Total Eclipse: The Sign and the Wonder
For us Americans, this will be the first total eclipse of the sun viewable in the states since 1979. So we don't have to fly half way around the world to see a total eclipse as astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez did in 1995, flying to Northern India to see the eclipse on October 24th of that year.
The spectacle of a total eclipse is so awe inspiring I won't talk much about the wonder of it. Both believers and unbelievers alike testify about how unique the experience is:
What is it about this singular event that makes even secular scientists - people who believe the earth exists as an accident of cosmic events and a myriad of random collisions - wonder if it could really be a mere accidental coincidence that intelligent creatures such as ourselves can both view and appreciate the specialness of a Total Eclipse of the Sun?
The longer one considers the requirements to view a total eclipse, the lesser that it appears that is a mere accident. Guillermo Gonzalez explains the conditions necessary to view a total solar eclipse. It requires:
1. A luminous body, in our cases the
While the first four requirements are rather mundane - it happens on many planets with moons, the fifth is what what makes the solar eclipse on the earth unique. That special ratio that allows the moon to completely, and precisely cover the disk of the sun - and only the disk, not the corona - as in the picture above of the March 20, 2015 eclipse. That is truly unique in our solar system. Gonzalez did the math to verify it:
While this helps to highlight the wonder of an eclipse, it's secondary to why I point it out. The main reason I point this out is to spotlight that the preponderance of this evidence leads one away from the "mere coincidence" suggestion and points in the direction of an intelligence behind the design of the universe. Which brings me back to the question of signs from such a designer.
In another article on The Creation Club site about the eclipse, the author does a good job of pointing out the type of sign the eclipse is not. Let me pick it up from there and suggest a few items that a total eclipse of the sun is a sign of. Put another way - some things the eclipse should remind us of.
Signs Gleaned from the Total Eclipse of the Sun:
1. The solar system, and thus the
universe is intelligently designed.
2. The entire Cosmos, including the eclipse, is controlled by the king of the Cosmos: God
The Bible makes clear two things about the workings of the cosmos:
a) God put all the stars where they belong; nothing is missing, all are in their respective places. The prophet Isaiah puts it this way:
So God put all the stars exactly where he wants them. Not one is out of place (missing). And they move according to his laws. If he doesn't make that clear here, he makes that clear elsewhere:
b) The heavenly bodies move according
to God's laws.
God asks Job in verse 33 - "Do you know the ordinances of heavens?" - or as we might say, "the laws of physics that govern the stars," and drives the point home by asking Job if he could put in place such laws. In Hebrew the question is asked expecting the "no" answer, so a paraphrase of the verse would be:
So this verse emphasizes that God created the laws that governs the movements of the stars and the planets. That means that God alone is directly responsible for the conditions that allow us to experience, appreciate and marvel at the wonder of a Solar eclipse. Consider that another meaning of the sign of the eclipse.
3. The Eclipse is a sign that God is the source and renewer of all Hope
The renowned physicist Stephen Hawking
can't help but let his atheism show through his approach to cosmology.
It seems at every chance he gets he's either trying to show why God is
not needed to create the universe, or that religions have led to some
wild beliefs. The latter is true with regards to false religions, but
the problem is he doesn't distinguish false religions from the true one.
Unfortunately due to his anti-Christian bias he misses a greater symbolism found in the Bible. The Bible says "God is light" (1 Jn 1.5) and light shining on God's people is often a symbol of his blessing and forgiveness, while darkness is a symbol of punishment and judgment.
Thus in the eclipse which briefly hides the sun only for it to reappear, we have a reminder and a celestial picture of this verse:
Thus the eclipse is like a picture of God's discipline on those upon whom he has compassion: of short duration followed by the brilliance and glory of the light of his love and forgiveness, shining in all it's brilliance as does the sun as it emerges again. In that sense the shining light turning again toward us as a symbol of God's face shining on us in pleasure is reminiscent of the Aaronic blessing:
"The LORD bless you and keep you;
4. A Sign announcing (and warning
of) the Return of God
There is a lot of theology to be
unpacked with this verse, which we don't have time for here. So let me
keep it to three quick points.
Third: The Big Question
Could it be that the "darkness" that is
spoken of is not an eclipse at all, but something that covers the sun
creating darkness? Other times of darkness are pointed at in support of
this theory, such as the darkness during Jesus crucifixion; or the
plague of darkness during the Exodus. But at those times the darkness
was spoken of as coming over the land, not the sun. ( Matt 27.45, Ex
And it is clear that time is often compressed in prophetic messages. Consider for example Revelation chapter 12. In this one chapter we see an amazing span of events: The fall of Satan and the angels who followed him, The birth of Christ, and it also appears to reference the end times with the mention of "a time, times and half a time" (Rev 12.14 compare Dan 7.25). My point here is that time is compressed in Rev 12 - to show many events that actually occurred over a long period of time. Likewise, the appearance of the darkening of the sun and a blood moon, though spoken of in one verse, could actually be occurring over a span of time. That could mean this solar eclipse - when paired with either previous lunar eclipses or coming lunar eclipses could be the beginning of a span of time during which God is sending a final warning about Christ's return. But as to the length of the warning - we don't know - because as I mentioned above - no one knows the day or hour. We're not even sure if this is the eclipse that is meant to be that final warning. It could be a different one. But of the following you can be sure:
For those who love the Lord, His return and his presence is never a fearful thing because, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear" (1 Jn 4.18). But for those who have denied him, who hate him, and refuse to be a subject in his kingdom - these are the ones for whom "the day of the Lord" will be a "dreadful day." To such this eclipse and every eclipse is a sign, a reminder and a warning of the judgment to come.
But to those looking forward to the kingdom of God, especially those who fully appreciate the symbolism while watching the eclipse, and are patiently awaiting his return, I leave you with this advice. Let the eclipse be a sign that reminds you to be faithful to what Jesus has called us to do: Prepare and watch.
Duane Caldwell | posted 14 August, 2017
3. Myriad collisions -
secular theorists now believe the earth grew to its present size because
6. Requirements for
intelligent life to exist on a planet include, the planet must be:
The Privileged Planet, Illustra
Eric Metaxas, "Science Increasingly
Makes the Case for God", The Wall Street Journal, 12/25/2014
8. Lawrence M. Krauss,
"No, Astrobiology Has Not Made the Case for God",
The New Yorker, Jan 24,
9. The question in Job
38.33 is phrased with אם
(’im - eem). The standard Hebrew lexicon
notes "in direct question...expecting the answer No, especially
in a rhetorical style.")
11. There were actually
two wolves, and researchers now believe it was actually Haiti that ate
the sun during the eclipse; Skoll would have eaten the moon during a
12. Those specifically
calling the darkened sun an eclipse include Richard D. Patterson in his
Commentary on Joel in The Expositors Bible Commentary Volume 7 (Zondervan,
1985, p.256), and The Thompson Chain Reference Bible (Zondervan,
1983, p.934) - which identifies it as an eclipse in its notes.
A typical early comment: Matthew Henry in his 18th century commentary on the verse merely notes
that "these signs will be performed in the letter of them, " (Matthew
Henry Complete Commentary) so while not specifically calling it an
eclipse, he is confident the sun will be literally darkened.
13. For example, Pastor
John Hagee highlighted a tetrad of lunar eclipses split by a solar
eclipse in the years 2014-15 in his sermon series on the topic (broadcast Dec, 2012)
Blood Moons (2015)
Solar Eclipse, March 20, 2015; NASA: NASA's Scientific Visualization
Studio (Public Domain)