerning the Tribulation martyrs: “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:15-17)
Asteroids and Meteorites? The third trumpet judgment: “The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.” (Revelation 8:10-11) The sixth seal judgment: “When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.” (Revelation 6:12-13)
So both extraterrestrial and subterranean threats are prophesied for our world during the Last Days. And if the scriptures can be taken at face value (as I believe they can) then the devastation will be catastrophic and unprecedented. But what do the secular sources say? Do they foresee similar issues on the horizon, hanging like the sword of Damocles over the human race? Indeed they do. Once again, the secular media sees the same sorts of threats in the world’s near future—without a clue as to how or why their data support the admonitions of scripture.
Anybody with access to a newspaper, television, or web browser has been inundated lately with stories of huge storms all over the earth. But the frequency and intensity of these killer storms has been building for some time. NBC News lists the twelve most deadly storms on record—almost all of them within the past century, and most of them within the past couple of decades:
The deadliest storm in the U.S. was the 1900 Galveston flood: “A Category 4 hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 8, 1900, ranks as the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. An 8- to 15-foot storm surge leveled the low-lying city. Between 6,000 and 12,000 people were killed. The few buildings that survived are tourist attractions today.”
In 1970, the Ganges delta was hit so hard, it brought down the government: “The Bhola cyclone is the deadliest storm ever recorded and one of the worst natural disasters in modern times. Up to 500,000 people were killed, primarily as the result of a 30-foot storm surge that flooded low-lying islands in the Ganges delta in modern-day Bangladesh. The Category 3 storm made landfall the night of Nov. 12, 1970. East Pakistan’s handling of relief effort was highly criticized locally and in the international media, fueling a resistance movement that led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.”
China suffered terribly in 1975: “Super Typhoon Nina brought a short-lived gusher of epic proportions to China on Aug. 2, 1975. Nearly 42 inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period, the highest recorded on mainland China. The water volume caused the Banqiao Dam to collapse, which triggered the collapse of a series of smaller dams. In total, 61 dams burst. An estimated 170,000 people died in the floods.”
India was the target of 1977’s most devastating storm: “A cyclone struck the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India on Nov. 19, 1977, bringing a 15-foot-high tidal surge and widespread flooding. Between 10,000 and 20,000 people were killed, and several million were rendered homeless. About 60 fishing and farming villages in the path of the storm were wiped out.”
In 1991, low-lying Bangladesh got hit again: “On April 29, 1991, a cyclone struck the Chittagong district of southeastern Bangladesh with winds in excess of 150 mph. A massive storm surge and widespread flooding devastated low-lying coastal regions. At least 138,000 people died, most by drowning. As many as 10 million more were left homeless. Researchers say many of the deaths could have been prevented if adequate warning systems had been in place.”
Later that year it was the Philippines’ turn: “Tropical Storm Thelma killed an estimated 6,000 people as it swept across the Philippines on Nov. 5, 1991, making it the deadliest tropical cyclone in the Pacific island nation’s history [until recently]. A dam failure, landslides and extensive flash flooding contributed to the catastrophe. Ormoc City was the hardest-hit, in part because extensive logging had stripped the surrounding hills of vegetation.”
Central America was the target in 1998: “Hurricane Mitch unleashed a furry of wind and torrential rain as it raked across Central America from Oct. 29 to Nov. 3, 1998. At least 11,000 deaths in Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Belize are attributed directly to the storm, and perhaps several thousand more perished in the aftermath. More than 3 million people were displaced as several feet of rain sent mud racing down hillsides and wiped out entire villages. Before Mitch made landfall, the hurricane reached maximum sustained winds of 180 mph. Gusts topped 200 mph.”
In 1999, a huge tidal surge devastated India: “A super cyclone swept into the northeastern state of Orissa, India, on Oct. 29, 1999, with 155 mph winds. At least 10,000 people died in the storm. A 20-foot-high tidal wave traveled 12 miles inland across low-lying plains. Nearly 7,000 square miles of crops were destroyed. Torrential rains and record-breaking floods made roads impassable. Millions were left homeless.”
In 2005, the American Southeast was hit—twice: “The infamous Hurricane Katrina hit the United States with a one-two punch. The storm first crossed southern Florida on Aug. 23, 2005, as a Category 1 soaker that caused several deaths. When it passed over the Gulf of Mexico, the storm blew up to one of the strongest on record—a rare Category 5 with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph. When Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, the storm had weakened slightly but was no less costly. At least 1,836 people were killed. New Orleans was swamped, and much of the Gulf Coast was devastated.”
Hapless Bangladesh was pummeled again in 2007: “Tropical Cyclone Sidr slammed into southwest Bangladesh on Nov. 15, 2007, with peak sustained winds of 135 mph. Hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged, much-needed crops were destroyed, and an estimated 3,500 people lost their lives. The death toll would have been much higher if the government hadn’t evacuated more than 1.5 million people from low-lying villages before the storm made landfall.”
In 2008, Myanmar was devastated: “Cyclone Nargis swept over Myanmar (Burma) on May 2, 2008, with 120 mph winds and a tidal surge that smashed through coastal towns and cities. Survivors were jammed onto small boats in the wake of the storm. Entire villages in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta were flooded for days, and it was difficult for aid workers to gain access to the military-ruled Southeast Asian country. The death toll was estimated at more than 130,000.”
The NBC article was written before Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in Early November, 2013. It is one of the deadliest Philippine typhoons on record, leaving over six thousand people confirmed dead in that country alone (with another 1,800 missing), before moving on toward North Vietnam. Haiyan is the strongest storm recorded at landfall in the Philippines, and unofficially the fourth strongest typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed. It caused catastrophic destruction on Samar Island and Leyte. According to UN officials, about 11 million people were affected, many of them left homeless.
Although death toll is undoubtedly the most logical way to gauge the severity of a storm, it also makes sense to track the damage in terms of financial impact—especially in places like America where infrastructure is expensive and (because of our Judeo-Christian heritage) lifesaving precautions are always the first priority. MSN.com thus offers this list of the ten most expensive hurricanes ever to hit the U.S.
“#10. Frances. Dates: Sept. 3-9, 2004. Insured losses: $5.63 billion. A week after Charley hit Florida’s Gulf Coast, Frances struck the Sunshine State’s Atlantic Coast near Sewall’s Point. Weakening to a tropical storm, Frances tracked northwest into the Gulf and made a second landfall at St. Marks in the Florida Panhandle. As it moved from Florida to Virginia, the storm brought heavy rain and flooding and spawned more than 100 tornadoes.” I should note that the insured losses don’t represent the whole cost of these events. I lived through Frances (and a few other big ones) here in Central Virginia. Although we got off better than many folks, we were without power for over a week, meaning lots of my neighbors lost hundreds of dollars’ worth of food in their refrigerators and freezers, for starters.
“#9. Rita. Dates: Sept. 20-26, 2005. Insured losses: $6.66 billion. Gulf Coast residents were picking up the pieces from Katrina when Rita hit the Texas-Louisiana border—the first time two hurricanes strengthened to Category 5 in the Gulf in one season. More than 2 million people were evacuated in Texas, one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history. Texas and Louisiana bore the brunt of wind and flood damage.
“8. Hugo. Dates: Sept. 17-22, 1989. Insured losses: $7.83 billion. After devastating parts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hugo struck northeast of Charleston, S.C. Packing 135 mph winds, the hurricane barreled into North Carolina, wreaking havoc as far inland as Charlotte. Hugo damaged or destroyed the homes of more than 200,000 families, according to Red Cross estimates.
“#7. Ivan. Dates: Sept. 15-21, 2004. Insured losses: $8.71 billion. After landing west of Gulf Shores, Alabama, Ivan spawned more than 100 tornadoes and heavy rain from Florida to Pennsylvania as it moved inland. Thousands of beachfront homes and buildings in the Florida Panhandle were damaged or destroyed. Debris piles after cleanup in Escambia County alone grew to 70 feet high and stretched three-quarters of a mile.
“#6. Charley. Dates: Aug. 13-14, 2004. Insured losses: $9.15 billion. Charley hit Florida’s southwest coast near Cayo Costa and cut a destructive swath across the central peninsula. After a detour to sea, the storm brushed Cape Romain, S.C., and made final landfall at North Myrtle Beach, S.C. Charley destroyed Carolina beachfront homes but did the worst damage in Florida, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless and almost 1 million without power.
“#5. Wilma. Date: Oct. 24, 2005. Insured losses: $11.07 billion. Wilma drove into Florida’s southwest coast near Naples and sped across the state to Palm Beach. The storm left parts of the Florida Keys under several feet of water, spawned tornados on the Space Coast, tore up homes and buildings, blew out high-rise windows and left more than 6 million people without power.
“#4. Ike. Dates: Sept. 12-14, 2008. Insured losses: $13.43 billion. Ike slammed into Galveston Island and rumbled through eastern Texas to Arkansas. Seawater up to 20 feet above normal tide swept away almost every building in Crystal Beach, Gilchrist and High Island on the Bolivar Peninsula in Texas. Ike tore off parts of the roof on Reliant Stadium in Houston, flooded homes 30 miles inland in southwestern Louisiana and spawned tornadoes in Arkansas.
“#3. Sandy. Dates: Oct. 22-29, 2012. Insured losses: $18.75 billion. Sandy attained hurricane status Oct. 24 and made U.S. landfall Oct. 29 near Atlantic City, N.J., as a post-tropical cyclone. The “superstorm” pummeled 24 states from Florida to Maine and in Appalachia and the Midwest. New York’s Lower Manhattan was flooded, homes and businesses were washed away on the Jersey Shore, and 6 million people were left without power.
#2. Andrew. Dates: Aug. 24-26, 1992. Insured losses: $25.56 billion. Andrew crashed into the coast south of Miami with winds so intense they destroyed the tools used to measure them. Before failing, one instrument clocked gusts at 169 mph. The storm sped west across the peninsula into the Gulf of Mexico, and then shifted north to the central Louisiana coast. Wind tore off roofs and flattened entire neighborhoods, causing more damage than flooding in Florida.
“#1. Katrina. Dates: Aug. 25-30, 2005. Insured losses: $48.68 billion. Horrific Katrina worked its way across southern Florida into the Gulf and strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane before striking near the Louisiana-Mississippi border. Walls of seawater inundated coastal cities within hours, leaving parts of Mobile, Ala., and Gulfport and Biloxi, Miss., underwater. Levees in New Orleans failed. Most roads out of the city were damaged. Wind peeled off roofs, including large chunks of the Superdome, where evacuees huddled. Left homeless, hundreds of thousands of people left the area to start their lives elsewhere.”
Call me hysterical, but note that six of the ten costliest hurricanes in U.S. history took place in 2004-2005. The “green lobby,” of course, would chalk up the carnage to global warming (never mind the fact that we were six years into a period of climate stability—and even cooling—by then). But consider this: America was at the time putting intense pressure on Israel to release their sovereign control over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians. This territory (as we saw back in Chapter 6 of this present work: “Ground Zero”) was within the borders of Israel’s Promised Land, according to the eternal word of Yahweh. Israel had no business—and no right—to give away what Yahweh had given them, no matter how much pressure their so-called “allies” applied in the name of political correctness and liberal-progressive naiveté. The result, not surprisingly, has been that Gaza has become a poverty-stricken war zone, and a literal launching pad for Islamic terror in the form of Kaytusha rockets raining down on Southern Israeli towns within range. God has protected His people, for the most part, but if the Gaza Islamists had their way, they would bite the Jewish hand that fed them—all the way up to the elbow.
Hurricane Katrina was merely the last straw in Yahweh’s series of six stern warnings to America. Gush Katif, a bloc of seventeen Israeli settlements in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, was abandoned to the Muslims in August, 2005—as I said, the direct result of intense pressure from a misguided, apostate America. In a moment of shameful acquiescence, the Israeli Army, their vaunted IDF, forcibly evicted 8,600 Jewish residents from their Gush Katif homes, demolishing what they had built so the Palestinians couldn’t use it against them (but mostly so the settlers would have no reason to come back). The Gaza Israelis became refugees in their own nation. So know this: Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans only hours after the surrender of Gush Katif. America’s worst Hurricane in a hundred years didn’t have to happen. This was no coincidence; it was a well-deserved “spanking” from Almighty God. As far as I can tell, we didn’t take the hint.
If anything, America’s irrational political antagonism toward Israel has only intensified under the current (as I write these words) administration—that of Mr. Obama. So at the risk of belaboring the point, note that four of the five costliest tornadoes in U.S. history occurred on his watch—all during his second term: (1) Joplin Missouri, May 22, 2011: $2.096 billion in damages (adjusted for inflation in 2013 dollars); (2) Tuscaloosa, Alabama, April 27, 2011: $2.542 billion; (3) Moore, Oklahoma, May 20, 2013: 2.0 billion; (4) Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, May 3, 1999: $1.4 billion; and (5) Hackleburg, Alabama, April 27, 2011: $1.339 billion. What was it about Yahweh’s promise to Abraham and his descendants, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you,” (Genesis 12:3) that we didn’t understand?
Frankly, I’m not entirely sure whether the recent increase in costly storms in the U.S. is due to our political betrayal of Israel or merely our abandonment of Godly principles in general—the principles upon which this nation was founded. I can tell you that several books have been written that track the stunning statistical correlation between our political treacheries toward Israel and devastating and costly disasters (natural and otherwise) on our own soil. Notably, see Eye to Eye: Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel, by William R. Koenig, As America Has Done to Israel, by John McTernan, and The Israel Omen, by David Brennan. (And as long as I’m pointing out thought-provoking books, check out the tangentially germane The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America's Future, by Jonathan Cahn.)
Can the carnage be expected to continue? A USA Today article by Doyle Rice (September 24, 2013) assures us that it will. Reporting on a recent study, he writes, “Springtime severe thunderstorms could increase by as much as 40% over the eastern USA. Deadly and destructive thunderstorms—and the violent tornadoes they produce—are forecast to see a “robust” increase across parts of the U.S. in upcoming decades because of climate change, says a new, first-of-its-kind study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Springtime severe thunderstorms could increase by as much as 40% over the eastern U.S. (roughly from the Rockies to the Atlantic) by the end of the century, says lead author Noah Diffenbaugh of Stanford University. The study is one of the first that’s found such a link between climate change and severe storms. Most previous research has been inconclusive.” I might interject that the reason “previous research has been inconclusive” is that the very concept of “climate change” (which will be defined later in the article as global warming—something that hasn’t actually been observed since the mid-nineties) is also “inconclusive.” In point of fact, it’s junk science—purely politically motivated and driven by the prospect of making obscene profits by selling “carbon credits.”
“In recent years, severe storms and tornadoes have produced more destruction than any other weather phenomena and are typically one of the main causes of catastrophic losses in the U.S. Of the 11 weather disasters in 2012 that led to at least $1 billion in damages, seven were caused by severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.” Note that none of the 2012 tornadoes even made the top-five-costliest list, though they all topped the billion dollar mark in damages. A billion dollars here and a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about some real money. “Unfortunately, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms are the extreme weather phenomena that we have the least understanding of with respect to climate change, according to Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters. Additionally, more than 50 years of U.S. tornado records from the Storm Prediction Center find no increase in the number of tornadoes across the country; there are also fewer strong tornadoes.”
Did you catch that? There are no more tornadoes than usual, nor are they any stronger than historic storms. So why are they all of a sudden causing so much financial havoc? Could it be that God has taken His protective hand off America’s cities? It’s one thing if a tornado tears a ten mile swath through open wheat fields; it’s something else altogether if it plows through downtown Joplin, as one did on May 22, 2011, or if twin tornadoes descend on both Dallas and Fort Worth, as they did on April 3, 2012. Remember the plagues of Egypt in the book of Exodus? Yahweh crafted His plagues to dethrone the false “gods” of Egypt—the last two of which were Ra, the sun god, and the royal dynasty itself, Pharaoh’s own son and heir. It seems to me that Yahweh is now doing the same thing to us—taking out our national “gods,” our prosperity, pride, our misplaced illusions of invincibility, and our idiotic propensity to chalk up God’s mercy to “good luck.” Since World War II, we Americans have tended to fancy ourselves “too big to fail.” But as mighty Rome discovered, it’s just not true. Our money has “In God we trust” printed on it, but for the vast majority of Americans, that’s not particularly true either. The fact is, we’ve been so blessed, for so long, we’ve forgotten where the blessings come from. Most Americans today don’t think we ever had to rely on Yahweh. Perhaps He’s taking steps to correct that.
Anyway, Doyle Rice continues, explaining the nuts and bolts of how thunderstorms spawn tornadoes: “Two primary ingredients are needed to produce severe thunderstorms: The first is the fuel needed for these monster storms to develop—what scientists call ‘Convective Available Potential Energy’ (CAPE). CAPE is created as the air in the lower atmosphere warms: The warm air rises, carrying with it moisture to higher altitudes. The second is vertical wind shear, a strong current of wind that helps spin up energy and moisture in the atmosphere. Many previous studies have found that while CAPE may increase because of global warming, wind shear may decrease, so the two ingredients cancel each other out. However, in this study, ‘we’re seeing that global warming produces more days with high CAPE and sufficient shear to form severe thunderstorms,’ Diffenbaugh said. The net effect is that there will be more days overall with both high CAPE and high shear.” Global warming, is it? Then why do the most destructive tornadoes strike in the spring, not the summer? And why, by the fall of 2013, had the earth’s climate cooled so much that the arctic ice pack increased by a million square miles?
