A Mountain Burning With Fire

How the Great Tribulation will begin

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Newsdate - Some time in the next 25 years: A News flash goes out to the entire world. Astronomers have discovered an asteroid (or comet) on a collision course with the earth. And it's too late to do anything about it! That group of scientists who thought that we should build a defense system to protect ourselves from such catastrophes have a short time in which to say, "We told you so!" Astronomers hastily plot the course of the object and predict an impact in the northeastern Pacific Ocean. Astrophysicists try to calculate the force of the coming impact, and thus predict the extent of the coming disaster. They are horrified by what their numbers tell them.

In the final hours before the strike, radios and televisions everywhere are blaring futile advice on how to protect yourself. Along the Pacific Rim, highways are choked with traffic as people head for high ground. Airports are jammed with those seeking flights from Pacific islands and coastal regions. People everywhere are doing all kinds of things, some rational and some irrational, to try to get themselves some protection. There are scenes of pathos and scenes of hysteria. Churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues are packed with people praying. Phone lines are jammed with people making a final call to loved ones, or asking the authorities for information. Grocery stores are mobbed by people stockpiling food. In some places, mobs of looters run wild. But all material efforts to prepare, however wise, become worthless. Efforts to take advantage of the situation become a sick joke. A disaster many times greater than anything known in recorded history overtakes the earth, and the world as we know it ends in one big bang. The Great Tribulation has begun!

The preceding paragraphs may not sound like a fulfillment of Second Coming Prophecy to you, but they do to a limited number of people. (Update, 7/30/06: not so limited anymore. See "That Was Then, This Is Now".)  They are the Christians (and some non-Christians) who are familiar with the Book of Revelation and Second Coming Prophecy generally, and who are also knowledgeable about the subject of asteroid and comet collisions. The event described above is prophesied in the 6th and 8th chapters of the Book of Revelation, as well as in several Old Testament passages. Understand this, though: To be able to see this for yourself you must have real knowledge of both subjects. This is especially true of knowing the science of asteroid collisions. A person who does not know the subject will not see it. To a person who does know the subject, it is obvious.

An Objection:

Before we go further into this topic, we must discuss the one honest objection to it that has been made by Christians: It has been said that it sounds too much like "The Jupiter Effect". This phrase was the title of a book that became famous among Christians in the late 70's and early 80's. Briefly, it predicted an earthquake that would result from a line-up of the planets, which would destroy Los Angeles. Of course, it didn't happen (See "Report on the 'Stupider Effect'"). There is a major difference between "The Jupiter Effect" and what is said here. "The Jupiter Effect" was never accepted as true by the scientific community! Although it was claimed by the writers that their book was "scientific", it was not true. The real scientific consensus on "The Jupiter Effect" was "Impossible!" As far as the basic concept in this page, the consensus of scientific opinion is that something like what is predicted in this page will absolutely happen sooner or later unless there is something we can do to prevent it. The questions, scientifically speaking, are "When, Where, and How Big?" Far from being "Impossible", in the long run, the scientific position on this is "Definitely!"

The only possible scientific objection to what is said here as it applies to the near future is the issue of probability. That is to say, how likely is it, from a scientific standpoint, that such a collision will happen within the next 50 years? From the standpoint of some scientists, the probability is very small. However, according to one book published recently ("Impact!" by Gerrit L. Verschuur, a noted astronomer), there is reason to believe that such collisions may happen as frequently as once, on the average, every 5000 years. That is less time than recorded history (written history dates from about 3500 BC). If this is true, then we are statistically overdue for a hit. As the author of the book said, if a major collision occurs about every 5000 years, (quote verbatim) "it will not be long before we had better duck". His book, and several other recent books, show that the danger is significantly greater than previously thought. And each book approaches the subject from a different scientific perspective. See the Bibliography.

Secular Awareness

The secular public is becoming increasingly aware of this. The discovery, in 1981, that there is reason to believe that a comet or asteroid collision wiped out the dinosaurs began to raise public awareness of this. (The scientific community had known about the possibility of asteroid collisions for years, as did some knowledgeable laymen, including this writer.) The collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter in July-August 1994 further raised the public consciousness of the possibility. Just recently, an apparent false alarm about a possible collision got massive public attention. And in the summer of 1998, there were two movies released that dealt with the possibility; "Deep Impact" from Paramount Pictures, and "Armageddon" (!) from Touchstone Pictures (Walt Disney).

