WEEKLY CHRISTIAN BIBLE STUDY AND DEVOTIONAL FROM GOD’S WORD, FOR THE NEWLY SAVED AND MORE SEASONED BELIEVER, AND FOR OTHERS SEEKING TRUTH. OUR PRAYER IS TO ENCOURAGE YOU AND STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH IN GOD’S INFINITE MERCY, LOVE AND GRACE, AND IN THE GOSPEL OF THE DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, THAT ALL WHO SEEK HIM HAVE ETERNAL, ABUNDANT LIFE.
The Signs of the Times truly seem to indicate that we are in the End Times, including signs in the sky! On November 19, 2021, was the longest partial lunar eclipse in 530 years, visible from North and South America, Australia, and parts of Europe and Asia. It was accompanied by a blood red moon, as prophesied first by the prophet Joel (2:31) and then repeated in Acts 2:20.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come.
It reminded me that the Lord's return is imminent, and led me to repost a blog from 2013, which I have inserted below, about an unusual sign in the sky that seemed to have particular Biblical significance. May we all remember to look up, for our redemption draws nigh!
Prophecy tells us to watch for signs in the sky (Jeremiah 10:2; Daniel 6:27; Joel
2:10; Luke 21:11; Acts 2:19), and a special sign is now
on the horizon! A comet that could be hailed as “Comet of the Century” flew
around the sun on Thanksgiving Day, was given up for dead, but emerged and now may
be best seen in all its glory on Christmas Day!
Signs in the sky will herald the second coming of our
King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Mark
13:24-26; Luke 21:25-27). He will appear in the heavens like
lightning (Matthew 24:27,30) in
His triumphant return to defeat the enemies of Israel at the battle of
Armageddon (Revelation 16:16),
and ultimately conquering Satan, sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). All those who have placed their
trust in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) will accompany Him in the
armies of saints (Revelation 19:14).
Jesus said to look up when we see the signs of times (Luke 21:28), for our Redemption
is near! At any moment, but at least seven years before the glorious second
above, the trump could sound, heard only by believers. We shall be changed in
an instant (1 Corinthians 15:52),
caught up to meet Christ in the air, to spend eternity with Him in our
glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:49,54)
that will never age or feel pain or sorrow.
To date, the most radiant and long-awaited sign in the
sky was the Star of Bethlehem, illuminating the birth of Jesus, the Word
Himself made flesh (John 1:14),
and guiding the wise men who sought the promised Messiah (Matthew 2:2-9).
When will His second coming be? No man knows the day or
the hour (Matthew 24:36), but
only God the Father Himself. Yet we are told to be vigilant and aware of the
signs of the times (Matthew 24),
which encourage us and strengthen our resolve to keep our hearts in Him (Matthew 6:21; John 15:5) and
our lamps burning with the flame of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 26:1-13).
That is why I’m excited
about recent news of a comet that made a hairpin loop around the sun on
Thanksgiving Day, passing so close that some astronomers wondered if it would
survive the encounter. I began writing this blog post the day before
Thanksgiving, and I must admit that my heart sank when reports on Thanksgiving
night proclaimed that the comet was destroyed, as it was no longer visible.
But on Black Friday morning,
the headlines read: Hold the obituary! The comet has emerged from behind the
sun and has begun to brighten. According to the initial predictions, it would
reach its peak brilliance in December, even though its brightness to the
observer already increased 25 times between November 13- 21! It may be ranked as one of the brightest comets
of the past 50 years, and at its peak, it may even be visible in broad
For best night-time viewing,
astronomers advise seeking rural areas, free from the light pollution of
cities. The comet is most radiant against a backdrop of total darkness, seen without
distraction from manmade lights.However, they strongly warned that only
experienced observers should attempt to view the comet as it whipped around the
sun. Although there is no danger in observing the comet itself, staring
directly at the sun can result in blindness as infrared rays painlessly burn
the retina of the eye.
the comet approached
the sun, the scorching heat and gravitational force of the sun
presumably gave rise to a
long, brilliant train, although this was not visible from the Solar
Dynamics Observatory where NASA was focusing. According to initial
predictions, the comet shouldclimb noticeably higher in the north-northwest sky from December
21-31, and by Christmas Day, should no longer rise or set, but should remain above the
horizon all night long.
