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Sun, Moon, and Stars


SUN, MOON, AND STARS

The Bible uses the sun, the moon, and the stars figuratively. These heavenly bodies are symbols of the parents and brothers of Joseph in his dream (Gen 37:9-11). John in his vision saw, “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1). While telling about the return of the Son of Man, Jesus said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Mt 24:29).

The prophets present the fall of rulers and kingdoms in a hyperbolic language with the non-functionality of heavenly bodies. Isaiah prophesied the fall of Babylon: “Indeed, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and burning anger; to lay waste the land and destroy the sinners within it! The stars of the heavens and their constellations will send forth no light; The sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not give its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their guilt. I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant, the insolence of tyrants I will humble” (Isa 13:9-11). While predicting the judgement of Edom, Isaiah said, “All the host of heaven shall rot; the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll. All their host shall wither away, as the leaf wilts on the vine, or as the fig withers on the tree” (Isa 34:4).

The prophetic language of the destruction of Egypt was also in a similar style. “When I extinguish you, I will cover the heavens and darken all its stars. The sun I will cover with clouds; the moon will not give light. All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will spread darkness over your land – oracle of the Lord GOD” (Ezek 32:7-8). Joel prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem also similarly. “I will set signs in the heavens and on the earth, blood, fire, and columns of smoke; the sun will darken, the moon turn blood-red, before the day of the LORD arrives, that great and terrible day. Then everyone who calls upon the name of the LORD will escape harm. For on Mount Zion there will be a remnant, as the LORD has said, and in Jerusalem survivors whom the LORD will summon” (Joel 3:3-5). Hence, the tribulations presented in the heavens before the second coming of Christ can also be a hyperbolic presentation of the horrific obliteration of the sinner and the salvation of the righteous.

Peter speaks of a physical transformation and establishment of a new heaven and new earth with the return of the Son of God. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out” (2 Pet 3:10). “But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13). Hence, the world will transform to perfection. It will end the people’s rebellion against God and sin. Only the righteous will enjoy that new world of holiness and peace.

SIGNS IN THE SUN, MOON, AND STARS

Jesus predicted the signs at the coming of the Son of Man: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves” (Lk 21:25).

The Bible records exceptional astronomical changes associated with important Biblical events:

1. When Israel attacked the Amorites, “Joshua prayed to the LORD, and said in the presence of Israel: Sun, stand still at Gibeon, Moon, in the valley of Aijalon! The sun stood still, the moon stayed, while the nation took vengeance on its foes. This is recorded in the Book of Jashar. The sun halted halfway across the heavens; not for an entire day did it press on” (Josh 10:12-13). Some interpret this as a metaphorical presentation, and not an actual event.

2. When Hezekiah was severely sick and about to die, he prayed to God for recovery. God extended his life by 15 years. As an assurance for God’s promise, He gave him a sign through Isaiah. “‘See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz go back the ten steps it has advanced.’ So the sun came back the ten steps it had advanced” (Isa 38:8).

3. At the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, magi from the east, who were astronomers, came to Jerusalem. They said to King Herod, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage” (Mt 2:2). Some consider this guiding star as a comet. However, the astronomers considered this extraordinary celestial body as divine intervention at the birth of the Messiah.

4. Unusual signs happened when Jesus was on the cross. “It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle” (Lk 23:44-45). “The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, ‘Truly, this was the Son of God!’” (Mt 27:51-54).

Jesus predicted the occurrence of extraordinary celestial signs at his second coming. That will be part of his glorious arrival from heaven. “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Mt 24:30).

Isaiah had a vision concerning Babylon: “Indeed, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and burning anger; to lay waste the land and destroy the sinners within it! The stars of the heavens and their constellations will send forth no light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not give its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their guilt. I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant, the insolence of tyrants I will humble” (Isa 13:9-11). Hence, the frightening signs are a prelude to the destruction of sinners.

The signs in the sun can be a total solar eclipse similar to the one that happened at the crucifixion of Jesus. It is a conventional sign of disaster to take place. John describes his vision at Patmos: “Then I watched while he (the Lamb) broke open the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; the sun turned as black as dark sackcloth” (Rev 6:12).

John, in his vision at Patmos, saw, “the whole moon became like blood” (Rev 6:12). Joel also had a similar prophecy: “The sun will darken, the moon turn blood-red, before the day of the LORD arrives, that great and terrible day” (Joel 3:4). The moon can appear blood-red during a total lunar eclipse. That happens only when there is a full moon with the sun, earth, and moon aligning in a straight line. However, a simultaneous solar and lunar eclipse will be an extraordinary event at the end-times.

Ordinary people have considered asteroids as stars. Meteors or small pieces of asteroid enter the earth’s atmosphere and burn up. If several of them happen together, that can be frightening and would look like stars falling from the sky. According to the Book of Revelation, when the Lamb broke open the sixth seal, “The stars in the sky fell to the earth like unripe figs shaken loose from the tree in a strong wind” (Rev 6:13).

The unusual signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars are signals of the destruction of a corrupt world and the sinners in it. That will be a time of joy for the righteous, their separation from the evils, and a transition to a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1-3).

The sudden changes in the constellation will affect the earth, both land and sea. If several meteors hit the earth and the sea simultaneously (Rev 6:13), there will be earthquakes and tsunami. “When the second angel blew his trumpet, something like a large burning mountain was hurled into the sea. A third of the sea turned to blood, a third of the creatures living in the sea died, and a third of the ships were wrecked” (Rev 8:8-9). The sea will roar with high waves and the land will swing with destruction. That will be a frightening experience.

Isaiah speaks of the judgement upon the world and the Lord’s enthronement on Mount Zion: “The earth will burst asunder, the earth will be shaken apart, the earth will be convulsed. The earth will reel like a drunkard, sway like a hut; Its rebellion will weigh it down; it will fall, never to rise again” (Isa 24:19). “Then the sky was divided like a torn scroll curling up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place” (Rev 6:14). Unlike an earthquake, it may affect the whole earth. Thus, the earth will become unstable and that will make the people terrified.

Because the sun will become dark, the moon will not give light, the stars will fall from the sky (Mk 13:24-25) and their consequences on the earth, people will become extremely scared, worrying about what would happen. According to Peter, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out” (2 Pet 3:10). This will terrify the sinners because it will be the time of their eternal destruction. However, the true believers will be happy seeing these signs because they know that is the time for them to meet the Lord and receive the eternal reward for their Christian witnessing.

THE SUN WILL GROW DARK, THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT

A temporary solar eclipse happens in a certain part of the world about every eighteen months. However, the occultation at Jesus’ return must be an extraordinary phenomenon, like the three hours of darkness during the hanging of Jesus on the cross (Mt 27:45). John had a similar vision. “Then I watched while he broke open the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; the sun turned as black as dark sackcloth and the whole moon became like blood” (Rev 6:12). That shall be the heavenly spectacle that will happen before the return of Christ.

THE STARS WILL FALL FROM THE SKIES

The “falling stars” mentioned here can be an extraordinary shower of meteors or a similar astronomical event. John saw in his vision, “The stars in the sky fell to the earth like unripe figs shaken loose from the tree in a strong wind” (Rev 6:13). Unlike the beautiful shooting stars that disappear in the sky, multiple stars that hit the earth can be catastrophic.

THE FORCES THAT CONTROL THE UNIVERSE WILL BE SHAKEN

The ancient belief was that an external force was controlling the course of the heavenly bodies like the moon and the stars in their appointed courses without fail. Their disturbance causes the fall of the stars.

 


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