It seems that worries that “the sky might fall on your head tomorrow” are not confined to characters such as Vitalstatistix in the comic book Asterix and the Falling Sky! Which is one reason why NASA is sending the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on a mission to take a very close look at a near-Earth asteroid called RQ36.
There are about a million ‘Near Earth Objects’ (NEO’s) some of which could cause significant global disruption if they came our way. Those the size of basket balls fall on us every day and one the size of a car hits us every few months. But they all burn away in our atmosphere before causing us any damage.
Apart from NEO’s there are currently 1,377 ‘Potentially Hazardous Asteroids’ (PHA’s) in space, some of which are more likely to fall on our heads than others. One of them came far, far closer to us than the Moon three years ago! It was a rock the size of a small office building and would have been 180 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb if it had hit the Earth.
However, every so often something more ‘newsworthy’ does happen, like the 4 megaton blast above Siberia in 1908 that flattened forests for over 1,000 miles, or the meteor that violently and very visibly exploded over Russia in 2013.
Clearly, PHA’s and NEO’s need to be seen for what they are – the potential cause of horrendous disasters, both physically and economically. If OSIRIS-REx does its job, it will help scientists understand such objects better. But avoiding a damaging collision with one will be much harder!
Big problems ahead
Faced with such things, flicking through the pages of the Bible might not help! Take this quotation for example:
“All the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree.” (Isaiah 34:3 NIV)
In fact the Bible often refers to objects in the sky, such as this reference in Isaiah. But this Old Testament prophet was not telling his readers that the “stars in the sky” were literally going to fall on their heads. He was telling them about significant changes that were going to happen to national and world governments.
We can read similar words in the gospel of Matthew:
“Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29 NIV)
Shortly after Matthew’s gospel was written, in AD 70, the Romans destroyed the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the Jews lost everything, including their national home. It was as if the sky had indeed fallen in on their national heads!
The Bible indicates that such events as the Jews experienced 2000 years ago will soon happen again and have repercussions world-wide. With or without the effect of a big asteroid hitting the earth, the world as we now know it is living on borrowed time.
Such a prospect naturally makes us worry, especially if we feel there is nothing we can do to stop it happening. Which is why we need to read the Bible very carefully.
If we believe that God made this world we live in, it’s hardly logical to suppose that he will now let some natural event destroy it. In fact God cares about our world very deeply, including us. He even cares for sparrows that fly over our heads every day:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31 NIV)
Prophecies about future world problems were not written to make us worry. Some of the things we might worry about – like NEO’s and PHA’s – are outside our control. But other things, like how we think and behave, are up to us and far more important, as Peter wrote in his letter:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV)
God’s plan for a world-wide Kingdom will make the Earth a safe and secure place to live. He alone has the power to prevent “the sky falling on our head tomorrow”. Whatever the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reveals to scientists, it will be far less important than the Bible’s message.
Show that you trust God to complete his plan, by believing the gospel (“good news”) in the Bible and by being baptised.