by David C. Grabbe
CGG Weekly, September 4, 2015
"Sin always leads us much farther than we intended to go."
Last time, we saw that the verses typically referenced regarding the four lunar eclipses—"blood moons"—are actually describing the Sixth Seal of the book of Revelation (Revelation 6:12-14). However, the Sixth Seal contains disturbances in the sun, moon, stars, and the sky as a whole, and thus the blood moons, by themselves, cannot fulfill it.
Even so, when we look at what the Bible says about the lights of the heavens being darkened, there are critical matters to consider as the time of these eclipses draws to a close. One more lunar eclipse remains to appear this year, on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. In addition, while most of the focus has been on the lunar eclipses, a solar eclipse was also seen on the last day of the previous Hebrew year (March 20), and a partial eclipse will be visible on the last day of the year of release (shemitah), Elul 29 (September 13), the day before the new civil year begins on the upcoming Feast of Trumpets.
The year of release is particularly relevant right now, because when a nation develops an economy that confuses debt with wealth, it invites an economic bloodbath when God enforces the releasing of debts every seven years, just as happened in 2008 and 2001. So, even without the Sixth Seal in view, these celestial events in these two years seem beyond coincidence to be happening together—events taking place on days that God has marked out in Scripture for special attention.
Genesis 1:14 tells us that the Creator put the lights in the firmament "for signs and seasons." The word "seasons" (moedim) is not talking about summer and winter, but about "appointed times" or "times of gathering together." When the lights God created for determining His times are darkened on those times, at the very least we have an open invitation to consider what may be going on.
Scripture also makes evident that signs in the heavens, especially the sun and the moon going dark, are linked with times of judgment. The Sixth Seal includes that darkening, and it is the beginning of God's judgment on those persecuting His people. The book of Joel, famous for its descriptions of the Day of the Lord, contains three such mentions of the sun, moon, and stars being darkened as precursors to God's wrath (Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15). A second example, Isaiah 13, foretells the heavenly lights being darkened as part of God's judgment on Babylon (see Isaiah 13:10).
Along the same lines, Ezekiel 32 contains God's judgment concerning Egypt. Verses 7-8 in particular link the darkening of the heavens with the light of the whole nation being extinguished by God:
"When I put out your light, I will cover the heavens, and make its stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of the heavens I will make dark over you, and bring darkness upon your land," says the Lord GOD. (Emphasis ours.)
From these passages, we can conclude that when the lights in the heavens are darkened, it is an indication that the time is up, and judgment is at hand. Again, if we are looking for a literal fulfillment, then the stars are included. But in type, the darkening of the lights of heaven can signify something—especially a nation—coming to an end.
Similar symbolism is found in the book of Ecclesiastes:
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, "I have no pleasure in them": While the sun and the light, the moon and the stars, are not darkened, and the clouds do not return after the rain. (Ecclesiastes 12:1-2)
Verses 2-7 of this chapter contain a rich and picturesque description of the latter years of life, which Solomon calls "the difficult days," the years when the daily tasks of living become harder to carry out. They are contrasted with "the days of . . . youth" (verse 1), when most are healthy and carefree and everything seems to come easily. Surprisingly, Solomon begins this teaching with the lights of heaven—sun, moon, and stars—being darkened. He is probably not referring to vision, as that is alluded to at the end of verse 3, where he describes declining eyesight as "those that look through the windows grow dim."
Throughout Scripture, light is a symbol for understanding, life, and vitality, while darkness indicates more negative attributes like incomprehension, confusion, and doom. In Ecclesiastes 12, the darkening of the lights of heaven is likened to the dimming of the mind of a man about to die. His productivity is diminishing; his heart and spirit are waning; and his hopes and plans are nearing their ends. Like the darkening of the heavens for the nations of Babylon and Egypt, this darkening signifies the approaching end of a person's period of judgment.
But what of the appointed times on which a type of this darkening has been occurring? In Part Three, we will add in the significance of the holy days involved—the first days of the Feasts of Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles.