A City Set On a Hill
Surviving the Seventieth Week by Reforming Fundamentalism and Establishing Cities of Refuge
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Copyright 2010 by Raul E. Lopez, MD, MDiv

The Apocalypse seems to indicate that the Antichrist will be able to achieve complete world domination. John says "it was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe [and people] and tongue, and nation. And all who dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose name have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb" (Revelation 13:8 nkjv). Although it is likely that the Antichrist will have dominion in name only and will never be able to completely subdue the whole world, this seems difficult to reconcile with the Lord's promise to "keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth" (Revelation 3:10 nkjv). However, it is apparent that the focus of these passages is on those who dwell on the earth. The word used for 'earth' in this passage is 'gea' a term which refers specifically to the planet Earth. The authority of the Antichrist will be over the people of planet earth, and the focus of the seventieth week judgment will be on those who dwell on planet earth.

A century ago America was remote enough from the Old World that one could consider it possible that America could serve as a refuge from trials which overtook the rest of the world. That option is no longer even a remote possibility. The only way that a city of refuge can offer complete protection from the power of the Antichrist and from the judgments of the seventieth week is to be located far from the surface of the earth, somewhere in space.

Some readers might be giggling at this point. When many people think of space colonization, they immediately think of Star Trek conventions and the type of people which frequent such gatherings. However, the solar system contains vast quantities of resources which can be used to create comfortable even luxurious enclosed human habitats on the surface of several planets and moons and in large orbiting space stations. Space offers the ability to gather vast quantities of energy from the sun in ways which are not possible on Earth, using ultra-thin mirrors which can only exist in the low gravity vacuum of space. This energy can be used for transportation and to extract vast quantities of mineral riches found in the asteroids, the moons and the planets. These riches can be used in space as well as transported to Earth and sold at a profit. As the population of Earth increases and land, minerals, and energy become more scarce, the resources of space will seem increasingly more profitable. All three resources could be sold profitably to people on earth with existing technology. As technology improves these resources will become increasingly accessible.

The greatest cost associated with access to space is getting into Earth orbit. Once in orbit it is possible to get to almost anywhere in the inner solar system fairly easily with the right equipment. Already a handful of individuals have paid their way to the International Space Station in low Earth orbit as tourists. With the proper infrastructure a ticket to Mars orbit would cost only a little more. The Bush administration estimated the cost of a program to put humans on Mars and to return them to Earth in the trillions of dollars. In contrast the Apollo Program, which placed men on the moon only cost 12 billion 1960's dollars. However, the bulk of that trillion dollar cost involves lifting from Earth the vehicle and fuel which will return the Mars explorers from the surface of that planet back to Earth. In other words, once on the Mars surface, the explorers will need a large rocket to get from Mars back into orbit and then back to Earth. In the plan devised by NASA under president Bush this rocket with all its fuel must accompany the explorers all the way from the surface of the Earth into Earth orbit, then to Mars orbit, to the surface of Mars, back to Mars orbit and finally, back to Earth. Doing things this way is ridiculously expensive. There is a much simpler way to access space.

Mars has two small moons, Diemos and Phobos. Because of their low gravity it takes very little energy to land on and take off from these moons. This makes their resources among the most accessible to us in the solar system. Automated stations could be set up to extract iron, glass, oxygen, and other metals. These could be brought to Earth orbit and used to fabricate and partly fuel vehicles which would shuttle between Earth orbit and Mars orbit. Precious metals could be brought down to Earth and sold. These moons are basically captured asteroids. Farther out from Mars orbit is the asteroid belt full of virtually immeasurable riches in rare and precious metals. Some of the outer asteroids are cold enough to contain water ice, a rare commodity which can be extracted and shipped around the solar system.

Eventually, it would become feasible to reach the surface of Mars. This is a planet with a land mass as large as the land mass on Earth and a planet which is potentially habitable using current technology. There are two ways to get to the surface of Mars in a way which is cheaper than what the Bush administration projected. The easiest way is simply to not return from Mars. The most expensive part of a voyage to and from Mars is the return trip. It is much easier to go to Mars and stay there. Of course, few people would want to risk spending the rest of their lives on Mars unless they are guaranteed that a thriving colony of at least a few dozen people could be established and that such a colony could expand on its own using Martian resources primarily.

