Seeing the solar eclipse in a new light

by

Published: 30 June 2020 (GMT+10)
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In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1), and, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). So, when it comes to that unique phenomenon, the solar eclipse, is there something else it could be telling us? Many false religions and superstitions see it, erroneously, as some sort of omen of death and destruction. But we can draw a powerful spiritual meaning from this spectacular phenomenon.

On the first day of creation darkness was over the surface of the deep, and God simply said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Light is the opposite of darkness, and God said that the light was good (Genesis 1:2–5).

Two great lights

On the fourth day God created lights in the expanse of the heavens. Their purpose was to give light on the earth to separate the day from the night; for signs; for seasons; for days; and for years. He made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. Earth was the focus and the purpose for the lights (Genesis 1:14–19).

Of course, we understand that the two great lights are the sun and the moon. Physically speaking, the sun and the moon both rule the movement of the earth. The earth would fly off into space were it not for the gravity of the sun. The moon’s gravity governs not only the stability of the earth on its axis, but also the tides and with them the upwelling of nutrients from the ocean floor, and even currents in the ocean.

They also rule the activity of life on Earth. Man typically works by day and rests by night. Sunset generally determines the departure time of birds which migrate nocturnally, and moths and other insects orient themselves by the moon at night.

Two great covenants

Here, though, we want to focus our attention on spiritual illustration and application. Leading up to the matter of the eclipse, we will consider the way in which the moon rules the night and the sun rules the day. God has progressively revealed His will and made promises to man in great covenants. Two of them are simply called the Old Covenant and the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31–34). Like the two great lights in the heavens, these two great covenants have provided spiritual light to rule the behaviour of mankind.

The Old Covenant, given to the children of Israel, is known as the Law of Moses or simply, the Law or Torah (Hebrews 8:8–12, which cites the Jeremiah passage).

The New Covenant is the covenant inaugurated by Jesus Christ. He Himself is so much the centre and substance of the New Covenant that there could be no New Covenant without Jesus. He is Himself the Greater Light, or, in His own words, the “light of the world” (John 8:12), just as the sun of our solar system is the light of our world. And like the order of the biblical day—evening to morning1—the time when the lesser light rules the night acts as a tutor (Galatians 3:24) to lead us to the time when the greater light rules the day.

As dissimilar as the two times of the day over which they rule, the two great lights are likewise as different as night and day. The sun has light within itself; the moon’s light is merely a reflection of the light of the sun. The sun is so bright that, just as man cannot stare directly at God and live (Exodus 33:20), one cannot stare at the sun without going blind; staring at the moon is harmless.

The sun’s light displays the full multicoloured glory of God’s creation; objects in the moonlight, however, like the impersonal, impartial justice of the Law, appear black-and-white. The sun warms the earth; the moon gives no warmth.

As Jesus Christ, who has life within Himself (John 5:26), gives life to all things (1 Timothy 6:13), so the sun has within itself everything that gives life to all the earth; the Law, however, condemns sinful man to death. This “ministry of death” (2 Corinthians 3:6–9) leads men to the greater Light who gives life.

Eclipsing the light

eclipse

Something unique within our solar system happens at a solar eclipse. It ‘just so happens’ that the Earth’s only moon is set in space at precisely the right distance to make it appear to us to be the same size as the sun. At a total solar eclipse we see the moon begin to cover the sun. Broad daylight becomes almost as dark as night, and the temperature can drop by about 15 Celsius degrees (28 Fahrenheit degrees).2 Birds and animals go silent.

At the Last Supper, what Jesus referred to as the “hour of darkness” began when Judas left to betray Him. He went out, and it was night. Jesus continued to explain to His disciples that the wine they were sharing at the Passover meal would from then on represent Jesus’ blood of the New Covenant.3 At the end of the meal Jesus spoke to His Father, God, saying His hour had come (John 17:1).

The weight of sin

Jesus headed out to the garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives named Gethsemane. Gethsemane was a word meaning “oil press.” As heavier and heavier weights were applied to a gethsemane, the oil would be pressed out of the olives in a bag and collected. Here, the weight of the sins of the world began to weigh so heavily upon Jesus’ shoulders that He began to sweat “like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44). He asked His Father to let this date with destiny pass from Him if it was in any way possible (Luke 22:42). But, it was not. It had to happen this way. This burden of sin that was being laid upon Him was producing the oil of His anointing as Messiah.

