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eral perceive any particular difference in appearance; still at times they seemed to shower down in groups calling to mind the fig tree, casting her untimely figs when shaken by a mighty wind.”- Volume XXV (1834), p. 382.1
A Sign to All the World It was not in North America alone, but in all the civilized world, that the attention of men was called to the prophetic word by the discussions of this event. Thus the English scientific writer, Thomas Milner, writing for the British public, spoke as follows of the profound impression made:
“In many districts, the mass of the population were terror-struck, and the more enlightened were awed at contemplating so vivid a picture of the apocalyptic image that of the stars of heaven falling to the earth, even as a fig tree casting her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.”—“The Gallery of Nature" (London, 1852), p. 140.
So the sign in the heavens made its solemn appeal to all the world. It brought to the multitudes who saw it, thoughts of God and the last great day. An observer living at the time in Georgia, wrote, “Everybody felt that it was the judgment, and that the end of the world had come.” Another, in Kentucky, wrote, “In every direction I could hear men, women, and children screaming, "The judgment day is come!'”
Rather, it was a signal that the hour of God's judgment was drawing near. The signs so long foretold were appearing, one by one, to register their enduring mark on the record of fulfilling prophecy.
Immediately following these times, there began an awakening concerning the vital Bible doctrine of the second coming of Christ, which has grown into the definite advent movement that is carrying the gospel message of preparation for the coming of the Lord to every nation and tongue and people.
The Sign of 1833 Emphasized by Other Displays
We have mentioned the fact that Humboldt had observed an extraordinary fall of meteorites in South America, thirtythree years before, in 1799. And he reported at the time
that the oldest inhabitants there had a recollection of a similar display in 1766.
From these reports, scientists deduced the theory that these showers were to be expected every thirty-three years. Hence in 1866 they were watching for a repetition of the 1833 display.
That there was a measure of truth in the deduction was made evident by an unusual fall of meteorites Nov. 14, 1866. This time Europe was the scene of the display. But the event was not to be compared with that of 1833. This appears plain from the account of observations made by Sir Robert Ball and Lord Rosse, the British astronomers.
Sir Robert Ball says that when the meteorites began to fall, he and Lord Rosse went out upon the wall of the observatory housing Lord Rosse's great reflecting telescope:
“There, for the next two or three hours, we witnessed a spectacle which can never fade from my memory. The shooting stars gradually increased in number until sometimes several were seen at once.”—“Story of the Heavens,” p. 380.
Grand as the spectacle was, it was but a reminder, apparently, of the star shower of 1833, when not "several" meteorites fell at a time, nor many, merely, but, as it appeared, “the stars of heaven fell unto the earth."
However, the spectacle of 1866, which was observed over a great part of the Old World,* served to direct renewed attention to the incomparable event of 1833, as well as to the prophetic descriptions of the "wonders in the heavens" (Joel 2:30) which were to appear as the end drew near.
* The display was most brilliant, apparently, in Western Asia. The veteran missionary, Dr. H. H. Jessup, of the Presbyterian Missionary College, of Beirut, describes the scene in his “ Fifty-Three Years in Syria : ' “On the morning of the fourteenth [November), at three o'clock, I was roused from a deep sleep by the voice of one of the young men calling, “The stars are all coming down.' The meteors poured down like a rain of fire. Many of them were large and varicolored, and left behind them a long train of fire. One immense green meteor came down over Lebanon, seeming as large as the moon, and exploded with a large noise, leaving a green pillar of light in its train. It was vain to attempt to count them, and the display continued until dawn, when their light was obscured by the king of day. The Mohammedans gave the call to prayer from the minarets, and the common people were in terror."-Volume I, pp. 316, 317.
Textbooks and astronomical works thereupon began to count it as fully established that every thirty-three years the displays would be repeated. It was confidently predicted that 1899 would witness a repetition, possibly on the scale of 1833.
Professor Langley's “New Astronomy” (published in 1888) said:
“The great November shower, which is coming once more in this century, and which every reader may hope to see toward 1899, is of particular interest to us as the first whose movements were subject to analysis.”
Chambers's Astronomy, published in 1889, said:
“The meteors of November 13 may be expected to reappear with great brilliancy in 1899.”— Volume 1, p. 635.
But the November date passed in 1899, and the years have passed; and the wondrous scene of 1833 has not been repeated. Clerke's "History of Astronomy in the Nineteenth Century” says:
“We can no longer count upon the Leonids (as the meteorites of 1833 were called, because they seemed to fall from a point in the constellation of Leo). Their glory, for scenic purposes, is departed." - Page 338.
The Lord's Signal to Watch Thus the wisest astronomical predictions made shortly before 1899, based upon the apparently recurrent regularity of the phenomenon, failed; but the predictions of the sure word of prophecy, set down on the sacred record eighteen centuries before, were fulfilled to the letter.
At the close of the days of the predicted tribulation of the church, the signs began to appear — the sun was darkened, the moon withheld its light, and the stars of heaven fell.
The series began at the time specified, the signs came in the order given in Christ's prophecy. The record of history bears witness that the prophecy was fulfilled.
It may be that on a yet more awful and universal scale these phenomena will be seen again in that last shaking of the powers of heaven which is to attend the rolling back of the heavens as a scroll, the immediate prelude to Christ's glorious appearing. But Christ's prophecy, at this point, was not giving a description of events at the very end of the world, but signs by which it might be known when the end was drawing near.
As the signs should be recognized, the Saviour intended that those who loved His appearing should be quickened with hope, and inspired to hasten to the world with the gospel message preparing the way of the Lord. The Lord's word for His children was,
“When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." Luke 21:28.
Long ago these signs began to come to pass. Now may the Lord's believing children well look up and rejoice, knowing that the day of eternal redemption is indeed nigh at hand.
He Will Come for His Own
In the glad time of the harvest,
In the grand millennial year,
And to judge the world appear,
All shall stand before the throne; Just awards will then be given,
When the King shall claim His own.
O the rapture of His people!
Long they've dwelt on earth's low sod, With their hearts e'er turning homeward,
Rich in faith and love to God. They will share the life immortal,
They will know as they are known, They will pass the pearly portal,
When the King shall claim His own.
Long they've toiled within the harvest,
Sown the precious seed with tears;
In the glad millennial years;
Nevermore to sigh or moan;
When the King shall claim His own.
We shall greet the loved and loving,
Who have left us lonely here; Every heartache will be banished
When the Saviour shall appear;
Never weary or alone;
When the King shall claim His own!
-L. D. Santee.