The Sun

Isaiah 30:26 will be a miracle, but not in the way that most people think. God will use a natural event at a miraculous point in time – something that God has done often, in the Bible. But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

What is this ‘natural event’?

Previously, I mentioned that this will be a small nova event, but let’s not stop there. Let’s look at every possible reason for why the Sun could be seven times brighter than it is, right now:

  • The Sun spontaneously increases its production of light
  • The Sun increases in size
  • The Sun explodes (Supernova)
  • The Sun shoots a ginormous solar flare at us
  • The Sun blows off its outer layer into the solar system (micronova)

As far as I can tell, those are the only options that we have, as we address this verse. So, let’s look at them.

The Sun – Spontaneously Increases Light Production By Seven Times

We could use the simplest interpretation of Isaiah 30:26, that the Sun will just suddenly become seven times more bright. To put it another way, the sun will go from being a benevolent light in the sky, to being a malevolent and ferocious ball of fire – in just minutes. A switch will flip and boom. Extra light.

That COULD happen, but it would take a far more enormous miracle than you imagine. It’s not quite as ‘simple and direct’ as it would seem, when you look at what that means. Nor does it conform to other verses that describe this event, but we’ll get to that later.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Since all of this is a miracle, it shouldn’t be any big deal for us to have another one. And, I agree – up to a point. So, let me ask you a question:

Have you noticed that God’s miracles tend to follow the natural order of the Universe?

God Uses Nature For His Miracles

They are still miracles, but God uses nature to cause them. Birds bring Elijah food. Lightening falls out of the sky to light sacrifices. Winds divide waters in two. Water floods the Earth. Donkeys speak to prophets…

(okay, so a talking donkey isn’t so natural)

So – except for the donkey – these are all seemingly natural events that are completely unnatural in their timing. In fact, US insurance companies have a term for natural events that are miraculously catastrophic – an act of God. So, as we examine a such a miraculously catastrophic event as Ezekiel’s Fire, we should consider how God would use nature to achieve His miracle.

So, how would the Sun become seven times brighter?

Well, it just could become seven times brighter!

How would that happen naturally?

How The Sun Works

Well, physicists have spent a lot of time and money studying the Sun, and we’ve come up with some pretty good ideas about how the Sun works. Of course, they are ‘ideas’ because we aren’t able to see directly inside of the Sun. Yet.

However, there are strong facts that back up our theories. For instance, we know that the Sun produces light via something called hydrogen fusion. And, hydrogen fusion happens only when you have enough hydrogen, at a certain temperature, under a certain pressure. If you are lacking in any one of those three conditions, you are not going to get a self-sustaining, hydrogen fusion reaction.

And, without hydrogen fusion, there is no light and no Sun.

How does this hydrogen fusion work?

Well, let’s start with what the Sun is:

A huge (really HUGE) ball of hydrogen.

When you get THAT much hydrogen all together in one place, it generates quite a bit of gravity. Our own tiny planet generates quite a bit of gravity all by itself, and I’ve noticed it getting stronger as I get older.

Anyway, gravity tends to pull things together, and LOTS of gravity pulls things a LOT more. The result is pressure, and you can feel this at work, in your ears, when you go up and down hills or fly in an airplane. So, we have lots of hydrogen under lots of pressure, and we also have lots of heat. Lots and lots of heat. Since we weren’t there with God created the Universe, we can’t know which came first. I’m just going to assume that God started everything simultaneously. So anyway, we have hydrogen under fantastic pressures with massive amounts of heat. And THAT will cause a fusion reaction, every single time.

What is a fusion reaction?

Well, in terms of our discussion, it is the process of taking two hydrogen atoms that were quite happy to live their lives, bouncing about – until lots of heat and high pressure forced two of them together to become Helium. Forcing two hydrogen atoms to fuse into Helium produces light and even more heat, and a nasty explosion if you let that reaction happen on Earth – using something that we call a thermonuclear bomb. One of the reasons why so many scientists think that thermonuclear bombs (aka, H-bombs) are cool is because they get to demonstrate how the Sun works – here on Earth. I am happy to say that we don’t do many of those demonstrations anymore.

Why am I talking about all this?

Well, let me ask you a question:

Where is the most pressure in the Sun?

On the surface?

No. At the very center.

If you’ve done any scuba diving, you know that the deeper you go, below the surface of the ocean, the higher the pressure. In fact, it can be quite a problem if you suffer from an ear infection. It’s the same for the Sun. The deeper you go below the surface of the Sun, the higher the pressure, and the higher the heat.