There have always been storms on this planet. Perhaps they’re more deadly and expensive nowadays simply because there are so many humans now—it’s harder to get out of the way. But storms are part of the reality Yahweh revealed to Noah after the flood: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22) The changing of the seasons—“cold and heat, winter and summer” (a.k.a. “climate change”)—is the direct and inevitable result of the axis of the earth’s rotation with respect to the sun. This degree of tilt (if we may read between the lines) may have been altered—increased—at the time of the flood, for Yahweh is speaking as if these “seasonal” phenomena would be a new experience for Noah. The axis currently sits at 23.45° but there are indications that the degree of tilt has changed several times throughout history (post-flood examples: the long day of Joshua—Joshua 10:13; and the events described by Habakkuk, probably in Isaiah’s day—Habakkuk 3:10-11). The cause of these shifts is theorized (by Patten, Hatch, and Steinhauer in The Long Day of Joshua and Six Other Catastrophes, 1973) to be close fly-bys to Earth by the planet Mars, which in ancient times had a far more erratic orbit than presently—earning it a well-deserved reputation as the “god of war” in ancient pantheons. According to the theory, the last of these, in 701 B.C. came so close (within the orbit of our moon) that its gravitational pull not only changed Earth’s axis (again), but it also shifted the orbit of Mars itself to its present, more conventional, state. I realize the theory may be an “eyebrow raiser,” but the authors were bona fide rocket scientists and astronomers, which is to say, they’re a whole lot smarter than I am, and their math is compelling.
But I digress. We were talking about storms, and their role in the coming decades. I would defer to Thomas R. Knutson, writing for the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/NOAA (Sept. 3, 2008; Revised January 30, 2013) about Atlantic-spawned hurricanes. His main conclusions were as follows:
“It is premature to conclude that human activities—and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming—have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane activity. That said, human activities may have already caused changes that are not yet detectable due to the small magnitude of the changes or observational limitations, or are not yet properly modeled (e.g., aerosol effects). Anthropogenic [man-caused] warming by the end of the 21st century will likely cause hurricanes globally to be more intense on average (by 2 to 11% according to model projections for an IPCC A1B scenario). This change would imply an even larger percentage increase in the destructive potential per storm, assuming no reduction in storm size.”
But wait. It gets worse: “There are better than even odds that anthropogenic warming over the next century will lead to an increase in the numbers of very intense hurricanes in some basins—an increase that would be substantially larger in percentage terms than the 2-11% increase in the average storm intensity. This increase in intense storm numbers is projected despite a likely decrease (or little change) in the global numbers of all tropical storms. Anthropogenic warming by the end of the 21st century will likely cause hurricanes to have substantially higher rainfall rates than present-day hurricanes, with a model-projected increase of about 20% for rainfall rates averaged within about 100 km of the storm center.”
There are so many variables, of course, one’s conclusions depend largely upon which computer model is being used, and what assumptions are driving it. Changes in the historic methods of observing hurricane impact over the years have also made long term projections an iffy proposition. Knutson writes, “There is little evidence from current dynamical models that 21st century climate warming will lead to large (~300%) increases in tropical storm numbers, hurricane numbers, or PDI (Power Dissipation Index) in the Atlantic. But there is some indication from high resolution models of substantial (~100%) increases in the numbers of the most intense hurricanes even if the overall number of tropical storms or hurricanes decreases…. We estimate that the effect of increasing category 4-5 storms outweighs the reduction in overall hurricane numbers such that we project (very roughly) a 30% increase in potential damage in the Atlantic basin by 2100.”
The puzzle has lots of pieces, and they’re all in motion. The “usual suspect” blamed for raising oceanic temperature (SST—Sea Surface Temperature), which in turn is statistically correlated to hurricane incidence and intensity, is CO2 emissions—greenhouse gasses. I must reiterate that (as we learned in a previous chapter) the only practical way to significantly reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions without taking most of human civilization back to the stone age is to end the practice of cutting down the rainforests—immediately—since this practice alone accounts for half of the world’s anthropogenic CO2. A moratorium on ocean fishing would be helpful in that regard as well. But let’s face it: realistically, neither of these things is going to happen in the real world (without divine intervention), because no one is willing to watch his own family starve in order to “save the planet” on the word of some slick politician or pedantic scientist in another country.
So Knutson addresses the issue with a refreshing eye toward balance: “Apart from greenhouse warming, other human influences conceivably could have contributed to recent observed increases in Atlantic hurricanes…. A number of anthropogenic and natural factors (e.g., aerosols, greenhouse gases, volcanic activity, solar variability, and internal climate variability) must be considered as potential contributors, and the science remains highly uncertain in these areas.” And if you’re willing to factor in the Bible’s prophetic scenario—a nuclear war, burning up a third of the trees and all the green grass (the first trumpet judgment), pollution darkening the sun’s light by one third (the fourth trumpet), and the sun going haywire, “scorching men with fire” (the fourth bowl judgment)—then all bets are off.
Like storms, earthquakes have been a part of man’s experience on this planet for as long as we’ve been keeping records of such things. In Homer’s Iliad, for example, the god Neptune was characterized as the “Lord of the earthquake.” As with storms, there is a geophysical reason for them, one that’s linked to why the earth is, all things considered, habitable and hospitable, when other planets we know of are not. Earth is not a solid block of rock (as one standing on its surface might imagine). Rather, we live on a relatively thin “crust” (between 3 and 44 miles thick, depending on where you are, on a planet some 8,000 miles in diameter) that floats upon a semi-viscous molten “mantle” like an ice floe upon a frozen river. And like that ice, cracks can develop in the earth’s crust, through which the mantle imposes itself upon the habitable surface—forming volcanic islands and mountains, introducing greenhouse gasses into the earth’s atmosphere (or methane clathrate hydrates into the seabed), and so forth. Without this arrangement, we can surmise that the earth would be a cold, dead planet, unsuited for life as we know it, despite our perfect orbital position relative to our sun.
These crustal “ice sheets,” known as tectonic plates, are not entirely stable. Temperature changes at the surface and the constant gravitational “taffy pull” of our unusually large moon keep the tectonic plates in motion, slow though it may be. Under the influences of these forces, they move, shift, rub up against each other, and can even plunge beneath their neighboring plates. In time, they can create entire mountain ranges, such as the Himalayas north of India, Europe’s Alps, and the Sierra Nevada range on the west coast of North America.
The crustal rocks have “elastic” properties to some extent: that is, they can bend to a degree under the force of tectonic movement as one plate moves past (or beneath) another. But such bending causes stresses to build up, like pulling back on the rubber band of a slingshot. When force overcomes drag, it “lets go,” releasing the neighboring plates to spring back into position with what can be explosive consequences: an earthquake. The more stress/energy being released, the bigger the quake (all other things being equal).
As we have seen, both the Olivet Discourse and the Book of Revelation mention earthquakes as a prominent feature of the Last Days. Yahshua spoke of them (in Matthew 24:7) as occurring in “various places.” It’s an interesting turn of phrase. He doesn’t say they’ll necessarily increase in frequency or intensity as we near the end, but He does say that they’ll happen all over the place, implying that somehow, we’ll know their incidence is widespread. That sort of knowledge is a factor that has become reality only within the past decade or two. The USGS website asks, “Are Earthquakes Really on the Increase? We continue to be asked by many people throughout the world if earthquakes are on the increase. Although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes, earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant.” What’s increasing, rather, is our ability to measure, analyze, and communicate to the world the data about every temblor that happens, great or small—information that was unavailable even twenty years ago.
“A partial explanation may lie in the fact that in the last twenty years, we have definitely had an increase in the number of earthquakes we have been able to locate each year. This is because of the tremendous increase in the number of seismograph stations in the world and the many improvements in global communications. In 1931, there were about 350 stations operating in the world; today, there are more than 8,000 stations and the data now comes in rapidly from these stations by electronic mail, internet and satellite. This increase in the number of stations and the more timely receipt of data has allowed us and other seismological centers to locate earthquakes more rapidly and to locate many small earthquakes which were undetected in earlier years. The NEIC now locates about 20,000 earthquakes each year, or approximately 50 per day. Also, because of the improvements in communications and the increased interest in the environment and natural disasters, the public now learns about more earthquakes.” It’s another permutation of Daniel 12:4—“[At] the time of the end, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
Historically, of course, we only remember the really large quakes, or the ones that had great cultural impact or significance (like the one that struck Jerusalem during the Passion, or the one that destroyed the Colossus of Rhodes in 226 B.C.) There is no way to accurately ascribe Richter-scale magnitudes to these historic events. But for the past century or so, we’ve been able to gather enough data to roughly predict how many large quakes we can expect in the world. “According to long-term records (since about 1900), we expect about 17 major earthquakes (7.0-7.9) and one great earthquake (8.0 or above) in any given year.”
Elsewhere, the U.S. Geological Survey lists the seventeen most powerful earthquakes in modern history (i.e., since 1900). Remarkably, all of them except for one (Tibet, in 1950) occurred near the rim of the Pacific Ocean—the so-called “Ring of Fire,” the home of the world’s most powerful volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. They range from 8.5 to 9.5 on the Richter scale. This measurement system is base-10 logarithmic, which means that from one whole number to the next, the quake is ten times more powerful (so a magnitude 9 earthquake is a hundred times more powerful than one measuring Richter-scale 7, for example). The Richter scale was developed in 1935 by Dr. Carl Richter, but since mid-century, it has been largely replaced by the more versatile “moment magnitude scale,” or MMS, though in theory and practice, their values are approximately the same for most quakes. Due to its familiarity, earthquakes these days are invariably reported as Richter values, even though the Richter scale is technically meaningless when measuring anything over a magnitude 8 event.
If you don’t like large earthquakes, there are a few places you may want to avoid. Of the seventeen top shakers, five occurred in Indonesia (four of these on or near the island of Sumatra), three happened in Alaska, three in Chile, and three in Eastern Russia. The biggest recorded earthquake of all time took place in Chile, in 1960, at a magnitude 9.5. The runner-up is Anchorage, Alaska in 1964, at 9.2, followed by the 9.1 monster off Sumatra in December, 2004 that set off the most deadly tsunami in recorded history. The quake that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear reactor on the island of Honshu, Japan in March, 2011 was the fourth largest on record at a magnitude 9.0; it remains to be seen if the radiation that was (and is still being) released will eventually kill more people than the Sumatra quake and tsunami. The great earthquake of 1906 that destroyed the city of San Francisco didn’t remotely make the list: it registered a magnitude of about 7.8.
I spent the first half-century of my life in Southern California, so I got rather used to earthquakes (which is not to say I learned to like them). Depending on your distance from the epicenter, you can’t really feel anything below a 4.0 shaker, nor do they do any significant damage. The most common earthquakes are rather gentle, between magnitude 4.0 and 4.9, happening at a rate of a little over 10,000 per year on average worldwide. Between magnitude 5.0 and 5.9, the frequency drops to under 1,700 quakes; 6.0 to 6.9 temblors happen fewer than 150 times per year. There are about 15 quakes annually between 7.0 and 7.9 worldwide, and only one or two occur with a magnitude over 8.0. (These averages, from the U.S.G.S. again, are for the years 2000 to 2012).
The whole time I lived in California, we were warned of what they called “The Big One,” a massive earthquake expected to hit the golden state one of these days, presumably along its largest fault line, the dreaded 810-mile-long San Andreas. The stress had been relieved somewhat in the central section of the fault by the 7.9 “Fort Tijon” earthquake in 1857, and in the north by the San Francisco quake of 1906, but the southern portion of the fault has not ruptured for over 300 years—hence all the black humor about buying up beach-front property in Palm Springs.
At the same time, geologists and seismologists have been chasing that most elusive quarry, earthquake prediction. Wikipedia notes, “To be useful, an earthquake prediction must be precise enough to warrant the cost of increased precautions, including disruption of ordinary activities and commerce, and timely enough that preparation can be made. Predictions must also be reliable, as false alarms and canceled alarms are not only economically costly, but seriously undermine confidence in, and thereby the effectiveness of, any kind of warning.” The last thing seismologists want to do in regards to earthquake prediction is develop a reputation for “crying wolf.” (Too bad climate scientists don’t feel the same way.) To give you a feel for this, predicting hurricanes or volcanic eruptions is sort of like hunting water buffalo: it can be done, but you’ve got to use the really big guns. On the other hand, the accurate prediction of things like tornadoes and earthquakes is more like hunting Bigfoot. You may be able to get into the right neighborhood, but you just can’t count on being able to see it coming.
I’ve got some good news, and I’ve got some bad news. The good news is that it may indeed be possible to pinpoint the date of “the big one”—not from scientific sources, but from scripture. The bad news is that “the big one” will be much bigger than anyone anticipated. It’s not “merely” the total destruction of California. The earthquake in question will be a worldwide seismic event prophesied to be unprecedentedly catastrophic. It will be the first earth-quake worthy of the name. Admittedly, to reach the conclusions I’m about to draw (a theory I broached earlier in this book) I’ve had to make some observations and connect some dots. But there is no scripturally (or scientifically) sound reason why what I’m about to explain isn’t eminently plausible.
Let us begin with the story of the “two witnesses,” the ants who’ll show up to ruin the Antichrist’s picnic for roughly the entire second half of the Tribulation. When they’ve finished their forty-two month ministry, the Beast (i.e., the Antichrist or the demon who possesses him) will kill them, and their corpses will lie on the streets of Jerusalem for three and a half days, during which time the grizzly spectacle will be broadcast live (so to speak) to the whole world. But “After three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them who saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, ‘Come up here.’ And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand [within the city of Jerusalem, that is]: and the rest were frightened, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” (Revelation 11:11-13)
There are several huge earthquakes mentioned in scripture that, of logistical necessity, must happen within a few days of the end of the Tribulation. We’ve just seen one of them. I have come to believe that these are all prophetic references to the same great earthquake, something I’d call “the Big One.” Consider Zechariah’s account of the Second Coming of Christ: “Behold, the day of Yahweh comes, and your spoil shall be divided in the midst of you. For I will gather all nations [note: not just the Muslims, as in the Battle of Magog (which also features an earthquake), but all of the nations this time] against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses plundered, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall Yahweh go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle….” This is clearly a reference to the Battle of Armageddon, spoken of in Revelation 16:16—the sixth bowl judgment. The Antichrist’s innumerable horde makes it all the way to Jerusalem, succeeding (almost) where Gog’s Islamic armies failed a few years previously—taking half the city as a prize of war, raping and looting as they go. Until this happens…
“And His [Yahweh’s, i.e., Yahshua’s] feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east.” This was prophesied again at Christ’s ascension, in Acts 1:11. “And the Mount of Olives shall split in two, toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall move toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” That, my friends, is a description of an earthquake, one precisely matching the schedule and circumstances of the resurrection of the two witnesses. It should hardly be necessary to point out that the Mount of Olives is intact to this day; there is no big valley running through it: this is yet in our future. “And you shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, you shall flee, like as you fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and Yahweh my God shall come, and all the saints with Him.” (Zechariah 14:1-5) That last phrase, “and all the saints with Him” positively identifies this event as the Second Coming. This is exactly as it is described in Revelation 19:14—the armies of heaven (that is, the previously raptured believers) clothed in fine, clean, white linen (defined elsewhere as the “righteous acts of the saints”). As we accompany our risen, glorious King, all of us will be riding white horses, symbolic of victory.
So the great earthquake, the “Big One,” is the direct result of King Yahshua returning to the world that treated Him so shabbily the last time He was here. His arrival will split the Mount of Olives in two and level a tenth of the city of Jerusalem. But I have reason to believe that the effects of this particular earthquake will spread outward from its Jerusalem epicenter to the rest of the world. There will be a “crustal tsunami,” so to speak, as the very planet bows in homage to its returning King. So Isaiah writes, “The foundations of the earth are shaken. The earth is violently broken; the earth is split open; the earth is shaken exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut. Its transgression shall be heavy upon it, and it will fall, and not rise again.” (Isaiah 24:18-20) Another prophet describes it this way: “He [Yahweh] stood and measured the earth; He looked and shook the nations. Then the eternal mountains were scattered; the everlasting hills sank low…. The mountains saw You and writhed.” (Habakkuk 3:6, 10)
I may be reading too much into this, but it seems as if we’re being told that all of the kinetic energy stored in fault systems all over the world (like the southern end of the San Andreas, for example) will be released all at once, creating what would amount to a worldwide earthquake. It’s as if the world has been “holding its breath” in anticipation of this moment, and when it’s Creator finally returns in glory, the planet breathes a heavy sigh of relief. (Does the phrase, “The stones will cry out” ring any bells? See Luke 19:40.) This would have the long-term effect of making earthquakes exceedingly rare upon the earth for the next, say, one thousand years—the very period of time Christ will reign upon the earth before He’s done with it. The “new heaven and new earth” that He has promised to introduce (not to mention the New Jerusalem) need not have any physical continuity with what we know today. They will be built to accommodate a race of immortals, which means the physical requirements of the new infrastructure might be very different indeed.
Three series of seven judgments each are described in the Book of Revelation. They are not consecutive (as they may appear to the casual reader), but rather overlap to some extent chronologically. The first series, the seals, are the only ones said to be administered by the Lamb Himself—Christ—and comprise a general overview of the entire Tribulation. The “second” series, the trumpets, are specific “wake-up calls” delivered by angelic messengers. They range from nuclear war, the volcanic death of an ocean, and a meteorite poisoning the earth’s fresh water supply, to darkened skies, demonic invasion, another great war (this one in the Far East), and finally, the ascension of Yahshua to the throne of Earth. The third series, the “bowl judgments,” are concentrated during the antichrist’s reign of terror—basically, the second half of the Tribulation. They describe plagues poured out upon the antichrist and his followers, several of them apparently being announced by the two witnesses whose resurrection was (as we saw above) punctuated by the great quake. We would expect, then, for the Big One to be a feature of one or more of Revelation’s judgment series, and it would naturally be listed near the end. As it turns out, it appears to be listed in all three judgment series: the sixth seal, the seventh trumpet, and the seventh bowl.
