We went camping this past weekend and, throughout the entire time, we’d hear geese passing overhead, honking loudly. Can you see them in the photo? They are there, right in the center. Sometimes there would be just a few but, often, there were hundreds of them. Here in Pennsylvania we’ve come to associate these sights and sounds with the onset of spring or the end of fall, when the geese are migrating.
The geese are a sign. A sign that change is coming. A signal that the end of a season has drawn nigh and that the next season is coming.
I found it interesting that, on this same weekend, I read about an incident that gave signs as to what was coming. I took some time to read a history magazine during my time away which featured a series of articles about Pompeii and its destruction due to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. This town was preserved in a special way by the lava and ash that covered it and would, many years later, be excavated by archaeologists, providing much information regarding life in Rome at that time.
The thing I found most interesting was the timeline they gave of the event. Even if you don’t love history, I think you will find this fascinating…
Four days before the eruption, the people felt tremors in the town. The town had lost a quarter of its population twenty years before due to a terrible earthquake, so it is interesting that people were not more concerned about these tremors. But life, according to sources available, seemed to continue on as normal. I would imagine some people decided to take a trip to the country when the tremors started.
These tremors continued, until shorty after noon of the fourth day, when the volcano roared to life and began to spew debris into the air. The sky grew dark and menacing and soon, thousands of tons of pumice was raining down on the population of Pompeii. Some of the people had escaped into the countryside, but there was little hope for those who chose to stay. Many sought shelter in their homes but the weight of the pumice caused their homes to collapse. If their homes did not collapse, then there was the ash. Ash and debris covered the city up to 9 ft. deep. This continued throughout the afternoon and evening and into the night.
Twelve hours afterward, the roaring mountain settled down, the gases weakened, and the intensity died down. Pompeiians who had happened to survive the day before began to take stock of their neighborhoods and families. With the mountain and town quiet now, they believed they had survived the worst of it.
But they had not. Unbeknownst to them, super-heated clouds of ash, gases, and volcanic debris, would soon surge towards them around 200 miles per hour. With the heat and intensity of the flow, it is doubtful that anyone survived. (Another coastal town by the name of Herculaneum, that had missed the rain of ash and pumice due to the direction of the wind, was not spared this time and was also discovered by archaeologists some 1600 years later.)
As I read this article 1, I was struck by its relevance for us today.
Since I was a young girl, we have been feeling tremors that signal we are approaching the end of the age. We knew, even then, it was coming soon. Ever since Israel became a nation, we knew it couldn’t be long. But there were other things, too, indicating that things were changing. Some chose to ignore these tremors. Others chose to obsess about them. The wise chose to acknowledge them, while understanding that it was all in God’s Sovereign Plan for the world, according to scripture.
And then came the first big eruption. The things that put the actual last days in motion. I remember looking at my husband in March of 2020 and saying this is it. This is the beginning of the end.
Things have been abnormal since then. We want to hope that things will go back to normal. We want to think it is all over. But I rather guess we are just like those Pompeiians who wandered around after that first rain of ash and debris searching for survivors.
The worst is yet to come and the world as we know it will not survive the second and final surge of “lava”, planned by wicked men but ordained by God to bring in the final days of this age.
We’d be wise to acknowledge the signs and prepare ourselves for what is to come. I am not talking about preparing ourselves physically, but spiritually.
Are we in the Word, obeying its commands, learning what it says about the future, clinging to its promises? Are we learning from godly men and women who point us to the inerrant and inspired Bible for all of life, who believe that Jesus is our only hope, and who help us grow deep roots of faith? This is how we can prepare spiritually for what lies ahead for us in the days to come. There really is no other way.
It is tempting to grow discouraged as we consider what is ahead. My husband and I talked about this at length as we endure the crushing ramifications of all that has transpired over the past few years, knowing deep down that there is not much hope for things improving in the future.
I am not sure what will be that final surge that changes everything. News stories fill the airwaves, often filling us with fear. We all know things are not right. That something is coming. Did the Pompeiians walking around in their ash and pumice-filled town feel the same?
The signs are everywhere. The end is near. While we must not be overly focused on this and we must live every moment as if life will continue on as it always has, it is important to recognize that, at some point soon now, it simply…won’t.
The signs are everywhere and it is in our best interest to pay attention. Instead of fear, may these signs give us more love for and trust in God and His Word, may they give us a deeper passion for sharing the Gospel, and may they fill us with a growing anticipation to meet our Savior!
1from BBC History Revealed, October 2022