Light Comes From The Core

So, this tells us that most of the light coming from the Sun actually comes from deep INSIDE the Sun – not the outside. In fact, it comes from the CORE of the Sunwhere the greatest amount of pressure is. And, the light from the core must fight its way out, through all the layers of the Sun – so that it can be free to light our days and help plants grow.

Does this give us any insight into how the Sun could suddenly become seven times brighter?

Yes… and …No.

Remember that we are trying to find a plausible reason for why the Sun suddenly becomes seven times brighter. And yes, it is sudden, because the verses that we are referring to speak only in terms of a very short period of time.

This presents a problem for those of us who are stuck on just increasing the brightness of the Sun.

Why?

Because the Sun is remarkably consistent in producing light. For thousands of years, it was almost impossible to tell with the naked eye that there was any variation in the brightness of the Sun – called Solar Variation. And, so far we haven’t seen much variation at all – no more than 0.1% or 0.2%. For thousands of years.

Now, let me add another kink into the argument.

Remember when I said that light must fight its way out from the core so that it can shine upon us?

That is quite literally true.

Scientists have tried to calculate how much time it would take for a photon to escape the core of the Sun, bouncing from hydrogen atom to hydrogen atom before reaching open space. There are a lot of hydrogen atoms for a ray of light to dodge, which makes for an extremely long path for photons to travel. And, the lowest number that I’ve seen calculated is…

drum roll please…

…four thousand years.

FOUR THOUSAND YEARS?!

Actually, that’s a low number. I’ve seen some estimates as high as 170,000 years.

So, let’s chop that number down and assume that these well-intentioned scientists were off by a decimal point, and that light only take 400 years to get to us – once it has been generated.

Ouch. That’s still really long.

So… let’s say …FOUR years – which is TWO decimal points.

Extra Brightness Will Destroy The Earth

If it takes YEARS for a change in the real brightness of the Sun to reach us… well …that is a serious obstacle. Changes in the core of the Sun would need to happen years in advance, and happen for ONLY a very short period of time.

Why only for a short period of time?

Well, the only reason why our Earth isn’t a frozen ball of ice and rock is the amount of light being generated by the Sun. Space is a vacuum, so there’s no way for heat to reach Earth, except through light and the charged particles that we call solar wind. And, if you increase the amount of light hitting the Earth, you increase the amount of heat on Earth.

So, how hot would Earth get, if the light hitting the Earth was seven times brighter?

Well, in the Summer, it reaches more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8° C). We get that temperature quite often in July and August, here in Taiwab, and I am MISERABLE when that happens.

But, if the Sun was seven times brighter?

I wouldn’t be miserable.

I’d be DEAD.

But, what if the increase in brightness is only for a short time?

Well, THAT would be survivable – but, it would have to be a very, VERY short time.

Maybe we could survive it if this increase in brightness was for just a day?

Well, the Lord did mention the word ‘day’. So, it really COULD be a period of 24 hours. Lord willing, it will be a fraction of that.

So, for those of us who insist that Isaiah 30:26 speaks of a Sun that suddenly brightens, we would also need to have that Sun suddenly reduce that brightness back to normal extremely quickly. And, this is on top of the knowledge that the light we are talking about takes years to get to Earth, in the first place.

Are you beginning to see how unlikely a simplistic answer like ‘the Sun just gets brighter’ is?

But, let’s not allow improbability keep us from examining this further.

Do We Have Examples In Nature?

Do we have evidence of other stars increasing in brightness by seven times, for a short period?

In the first draft of this book, written in 2013 and 2014, I said, “No, not really.” What I did not know, at the time, was that scientists had been observing stars like ours do precisely that. And, they coined a new word for it – superflare. And, I will talk about that later. But, suffice it for now to say that this ‘new word’ does not belong here, where we are talking about ‘solar variation’.

With one extreme exception, ‘solar variation’ does not occur in stars like our Sun. Ever. However there are stars that do go through strong changes in brightness fairly often, and we call those stars, ‘variable stars’.

You can look into variable stars and what causes them, here:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variable_star

The point is that our star – the Sun – is dead-boring stable. For it to oscillate in brightness just once – with an increase in brightness of seven times – is just plain impossible to even imagine, especially since we have a more reasonable explanation – which we will talk about later.

Could The Sun Increase In Size By Seven Times?

It is always possible that our Sun could become unstable – i.e., go off main sequence. The chance of that happening within the next two thousand years is exactly zero. Either that, or our understanding of how our Sun works is worse than we thought.

