I had prepared an essay looking into the biblical symbolism of clouds. I was looking forward to it. Eventually, at His timing, I will finish it.
But today something shook me up. It shook me hard. I mean, literally, physically, when I read it I began to shake and cry and tremble and hyperventilate. I don’t get these feelings often, thankfully. It could mean nothing. Maybe I’m just getting a cold. Maybe not.
Let me preface this by saying that I personally believe that America has been under judgment since 9/11. Whether you believe that particular start date is not a matter of worthwhile debate, because the unalterable fact is that America will be judged, and should be judged and is even being judged now.
Why am I so sure of this? God never changes. He is wrathful against individuals, groups, and nations that abandon Him! He forsook individuals, (Samson, Saul). He abandons groups, (Pharisees), judging them unworthy and henceforth unable to turn to Him for salvation. The Judge’s hammer had come down. He judges nations.
Last March I wrote a blog entry called “Has America’s point of not return been reached?” meaning, had the moment come when our national sins had reached a point when our prayers were no longer reaching His ears? (Jeremiah 7:16-20). I believed then that the moment had come. All that was left was the judgment. And what I read today shook me as a powerful portent if the imminence of that sure judgment.
News articles are reporting something that is extraordinary. You know that I often post articles that show the strange activities of animals. Well, this one has the experts stumped. It is an extreme puzzle, for sure, in their words:
“Arctic snowy owls soar south in rare mass move“
“Bird enthusiasts are reporting rising numbers of snowy owls from the Arctic winging into the lower 48 states this winter in a mass southern migration that a leading owl researcher called “unbelievable.” Thousands of the snow-white birds, which stand 2 feet tall with 5-foot wingspans, have been spotted from coast to coast, feeding in farmlands in Idaho, roosting on rooftops in Montana, gliding over golf courses in Missouri and soaring over shorelines in Massachusetts. A certain number of the iconic owls fly south from their Arctic breeding grounds each winter but rarely do so many venture so far away even amid large-scale, periodic southern migrations known as irruptions. “What we’re seeing now — it’s unbelievable,” said Denver Holt, head of the Owl Research Institute in Montana.”This is the most significant wildlife event in decades,” added Holt, who has studied snowy owls in their Arctic tundra ecosystem for two decades.”
Catch that language from officials who have never seen this happen. ‘Unbelievable’, ‘significant’. Later in the article they say is it a ‘phenomenon’, a ‘surge’ and a ‘mystery of nature.’
In this article from the NY Times, they report,
“Bird-Watchers Revel in Unusual Spike in Snowy Owl Sightings“
“But this year, the numbers are unusually high, said Denver Holt, director of the Owl Research Institute in Charlo, Mont. “There are so many across the country, everywhere, by the thousands,” Mr. Holt said. “It’s unbelievable. They are being seen from Boston, to the Great Lakes, the Ohio River Valley, Kansas, Vancouver and Seattle. “One showed up at the airport in Hawaii, and they shot it,” he added in astonishment. “It’s the first ever in Hawaii and they shot it!””
Get that: an Arctic Snowy Owl, in Hawaii. The NY Times article continues:
“The irruption started in late fall and is expected to end by March or April. In few places are people as excited as in Kansas and Missouri, where snowy owls are exceedingly rare. Ninety have shown up in Kansas this winter and 40 in Missouri. Until this year, the highest number counted in Missouri had been eight. “It’s a massive movement,” said Mark Robbins, the ornithology collection manager at the University of Kansas. “I recognized pretty quickly that when things started happening early this was a pretty big invasion.”
For Missouri, that is a 400% increase in sightings. In Kansas, ornithologist Mark B. Robbins at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute said “We might go a lifetime without seeing this magnitude.”
Are you getting the idea that these birds are doing something completely unusual? I wanted to show you the ornithologists’ own language and their absolute astonishment at this avian phenomenon. It IS a bona fide mysterious event. But that is not what shook me up. Yes, it’s unusual, and interesting. The thing that slayed me was something from the bible. Now comes the spiritual application.
Notice the language they used to describe the mass influx of owls to America: irruption. An irruption is ‘act of rushing; act of breaking in; intrusion, raid; sudden increase.’ There are two things to consider here. One is that a biblical irruption is foretold. Same language. In the Scofield commentary on the verse from Matthew 7:22 where the people say ‘Lord, Lord did we not cast out demons in your name?’ Scofield does a little sidetrack in explaining about demons. He says, “One of the awful features of the apocalyptic judgments in which this age will end is an irruption of demons out the abyss. Rev 9:1-11.” An irruption of demons is foretold to occur when the pit is opened and they fly out in such numbers the smoke of their coming covered the sky and darkened the sun. There will be a bursting in, a rapid and sudden increase of demons. In the bible, owls are a harbinger of desolation.
