On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up.

—Moses, Exodus 19:16-20

Did Moses and the people of Israel encounter an extraterrestrial on Mount Sinai? Was this magnificent alien so resplendently glorious and powerful that the Israelites mistook it for being God? Do the mentions of thick smoke, fire, and loud sounds indicate that a starship landed on the mountain. To listen to many today, one would think so.

Erich von Daniken’s controversial book Chariots of the Gods has sold more than 45 million copies since its release in the late 1960s. Von Daniken argued that the Ark of the Covenant was a radio transmitter that enabled Moses to communicate with beings in a spaceship that guided the Israelites across the wilderness during the Exodus.

We are told that the Bible calls the spacecraft a “pillar of fire” by night and a “pillar of cloud” by day (Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19-20).[i] This brings to mind the movie Independence Day, for whenever alien spacecrafts showed up in earth’s atmosphere, they were accompanied by clouds and fire.[ii]

A Presbyterian minister has suggested that the parting of the Red Sea was brought about by the exhaust pipe of an alien spacecraft. Moses needed help because the Egyptians were pursuing them. So, Moses quickly contacted the aliens with his radio transmitter (the Ark of the Covenant), and the aliens blew open a path through the Red Sea by the exhaust tailpipe of the ship.[iii]

Others have suggested that Moses did not encounter God Almighty in the burning bush; rather, he came into contact with an exalted alien whose appearance was indescribably awesome. Von Daniken wrote a book entitled Was God an Astronaut? in which he argued that the various religions of humankind all arose from alien contact.[iv] This, of course, effectively robs Christianity of everything miraculous.

Proponents of this theory assure us that God’s activities in the Bible do not require supernatural explanations. The so-called “miracles” and healings recorded in Scripture are nothing but practical and medical procedures devised by aliens that are so advanced that they appear miraculous in the context of our inferior and underdeveloped culture.[v]

Did Ezekiel Encounter a UFO?

Perhaps the most famous allegation of extraterrestrial contact in the Bible relates to Ezekiel 1. Consider these words:

I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings...

As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not turn about as the creatures went. Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around. (Ezekiel 1:4-6, 15-18)

Von Daniken and other UFO enthusiasts claim the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel saw a flying saucer. Ezekiel first beheld a windstorm out of the north. Then he saw wheels with perhaps rotating rims with lights that gave the appearance of having eyes all around the rim. We are told that Ezekiel saw resplendently beautiful aliens amid these starships.

While most scholars scoff at von Daniken’s suggestions, an engineer with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration became a believer. Josef F. Blumrich was initially skeptical, like other scholars. However, knowing something about spacecraft design, he determined that what Ezekiel described might, in fact, be a feasible design for landing modules from a mothership.

Blumrich worked out the design in detail and then published the results in a 1973 book entitled The Spaceships of Ezekiel. He concluded that the four “living creatures” may have been four sets of landing gear, each with a “wheel” to maneuver over the ground. The “wings” of each craft, he said, were probably similar to helicopter blades that were used for precision positioning before touchdown. A rocket engine on each craft explains the presence of fire.[vi]


[i] Gayle White, “Extraterrestrial Encounters,” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 5 April 1997, p. F04.

[ii] Richard Hall, Uninvited Guests: A Documented History of UFO Sightings, Alien Encounters, & Cover-ups (Santa Fe: Aurora Press, 1988), pp. 139-40.

[iii] The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds, ed. James R. Lewis (New York: State University of New York Press, 1995), pp. 32-33.

[iv] Bob Waldrep, “Beam Me Up, Scotty,” Watchman Fellowship Web Site, 1995, downloaded from Internet.

[v] The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds, p. 35.

[vi] The UFO Phenomenon: Mysteries of the Unknown, ed. Time-Life (Alexandria: Time-Life Books, n.d), p. 12.