Open with me again to Matthew 24, this time to verse 32.
- Matthew 24:32-35 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
So, are we witnessing His plan for the End of Days unfolding? We have already seen that the global travel Daniel said had to happen is here, as well as the explosion of knowledge. Then John said that there had to be global commerce that was based on buying and selling with a personal number—and that is also here. Then Jesus said that Israel had to be back in their land—and they are.
But in Matthew 24, Jesus says that a series of specific signs will begin. When those specific signs occur, they signal the onslaught of birth pangs. Have the pains that signal the end of days started?
I am not sure, let’s just list a few of the facts—not since the birth of Israel in 1948; not since the birth of United Europe, the World Council of Churches, the computer and the United Nations also in that same year of 1948.
How about what has happened just since Christmas nearly five months ago?
Nearly everyone on Earth has witnessed the second biggest quake ever recorded, the government has warned that we are witnessing the biggest solar storm measurable, and now we are move aware than ever that the biggest threat to global safety may be hurtling through space towards our world right now.
Does that list mean anything? To sort it all out look back at verse 29 in Matthew 24. Let’s read that passage together this morning, and you listen as I emphasize three parts of Christ’s warning.
- Matthew 24:29-32 “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. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.
- When Christ Returns there are Solar Instabilities
- Matthew 24:29a “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.”
In the past year astronomers have witnessed the greatest solar activities ever recorded. The largest and most powerful solar eruptions have dazzled their instruments and made scientists wonder what is in store for the earth in days ahead. And this past Sunday, we had the highest level solar storm (G-5 in solar terms like an F-5 tornado) sighted by the NOAA. God says that a day is coming when the sun would scorch the inhabitants of the earth.
May 15, 2005 — Forecasters at the NOAA Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo., observed a geomagnetic storm on Sunday, May 15, which they classified as an extreme event, measuring G-5—the highest level—on the NOAA Space Weather Scales. “This event registered a 9 on the K-Index, which measures the maximum deviation of the Earth’s magnetic field in a given three-hour period,” said Gayle Nelson, lead operations specialist at NOAA Space Environment Center. “The scale ranges from 0 to 9, with 9 being the highest. This was a significant event.”
- Revelation 16:8-9 “Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. 9 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.”
Though this prophecy is clearly a divine judgment on unrepentant mankind, it is interesting that an event of great enough proportions to alter the earth’s atmosphere could take place due to nuclear war. The clouds of dust and debris in the upper atmosphere could facilitate this judgment. There would be “signs in the sun” as the sky was partially darkened for weeks or months. This could also refer to the increase in sunspots and solar flares.
- Luke 21:25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring;“
- When Christ Returns there are Global Fears of Asteroid or Comet Strike and an ensuing devastation
- Matthew 24:29b “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.”
Movies are made of a thought that no one ever had until our generation. We have become aware of those objects hurtling through space faster than bullets and headed our way! John saw something hit the earth during the Tribulation.
- Revelation 8:10-11 “Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water . 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.”
- When Christ Returns there are Cosmic Quakes–great signs from heaven predicted
- Matthew 24:29c “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.”
Both natural and supernatural phenomena in the earth and sky appear to be increasing.
- Luke 21:11 “And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.”
Now, just think of the middle event of Matthew’s record of Christ’s sermon; the part about stars falling from the heavens. God’s Word records that an event like this happens during the tribulation years, for planet earth. Something from space (a comet, a meteorite, or something else) hits the earth and poisons 1/3 of the drinking water we learned last week is already in short supply. The result is that “many” people die from this water poisoning.
Did you know that astronomers have concluded that a giant space rock strikes this planet and leaves a huge crater about every 150 years? Here in the USA we have made a national monument out of a one mile wide, six hundred foot deep meteor crater in Arizona.. How big was that rock that left a mile wide scar? A couple of months ago on my way to Los Angeles I sat on the window seat and watched that crater go by. How big was that meteorite? Just 20 meters (or 66 feet) wide. By the way, that one hit since the time of the flood since we can still see it. Right? The flood erased the mountains, valleys, and craters across the planet when everything erupted, flooded, swirled and left a mile deep layer of flood sedimentation across the entire planet.
But what about something the size of the asteroid that dug out Meteor Crater in Arizona? That 600-foot-deep (180-meter) hole in the ground, popular now with tourists, is less than 50,000 years old and was created by a space rock so small that another one like it might not be noticed until it hits.
What if that sized rock hits Newark, New Jersey, 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Manhattan as the crow flies? Not as much damage as you would think. Other than Newark, NYC would be spared and only feel a moderate earthquake of magnitude 4.7 rattles the region. New York City has handled such temblors in the past and largely endures. No significant ejecta hits Manhattan, and winds reach an insignificant 3.7 mph.