It must be noted that "Deep Impact" was much closer to scientific truth in what it depicted than was "Armageddon". This is especially true of the time it took to prepare to try to stop the collision. In "Armageddon" they had only 18 days. In "Deep Impact" they had about 2 years. The scientific consensus is that we would need at least seven months. The Bible suggests that we might get exactly one day's warning. This, furthermore, makes the colliding object more likely to be an asteroid than a comet. Comets are relatively easy for astronomers to spot, even when they are far away. A comet headed for the earth would very likely be spotted far in advance. But asteroids are hard to see, even with powerful telescopes. An asteroid collision is much more likely to take us by surprise.

More recently, The American Museum of Natural History in New York City put on a computer animated multimedia presentation called "Cosmic Collisions", that dealt with asteroid collisions and related astronomical events. It was showing to sell-out crowds at $22.00 a seat. The general public is aware of and interested in such catastrophes.

Christian Awareness

Yet for all the public awareness of the possibility, and for all that it is prophesied in the Book of Revelation, and in other passages as well, Christians, when told about the subject of asteroid and comet collisions, will frequently reject the idea out of hand. This is probably because the idea is so different from most of what has been previously taught about the Second Coming. But those who reject this idea may be in for a terrible surprise.

There is a bad human tendency to which Christians are by no means immune. When people hear ideas that conflict with what they already believe, they tend to reject them out of hand. But people have lost fortunes that way. The wise thing to do is to seriously consider the new ideas and, as the Bible teaches, "Prove all things. Hold fast that which is good." (I Thessalonians 5:21). See "The Proper Handling of Prophecy". If you reject what is said in this page, and the rest of this site, out of hand, you may be rejecting your only real chance to be truly ready for the Second Coming.

You should also be aware, as stated previously in this section, that there is a Biblical possibility that the Prophecies of the Second Coming won't be able to be properly understood until they are about to be fulfilled. This is based on Daniel 12:4 and 8-10. Daniel himself was not allowed to know what the visions he had seen meant because "the words are closed up and sealed up until the time of the end..... but the wise shall understand". The ideas presented in this page are based on information that has been well known to the general public for less than 25 years. If we are in fact in the time of the end, the "words" are no longer "closed up and sealed". New, genuine understanding may well be presented in this page.

Note: Since this page was originally posted to the Web (1997), many other Christians have begun to believe in this interpretation of this passage.

The Scriptural Basis:

This message, and the entire ministry of which it is a part, had it's beginning in the Spring of 1971, when, in the midst of an informal Bible discussion, this writer noticed that Revelation 8:8 appears to describe an asteroid collision. Thus we read:

"Then the second angel sounded; And something like a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood."

This passage has usually been considered symbolic, but there has been considerable difference of opinion about just what it symbolizes. The truth is, there is good reason to believe it is not symbolic at all. If the words, "something like a great mountain burning with fire...." are understood to be literal, they form a vivid and accurate picture of an asteroid or a comet nucleus as it collides with the earth. But that's not all. If the other events in Revelation 8:7-9:2 are viewed as different aspects of the same event, rather that a series of events, and certain key words are understood from the original Greek, then what we have is a detailed and astonishingly accurate description not only of an actual collision, but also of all its secondary effects. The repeated use of the word "a third" in the passage apparently shows that this passage refers to the one third of the earth's surface nearest the point of impact. That area will be totally devastated.

 A Key Word

The critical thing to understand is the Greek word translated "something like" or "as it were", or something equivalent, depending on the translation. This word has no English equivalent, and neither of the italicized phrases above fully translates it. A full translation, in modern English, of the word as used in Revelation would read, "something like, but distinctly not...". In other words, John saw a vision of a literal event. He did not have the right words to describe what he saw, and in fact did not understand it, but he used the best words he had to describe it. This word occurs several times in Revelation 8 and 9. Therefore, we can understand that the idea is there in relation to the things John describes even when the word is not. For example, the sea takes on the appearance of blood after the collision (there are multiple scientific reasons why); but it does not literally turn to blood.

 Other Explanations:

Other students of Prophecy have realized that these verses might be meant literally, and have proposed two other explanations for the "mountain burning with fire", that sound plausible but that can easily be shown to be incorrect.

The first is that the "mountain" is a volcano. But a marine volcano rises from the sea. It is not cast into it. The Greek word translated "cast" is "ballo", the word from which we get our word "ballistics", the science of the movement of objects in flight. It occurs several times in the Revelation, and is always used in reference to something that is actually thrown into something else, such as the ocean or hell (See Revelation 20:10). Therefore, this means that what John saw was flying through the air as if it had been thrown. An asteroid or comet nucleus would look like that as it came down. Also, John might have known it was a volcano if that was what  he saw. There are many volcanoes in the eastern Mediterranean region. One is not far from Patmos. Also, it is quite likely that he knew about the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed the Roman cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii in 79 AD, just fifteen years before the Revelation was written.