Jesus went into the darkness to meet His betrayer. All through the darkness of night Jesus was put through mock trials and turned over to the Roman governor, Pilate, for daring to claim that He was the Messiah. Then, betrayed, denied, deserted, mocked, beaten, spit upon, and with His back laid bare by flogging, the Roman soldiers wove a crown of thorns and stuck it on his head (Matthew 26:45–27:31). By 9 o’clock the morning after He had taken His last supper with His disciples, He was being nailed to a cross (Mark 15:25).

empty-tomb-2

Just as the dark moon passing in front of the sun at the solar eclipse can make the brightness of midday seem like night, a darkness like night fell over the land from noon to 3 pm (Mark 15:33). (This preternatural darkness was, however, not a solar eclipse, because that is impossible during the full moon of Passover.) The debt of all the sins of the world was being laid to the account of Jesus Christ as though He had committed them (Isaiah 53:6). The darkness of that sin began to pass over the Light of the world until it completely eclipsed the Light. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46, citing Psalm 22:1). The Greeks viewed an eclipse of any sort as light forsaking a heavenly body. Though Jesus did not cry out in Greek, the Greek word in the NT translated ‘forsaken’ in English is related to the word from which we get our English word ‘eclipsed’

Then He cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), which in the Greek is one word, “tetelestai!”. This was written over bills of debt when they were completely paid up. The sins of the world had been paid in full, nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14).

Darkness revealing crowning glory

At the point of full solar eclipse something truly phenomenal happens: the corona is seen (fig. 1). That word, ‘corona’, is Latin meaning, ‘crown’ (the notorious coronavirus causing so many problems around the world means ‘crown-shaped virus’). Before His crucifixion, sinful men thrust a crown of thorns into His head. Three days after the God-man had given His life to redeem sinful men, He rose from the dead.4 He ascended into heaven,5 where He was crowned with glory and honour (Hebrews 2:9), and ever since, He sits as King of kings and Lord of lords6 at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.7

But, as it says in the beginning chapter of John, the darkness did not overcome the Light (John 1:5). In an actual eclipse, the moon keeps moving on, the brightness of midday returns, and the Greater Light once again rules the day. The solar eclipse can be used to illustrate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the day the darkness of death eclipsed the Light of the world, the debt of the sins of mankind was completely paid, and Jesus was crowned with all glory and honor. This is the new light. This is the perpetual testimony of the solar eclipse.

References and notes

  1. Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31. Return to text.
  2. Cofield, C., Brrr! How Much Can Temperatures Drop During a Total Solar Eclipse? space.com, 17 Jun 2017. Return to text.
  3. Luke 22:20; 2 Corinthians 11:25–26. Return to text.
  4. Acts 10:38–43; 1 Corinthians 15:3–4 Return to text.
  5. Acts 1:9; Ephesians 4:9-10 Return to text.
  6. 1 Timothy 6:14–16; Revelation 19:11–16 Return to text.
  7. Mark 16:19; Luke 22:69–70; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 10:12; 12:2; 2 Peter 3:21–22 Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Our Amazing Created Solar System
by Russell Grigg (editor)
US $19.00
Hard Cover
Christianity for Skeptics
by Drs Steve Kumar, Jonathan D Sarfati
US $17.00
Soft Cover
From Creation to Salvation
by Lita Cosner
US $14.00
Soft Cover
By This Name
by John R Cross
US $15.00
Soft Cover

Readers’ comments

Philip P.
Thank you . It truly is a new way to look at an eclipse.
G W.
Thank you for an excellent comment and a truly edifying and opening of the spiritual
implications of this physical phenomena of an eclipse of the sun.
It is well worth reading and I have passed it on for others to also benefit from some
very precious insights. Once again, thank you brother.
Phillip B.
Sorry to say, I cannot understand the fourth day of creation. As day and night had passed three times previously how then could the sun and stars just be created, especially when God had already created the heavens and the Earth in the Beginning. What information can you give me on this.
Jonathan Sarfati
If I give you information, it would be like giving you a fish, and feeding you for a day. Better to teach you how to fish, so you are fed for life. Or in this case, teach you how to find information, which will not only help with this question, but with many others.

On the top right of every article, there is a search box. In this case, enter the words day and sun. An article that answers this question explicitly should be at or near the top.

Geoff B.
Good read. Also noted is the connection between the curse and the cross.
Women were to have pain in giving birth. Jesus has no children but many descendants—Isaiah 53. Adam was to work by the sweat of his brow. Jesus sweated blood. Thorns and thistles Adam’s curse yet worn on Jesus head. Adam and Eve were clothed by God and Jesus was stripped naked. Cursed is he strung on a tree yet it was the fruit taken from the tree that was truly the curse.
Blessings.