Now try a bigger rock from space. An asteroid the size of two football fields, even if stony in nature, is another story. It carves a crater in New Jersey that’s 2 miles wide (3.4 kilometers). The resulting earthquake is magnitude 6.4, enough to frighten the pants off New York City emergency planners. A rock this size hits the planet about every few thousand years.
But what about a “star”, an asteroid that is bright, flies earthward and gets as bright as the sun–flaming downward through the atmosphere as it burns away at superheated entry velocity of miles per second? Well if a small say “9.3-mile-wide (15-kilometer) asteroid — the estimated size of the suspected dinosaur killer – drops onto on San Francisco.
The Bay Area doesn’t do so well. The resulting crater, at 113 miles (181 kilometers) wide, pretty much tells the story. The entire metropolis vanishes faster than you can say where you left your heart. What isn’t consumed is knocked over in an earthquake of magnitude 10.2, bigger than any in recorded history. Heat from a scorching fireball would turn much of the state, and parts of others, into toast.
The quick end to the Bay Area turns out to be a blessing compared to what Los Angeles residents face.
About 10 seconds after impact, radiation from the fireball sears Southern California, igniting clothing and even plywood. Within two minutes the ground under Hollywood begins to shake. Weak brick structures crumble. Concrete irrigation ditches are damaged. Frame houses not properly bolted to their foundations are knocked off. Even tree branches fall.
And then it gets nasty. ‘Bad things happen’
Six minutes after impact, much of earth that used to be under San Francisco has soared high into the atmosphere and begins to fall on the City of Angels (and just about everywhere else). Ultimately, a blanket of ejected material nearly 18 feet (5.5 meters) deep is deposited in and around LA.
Within a half-hour of the initial cosmic impact, on comes a 66-mph (30 meters per second) wind to rake what’s left of Los Angeles.
“If you’re close to the site of a major impact, some pretty bad things happen,” said Jay Melosh, an expert in impact cratering at the University of Arizona. Denver [and then Tulsa], about a third [to half] of the way over, is coated with nearly a foot of ejected material, called ejecta. Winds reach 22 mph.
New York City residents are spared enough that they can at first sit comfortably and watch all this on TV (to the extent there are any video feeds). Still, about 13 minutes after impact, windows and doors rattle in the East. After about 21 minutes, stuff shot out from the world’s largest new crater starts to rain down on the East, depositing a half-inch blanket across the city. About 3-1/2 hours later an 8-mph wind arrives.”
So much for speculation, let’s look at the actual event.
After a lifetime of studying the book of Revelation, and reading as many books and commentaries as possible–I am still not sure as to whether the following prophecy is the record of a first-century man’s description of an atomic bomb, a super powerful demonic creature’s attack, or if it’s about a comet, an asteroid, or meteorite slamming into the earth. But listen to what the Apostle John observed:
- Revelation 8:10-11 “Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.”
“Whatever this is, it poisons a third of the Earth’s fresh water supply, which is the reason it sounds more like the effect of nuclear radiation fallout. But there are some recent discoveries that indicate another possibility.
In February 2004, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., introduced HR 4544, known as the George E. Brown Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey Act. The bill mandates the allocation of $40 million to survey every near-Earth object 100 meters across or larger”.
May 2004 three months later, a University of Hawaii astronomer David Tholen and a team from Arizona University discovered a new near earth object (space rock) and took photos until storm clouds blocked the skies.
Six months after that, around Thanksgiving of 2004, some Australian astronomers spotted the object, found it to be an asteroid, and named it 2004 MN4.
A month of calculations later led the astronomers to announce to the world on Christmas Eve that this asteroid was on a direct hit trajectory with the earth.
“They figured that it would impact with the Earth on Friday the 13th in April 2029. But what they concluded was that Asteroid 2004 MN4 was a “regional” hazard – only enough to flatten Texas or a couple of European countries with an impact equivalent to 10,000 megatons of dynamite – more than all the nuclear weapons in the world combined.”
Of course that announcement was covered by holiday events and buried by the event 2 days later. On December 26, 2004, two days after that amazing prediction, our planet was struck by the Sumatran-Andaman earthquake. A quake so massive that scientists are still analyzing what happened. Here is the latest report from 5.19.05 (this past Thursday).
(CNN) — Dramatic new data from the December 26, 2004, Sumatran-Andaman earthquake that generated deadly tsunamis show the event created the longest fault rupture and the longest duration of faulting ever observed, according to three reports by an international group of seismologists published Thursday in the journal “Science.”