Secondly, owls are a potent symbol in the bible. They are mentioned frequently, and always in reference to a nation that has been judged, and who is laid waste. (Except for the listing of them in Leviticus as a non-clean food). Owls are unclean birds in the bible, and their appearance is always a reference to waste places. One example is Isaiah 34:11. The chapter begins with the title “God’s wrath against nations“.
“But pelican and hedgehog will possess it, And owl and raven will dwell in it; And He will stretch over it the line of desolation And the plumb line of emptiness.”
Of that verse, Barnes Notes says, “The owl also and the raven – Well known birds that occupy deserts, and old ruins of houses or towns. The image here is that of desolation and ruin; and the sense is, that the land would be reduced to a waste that would not be inhabited by man, but would be given up to wild animals.” And unclean animals at that.
The chapter goes on with more references to owls: “But pelican and hedgehog And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls possess it, And owl and raven will dwell in it; And He will stretch over it the line of desolation And the plumb line of emptiness.” (Isaiah 34:13)
“There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate.” (Isaiah 34:15)
In America there be gathered the owl … and soon thereafter the plumb line of emptiness?
Now I don’t want to focus too much on my reaction upon reading this today. Sometimes I get these reactions in a travailing kind of prayer and mourning from the Lord, but that is my own reaction and my own private ministry. I don’t want to focus too entirely on the fact of a mystery of the gathering owls into America. It is good to be mindful of the weirdness of events, it is good to be mindful of the biblical symbolism, but those alone do not make a doctrine such as what I am saying, which is that “America’s judgment is near.”
The best thing to do is to turn to a more sure word, as 2 Peter 1:19 says, “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” Peter says, look to what the Word says.
The bible says that any nation that abandons God will be judged. The bible shows that any nation that forsakes His ways and turns to idols will be judged. Any nation that is haughty, is wasteful of the bounty given by God, is greedy, fails to look after the oppressed, who robs and steals embezzles and cheats, will be judged. It has happened to nations in the past and it is foretold to happen in the future. I could cite biblical references galore. Just read any of the major and minor prophets. Joel. Nahum. Habakkuk. Hosea. Zechariah. Obadiah. Jonah. It is a sure word. Therefore since America has done all those things, America will be judged. The question is when.
Sodom was judged for its rampant immorality which included homosexuality, and so it shall be for America. Look at Romans 1:18-32. When God forsakes a nation, when He abandons them, He departs from them and leaves them open to the devices of sin, of the enemy, of the natural and unnatural consequences of our abandonment of Him. Romans 1:18-32 shows this progressive abandonment and hence the progressive judgment. It first begins with immorality. Then it deepens to debauchery, a nation driven almost insane by perverted lusts. Finally He gives them over to depraved mind, meaning they can’t even think straight. They cannot think of what is good, it cannot and does not enter their mind.
Proverbs 1:24-31 is one example of how our Holy God will refuse to even listen. “Because I called and you refused, I stretched out My hand and no one paid attention and you neglected all My counsel and did not want My reproof, I will even laugh at your calamity. I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes on like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come on you, then they will call on Me but I will not answer. They will seek Me diligently but they shall not find Me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord. They would not accept My counsel, they spurned all My reproof. So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices.”
When God forsakes a nation, when He abandons them, He departs from them and leaves them open to the devices of sin, of the enemy, of the natural and unnatural consequences of our abandonment of Him. Romans 1:18-32 shows this progressive abandonment and hence the progressive judgment. America will eat the fruit of our own way. It is a serious, serious thing to be left alone by God.
In Psalm 102 the prayer of the afflicted man, it is said, “I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins.”
The Barnes Notes commentary explains: “I am like an owl of the desert – The owl is a well-known bird which dwells in solitudes and old ruins, and which becomes, alike by its seeking such places of abode, by its appearance, and by its doleful cry, the very emblem of desolation.”
Will America become the very emblem of desolation? Is it soon upon us? Is it at the very doors? Is that why America is not mentioned in prophecy? As the owl screeches in the dark all over America this night, from Hawaii to Massachusetts, perhaps it becomes America’s dirge.