[Hyperlinks added—Ed.]
Philip S.
Wonderful stuff, thanks greatly.

Just one related question, how would you address the ‘problem’ that some will see this as giving support to the “God only REVEALED the Greater and Lesser lights on Day 4” routine, because they were CREATED at the beginning in Gen 1:1 BEFORE the Days only started, in v 3?! Yeshua the Great Light was of course there at the beginning of Creation, being the Creator! And His reflecting “Lesser Light”, John the Baptizer, was at least foreknown “before the foundation of the earth.”
Jonathan Sarfati
Glad you liked the article overall.

Like most analogies, there is one point in common. It doesn’t mean that everything else is identical. We can only go so far with analogizing the uncreated Christ with anything in the created order. The same goes for analogies of the Trinity in general.
Steven F.
Psalm 19:
1
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
Gina S.
Yes I really love this article. Thank you so much,
Richard H.
Dr. Sarfati, it was great getting to meet you years ago in a tiny town in Missouri where you autographed my copy of your book, Refuting Evolution in 2014. Today this article seems simple and straight forward but in so many ways is deep in spiritual truths! The reference to the sun being like our Heavenly father and the moon to Jesus is wonderful ! My prayer is that many more people would read your book (books) and use them as witnessing tools, to lead people to Jesus! As Dr. Carter would say, 1 Peter 3:15! Gods very best to you and yours and again THANK YOU for all you do!
Byron S.
You say that “Jesus continued to explain to His disciples that the wine they were sharing at the Passover meal would from then on REPRESENT Jesus’ blood of the New Covenant.” But your reference to Luke 20:20 states, “And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,‘This cup that is poured out for you IS is the new covenant in my blood.’” (my caps) You have thereby imposed your interpretation on the Holy Scriptures, but that is NOT what Luke 20:20 says!
Jonathan Sarfati
I presume you mean Luke 22:20. You realize that the original Greek does NOT have the verb to be? Rather, it is inserted by the translators as an understood verb. Some translations, such as the KJV and the Berean Literal Bible, italicize such inserted words, and do so here. As I explained long ago:

the Lord’s Supper was instituted at a Passover meal, where the whole idea is remembrance. The Passover is loaded with representative symbols, e.g. the salt water is (=represents) the tears of suffering in Egypt, the haroseth is (represents) the mortar, the bitter herbs represent the bitterness of bondage.

Thus in its grammatical context, it is clearly metaphorical. This can be shown by comparing it with other similar constructions in Scripture, ‘I am the true vine’ (John 15:1), ‘I am the door’ (KJV; gate in NIV) (John 10:7). So a Jew, on hearing Jesus’ words ‘This is my blood’, would have recalled 2 Samuel 23:15–17:

15 David longed for water and said, ‘Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!’

16 So the three mighty men broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord.

17 ‘Far be it from me, O Lord, to do this!’ he said. ‘Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?’ And David would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty men.


Although David said of this water, ‘this is the blood …’, he clearly did not mean that the water that his men risked their lives for was transformed into the substance of their blood, while retaining the accidents of water.
Byron S.
If Jesus had intended his words to be understood as “REPRESENT Jesus’ blood of the New Covenant”, he was perfectly able to choose the appropriate word in Aramaic to do so. We must always let Scripture help up interpret Scripture, such as Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life found in John 6:35–59. Here Jesus clearly states, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” When even some of his own disciples could not accept it, Jesus persisted and even doubled down: “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” Therefore, the only correct “interpretation” of Luke 22:20 is not “represents” but “is”.
Jonathan Sarfati
↑↑ The above not only ignores the Passover context I mentioned, but evidently the article I linked to, where I also addressed that John passage as follows:

The context of the verse has nothing to do with the Last Supper.

The passage about eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood can again be understood by comparing Scripture with Scripture. In the same discourse, Jesus had said (John 6:35):

35 Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’


Note that ‘coming’ to Jesus stopped hunger, and ‘believing’ in Him stopped thirst. Thus ‘eating’ was a figure of speech for coming, and ‘drinking’ = believing.

All this shows how important comparing Scripture with Scripture is, and understanding it in its historical context.


As for your claim:

If Jesus had intended his words to be understood as “REPRESENT Jesus’ blood of the New Covenant”, he was perfectly able to choose the appropriate word in Aramaic to do so.