Now, how would our Sun increase in size by seven times?

By turning into a red giant.

As a star consumes the hydrogen at its core, helium takes up a larger and larger percentage. Eventually, you have too much helium and not enough hydrogen. This causes the fusion process to sputter and fail, eventually causing the core to collapse in on itself. Since such a collapse causes an increase in heat, outer layers of the star start to fuse hydrogen. These outer layers expand, causing the star to increase in size. As this process continues, the star consumes the innermost planets orbiting around it and becomes a big, fat red giant.

But, that takes time, and there’s no chance that we would survive it.

So, there’s no way that the Bible could be describing an abrupt increase in size of the Sun. It just can’t happen. It would be simpler to give a donkey the ability to speak.

Supernova?

Let’s continue talking about that ‘red giant’ star. Eventually, as the hydrogen in the outer layers is consumed, the star will reach a point where the pressure to expand isn’t strong enough for the star to remain a red giant. This means, at some point, the star will collapse in on itself. This tends to happen very quickly, often within seconds.

This massive collapse causes the star to explode so fiercely, that it can outshine an entire galaxy. And, there’s no way that ANYTHING nearby could survive such an explosion. In fact, if any of the stars within 50 light years of us were to go supernova, we’d be toast.

So, the Bible cannot be talking about a supernova.

There are other ways that a supernova – or even a more regular nova – can occur but our solar system only has one star in it. Most astrophysicists will tell you that it takes two stars to create other kinds of novae. (The plural of nova is novae.) So, there’s no chance of that. Although, there is this one possible exception… but, we’ll get into that later.

A Really, Really Big Solar Flare

What about just a really big solar flare?

That’s a far, far more reasonable question that has a much better chance of matching the Bible’s description. But, this time, instead of talking about gravity, fusion and heat, we need to talk about something else:

magnetism

Stars aren’t just balls of hydrogen fusion lighting up the sky. They’re also extremely complex magnets. And, at the center of each star is a massive dynamo that creates magnetic poles, sorta like our own north-south poles. And, those solar poles flip every 11 years. In between those flips, spots will occur on the surface of our star where bits of that star’s magnetism leaks out to the surface.

If you’ve looked at closeup pictures of our Sun’s surface, you will probably have seen huge arcs of energy, bigger than our own planet Earth. Those are arcs of magnetic energy emitted by Sun spots and when they get big enough, and strong enough, they send out a flare. With each flare, there’s a burst of light, which is followed by a cloud of highly charged particles called a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME).

With even the largest known solar flares, the flash of light is never visible to the naked eye. You would need to be looking at the sun through a special telescope to actually see the increase in brightness. But, when a CME hits Earth, you’ll definitely notice what happens.

The largest solar flare and CME event ever recorded occurred just before noon on September 1st, 1859. Amateur astronomers, Richard Carrington and Richard Hodgson, both had telescopes pointed at the sun. They were recording the shape and size of the sun spots that they were seeing, when they suddenly saw a massive flash of light. Just 17 hours and 36 minutes later, a Coronal Mass Ejection hit Earth, causing telegraph lines to burn and lighting up the night sky with huge aurora.

We call this the Carrington Event, because Richard Carrington was better able to explain what had occurred – in addition to maybe having more friends in the Royal Astronomical Society. Remember that if you want your name in the history books, who you know is more important that what you know.

The Carrington Event was classified as an X45 class solar flare. If another such flare would hit Earth, trillions of dollars in damage would result and untold loss of life. It would be absolutely terrible, and we had a close call on July 23rd, 2012, when the CME of a similar sized solar flare missed Earth by nine days. But, as with all other recorded solar flares, you could not have seen them without the aid of a telescope.

But, what if the flare was 10,000 times stronger?

Well, if an X450,000 class solar flare hit us, we’d be toast.

The Kepler Space Telescope has recorded such superflares emitted from stars just like our own. But, there’s a problem with thinking of Ezekiel’s Fire as a superflare.

Why?

Because if our sun shot an X450,000 superflare at us, we would only see the sun as being 30% brighter and not seven times brighter, and that doesn’t fit Isaiah 30:26.

Worse, we’re not sure how much of Earth could survive a superflare. It would do more than just knock out all electricity and wipe out our civilization. It would scorch a big part of Earth and even rip away some of our atmosphere. It also might kill so many plants and animals that it’s hard to see how anyone would survive. Of course, surviving a superflare would depend on a number of factors, so we’re in the area of conjecture here.

