Prophets, scholars and burning hail

I am more impressed with prophets than I am with scholars. While I know some prophets who are also scholars, I know a whole lot of scholars who know nothing about prophets. Their world of research and peer-review publications is a far cry from the world of revelation and vision-inspired teaching in which prophets excel.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not criticizing or putting down scholars and their ways of getting their message out. Peer-review has its place in the sciences but it is not the way prophets share what they have learned. Just as in ancient times, except to mock and ridicule, the world pays little attention to what modern-day prophets say.

Prophets in Old Testament times were rarely popular, usually because they boldly spoke the word of the Lord in telling the people to repent. That’s not something that most people like to hear, especially if they are enjoying their life of sin. So they drove the prophets away, where they continued to write for our benefit today.

The prophets saw our day

Many prophets saw our day. The Lord revealed it to them. They saw things that would happen in the skies that we simply are not familiar with. They were very familiar with the catastrophes that are about to befall us because many of them also happened in their day – earthquakes, plagues, famines, pestilences and great hail.

Have you ever thought about why the falling of hailstones would be such a big deal? We see hailstones all the time. Sure, they may destroy a few crops and break a few things but why are they mentioned so prominently in prophecies from Old Testament times that foretold our day? I wonder if it was a different kind of hail.

What if the hailstones that the prophets described were not hailstones of ice but of stone? What if the correct interpretation of what fell from the sky was meteorite? Can you imagine meteorites falling like hail? What would cause such a thing? Well, it’s actually quite simple and has a very logical and natural explanation.

Frozen water or burning rock

Meteorites, or more correctly, meteoroids, are simply debris from comets that have passed by. When the Earth passes through the region of space where the comet has been, we have meteor showers. The Leonids are one such example of a meteor shower that arrives every year about November 17th. Another is the Perseids.

We sometimes call these fiery displays, falling stars or shooting stars. But they are not really stars at all, but may be leftover pieces of planets that have broken up. We watch in awe as they shoot across the night sky, sometimes as often as one or two a minute. People travel to desert places to view and photograph them clearly.

But falling rocks don’t burn, do they? Indeed they do. Most of what we see in a meteor shower comes from rocks the size of pebbles and even sand. The friction of the atmosphere causes them to burn up, usually long before they reach the earth. But interestingly, larger ones that do reach the ground are usually cold. Go figure.

Hailstones of fire

The hail that fell in Egypt at the time of the Exodus was described by the Lord as very grievous, such as had not been seen in the land from the foundation of Egypt. I’m sure there had been hail in Egypt, but this was a different kind. It was not hail of ice, but of stone, burning stone, for fire ran along the ground as it fell in torrents.

The Lord has said through his prophets that such an event will occur again as part of the last days, just before the coming of the Lord. Can you imagine the kind of damage that a meteor storm that causes fire to run along the ground can do? The size of these meteorites as they strike the ground is prophesied to be quite large.

Now that’s something that can do some damage, especially if these falling stones are accompanied by fire. We find another description of this phenomenon when the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. We call it fire and brimstone. Yes, that’s the sort of thing we have to look forward to before the Lord returns.

Fire and brimstone

What about this idea of fire and brimstone falling from the sky? Did such a thing really happen? Could it happen again? Brimstone is identified in modern times as sulfur, a product of volcanic activity, usually found around the brim or edge of a volcano in vents. Will there be increased volcanic activity before the Lord returns?

Yes, we will see huge amounts of volcanic activity in the last days but this essay is more about fire from the sky. In addition to swarms of meteors like we have never seen before, there is another kind of fire from the sky that has happened in our day, but which scholars have claimed could not have happened as they are the experts.

I’ve mentioned the Peshtigo fires in my essays before, but the subject deserves a second visit. If you are familiar with the fires, you have probably read about the comet theory. I agree with those who claim that fragments from a passing comet probably did not cause the fires. Any meteorites that fell did not cause the fires.

