On Monday, August 21, a total solar eclipse will unfold. For the first time in almost 100 years, such an event will be visible from the United States as the eclipse takes a diagonal pass across the North American continent from Oregon to South Carolina.
A solar eclipse takes place when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. The darkness we observe on Earth is the Moon’s shadow.
This event is certainly dramatic. Many consider this one of the most significant astronomical events that you can witness. Many in the Christian community see it as potentially something more — a sign from God that the End Times are near.
A partial eclipse will be viewable anywhere in North America and a total eclipse can be seen within a 70-mile-wide path. It will begin in Oregon at 9:05 a.m. PT and end in South Carolina at 2:48 p.m. ET. Within the path of totality, the moon will completely block out the sun for a few minutes, the sky will grow dark, and the temperature will drop. Elsewhere varying levels of sun coverage and darkness will occur. The longest duration of totality will occur near Carbondale, Illinois where the sun will be completely covered for two minutes and 40 seconds.
The event is creating a stir around the country as many plan to travel to witness the event. It’s also causing a stir among many Christians and biblical scholars who consider the potential prophetic implications of the event.
Total solar eclipses aren’t actually all that rare. Technically, one can be seen somewhere on the planet about every 18 months. What is more significant about this particular total eclipse is the fact that it is essentially taking place directly over the United States. This hasn’t happened for 99 years. Another one will take place relatively soon in 2024.
Scripture has several instances of God using wonders in the heavens to communicate with His people. That includes solar eclipses.
There are several verses in the Bible that prophecy about the sun turning dark. In Matthew 24:29 Jesus says the sun will be darkened after the tribulation, and Revelation 6:12 talks about the sun becoming ‘black as sackcloth of hair’ and the moon becoming ‘like blood.’
Biblical scholar and author Mark Blitz is among those who believe that the eclipse is a “sign from God,” proclaiming that he believes the Almighty is sending a sign to America. Blitz argues that happenings in the Middle East as well as “signs in the heavens” show that prophesy could be on the horizon.
“Could God be giving us a warning that we need to repent or judgment will be coming to the United States?” he asked. “The timing couldn’t be clearer!”
“From a biblical point of view,” says Blitz, “a solar eclipse is meant to be a sign from God.
Gary Ray, who writes for Unsealed, believes that the end is coming, but that the pending eclipse is just another sign that the Rapture is fast approaching.
“My number one encouragement to people would be to just trust God. More importantly, to trust the right God. If people want to be ready, the one thing you can do is accept what He has offered, which is the gift of grace and forgiveness. That’s all we have to do to be ready.”
Another opinion comes from James Kurzynski, a Catholic priest and amateur astronomer from Menominee, Wisconsin. According to his point of view, the eclipse does not foretell the end of the world. He sees it as an opportunity to reflect on humanity’s relationship to creation and build stronger bonds with God while enjoying a rare astronomical event. Using biblical arguments he refutes the notion that the eclipse signals the End.
Certainly the arrival of a solar eclipse is not in and of itself a definitive harbinger of the End Times. Although the Bible does detail celestial events as being messages to us, the question remains as to the meaning, if any, of this specific event. The End Times will certainly come at some point, but does this event have any relationship to their timing? Whatever your point of view, there is no question that this total eclipse will be a wondrous display of the the works of God and His majesty will be on display for us all to witness.
What’s your take? Is this just a sky show? A display of God’s magnificence? Or a true sign that the End Times are near? Send your comments.
The following is some helpful information from BestBuy.com about viewing the upcoming eclipse safely:
SOLAR VIEWING SAFETY
Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief phase of totality during a solar eclipse when the moon entirely blocks the sun, which will happen only within the path of totality.
The single safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through approved solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or regular sunglasses are not safe for looking at the sun.
NASA recently adopted a new, more stringent ISO safety standard to better protect your eyes from harmful solar radiation. When shopping for a product for safe solar viewing, look for a label on the package that says “ISO 12312-2, Filters for Direct Observation of the Sun.”
Be sure to follow these guidelines:
- Always inspect your solar filter before use, and discard it if it’s scratched or damaged.
- Read and follow any instructions that come with your solar viewing product.
- Always look away from the sun while putting on or taking off your solar viewing apparatus to prevent yourself from looking directly at the sun.
- Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or any other device; and do not look through an unfiltered device while using eclipse glasses or a solar viewer, as the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing injury.
- If you’re within the path of totality, you can remove your solar viewing device only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets dark.
- As soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, you must put your solar viewing equipment back on to watch the remaining partial phases of the eclipse.