"And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for SIGNS,..." [Genesis 1:14a] --------------- "And there shall be SIGNS in the sun, and in the moon, and in the STARS,..." --Jesus [Luke 21:25]
It was July 4, 2005, UTC. The scientists and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and at NASA were elated as they were able to impact Comet Tempel ONE, 83 million miles away at 10:52 P.M., July 3rd, local Pasadena, California time.
Tempel One was named for the astronomer, Ernst Wilhelm Leberecht Tempel, who first glimpsed this wanderer in 1867. He was looking for comets in the skies over Marseilles, France. It is believed that Tempel One originated in the Kuiper Belt, a region of space near Pluto with many icy pieces of debris. Currently Tempel One is circling the sun every five and a half years. That timing has varied from 5.75 to 5.5 due to the effect of planets it happens to pass near to. And so it's orbit will probably remain rather variable.
Scientists have often believed that comets might hold the secret of how life came to planet Earth. They theorize that these mysterious objects hold within their depths bits of the early Universe. Believing that comets are in fact basically ice, they have wondered if the frozen core of a comet could have reached the surface of Earth, seeding the planet with life.
But God has correctly stated, from the beginning that one of the purposes of stars is for SIGNS. They are billboards that God's Spirit can use to send a message from Heaven. The stars are just one of the Lord's many Divine messaging systems. And in Bible terms a comet is a star. Astronomers might argue with that definition. But, God can define things anyway HE wants. The Holy Spirit inspired Saint Jude to compare evil men with comets. And in so doing, Jude underlines the fact that God defines comets as a kind of star.
"...wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." [Jude 1:13b]
This bit of Scripture defines a comet's existence rather accurately. Comets spend what most of us might call "forever" wandering in an elliptical orbit that takes them far, far from the Sun. Most of their time is spent in colder, darker places. But periodically the odd orbit swings back toward the Sun again. When comets do finally come back to the Sun their orbits bring them comparatively closer to the fire ball, where they make a turn and are flung out into the distant reaches of the Solar System again. While nearer to the Sun they can put on a spectacular tail show. Their long elliptical orbits tend to keep them out in the cold for long periods. Halley's Comet is one of the longer orbits, with a 75 year turn around time.
Being absent for 75 years means that Halley's goes very, very far from the comfort of our portion of the Solar System. Comet orbits are hard to calculate because comets go to such extremes, potentially taking them into the gravitational fields of the larger giant planets that may be passing near them. These gravity fields mess with the comet's orbit. For that reason their return to our neighborhood of the Solar System is difficult to predict far in advance. Comets have an unpredictable, dark, cold existence for the most part.
For scientists the Deep Impact Mission to Tempel One is an opportunity to learn much. Deep Impact will help them test their theories about the Universe along with many other questions they have.
However, for the people of God, Deep Impact is a Sign in the Heavens, a message written in the night sky. I realize that comet Tempel One was named for a man who spelled his name with the letter "E" before the letter "L." I understand too, that the word for a worship building, "temple," is spelled with the "E" and the "L" in the reverse order. Nevertheless, we pronounce the word "temple" and the name "Tempel" the same.
As I was in prayer today, July 6, 2005, the Holy Spirit was saying to me that one of the messages in this sign is "Temple number one needs a Deep Impact of the Holy Spirit." My body is "Temple Number One," and your body is your temple number one. Furthermore, the Christian Faith is "Temple Number One" among all the religions of the World. In other words the message that God has sent to us in this sign from the Heavens concerns Christians and Christianity. This sign is a message about the faith that Names Jesus Christ as Lord. This sign goes further, though. This sign in the Heavens is about Christianity in the U.S.A., because the U.S.A. paid the $330 million bill for this experiment. The Holy Spirit is speaking to me that God has used this experiment to send the Church in the U.S.A. a report card.
This sign in the sky tells me that my temple needs a mighty touch from the Holy Spirit. I need more of the precious Spirit of God. This sign also confirms to me that the Church of Jesus Christ, which is the number ONE Temple before all other religious temples, is in need of light. The Church in the U.S.A. has grown distant from God, cold in God, darkened and in the spiritual shadows. The U.S. Church is orbiting in a darkness today that a hundred years ago it was not so mired in.
Between 1853 and 1910 the United States experienced the greatest spiritual time of it's entire history. In that time frame there were periods where 50,000 people a week were receiving Jesus as Lord of their lives. By today's standards that would be like a half a million souls a week! The Holiness movement and the Camp Meeting movement exploded onto the scene in those days. In 1906 the Azusa Street pentecostal mission erupted into an even greater fullness of the Holy Spirit. By 1908 the people who had been touched by Azusa Street had reached 50 other nations. By 1910 they were printing literature about the Holy Spirit in 30 different languages! 11,000 New denominations were formed from that wave of blessing that came out of Azusa Street in Los Angeles. 400,000,000 converts to Jesus Christ came out of that wave.
But today we find ourselves having become institutionalized and traditionalized, with only a small fraction of the power of the Holy Spirit. Our comet has swung farther from the Son of God, into coldness. And what we need is a Deep Impact of the Holy Spirit! We need God Almighty to penetrate the icy core of our hearts and to melt us down into a pure, humble, holy, obedient and fiery people of God.
Christian media would have us believe that we are having the greatest days right now. They tell us that a mighty revival is going on in the U.S.A. But good historians will report that what happened in 1853 to 1910 touched that society in a deeper and greater way. It spilled over into many denominations and even into politics. The message of heart purity soaked into the society. It was a major reason for the Northern States (where the revival was larger) demanding an end to slavery and freedom for black people. The abolitionists were largely made up of holiness people and newer believers who clearly saw the sin of slavery. That revival emptied jails, closed breweries, reformed society into a cleaner and better time, for awhile.
In contrast Christianity in the U.S.A. today is big business, big buildings, big concerts, big media, big music, and splashing events. But the secular world sees that the church is just doing a "Madison Avenue" deal. They see it as just another commercial. They know we aren't really all that different because they see their Christian friends drinking socially, gossiping, worshiping material things, watching "R" rated movies, showing our cleavage, sporting our tattoos and piercings, dishonoring God's day, dabbling in profanity.
The church world may not be able to get back on track. We are living in the period of the "great falling away." God is calling us as individuals to seek the Lord and have a personal "Deep Impact" of God. The Holy Spirit is the answer for this day. HE is the administrator of God's glory, God's power and God's workings. The Spirit of God makes Jesus real to us, helps us know what a wonderful Heavenly Father we have in the Throne Room of Heaven.
Call on the Lord! Begin to read your Bible voraciously. Seek for the deep things of God. Clean up your life. Get all the weights of sin out of your life. And if you can't break free from some bondage call out for deliverance. Ask Jesus to forgive you. Do your first works over again. Don't wait for the visible church to move. You move toward God today...before it is too late.