On August 21, much of the United States will see a solar eclipse. In some areas, the eclipse will be total. Prophecy prognosticators are already making claims about the prophetic significance of this solar event. What is there to it?
For the uninformed, there is nothing unusual about an eclipse. They happen on a regular basis around the world. Here’s a site where you can see a list of the various eclipses (lunar and solar) for the next ten years. What makes this one unusual is that it will traverse much of the United States.
An eclipse is about positioning and timing. There will be a point in time when the moon will pass between the sun and the earth and block the sun from our eyes. How is this possible since the sun is 400 times the size of the moon’s diameter? There is also a 400 times difference in distance. We can make the moon disappear by positioning one of our thumbs between our eyes and the moon. This is a good way to explain an eclipse to young children without harm to their eyes.
What also is not unusual is for prophecy prognosticators to make claims about the prophetic significance of solar events. The recent blood moon phenomenon is one example. Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, has written, “Is God’s Judgment Coming on America?” She’s basing her opinion, although not being dogmatic about it, that the eclipse could be a warning of our nation’s judgment:
In light of Ezekiel 33:1-6 that commands a watchman to be faithful to warn others of the danger coming against the land, I feel compelled to issue the warning once again. The warning is triggered by the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, nicknamed America’s Eclipse. For the first time in almost 100 years, a total solar eclipse will be seen from coast to coast in our nation.
People are preparing to mark this significant event with viewing parties at exclusive prime sites. The celebratory nature regarding the eclipse brings to my mind the Babylonian King Belshazzar who threw a drunken feast the night the Medes and Persians crept under the city gate. While Belshazzar and his friends partied, they were oblivious to the impending danger. Belshazzar wound up dead the next day, and the Babylonian empire was destroyed.
Jewish rabbis have historically viewed solar eclipses as warnings from God to Gentile nations. Therefore, my perspective on the upcoming phenomenon is not celebratory. While no one can know for sure if judgment is coming on America, it does seem that God is signaling us about something. Time will tell what that something is.
Americans do not need a solar eclipse to know that America is headed for judgment for its many sins against God and His laws if they do not repent. The warning signs are everywhere. The Bible is filled with such warnings. But is this eclipse a specific sign of judgment? Anne Lotz says we’ll have to wait and see. That’s not the way biblical signs work.
Prophecy speculators have been cashing in on apocalyptic scare tactics for centuries. I have twelve book cases filled with literature related to prophecy and prophetic speculation. While we’re looking at the sun, moon, and stars, our culture is being stolen from us. Christians need to stop with the speculation and get to work applying the principles of the Bible to our world rather than prophetic speculation.
Here’s one prophetic speculator that the media are quoting:
“I believe it is a prophetic sign,” said Paul Begley, host of the Coming Apocalypse radio show. Begley said the eclipse could possibly fulfill a Bible prophecy recorded in the book of Joel, which says, “the sun shall be turned to darkness” before the “Day of the Lord come.” Begley said, “Somebody sound the trumpet,” because the eclipse may mean, “we are living in the last days.”
Here’s another one:
Mark Biltz, author of the 2016 book God’s Day Timer, said the fact that the eclipse’s path falls exclusively on the United States means it is a sign that God’s judgment is coming to America. “From a biblical point of view, a solar eclipse is meant as a sign from God,” he said. “When there is a total solar eclipse, it is a warning to a specific nation or nations depending on its path. … Could God be giving us a warning that we need to repent or judgment will be coming to the United States? The timing couldn’t be clearer!”
“[T]his solar eclipse will be a warning of impending natural catastrophe and also will involve the warning of a war that the United States and Israel will be entangled in,” wrote Michael Parker, who runs the Prophecies of the End Times website. Parker believes the eclipse is connected to America’s attempts to devise a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. (The Trumpet)
Since there have been and will be total eclipses of the sun and moon in other parts of the world, why is Anne Lotz only now making a connection between an eclipse and God’s judgment? It’s hardly reasonable to have an event like an eclipse be a prophetic sign when eclipses are predictable, as they have been for centuries.
