of distress.” Those “pangs of distress,” as serious as those of a woman in childbirth, did not mean that Christendom was about to give birth to a new Christian order, a world converted to Christianity, but meant that she was nearing her painful death. But true Christians were nearing deliverance!
How We Know It Is Getting Near
1. As regards “fearful sights and from heaven great signs,” what did Jesus prophesy right after telling of Jerusalem’s being trampled on by the nations to the end of their appointed times?
Note that Luke’s account of Jesus’ prophecy predicted “fearful sights and from heaven great signs.” (Luke 21:11) After describing Jerusalem’s destruction and her being trampled on by the Gentile nations until their “appointed times” are fulfilled, Luke’s account goes on to say: “Also, there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”—Luke 21:25-27.
2, 3. To what extent have the “powers of the heavens” been shaken by the advent of aviation?
2 Have not all these predicted things already come true in large measure, although not altogether to their fullest measure? Have not the “powers of the heavens” been shaken, with an effect upon sun, moon and stars?
3 Till this twentieth century the heavens have been the dominion of the birds and flying creatures, with the exception of some kites, balloons and dirigibles sent aloft by men. More than thirteen thousand years ago, on the fifth creative day God created the creatures of the sea and the flying creatures to “fly over the earth upon the face of the expanse of the heavens.” (Gen. 1:20-23) But with the successful flying of the airplane on December 17, 1903, man really began to invade the domain of the living flying creatures and to go above their realm into outer space. From then on the airplane was improved and was put to use in World War I in shooting and bombing from the air. Rain, snow and hail were thenceforth not the only things to be poured down from the heavens. With the expanding of aviation in war operations and in peacetime transportation the balance of man’s natural environment was due to be shaken, upset, unsettled.
4. How is rocketry causing an invasion of the heavens?
4 During World War I the German “Big Bertha” cannons were used from a distance of thirty miles to heave shells into Paris, France. Thereafter rocketry was specially pushed by the Germans. Rockets were used to carry explosives from the European continent across the English Channel and down upon London and other English cities, in addition to airplane bombing raids. Near the close of World War II atomic bombs of devastating explosive power were introduced into warfare and exploded over Japan. In short order there followed the invention of the still more terrible nuclear bomb. A number of leading nations developed the know-how, so that today there are five nuclear nations. The first atomic bombs were dropped from speedy airplanes, but now rocketry has been applied in behalf of the nuclear bomb. Now the world of mankind shudders in fear of the ICBM’s, the intercontinental ballistic missiles, which streak through the outer space of the heavens across the formerly protective oceans to strike the enemy targets. Man is trying to outdo the lightning bolts of the heavens.
“ANGUISH OF NATIONS”
5. As to “signs in sun and moon and stars,” what darkening of sun, moon and stars and also meteoric showers in these last centuries does history record?
5 What, though, about the foretold “signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth”? (Luke 21:25, 26) Could it mean anything different from what happened on May 19, 1780, when the sun was darkened? This produced a nightlike darkness that extended over 329,000 square miles of New England, United States of America, this being followed on the subsequent night by the darkening of the moon, when at its full, and also of the stars. Also, on the early morning of November 12/13, 1833, there occurred a meteoric shower in which millions on millions of starlike meteors fell over North America and which covered 11,000,000 square miles, a heavenly phenomenon so impressive that it caught the attention of scientific men. Yet not long ago, early on November 17, 1966, there was an awesome meteoric shower that rained on the upper atmosphere of southwestern United States, from Texas to Arizona.
6. (a) Would such heavenly phenomena repeated in this century terrify people into believing that the world’s end was near? (b) How have phenomena different from the above been made known?
6 Well, in our twentieth century of scientific advancement nothing like such strange celestial phenomena would terrify most people into believing that the “end of the world” was near. True, but today the science of astronomy, telescopic and radio, has made such advancement as to detect more phenomena about sun, moon and stars and their effect upon the earth and its inhabitants.
7. What information, scientifically gained, is imparting to us new aspects about sun, moon and stars?
7 Now we are informed of how those great flares of nuclear energy producing so-called sunspots send out streams of powerful electronic particles that not only cause disruption in the field of shortwave radio and magnetic areas but also affect people to an abnormal extent, a new cycle of sunspots due to reach its peak in 1970. The earth is continually being bombarded with cosmic rays. Great belts of ionized