Let us, then, consult the record. “And I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casts its unripe figs, when it is shaken by a mighty wind. And the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” Every mountain and island? That’s no ordinary earthquake. It’s either shameless hyperbole or a description of the Big One. “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the generals, and the mighty men, and every slave, and every free man [in other words, everybody not under Yahweh’s protection], hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of His wrath has come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:12-16) This is a sideways indication that the great quake is associated with the return of the Messiah and the ascension to His earthly throne, just as we saw in Zechariah 14. Oh, and as for that rhetorical question, “Who shall be able to stand?” The only people left standing when the dust settles will be those who the Lamb Himself has enabled to stand. As Paul said, “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4)
The final trumpet judgment includes this notice: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.’ …And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His covenant: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” (Revelation 11:15, 19) Again, the great earthquake is associated with the transfer of temporal power from fallen man to Living God, the “earth-shaking” event that will become a fait accompli at the second coming of Christ.
The seventh bowl judgment ties many of these descriptive details together, conspiring to inform us that there is but one great seismic event being revealed in all these various passages. “And the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, it is done. 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 16:17-20) As we saw before, although Jerusalem (“the great city”) will be involved, the quake will devastate cities, islands, and mountains all over the earth. The post-earthquake topography of our planet can be expected to be quite different from its present state. “Babylon” here is not a city, but rather a symbol of every permutation of idolatry left upon the earth—named after the city where organized false worship first appeared, only a few generations after the flood of Noah. Yahweh will leave no vestiges of apostate religion undealt with.
I get the distinct impression that the effect of the “Big One” will be decidedly more destructive in the outlying areas than at the epicenter—near Jerusalem. The “great city” will be divided into three parts (according to the angel of the seventh bowl), and in the narrative concerning the resurrection of the two witnesses, we are told that “a tenth of the city fell.” We tend to read into this that one out of ten buildings fell down, but the Greek actually implies a change in elevation—one tenth of the city of Jerusalem ended up lower than it had been. But other scriptures imply a general raising of the entire area. For example, we are told (in Ezekiel 47) of the healing of the nearby Dead Sea with the waters flowing into it from beneath the Millennial temple. For this to work, there would have to be an outlet for its waters to the ocean, but the surface of the Dead Sea is 1400 feet below sea level. It would appear, then, that the entire southern end of the Jordan Valley will be uplifted at least that much in this last great tectonic upheaval. At the same time, entire mountains and islands will be displaced, and whole cities will disappear, all over the earth.
As I said, this is no ordinary earthquake.
And when will all of this take place? Bear in mind that there is no way to prepare for it or flee from it (short of avoiding cities, islands, mountains, and anything the “whore of Babylon” has ever had her grubby hands on—which is pretty much the whole world). The only way to avoid it altogether is to be absent from planet earth when it strikes. But presuming one has missed the rapture, has somehow managed to make it through the entire Tribulation alive, has wisely repented before God (as described in Revelation 3:18-19), and is now looking forward to the advent of the One whom the antichrist has been trying so desperately to impersonate, how can one know the date of this ultimate good-news/bad-news story? Did not Christ Himself say, “No one knows the day or the hour?” He did indeed, but careful exegesis reveals that He was talking not about His coming in glory, but rather about the rapture of the church—a separate event which, now that you’re almost seven years deep into the Tribulation, probably seems like ancient history now, though it took the whole world by surprise when it happened, and is still a big mystery to almost everyone.
The key to perceiving God’s timetable is found in the Torah. It’s the “Feasts” of Yahweh (better translated Convocations, Appointments, or Meetings). As I explained back in the chapter on Biblical Chronology, the first four of these seven most significant prophetic events on Yahweh’s calendar were fulfilled (on the very days of their Levitical mandates) in 33 A.D. The fifth one, the Feast of Trumpets, marked the rapture of the church (an event, of course, that is still in the future as I write these words). That leaves two “Feasts” for us to explore.
Skipping over number six for the moment, the seventh and final one, the Feast of Tabernacles, clearly speaks of the commencement of Christ’s earthly reign—the time when God will come to “camp out” with men. It will take place on Tishri 15 in some future year (per Yahweh’s commandment: Leviticus 23:34). And if my theory is correct, that year will be the bi-millennium of the passion, 2033—making the (Gregorian-calendar) date October 8. Not coincidentally, that day falls on a Sabbath, just as required in the Torah.
But it is axiomatic that the Messiah will have returned to earth before He assumes the throne, for there is still the little matter of Armageddon and the final destruction of “Babylon” to attend to. (See Revelation 16:19—the seventh bowl judgment.) Evil must be vanquished before Good can reign. And that is what is revealed by the Holy Appointment we skipped over—the sixth of the seven convocations of Yahweh: Yom Kippurim, or the Day of Atonement. This convocation requires that the participants “afflict their souls” before God. The verb translated “afflict” (Hebrew: anah) also means “to answer or respond.” What is the one thing that could precipitate that sort of response (especially among Jews)? It’s their great national epiphany (or as I call it, the great oy vey): the glorious return of King Yahshua the Messiah (you know, the One their forefathers had crucified two thousand years previously) to Jerusalem, to the Mount of Olives—precisely as Zechariah had prophesied—proving by doing so that He is God in the flesh.
It is this event that will set off the biggest earthquake in history. It is this event that will compel the Israelis to “afflict their souls” in the sure knowledge of their national culpability before God. It is this event that will oblige the nations to answer and respond to Christ’s presence—or die in suicidal denial at the Battle of Armageddon. The choice, as always, is man’s. But make no mistake: this event marks the end of “faith” and the beginning of “sight.” When He returns, this will come to pass: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth…. Every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11)
When? The Day of Atonement falls five days prior to the Feast of Tabernacles, on the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Tishri. In 2033, that will fall on October 3. But my scripture-based “earthquake prediction model” will do you no good if you’re not safe in the arms of Yahshua. There is no place else to hide.
Not surprisingly, the prognosis concerning volcanoes closely parallels that of earthquakes. Both geological phenomena are tied to breaches in the earth’s crust. Both have been observed for as long as man has inhabited this planet. They tend to happen in the same geographical locations. And although volcanic eruptions may seem to be increasing in frequency, our awareness of what’s going on beneath our feet is just as likely the result of vastly increased population density over the past half century, much better means of scientific measurement, and improved worldwide communication.
Scripture doesn’t mention many volcanoes per se, but it does describe them—and especially the effect they’ll have on the earth during the Last Days. Mount Sinai—where the Torah was delivered—is said to have burned with fire, in clouds and thick darkness. Mountains are referred to as “melting” and “smoking” before the presence of Yahweh, their streams turning to pitch and their dust to brimstone. The prophet Nahum spoke against the Assyrians and their capital city, Nineveh. But it would seem Yahweh had bigger fish to fry when He instructed His prophet to say, “God is jealous, and Yahweh avenges; Yahweh avenges and is furious. Yahweh will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies. Yahweh is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked…. The mountains quake before Him; the hills melt, and the earth heaves at His presence, yes, the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him.” (Nahum 1:2-6) At the very least, Yahweh reserves the right to use volcanoes for His glory.
Descriptions of skies darkened by pollutants—dust and ash—sent aloft into the atmosphere are one indication that volcanic eruptions may be part of the Last Days picture. One volcano in particular (though it isn’t called a volcano—it’s merely described) is enlisted as the subject of the second of seven trumpet judgments—the drastic wake-up calls that will, it is hoped, startle the world into the realization that “business as usual” (that is, the purposeful ignorance or studied rejection of Yahweh’s plan) will no longer be possible. We’ll discuss that one at length in a bit.
But first, let us define our terms. The Global Volcanism Program of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History offers the following insights into how the world’s volcanoes are studied and tracked today, the terminology and definitions of the science:
“What is a volcano? One of the most difficult problems of standardization has been the varying usage of the word ‘volcano.’ Definitions of ‘volcano’ range from individual vents, measured in meters, through volcanic edifices measured in kilometers or tens of kilometers, to volcanic fields measured in hundreds of kilometers. In a database compilation, the disadvantage of the narrowest definition is not so much the multiplicity of names introduced, as the dismembering of a single volcanic plumbing system’s history into apparently unrelated separate records. The interiors of ancient volcanoes, now eroded and exposed for geologic study, show us that most subsurface magma chambers—the suppliers of lavas to overlying volcanoes—are at least several kilometers in diameter. We also know that many contemporary volcanoes grow by additions from countless flank vents as well as activity at a central crater….Another problem is simply the identification of volcanoes. Prominent, steaming cones are easy to recognize, but water, ice, erosion, collapse processes, or dense vegetation can mask very dangerous volcanoes….
“What is an eruption? The arrival of volcanic products at the surface of the Earth or other planetary bodies is termed an eruption. At first glance it might appear surprising that the ambiguity regarding what constitutes a volcano extends to eruptions as well. Some definitions of the word include purely gaseous expulsions, but we confine the term to events that involve the explosive ejection of fragmental material, the effusion of liquid lava, or both. Other definitions restrict eruptions to magmatic events, but the fragmental material ejected may be old as well as new. The explosive interaction of volcanically generated heat and near-surface water can cause dramatic eruptions without any fresh volcanic material reaching the surface and from a volcanic hazards perspective can be as important to document as magmatic events.
“How many active volcanoes are there in the world? The answer to this common question depends upon use of the word ‘active.’ At least 20 volcanoes will probably be erupting as you read these words (Italy’s Stromboli, for example, has been erupting for more than a thousand years); roughly 60 erupted each year through the 1990s; 154 in the full decade 1990-1999; about 550 have had historically documented eruptions; about 1300 (and perhaps more than 1500) have erupted in the Holocene (past 10,000 years); and some estimates of young seafloor volcanoes exceed a million. (Estimates of global magma budgets suggest that roughly 3/4 of the lava reaching Earth’s surface does so unnoticed at submarine mid-ocean ridges.) Because dormant intervals between major eruptions at a single volcano may last hundreds to thousands of years, dwarfing the relatively short historical record in many regions, it is misleading to restrict usage of ‘active volcano’ to recorded human memories: we prefer to add another identifying word (e.g. ‘historically active’ or ‘Holocene volcano’)…. Perhaps the most honest answer to the number question is that we do not really have an accurate count of the world’s volcanoes, but that there are at least a thousand identified magma systems—on land alone—likely to erupt in the future.”
“How long does an eruption last? Clearly some eruptions last for a very long time, like Stromboli’s 2400+ year continuing pyrotechnic. At the turn of the century the following 15 volcanoes have been erupting more or less continuously through the last three decades (the reporting span of SEAN/GVN) and are likely to remain active for some time: Stromboli and Etna (Italy); Erta Ale (Ethiopia); Manam, Langila, and Bagana (Papua New Guinea); Yasur (Vanuatu); Semeru and Dukono (Indonesia); Sakura-jima (Japan); Santa Maria and Pacaya (Guatemala); Arenal (Costa Rica); Sangay (Ecuador); and Erebus (Antarctica). However, other eruptions end swiftly: 10% of those for which we have accurate durations lasted no longer than a single day, most end in less than 3 months, and few last longer than 3 years. The median duration is about 7 weeks.
“Has volcanic activity been increasing? We don’t think so. A look at the number of volcanoes active per year, over the last few centuries, shows a dramatic increase, but one that is closely related to increases in the world’s human population and communication. We believe that this represents an increased reporting of eruptions, rather than increased frequency of global volcanism: more observers, in wider geographic distribution, with better communication, and broader publication. The past 200 years show this generally increasing trend along with some major ‘peaks and valleys’ which suggest global pulsations. A closer look at the two largest valleys, however, shows that they coincide with the two World Wars, when people (including editors) were preoccupied with other things. Many more eruptions were probably witnessed during those times, but reports do not survive in the scientific literature…. It is reasonable to expect that increased attention after major, newsworthy eruptions should result in higher-than-average numbers of volcanoes being reported in the historical literature….
“How do scientists forecast volcanic eruptions? Scientists use a wide variety of techniques to monitor volcanoes, including seismographic detection of the earthquakes and tremor that almost always precede eruptions, precise measurements of ground deformation that often accompanies the rise of magma, changes in volcanic gas emissions, and changes in gravity and magnetic fields. Although not diagnostic individually, these techniques, when used in combination at well-monitored volcanoes, have resulted in successful predictions. At Pinatubo volcano (Philippines) in 1991, a successful forecast saved thousands of lives…. Monitoring-based forecasts are becoming much more reliable, but they remain imperfect. If scientists are fortunate, precursors to an eruption follow the same course as they followed before previous eruptions. Patterns often change, though, and wholly new behavior is observed. The best forecasts will be based on an integration of geologic history, real-time monitoring, and a deep understanding of the internal plumbing processes of the specific volcano. Even with the best of monitoring and interpretations, reliable forecasts are rarely possible more than a few days in advance of an eruption.
“Some forecasts of volcanic eruptions are based on eruption recurrence intervals, but these are notoriously unreliable for two reasons: (a) few volcanoes are sufficiently well studied to provide an accurate eruptive history over the many hundreds of years necessary to establish a reliable recurrence interval; and (b) few volcanoes maintain the same behavior for long (more often than not, as soon as a repetitive pattern becomes apparent, the volcano changes behavior). Volcano observatories make forecasts with great caution as they can have huge impacts on the affected populations, in some cases forcing people to leave behind homes, farms, and livestock. Inaccurate forecasts can lead to unnecessary obligation of scarce resources and/or undermine residents’ confidence in future forecasts. Reliable forecasts, however, can be made by volcano observatory staff, who have the experience to interpret their monitoring that detects eruption precursors. Most nations with volcanoes have tasked an established observatory, run by the government or by a university, to provide eruption forecasts to the public. All of these observatories are members of the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO).”
NBC News offers this list of their top eight most dangerous volcanoes in the world: (1) “After 9,000 years of dormancy, the Chaiten volcano in southern Chile awoke in 2008 and began a series of eruptions that spewed ash miles into the sky. The volcano’s namesake town of 4,500, just 6 miles from the spewing crater, was devastated by falling ash and floods. The eruption claimed at least one life and serves as a stark reminder that slumbering volcanoes pose grave dangers.”
(2) “Italy’s Mount Vesuvius is most famous for the A.D. 79 eruption that buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Despite the dark history, millions of people today live near the volcano. The thriving mass of humanity in such close proximity to the volcano makes Vesuvius a serious contender for the world’s most dangerous volcano. Scientists fear that a catastrophic eruption could hurl scalding gas-rich magma, water vapor and debris at the masses with insufficient warning time for an evacuation.”
(3) “Mexico City, a metropolis of 18 million people, sits 40 miles to the east of Popocatepetl, the second tallest volcano in North America. Puebla, a town of 2 million, lies 30 miles to the west. A major eruption, scientists say, could choke the skies with ash and send massive mudslides into the crowded valleys below. The result could prove catastrophic. The volcano has been relatively quiet since a bout of activity between 1920 and 1922, but it rumbled back to life in 2000.”
(4) “Merapi in Indonesia is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, regularly spewing hot gas and ash miles into the sky, and sending mud and fragmented rocks down the sides. In 1994, 60 people were killed by a searing gas cloud, and about 1,300 people died when it erupted in 1930. During a bout of eruptions in 2006, many villagers refused orders to evacuate. They believe the spirits will warn when a catastrophic eruption is imminent.”
(5) “Lava flows, while hot, are rarely deadly. They usually ooze slow enough that people can easily outrun them. That’s not the case with the lava that flows from Nyirangongo in Africa’s Democratic Republic of Congo. It has very low levels of silica, the mineral that thickens and slows lavas. In 2002, Nyirangongo’s lava suddenly gushed at speeds up to 60 mph into the town of Goma, which is home to half a million people. Scientists fear that lava pooling in the crater could suddenly drain again and cause even more devastation.”
(6) “After nearly a year of minor earthquakes and eruptions, Colombia’s Nevada del Ruiz volcano exploded on Nov. 13, 1985. Pyroclastic flows melted the summit’s snowcap. Mudflows, called lahars, raced down the mountainside. One mudflow wiped out the village of Chinchina and killed 1,927 people, according to reports. A second followed the same path as earlier lahars and swept away the town of Armero. An estimated 23,000 people died, making it Colombia’s worst natural disaster.”
(7) “The islands of Japan harbor more than 100 volcanoes, and a handful or so erupt every year. The majestic Mount Fuji has not erupted since 1707, but a swarm of low-frequency earthquakes in 2000 and 2001 raised the specter that the mountain was awakening from its 300-year slumber. Though Fuji has since quieted down, the risk to Tokyo, a city of 30 million people just 70 miles to the east, is very real, scientists say. A 2004 government study put the price tag of a worst-case eruption at more than $20 billion.”
(8) “Washington's 14,410-foot-tall Mount Rainier is a big attraction for many people in the Pacific Northwest. It is also a big threat, according to scientists. An estimated 3 million people live in its shadow—at least 100,000 on top of old mudflows from previous eruptions. The flows, known as lahars, are the greatest risk. Though commonly associated with major eruptions that strike with ample warning, an earthquake or small burp of rock, ash and gas could also trigger a lahar, giving residents in the path only 10 to 15 minutes to escape.”
