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The Spiritual Significance of an Eclipse

posted Aug 23, 2017, 11:34 AM by First Baptist


Did you see the eclipse yesterday? Pretty amazing, wasn’t it?


In TV interviews, several people referred to the Great American Eclipse as a “spiritual experience,” although it struck me that not a single person mentioned God or gave glory to Him.


Romans 1 tells us that fallen humanity refuses to glorify God & give Him thanks, but instead worships “created things rather than the Creator.” I wonder if that’s a lot of what was happening on Monday. (I’d also like to meet the guy who paid $1,000 on eBay for a pair of solar glasses.)


About Eclipses


Solar eclipses are actually quite common: 2-5 each year somewhere in the world. And they’re easy to predict. Ancient stargazers learned how to predict eclipses as early as 2300 BC.


Despite early knowledge of what eclipses are and when they will take place, eclipses were often considered to be a sign that something bad was going to happen. This was true not only in pagan religions, but also Judaism. For example, the Talmud (or body of Jewish law) states:


“When the luminaries are stricken, it is an ill omen for the world.”


A Prophetic Sign?


Throughout history, Christians also (not all, but some) have interpreted eclipses to have prophetic significance, usually a prediction of impending judgment. They base their interpretation on such verses as Isaiah 13:10, Ezekiel 32:7, Joel 2:10, Joel 2:31, Joel 3:15, Matthew 24:29, Mark 13:24, Revelation 6:12 and Revelation 8:12.


These verses all refer to the sun being darkened and are in the context of God’s judgment.


However, while it’s true that eclipses have been associated with several catastrophic events in world history (World War I, for example), their prophetic significance is diminished (if not eliminated) by their frequency (2-5 per year, as I mentioned), as well as the fact that most catastrophic events in history were not in any way presaged by an eclipse.


Rather than a sign of impending doom, I would suggest we consider the religious significance of eclipses to be that they reveal the majesty of our Creator. I think David had it right when he wrote:


The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  (Psalm 19:1)



Pastor Dan