Signs in the Heavens

Is the upcoming Jupiter/Venus conjunction a sign from God of some impending event?  I have no idea, but I would I like to use it as an excuse to talk about the signs in the heavens referred to in the scriptures about the events of the last days.  Astronomical events are mathematically predictable so it can be easy to dismiss interesting events as merely “just the way it works”.  However, I believe Heavenly Father uses these events in conjunction with other warnings from His prophets to get our attention.  Timing is essential and not so easily dismissed when extremely rare events occur at important times.  My purpose with this article is not to predict the future based on astronomical events or make pronouncements about what certain events might mean but to invite you to consider this part of the Last Days puzzle and what Heavenly Father wants to tell us.

Let us first consider the Star of Bethlehem.  I came across a video online about the Star of Bethlehem and what might have caused it.  It suggested that the Star might have been a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter.  The two brightest planets in the sky.  They were so close to each other in the sky that they looked like one big, bright star.  I checked my planetarium software and there was indeed a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter preceding the birth of Christ.  I don’t know if the conjunction was actually the Star of Bethlehem, but it caused me to think about it more.  Why did no one else seem to notice it?  King Herod didn’t seem to know what the wise men were talking about when they said they followed the star.  Is it because planets in the sky weren’t unusual?  Or was it simply because he was too busy looking down on his kingdom instead of looking up to the heavens?  Either way, I believe the wise men saw the star because they were looking for it.

Another event talked about in the video was a lunar eclipse that happened on the day Christ was crucified.  Lunar eclipses aren’t terribly unusual but the timing of that particular lunar eclipse certainly is notable.  There is also a theory surrounding the timing of lunar eclipses and Jewish holy days that is fascinating.  There are differing opinions about it and I don’t have as much time as I would like to learn all about it.  The point I’m trying to make today is that the signs are there if we are looking for them.

In D&C 45:39-40 is says:

39 And it shall come to pass that he that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man.
40 And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath.

I count myself as one who is “looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come” and I’m anxious to see the signs and wonders so that I will be prepared.  I think that many of us, when we think about the signs in the heavens, are assuming that it will be something miraculous, something different and obvious.  However, I WONDER if it won’t be something that is more familiar.

Joseph Smith has said:

There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, etc. But the Son of Man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east.

This is a fascinating quote to me not only because I'm curious of what the sign of the coming of the Son of Man might be but also because of what he says the world will think.  “They will say it is a planet, or comet, etc.”  Do you think that the people of today would be confused about a planet or a comet?  It seems hard to believe.  I WONDER if he said this because it would be a planet or a comet.  However, it is often in the timing or the positioning that hints at the larger message.  The world will dismiss it because they won’t think it is anything unusual.  Those who “feareth me” and “shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come” will see it for what it really is.