Not to be outdone, Michael Snyder reports on a sudden resurgence of volcanic activity around the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire” on TheTruthWins.com (November 24, 2013). Whereas the Smithsonian Institution opines that volcanic activity only seems to be getting more intense, Snyder has concluded that it actually is. He writes: “Ten major volcanoes have erupted along the Ring of Fire during the past few months, and the mainstream media in the United States has been strangely silent about this. But this is a very big deal. We are seeing eruptions at some volcanoes that have been dormant for decades. Yes, it is certainly not unusual for two or three major volcanoes along the Ring of Fire to be active at the same time, but what we are witnessing right now is highly unusual. And if the U.S. media is not concerned about this yet, the truth is that they should be. Approximately 90 percent of all earthquakes and approximately 80 percent of all volcanic eruptions occur along the Ring of Fire, and it runs directly up the west coast of the United States. Perhaps if Mt. Rainier in Washington State suddenly exploded or a massive earthquake flattened Los Angeles the mainstream media would wake up.
“Most Americans have grown very complacent about these things, but right now we are witnessing volcanic activity almost everywhere else along the Ring of Fire. It is only a matter of time before it happens here too.” Perhaps “complacent” isn’t quite the right adjective. As a former Angelino, I’d describe the West Coast mindset as somewhere between fatalism and denial. They know something could happen, but their homes, jobs, and families are here. The risks of living on the Ring of Fire are thought of in terms of “compared to what?” If you live somewhere else, the heat will get you, or the snow, or the drought, tornadoes, or whatever. And there’s no work back home in Mexico. So you stay…and pray. Or remain blissfully ignorant—whatever lets you sleep at night.
“Sadly, most Americans cannot even tell you what the Ring of Fire is. The following is how Wikipedia defines it: ‘The Ring of Fire is an area where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. In a 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes and is home to over 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes.’ An easy way to think about the Ring of Fire is to imagine a giant red band stretching along the perimeter of the Pacific Ocean. And yes, that includes the entire west coast of the United States and the entire southern coast of Alaska.
“10 major volcanoes along the Ring of Fire have suddenly roared to life in recent months.” Snyder’s “hot list” includes (1) a new volcanic island 600 miles south of Tokyo, Japan, in the Ogasawara island chain; (2) Mount Sinabung in Indonesia; (3) Mount Colima in Mexico; (4) Sakurajima in Japan; (5) Fuego in Guatemala; (6) Santa María/Santiaguito in Guatemala; (7) Yaser in Vanuatu, in the South Pacific; (8) Popocatepetl in Mexico; (9) Mount Marapi in Indonesia; and (10) Kliuchevskoi on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Eastern Russia.
In another article on the same website, Mr. Snyder tied the recent spate of volcanic activity to the possibility of a new period of global cooling: “Have you noticed that this December is unusually cold so far? Could the fact that we have had a record number of volcanoes erupt in 2013 be responsible? Certainly an unusually calm solar cycle is playing a significant role in producing all of this cold weather, but the truth is that throughout human history volcanic eruptions have produced some of the coldest winters ever recorded. In fact, there have been some major eruptions that have actually substantially reduced global temperatures for two to three years. So should we be alarmed that the number of volcano eruptions this year was the highest ever recorded? Could it be possible that we are heading for a period of global cooling as a result? And if the planet does cool significantly, could that lead to widespread crop failures and mass famine? Don’t think that it can’t happen. In fact, it has happened before and it is only a matter of time until it happens again.”
If the planet weren’t in peril, it would be rather amusing to watch the “global warming” alarmists duking it out with the “global cooling” crowd. If only they knew what you and I now know: no matter which school of thought can come up with the most compelling “facts,” the earth will be in big trouble by the fourth decade of the twenty-first century for a score of other reasons—no matter what the climate does. But if you accept Yahweh’s prophetic scripture at face value, none of it matters. This planet will once again find itself under the direct administration of its Creator and God, and as a result, it will once again become as He described it in the beginning: “very good.”
In the meantime, Snyder continues, “I knew that we were seeing an unusual amount of volcanic activity around the planet so far this year. In fact, I wrote about it in my recent article entitled ‘Why Have 10 Major Volcanoes Along the Ring Of Fire Suddenly Roared To Life?’ [Quoted from, above.] But I had no idea that we were on the verge of a new yearly record. So I was shocked when I visited the Extinction Protocol today and discovered that we have witnessed a record number of volcano eruptions in 2013…. ‘This year will go down on record, as seeing the most volcanic eruptions recorded in modern history. The previous number was set in 2010, at 82 volcanic eruptions for the year. The number of volcanoes erupting across the planet has been steadily rising from a meager number of just 55 recorded in 1990. While most scientists may readily dismiss any significance to the latest figures and may be quick to say the planet is just experiencing normal geological activity, it does raise other concerns about just what may be transpiring within the interior of our planet.
“The average number of volcanic eruptions per year should be about 50 to 60; but as of December 5, 2013, we are already at 83. Volcanic eruptions are one way the planet dissipates a dangerous build-up of heat, magma, and pressurized gases. The planet’s outer core is thought to flirt with critical temperatures in the range of around 4400°C (8000°F). Any rise or major fluctuation in interior gradient could have profound and disruptive effects on processes whose very properties are governed by convective heat emanating from the planet’s outer core: magnetic field propagation, tectonic plate movements, sea-floor spreading mechanics, and mantle plume activity. Mantle plumes or hotspots are thought to be the central mechanism which fuels the vast underground chambers of many of the world’s supervolcanoes.’
“According to climatologist Cliff Harris, we ‘are seeing an increase in volcanic activity worldwide’ and this could easily lead to a period of significant global cooling if it continues…. ‘If volcanic activity continues to increase, and there is an eruption big enough to send millions of tons of ash and dust into the upper layers of the atmosphere, then the Earth’s temperature would likely drop at least a degree or two from present levels. This happened in June of 1991 when Mount Pinatubo exploded in the Philippines. For the following year, the Earth’s temperature dropped about 1-2 degrees before recovering several years later.’” This despite the fact that volcanoes pump a fair amount of CO2 into the atmosphere, along with the dust and ash.
“A degree or two may not sound like a lot, but on a global scale it can be absolutely catastrophic. And this kind of thing has happened many times before. The following list comes from Wikipedia…. ‘The effects of volcanic eruptions on recent winters are modest in scale, but historically have been significant. Most recently, the 1991 explosion of Mount Pinatubo, a stratovolcano in the Philippines, cooled global temperatures for about 2–3 years. In 1883, the explosion of Krakatoa (Krakatau) created volcanic winter-like conditions. The four years following the explosion were unusually cold, and the winter of 1887-1888 included powerful blizzards. Record snowfalls were recorded worldwide. The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, a stratovolcano in Indonesia, occasioned mid-summer frosts in New York State and June snowfalls in New England and Newfoundland and Labrador in what came to be known as the “Year without a summer” of 1816. A paper written by Benjamin Franklin in 1783 blamed the unusually cool summer of 1783 on volcanic dust coming from Iceland, where the eruption of the Laki volcano had released enormous amounts of sulfur dioxide, resulting in the death of much of the island’s livestock and a catastrophic famine which killed a quarter of the Icelandic population. Northern hemisphere temperatures dropped by about 1°C in the year following the Laki eruption. In 1600, the Huaynaputina in Peru erupted. Tree ring studies show that 1601 was cold. Russia had its worst famine in 1601-1603. From 1600 to 1602, Switzerland, Latvia and Estonia had exceptionally cold winters. The wine harvest was late in 1601 in France, and in Peru and Germany, wine production collapsed. Peach trees bloomed late in China, and Lake Suwa in Japan froze early.’
“This is by far the greatest ‘climate change’ threat that we are facing. Something appears to be happening to the crust of the earth, and if the number of volcano eruptions continues to rise, we could be in store for absolutely catastrophic changes to our climate.”
I’d like to reemphasize a factor that Mr. Snyder pointed out a few paragraphs back: volcanic activity, as destructive as it can be, is actually a safety valve for the earth, dissipating the heat, magma, and gasses under pressure in the earth’s mantle. If these elements are not relieved through timely eruptions of comparatively small localized volcanoes, pressure in the earth’s mantle can build to dangerous levels in regional hazards known as “supervolcanoes.” And by “dangerous,” I don’t mean “inconvenient” or “disruptive,” like the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980. Supervolcanoes have the potential to be virtual continent killers, though fortunately, their eruptions tend to be hundreds of thousands of years apart.
James Seidel, writing for News.com.au, wrote an article entitled “Beneath Yellowstone, a volcano that could wipe out U.S.” that was picked up by the New York Post on December 12, 2013. Don’t let the tabloid-journalism hyperbole obscure the raw facts:
“It’s the awe-inspiring pride of the United States—and it harbors a deadly power that could kill us all. Yellowstone National Park is pristine wilderness, full of scenic landscape and iconic hot-pools and geysers that attract tens of thousands of visitors every year. But it’s what lies beneath that has scientists scurrying. We’ve long known that Yellowstone is merely the skin on top of a supervolcano—a giant pool of magma sitting just under the Earth’s surface. Exactly how giant has been the subject of much speculation. Until now.
“A team from the University of Utah have told the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco that Yellowstone’s magma chamber is 2.5 times larger than previously thought. It is an underground cavern that measures some 55 miles by 20 miles and runs between 3 and 9 miles below the earth. If it blows it will wipe out America—and have enormous impacts on the rest of the world…. Professor Bob Smith told the BBC: ‘We’ve been working there for a long time, and we’ve always thought it would be bigger … but this finding is astounding.’ The research is part of an ongoing effort to assess the true threat the molten beast represents.
“What is a supervolcano? The common picture of a volcano being a mountainous cone of ash and lava does not apply to the supervolcanoes like Yellowstone. These are vast spaces of collapsed crust that formed pools—known as calderas—under a seemingly normal surface. Only mapping reveals the gentle swell, over a space of hundreds of square kilometers, that contains the cauldron of molten magma below.
“From analysis of rock and sediment layers, scientists say another eruption is almost due—at least by geological standards. It appears the supervolcano explodes roughly once every 700,000 years. Three such eruptions are known: One was 2.1 million years ago. Another was 1.3 million years ago. The most recent was 640,000 years ago. So what would happen if Yellowstone were to erupt? Something close to Armageddon.” I really wish people would stop using that word to describe natural disasters. “Armageddon” is a future “battle” in which the returning Messiah-King, Yahshua, will utterly annihilate the world’s military forces brought to bear against defenseless Israel. It is the precise, focused wrath of Almighty God against those who hate Him—but it won’t spell the death of all humanity, or even everyone in the area when it happens. The explosion of a supervolcano like the one in Yellowstone, on the other hand, would be as indiscriminate as it is deadly. But excuse my rant.
“Soil samples reveal that the last time it happened the whole of North America was smothered by ash. The lava flow was almost as great. The streams of molten rock were hundreds of miles long, and miles thick. Such was the extent of the smoke and debris cloud generated by the eruption that the climate of the entire world was affected for several centuries.
“The ongoing rumbles caused by earthquakes in and around Yellowstone National Park provided the means by which the full extent of the magma chamber was revealed. As the seismic waves moved through the ground, the different speeds of their travel were recorded by a network of seismometers. ‘The waves travel slower through hot and partially molten material…with this, we can measure what’s beneath,’ Dr. Jamie Farrell, from the University of Utah, said. Twenty ‘smaller’ supervolcanoes have been found nearby, on the Utah/Nevada state border. The new study published in the journal Geosphere shows that these volcanoes are not active today. But, 30 million years ago, they spilled more than 5500 cubic kilometers of magma during a one-week period. ‘In southern Utah, deposits from this single eruption are 4 kilometers thick. Imagine the devastation—it would have been catastrophic to anything living within hundreds of miles,’ said Dr. Eric Christiansen of Brigham Young University.”
Technically, a supervolcano is to be distinguished from an ordinary volcano by the amount of ejecta it produces. Wikipedia explains: “A supervolcano is any volcano capable of producing a volcanic eruption with an ejecta volume greater than 1,000 km3 (240 cubic miles). This is thousands of times larger than normal volcanic eruptions. Supervolcanoes can occur when magma in the mantle rises into the crust from a hotspot but is unable to break through the crust. Pressure builds in a large and growing magma pool until the crust is unable to contain the pressure. They can also form at convergent plate boundaries (for example, Toba) and continental hotspot locations (for example, the Yellowstone Caldera). Although there are only a handful of Quaternary supervolcanoes, [i.e., active during the Quaternary period—1.8 million years ago to the present day] supervolcanic eruptions typically cover huge areas with lava and volcanic ash and cause a long-lasting change to weather (such as the triggering of a small ice age) sufficient to threaten species with extinction….
“Though there is no well-defined minimum explosive size for a ‘supervolcano,’ there are at least two types of volcanic eruption that have been identified as supervolcanoes: Large Igneous Provinces and Massive Eruptions…. Large Igneous Provinces (LIP) such as Iceland, the Siberian Traps, Deccan Traps, and the Ontong Java Plateau are extensive regions of basalts on a continental scale resulting from flood basalt eruptions. When created, these regions often occupy several thousand square kilometers and have volumes on the order of millions of cubic kilometers. In most cases, the lavas are normally laid down over several million years. They release large amounts of gases….” The other type of supervolcano, Massive Eruptions, are typified by the well-known Yellowstone caldera.
“Volcanic eruptions are classified using the Volcanic Explosivity Index, or VEI.” Like Richter-scale measurements for earthquakes, VEI levels are base-10 logarithmic, each one being ten times more powerful (as measured by the amount of ejecta) than the previous level. “VEI-8 eruptions [dubbed ‘super-eruptions’] are colossal events that throw out at least 1,000 km3 (240 cu mi) Dense Rock Equivalent (DRE) of ejecta. VEI-7 events eject at least 100 cubic kilometers (24 cu mi) DRE. VEI-7 or -8 eruptions are so powerful that they often form circular calderas rather than cones because the downward withdrawal of magma causes the overlying mass to collapse and fill the void magma chamber beneath…. By way of comparison, the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption was [“only”] a VEI-5 with 1.2 km3 of ejecta…. Both Mount Pinatubo in 1991 [10 km3 DRE] and Krakatoa in 1883 [25 km3 DRE] were VEI-6 eruptions.” Wikipedia lists eleven historical eruptions estimated to have been of a VEI-8 magnitude, and twenty-two at a VEI-7 level—including the three within the Yellowstone hotspot zone.
The question that should be on the mind of any prophecy researcher is, “Will the potential eruption/explosion of the earth’s supervolcanoes play a role in the Last Days? And specifically, will they comprise part of the fulfillment of the great Day of Atonement earthquake predicted by the seventh bowl judgment?” Let us reprise the prophecy. “[There was] a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake…. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.” (Revelation 16:18-21) We can count on the ground shaking violently during the eruption of a supervolcano, of course. And the “great hailstones” could (possibly) be a description of bolides from the ejecta of volcanoes instead of the ice variety. (The Greek word chalaza—hailstone—comes from a verb meaning “to let down from a higher place to a lower,” so the emphasis is on precipitation, something falling from the sky, not water ice necessarily.) And one could reasonably posit (though we aren’t specifically told) that God would want the earth’s crust to reach a state of quiet equilibrium as His kingdom got underway. The kind of immense stress and geological deformation that the Yellowstone caldera is already displaying might (perhaps) be seen as a “sword of Damocles” hanging over the heads of the nations, were it not relieved before the kingdom age commenced. That being said, the prophetic evidence for such a volcanic upheaval is less than airtight. The Bible doesn’t specifically predict it, but we can’t definitively rule it out, either.
Earthquakes don’t block the sunlight. Volcanoes do. So I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the fact that there are literally dozens of places in scripture where darkened skies are spoken of—and not all of them are explained. The sixth seal (Revelation 6:12, the fourth trumpet (Revelation 8:12), the fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:2), and the fifth bowl judgment (Revelation 16:10) all speak of darkened skies during the Tribulation. Yahshua specifically predicted darkened skies closely preceding His coming in glory: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29) All of these would tend to suggest that some mechanism (unnamed in scripture, but quite plausibly one or more supervolcanoes) is pumping trillions of tons of dust or ash into the air toward the end of the Tribulation.
The Old Testament too is peppered with obscure prophetic references to “darkened skies.” I’ll offer but one example to make my point. It is found in a prophecy against Egypt: “‘When I put out your light, I will cover the heavens, and make its stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of the heavens I will make dark over you, and bring darkness upon your land,’ says the Lord Yahweh.” (Ezekiel 32:7-8) Although the primary fulfillment of the prophecy came to pass with the Babylonian invasion (see verse 11), its language seems a bit “over the top” for a simple temporal judgment of one apostate nation. But when we factor in the symbology of the thing, when we remember that Egypt in Biblical parlance represents “bondage in the world,” it becomes apparent that Yahweh may also be referring to a literal phenomenon that will befall the whole world enslaved in bondage subsequent to the rapture. And although the nuclear war of the first trumpet judgment won’t help matters, it would seem that the only mechanism capable of darkening the skies over the entire earth might be the eruption of a supervolcano or two.
There’s another, quite specific, volcanic threat on the prophetic horizon that we should explore. The second trumpet judgment reads as follows: “Then the second angel sounded: and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.” (Revelation 8:8-9) The plague here isn’t typical for volcanic hazards, although “a great mountain burning with fire” is a precise definition of an ordinary volcano.