The irony is that the movie Knowing (starring Nicholas Cage), made such a superflare event the central premise of the movie. That movie came out in 2009 and critics at the time, thought that such surperflares were impossible. But, a couple of years later, Kazunari Shibata proved them very, very wrong. And, I will be talking about Dr. Shibata in another chapter.

But, is the Bible describing a superflare?

Superflares are far, far more likely, and we’ve seen stars like our own emit them. And, if we didn’t have other details from the Bible to help point us in the right direction, we’d be stuck talking about a superflare. But, there’s one more possibility, one that seems to fit the Bible’s description best, while also being extremely rare.

A Small Nova Event

The most accurate and Biblical explanation would seem to be something similar to a small nova event that also ejects the outer surface of the Sun in a gigantic cloud of gas and dust that obscures our ability to see the stars for a certain amount of time. The Bible describes that here:

12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.

Revelation 6:12-14 (NKJV)

Astronomers consider this description to be impossible. But, they said the same thing about superflares and were proven wrong. If they were so inaccurate about superflares, then it is easy to assume that they would be mistaken about the kind of nova event described in Revelation 6.

Part of the problem that astrophysicists have is that they struggle to understand the magnetic nature of the Sun. We’ve known that the Sun has magnetic fields since 1908, and we also know that the sun’s poles flip every 11 years. We’ve also observed the magnetic reconnection events that lead to solar flares. And, watching the Sun do all that has helped us understand more about what is happening underneath the surface. But, only some of what is happening.

This struggle to understand the Sun has led us to looking at other stars that are just like our own. If Sun-type stars act in a certain way, then we can expect the same from the Sun. And, we’ve noticed something very strange:

There are stars that vanish and then slowly reappear.

Since no one can explain why this is happening, very few scientists seem to be interested in talking about it. The most logical explanation is that such stars either blew off their outer shells in a nova event of some kind, or vomited out a massive cloud of material that briefly obscured our view – sorta like what a volcano might do. Whatever happened, something – a lot of something – obstructed our view of these stars until the obstruction drifted away or fell back to its origin. And, if we were on a planet orbiting one of those stars, we would see the night sky ‘recede as a scroll when it is rolled up’. Moons would be ‘red as blood’ and all the dust swirling around would make the star ‘as black as sackcloth of hair’ – just as described in Revelation 6:12-14.

Disappearing Stars

Unfortunately, such stellar explosions are even harder to explain than superflares. But, as our telescopes become more numerous and more powerful, we are having a harder time avoiding this issue.

Early in 2020, we saw the light from Betelgeuse drop by 70%, and after much shouting and arm waving, scientists concluded that it had ejected a massive cloud of dust. This cloud was so big that it obscured our view of that star for several months. We also noticed that the star brightened just before that eruption of dust. And, while Betelgeuse is a lot different from our own sun, it gives us an idea of why stars have been disappearing – and why Isaiah 30 and Revelation 6 are so scientific in such a scary way. So, let’s look for disappearing stars.

On July 12th, 1950, the Palomar Observatory was photographing the night sky. Two of those pictures overlapped each other and were taken half an hour apart. In the second picture, nine stars had disappeared, and have not been seen since. And, we still don’t know why they’re gone.

Fast forward 70 years, and we now have the VASCO Project – aka, Vanishing and Appearing Sources during a Century of Observations Project. Launched by Dr. Beatriz Villarroel of the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics (NORDITA), they are looking for stars that have been around a while and then disappear. As of late 2020, they identified 713 stars that have disappeared, and they want to know why. (Although, they want the reason to be aliens.)

No, really. They’re looking for aliens. And, they think that really smart aliens would build gigantic structures around stars to harvest energy. But, that’s crazy ‘cuz aliens don’t exist. (sorry)

Just like with Betelgeuse, the most likely explanation for the disappearance of these stars is a massive ejection of dust that obscures our ability to see that star. The reason for this vast amount of dust could be anything from a superflare, up to a small nova event. But, there’s a problem with that explanation.

Astrophysicists don’t know how this could occur on main sequence stars like our own, and what scientists cannot explain, they tend to ignore – just like they ignored the data that showed stars like our own sun, ejection massive superflares. But, once in a generation, someone like Kizunari Shibata comes along and makes them pay attention.

Dr. Shibata talks about magnetism, and he points out that superflares are caused by a buildup of magnetic energy on the surface of a star. So, I have a question:

If a buildup of magnetism could cause something that scientists thought was impossible…

…then why not a magnetism-induced nova event, also?

