Yellowstone is one of the most unique and beautiful places on the planet. My wife and I recently returned from our first visit to this amazing place and were treated to one breathtaking view after another. Waterfalls and canyons and rivers and lakes and valleys and mountains flow from one scene to another. Everywhere you look God’s creative genius is displayed and it is mindboggling to think that, since before the creation of the world, these dazzling wonders have all been planned in the mind of our great God. The upper and lower waterfalls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone were designed in eternity past and were then brought into being exactly as the Lord God had conceived them. He planned where every rock would be and then He executed His plan, and the result is a feast of natural beauty perhaps unrivaled on earth. Indeed, this place must be seen to be believed.
And yet, despite the incredible beauty of this place, there is also built into this beauty evidence that things will not always be this way. If you pay attention to the displays at the Visitor Centers in the park, you will see that Yellowstone began as a gigantic volcano, a volcano so big that it makes Mount St. Helens look like a campfire. Each presentation talks about the “caldera” that represents the rim of the original volcanic crater, a caldera that is about 30 or 40 miles from rim to rim. This is sobering enough, but even more unnerving is the fact that this mega-volcano is still active. In fact, one of the most fascinating features of Yellowstone is the abundance of geothermal activities. There are dozens (and maybe hundreds) of geysers (yes, like Old Faithful), mudpots (steaming hot mud that percolates with bubbles), hot springs (like the Grand Prismatic Spring, that is so incredibly beautiful that it almost seems unreal) and fumaroles (holes in the ground that belch out sulfurous steam) spread all over the vast acreage of the park that are constantly active.
Now, here is my point. As we consider all this geothermal activity, we must also contemplate what all this steam and all these geysers represent. Each geyser that throws boiling steam into the sky indicates a crack in the earth’s crust that allows ground water to leak down to the white-hot magma beneath. The plethora of hot springs, which are as blue as the Caribbean, are hot enough to scald you and appear to be bottomless pools of water going down to some heat source. Walk out into one of the geyser basins and you are surrounded by seething, boiling, steaming evidence of an active volcano. They are beautiful and fascinating, but they are also ominous, because the Lord has promised that one day the world will be destroyed by fire (2 Peter 3:10-12; 2 Thess. 1:7). Today these springs and geysers give us pleasure as we observe their beauty, but they also contain a warning, that there is coming a day of judgment when the natural order will be wrenched out of place. Do the millions of people that come through Yellowstone every year consider the fact that Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring are reminders that the Lord could decide at any time to detonate this volcano and end time?
There was one display in one of the Visitor Centers that told about the active volcanos that are scattered across the earth, particularly where the tectonic plates come together. Because of scientific research, we are aware of these active volcanos and we are aware of the tectonic plates that are resting against one another in a delicate balance. As I considered all these geological facts, it occurred to me that all the pieces are in place for the earth to loudly and cataclysmically groan and bring about worldwide geographic destruction. “The whole world groans and suffers the pains of childbirth until now (Romans 8:22),” but there will come a time when the Lord will remove His restraining hand and will allow the volcanos to erupt all at once.
I don’t want to wander much farther off into speculation, but I do want to emphasize the things that I observed in Yellowstone. The Lord has arranged all the pieces for geographic catastrophe, and those destructive forces are displayed in Yellowstone as beautiful geysers and hot springs, but they are also there for those who will heed them as warnings that the time is now to repent and to come to faith in Jesus. The Lord gives us this evidence wrapped in beauty to let us know that the end can come at any time. So as you watch Old Faithful erupt, be sure to consider that you are sitting on top of a giant volcano that the Lord could detonate at any time.
“The whole world groans and suffers the pains of childbirth until now.” – Romans 8:22
SDG rmb 8/30/2019