It’s the “special circumstances” to which we need to pay attention. First, because this event is the subject of one of Yahweh’s “trumpet judgments,” we can assume that its impact will be extensive: it will somehow be far more significant than, say, Vesuvius, Mount St. Helens, or Eyjafjallajökull was. Second, this volcano is said to have been “thrown into the sea.” This tells us that it is a volcanic island, not a land-based mountain. But we may also read into this that the unique threat is not a Santorini or Krakatoa-style explosion, leaving a caldera—basically, a big hole in the water where the mountain once stood—but rather, a gigantic landslide seems to fit the prophetic revelation a bit better: a mountain thrown into the sea. (The Greek word is ballo: to throw, cast, drop, or let fall into place.) Third, the repeated reference to “a third of the sea” suggests that (if all of the world’s oceans are considered “the sea”) the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas and gulfs are being specifically identified.
Precisely how the sea will “become blood” and all of its life, including people on ships, will die, is left for us to speculate. The Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown is, even as we speak, continuing to pour radioactive contaminants into the Pacific Ocean and threatening to slowly kill the entire ocean. I would simply note that there are no fewer than ten nuclear reactors on America’s east coast that could conceivably be vulnerable to a mega-tsunami of the type I’m about to describe, resulting from the catastrophic collapse of an island volcano in the Mid-Atlantic Ocean. That is, at the least, a plausible explanation of what could cause the death of one third of the living creatures in the sea.
But for our present purposes, let us concentrate on the volcano itself. Have the volcanologists identified one that matches the prophetic profile’s unique threat? Yes, they have. It’s called the Cumbre Vieja Volcano, on the Island of La Palma, in the Spanish-owned Canary Islands, off the coast of Morocco, Northern Africa, at about the latitude of Cuba.
The definitive report on the subject was entitled Cumbre Vieja Volcano—Potential collapse and tsunami at La Palma, Canary Islands, by Steven N. Ward and Simon Day. It states, “Over the last several thousand years, the distribution and orientation of vents and feeder dykes within the mountain have shifted from a triple rift system (typical of most oceanic island volcanoes) to one consisting of a single N-S rift with westward extending vent arrays…. A future eruption near the summit of the Cumbre Vieja will likely trigger a flank failure.” When Cumbre Vieja plunges into the ocean, destruction from the biggest tsunami on record is assured for influential cities on both sides of the ocean.
The report’s Abstract states: “Geological evidence suggests that during a future eruption, Cumbre Vieja Volcano on the Island of La Palma may experience a catastrophic failure of its west flank, dropping 150 to 500 km3 of rock into the sea. Using a geologically reasonable estimate of landslide motion, we model tsunami waves produced by such a collapse. Waves generated by the run-out of a 500 km3 slide block at 100 meters/second could transit the entire Atlantic Basin and arrive on the coasts of the Americas with 10-25 meters height [33-80 feet].” (A 150 km3 slide block would be expected to generate a tsunami 3-8 meters [10-26 feet] in height.)
And Ward and Day conclude their report with this assessment: “Geological evidence suggests that during a future eruption, Cumbre Vieja Volcano on the Island of La Palma may experience a catastrophic flank collapse. For a 500 km3 slide block running westward 60 km down the offshore slope at 100 m/s, our computer models predict that tsunami waves 10 to 25 meters high [i.e., up to the height of an eight-story building] will be felt at transoceanic distances spanning azimuths that target most of the Atlantic basin. Simulations of other collapse scenarios indicate that for slides that do not run too close to the tsunami wave speed, peak tsunami amplitude follows roughly in proportion to landslide volume times peak landslide velocity. (The proportionality is location-dependent, and it holds more strictly for volume and less strictly for peak velocity.) Thus, more modest assumptions on the size and peak speed of the slide make for smaller waves. For instance, a 250 km3 block running westward 60 km at 50 m/s generates tsunami with about 1/4 to 3/8 the amplitude of those presented above.”
Though the Cumbre Vieja threat is unique in its potential impact because of the dense population now inhabiting the American east coast, the geological scenario is by no means unprecedented: “In the past million years, dozens of lateral collapse landslides of a size comparable to the one considered here have been shed from volcanic islands in the Atlantic. If our models are correct, tsunami from these incidents should have washed several times over most coasts that have good exposure to the sea. A test of these predictions lies in whether tsunami deposits associated with specific collapses can be identified, dated, and widely correlated. Ironically, because of the more favorable preservation conditions underwater, evidence of collapse tsunami may be more widespread on the continental shelf than on land. Still, the low-lying, tectonically stable, non-glaciated margins of west Africa, the southeast United States and northeast Brazil, together with the Bahamas carbonate platform, should be particularly suitable sites for geologists to search for footprints of these occasional visitors.”
Since Ward’s and Day’s scientific jargon is more-or-less incomprehensible to us mortals, let us consult a more “accessible” report published on Rense.com, an article by Steve Connor entitled “Scientists Warn of Massive Tidal Wave from Canary Island Volcano,” originally published in The Independent—London.
Connor writes, “A wave higher than Nelson’s Column and travelling faster than a jet aircraft will devastate the eastern seaboard of America and inundate much of southern Britain, say scientists who have analyzed the effects of a future volcanic eruption in the Canary Islands. A massive slab of rock twice the volume of the Isle of Man would break away from the island of La Palma and smash into the Atlantic Ocean to cause a tsunami—a monster wave—bigger than any recorded, the scientists warned.
“Most of the wave’s energy, equivalent to the combined output of America’s power stations for six months, would travel westwards to the American coast but enough would be flicked north towards the English Channel to cause catastrophic coastal damage. A computer model has been designed to show the way the tsunami will build after the volcano, called Cumbre Vieja, erupts on La Palma, at the western end of the Spanish island chain. It describes the almost unimaginable scale of an event that the scientists say could happen at any time within the foreseeable future. ‘We’re looking at an event that could be decades or a century away [note: the original paper was written in 2001]—but there will be a degree of warning beforehand,’ said Simon Day, of the Benfield Greg Hazard Research Centre at University College London.
“Most of the rocky western flank of Cumbre Vieja is unstable enough to be dislodged in the next big eruption of the volcano, which is active enough to explode at least once or twice a century. Its last big event was in 1949. [There was also a small eruption in 1971 at the island’s southern tip, some distance from the landslide risk area.] Such a landslide from a future eruption could travel up to 60 kilometers (37 miles) from La Palma’s coast, causing the formation and then collapse of a dome of water 900 meters (3,000 ft.) high and tens of kilometers wide. The bow of this collapsing dome of water would become a giant wave, but also, as the landslide continued to move underwater, a series of crests and troughs would soon generate the ‘wave train’ of the tsunami. With the leading wave in front and crests pushing it on behind, it would sustain the power for the nine-hour journey to the American east coast….
“The computer model, compiled in collaboration with Steven Ward of the University of California, Santa Cruz, predicts that the tsunami will have a height of 100 meters (330 ft.) from crest to trough when it crashes into the shores of nearby north-west Africa. By the time it reached its final destination, the east coast of Florida and the Caribbean islands, the tsunami would still be up to 50 meters high. Low-lying land in Florida would be vulnerable to a sea wave that would inundate the mainland for several kilometers inland. Everything in its path would be flattened, the computer model predicted. Even though the wave would be much smaller when it reached Britain, it would still breach sea defenses because it would be larger than the biggest storm waves for which they were designed, Dr. Day said. ‘For low-lying land along the south coast it could penetrate up to a mile,’ he said.
“Although there is little doubt that the landslide on La Palma will happen after a volcanic eruption, the difficulty is knowing exactly when it will occur. ‘Eruptions of Cumbre Vieja occur at intervals of decades to a century or so and there may be a number of eruptions before its collapse,’ Dr. Day said. ‘Although the year-to-year probability of a collapse is therefore low, the resulting tsunami would be a major disaster with indirect effects around the world.’ The scientists are calling for better warning instruments to be placed on La Palma so that an impending eruption can be detected quickly enough to alert other areas that might be affected by a tsunami. ‘Cumbre Vieja needs to be monitored closely for any signs of impending volcanic activity and for the deformation that would precede collapse. The collapse will occur during some future eruption after days or weeks of precursory deformation and earthquakes,’ Dr. Day predicted. ‘An effective earthquake monitoring system could provide advanced warning of a likely collapse and allow early emergency management organizations a valuable window of time in which to plan and respond,’ he said.”
Oh, it’s “advance warning” you’re looking for, Dr. Day? A little more time to evacuate the entire population of the eastern seaboard of the western hemisphere, all the way from Iceland to Rio de Janeiro? Well, perhaps I can help with that. My insights, however, come not from geology or volcanology, but from Biblical prophecy. They’re not going to save many lives, I’m afraid—for reasons that will soon become apparent. And I’m the first to admit that there are some assumptions behind my conclusions, reasonable though they may be.
Assumption #1: The events in the three judgment series (seals, trumpets, and bowls) in the Book of Revelation seem to be listed chronological order within each series (although the series themselves overlap to some extent). In the trumpet judgments, the “great mountain burning with fire being thrown into the sea” is the second in the series. The “bad news” is that the first trumpet judgment announces what anyone living after the close of World War II would recognize as thermonuclear war, waged over one third of the planet—America, Russia, Europe, and the Middle East. So the Cumbre Vieja tsunami I’ve described will in some cases merely add insult to injury: once a city has been nuked, a tsunami is just salt in the wound.
We still don’t have any insight into the timing of the event, however. That’s where the third trumpet judgment comes into play. It describes an asteroid, a “great star from heaven burning like a torch” that will play havoc with the world’s fresh water supply. Assumption #2 would be that this asteroid is the one first discovered (ironically enough) during the great Christmastime 2004 South Asian tsunami. Originally dubbed 2004-MN4, it is now known by the designation 99942 Apophis. I’ll discuss it in more detail in the next section. But for now, note that the timing of this asteroid’s earth-approach has been pinpointed by astronomers: Friday, April 13, 2029.
If my assumption as to the identity of the third trumpet judgment’s hazard is correct, then the eruption and collapse of Cumbre Vieja would have to come prior to that date. To put things into perspective, all my research has led me to the conclusion that Christ’s Millennial reign will commence on the Feast of Tabernacles, 2033 (another “assumption,” granted, but one that is, as we have seen over the past few chapters, eminently plausible considering the shape in which the world finds itself at this present moment). That would place the Apophis asteroid’s advent about a year before the mid-point of the Tribulation (which makes perfect sense, since the “demonic” trumpet judgments, which we can safely assume will coincide with the three and a half year reign of the antichrist, don’t begin until trumpet blast number five). This also means the first half of the Tribulation is going to be quite busy, with the covenant of peace (Daniel 9:27), the building of the third Jewish temple, and the Gog-Magog Muslim-Israeli regional war, which will escalate into the global-scale nuclear war of the first trumpet judgment. If I had to guess, I’d say the first three trumpet judgments will all come within a very short span of time—a few months, at most—in the winter and spring of 2029.
Is that enough of a warning for you, Dr. Day?
Asteroids and Meteorites
A glance at our moon through a telescope reveals what a shooting gallery our solar system is. Its surface is pock marked with craters from the impacts of thousands of meteorites onto its surface. Earth would look the same way, were it not for our atmosphere (in which all but the largest meteorites are burned up as they approach the surface), and geological processes and vegetation, which tend to disguise and conceal the bigger hits over time.
Today, we live with the constant knowledge that the potential for an earth-killing asteroid strike is always there, as remote as the chances on any given day might be. A few reminders from our planet’s history are enough to keep us cognizant of the threat. It is believed by many that the rather sudden demise of the dinosaurs about sixty-five million years ago could have been caused by a meteor strike upon Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula—the Chicxulub event, in which a meteorite six miles wide impacted the earth, creating a crater 110 miles across, putting enough dust and debris into the atmosphere to lower the temperature worldwide, in turn altering the environment to the point where the dinosaurs could no longer survive.
Arguably the best preserved meteor crater on earth is called (intuitively enough) Meteor Crater, just outside Winslow, Arizona. (It is formally known as Barringer Crater, named after the man who first suggested that it was formed by a meteor, not a volcano.) It was formed by an asteroid strike about 50,000 years ago. The crater is a mile across and 550 feet deep, suggesting that the meteor that formed it was about 50 meters across. (Note on terminology: a hunk of rock floating around in space is called an asteroid—after aster, the Greek word for “star.” When it enters the earth’s atmosphere, friction with the air causes it to burn up or vaporize; at this stage it is known as a meteor—or in common vernacular, a “shooting star.” If any of it survives and impacts the surface, it is called a meteorite.)
Several other notable meteor strikes are described at HowStuffWorks.com. “At 186 miles wide, Vredefort Dome in South Africa is the site of the biggest impact crater on Earth. And at an estimated two billion years old, it makes the Chicxulub Crater look like a spring chicken. Today, the original crater, which was caused by a meteorite about six miles wide, is mostly eroded away, but what remains is a dome created when the walls of the crater slumped, pushing up granite rocks from the center of the meteorite strike.
“Second in size only to the Vredefort Dome, the Sudbury Basin is a 40-mile-long, 16-mile-wide, 9-mile-deep crater [originally, though it’s much shallower today] caused by a giant meteorite that struck Earth about 1.85 billion years ago. Located in Greater Sudbury, Ontario, the crater is actually home to about 162,000 people. In 1891, the Canadian Copper Company began mining copper from the basin, but it was soon discovered that the crater also contained nickel, which is much more valuable, so the miners changed course. Today, the International Nickel Company operates out of the basin and mines about 10 percent of the world’s nickel supply from the site.
“The Hoba Meteorite, found on a farm in Namibia in 1920, is the heaviest meteorite ever found. Weighing in at about 66 tons, the rock is thought to have landed more than 80,000 years ago. Despite its gargantuan size, the meteorite left no crater, which scientists credit to the fact that it entered Earth’s atmosphere at a long, shallow angle. It lay undiscovered until 1920 when a farmer reportedly hit it with his plow. Over the years, erosion, vandalism, and scientific sampling have shrunk the rock to about 60 tons, but in 1955 the Namibian government designated it a national monument, and it is now a popular tourist attraction.
“The Tunguska Meteorite, which exploded near Russia’s Tunguska River in 1908, is still the subject of debate nearly 100 years later. It didn’t leave an impact crater, which has led to speculation about its true nature. But most scientists believe that around 7:00 A.M. on June 30 a giant meteor blazed through the sky and exploded in a huge ball of fire that flattened forests, blew up houses, and scorched people and animals within 13 miles. Scientists continue to explore the region, but neither a meteorite nor a crater have ever been found.” This one calls for closer study, for it bears some striking similarities to a future meteor strike mentioned in prophetic scripture.
I might also mention one other scripturally significant historic meteor strike—the one that formed the Burckle Abyssal Crater in the Indian Ocean about 5,000 years ago. Powerful enough to cause an 18-mile wide crater 12,500 feet beneath the surface of the Indian Ocean, its timing and placement make it a plausible trigger mechanism for the flood of Noah, described in Genesis 6-9. As in the Sudbury, Ontario crater, pure nickel has been found in its ejecta—an element that melts at 1453° C, meaning that the projectile had to have reached temperatures at least that high. Thus it is no stretch at all to envision millions of tons of water vapor being sent aloft during such an impact—and deposited back to the earth over the next forty days and nights as an unrelenting rainstorm. The “flood” proper, however, would have been caused within hours by a massive tsunami, wiping out Noah’s entire civilization in one clean sweep. It has been calculated that this impact released two million megatons of energy—over 1.3 billion times as powerful as the WWII Hiroshima explosion!
And as I mentioned earlier in this chapter, certain mysterious phenomena mentioned in scripture, like the famous “Long Day” of Joshua and the receding shadow on the steps of Ahaz given as a sign to Judah’s King Hezekiah (II Kings 20:8-11), could most “easily” be explained by the passing of a large asteroid (or small planet) within the gravitational field of the earth, shifting its axis slightly relative to the sun. (That is, it’s “easy” for me to hypothesize; it’s mind-bendingly difficult to pull off such a stunt in the real universe without killing the planet at the same time—unless You’re God, of course, and You’re trying to teach us witless humans something about your awesome power and perfect foreknowledge.)
Most of the asteroids in our solar system originate in the asteroid belt occupying the orbital space between Mars and Jupiter. Everything from interplanetary dust to chunks of rock big enough to have a gravitational life of their own float in solar orbit just where we might have expected a planet to form, as ours did. But (as Wikipedia explains), “Between Mars and Jupiter, gravitational perturbations from Jupiter imbued the protoplanets with too much orbital energy for them to accrete into a planet. Collisions became too violent, and instead of fusing together, the planetesimals and most of the protoplanets shattered. As a result, 99.9% of the asteroid belt’s original mass was lost in the first 100 million years of the Solar System’s history.”
The gas-giant planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are quite effective in sweeping many of the biggest threats out of circulation—making our earth a much safer place than it would have been otherwise. Scilosophers (scientist-philosophers) routinely presume that the odds for earthlike planets—the right size and distance from their stars—strongly imply that “life must have evolved millions of times throughout the universe.” One of the factors they invariably overlook, however, is that without a gas giant like Jupiter to suck in stray asteroids—orbiting the star at exactly the right distance from the “life-candidate planet”—any life that did spontaneously arise (cough, choke) would be snuffed out by one of the world-killer meteors that would invariably strike the planet every couple of million years. The asteroid factor complicates the already-impossible math a thousand times over.