In 1504, while Christopher Columbus was shipwrecked in Jamaica, the Spaniards were having a tough time trading with the natives for food. Their food supply was fast coming to an end, and the natives were becoming tired of the hawk bells and trinkets that Columbus’ crew were trading. Columbus knew he had to take drastic measures. He told the natives that if they did not keep his crew supplied with food, his God would get angry and make the moon “die.”
Coming to the admiral’s rescue was Johannes Müller von Königsberg (1436-1476), known by his Latin pseudonym, Regiomontanus. He was a highly regarded German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. Before his death, Regiomontanus published an almanac containing astronomical tables covering the years 1475-1506.
Regiomontanus’ almanac turned out to be of great value, for his astronomical tables provided detailed information about the sun, moon and planets, as well as the more important stars and constellations to navigate by. After it was published, no sailor dared set out without a copy. With its help, explorers were able to leave their customary routes and venture out into the unknown seas in search of new frontiers.
Columbus, of course, had a copy of the almanac with him when he was stranded on Jamaica. And he soon discovered from studying its tables that on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 29, 1504, a total lunar eclipse would occur, beginning around the time of moonrise.
Just moments before the end of the total phase Columbus reappeared, announcing to the Arawaks that his god had pardoned them and would now allow the moon to gradually return. And at that moment, true to Columbus’ word, the moon slowly began to reappear, and as it emerged from the Earth’s shadow, the grateful Arawaks hurried away. They then kept Columbus and his men well supplied and well fed until a relief caravel from Hispaniola arrived on June 29, 1504. Columbus and his men returned to Spain on Nov. 7. (Space.com)
To bolster her claim, Anne Lotz cites Joel 2:31: “The sun will be turned to darkness … before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” The sun is not turned to darkness during an eclipse. The same passage also states that the moon will turn “into blood.” Since there have been many eclipses and many times the moon looked red (it never has nor ever will turn into literal blood), why didn’t Joel 2:31 apply then? Why is it only applying now? Peter quotes Joel in Acts 2:19-20 and applies it to his day when there was neither an eclipse nor a red moon.
James Jordan gets to the heart of the meaning of the moon turning into blood passage:
[T]he turning of the moon to “blood” points, I believe, to something particularly Jewish: the sacrificial system. If they will not accept the blood of Jesus Christ, the final Sacrifice, then they themselves will be turned into blood. They will become the sacrifices…. That is what the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was all about.
But Joel is issuing a warning. Those who listen can escape. “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of Yahweh will be delivered; for ‘on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape,’ as Yahweh has said, even among the survivors whom Yahweh calls” (Joel 2:32). Just as Isaac escaped death on Mount Zion because of the substitute ram that God provided (Genesis 22:14), so those who trust in the Lamb of God will escape the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Such is Joel’s warning, reiterated by Peter on the day of Pentecost [Acts 2:19-21].
Neither Joel nor Peter had solar eclipses and red-looking moons in mind. God’s Judgment was based on the reckless abandonment of God’s law and the rejection of God’s Son.
The Bible records that at Jesus’ crucifixion there was darkness over the land. Some have speculated that this was due to a lunar eclipse (Matt. 27:45; Mark 15:33). Luke adds that the sun was “obscured,” but he does not say how (Luke 23:44-45). It could have been thick cloud coverage or changing atmospheric conditions. It could not have been a solar eclipse since they are of much shorter duration, no longer than seven minutes. The darkness at the time of the crucifixion lasted three hours. Lunar eclipses occur when the moon is full and visible at night and the earth passes between the sun and the moon. Jesus was crucified during the day.
Too many people are fixated on the end of history rather than on the One who made history nearly 2,000 year ago on the cross of redemption and the empty tomb. When the dust settles and the light returns and nothing prophetic happens, how many people will drift away from the faith because of another prophetic false alarm? Fortunately, not many people are proclaiming the upcoming solar event an apocalyptic event. But hold your breath, there’s the Revelation 12 Sign/September 23, 2017, Alignment prediction on the horizon.
For more on a truer understanding of Bible Prophecy, the sun, moon, and stars, and much more, see my Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church and American Vision’s many other books on Bible prophecy.