Falling burning petroleum

I’ll conclude this essay by bringing up one last thing to consider. Remember that in the Book of Exodus, the hail that fell was mingled with fire that ran along the ground. We know that the Lord uses natural events to bring about his purposes. Isn’t it possible that the comet could have some other debris besides meteorites?

You go read the description of the nucleus of a comet as found on Wikipedia. You’ll discover there that one of the components that is burned off a comet by solar heating is oil or tar. Hmmm….What if the earth were to pass through the same area in space where the tail of a comet left behind these organic compounds?

As one eyewitness to the Peshtigo fires reported, “It came in great sheeted flames from heaven. There was a pitiless rain of fire and sand. The atmosphere was all afire.” At apparently the same moment, in points hundreds of miles apart, the most devastating kind of fires broke out, so far as we know, by spontaneous combustion.

Summary and conclusion

Scholars over the years have debunked the idea that a passing comet somehow caused the Peshtigo fires. They must know, right? I mean, they are the scholars and they have the credentials to prove that they can speak with authority on this. As our tax-funded experts at NASA informed us, “Meteorites don’t pop corn.”

Forget about burning meteorites for a few minutes. Think about other possibilities of how the scripture in Exodus could be true – hail mingled with fire that ran along the ground. I propose that this is easily explainable by the earth passing through another kind of debris from a comet – not meteorites, but sticky, oily petroleum.

The falling meteorites themselves did a lot of damage, especially as they grew in size, but they did not necessarily cause the fire. The more I have studied it, the more I am convinced that the Egyptian hail and Peshtigo fires were caused by the earth passing through petroleum, heated to combustion by atmospheric friction.


Photo: Lithograph appeared in Harper’s Weekly 1871 and is entitled “At the River.” It depicts families fleeing from the Peshtigo fires.

11 thoughts on “Prophets, scholars and burning hail”

  1. Tim:Great thoughts.As for me, I am looking forward to the day when Prophets and scholars have a lot of two-way communication. Henry Eyring was a beginning point. We need more of the same.

  2. Hi S.Faux,When I think of prophets who were also scholars, I think of James E. Talmadge, John A. Widtsoe, Neal A. Maxwell, Henry B. Eyring, Dallin H. Oaks, Jeffry R. Holland and many others. All prophets and all well educated men.I wonder which modern-day prophet can be considered our expert on the signs of the times, especially as they relate to the cosmos? We don’t read much from them by way of explanation on how these great events are going to occur, do we?

  3. Interesting, but I’d be wary of trying to “prove” biblical passages with modern scientific speculation. That has a tendency to become the never ending argument.

  4. Hi Euripides,I agree. It can be an impossible and circuitous task to attempt scientific explanations for miraculous biblical events. Science is continually evolving, but then so is our knowledge and understanding of the way God does things.I like looking for rational and logical explanations for my faith wherever I can find them. I do not lose my belief in miracles, I just gain evidence for my faith in what I previously did not understand.The signs of the times and the events of the last days are my favorite subjects to study. I look to the past to understand what is going to happen in the future. These burning hail is mentioned as something we will definitely see in the coming days.I want to be prepared with a rational explanation for when it comes and scares everybody half to death. Everybody will be looking to science to explain these things as they happen. I say we need to look to the cosmos and records of what was seen there in the past to understand what is about to be a big part of our lives very soon.I know faithful scientists who very much want to understand the ways that the Lord causes what we consider miracles. The human body is one that comes to mind. So is the creation of the earth and the eventual end of the world. Like S.Faux noted, I am looking forward to the day when the dialog between scholarly scientists and visionary prophets give us the full picture that the Lord wants us to have.Thanks for the great comment. You got me thinking more about how much I love science, even with the attendant speculation. That’s how we discover things – by proposing theories and then setting out to prove them. That process even helps me as I build my faith and testimony of doctrines that are just hard to understand at first.

