The story in the first link grabbed my attention due to its biblical implications, and I wanted to pass this item on to readers of this blog. This story does not come from a “fringe” publication, but from the mainstream USA Today. It concerns a meeting of planetary defense experts that was held in Italy recently. The subject was how humanity could fight back against a planetary threat that involved an asteroid, meteorite or some cosmic object heading toward earth on a collision course.
The threat is a very real one. The article notes that there are “more than 600,000 asteroids” that are located close enough to earth to “destroy New York City” in the event of a direct hit from one of asteroids on that metropolis. The threat has been taken seriously enough that “A pair of large telescopes set to come on-line by the end of 2015 will give mankind a last-minute alert” regarding such a threat. The panel developed distinct defenses to be used against any cosmic object threatening to hit earth. These include laser weapons fired from a spacecraft, and an Intercept Vehicle to carry a nuclear bomb (or bombs) into the cosmic object. The first would deflect the object’s path to miss earth and the second would atomize it or disintegrate it sufficiently to save the planet. Their scenario included one where a cosmic object heading toward earth was intercepted and blown apart, but a large chunk of it hits earth anyway with catastrophic effect.
I think many Biblical-aware readers know where such a scenario could fit into the end-time prophetic events foretold in the book of Revelation. At some point in the series of events prophesied in Revelation, Revelation 8:8-10 describe a planetary threat scenario almost exactly like the one considered by the scientific panel. The Apostle John was in a visionary experience of the future when he wrote the book of Revelation, and he was told to write down what he saw and heard during his vision (Revelation 1:11). John did not “make up” a fantasy that he wrote about; he was essentially a scribe who wrote down what he was seeing in a vision that will be fulfilled in the end of our current age.
The Revised Standard Version (RSV) translates Revelation 8:8 as stating that John saw that “something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea.” This is a remarkably accurate description of what an incoming cosmic object would look like as it descended through the earth’s atmosphere on its way to an impact on the earth’s surface. There have been Hollywood movies about cosmic objects heading for earth and mankind’s efforts to stop or mitigate an “Extinction Level Event (ELE)”–as it was called in one movie. The Hollywood movies include very dramatic footage of what a cosmic object would look like as it descends through the atmosphere on its way to hitting the planet. Their depiction is pretty much exactly like what John described in the book of Revelation, adding to the credibility of John’s prophetic account as it is an accurate description of how such an event would appear to human eyes. The event foreseen in Revelation 8:8 has catastrophic consequences. Revelation 8:9 relates that 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.” Given that the earth’s surface is mostly oceanic, the odds favor an impact in an ocean, which is what Revelation predicts, and a huge die-off of life in the ocean and destruction of vessels at sea would be entirely logical.
However, Revelation 8 has a two-part impact scenario. After one cosmic object hits in an ocean, Revelation 8:10-11 add that a second cosmic object makes an impact somewhere on the earth’s land surface. In the second impact passage, John wrote that he saw “a great star [that] fell from heaven, blazing like a torch” as it fell on rivers and fountains of waters. The term “rivers” indicates a fresh-water location (on a land mass) for the impact zone of this second heavenly object, and this second impact also has catastrophic damage as many men die as a result. If you have seen TV documentaries about the massive and famous “Tunguska blast” that occurred in a remote area of Russian Siberia in 1908 (second link), imagine the destruction that would occur if something similar happened in a densely-populated area! It sounds like that is what is prophesied in Revelation 8:10-11.
John’s words that the second object looked like a star falling from heaven that “blazed like a torch” also accurately describes what a heavenly object would look like as it descends from the sky blazing like fire as it plunges through the atmosphere. I’m going to offer a piece of speculation about what John witnessed in this vision. Since he describes the second object as a “star” falling down out of the heaven I’d say this is consistence with an impact event that John saw occurring at night when the stars would be visible and this object would look like one of them falling to earth. Since the first cosmic impact was described by John as a fiery “great mountain” and no stars are mentioned as being visible, that sounds like a daytime impact. John was clearly at a loss for words in trying to describe this apocalyptic event as he says the cosmic object looked “something like” a great mountain falling on fire toward the earth. I want to stress that John’s ancient account of what he saw in his vision is depicted in Hollywood movie as exactly how such an event would be seen.
Based on Revelation 8, the panel of experts is wise to prepare a system to counter a cosmic object heading for earth. John’s description, since it involves two consecutive events with one occurring right after the other (and both describing impacts of cosmic objects hitting the earth), could have one of two meanings. It could mean that two separate cosmic objects impact on the earth coming from different trajectories or it could mean that two fragments of a single, larger cosmic object hit the earth in two separate locations, one soon after the other. The latter scenario would be a real-life catastrophe like the one envisioned in the scientists’ planetary-defense scenario. Revelation’s prophecy would be fulfilled if a single, large cosmic object (a huge asteroid, a comet or a previously-unknown planetoid) is detected heading toward earth on a collision course and where mankind hits the object with both lasers and nuclear bombs to break apart the object into smaller pieces. Many smaller pieces would disintegrate as they fell through the atmosphere, but the prophecy of Revelation 8:8-11 sounds like two large fragments will be large enough to hit the earth with catastrophic results. We are not told in the prophecy where they will impact. [Maybe God is giving himself the flexibility to decide that when the time comes.] There is a second prophecy in Revelation that would very accurately describe what it would like from earth if a cosmic object was totally or largely fragmented into thousands of smaller pieces which are seen burning up as they fall through the earth’s atmosphere. Revelation 6:13 foretells an event which will occur that will look (to an observer on earth) like the “stars of heaven” falling to the earth like fruit that is ripped from a tree and falls suddenly to the earth in a great windstorm. The fact that “stars” are again referenced in this prophecy indicates that this is also a night-time event as seen from earth’s surface as a backdrop of stars is mentioned instead of a blue sky.
Some will assert that the book of Revelation’s language is all metaphorical. I think there are both metaphorical and literal descriptions in the book of Revelation and the context must govern in determining which type of interpretation is appropriate. The descriptions of Revelation 6:13 and 8:8-11 fit perfectly into how impacts of cosmic objects falling into the earth’s surface would literally look like as seen from the earth’s surface, so it my viewpoint that it is describing literal future events. The book of Revelation has no dates attached to its prophesied events other than that they will occur at the end of our current age in a time called “the latter days” or “time of the end” in other prophecies. My article, Are We Living in the Biblical Latter Days?, is recommended to readers as it convincingly documents that we are, indeed, living in the prophesied latter days.
Those scientific experts at the apocalyptic conference in Italy are likely going to find out in some future year that the cosmic collision event they are preparing for will literally occur.