Amid this week’s excitement surrounding one of the clearest solar eclipses in recent history, questions surfaced in many people’s hearts: “Is this a sign? Is this the fulfillment of some ancient Biblical prophecy? Is this more than a natural phenomenon—is this a harbinger of apocalyptic consequence?”
Not everyone asked these questions of course. Some people never even considered whether there was anything more happening than an object momentarily impeding our view of the sun. Others would find these questions laughable. However, questions like these are actually quite reasonable since human civilizations have always tried to prophetically interpret the movements of the heavens, and since many Bible prophecies are packed with predictions of astrological signs that arise at the end of time.
So what was it? Was the eclipse a beautiful natural phenomenon or a cosmic message in the sky? Regardless of how one answers those questions, I have three thoughts on how we can process moment like this week’s solar eclipse.
First, we should enjoy it! At the simplest level, we just experienced one of the most amazing astronomical movements of our generation. These moments should be lived, appreciated, and enjoyed!
Second, we should let our gaze linger upwards. Natural moments like these remind us of the vastness of our universe and give us a renewed opportunity to marvel at the intricacy, mystery, and beauty of our home on planet earth. In addition to the fun and excitement that these moments create, they also move us to worship as we consider the source behind our creation.
Finally, we should appreciate the Bible scholars and curious students who are re-reading biblical prophecy and their popular commentary books. Natural phenomena of this nature are always great opportunities to review the words of Scripture and to be reminded that we are more than flickering motes in an endless universe—we are a part of God’s plan for human history and we have work to do as long as time exists.
In every generation since Jesus’ ministry on earth people have viewed themselves as the terminal generation—the final generation before the return of Christ. I think that good can come from this belief. On a purely biological level we are terminal, and this awareness can drive us toward lives of greater weight and consequence; we want our remaining time to count! And on a theological level, the day will come when one of these generations is right. Jesus did promise to return, there will be a terminal generation, and until He does, there are people to love, causes to advance, and a beautiful king to serve. Let’s do this well. Let’s live faithful, Christ-oriented lives that positively affect people in our generation and in generations to come.