Signs and Wonders

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Ken Keyser

By Ken Keyser, Illinois, United States

Editor’s Note: On August 21, 2017, local Chicago readers of The Urantia Book gathered at the home of Marilynn and David Kulieke to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. Ken Keyser presented the following during the event.

Did you have an opportunity to witness the total eclipse of the sun as it crossed North America on August 21, 2017? Whether you traveled to be on the path of totality, observed the transit in partiality from where you live, or just saw the photos in the news, an eclipse is a delightful celestial display.

Much publicity prior to the event speculated whether the world was about to receive a “sign.” For some readers of The Urantia Book, the fact that the eclipse was to occur on Jesus’ birthday lent even more credence to its possible importance. In an effort to unpack some of the hype, I have reviewed a few statements that The Urantia Book makes on the subject.

Eclipses and supposed omens

During an eclipse, the sun can seem to disappear during the day and the sky to darken in a matter of minutes. This led some ancient cultures to attribute such an incident to supernatural causes and regard it as a bad omen. “The early Nordics thought that eclipses were caused by a wolf that devoured a portion of the sun or moon.” 85:3.4 (946.6)

It is true that eclipses have played a trifling part in human history. The outcome of a few minor historical battles changed because of an unpredicted solar eclipse. In some cases one side, being aware, gained the advantage when the other side, being unaware, became afraid or confused. Nonetheless, these were simply cases of utilizing what was happening naturally; no eclipse has ever occurred with the purpose of changing the outcome of a situation. An eclipse is an entirely natural phenomenon; two to five happen somewhere on the planet every year.

“It was not merely out of curiosity that the ancients sought to know the future; they wanted to dodge ill luck. Divination was simply an attempt to avoid trouble. During these times, dreams were regarded as prophetic, while everything out of the ordinary was considered an omen. And even today the civilized races are cursed with the belief in signs, tokens, and other superstitious remnants of the advancing ghost cult of old. Slow, very slow, is man to abandon those methods whereby he so gradually and painfully ascended the evolutionary scale of life.” 87:5.14 (963.9)

Magic and superstition

During the third preaching tour with his apostles and evangelists, while at Tiberias, Jesus gave a memorable talk on “Magic and Superstition.” Paper 150 summarizes ten major points, the first point being that “The courses of the stars in the heavens have nothing whatever to do with the events of human life on earth.” 150:3 (1680) Even a cursory review of these ten points firmly establishes the value of the proper pursuit of science, while it dispels the myths about omens of good luck, harbingers of bad luck, and other supposed signs.

The Urantia Book notes that even the appealing legend of the star of Bethlehem was constructed by “well-meaning zealots” in an attempt to confirm that two extraordinary but wholly natural planetary conjunctions were a token that a great man had been born on earth.

“Oriental and near-Oriental minds delight in fairy stories, and they are continually spinning such beautiful myths about the lives of their religious leaders and political heroes. In the absence of printing, when most human knowledge was passed by word of mouth from one generation to another, it was very easy for myths to become traditions and for traditions eventually to become accepted as facts.” 122:8.7 (1352.3)

The source of change

Jesus well knew that the people of his day yearned for the spectacular and the marvelous. On multiple occasions he challenged the “miracle minded” and “wonder-seeking generation” to instead pursue spiritual practices in their daily lives that would lead to great change. He said: “Remember that my kingdom is not to come with noise and glamor, but rather must it come through the great change which my Father will have wrought in your hearts and in the hearts of those who shall be called to join you in the councils of the kingdom.” 137:6.5 (1533.3)

True signs that God is working near at hand

In the challenging era in which we live, oftentimes our seeking for a “sign” is our search for proof that God is still working on this world. Jesus addressed that early in his ministry, just before the death of John the Baptist. On behalf of John, some of his friends brought to Jesus the last message which he ever received from John. They said: “John the Baptist has sent us to ask―are you truly the Deliverer, or shall we look for another?” Jesus paused to say to John’s friends: “Go back and tell John that he is not forgotten. Tell him what you have seen and heard, that the poor have good tidings preached to them.” 144:8.1-3 (1626.6-8)

This simple message of reassurance to John foreshadowed a much greater narrative that Jesus was to share after his resurrection. In the course of his seventh morontia appearance, talking along the road to Emmaus during “The Walk with Two Brothers,” Jesus quoted a number of passages from Psalms, Isaiah, and other prophets of the Old Testament.

“And have you never read in the Scriptures concerning this day of salvation for Jew and gentile, where it says that in him shall all the families of the earth be blessed; that he will hear the cry of the needy and save the souls of the poor who seek him; that all nations shall call him blessed?

“That he will feed the flock like a true shepherd, gathering the lambs in his arms and tenderly carrying them in his bosom. That he will open the eyes of the spiritually blind and bring the prisoners of despair out into full liberty and light;

“That he will bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives of sin, and open up the prison to those who are enslaved by fear and bound by evil. That he will comfort those who mourn and bestow upon them the joy of salvation in the place of sorrow and heaviness.

“That he will not destroy the weak but minister salvation to all who hunger and thirst for righteousness. That those who believe in him shall have eternal life.” 190:5.4 (2035.1)

I am persuaded that when we sincerely and wholeheartedly translate these simple directives into action, we are more remarkable than any sign or wonder. That, like Jesus, we become living evidence, positively demonstrating that God is dynamically working on this world. “The more completely man understands himself and appreciates the personality values of his fellows, the more he will crave to know the Original Personality, and the more earnestly such a God-knowing human will strive to become like the Original Personality.” 1:6.6 (30.5)

Strive to be Godlike, as Jesus instructed: preach good tidings to the poor, bring the prisoners of despair out into full liberty and light, comfort those who mourn, minister salvation to all who hunger and thirst for righteousness. That will demonstrate the great change that God the Father will have wrought in your heart. I am convinced that the true signs of God working near at hand are ordinary things being done in an extraordinarily compassionate and loving manner.

Note: All bold emphasis and modified spacing added by author.

Mary Marshall, David Owen, Marilynn Kulieke, Geri Posner, Larry Postner, Lynne Kulieke, Belen Asidao, Mike Anczyk, John Strobel, Ken Keyser, Eugene Asidao, Colin Smith, David Kulieke, Julia Kelly Smith, Cece Forrester
Back row: Mary Marshall, David Owen, Marilynn Kulieke, Geri Posner, Larry Postner, Lynne Kulieke, Belen Asidao, Mike Anczyk, John Strobel, Ken Keyser
Front row: Eugene Asidao, Colin Smith, David Kulieke, Julia Kelly Smith, Cece Forrester
Photo taken by Joanne Strobel

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