The website of the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy notes: “Since it formed over 4.5 billion years ago, Earth has been hit many times by asteroids and comets whose orbits bring them into the inner solar system. These objects, collectively known as Near Earth Objects or NEOs, still pose a danger to Earth today. Depending on the size of the impacting object, such a collision can cause massive damage on local to global scales. There is no doubt that sometime in the future Earth will suffer another cosmic impact; the only question is ‘When?’. There is strong scientific evidence that cosmic collisions have played a major role in the mass extinctions documented in Earth’s fossil record. That such cosmic collisions can still occur today was demonstrated graphically in 1994 when Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 broke apart and 21 fragments, some as large as 2 km in diameter, crashed into the atmosphere of Jupiter. If these fragments had hit Earth instead, we would have suffered global catastrophes of the kind that inspire science fiction movies.
“The dangers posed by these intruders in the inner solar system are now the subject of serious scientific investigation…. Most of the asteroids and comets in our solar system pose no danger to our planet. But, for every thousand or so of those objects, there is one with an orbit crosses that of Earth, raising the possibility of a future collision. In 1991 the U.S. Congress directed NASA to conduct workshops on how potentially threatening asteroids could be detected, and how they could be deflected or destroyed. This mandate led to the Spaceguard Survey Report in 1992. In 1994 the House Committee on Science and Technology directed NASA, in coordination with the DOD, to work with the space agencies of other countries to identify and catalogue within 10 years the orbital characteristics of 90% of all comets and asteroids larger than 1 km and in orbits that cross the orbit of Earth. Following the 2003 NASA report from the Near-Earth Object Science Definition Team, Congress went even further and in 2005 assigned NASA the task of detecting 90% of near-Earth objects with a size greater than 140 meters in diameter by the year 2020.
“In response to these mandates from Congress, several programs have been undertaken to map the orbits of large NEOs that might pose a danger to Earth. These include the following projects: Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR); Lowell Near Earth Object Search (LONEOS); Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT); Spacewatch; and Catalina Sky Survey. These search programs have discovered hundreds of thousands of main-belt asteroids, and have identified thousands of NEOs. They have made great progress toward meeting the Congressional mandate and have cataloged most, but not all, of the 1-km and larger NEOs—the ones that are most likely to produce a global catastrophe, such as a mass extinction, should they collide with Earth. Pan-STARRS will complete the survey of all 1-km diameter objects, and will detect most of the dangerous objects down to 300 meters in diameter—objects that can cause major regional catastrophes should they hit the Earth. What can be done if one of these surveys finds an asteroid on a collision course with the Earth? Scientists and engineers at the B612 foundation are looking at ways of using a spacecraft to gently change the orbit of an asteroid. One promising approach is the ‘gravity tractor’ invented by NASA astronauts Ed Lu and Stan Love.”
There it is: the new wrinkle that separates the attitude of Last Days Man from that of the human race throughout history: we now assume that “there was no Creator, so there is no god to protect us from planet-killing asteroids. But we’re smarter than any god we could have imagined anyway: we can and will protect ourselves.” It’s all just one more example of what Yahweh told His prophet 2,600 years ago: “[At] the time of the end, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4) But considering how we’ve handled the other potential planet-killing problems that plague the earth in these times, I’d say our self-confidence is somewhat over-rated. With our track record, I’d say the odds are at least 50-50 that any asteroid we tried to nudge out of the way would end up coming even closer due to our bungling arrogance.
I mentioned earlier that the Tunguska meteor of 1908 bears a striking resemblance to something about which we were warned in prophetic scripture. Judging by the damage it did to the Siberian forest, scientists have estimated that the meteor that fell was about 300 meters in diameter, though no meteorite was ever found. Rather, it appears to have completely vaporized in the atmosphere as it approached the earth at a low angle. A bit shallower approach, and it would have missed us altogether.
The reason I bring it up again is that history is (possibly) about to repeat itself. As you know, the “theory” that got me exploring the chronology of the Last Days from so many different angles led me to conclude (strictly from scriptural evidence) that the Millennial kingdom of Christ would commence on the Feast of Tabernacles, 2033. The seven years (actually, an even 2,520 days) preceding that event are called the Tribulation, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble—the last “week” (seven-year period) of the amazing Daniel 9:24-27 prophecy. Furthermore, the “intermediate” judgment series in the Book of Revelation is comprised of seven “trumpet judgments,” the third of the series (following what sound like thermonuclear war and a great volcano-tsunami event) being this one: “Then the third angel sounded: And a great star [Greek: aster] fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood [that is, bitter or poisonous], and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.” (Revelation 8:10-11)
A “great star falling from heaven burning like a torch” is the classic description of a meteor—an asteroid that has entered the earth’s atmosphere. But note what John says about the effect of this meteor. It didn’t “strike the earth,” forming a big crater, setting cities on fire, or killing men outright. That you might expect with a direct hit. But what is predicted, strangely enough, is the poisoning of a third of the world’s fresh water supply—not quite what you’d anticipate.
Is that even possible for an asteroid? Yes. According to NASA’s University of Arizona Space Imagery Center, “The amount of this sulfur [generated by a meteor strike] can be substantial, because meteoritic materials contain up to 6.25% weight percent sulfur.” The asteroid we’re going to consider is estimated to weigh in at 4.6 x 1010 kg—over 50 million tons. So we’re talking about well in excess of three million tons of pure sulfur suddenly being vaporized into the earth’s atmosphere. What can we expect if/when that happens?
NASA provides the answer: “Consequently, even if the asteroid or comet does not hit a Sulfur-rich target, it can still cause dramatic increases in the total amount of atmospheric sulfur. Once vaporized, this sulfur can react with water to form sulfate (or sulfuric acid) particles. These particles can greatly reduce the amount of sunlight that penetrates to the surface of the earth for a period of up to several years. Over time, the sulfate will settle out of the stratosphere (upper atmosphere) into the troposphere (lower atmosphere) where they can form acid rain which can have additional environmental and biological effects.” Acid rain would seem to be a pretty good twenty-first century definition of “wormwood.” Just my opinion, of course.
The asteroid I have in mind has been tracked by the world’s astronomers since it was first noticed late in 2004 (ironically, just when the world was dealing with the great Christmas tsunami in South Asia). It has been designated 99942 Apophis (named after an ancient Egyptian god—a.k.a. Apep—who was characterized as a serpent or dragon who tried to eat the Sun. He was the personification and deification of darkness and chaos. It kind of makes you wonder what the scientists who named it were really thinking). What first drew my attention concerning the Apophis asteroid was its schedule, its timing. It’s due to arrive at Earth on Friday, April 13, 2029—precisely when you’d expect the third trumpet judgment to arrive if my “2033” theory is correct: about a year before the Tribulation’s mid-point. You couldn't make this stuff up.
Not only is this threat about the same size as the Tunguska meteor of 1908, we can be reasonably sure (from its Biblical description) that it will never actually impact the earth. As with the Tunguska event, no single meteorite will be found. Rather, I expect Apophis to break up in the atmosphere (if not before) into a Shoemaker-Levy type of configuration—a string of smaller meteors conspiring to fill the skies with sulfur dioxide, producing acid rain over a third of the planet’s surface. That, at least, would fit the scriptural description.
Soon after Apophis was discovered, the astronomers fine-tuned their calculations, and came to the conclusion that the asteroid (though it would actually pass closer to the earth than they originally thought) would “definitely” miss us. Of course, these guys were trained in the same schools that produced the scientists who said the north polar ice cap would “definitely” have melted by 2013—so forgive me if I don’t blithely buy their assurances. A lot could happen between now and 2029: how many Volkswagen-sized pieces of space debris would Apophis have to hit before our scientists’ careful calculations were out the window? This far out, the margin of error is incalculable.
At the moment, though, the scientists have convinced themselves that “it will be peace in our time” as far as this particular astral threat is concerned. In a February 21, 2013 article entitled “Apophis Risk Assessment Updated,” Steve Chesley and Davide Farnocchia of the NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office wrote, “A recent study has updated the impact hazard assessment for 99942 Apophis, a 325-meter diameter near-Earth asteroid that has been the focus of considerable attention after it was found in December 2004 to have a significant probability [originally assessed at an unprecedented 1 in 38 chance] of Earth impact in April 2029. While the 2029 potential impact was ruled out within days through the measurement of archival telescope images, the possibility of a potential impact in the years after 2029 continues to prove difficult to rule out. Based on extensive optical and radar position measurements from 2004-2012, Apophis will pass the Earth in 2029 at an altitude of 31,900 +/- 750 km (about 5 +/- 0.1 Earth-radii above the surface of the Earth).”
To put things in perspective, that’s a razor-burn fly-by as these things go: it’s expected to pass 19,822 miles (give or take 466) above the surface of a planet that’s only about 8,000 miles in diameter. The distance to the moon is 238,900 miles (384,400 km), so we’re talking coming within one twelfth of the distance of the moon—well within the orbits of our own geosynchronous satellites, for that matter. Mind you, the math has been worked out sixteen years ahead of its ETA, and the average orbital speed of the Apophis asteroid is 30.728 kilometers per second—68,740 miles per hour. So please don’t try to tell me that nothing could possibly happen in that length of time, traveling at that rate of speed, that would be sufficient to alter its course enough to let it burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. I wasn’t born yesterday.
Chesley and Farnocchia’s primary concern (having assured us that Apophis poses no risk in 2029) is on how close the asteroid might come in future near-Earth passes. But then they drop this potential bombshell admission: “The current knowledge is now precise enough that the uncertainty in predicting the position in 2029 is completely dominated by the so-called Yarkovsky effect, a subtle nongravitational perturbation due to thermal re-radiation of solar energy absorbed by the asteroid. The Yarkovsky effect depends on the asteroid’s size, mass, thermal properties, and critically on the orientation of the asteroid’s spin axis, which is currently unknown.” I would note that its mass isn’t known with any degree of certainty, either. It is usually assumed that such bodies are composed largely of heavy iron and nickel, but what if this bad boy is ten or fifteen percent sulfur, as the Bible seems to suggest? NASA’s calculations based on the asteroid’s presumed mass and thermal properties would be worthless. “This means that predictions for the 2029 Earth encounter will not improve significantly until these physical and spin characteristics are better determined.” In other words, they won’t be able to know for certain if Apophis will fit the Bible’s profile until it’s far too late to do anything about it—presuming such a thing were possible.
Am I certain that the 99942 Apophis asteroid will prove to be the fulfillment of the third trumpet judgment of Revelation 8? No, of course not. But I am certain that God’s word cannot fail. For my money, though, this one presents far too many intriguing coincidences to ignore or explain away. Like the Cumbre Vieja volcano, the Biblical parallels are striking and undeniable.
I guess it shouldn’t be terribly surprising that unregenerate men throughout history have imagined the sun to be some sort of god. After all, the sun is one of the things that makes life possible on Earth. If our planet’s orbit wasn’t precisely where it is relative to this rather ordinary star, life like ours would not be sustainable here. That being said, the sun is not a particularly benign place. It goes through cycles of violence and quiet that can affect the weather here on Earth—sometimes drastically. Like the God who made it, the sun is both a friend and a potential threat—it gives life and it has the power to take it away.
Like so many other things in this world, the sun is one more example of Yahweh’s ability and willingness to balance incredibly potent natural forces on a razor’s edge for our benefit. For mortal beings to inhabit an ecosphere as benign as ours, yet at the same time so inherently dangerous, demonstrates (to me, at least) that an Intelligent Being of unimaginable power and wisdom must be upholding and sustaining it all. Disallowing the Creator’s handiwork requires either blindness, insanity, or poor math skills.
The issues or threats we face from our sun (and other stars) are of several basic and interrelated types: sunspots, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, geomagnetic storms, solar prominences, solar proton events, and cosmic rays. Thankfully, God has built safeguards into the design of our planet against all of these hazards. While stars are essentially just big balls of hydrogen and helium in which constant nuclear fusion reactions are going on (a process that’s absolutely awe-inspiring), the primary threats to our world are not heat related per se, but electrical—i.e., magnetic.
Sunspots are intense magnetic phenomena that appear temporarily on the surface of the sun, usually in pairs with opposite magnetic poles. They appear to be where the solar emanations that effect the earth originate. Sunspots are much cooler and darker than the surrounding solar surface, but that’s only by contrast. Wikipedia notes, “Although [sunspots] are at temperatures of roughly 3,000–4,500 K (2,700–4,200°C), the contrast with the surrounding material at about 5,780 K (5,500°C) leaves them clearly visible as dark spots, as the luminous intensity of a heated black body (closely approximated by the photosphere) is a function of temperature to the fourth power. If the sunspot were isolated from the surrounding photosphere it would be brighter than the Moon. Sunspots expand and contract as they move across the surface of the Sun and can be as small as 16 kilometers (10 miles) and as large as 160,000 kilometers (100,000 miles) in diameter, making the larger ones visible from Earth without the aid of a telescope. They may also travel at relative speeds of a few hundred meters per second when they first emerge onto the solar photosphere.
“Manifesting intense magnetic activity, sunspots host secondary phenomena such as coronal loops (prominences) and reconnection events. Most solar flares and coronal mass ejections originate in magnetically active regions around visible sunspot groupings.” It is axiomatic, then, that the more sunspot activity we observe, the more significant will be the effect of solar activity upon our own climate. Their longevity on the sun’s surface is somewhat surprising: “Magnetic pressure should tend to remove field concentrations, causing the sunspots to disperse, but sunspot lifetimes are measured in days or even weeks…. There is a powerful downdraft underneath each sunspot, forming a rotating vortex that concentrates the magnetic field. Sunspots can thus be thought of as self-perpetuating storms, analogous in some ways to terrestrial hurricanes….
“A solar flare is a sudden brightening observed over the Sun’s surface or the solar limb, which is interpreted as a large energy release of up to 6 × 1025 joules of energy, about a sixth of the total energy output of the Sun each second or 160,000,000,000 megatons of TNT equivalent…. They are often followed by a colossal coronal mass ejection, also known as a CME. The flare ejects clouds of electrons, ions, and atoms through the corona of the sun into space. These clouds typically reach Earth a day or two after the event…. X-rays and UV radiation emitted by solar flares can affect Earth’s ionosphere and disrupt long-range radio communications….
“Flares occur when accelerated charged particles, mainly electrons, interact with the plasma medium…. The phenomenon of magnetic reconnection is responsible for CMEs and solar flares. Magnetic reconnection is the name given to the rearrangement of magnetic field lines when two oppositely directed magnetic fields [as in sunspot pairs] are brought together. This rearrangement is accompanied with a sudden release of energy stored in the original oppositely directed fields.” I’ve heard it described as the sort of effect you get when you stretch out a rubber band and let it snap back: energy is released explosively. Whether or not these flares and their resulting CMEs affect the earth is largely a matter of luck: if the sunspots in which they’re generated aren’t facing toward the earth, the resulting CME or solar flare is likely to miss us altogether. So as with earthquakes or volcanoes, the chances of one happening to you on any given day are quite small—but the potential is always there.
These CMEs are massive bursts of solar wind—magnetic fields rising far above the solar corona, sometimes projecting far out into space. “Coronal mass ejections release huge quantities of matter and electromagnetic radiation into space above the sun’s surface, either near the corona (sometimes called a solar prominence), or farther into the planet system, or even beyond (‘interplanetary’ CMEs). The ejected material is a plasma….” Plasma is the fourth state of matter (the other three being solid, liquid, and gaseous). It behaves like an extremely hot ionized gas in which some or all of the electrons have been torn from their parent atoms.
How do these things affect or endanger us here on Earth? “When the ejection is directed toward the Earth and reaches it as an interplanetary CME, the shock wave of the traveling mass of Solar Energetic Particles causes a geomagnetic storm that may disrupt the Earth’s magnetosphere, compressing it on the day side and extending the night-side magnetic tail. When the magnetosphere reconnects on the nightside, it releases power on the order of terawatt scale, which is directed back toward the Earth’s upper atmosphere….” The earth’s magnetosphere is the part of our planet’s magnetic field that resides in the upper atmosphere, above the ionosphere, extending out into space. It protects the earth from inbound cosmic rays and helps to preserve the ozone layer—which in turn shields us from ultraviolet radiation. More on this magnetic field in a bit.
“Coronal mass ejections, along with solar flares of other origin, can disrupt radio transmissions and cause damage to satellites and electrical transmission line facilities, resulting in potentially massive and long-lasting power outages. Humans at high altitudes, as in airplanes or space stations, risk exposure to relatively intense so-called cosmic rays. Cosmic rays are potentially lethal in high quantities. The energy absorbed by astronauts is not reduced by a typical spacecraft shield design.”
You may be protesting, “I don’t spend a whole lot of time in outer space, so I guess I’m safe.” You may be. Your electricity-dependent way of life, not so much. “The largest recorded geomagnetic perturbation, resulting presumably from a CME, coincided with the first-observed solar flare on September 1, 1859, and is now referred to as the Carrington Event, or the solar storm of 1859. The flare and the associated sunspots were visible to the naked eye (both as the flare itself appearing on a projection of the sun on a screen and as an aggregate brightening of the solar disc). The flare was independently observed by English astronomers R. C. Carrington and R. Hodgson. The geomagnetic storm was observed with the recording magnetograph at Kew Gardens. The same instrument recorded a crochet, an instantaneous perturbation of the Earth’s ionosphere by ionizing soft X-rays. This could not easily be understood at the time because it predated the discovery of X-rays by Röntgen and the recognition of the ionosphere by Kennelly and Heaviside. The storm took down parts of the recently created US telegraph network, starting fires and shocking some telegraph operators.”
