Are UFOs Really in the Bible?
The suggestion that UFOs are in the Bible is preposterous. In every case discussed above [see Part 1], UFOlogists are reading their own meanings into the biblical text (eisegesis) rather than drawing their meanings from the biblical text (exegesis). Here is an interpretive principle you can bank on: When the plain sense makes good sense, seek no other sense lest you end up in nonsense.
Instead of superimposing a meaning onto the biblical text, the objective interpreter seeks to discover the author’s intended meaning (the only true meaning). One must recognize that what a passage means is fixed by the author and is not subject to alteration by readers. Meaning is determined by the author; it is discovered by readers. And a singular key to determining the intending meaning of the author is reading the verse in context. With this in mind, let’s look at some of the claims made by UFO enthusiasts.
Pillars of Fire
Exodus 13–14 indicates that during the Israelites’ Exodus sojourn, “the Lord” was with them in a very visible and reassuring way. He went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. This way, they could travel by day or night (Exodus 13:21). We are specifically told in Exodus 14:19 that the “angel of the Lord” was behind these phenomena, not UFOs. The angel of the Lord was a manifestation of God (Exodus 3:14), and whenever He moved in front of or in back of the Israelites, the cloud and fire moved with Him. There is no presence of a spacecraft anywhere in the context.
Ark of the Covenant
It is absurd in the extreme to suggest that the Ark of the Covenant was a radio transmitter. Scripture provides us concise details about the Ark and its function. The specifications for the Ark are provided in Exodus 25:10-22. Scripture indicates that the Ark symbolized God’s presence (1 Samuel 4:3-22). It served as the container of the covenant stones, which were a continual reminder of the covenant between God and Israel (Exodus 25:16,21). It also contained the pot of manna which symbolized the bread of God from heaven (Exodus 16:33). Aaron’s rod was later placed in it as a witness to Israel of God’s choice of the priesthood (Numbers 17:10).
Parting the Red Sea
As the Egyptians were moving in to attack the Israelites, Moses spoke some of His most famous words: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today” (Exodus 14:13). Indeed, said Moses, “the LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still” (verse 14). (Notice “the Lord” does these things, not UFOs.)
The Lord then told Moses to take a step of faith and walk toward the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15). As the people moved toward the sea, God told Moses to raise his staff—the same staff that had been used by God to inflict ten miraculous plagues on Egypt (verses 16-18).
As Moses stretched out his hand—indicating to all present that what was about to happen was not a natural phenomenon—the Lord (not a UFO) split the sea by a strong east wind (Exodus 14:21). This was no shallow body of water. We are not told precisely how deep the water was, but it was deep enough that the Egyptian army drowned when God brought the waters back together again (verse 28). Moreover, we are not speaking of a narrow dividing of water. Again, we don’t know precisely how wide it was, but it had to be sufficient for over two million Jews to pass through to the other side along with their flocks and herds.
With that great volume of water displaced for that length of time, such a miracle required far more power than an imagined alien spacecraft would have in its tailpipe. This required the very power of God.
Exodus 19:16-20 is a description not of a spacecraft landing on Mount Sinai but of God Himself coming down on the mountain. According to instructions given to Moses, “on the third day” the Lord would come down onto Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:11). This was in contrast to pagan deities who supposedly dwelt on the mountains. (For example, Greek gods were believed to live on Mount Olympus.) Scripture depicts God as dwelling in heaven (1 Kings 8:30-49; John 8:23); hence, He would have to “come down” to meet the people on the mountain. As promised, on the third day God descended to Mount Sinai and gave a remarkable display of His power and majesty (Exodus 19:16-19). There was thunder, lightning, a thick cloud, and a very loud trumpet blast. An alien spacecraft is nowhere to be seen.
UFOs in Ezekiel?
Utilizing exegesis instead of eisegesis, it becomes clear that Ezekiel did not encounter a UFO but rather experienced a vision of the glory of God. This is evident for several reasons. First, the text states clearly that “this was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ezekiel 1:28). Moreover, it is called “visions” in the very first verse. Visions are usually couched in highly symbolic form (see Revelation 1:9-20). Hence, the “likeness” (verse 28) given of things should not be taken literally but symbolically.
It is also clear from the context that the “living creatures” were angels since they had “wings” (Ezekiel 1:6) and flew in the midst of heaven (see Ezekiel 10). They compare to the angels mentioned in Isaiah 6:2 and especially the “living creatures” (angels) that are described as being around God’s throne (Revelation 4:6).
The message from these beings was from the “Lord God” of Israel to the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:1-4), not one from some alleged aliens. The context was a message from the God of Israel through the Jewish prophet Ezekiel to His “rebellious nation” (2:3-4; see 3:4). Contextually, the UFO interpretation is impossible.