The other possibility that has been suggested is that this is a nuclear explosion. But a nuclear fireball, in the few minutes it exists, does not come down. Rather, it rises, and that quite rapidly. Even when the explosion happens underwater. That's why we get the mushroom cloud. A nuclear fireball would not appear to be "cast into the sea".

Again, in both cases, the "mountain" would appear to rise from the sea, not be cast into it. If it is either of these two things, saying that it was "cast into the sea" would be a factual error.

The only thing we know of that fits John's description is an asteroid or comet collision, the impact occurring in one of the oceans. Again, remember that this was a vision. If John had been close enough to the point of impact to actually see the "mountain burning with fire", he would not have lived to tell about it. God gave John that part of the Revelation to let us know what was being described.

 

Now here is what the collision will do that will actually fulfill the Prophecies:

In Revelation 6:12-17:

12. The "great earthquake" is actually the ground shock that will come from the collision. The shock wave will travel around the world, and it will trigger secondary earthquakes wherever the tectonic stress exists to make one possible. The Sun becomes black because of a cloud of seawater and impact debris that will spread out from the point of impact.

13. The "stars of heaven" that "fell to earth" are a meteor shower that will accompany the large object that constitutes the "mountain". It is a fact of science that this is likely to happen when a collision occurs. See the book "Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets" (listed in Bibliography).

14. Again, "the sky receded" because of the massive cloud that John saw spreading out, giving the visual impression of the sky being rolled up. "Every mountain and island" are moved by the ground shock.

In verse 15-17, the reaction indicates that either there is, as described above, a brief warning that the collision is going to happen, or else people know it has happened before they actually experience the effects. It is noteworthy that the text suggests that many people will be painfully aware that the collision is the wrath of God. A newspaper columnist, writing in the New York Times years ago, made the observation that if such an event occurs, it could be taken to mean that "God exists, and He is not pleased".

There is one thing that is an obvious difference between the passage in Revelation 6 and the one in Revelation 8 & 9. In Revelation 6, John describes what he sees from the perspective of a person very far away, perhaps on the far side of the world, from the point of impact. In Revelation 8 & 9, he describes it as viewed by a person quite close to the impact site.

In Revelation 8:7-9:2:

The things that happen when the trumpets are blown are different aspects of the same event, not a series of events. The reason God gave this particular revelation this way is probably that there is just too much information involved for it all to be communicated coherently in a single vision. In understanding these things, we must remember that John was describing literal appearances, not substance, without really understanding what he saw.

7. "hail and fire mixed with blood" are debris from the explosion. Note that there is no word in the ancient Greek for "explosion", so John had no way of conveying that idea. Throughout the one third of the earth's surface that is nearest the point of impact, there will be a rain of seawater, with the appearance of blood, mixed with red hot rock fragments. The red hot rock fragments will cause widespread forest and brush fires. This is known to have happened when the collision that wiped out the dinosaurs occurred.

8. See above.

9. "living creatures...died...ships were destroyed": The results of the collision. The shock wave that goes through the ocean will disintegrate the bodies of marine animals, which will be a major part of the water turning to blood. The shock wave in the water and the atmospheric blast will combine to destroy most if not all ships in the area.

10-11. This is another place where we must understand the original Greek, and remember that John is describing appearances. The Greek word translated "made bitter" can also mean "poisoned", and that is apparently what happens here. "Wormwood" is a plant, also known as "absinthe", which has been used as a folk remedy for the disease of worms, and hence the name "Wormwood". It is bitter in taste, and in large doses, poisonous. John is describing the effect the star has, not its actual substance. The Greek word for "name" connotes authority, and hence effect. The collision will create a situation that has been described as "pollution on a heroic scale". There will be a rain of sea water mixed with toxic chemicals throughout the 1/3 of the earth's surface nearest the collision site. (See the book, "The Great Extinction", listed in the Bibliography). This will include, in the case of an asteroid, heavy metal oxides, or in the case of a comet, cyanide, and either way, toxic oxides of nitrogen. It will make the water bitter, but not just bitter. Lethally poisoned! Every body of fresh water in the affected area will be lethally contaminated.

12. This again is a reference to the cloud of seawater and debris - actually dust - that will spread out from the point of impact and blot out at least part of the sunlight. The use of the words "a third" here seem to indicate that the darkness will not be total, but this should cover the entire world for a period of time.

13. This verse is an interpolation. The angel was telling John something about the entire Great Tribulation: As stated in the previous page, it is made up of three distinct, great outpourings of God's wrath that are called "woes".

9:1 & 2. This is a description of the enormous column of smoke that will rise from the point of impact following the explosion. It may also indicate that the collision will trigger a volcanic eruption at the point of impact.   This is quite likely if it hits in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii, as this writer believes. Or it could even occur at some other point on earth where the geological potential exists for a major eruption. The most likely location for such an event is Yellowstone National Park.

