I’m going to go light on editorializing this one. If it doesn’t speak for itself, nothing will.
His eyes were like a flame of fire…
…and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (Revelation 1:14, 16)
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (Jesus at Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, in John 8:12; ponder: what is the natural light of the world? Who created it?)
…the LORD your God is a consuming fire… (Deuteronomy 4:24)
…trembling has seized the godless: “Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Isaiah 33:14)
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken–that is, things that have been made–in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:25-29)
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens… (Joel 2:28-30a)
Below are two pictures, in sequence, of Comet Lovejoy just before its plunge into and through the sun late Thursday (EST), December 15th — exactly one week,almost to the hour, after Obama’s premature celebration of the Festival of Lights (Hanukkah) which actually begins tomorrow (Tuesday) evening. (The latter shot, at right, taken at 7:54PM EST, shows the disk of the sun itself, blued-out, in the upper right.)
The only passage of scripture in which the words ‘love’ and ‘joy’ appear adjacent to one another also has the two words in that order: Galatians 5:22 –
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Sun rips comet’s tail during close encounter (MSNBC, Dec. 17th)
A newfound comet [discovered Nov. 27th] that plunged through the sun’s atmosphere Thursday — and amazingly survived — was visibly maimed by the encounter, which left the icy wanderer without its long, bright tail, a scientist says… the death-defying comet Lovejoy slipped through the sun’s outer atmosphere (called the corona [which means 'crown'!]) with a bright tail in tow, only to reappear tailless on the other side…
[Christ] has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:26-28)
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared… (1st Peter 3:18-20a)
Other accounts describe the comet as having seemed “doomed,” and its plunge being “death-defying”; (note the accompanying picture, reproduced above.) One account describes Lovejoy as, “surviving a suicidal dive through the sun’s hellishly hot atmosphere”. Another notes that it was, “mutilated”.
These are mainstream, secular accounts. With that backdrop, note the superlatively joyous tone of surprise of the astronomer in the first article:
The unexpected survival of comet Lovejoy has amazed… astronomers because most comets that have close encounters with the sun are destroyed… “What an extraordinary 24hrs!“ [one astronomer] wrote. “I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And I have NEVER been so happy to be wrong!“
Remind you of anything? How about the disciples on seeing and recognizing the resurrected Jesus? Or anyone upon truly “getting” the good news of everlasting life in him.
Scripture makes clear that the resurrected Jesus retains his scars (John 20:27), i.e., that he remains “visibly maimed” as a result of his voluntary death-defying plunge on our behalf, for our sins, into the pit of death so as to overcome them, fulfilling Isaiah 53 (e.g., v5-8):
…he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
Some commentators go further, noting that his face was likely marred beyond recognition (“mutilated”) by the beating he took during his passion, e.g., having his beard pulled out, massive swelling, the crown of thorns, etc. I know it’s a common solar-astronomical term, but I think it’s neat also that this comet (Lovejoy) dove through the sun’s corona (crown), its head emerging intact and perhaps even brighter… newly and unexpectedly crowned with brightness and power, as we’ll see in a moment.
The tail of Comet Lovejoy was cut off and left behind, unable to bridge the gap of the fiery sun on its own (see Luke 16:26).
In Hebrew scripture, the word most commonly translated as ‘tail’ is H2180, זָנָב, pronounced, zä·näv’. It’s closely related to a lesser-used root (H2179, see Deut 25:18 and Josh 10:19) which means to cut off the tail.
The former word is used 11 times in 9 verses. Those numbers are associated, respectively, in scripture, according to Bullinger, with “disorder, disorganization, imperfection, and disintegration” and “the conclusion of a matter… finality or judgment”… which seems perfectly appropriate to the word for tail — especially one being cut off.
First use of zä·näv’ comes in Exodus 4:4 where Jehovah instructs Moses to pick up the serpent by its tail. It had become a serpent by virtue of Moses throwing down his rod, on Jehovah’s instruction to convince Moses that he had the power and authority to speak to the people. In Moses’ hand again, it reverts to being rod or staff, e.g., with which to rule — Jehovah having made the transformation in each case.
Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’” The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. But the LORD said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”–so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand–”that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” (Exodus 4:1-5)
As Comet Lovejoy recedes intact from its Dec. 16th close encounter with the sun, researchers are pondering a mystery: What made the comet’s tail wiggle so wildly in transit through the sun’s atmosphere?