Another possibility which has been studied and which could be used as an intermediate step is to place a small nuclear reactor on Mars similar to the ones used in submarines and some large ships and use its energy to produce fuel from Martian air. This way an empty return rocket could be sent from Earth to Mars and filled with fuel produced primarily on Mars. The bulk of the weight of a rocket is fuel, and the rocket itself could be reused so it would have to only be lifted from Earth once and could fly many missions. These missions would be used to establish the first base and people would stay longer and longer until some would decide to spend the rest of their lives working on Mars.

Once that thin infrastructure thread has been laid, people will begin to venture out from Earth and fill the solar system. Of course, the cheapest way to populate space is to grow the people themselves there. A baby born on Mars would be saved the huge expense of having to be lifted off from the surface of the Earth and transported to Mars.

At some point our technology will make it possible for governments and corporations to begin extracting these resources profitably. Once this point is reached, enterprising individuals and groups will take advantage of these opportunities. Once this begins the exploration and colonization of space will progress exponentially, just like computer technology is doing today. It would appear that the colonization of space is inevitable given enough time.

If space colonization is set to occur in the future, it would seem that perhaps some hints of that state of affairs would be found in prophetic scriptures. Indeed, at least three passages suggest that this is so. The first is the passage which predicts the flight of many in Israel into the wilderness to flee from the murderous persecutions of the Antichrist. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:14-17).

It is difficult to imagine that any large group of people could hide in any dessert on Earth and escape the military technology of the most powerful government ever known to mankind. It might be possible for a handful of people to hide in caves like those found in the abandoned city of Petra, but for thousands or even millions of people to hide in a desert on Earth seems unlikely. Even with today's technology it would be simple to find and destroy such a large mass of people. However, Mars is also a desert and a wilderness and even in the future it would be highly inaccessible to a Terran (Earth based) government. Notice that the refuges have to fly to the wilderness and the wings used by them are like that of a great eagle. This is not a wilderness you can walk or drive to, you need great flying machines to reach it. The flood which the Serpent sends after the woman probably refers to a diabolical attempt to prevent the escape from Earth of this group of people. However, once they have escaped the surface of our planet they are safely out of his reach because the dragon then focuses his attention on a different group of people

When the Jewish remnant returns after the second coming of Christ, they also come in flying machines. Who [are] these [that] fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows? Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee (Isaiah 60:8-9). These people are coming from far away and they have accumulated what appears to be a significant amount of wealth. This is hardly what one would expect of people who are hiding from a hateful government, unless they are far away and well protected. Notice that the previous passage says that they are nourished, this implies that they are well fed and comfortable. The fate of Jews during WWII serves as a good illustration. During that war, the Jews hiding in Nazi Germany did not become wealthy but, rather starved to death. However, it is likely that many Jews living in the United States made a comfortable living during the same time. Those that managed to escape Europe for the United States were nourished there. In ancient times the ships of Tarshish were the greatest ships known to man because they had to travel to Tarshish which was very far away in southern Spain. So too, these Israelites return in great magnificent flying ships, a possible reference to space vehicles.

Therefore, even though the Bible does not explicitly predict the colonization of space, just like it did not predict the colonization of America, it suggests that this may in fact take place. Space settlements could protect a significant number of Christians from the horrors of the great tribulation, and it is likely that as conditions on Earth become more hostile towards Christians as that time approaches, that many of them will gradually emigrate into space. By doing so, and creating a space faring civilization, they will create a refuge which will protect not only themselves, but many Jews, and others who do not want to submit to the coercive world government of Earth. The church of Philadelphia is given an unshuttable door. This might be the door of emigration into space. The term Philadelphia itself means brotherly love. This might refer to a great spacelift organized by the space settlements to save the Jews, Christians and other persecuted peoples of the Earth. It is probably not realistic for people as individuals to try to colonize space, but Christians should keep this possibility in mind as the opportunity becomes available in the future.

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