“And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:”
Living and working near Mount St Helens, I am familiar with relating the 1980 eruption to the Gospel. Interestingly, some recent research has suggested that another volcano may have been used in spreading the Gospel, not just to visitors, but to an entire island nation.
Colonization of Iceland is thought to have occurred from about 870 through 930 AD. The Viking settlers were pagan, worshiping the ancient Norse gods. Yet, the young colony almost completely converted to Christianity by the year 1000. Secular historians, not wishing to attribute anything to the power of the Holy Spirit, have wondered what influenced such a widespread change of faith.
For our part, as Christians, we do not dispute that God can use natural occurrences, which are, after all, under His control, to bring about changes. In the case of Iceland, it appears that the volcano Eldgjá, in the south of the island, erupted in 939. Recent research suggests that this was a devastating eruption, darkening skies over much of Europe, and causing a cold summer in 940.
At this point, we turn to historical research. The Icelandic epic poem, the Vǫluspá, or “Prophecy of the Seeress”, relates how the island’s pagan gods will end, and be replaced by a new, single god. The poem is dated to about 961. The poem also relates that the sky would turn dark and the climate would be cold, if this were not to happen. Perhaps the memory of that devastating eruption of just 22 years before was being used to encourage people to turn to the one, true God.
Prayer: We acknowledge, Lord God, that You are greater than any volcano, and greater than any weather-related disaster. We thank You for Your leading and guiding in every age, and pray for the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world. Amen.
Ref: Volcanic Eruption Influenced Iceland’s Conversion to Christianity, University of Cambridge, < http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/volcanic-eruption-influenced-icelands-conversion-to-christianity >, accessed 3/23/2018. Image: Andreas Tille, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.