There shall be greater signs in heaven

One of the most popular stories on Yahoo News this morning was “Real Death Star Could Strike Earth.” Somehow, we remember in the back of our minds that something like this is prophesied to happen in the last days just before the Savior returns to the earth. I suppose that is why stories like these are so popular. has been running these regular Monday morning reports that seem to play on the worries and fears of the Last Days. Aren’t there supposed to be signs in the heavens that we should be able to look for as a warning that time is almost up – something about stars falling from the sky? Ah yes, here it is:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. (Matt 24:29). There it is, just as clear as can be. The stars will fall from the sky.

Or, if you prefer a version from modern revelation: “But, behold, I say unto you that before this great day shall come the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall be turned into blood, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and there shall be greater signs in heaven above and in the earth beneath. (D&C 29:14)

Greater signs in heaven than stars falling? What could those possibly be? How about a huge meteorite hit? “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth.” (Rev 9:1) John actually mentioned three stars in Revelation which cause three woes or three plagues. These “falling stars” appear to be the direct cause of three major catastrophes.

How about the approach of a large comet that gets just a little too close? Couldn’t that possibly cause a huge amount of destruction as the Earth passes through the tail or the gravitational pull causes global earthquakes the likes of which we have never seen in our lifetime? How about a bunch of little meteorites, each one causing terrible destruction? Could that be a sign in heaven?

“Earthquakes rent the earth in vast chasms, which engulfed multitudes; terrible groanings and wailings filled the air; the shrieks of the suffering were indescribably awful. Water wildly rushed in from the tumultuous ocean whose very roaring under the mad rage of the fierce cyclone was unendurable to the ear. Cities were swept away in an instant…”

NOTE: I’m looking for a better source for this quote. I have one in printed form in an old book and one online in this slide presentation. I looked in the BYU online digital library but could not find it. The source is The Contributor Magazine, Vol 15, No 20, pp 638-647. It is entitled, “A Dream”. The author is Charles D. Evans, a patriarch in Springville, UT and is dated August 1894. Junius Wells was the editor of The Contributor Magazine during those years.

How about fire from heaven – could that be a sign? I am not convinced that the Peshtigo fires of 8 October 1871 were caused by anything other than natural events. But many have read into the accounts the very description of earth passing through the tail of a comet: “It came in great sheeted flames from heaven. There was a pitiless rain of fire and sand. The atmosphere was all afire.”

I know, the idea of the fires of 1871, including the great Chicago fire being caused by an asteroid, comet or meteor have all been debunked over the years. Phil Plait, author of Bad Astronomy, whose upcoming book is entitled, “Death from the Skies,” is adamant that there is nothing to the idea. But still, from the descriptions I’ve read, one could make a case for meteorites mixed with burning petroleum. I don’t know – just wondering aloud.

I suspect we will be reading more and more stories about these kinds of catastrophic events. Some of the most ridiculed are the ideas of some sort of gamma ray burst or an ultramassive body passing through our solar system. Some theorize that a comet or meteor could affect the orbit of one of the outer planets, causing it to careen into the path of another planet and so on.

Who knows? Most scientists are not known for their ability or desire to correlate their understanding of the heavens with the prophecies found in the scriptures. We are told that there will be “new heavens and a new earth,” (D&C 29:23-34) but that it shall be like the old one. (Ether 13:9)

So the heavens will look different in the future – perhaps a change in the very stars that we see. Does anybody know when this will happen? I don’t, but the Lord has told us that he will “do nothing save he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets”. (Amos 3:7)

“Wherefore, be not deceived, but continue in steadfastness, looking forth for the heavens to be shaken, and the earth to tremble and to reel to and fro as a drunken man, and for the valleys to be exalted, and for the mountains to be made low, and for the rough places to become smooth–and all this when the angel shall sound his trumpet.” (D&C 49:23)

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