By now you’ve no doubt guessed
why I am so amazed by this comet, for it reminds me of our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ! Its flight so close to the sun is like the proximity of
Jesus Christ, Son of God yet God Himself, to God the Father. Even in His earthly
ministry, Jesus and the Father were one (John
10:30), and now He sits at the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:19; Luke 22:69; Romans
Even though Jesus told
His apostles that He would rise from the dead (Matthew 20:19; Luke 24:7), they lost all hope after
His burial and crucifixion (John 20:19).
But just as He said He would, Christ rose again on the third day, that all who
place their faith in Him would live with Him forever! (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)
How appropriate that the
comet’s approach to the sun occurred on Thanksgiving Day! What better reasons
do we have to be thankful than for the Word becoming flesh to pay for all our
sins (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2;4:10),
to give eternal life to those who trust Him (John 3:16), and now to intercede for us with the Father? (Hebrews 4 :14-16)
Yet not all are
thankful, for many are lured away by the world and have not yet seen Him as
their Lord and Savior. Even those who are saved can see Him more clearly away
from the distracting glare of worldly light pollution (Romans 12:2). He is the Light of the world (John 1:9; 8 :12 ;9 :5 ;11:9)
Who shines brightest against the darkness of our sin (Acts 26:18; 2 Corinthians 4:6).
The astronomers warned
us not to look directly at the comet as it approached the scorching light of
the sun, but to safely enjoy the view of the comet at night, When Jesus walked among us, bringing light to
a world darkened by sin, looking at His face was no doubt the best blessing
imaginable (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Yet man cannot look directly at God the Father because of
His supreme glory and holiness (1
Kings 19:13; Exodus 3 :6; 19 :21).
The astronomers initially
predicted that this comet’s appearance to earth would culminate with an amazing
display on Christmas Day, when it would neither set nor rise, but remain above
the horizon all night long. Thanks to Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23), as celebrated on
Christmas Day, those who trust Him are no longer in darkness (Isaiah 9:2). We have seen the
bright light of the Morning Star! (Revelation 22:16) He alone will
light the New Jerusalem in continual radiance and there will be no night, nor
any need for the sun (Revelation 22:5).
Oh, and did I mention
the name of the new comet? It is Comet ISON! The name is an acronym for the International
Scientific Optical Network, which discovered the comet last year. But to my mind, this is a
contraction of I AM THAT I AM, the self-existent Name of God (Exodus 3:14), and GOD THE SON,
Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:13; 1 John 4:15,
etc.), the Word from the beginning (John
1:1) and eternally our Lord (Hebrews
Not that we need any
sign (Matthew 12:39) to have faith in Him, for the facts of His death and resurrection are
sufficient! (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
Regardless of whether ISON lives up to expectations or disappears from view, we
have faith – the evidence of things unseen (Hebrews
11:1) – that Christ reigns forever. Look up, and remember the Word made
flesh, Our Redeemer, and His promise to return!
Thanksgiving is nothing to keep quiet about – we should
shout our thanks to God from the rooftops (Luke 12:3), and sing it aloud until
the joyous sound overflows the sanctuary into the streets, for all to hear and
rejoice! Even without corporate worship, we can sing the melody of thanksgiving
in our hearts until it bubbles over as joy in our everyday life!
We tend to think of Thanksgiving as a holiday with time off
from work, gatherings with family and friends, a feast day when we often
overindulge in delicious food, the big football game, a televised parade that
becomes more secular with every passing year, or even planning ahead for Black
Friday sales and shopping spree.