The Virgin Birth
The virgin birth was not the result of alien activity but rather was primarily the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s ministry was necessary because of Christ’s deity and preexistence (see Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Galatians 4:4). The Holy Spirit’s supernatural work in Mary’s body enabled Christ—as eternal God—to take on a human nature. And through this Incarnation, a key component of the plan of salvation that was conceived in eternity past came to fruition. Our eternal Savior became flesh with the specific purpose of dying on our behalf so that those who trusted in Him could become saved and dwell with God forever (John 3:16-17).
Through the miracle of the virgin birth, the eternal Son of God reached out and took to Himself a true and complete humanity without diminishing His essential deity. He united deity and humanity inseparably and eternally in one person.
Though the Holy Spirit played the central role in the Incarnation and was the agent through whom the Incarnation was brought about (Luke 1:35), we are told in Hebrews 10:5 that it was the Father who prepared a human body for Christ. Moreover, Jesus is said to have taken upon Himself flesh and blood—as if it were an act of His own individual will (Hebrews 2:14). Therefore, all three persons of the Trinity were sovereignly involved in Jesus’ taking on human flesh in the Incarnation. Alien beings are nowhere in sight in the biblical account.
The Angel Gabriel
The name Gabriel means “mighty one of God.” The name speaks of Gabriel’s incredible power as endowed by God. He is distinguished as an angel (not an alien scientist) that stands in the very presence of God (Luke 1:19), evidently in some preeminent sense. His high rank in the angelic realm is obvious from both his name and his continuous standing in the presence of God.
Gabriel is portrayed in Scripture as one who brings revelation to the people of God regarding God’s purpose and program. For example, in the Old Testament, Gabriel revealed the future by interpreting a vision for Daniel (8:17) and gave understanding and wisdom to him (9:22). In the New Testament (some 500 years later), Gabriel brought the message to Zacharias about the birth of John the Baptist, and announced the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:18-19,26-38). (Note that Gabriel announced—not caused—the birth of Jesus.)
Jesus’ miracles had nothing to do with aliens, but rather were bona fide supernatural events brought about by His divine power as the Messiah. John’s Gospel always refers to the miracles of Jesus as “signs.” This word emphasizes the significance of the action rather than the marvel (John 4:54; 6:14; 9:16). Jesus strategically performed these signs to signify His true identity and glory.
In the process of proving His identity, Jesus demonstrated His control of nature (such as calming a storm—Matthew 8:23-27), He healed many people of bodily afflictions (such as an invalid—John 5:1-15), and He raised people from the dead (such as Lazarus—John 11). One wonders how Lazarus could be said to have been psychosomatically dead, with his body stinking from the decay of death for several days. One also wonders how Jesus’ control of the weather and turning water into wine were psychosomatic phenomena.
Acts 1:9 tells us, “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” The verse says nothing about an alien spacecraft. That’s reading something into the text that is not there. The words “taken up” simply indicate that Christ visibly and physically ascended in bodily fashion straight up and into heaven. The presence of clouds likely alludes to the visible glory of God, as is the case elsewhere in Scripture (see Matthew 17:5; 24:30; 26:64). Christ was engulfed in the glory of God as He vanished from the sight of the disciples. Again, when the plain sense of Scripture makes good sense, seek no other sense lest you end up in nonsense!
Angels do not need spacecrafts to travel, but rather have been specially endowed by God with a capacity to fly. We read of the angels surrounding God’s throne that they have six wings: “With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying” (Isaiah 6:2, emphasis added). The angel Gabriel can fly “swiftly”—perhaps faster than most other angels (Daniel 9:21). In Revelation 14:7, an angel is portrayed as flying through the air in the earth’s atmosphere. Angels have no need for vehicular assistance.
“Hell” is not the Planet Venus. The Scriptures assure us that hell is a real place specially created by God to accommodate the banishment of Satan and his fallen angels who rebelled against God. Human beings who reject Christ will join Satan and his fallen angels in this infernal place of suffering (see Matthew 25:41).
Some scholars believe the “fire” of hell is literal, while others believe it is a metaphorical way of expressing the great wrath of God. Scripture tells us: “The Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24). “God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). “His wrath is poured out like fire” (Nahum 1:6). “Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire…” (Malachi 3:2). God said, “My wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done—burn with no one to quench it” (Jeremiah 4:4). Whether the fire of hell is literal or metaphorical, it will entail horrible suffering for those who are there. Perhaps both senses of fire are intended by Scripture: The fire is literal, but also represents the wrath of God.
The Occult Connection
I close with a critically important observation. Erich von Daniken, more than any other person, has promoted the idea of UFOs in the Bible. He got his ideas from the occult. He claims he received paranormal information through telepathy from an unknown source as well as from out-of-body experiences.
There is certainly no one more motivated than Satan and his demons to discredit Christianity by interjecting UFO theology into the Bible. I believe von Daniken’s occultic background made him easy prey to being manipulated by demonic spirits into promoting such theories. (See my article, “UFOs and the Occult Connection”).
I can tell you from more than 40 years in the apologetics community that one of Satan’s primary tactics is to discredit the Word of God. Satan is locked and loaded, and his bullets have the phrase “Destroy the Bible” written all over them.
Don’t fall for his insidious lies!