Our Sun is a great big ball of magnetic energy, and that magnetism is not as stable as we would like. More importantly, we are seeing a lot of stars that are also highly magnetic and not very stable. And, we are seeing too many stars flash brightly and then disappear behind a cloud of dust.

Micronova

Unless someone can come along with a better explanation, it appears that Isaiah and Revelation are describing a small nova event of some kind. Some might claim that this could be a kind of ‘solar volcano’ that would eject a massive amount of dust out into the solar system, and I’d be happy with that explanation were it not for other passages in the Bible that describe a massive, civilization destroying EMP effect. Oh, and we have evidence from the Moon that indicates that something nova-like turned its surface into glass.

Looking for stars that disappear and then slowly reappear is a fairly new thing for astronomers to be doing. It takes a lot of effort and big budgets, but it seems that they are trying to get a grasp on which stars do this, and why. (And, they want to find aliens.) But, until they discover some other reason, I will use this term:

Micronova

I didn’t coin the term, and I certainly wasn’t the first to raise the possibility of a small nova event occurring in our future. The guy who gave us this term is Doug Vogt. Ben Davidson picked up on his theories and expanded them. Doug and Ben are not scientists, but they have noticed that the geological record and our Moon both indicate that something really big happened a few thousand years ago. They think that it was a nova, small enough to be called a micro nova. And, when I look at what the Bible says, I think that they’re right. So, until better evidence comes along, ‘micronova’ it is.

So, how would such a micronova occur?

Most scientists would claim gravitational effects are the only way and shake their head at the sheer impossibility of such a nova event happening. Astronomers have had their heads stuck in ‘gravity’ for so long that their brains got mushed. But, a few solar physicists understand magnetism and plasma physics. So, we’ll look at a magnetic explanation.

Just as solar flares are caused by loops of magnetic energy on the surface of our sun, lots and lots of such magnetic energy could cause a micronova. It would need to be a ginormous amount of energy, and it would need to be over a vast area of the Sun’s surface. And, we would probably see it happening.

As this magnetic energy accumulated, the sun’s surface would become more and more distorted until the energy could not be contained any longer. Think of it like a spring that gets wound tighter and tighter, until it explodes outward in a flash of energy and dust.

Great loops of magnetism and plasma will grow out of the sun’s surface. They will get bigger and multiply around the sun. Then, one of those loops will suffer a magnetic reconnection, causing a cascade of eruptions rippling around the sun in seconds. The sun will increase in brightness by 600%, and shell of solar dust will billow outwards.

Ben Davidson also believes that this will be a ‘magnetic event’. He points to the geologic record, evidence on the moon and historical records to show that this has already happened, and will do so again. He believes that the main trigger will be something that he calls the ‘Galactic Current Sheet’, which astronomers call the Galactic Magnetic Field, or GMF.

Will the interaction between our sun’s magnetic field and the GMF trigger a nova event?

That’s hard to say. The magnetic field of our galaxy doesn’t seem strong enough to cause our sun to initiate a small nova, but since there’s a lot about our star’s magnetism that we do not understand, it’s hard to discount what Ben is saying. But, the astrophysical trigger doesn’t matter.

What matters is that God will cause this explosion on the Sun. We will always have more questions than answers over how this event occurs, but there cannot be any question over why and Who.

The Cosmic Dust Theory

By the way, another view is that our sun will accumulate a large amount of cosmic dust from an unknown interstellar source. The idea is that our solar system could move through a cloud of dust that would coat the outer surface of the sun, causing pressure to build up inside. When the pressure gets strong enough, the sun would blow off its outer layer in a small nova event. However, we haven’t seen this dust or its accumulation on the sun, so we can’t give this dust theory much credit until we get evidence. But, it is true that our solar system does move through space in an orbit around our Milky Way galaxy, and it could hit a big cloud of dust… but, it’s really, really unlikely.

Still Not Convinced?

Those of you who still remain unconvinced, I understand why you would be reluctant to accept such a fantastic idea. It’s just too big and too awesome a notion to get your head around.

I get that.

The problem is that our inability to understand is no barrier to it happening. And, if you read When Gog Comes, you’ll see a fantastic level of devastation that is guaranteed to occur in a future that appears to be uncomfortably near. And, when it comes to a disagreement between scientists and the Bible, I’ll take the Bible every time.

So, please treat this seriously. The worst that could happen is that you find yourself with extra food to eat, or time spent in an interesting foreign country. And, if you did not read When Gog Comes, now is the time to do that. The evidence is overwhelming, and when I sat down to write that book, I was hoping to prove myself wrong. But, let’s move on to the core point.