  5. Interesting thoughts, Tim. We are on the opposite ends of the science spectrum as far as the signs of the times go, I guess, since I really don’t care about the exact nature of “how” they will occur. I’m much more interested in “why” they will occur and trying to read the signs of the times regarding that question. Therefore, I appreciate reading the thoughts of those who focus on the “how”.

  6. Hi Papa D,Thanks for stopping by and adding a few much appreciated thoughts. I have always been very interested in looking for and discovering logical explanations for miraculous events as described and foretold by old testament prophets.I have dialoged and conversed with many people over the years who have rejected such prophesied events because they are so wrapped up in how it could possibly happen. The example of burning hail is one that they like to mock.”Why everybody knows that hail is frozen water,” they say very dismissively. “There is no way that hail can burn. If you mix them together, the hail will melt and put out the fire.”Rev 8:7 makes it clear that hail and fire will come upon the world in the last days before the coming of the Lord. “The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.”That’s a fairly catastrophic event and one of the earliest to occur. If in my lifetime I saw burning hail falling from the heavens I think I would want to know what is going on. That’s not something that you see every day. A third part of the tress and ALL green grass were burned. Wow! That’s going to cause some trouble for life on earth. Will we see that happen? What will we do?

  7. I am curious to know how you rationalize your respect for scholarship with your tenacity for the mythology of religion. You speak of the earth as a planetary body while believing in one of the strangest and most egocentric propositions of an “afterlife” espoused by any theology.

  8. Hi Robert,What in the world are you doing in Vietnam? I’ll bet that’s a beautiful country. What a far cry it must be from the days of war that tore it apart for so many years. You write that you are helping children in that country. Are you in the Peace Corps? I have a niece in the Peace Corps in Bulgaria. It can be a tough job.Tenacity. I like that. Yes, I do have tenacity for my religion. I continue to believe it and have done so for most all of my life. It continues to answers questions for me no matter how deep I dig or how hard the questions. It even helps me understand some of the mythology you referred to. My religion embraces all truth, no matter what the source.Mythology is a wonderful thing. It contains so many elements of truth so long forgotten. The written record does not preserve nearly so well what some of the ancient myths conveyed in story and epic. It helps us experience the long forgotten past as our ancestors did – in myth and legend that seem so strange to our science-trained minds of today.I’m so grateful to live in this day and age when we have the benefit of science to help us understand things that our ancestors did not. And yet, they had first hand experience of some things that we have never seen – burning hail being one of them. We are going to see a lot more things in the coming days that were evident in their day – the pillar of fire is one that I am looking forward to seeing. Won’t that be something to behold?The Afterlife. Who knows what that is really like? I haven’t been there, have you? One of the neatest experiences I am passing through right now is visiting with my dad who is dying. He tells of visits from my mother, who died a few years ago. “But dad,” I say, “you know mother has passed on.” He responds quietly, “I know. But she was here with me last night. She is waiting for me and is sorry to see me suffering like this.”What a sweet thing to contemplate – an afterlife where loving husbands and wives can be reunited and continue their journey together. I’ll bet there is so much to learn when we get to the other side. I am looking forward to it but know that the quality of my life there will depend on my actions here. It’s tough. You don’t need me to tell you that. Everybody knows it is. I’m just so glad to have my faith to keep me going as I prepare to see my dad leave us in the near future.I have great respect for well-done scholarship but hope I made it clear in my essay that there is so much that scholars don’t know and will never find out unless it is revealed to them from a higher source. I look to that source to help me understand the world around me and am especially appreciative of prophets who seem to have the gift of seeing what is to come and how it will affect me and my family. I appreciate their warnings that forewarn me and prepare me for coming catastrophe.Thanks for stopping by and adding your comments. I don’t know if I have answered your question but look forward to a continued dialog on the subject if you care to do so. I would love to discuss the idea of mythology and religion. I find them both so interesting. Cheers and God bless you for the good that you are doing there.

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