The point is that electronic communications and conveniences were in their infancy in 1859. If the same sort of focused massive solar event were to occur today (now that everything runs on electronics and microchips), the effect upon human civilization as a whole could be devastating. In our quest for efficiency through electronics, the human race has, by and large, made itself incredibly vulnerable. It’s one more thing to remind us that what could happen to this generation was not even possible half a century ago. If the Carrington Event were to repeat itself today, the Amish would be about the only people in America who didn’t get the memo. I’m not anti-technology, by any means. I’m not a curmudgeon who thinks we would be somehow “holier” if we lived without electricity or other modern conveniences. Technology is spiritually neutral: it can be used for either good or evil. The printing press and the invention of movable type is a perfect example. But humanity has never before been this dependent on its technology; we have never been nearly this vulnerable to something the sun could do. The signs are everywhere you look, and the signs read: “We are living in the next-to-last days.” Things ain’t what they used to be.
Every eleven years or so, the sun ‘cycles.’ That is, its magnetic activity goes through a series of highs and lows, something we on the earth can observe most readily by tracking the number and size of sunspots. The peak of sunspot activity during the cycle is called Solar Maximum, and the low point is known as Solar Minimum. Our experience has taught us to expect more frequent solar flares and coronal mass ejections as well during these eleven year peaks, with periods of relative quiet between them. The frequency of solar flares varies from an average of roughly three per day when the Sun is at Solar Maximum to less than one a week during Solar Minimum.
Sunspots aren’t the only solar phenomenon that are cyclical in nature. Dr. Tony Phillips, writing for NASA in August, 2013, reported, “Something big is about to happen on the sun. According to measurements from NASA-supported observatories, the sun’s vast magnetic field is about to flip. ‘It looks like we’re no more than three to four months away from a complete field reversal,’ said solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University. ‘This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system.’ The sun’s magnetic field changes polarity approximately every 11 years. It happens at the peak of each solar cycle as the sun’s inner magnetic dynamo re-organizes itself. The reversal will mark the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24. Half of ‘solar max’ will be behind us, with half yet to come.”
Actually, this “flip” has already taken place as I write these words, just as predicted. The last solar magnetic pole reversal took place in 2001, so the one that happened at the end of 2013 is actually a little late, as these things go. What remains to be seen is whether or not the effects of this “regularly scheduled” occurrence will be severe enough to disrupt life on the earth.
“Hoeksema is the director of Stanford’s Wilcox Solar Observatory, one of the few observatories in the world that monitors the sun’s polar magnetic fields. The poles are a herald of change. Just as Earth scientists watch our planet’s polar regions for signs of climate change, solar physicists do the same thing for the sun. Magnetograms at Wilcox have been tracking the sun’s polar magnetism since 1976, and they have recorded three grand reversals—with a fourth in the offing.” There are signs in our own skies as a solar pole reversal approaches: both the aurora borealis and its southern counterpart, the aurora australis, become broader, more frequent, and more easily visible.
“Solar physicist Phil Scherrer, also at Stanford, describes what happens: ‘The sun’s polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero and then emerge again with the opposite polarity. This is a regular part of the solar cycle.’ A reversal of the sun’s magnetic field is, literally, a big event. The domain of the sun’s magnetic influence (also known as the ‘heliosphere’) extends billions of kilometers beyond Pluto. Changes to the field’s polarity ripple all the way out to the Voyager probes, on the doorstep of interstellar space.
“When solar physicists talk about solar field reversals, their conversation often centers on the ‘current sheet.’ The current sheet is a sprawling surface jutting outward from the sun’s equator where the sun’s slowly rotating magnetic field induces an electrical current. The current itself is small, only one ten-billionth of an amp per square meter (0.0000000001 amps/m2), but there’s a lot of it: the amperage flows through a region 10,000 km thick and billions of kilometers wide. Electrically speaking, the entire heliosphere is organized around this enormous sheet. During field reversals, the current sheet becomes very wavy. Scherrer likens the undulations to the seams on a baseball. As Earth orbits the sun, we dip in and out of the current sheet. Transitions from one side to another can stir up stormy space weather around our planet.”
The “current sheet” that’s generated by these cyclical solar magnetic field reversals offers some protection against potentially harmful “cosmic rays,” energetic particles from deep space that constantly bombard the earth at nearly the speed of light. Cosmic rays, generated by supernova explosions and other violent events in our galaxy, have the potential to alter the climate of Earth. So against this particular threat, the frequent and regular flips of the sun’s magnetic field are a good thing for us who dwell on the earth.
Solar flares are a different matter. They too are most likely to occur during Solar Maximum, just as the sun’s magnetic poles are shifting. F. Michael Maloof, writing for World Net Daily, describes the danger: “Solar flares create an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, effect that can wipe out electrical grids and communications systems and fry electronics. Some of these solar flares can be more than 20 times the size of the Earth. A direct hit from the EMP from a solar flare not only would knock out all unprotected electronics but could subject 90 percent of world’s population to starvation and death, particularly in urban areas. This is due to the fact that all critical infrastructures on which a technological society such as the United States depends would fail in a cascading effect once the grid is knocked out. These critical infrastructures include telecommunications, financial and banking systems, food and water delivery, emergency services and petroleum deliveries, among others. No cash registers would work, no fuel pumps, no trucks to deliver food, no networks like phone, power and water systems—in essence, a return to an agrarian society.”
In another article, Maloof writes, “Scientists around the globe are joining those in the United States in becoming alarmed at the possibility of a plasma cloud from a solar superstorm that could wipe out vast electronics networks, because they say Earth would have only a notice of about 15 minutes.” The only reason we would have any warning time at all is that solar flares, being composed of plasma, travel somewhat more slowly than the speed of light. We can (theoretically) see solar flares coming. It’s like seeing the muzzle flash of a distant rifle shot before one hears the sound. While fifteen minutes is precious little time to shut down critical electronic infrastructure on the ground to avert the damage that might be caused by a flare’s EMP, the most vulnerable equipment is aloft in space—weather and communication satellites—where there is no atmosphere to soften the blow.
Even if electrical grids on the surface were to escape destruction from a major solar flare, our communications and military capabilities could be crippled. Maloof explains: “Also affected by solar activities and storms are search and rescue and early warning systems such as over-the-horizon radars whose signals bounce off the ionosphere to monitor the launch of aircraft and missiles from long distances. During geomagnetic storms, radio clutter greatly affects these systems, something which can be particularly critical in a war zone. Geomagnetic storms also affect navigation systems where accuracy is essential. According to NOAA [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], accuracy of navigation systems using very low frequency signals depends on knowing the altitude of the ionosphere’s lower boundary. Aircraft and ships use these very low frequencies to determine their positions. During solar events and geomagnetic storms, the altitude of the ionosphere’s lower boundary can change rapidly, thus introducing errors of up to several kilometers. If alerted in time to a geomagnetic storm, navigators can switch to alternative or backup navigation systems.
“Space weather forecasting, then, becomes increasingly important to determine what anomalies may affect the satellites and their functioning. As a result, the knowledge of space weather will be very important in helping to determine any repositioning and controlling of the satellite that needs to take place. Space weather forecasting becomes more important for scientific satellites whose instruments are far more sensitive to space environment than communications satellites. For that reason, such sensitive instruments on a scientific satellite need to be placed in a safe mode when adverse space weather conditions are projected. To warn of potential damaging storms, NOAA is using an advanced solar storm detector called the Solar X-Ray Imager, or SXI. It provides space weather forecasters with real-time images of the sun’s explosive atmosphere. In turn, this helps scientists to issue timely warnings in an effort to offset tens of billions of dollars in potentially harmful effects on assets in space and on the ground.”
None of this mattered much fifty years ago. But in recent years, we humans have spent ourselves into the poorhouse, first creating a cultural environment that is totally dependent on electronics, and then (having realized how vulnerable we’d made ourselves to solar flares and EMPs in the process) building expensive but pitifully inadequate defense mechanisms to protect the new electronic “gods” we’d made. Protect them from what? From something Yahweh built eons ago to protect us from cosmic rays generated in supernovae halfway across the galaxy. The magnetic solar cycle was our friend and protector until we “learned” to disrespect the God who built it.
The funny thing is, the same God who ordained the solar cycles that “threaten” our electronic-dependent way of life is perfectly willing to put the whole thing on “hold” if it suits His purpose. As if to purposely humiliate “climate scientists” whose only metric has been tax-worthy anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere (which tends to make the average global temperature rise), Solar Cycle 24 has proven quite unpredictable so far, demonstrating, if nothing else, that there is more to “climate change” than what you can tax into submission with “carbon credits.” Ever since the last solar maximum in 2001, these scientists have been breathlessly warning us that the arctic ice cap would completely melt by 2013. What actually happened was that it added a million square miles of ice. In a delicious bit of irony, a research vessel dispatched to Antarctica to study the effects of global warming got itself engulfed in the quickly advancing ice. And then, the icebreaker sent to set it free got stuck as well. Why? Either we didn’t burn enough coal, or it was all because of an unusually quiet sun. Just when (according to the normal eleven-year cycle) solar activity was expected to be picking up steam, sunspot activity was extremely low throughout 2009—there were 260 days during the year with no sunspots at all. So astronomers shifted their prediction of peak solar activity from 2012 to 2013, and as it turned out, the sun’s magnetic poles didn’t flip until the very end of that year.
Cycle #24 is already among the weakest ever reported—the most anemic in the past century. If the trend were to continue, the Earth might experience another Little Ice Age, such as the cold period we experienced between about 1500 and 1850 AD. Wikipedia (still fixated on CO2 emissions) notes that “There is still a very poor understanding of the correlation between low sunspot activity and cooling temperatures. During the period 1645–1715, in the middle of the Little Ice Age, there was a period of low solar activity known as the Maunder Minimum. The Spörer Minimum has also been identified with a significant cooling period between 1460 and 1550.” Of course, the whole cool period experienced an unusual level of volcanic activity as well—ash clouds to block the sun’s warmth offset by high natural CO2 emissions to heat things up. There are enough variables in play that one can choose whatever potential environmental culprit suits his fancy and ignore the rest—it’s plausible deniability on a grand scale.
But that’s a universal truth, isn’t it? Men are creatures endowed with free will: we get to choose who and what to believe. We can choose to perceive that it’s all coming together just as Yahweh said it would, or we can choose to believe that life on earth is all just a big cosmic joke—with humanity as the punch line. So depending upon who you listen to, the earth is warming up—or it’s cooling down. Climate change is caused by people releasing carbon into the air—or by magnetic disturbances on the surface of the sun. Man will continue to evolve until he is the glorious master of the universe—or the human genome will continue to degenerate until our species is no longer viable. And God? God doesn’t exist: he’s merely a figment of the human imagination—or He created the universe and everything in it, placed man upon the earth to exercise free will, told us exactly what He was doing, and then stepped back to let His plan unfold, in His way, according to His foreknowledge, and on His schedule.
I think you know by now how I feel on these issues. But my opinions mean nothing: the evidence is everything. Since our primary job in life is to choose, I would hope that our choices are based on the evidence (note that I didn’t say proof) that God has left for us. For chapter after chapter now, I have been examining evidence from the secular realm that tends to confirm an amazing—yet universally overlooked—discovery from God’s word: that He told us, to the very day, when He would return to rule His people in peace and righteousness for a thousand years. If Christ’s Millennial kingdom is (as I believe) the ultimate expression of Yahweh’s incessantly repeated Sabbath principle, then it must follow six other thousand-year periods of time, a series put in motion by the very first poor choice—Adam’s sin. And if all seven of Yahweh’s “holy convocations” are meant to be prophetic of highlights in Yahweh’s plan for our redemption (as the first four turned out to be) then the last of them—the Feast of Tabernacles—predicts the very day when God—as the reigning Messiah—will come to “camp out” with men. The Torah tells us the very day: Tishri 15. In the Gregorian year 2033 (the bi-millennial year of the Passion of Christ), that works out to a Sabbath (naturally), October 8.
The secular evidence, of course, isn’t nearly that precise, but in instance after instance, we’ve seen evidence that leads us to expect a paradigm shift of “Biblical proportions” by the fourth decade of the twenty-first century—just when (according to my scriptural epiphany) the Messiah’s kingdom is due. But in the case of our present subject of inquiry, “solar issues,” we have seen no such indicator, no build up to a great solar cataclysm on the horizon, no evidence that points toward a particular time frame. So why did I even bring it up?
It’s because of one ominous prophecy recorded in the Book of Revelation. “Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.” (Revelation 16:8-9) Most of the classic Bible commentaries, loath to give Yahweh credit for being able to balance cosmic forces on a razor’s edge when it suits His purpose, insist that this can’t be literal. For example, Gill’s Exposition (which is usually pretty good) devolves into total gobbledygook: “Not literally; and so designs not a violent heat, which shall go before, and be a preparation for the burning of the world; nor any sore famine arising from it, which would be common to all, good and bad; but mystically: some understand this of Christ, the sun of righteousness, not of any wrath that shall be poured forth on him again, being now justified in the Spirit; but either of that clear shining of Christ in the ministry of the word, in those times this vial refers to; when Zion’s light will be come, and the light of the sun will be seven fold, and Christ alone will be exalted….” And he rambles on practically forever without taking a breath, grasping at unrelated straws and drawing unwarranted conclusions. Mystically? Not a chance.
Now that we know what solar flares are, and how they’re generated, seeing a literal fulfillment to the fourth bowl judgment is no stretch at all. Yes, it’s true that the biggest flares our sun ordinarily generates fall short of the effect described here. But the difference is one of degree, not of kind. If I may, I’d like to reprise a passage from Chapter 23, “Days of Wrath,” explaining the possibilities latent in the physics of our sun—just as John described them:
“Normally, the biggest of our sun’s geomagnetic events are called “X-class” flares. Our atmosphere (including the ozone layer) is ordinarily quite effective in defending the earth’s surface against their effects. (Thank You, Yahweh.) And as far as scientists can tell, there has never been a flare intense enough to cause the kind of heat spoken of in the fourth bowl judgment of Revelation. Not on the sun, anyway.
“Distant stars are another matter. ‘Superflares’ have been observed for years emanating from young stars, fast-rotating stars, or twin stars—places where the magnetic fields are presumed to be totally haywire. But in 1999, a team of Yale University researchers announced that they had observed superflares—anywhere from a hundred to ten million times as powerful as ordinary X-class solar flares—coming from nine stars described by astronomer Bradley E. Schaefer as ‘disturbingly similar to our own sun.’ [The data were published in a peer-reviewed article by Bradley E. Schaefer and Eric P. Rubenstein in The Astrophysical Journal of The American Astronomical Society 529:1031-1033, February 1, 2000.] He was quick to point out, of course, that we are in no immediate danger, saying ‘Our sun does not do this, as far as we can tell.’ These superflares are theoretically triggered by interaction between the stars’ magnetic fields and those of nearby gas-giant planets like Saturn or Jupiter—which in the case of our solar system are far too distant from the sun to have the requisite magnetic influence.
“Schaefer, however, did speculate on what would happen if such a superflare were to occur here. A powerful one could create ‘a complete global ozone hole that would last a couple of years.’ And we know what that would do, don’t we? Such a superflare, he said, ‘could turn a cold winter day into a hot summer day.’ Does this sound familiar to anybody but me? It’s a perfect description of the effects of the fourth bowl judgment.
“It would take a miracle, of course, for the magnetic forces on the sun’s surface to build in just the right way and let go at just the right moment to cause such a phenomenon. I’ve got no problem with that. To my mind, the far greater miracle would be the sort of thing Yahweh did a thousand times over when He created this earth for us to live on: achieving perfect balance. The superflare would have to be strong enough to get men’s attention (an ordinary X-class flare wouldn’t even be noticed after a nuclear war) but weak enough to avoid turning planet Earth into a charcoal briquette. God’s not done with the world yet. People are still going to have to live here after bowl number four. Belief here is a package deal: either Yahweh is the Creator of the whole universe and thus capable of controlling such things, or He isn’t.”
I might add that this can be expected to take place during the second half of the Tribulation—if my timeline hypothesis is correct, my educated guess would be early in 2032. That would put it at least two or three years before the ordinary Solar Maximum. In other words, the fourth bowl judgment isn’t just a coincidence, or bad luck, or even the result of having had the Earth’s ozone shield torn to shreds by a nuclear war (which will take place in 2028-29). It is, rather, an example of the focused, directed, and precisely gauged wrath of God, administered by a chosen spirit messenger (i.e., an angel) in response to humanity’s rebellion. Just because God will probably use a solar flare to accomplish His will, there is nothing “natural” about this.
To keep things in perspective, note that it could be worse: a special, far more “focused” type of cosmic event is the Gamma Ray Burst, or GRB. Wikipedia: “Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are flashes of gamma rays associated with extremely energetic explosions that have been observed in distant galaxies. They are the brightest electromagnetic events known to occur in the universe. Bursts can last from ten milliseconds to several minutes. The initial burst is usually followed by a longer-lived ‘afterglow’ emitted at longer wavelengths (X-ray, ultraviolet, optical, infrared, microwave and radio). Most observed GRBs are believed to consist of a narrow beam of intense radiation released during a supernova or hypernova as a rapidly rotating, high-mass star collapses to form a neutron star, quark star, or black hole….
“The sources of most GRBs are billions of light years away from Earth, implying that the explosions are both extremely energetic (a typical burst releases as much energy in a few seconds as the Sun will in its entire 10-billion-year lifetime) and extremely rare (a few per galaxy per million years). All observed GRBs have originated outside the Milky Way galaxy…. It has been hypothesized that a gamma-ray burst in the Milky Way, pointing directly towards the Earth, could cause a mass extinction event…. Measuring the exact rate is difficult, but for a galaxy of approximately the same size as the Milky Way, the expected rate is about one burst every 100,000 to 1,000,000 years….” Our science satellites detect about one gamma-ray burst per day on average.
