Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Billows of Smoke

Eruption: A dark cloud of ash and steam hangs over the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland after it erupted for the second time in less than one month. Read more...
Act 2
17" 'In the last days, God says,[...]
19I will show wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.'
"Massive ash cloud shuts down Europe's skies." A sign of the times?

When I read the recent news article about the Iceland volcano whose name looks like someone mashing the keyboard, I suddenly remembered this verse about "billows of smoke". Volcanic ashes.

Well, granted, volcanoes erupt pretty much everywhere. But Huanyan and I were chatting over dinner last Saturday, and we started commenting about how there were so many earthquakes being reported in the news this year.

Thing is... by themselves, all these natural occurences don't mean that much. But put together, and affecting us so clearly... well, these are very interesting patterns to take note of.

Signs? I remember studying semiotics in my media and communications modules... very difficult, very fascinating and the theorists haven't settled on any stable foundational thoughts yet. But anyway, the key thing is that there's objects and there's meanings as assigned to these objects, that make the objects more than merely objects, but special objects that have meaning = signs!

Well, by themselves, all these occurences happen naturally, so there's nothing much to make of it - like how the logician Charles Sanders Peirce put it (and embraced by poststructuralists): "Nothing is a sign unless it is interpreted as a sign." But... well, the Lord himself told us that when you see all these things happening... then they're to be interpreted as signs.

In any case, I'm just quoting semiotic theory not really to prove any particular point, but just to say that all these happenings in the past few years are getting more and more interesting and we need to take note.

WWI, WWII... then blood and fire and billows of smoke... wars and so on. I was reading the book of Daniel, and was thinking about the feet of clay and iron - how the peoples of the earth, after the fall of the Eastern and Western Roman empires, will not be united, any more than iron mixes with clay. Looking at the increasing breakups of nations over the past few centuries, it does give one food for thought.

Billows of smoke. Gosh. Sun turned to darkness and the moon to blood... I wonder how it's going to happen?

But what shall our response be? Shall we stock up on food and ammo and get ready to run to the mountains to hide? Nah. Jesus told us to lift up our heads, for our redemption draws near. And all the more we need to continue walking with God blamelessly, and loving Him and our neighbours as ourselves. To go forth into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. So that we won't be found sleeping or slacking when He returns suddenly, like a thief in the night.

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