As pleasant as all this can be, Thanksgiving is not about
us. It’s all about God, and thanking Him for all the amazing blessings He has
bestowed on us. Thank God we are saved by trusting in the death, burial and
resurrection of Jesus Christ (1
Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way (John 14:6) to Heaven! Let us give Him thanks for His Word,
the indwelling Holy Spirit to teach, guide and encourage us; family, friends,
health, prosperity, a loving and Bible-preaching church, and ministry opportunities
in which to serve Him and bless others.
Sometimes it is easier to be thankful than in other times,
but even in trials we can thank Him that He works all things together for our
ultimate good, the good of others, and His glory (Romans 8:28).
There is nothing passive about thanksgiving as described in
Scripture, for it is accompanied by active participation in praise, worship,
sacrifice, and prayer.
The Law of Moses described sacrifices of thanksgiving that
did not involve merely bringing an offering, but preparing, cooking and even
frying it first! Unleavened cakes were to be mingled with oil, and unleavened
wafers anointed with oil, and cakes of fine flour and oil were to be fried. Leavened
bread was also part of the sacrifice of thanksgiving, so you can imagine all
the baking that went on before these offerings could even be brought to the tabernacle
or temple! (Leviticus 7:11-13).
This was not to be done grudgingly or out of a sense of
duty, but of the giver’s own free will (Leviticus
7:15). And yet, you can’t outgive God! (Ephesians 3:20). He commanded that the sacrifice of
thanksgiving, once offered to the Lord, was to be eaten by the giver the same
day, so he was rewarded for honoring God’s commandment (Leviticus 7:29-31)
It reminds me of the Easter basket my grandmother used to
prepare before Resurrection Sunday, full of delicious dishes like roast lamb,
colorfully dyed eggs, Kulich (a very tall coffee cake filled with candied
fruits), and Pascha (a creamy sweet spread). She would bring it to the Russian
Orthodox church the afternoon before the Easter vigil as an offering to be
blessed, and after the candlelight procession and singing to celebrate Jesus Christ rising from the dead, we would bring it home and devour its tasty
contents, all the while thanking God for His goodness!
Thanking God for a great work He has done through us (John 15:5) should not be a
perfunctory acknowledgement of God’s blessing, but an active celebration, often
involving song and music! At the dedication of the wall rebuilt in Jerusalem
under Nehemiah’s leadership, all the Levites were summoned to keep the
dedication with gladness, thanksgivings, singing, cymbals, psalteries, and
harps, to sing songs of praise and thanksgiving to God (Nehemiah 12:27, 46).
The Psalms are replete with descriptions of voicing thanksgiving
to God through joyful testimony of all He has done (26:7; 107:22), singing (69:30; 147:7), joyful noise (95:2), praise (100:4),
calling on His Name (116:17),
and praising Him on the harp (147:7).
The first Thanksgiving after I was saved, the church we
joined had a service in which members were invited to stand and give a brief
testimony of what they were most thankful for. I felt a very strong leading by
the Holy Spirit to get up and thank Him for my salvation, yet my timidity won
out, and I quenched the Spirit by remaining quiet. The next day I awoke with
laryngitis and was unable to speak at all, which I took as a warning to obey
God immediately when I clearly heard His voice calling me to use mine, to His
The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke of God’s plan to
restore salvation to Israel, which would be accompanied by joy, gladness,
thanksgiving, and the voice of melody (Isaiah
51:3) and “thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry” (Jeremiah 30:19).
Thanksgiving need not be loud and boisterous, but may be
whispered quietly, as in prayer and supplication (Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2). The apostle Paul encouraged us not only to
encourage one another and worship Christ in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs sung
aloud, but also to make melody in our heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).
Not only on Thanksgiving Day or in harvest season, but
every day until Christ comes again to rapture His children, may we honor Him
and encourage one another with songs of thanksgiving, whether sung aloud or
lifted up in our hearts!