An extremely rare "fire tornado" raged across part of Brazil yesterday. In Aracatuba, in southern Sao Paulo state, a tornado of fire was seen during a brush fire. This is a rare event that occurs when a fire is whipped up by strong, dry air currents to form a vertical whirl. They can consist of a whirlwind of hot air around or within the flames or a vortex of fire itself, as the UK Telegraph explains. Also known as “fire devils” or “fire whirls”, they can uproot trees up to 49 ft. Fire tornadoes are usually 30-200ft and a few meters wide, and last only a few minutes. But some of the largest can be more than a half a mile tall, contain winds over 100mph, and persist for more than 20 minutes.
There are two things here to consider. First, it is an example of yet another "extremely rare" phenomenon occurring in conjunction with a natural event. Increasingly these days we see headlines that say "unprecedented" or "rare" such as the numerous impact collisions on Jupiter, or floods in a place that gets less than two inches of rain in a year. In Ladakh, Himalayas, "a place where even a few raindrops are extremely rare and houses are flat-roofed and built with clay, the storms has caused the worst natural disaster in the region's history." Keep your eyes open for headlines that contain those phrases, or even contain the words "perplexed," or "stumped." Jesus said the signs on His return would include increasingly devastating natural events (Mt 24:7-8) and would gain momentum in frequency and intensity. The fire tornado is just such an example of a birth pang sign.
Second, I'd recommend watching the video a second time, while thinking about the LORD'S presence on earth as a column of fire. (Exodus 13:21) Imagine how it as for the Israelites to follow such a wonderful, fearful, and awesome phenomenon! What did they think about as they followed Him, and the fire burned but did not consume the ground beneath it? Were they in continual awe? Or did they become jaded and accepting of this miracle? How wonderful that our God cares about us so much He would lead them into a place of safety and a land perfectly suited for them. Jesus will do it again, He will manifest Himself on earth, smite the rebels, and lead us into a place of safety and love that He, Himself, prepared for us.
As for the news these days, we do not need to be perplexed nor stumped. Paul assured us that if we are walking closely with the Lord, and watching for the signs, "But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief." (1 Thess 5:4)
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