The next two uses of the word come in the pivotal if-then-else, blessings-and-curses warning passages of Deuteronomy 28 (mirrored in Leviticus 26) — passages which help explain the special dangers and responsibilities of being a chosen, holy, set-apart nation, as well as explaining much of subsequent Jewish history (a hyper-controversial observation which I picked up from listening to tapes of the late Art Katz). As Pastor Jerry Gillis points out in this useful series on Leviticus, there are two dangerous positions to be in: 1) being close to the holy, perfect, consuming God and, 2) much, much worse: being far away from Him. Much as we’d like to think so, there is no third option.
In Deuteronomy 28, Jehovah tells the nation of Israel that if they follow His commands (v13), “…Jehovah shall make thee the head, and not the tail…” and that if they don’t, (v44) the stranger, “shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail“. Basically: which part of the train do you want to be on? Because, just to let you know… the caboose ain’t gonna be reachin’ the final station. It’s being cut off.
Study the other tail references for yourself. (In the Greek, Revelation 12:4 is of particular interest at this time in regards to Israel.) Specially notable also, in an American-prophetic context is the infamous Isaiah 9, closely related to the harbinger events which followed closely on the events of 9-11:
For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts. Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day. The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer , and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away , but his hand is stretched out still. For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke. (Isaiah 9:12-18)
The typology ‘works’ for Israel at that time, for George Washington vs. Barack Obama as well as for Christ and antichrist. Beware any exclusive interpretations, remembering that, in the Hebrew mind, prophecy is pattern (i.e., Design) and not merely prediction and fulfillment as is true for those of us caught in the stream of time on a one-way trip.
Then there is the final use of the word ‘tail’, in the Hebrew scriptures, regarding judgment on Egypt — the manner of their fall. It should come as no surprise that the original chaos and fibrillation of Egypt under the ten plagues, should find an echo today. I.e., it’s no wonder this passage could have been taken from recent headlines regarding the chaotic violence there. It suggests that, as a nation, they may have passed some kind of event horizon:
Where then are your wise men? Let them tell you that they might know what the LORD of hosts has purposed against Egypt. The princes of Zoan have become fools, and the princes of Memphis are deluded; those who are the cornerstones of her tribes have made Egypt stagger. The LORD has mingled within her a spirit of confusion, and they will make Egypt stagger in all its deeds, as a drunken man staggers in his vomit. And there will be nothing for Egypt that head or tail, palm branch or reed, may do. (Isaiah 19:12-15)
(A review of Obama’s June 4, 2009 ‘Cairo Speech’ might prove amusing with two and a half years of increasingly brutal history there now behind us… but I wouldn’t dwell there.)
Instead, dwell on the head of Comet Lovejoy (the fruit of the Spirit).
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-17)
It is a streak of bright, ancient light which broke into our view suddenly and quite unexpectedly and (briefly, but distinctively) formed the shape of a cross before its plunge into the consuming fire — from which is now emerging even brighter than before, most visible in the Southern Hemisphere, the same place where Jehovah chose to set up the Southern Cross, as a sign in the heavens.
Keeping firmly in mind that these events are signs and symbols pointing to a larger spiritual reality and not in and of themselves to be feared (a mistake some made with Comet Elenin) note the prophetic overtones of this secular, scientific report, from 11AM today (Monday, 12-19) EST:
I can’t imagine that this week can possibly hold the excitement of last week, but we certainly have some things to look forward to, and who knows what surprises Comet Lovejoy still has for us? … it’s looking spectacular!…
…fear not, as Lovejoy is now visible again from the ground! And indeed it’s actually more visible now than it was before it plunged through the solar atmosphere! …this comet is just going to become easier and easier to see.
…We thought the comet was only a couple of hundred meters in diameter, based on its brightness prior to reaching the Sun, giving it no chance of survival. Now we know it has survived, and therefore must be bigger than we thought…
Another surprise was how Lovejoy has both regained and sustained its intense pre-perihelion brightness. As it raced through the solar corona, Lovejoy’s extensive dust tail was completely severed, and thereafter gently floated towards the Sun while its head raced on without it. As it re-emerged from perihelion, all that remained was an intense, condensed nucleus that seemed a shadow of its former self. But within just three-and-a-half hours, it underwent a sepctacular resurgence to return to its former glory! I really did not see that coming, nor did I envision that it would become as bright as when it plunged in, that its tail would re-grow so strongly, that its ion tail would strengthen more than ever…
[Some might wish to pause and re-read Revelation 12:4 at this point.]
But it’s not all smooth-sailing for Lovejoy. It has been through the most hostile environment that our solar system offers, comets are low-density objects, and scars don’t heal. If Lovejoy has suffered any serious fractures then at any time it could fragment into one or more pieces, and its still close enough to the Sun to evaporate significantly.
Scripture teaches us different. Christ’s work, on the cross, will heal any fractures or fragmentations, any lasting scars in the believer and the true body of Christ, his church.