“Gamma-ray bursts are thought to emerge mainly from the poles of a collapsing star. This creates two oppositely-shining beams of radiation shaped like narrow cones. Planets not lying within these cones would be comparatively safe.” Unlike ordinary cosmic rays, Gamma-ray bursts are not dissipated by magnetic forces along their paths. This is a good news-bad news scenario, however. Because all of the immense energy is emitted in two narrowly focused beams discharged in opposite directions as the star implodes, only a “direct hit” would be deadly, and the chances of that happening are vanishingly remote. But the energy is so concentrated, there is really no defense against such a cosmic “bullet.”
My point is that the universe as God made it is an intrinsically dangerous place. Any number of cosmic threats are capable of wiping out life on earth. These “threats,” however, are a function of the processes God put into place to make the very building blocks of our existence. Gamma ray bursts, for example, are the result of the same events—the collapse of stars—in which heavy elements are created, without which we “carbon-based life forms” wouldn’t even exist. Yahweh’s design for our universe, galaxy, solar system, and planet demonstrate His interest in creating and preserving an environment suitable for the type of life we enjoy—the sort of life we share with all mortal creatures. So although we read in God’s Word of a solar “bowl judgment” event so extreme and unprecedented that it compels men to blaspheme the Creator they swear doesn’t even exist, we may know for certain that Yahweh has everything under control, balanced (as always) on a razor’s edge, neither so strong it will destroy the world, nor so weak it might go unnoticed. As usual, the heavens declare the glory of God.
The Earth’s Diminishing Magnetic Field
We’ve seen how the sun’s magnetic field reverses itself rather regularly—about once every eleven years—and in the process sends out a sheet of electrical current that (among other things) shields Earth against cosmic ray bombardments. Earth has its own magnetic field, one that has also been known in the past to reverse poles. But since our planet is made of something a wee bit less pliable than the sun’s plasma and hot gasses, the process takes a little longer—hundreds of thousands of years. That is, it has never happened while humans have walked the earth. But life has weathered the storm quite nicely, as far as we can tell—perhaps hundreds of times.
The Earth’s magnetic field is addressed in a National Geographic article (referenced above, quoting Phil Scherrer of Stanford University) “The sun isn’t the only body in the solar system with a magnetic field that reverses. Earth has a magnetic field as well, and it has flipped many times over the last billion years. This isn’t surprising, Scherrer said, because the magnetic fields of both the sun and the Earth are thought to be generated by similar ‘dynamo’ processes that involve rotating and convecting electrically conducting fluids—molten iron in the case of the Earth and hot, ionized gases for the sun. The difference, however, is that Earth’s magnetic field reversals happen much less frequently—only once every 200,000 to 300,000 years on average, although the actual time can vary widely—and over much longer timescales.
“An analysis of centuries-old ship logs performed in 2006, for example, found that the Earth’s magnetic field weakens in staggered steps, and that its strength has declined by a few percentage points since 1840. If this decline is continuous, scientists predict the Earth’s magnetic field could reverse sometime in the next 2,000 years. When it does happen, Scherrer thinks that the flip will happen gradually—as is the case with the sun—and won’t be marked by any kind of calamitous drop of the Earth’s magnetic field strength to zero. ‘It won’t just disappear and come back again,’ Scherrer said.”
The earth’s magnetic field is there for a reason. By God’s design, it deflects (just like the sun’s current sheet) cosmic rays and solar emanations that could, under certain circumstances, prove deleterious to the earth’s ability to foster life. Wikipedia states, “The magnetic field of the Earth deflects most of the solar wind. [If the magnetic field were to disappear] the charged particles in the solar wind would strip away the ozone layer, which protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays. One stripping mechanism is for gas to be caught in bubbles of magnetic field, which are ripped off by solar winds. Calculations of the loss of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere of Mars, resulting from scavenging of ions by the solar wind, indicate that the dissipation of the magnetic field of Mars caused a near-total loss of its atmosphere.” But hey, with no CO2, at least there’s no “global warming” on Mars. Seriously though, the implication is that the same thing could (conceivably) happen on Earth.
Cosmic rays are a threat that originates outside our solar system. NASA explains: “Galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) are the high-energy particles that flow into our solar system from far away in the Galaxy. GCRs are mostly pieces of atoms: protons, electrons, and atomic nuclei which have had all of the surrounding electrons stripped during their high-speed (almost the speed of light) passage through the Galaxy. Cosmic rays provide one of our few direct samples of matter from outside the solar system. The magnetic fields of the Galaxy, the solar system, and the Earth have scrambled the flight paths of these particles so much that we can no longer point back to their sources in the Galaxy. If you made a map of the sky with cosmic ray intensities, it would be completely uniform. So we have to determine where cosmic rays come from by indirect means.”
Michael Schirber, writing for Astrobiology Magazine (and quoted by NBC News) opines, “Some of the mass extinctions identified in the fossil record can be linked to an asteroid impact or increased volcanism, but many of the causes of those ancient die-offs are still open for debate. ‘There may have been nearby astronomical goings-on that drastically increased the radiation on Earth,’ says Brian Fields from the University of Illinois. A supernova going off 30 light-years away could cause a jump in radiation on our planet that could directly, or indirectly, wipe out huge numbers of species….” A supernova is the explosion of a star, caused by gravitational collapse, during which the star’s luminosity increases by as much as 20 magnitudes and most of its mass is blown away at very high velocity. And several such mass extinctions are indicated in the fossil record of the Earth’s history.
“Cosmic rays are mostly high-energy protons originating from supernova shock waves. We can’t precisely trace where a cosmic ray came from because its trajectory is bent by magnetic fields. In fact, a typical cosmic ray will bounce inside the galaxy’s magnetic field for millions of years before eventually colliding with something—like Earth. ‘Every square centimeter on the top of the Earth’s atmosphere is hit by several cosmic rays per second,’ Fields says. ‘This is forever going on.’ None of these ‘primary’ cosmic rays ever reach us on the ground. Instead, they collide with atoms in the upper atmosphere, creating a shower of lower energy ‘secondary’ particles. At sea level, the majority of cosmic ray secondaries are highly penetrating muons. About 10,000 muons pass through our bodies every minute. Some of these muons will ionize molecules as they go through our flesh, occasionally leading to genetic mutations that may be harmful. At present, the average human receives the equivalent of about 10 chest X-rays per year from cosmic rays. We shouldn’t be alarmed by this, since it is just part of the natural background radiation under which humans and our ancestors have been exposed to for eons.”
Evolutionists happily point toward these cosmic ray bombardments as the cause of the mutations that alter our genetic makeup, giving nature something to “select,” and conspiring to make the human race ever more “fit” as the eons pass. But as we discovered in the “Genetic Entropy” section of our previous chapter, the human genome (and that of the rest of biosphere) is not becoming “more fit.” It’s actually degrading, becoming less and less capable of thriving, or even surviving. Cosmic rays explain (partially) why our world is losing species by the hundreds to the ravages of extinction, while we’re seeing no new kinds of flora or fauna appearing to replace them. Evolutionary theory doesn’t explain what we see in the real world: quite the opposite, in fact.
So cosmic rays and the solar wind are ever-present threats, but are by nature mitigated by our planet’s magnetic field. One of the critical factors of our atmosphere’s physical makeup is the high altitude ozone layer that shields us from ultraviolet rays. Our magnetic field is also largely responsible for preventing damage to the ozone layer from cosmic ray and solar wind bombardment. (Damage from chlorofluorocarbons, not so much.) What, then would we expect to see if the earth’s magnetic field were to weaken?
It’s not an academic question. That very thing appears to be happening. Writing for National Geographic News (September 9, 2004), John Roach discusses the issue: “Earth’s magnetic field is fading. Today it is about 10 percent weaker than it was when German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss started keeping tabs on it in 1845, scientists say. If the trend continues, the field may collapse altogether and then reverse. Compasses would point south instead of north….” It’s a very slow process, of course—nothing at all like we witness every eleven years or so on the sun. But the earth’s magnetic poles do tend to wander: currently, they’re about ten degrees off of the rotational axis of the earth. So “north” and “magnetic north” are actually two slightly different things.
“‘The field has reversed many times in the past, and life didn’t stop,’ said Gary Glatzmaier, an earth scientist and magnetic field expert at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Glatzmaier is keeping an eye on our planet’s weakening magnetic field as he tries to learn more about how Earth’s geodynamo works. The geodynamo is the mechanism that creates our planet’s magnetic field, maintains it, and causes it to reverse. Earth’s geodynamo creates a magnetic field that shields most of the habited parts of our planet from charged particles that come mostly from the sun. The field deflects the speeding particles toward Earth’s Poles. Without our planet’s magnetic field, Earth would be subjected to more cosmic radiation than it is. The increase could knock out power grids, scramble the communications systems on spacecraft, temporarily widen atmospheric ozone holes, and generate more aurora activity.”
The effects of a weakening magnetic field, then, wouldn’t exactly be life threatening, but they could prove to be expensive and inconvenient, not to mention providing a literal fulfillment of Yahshua’s prophecy in Luke’s recounting of the Olivet Discourse: “For the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.” (Luke 21:26) Roach continues: “A number of Earth’s creatures, including some birds, turtles, and bees, rely on Earth’s magnetic field to navigate. The field is in constant flux, scientists say. But even without it, life on Earth will continue.
“‘There are small fluctuations, which lead to nothing, and large ones, which we know from the geologic record are associated with reversals,’ said Peter Olson, a geophysicist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.” How do paleogeologists know what has happened to our magnetic field in the past? “When molten lava erupts onto the Earth’s crust and hardens, it preserves a snapshot of Earth’s polarity, much in the way that iron filings on a piece of cardboard align themselves to the field of a magnet held beneath it. According to Earth’s geologic record, our planet’s magnetic field flips, on average, about once every 200,000 years. The time between reversals varies widely, however. The last time Earth’s magnetic field flipped was about 780,000 years ago.”
It would appear, then, that we’re overdue. But as I said, this sort of thing doesn’t happen over a weekend. It proceeds with glacial deliberation: “‘We hear that the magnetic field today looks like it is decreasing and might reverse. What we don’t usually hear is it that is on a time scale of thousands of years,’ Glatzmaier said. ‘It’s nothing we’ll experience in our lifetime.’ But several generations from now, humans just may witness a reversal. By then, Glatzmaier said, scientists will better understand the process and be prepared to cope with the effects.” That’s an assumption you just can’t make, of course. The problem is, our dependence on electronics is growing even faster than our ability to understand the world around us. Merely knowing what is likely to happen is no indicator that anything practical could (or will) be done to protect the earth’s inhabitants from what’s coming. Politics, economics, ignorance, arrogance, and naïveté inevitably get in the way. I’ll offer the parallel case of the rape of the rain forests (the source of fully half of the world’s anthropomorphic CO2 emissions), and rest my case. (For that matter, I’m several hundred pages deep into an exposé of the very timeline of God, and I don’t really expect more than half a dozen people to change the courses of their lives based on the information I’m presenting. People believe what they want to believe, and do what they choose to do.)
Our magnetic field is a natural result of the way Earth is constructed: “Scientists believe the magnetic field is generated deep inside the Earth where the heat of the planet’s solid inner core churns a liquid outer core of iron and nickel. The solid inner core is thought to be a mass of iron about the size of the moon that is heated to several thousand degrees Fahrenheit. Heat radiated by this inner core builds up at its boundary with Earth’s liquid outer core, causing the fluid there to expand. ‘When it expands it becomes a little less dense [and more] buoyant. So it starts to rise. That’s convection,’ Glatzmaier said. ‘Hot fluid rises, then cools off and sinks again.’ The convection generates an electric current and, as a result, a magnetic field. Additional currents are created as Earth cools. Some of the molten iron solidifies onto the inner core, releasing lighter material in the process. The rotation of the Earth also generates forces that curve the flow of fluid as it rises, twisting the magnetic field.
“All of these currents constantly replenish the magnetic field, a maintenance process that prevents it from decaying. Typically each newly generated field lines up in the direction of the existing magnetic field. But every now and again, some force will cause the new field to line up in the opposite direction. This process can lead to a net weakening of Earth’s magnetic field. Over time a new field can continue to grow. This further weakens the original magnetic field. If the process continues, the two fields would eventually cancel each other out. Earth’s magnetic field would collapse and then, maybe, flip. ‘But more likely than not, what will happen is the original [field] will get stronger again and overwhelm the instability,’ Glatzmaier said.”
“What If Earth’s Magnetic Poles Flip?” That’s the title of an article by Natalie Wolchover published in LiveScience.com (February 10, 2012). She explains the ramifications of a pole reversal, as unlikely as such a thing is in the short term: “The geologic record shows that hundreds of pole reversals have occurred throughout Earth’s history; they happen when patches of iron atoms in Earth’s liquid outer core become reverse-aligned, like tiny magnets oriented in the opposite direction from those around them. When the reversed patches grow to the point that they dominate the rest of the core, Earth’s overall magnetic field flips. The last reversal happened 780,000 years ago during the Stone Age, and indeed, there’s evidence to suggest the planet may be in the early stages of a pole reversal right now….
“Earth’s magnetic field takes between 1,000 and 10,000 years to reverse, and in the process, it greatly diminishes before it re-aligns. ‘It’s not a sudden flip, but a slow process, during which the field strength becomes weak, very probably the field becomes more complex and might show more than two poles for a while, and then builds up in strength and [aligns] in the opposite direction,’ said Monika Korte, the scientific director of the Niemegk Geomagnetic Observatory at GFZ Potsdam in Germany.
“The scientists say it’s the weak in-between phase that would be roughest on Earthlings. According to John Tarduno, professor of geophysics at the University of Rochester, a strong magnetic field helps protect Earth from blasts of radiation from the sun. ‘Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) occasionally occur on the Sun, and sometimes hurtle directly toward Earth,’ Tarduno said. ‘Some of the particles associated with CMEs can be blocked by Earth’s magnetic field. With a weak field, this shielding is less efficient.’ The charged particles bombarding Earth’s atmosphere during solar storms would punch holes in Earth’s atmosphere, and this could hurt humans. ‘Ozone holes, like that over Antarctica (which today are due to an entirely different cause, related to man) could form as solar particles interact with the atmosphere in a cascade of chemical reactions. These holes would not be permanent, but might be present on one- to 10-year timescales. They are arguably important enough to be a concern in terms of skin cancer rates,’ Tarduno said….”
“Our technology would definitely be in danger. Even now, solar storms can damage satellites, cause power outages and interrupt radio communications. These kinds of negative influences clearly will increase if the magnetic field and thus its shielding function became significantly weaker. One additional worry is that a weakening and eventual reversal in the field would disorient all those species that rely on geomagnetism for navigation, including bees, salmon, turtles, whales, bacteria and pigeons. There is no scientific consensus on how those creatures would cope….” On the other hand, let’s just hope they haven’t all gone extinct by the time the poles flip.
“The geomagnetic field is currently weakening, possibly because of a growing patch of reverse-alignment in the liquid core deep beneath Brazil and the South Atlantic. According to Tarduno, the strength of Earth’s magnetic field ‘has been decreasing for at least 160 years at an alarming rate, leading some to speculate that we are heading toward a reversal.’”
So what’s the bottom line here? For the first time since man walked the earth, two things are happening at roughly the same time: our planet’s magnetic field is weakening, and our civilization is becoming increasingly reliant on the sort of technology that depends upon a strong magnetic field for protection. A study of the ten plagues of Egypt reveals that every single one of them was crafted by Yahweh to “dethrone” one false god or another—demonstrating to anybody with his eyes open that the God of the Hebrews was superior to any “deity” man could conjure up. And note that according to Yahweh, the top “god” of the Egyptian pantheon was not the “sun god,” Ra. He was only the ninth deity to fall, the runner-up. The top “god” was man himself: the tenth plague took out the first-born sons of Egypt, up to and including the house of Pharaoh. That is, the “god” of atheistic secular humanism has already fallen: mankind has proven himself utterly incapable of running his own affairs, improving his circumstances, or even being trusted.
So in whom does man place his faith nowadays? Some say they trust in Allah, or the Pope, or big, powerful governments, or wealth, or weapons, or science, or their own survival skills. But although hardly anybody would call it a “god” in the traditional, “religious” sense, most people today rely upon their electronics. Very few of us today can earn a living, communicate, learn, travel, procure or prepare food, get water, receive medical treatment or do much of anything else without the assistance of our electronics. Technology has not only revolutionized crime, it has also become an integral part of the worship experience—as I said, the technology itself is spiritually neutral.
I’ll offer one anecdote to make my point. A pastor friend of mine uses his high-tech gadgets for everything. He leads worship from his iPad (using Airturn to “turn pages” on Onsong); he teaches from his iPad (with Goodreader), and uses his cell phone to control Pro-Presenter over a wifi link to project Bible passage “slides” so the congregation can follow along. On a recent Sunday morning, his iPad suddenly went blank—totally unresponsive. He was in a real pickle. In a mad scramble, he had to print out (gasp!) all of his chord charts and sermon notes. I’m not saying he’s wrong to employ electronic gadgetry to advance the cause of Christ. God knows I would be dead in the water if I had to write my books out longhand like Charles Dickens or Herman Melville. But such incidents should remind us, loud and clear, that how we do things is (or should be) not remotely as important as what we do.
In the meantime, as the church age draws to a close and the Millennial Kingdom of Christ appears on the horizon, our God is allowing the Earth’s magnetic field to slip, to weaken, to lose a bit of its ability to protect the electronic-dependence trap into which so many of us have fallen—whether or not we even realize what has happened. Our technology may make life easier; but our God, Yahweh, makes life possible. Let’s not confuse the two things.