I (not necessarily CMI as a whole) think He spoke Galilean-accented Hebrew, for reasons explained in scholarly detail in Minge, B, Jesus Spoke Hebrew: Busting the ‘Aramaic’ Myth. But even if you are right, Luke was still written in Greek. There was a perfectly good Greek way of saying ‘is’ or other forms of the verb to be, but the verb is absent in Luke 22:20. There are plenty of NT examples of the use of this verb, such as: ho theos agapē estin (God is love, 1 John 4:16), hoi theristai angeloi eisin (the reapers are angels, Matthew 13:39), ho logos ho sos alētheia estin (your word is truth, John 17:17) [verb to be in bold]. You seem to be making far too much of a verb that is not in the text, although it could have been if it meant what you claim. I don’t claim that the absence of the verb is enough to disprove your claim, but it is enough to show that it need not mean what you claim. I mainly disagree on other grounds, as above.
Dorothy C.
The glory of God is brighter than the sun in all its radiance.
Byron S.
In Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life in John 6, we are told that the Jews murmured against him for saying: “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” But Jesus didn't attempt to clarify what he said in order to mollify them. Instead, he expanded on this topic: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

So, if Jesus didn’t really mean that his flesh is bread and his blood drink for us, why did he suffer the loss of so many followers without trying to clear up their misunderstanding? It was because he spoke the TRUTH the first time!
Jonathan Sarfati
Very simple, and just as Peter said. Jesus was not just claiming to be another teacher or even a prophet. Rather, He proclaimed that their eternal destiny would depend entirely on what they thought about HIM! Since they thought that Jesus was only a man, He must have been blaspheming by claiming what belonged only to God. For example.

They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” (John 6:42)


Peter understood what they would not: “You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed …” This relates to:

Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29).


The contrast was with the physical bread—this was just after the Feeding of the 5,000 at the beginning of the chapter. The contrast is clear from the passage leading up to:

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. (John 6:66)


That is:

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” (John 6:60–65).

Daniel T.
Good morning.

They do a great job. So great, that they inspired me to study mathematical physics. I’m Christian. But I want to ask you something, and ask you for advice. I mean, I have this internal fear, or insecurity that if I study mathematical physics, they will teach me unproven or secural things as certain. As in biology, where they start from or teaching us biological evolution. To what I am going, how did you do to obtain your doctorates in these areas, without losing your Faith? I mean, I have a bad perception of science, maybe, but I want to know, can I study mathematics physics calm and keeping my faith? For every time I read a physics book, I am afraid that since I don't know much about physics, if they tell me, for example, a Newtonian equation, I already worry if that equation agrees with the Bible (yes, I am exaggerating). Can I study calm mathematical physics, to further support my Faith?

God bless you.
Jonathan Sarfati
We wish you all the best in your studies. One thing to study further is how the great founders of modern science, including Newton, were devout creationists. Only the biblical world view provides a coherent foundation for science in the first place.

Probably the most important thing is to make sure that your faith is firmly grounded on the Word of God. As I advised another inquirer 15 years ago:

Your faith is misplaced if it is wavering because of such matters. One’s faith should never be based on specific examples of design, but on God’s Word. Your problem is what my colleague Andrew Lamb called the ‘evidentialist roller coaster’—where one’s faith goes up and down depending on the status of the latest ‘evidence’. Or to paraphrase Ephesians 4:14: ‘tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of evidence,’ cf. the article Swaying in the breeze. In fact, Mr Lamb informs me that it described his own life before joining CMI and learning about presuppositionalism. That is, the difference between creation and evolution is not about the evidence, but the presuppositions by which we interpret the evidence (see also Evolution & creation, science & religion, facts & bias).


See also ‘How do I do my assignment about evolution?’ and especially our new booklet The Creation Survival Guide: How to graduate with your faith intact.
Byron S.
I am amazed at your intransigence in not accepting the Word of God for what he says about himself, as given in John 6! If Jesus had wanted to say that his flesh is food and his blood is drink, how could he have said it any more plainly? You rightly criticize those who interpret the Creation days as long ages, but here you refuse to accept the detailed and repeated words of Jesus that can be understood in no other way without falsifying his intent. I would suppose that you are familiar with the Early Church Fathers. They give ample evidence that the Church has always taught that the Eucharist is the true body and blood of Jesus. Ignore them at your eternal peril!
Jonathan Sarfati
I actually am familiar with the Patristic writers, and discuss their views on Creation in my books Refuting Compromise and The Genesis Account. When it comes to the issue with which you have hijacked the comment thread ;) , see for example Did the Early Church Teach Transubstantiation? by Nathan Busenitz, Master’s Seminary, 21 Apr 2016.

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