Shortly before dawn on November 13, 1833, the greatest meteor storm in modern history was visible over North America with hundreds of thousands of bright meteors per hour. Not only was it a fulfillment of a specific prophesy that Joseph Smith had made, but this storm may have also been one of the signs of the establishment of the Church and Kingdom of God as prophesied in the Book of Revelation.
Joseph Smith described and interpreted it as a sign from heaven. “About 4 o’clock a.m. I was awakened by Brother Davis knocking at my door, and calling me to arise and behold the signs in the heavens. I arose, and to my great joy, beheld the stars fall from heaven like a shower of hailstones; a literal fulfillment of the word of God, as recorded in the Holy Scriptures.”[i]
“Forty days shall not pass, and the stars shall fall from heaven”
Here is an account by Philo Dibble of a very specific prophesy by Joseph Smith that was fulfilled in the magnificent Leonid meteor storm of 1833.
“On one occasion Joseph was preaching in Kirtland, sometime in the fall of 1833. Quite a number of persons were present who did not belong to the Church, and one man, more bitter and skeptical than others, made note with pencil and paper of a prophecy uttered on that occasion, wherein Joseph said that ‘Forty days shall not pass, and the stars shall fall from heaven.’ ”[ii]
Continuing to quote from Philo Dibble:
“Such an event would certainly be very unusual and improbable to the natural man, and the skeptic wrote the words as a sure evidence to prove Joseph to be a false prophet.
“On the thirty-ninth day after the utterance of that prophecy, a man and brother in the Church, by the name of Joseph Hancock,… and another brother were out hunting game and got lost. They wandered about until night, when they found themselves at the house of this unbeliever, who exultingly produced this note of Joseph Smith’s prophecy and asked Brother Hancock what he thought of his prophet now that thirty-nine days had passed and the prophecy was not fulfilled.
“Brother Hancock was unmoved and quietly remarked, ‘There is one night left of the time, and if Joseph said so, the stars will certainly fall tonight. The prophecy will all be fulfilled.’
“The matter weighed upon the mind of Brother Hancock, who watched that night, and it proved to be the historical one, known in all the world as ‘the night of the falling of the stars.’
“He stayed that night at the house of the skeptical unbeliever, as it was too far from home to return by night, and in the midst of the falling of the stars, he went to the door of his host and called him out to witness what he had thought impossible and the most improbable thing that could happen, especially as that was the last night in which Joseph Smith could be saved from the condemnation of a ‘false prophet.’
“The whole heavens were lit up with the falling meteors, and the countenance of the new spectator was plainly seen and closely watched by Brother Hancock, who said that he turned pale as death and spoke not a word.”
“That They Might Believe”
As part of the pouring out of knowledge upon the earth in the last days, there are many signs of which we have at least a partial scientific understanding. We are admonished to be “looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man.” (D&C 45:39)
I believe that this spectacular sign of the Leonid meteor storm of 1833 is a fulfillment of both a specific 40 day prophesy by Joseph Smith and also the much larger prophesies related to the establishment of the Church and Kingdom of God in the last days.
Whether these signs and wonders that fulfill prophesy are scientifically understood or not, a crucial test of faith in these last days is whether we will believe in the true signs and wonders sent by God, precisely timed to testify of the unfolding of the Lord’s work in the earth. Samuel the Lamanite prophesied of the supernal signs of Jesus’ birth and death and then proclaimed:[xi]
“And the angel said unto me that many shall see greater things than these, to the intent that they might believe that these signs and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men.” (Helaman 14:28-29)
[i] John P. Pratt, “Clothed with the Sun, Moon Under Her Feet,” johnpratt.com, November 2, 2016.
[https://johnpratt.com/items/docs/2016/clothed_with_sun.html] “3.3 Stars Cast Down” section and wood cut illustration of the event.
“During the pre-dawn hours of Wed 13 Nov 1833 there occurred what was most likely the largest meteor storm ever recorded. It was seen all over the United States. The sky was so bright with bright falling stars that people were awakened believing that their house was on fire! “Meteor” is the scientific term for what are popularly called “falling stars” or “shooting stars”. They are caused when particles enter the earth’s atmosphere and brilliantly burn up from intense heat caused by friction. For comparison, on any given night there is about one falling star per hour. During a meteor shower, there are about 100 meteors per hour. When the earth’s path takes it through a huge patch of space debris left over from the head of a shattered comet, it is called a meteor storm and there can be hundreds of thousands of falling stars per hour. The meteor storm of 13 Nov 1833 lasted at least from 2 am until dawn.
“Here is what the Prophet Joseph Smith recorded both of seeing and interpreting this marvelous event:
“November 13. About 4 o’clock a.m. I was awakened by Brother Davis knocking at my door, and calling me to arise and behold the signs in the heavens. I arose, and to my great joy, beheld the stars fall from heaven like a shower of hailstones; a literal fulfillment of the word of God, as recorded in the holy Scriptures …
“Some at times appeared like bright shooting meteors, with long trains of light following in their course, and in numbers resembled large drops of rain in sunshine. These seemed to vanish when they fell behind the trees, or came near the ground. Some of the long trains of light following the meteoric stars, were visible for some seconds; these streaks would curl and twist up like serpents writhing. The appearance was beautiful, grand, and sublime beyond description; and it seemed as if the artillery and fireworks of eternity were set in motion to enchant and entertain the Saints, and terrify and awe the sinners of the earth. Beautiful and terrific as was the scenery, it will not fully compare with the time when the sun shall become black like sack-cloth of hair, the moon like blood, and the stars fall to the earth (Rev. 6:12-13) — DHC 1:439-440.
“Note that the Prophet Joseph stated that this event was a fulfillment of the word of God in the scriptures and yet still did not compare to what would happen when the usual prophecy about the stars falling would later be fulfilled. So to what prophecy did he refer that was fulfilled? One clue that he had in mind the prophecy discussed in this article is that in his translation of the Book of Revelation he placed the appearance of the dragon after the birth of the man child. That fits with the stars falling a few months after the birth of the Kingdom of God.”
[ii] John P. Pratt, “Spectacular Meteor Shower Might Repeat,” Meridian Magazine, October 15, 1999.
and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. ESV
Question: does fulfilled prophecy convert the unbeliever or make the unbeliever angry?
OP Image fixed ~ Primus Pilus