DURATION: “Normally, a small earthquake might last less than a second; a moderate sized earthquake might last a few seconds. This earthquake lasted between 500 and 600 seconds (at least 10 minutes),” said Charles Ammon, associate professor of geosciences at Penn State University. [longest quake ever known]
- POWER: The quake released an amount of energy equal to a 100 giga-ton bomb, according to Roger Bilham, professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado. And that power lasted longer than any quake ever recorded. [most power unleashed ever recorded]
- EFFECT: The quake, centered in the Indian Ocean, also created the biggest gash in the Earth’s seabed ever observed, nearly 800 miles. That’s as long as a drive from northern California into southern Canada. Scientists estimated the average slippage (ground movement up and down) along the entire length of the fault was at least 5 meters (16.5 feet) — with some places being moved nearly 20 meters (50 feet).
- DEADLINESS: This quake ranks second as only the deaths of the event of 1556 China quake, surpasses the 300,000 casualties of the Christmas 2004 quake. [second deadliest quake ever known]
- MAGNITUDE: Scientists have also upgraded the magnitude of the quake from 9.0 to between 9.1 and 9.3, a dramatically more powerful event. [so that the Christmas quake of 2004 is the second largest quake to ever hit our planet that we know of, only surpassed by the 1960 Chilean quake] .
So we have lived through the second biggest, second deadliest, longest, and most powerful quake ever felt and measured by man. We have been warned that a rock is headed closer than any has ever been—and will be the first asteroid visible with the naked eye from earth. And this past Sunday, we had the highest level solar storm (G-5 in solar terms like an F-5 tornado) sighted by the NOAA.
Then on December 28 th, two days after the Indian Ocean earthquake literally rocked the world, astronomers announced they had refined their calculations and said that 2004 MN4 probably wouldn’t impact with the Earth, but would miss the planet by between 15,000 and 25,000 miles – 10 times closer than our moon, and, in astronomical terms, barely a hair’s breadth.
While the 2029 impact is calculated to miss our planet, Brian Marsden, director of the Minor Planet Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, says that is still only a guess.
“You don’t know what the gravitational effect of the Earth will be,” he said. “In 2029, the [close encounter with] Earth will increase the size of the orbit, and the object could get into a resonance with the Earth,” he added. “You could get orbit matchups every five years or nine years, or something in between.” In other words, a collision with 2004 MN4 remains a definite “maybe.”
When Jesus was asked, “What will be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age?” He ran down the now-familiar list of earthquakes and famines and wars and pestilences – all of which, He said, would come upon the Earth like “birth pangs” – increasing in frequency and intensity as the time grew near.
He also said: There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the Earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. – Luke 21:24-26, NKJV
After that, Jesus said, “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
In the meantime, He told those who would witness the signs of His return, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
One thing is certain: For the first time man now has the ability to track smaller asteroids that could wreak enormous destruction on this planet. This is bringing increasing anxiety about threats from the heavens not known before. This is exactly what Jesus predicted would happen in the last days.
The prophetic signs of Christ’s soon coming just keep multiplying. Are you ready to meet Him? This is why we need waiting, trusting, clinging, anchoring hope!
How do we get ready? Live in hope of Christ’s return. Trust Him with your future. Wait upon Him to guide your daily life. Avoid whatever grieves Him. Resist fearing anything but God.
Which leads us to one of the most fascinating studies I have ever engaged in—this study of Biblical Hope.
More on NEOs
In 2002, an asteroid the size of a football field passed extremely close to Earth, remaining undetected until days later.
2004 MN 4 (also written 2004 MN4) is a Near-Earth asteroid that caused a brief period of concern in late 2004. Initial observations of the asteroid revealed a relatively large probability that 2004 MN 4 would strike the Earth in 2029. However, additional observations provided improved predictions that essentially eliminated the possibility of an impact on Earth or the Moon.
Nevertheless, it is expected that it will come close enough that on April 13, 2029 ( Friday the 13th) it will become as bright as magnitude 3.3 (easily visible to the naked eye). This close approach will be visible from Europe, Africa, and western Asia. No other closely approaching objects in recorded history have been visible to the naked eye.
2004 MN 4 remains at level one on the Torino scale because of very low but nonzero probabilities of impact on approaches in 2035, 2036 and 2037. However, the approach in 2029 will substantially alter the object’s orbit, and the precise details of its future orbit or any future close approaches will only be known after that has happened.
The 2004 MN4 is big enough to cause planet Earth the damage of regional scale. If it hits the planet, the impact will be comparable to the blast of a 1,000-megaton bomb. The asteroid was discovered in June of 2004; the calculation of its orbit will be completed in December of the current year. Astronomers calculated at first that chances for the asteroid to hit planet Earth on 13 April 2029 would be estimated at 1 to 38. Additional computations showed, however, that Earth will avoid the collision with the asteroid, although it will fly very close to the planet: the asteroid’s trajectory will be lower than the altitude of television satellites. People will be able to observe the celestial body as a fast-moving luminous dot.