The me­teor/as­ter­oid co­in­ci­dence – what does it mean?

The Church of England - - ENGLAND -

What is God say­ing to us through the re­mark­able co­in­ci­dence on 15 Fe­bru­ary of the ar­rival of the near earth as­ter­oid (which we were ex­pect­ing) and the me­teor strike in Rus­sia (which we weren’t ex­pect­ing)? Some would re­ply: “Noth­ing.” Oth­ers: “We need to step up our ob­ser­va­tion and (hopefully) pro­tec­tion against such bod­ies.”

We are talk­ing about a 10-ton me­teor cre­at­ing a dev­as­tat­ing sonic boom, a tem­per­a­ture of 2,500 de­grees centi­grade and an enor­mous ex­plo­sion. As­tronomers say such ob­jects en­ter our at­mos­phere be­tween once a year and once a decade. They can only hope to find a frac­tion of ob­jects the size of this me­teor and the much larger as­ter­oid that passed earth later the same day. To de­flect as­ter­oids would prob­a­bly re­quire decades of warn­ing. It is only a mat­ter of time be­fore one hits the earth, as has hap­pened in the more dis­tant past.

I do not be­lieve the com­bined event sig­nals the im­mi­nent end of the age! Nor do I be­lieve “God did it.” What I am say­ing is that we should ask what God wants us to learn from it. Think about it. The co­in­ci­dence is quite as­ton­ish­ing.

Lis­ten to the com­ments in the sec­u­lar news­pa­pers, eg the Guardian (16.02.13).

“Tra­di­tion­ally, a tor­pedo across the bow is fired as a warn­ing to change one’s be­hav­iour – and this co­in­ci­dence of events should be a warn­ing to hu­man­ity that meteors are not al­ways as be­nign as ‘shoot­ing stars’ and that the next as­ter­oid might not miss! Will we, the crew of SS Earth heed this warn­ing?” (Rusty Sch­weikhart).

“Per­haps it’s bet­ter to use as­ter­oids and meteors as a way of think­ing about the fragility of ex­is­tence. If the world were to end tonight ...” (Roz Kaveney).

Then Pro­fes­sor Alan Fitzsim­mons, a pro­fes­sional as­tronomer search­ing for Near-Earth As­ter­oids, wrote in the In­de­pen­dent: “...a small as­ter­oid strike and flyby within 24 hours may have been cos­mic co­in­ci­dence, or per­haps mother na­ture is telling us to take this threat a lit­tle more se­ri­ously.”

Rus­sian prime min­is­ter prime min­is­ter, Dmitry Medvedev com­mented: “It’s proof that not only are economies vul­ner­a­ble, but the whole planet.”

So, the sec­u­lar prophets are in­ter­pret­ing the event: a shot across the bow as a warn­ing to change be­hav­iour; the fragility of ex­is­tence; “mother na­ture” speak­ing to us and even a ref­er­ence to the end of the world.

But what about the Chris­tian prophets? Some may speak out in sim­i­lar ways (and, sadly, some of th­ese will be ex­trem­ists) but ex­pe­ri­ence teaches that many will not. Even on the Sun­day af­ter th­ese as­tro­nom­i­cal events many preach­ers will have avoided the sub­ject. Why is this? I be­lieve there are sev­eral rea­sons: Many Chris­tians sim­ply are not aware of the es­cha­to­log­i­cal (End Times) di­men­sion to life. Nei­ther are many Chris­tian teach­ers and preach­ers.

If those teach­ers and preach­ers think about the sub­ject they ei­ther feel lack­ing in con­fi­dence to speak about it or they are em­bar­rassed to do so be­cause they see it as happy hunt­ing ground for un­bal­anced ‘prophets of doom.’

So they ig­nore the sub­ject as much as pos­si­ble, de­spite the fact that Je­sus and the New Tes­ta­ment em­pha­size it and call Chris­tians to live in the light of the End Times.

Thus they fall into a de­cep­tive trap of the devil to pre­vent the vi­tal End Times mes­sage be­ing con­veyed to Chris­tians and, in ap­pro­pri­ate ways, to un­be­liev­ers. They fail to con­vey a mes­sage that is a strong mo­tive for ho­li­ness and evan­ge­lism amongst Chris­tians and for think­ing se­ri­ously about eter­nal mat­ters amongst un­be­liev­ers. So what is God say­ing to us through this re­mark­able as­tro­nom­i­cal co­in­ci­dence that shows the fragility of life on earth? In brief:

It is a re­minder of the prospect of the End Times. Je­sus spoke of pre­lim­i­nary re­minders – “wars and ru­mours of wars ... earth­quakes, famines and pesti­lences in var­i­ous places, and fear­ful events and great signs from heaven ... but the end will not come right away.” He in­tended us to re­mem­ber his coming when th­ese trau­matic events take place, even when the End is not im­mi­nent.

Be­yond that, af­ter a time of great dis­tress and suf­fer­ing for the in­hab­i­tants of earth, Je­sus says: “Im­me­di­ately af­ter the dis­tress of those days ‘the sun will be dark­ened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heav­enly bod­ies will be shaken’”(Matt 24:29). When such things hap­pen, Je­sus will re­turn (Matt 24:30-31).

Chris­tians need to find their se­cu­rity not like the world does - in ma­te­rial things, hu­man ef­forts and su­per­fi­cial as­sump­tions that “all will be well” - but in God’s love and their re­la­tion­ship with him.

Chris­tians need to be aware of their ul­ti­mate accountability to God (and of the world’s ul­ti­mate accountability to him too). We shall all stand be­fore the judg­ment seat of Christ. We need to be pre­pared for that. The church and its teach­ers need to wake up to th­ese three is­sues and to pro­claim that mes­sage as part of our evan­ge­lism.

Will we lis­ten? Will it change us?


The hole in Lake Che­barkul formed by a me­te­orite frag­ment

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