There is one other major aspect of the collision that for some reason is not clearly shown in the Book of Revelation, though secondary effects are. However, it appears in two passages in the Old Testament that also describe this event, howbeit more poetically. The passages are Psalm 18:7-16, (and also II Samuel 22:8-17, an identical passage) and the entire 3rd chapter of the Book of Habakkuk. This aspect is a tidal wave, a.k.a. a tsunami, that will spread out from the point of impact and devastate the entire Pacific Rim. Its affects are specifically mentioned in Psalm 18:14 &15 and Habakkuk 3:8 & 10. This will be a tsunami such as has never happened before in recorded history. In some places it may be over a mile high. Furthermore, it won't be just a single wave, but a series of them over a period of hours, each carrying debris out to sea as the waters recede. As has been recently stated in print, where cities now stand, there will be nothing left but mud flats.

When all this is over, about 1/3 of the human race will be gone.

Where Will It Hit?

The answer to this is dictated by the fact that the collision must devastate, again, one third of the earth's surface, but it must do little or no damage to Jerusalem and the Middle East generally. That area has to be left basically intact because of things that must happen there later in fulfillment of further prophecies. It follows that the point of impact, longitudinally, (i.e. in east-west terms) must be on the opposite side of the earth. That puts it in the Pacific Ocean, on a north-south line between Hawaii and the west coast of the United States.

But the collision can't happen exactly on the opposite point from Jerusalem on the earth's surface. The reason is this: Concentric ground shock waves will spread out around the world from the point of impact. As they go out, the amplitude - that is, in simple terms, the strength - of the waves will decrease. But, as the waves approach the point exactly opposite the impact site, and the line decreases in length, the amplitude will increase again, effectively becoming almost as strong as the initial shock. The result, it has been theorized, will be an explosive event at the opposite point that is nearly as bad as the impact. If the impact occurred at any place near the exact opposite point from Jerusalem, Jerusalem would be destroyed. The opposite point is south of the equator. To get the secondary explosive event away from Jerusalem, the impact must occur north of the equator, again, in the area between the west coast of the United States and Hawaii, but north of Hawaii, possibly closer to Alaska.

Therefore, a serious immediate effect of the collision will be the destruction of the United States, as well Canada and at least northern Mexico.

Again, you must be familiar with the topic of asteroid and comet collisions, and related topics, plus the Prophecies, to see this for yourself. But you can take this writer's word for it. He "has done his homework" on this, and he continues to do it.

The Mysterious "Locusts"

As shown above, the secular media has been and is conditioning the unsaved world to expect an event like this and just view it as horrendous bad luck for the whole world. Christians who are not familiar with the message of the Web site may not realize that what has happened was prophesied, and the collision may seriously shake their faith. But something will happen right after the collision that should tell every Bible-believing Christian that what is happening is the Great Tribulation. It will effect the entire surviving world.

Strange creatures, apparently demonic, will come out of the collision site (Revelation 9:3) John calls them "locusts", but again, it can be assumed that he is relating them to the only thing he knows that they resemble. The "locusts" are something that no one has ever seen before, nor will anyone see them again afterward. These creatures are not any normal locusts. They start stinging people in an extremely painful, but non-fatal (verse 5) way. In fact, people will want to die while this is happening but won't be able to! The stings are compared to scorpion stings. A scorpion sting is one of the most painful injuries a human can receive and live to tell about it. This will continue for 5 months. This is probably the same period of time in which the cloud from the explosion will cover the earth.

Allowing this will actually be what has been called a "severe mercy" on God's part. Again, Christians might not at first realize that the collision is the start of the Great Tribulation. Especially if they have been committed to believing in other Prophetic scenarios, as many are. But to anyone with any familiarity with the Scriptures, the "locusts" will make it literally painfully clear that what is happening it the Great Tribulation. It will make it impossible for Christians not to know it. And then they will know, on one hand that their previous beliefs were wrong, and, on the other hand, they will know what else to expect, and what they have to do.

When this ends, the first "woe", or outpouring of God's wrath, that makes up the Tribulation is over, but the worst of the Tribulation is actually still ahead. For a quick summary of what the Book of Revelation appears to really prophesy, see the "Great Tribulation Overview" page.

The Great Tribulation will not be good news for anybody. Which is why you must be consciously and seriously concerned about being ready. We don't know when the Tribulation will begin. It could be any time now.

So get ready and stay ready.

Now!

We will begin to cover the Second Woe, the next major phase
of the Great Tribulation, in the following page:

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Contact Author, William D. Brehm