Eclipse 2017: is it the end of the world?
That great nation of the United States of America is about to experience a sign in the heavens. The first total Solar Eclipse to be seen from coast ot coast in the US since 1918. It will occur on August 21st 2017. This kind of event is sometimes seen as a harbinger of the End Times, the time leading up to the return of Jesus physically and to judgment day.
The eclipse will begin at mid morning on the west coast. The moon's shadow will then race across 14 states in about an hour and a half, ending at mid afternoon.
There has been a ramping up of the rhetoric between President Trump of the US and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Talking in such stark terms that nuclear conflict seems on the cards. In fact it is likely that the North Koreans will posture then back down due to the overwhelming firepower of the US. But still, these are worrying times.
An all encompassing final war is envisaged in some interpretations of what the Bible prophesies for the end of the world. Is God now sending war as part of a final judgment and warning us about it with a lunar eclipse? Is this a sign in the heavens presaging the tribulation and judgment day?
First, yes. Yes, the talk about signs in the heavens, sun being darkened, the moon not giving its light and the stars falling from the sky is reference to the a change in political power. Change in political power, kings, president or rulers is methaphorically referred to in Scripture by using the sun, moon and other celestial bodies. A change a in regime or the bringing down of a powerful nation is an possible interpretation of the sun being darkened. It is in line the normal use of such imagery throughout the Old Testament.
So, is it the case that the upcoming eclipse of the Sun by the moon is a prophesy of the end of all things? Is the eclipse of the moon a sign that the end is nigh? The passage in Mark's gospel known as the "mini-apocalypse" has Jesus prophesying about the moon:
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. (Mark 13:24-24)
No, it cannot be. This passage is a prophecy speaking about what would happen during the life time of those listening.
As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Mark 13:1-2
Jesus describes the answer the question of when the temple would be destroyed the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light. The destruction of the temple meant the end of the old way of relating to God especially through sacrifices in the temple. This old way was about to be replaced by being able to have access to God simply through faith in Jesus Christ. The answer to the question about the moon not giving its light and the stars crashing from the heavens was saying that there would be a change in who is in charge. Authorities and powers that seem as secure and permanent as celestial bodies would be brought down low. Dont believe me that this is the meaning ? It was how this language was used in the old testament. Here is Isaiah speaking
For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises And the moon will not shed its light. This prophecy was fulfillled by the terrible desolation of Babylon by the Medes and Persians. The actual physical moon and stars continued to shine.
The coming eclipse will be a fascinating astronomical event. That is all. It's not the end of the world.