In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.
- Exodus 40:36-38
The Chinese are credited for inventing fireworks, but I think God providing a pillar of fire and then, fire within the cloud over the tabernacle, was an example of pretty impressive fireworks, millennia before the Chinese started playing with fire a couple of centuries before Jesus was born.
The Chinese had “natural” fireworks from around 200BC to 600-800 AD. They would place a section of bamboo into the fire and when the air, trapped inside the bamboo, got hot enough, it would cause the bamboo to burst open with a small explosion, and maybe some ashes flying. It is thought that they did this to ward off evil spirits. Then the Chinese invented gunpowder and expanded upon their original idea. Fireworks did not make it to Europe until the 13th century and within two centuries, it had already become part of festive celebrations. This information is courtesy of the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) website.
Rev. Tim Holman, the beard with a blog, wrote a very humorous, but sarcastic, post on or about the 4th of July, thanking the neighborhood children for depriving him of sleep and other things associated with fireworks that seemed to go on all night. It makes it hard these days to do fireworks before bed due to daylight savings time. There is such a short window until you begin to disturb the peace.
But in reading that and listening to several nights of amateur and professional fireworks, I wondered if it would ever end.
And that is when I started thinking back to my military training.
The USA has a National Anthem, that is if it has not been cancelled for one reason or another. In the anthem, it talks of the “rockets red glare.” Have you ever wondered if they really used rockets in the War of 1812, when Francis Scott Key wrote the song? And if so, why would they use them?
Forts along the shore in those days would put out all fires so that the fort would be hard to spot in the dark. The passing enemy ships might fire their cannons, but did they know if they got close? Would they know how to adjust their fire? So, let’s introduce something like the modern bottle rockets. The cannons are fired, and the rockets are fired. The rockets illuminate the sky for just the right moment to see if the cannons hit their targets. Then adjustments could be made.
But then, they noticed that when the enemy was being bombarded by rockets, the soldiers would become distracted. Then, when the rockets finally stopped, the night vision of the soldiers would be ruined due to the bright lights of all the flashes. Before their eyes adjusted to the darkness, the enemy would attack. Of course, the guys firing the rockets used eye patches or closed their eyes during the explosions, except for the artillery observer, and they could see just fine at night when the attack began. The attacking soldiers could see, and the enemy soldiers would be blind in the dark. But attacking at night seemed unfair for the most part, when considering “civilized” combat.
In modern warfare, unfairness is never considered. If I heard a sound that sounded like a flare being fired, I would close my right eye. When the flare went out, I could open it and still have night vision in one eye, the one I used to aim with the weapon’s sight. Sometimes they fired parachute flares, a flare on a parachute to illuminate the sky long enough for everyone’s night vision to be gone byt eh time it landed.
I wonder if they still do that with night vision goggles being perfected since then.
So, while pagans warded off evil spirits and countries celebrated festivals, some religious and some secular, the military used the same technology for more lethal reasons. Even if the attack was made in the daytime, the defending soldiers would not get any sleep all night long. Which brings us back to the “beard’s” blog post.
But none of the fancy explosions within the past month can compare to the brilliance of God’s Light, the light that will penetrate so that there is no shadows. God has been lighting our path for millennia.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.