"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Privileged Planet in the Last Days

     On November 6, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake shook Oklahoma just 20 miles from where our daughter and her family live. We called to be sure they were all right--usually she calls us after California earthquakes to be sure we are all right. They were but she said it was one of the strongest she had ever felt--and she grew up out here.
     Four days ago she texted us,"Had another earthquake last night during thunderstorms w/ tornados! What is up w/ that?!" She told me later over the phone that fellow church members agreed the Lord must be coming soon! 
     They know their Bible.
     Global warming didn't make sense to me until I understood that the effects of higher temperatures do not necessarily cause hotter weather everywhere. They cause greater extremes of temperature, both hot and cold, and greater extremes of weather of all kinds. That I can understand because that's what we are seeing happening around the world.
     We live on a planet uniquely and delicately balanced to sustain life. In The Privileged Planet, a documentary put out by Illustra Media, scientists describe over 20 factors which have to be in place all at the same time for carbon-based life to exist on any planet. Liquid water is only one of them. The planet must have a certain mass and move in a nearly circular orbit at a moderate rate of rotation around a G2 dwarf star at just the right distance away. The planet must be orbited by a large moon to stabilize its tilt. It must be a terrestrial planet with an oxygen-rich atmosphere and just the right ratio of liquid water and continents. The continents must move flexibly, in accordance with plate techtonics. There must be a protective magnetic field.
     The chances of all these 20 or so factors being in place at the same time for a single planet are 1 in one-thousandth of one in one-trillionth, if I copied down the information correctly. The distance of our planet from the sun alone cannot deviate 5% closer to the sun or our temperatures would be 900 degrees F; 20% further from the sun would turn our atmosphere to ice. Scientists call this narrow habitable zone the "Goldilocks zone." It has to be just right.
     But the Bible says in the last days something will radically alter all this. There will be climactic changes--famines, perhaps due to hotter, drier conditions in areas formerly productive, random earthquakes in surprising places--like Oklahoma? There will be "signs in the heavens." The Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 24 gives a comprehensive description of the world scene leading up to a time when the "sun will fade out, moon cloud over, stars fall out of the sky, cosmic powers tremble."
     If you have been checking the Astronomy Picture of the Day on a regular basis you will have seen that astronomers around the world are noting rare types of cloud formations: shelf clouds and roll clouds, new lights that jump in the sky, a rising sun that looks like scrambled eggs--a number of phenomena they can't account for.
     The Bible speaks of "the sun turning black and the moon blood-red, before the Judgment Day of God, the Day tremendous and awesome,"according to Joel 2:31 (Old Testament) and Acts 2:19-20 (New Testament) echoes this, quoting God:  
     "I'll set wonders in the sky above
           and signs on the earth below,
        Blood and fire and billowing smoke,
           the sun turning black and the moon blood-red,
        Before the Day of the Lord arrives,
           the Day tremendous and marvelous."

      Revelation 6:12-17 speaking of future events says "I watched while he ripped off the sixth seal: a bone-jarring earthquake, sun turned black as ink, moon all bloody, stars falling out of the sky like figs shaken from a tree in a high wind, sky snapped shut like a book, islands and mountains sliding this way and that. And then pandemonium, everyone and his dog running for cover - kings, princes, generals, rich and strong, along with every commoner, slave or free.  They hid in mountain caves and rocky den, calling out to mountains and rocks, "Refuge! Hide us from the One Seated on the Throne and the wrath of the Lamb!  The great Day of their wrath has come - who can stand it?" 
     2 Peter 3:10-13 says, "But when the Day of God's Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief.  The sky will collapse with a thunderous bang, everything disintegrating in a huge conflagration, earth and all its works exposed to the scrutiny of Judgment.
     "Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life?  Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival.  The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we'll hardly notice.  We'll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness."
     It used to seem preposterous that such things could literally happen to affect our privileged planet--but no more. The March 11 earthquake in Japan altered Earth's angle slightly. A different mix of elements composing our atmosphere could contribute to setting the stage. Tweaks.
      Global warming could do it.

Bible verses from The Message.

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