On Friday a small town in Russia (Chelyabinsk Region) was illuminated by what looked like a meteorite from space. Some are now saying the trail is consistent with a rocket and other conspiracy theories are also plentiful. A cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church, Zlatoust Feofan, declared that this meteor was “the Lord’s message to humanity” (1,2). Others that think this is the beginning of an alien invasion of earth (3). And some have even stated that this is dire sign of the end of the world. Combined with the popes resignation, which was followed by lightning hitting the top of St. Peters basilica, this is another sign of the times. All these events, some think, are leading us to the end of the world. Are we living in the last few years before the end of the world? Will the next pope usher in the apocalypse? Was this meteorite a herald of Christ second coming (the rapture)? Is this a sign from God?
1. God created the stars as signs
In the Genesis account of creation God states “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Gen 1:14). Because we Christians often want to stay away from eastern mysticism, and things like horoscopes and astrology, we often avoid the stars altogether. Sure enough, astrology, being that it is an alleged source of truth apart from God’s revelation in Scripture, is not only a scam, it is an assault on the Bible, one that fails (Isaiah 47:13-14). In addition it has never been proven to work and been refuted quite effectively (4). Yet people continue to believe in the power of horoscopes and astrology. Perhaps, in part that may be because there is something hardwired into us that makes us look at the stars as signs. Nonetheless, God created them as signs, though we often vastly misinterpret and misuse those signs to be more about us than about God.
2. Heavenly signs have been used
In the Scriptures God has used the heavens to show signs to mankind.. Some important events were indeed foreshadowed with a matching wonder in the heavens. Christ’s birth for example, was marked by a star that brought wise men (Astronomers/Astrologers?) to where the holy infant lay. But it must be said that the star, marking the birth of Christ, highlighted the beginning of an intersection of God and man in a monumental way, that would echo for eternity. This was not a miniscule event in one person’s life, it was eternal, timeless, Creator, coming to join creation. An event like that should shake up the whole universe. Even an atheist would agree that if there was a God and he came to earth, it would be an extraordinary time.
3. Not every meteorite is a special sign
The Bible also talks of future signs as well (Luke 21:11), but again this is corresponding to the second coming of Christ. If during his first coming there were signs, then during the second we shall see them. But because the Bible does use the heavens as signs, does that mean every single shooting star, meteorite, asteroid, and etc is a specific sign from God about some specific event? No! Is this meteorite a sign of the end times? I hardly think so; it makes no sense. Why this one and not a larger one? Why did the Tunguska meteoroid/asteroid in 1908 not signal the end, it was immensely bigger (5). Why did thousands of other large events in the sky have no noticeable events tied into them? If you try to interpret life through signs, you will always fail, there are more “signs” than there are events. There have been large meteorites that fell, created grandiose explosions, and filled the sky with color, but quietly passed without signaling the end of the world. When Jesus comes back, you will know, you won’t have to argue about tiny meteorites and silly charts of rapture times.
4. It’s not about us, but about God
So if the stars are a sign, and not every star shows a special revelation about my life or events in it, what are they here for? Scripture says: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). This is the greatest mistake we always make in interpretation. Any time God speaks, whether it be an authoritative word of special revelation through the Bible, or general revelation through nature, we always think about ourselves, not God. When God says “Be holy, for I am holy” the first think that comes into our minds is selfishness. “Will God punish me if I don’t? What do I get if I do? Will others see that I am doing it? What if I don’t enjoy it?” It’s not about us! The stars are not little magical astrological signs that tell us what will happen to us to make us feel good about ourselves! They declare the glory and majesty of God. They are signs of his transcending power and might (Isa 40:26). They are the tapestry of the greatest Artist in the universe! They ought make you think of yourself less, and of Him more.
So too, this meteorite in Russia, should make us feel small. We should remember that we can’t hold back these tiny rocks from falling on the earth. We did not create ourselves, our planet, or any of these asteroids and meteors, but Someone did. Think on Him who can hurl a meteorite from space like you can brush dust off your desk. Think on Him who constantly upholds this universe though laws He created, and prevents thousands of these meteorites from raining down on us daily.