“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Mark 13:24, 25
“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Luke 21:25, 26
In trying to understand the many signs of the coming tribulation that the Lord spoke of, we may very well forget that we are still reading the Olivet Discourse. This places the reference about the sun, moon and stars within the context of the coming destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Kingdom being given to another.
The distress of nations, men fainting with fear and foreboding of what was coming, is symbolically stated as the shaking of the powers of the heavens.
We know from history that the horrible tribulation Jerusalem endured by the Roman Army in 67-70AD caused the destruction of the City and the Temple. This brought the end of the Mosaic Age and ushered in the Kingdom Age.
Sun, Moon and Stars
The moving or shaking of the celestial bodies is a common theme in the Bible. It implies some kind of great change in polity. In this particular passage, it is about the ushering in of the Messianic, or Kingdom age.
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.” Matt. 21:43
Uses of Celestial Orbs being put for Calamity
- Joseph’s dream encompassing the sun, moon and stars [Gen 37:9-11] represented a change in the administration of the family.
- The LORD promises Zerubbabel that He will shake the heavens, meaning that He will bring down all the kingdoms that troubled Judea [Hos 2:6,21].
- The description of the fall of the Babylonian Empire [Is 13:10] uses almost exactly the same words: stars do not give their light, sun becomes dark, moon will not be lit.
- King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is told that Venus is fallen. The star that the Babylonians believed to be a portent of the king’s health and power, would be taken down by the One True God [Is14:21].
- The theme of sun, moon and stars continues in the lamentation over the demise of Pharaoh [Ezek 32:7 Amos 8:9].
These verses clearly indicate that a change in the sun, moon, and stars represented “political” change and not some astrological event.
Sir Isaac Newton writes of the use of the celestial orbs in prophetic language.
In the heavens, the Sun and Moon are, by interpreters of dreams, put for the persons of Kings and Queens; but in sacred Prophecy, which regards not single persons, the Sun is put for the whole species and race of Kings, in the kingdom or kingdoms of the world politic, shining with regal power and glory; the Moon for the body of the common people, considered as the king’s wife; the Stars for subordinate Princes and great men, or for Bishops and Rulers of the people of God, when the Sun is Christ; light for the glory, truth, and knowledge, wherewith great and good men shine and illuminate others; darkness for obscurity of condition, and for error, blindness and ignorance; darkening, smiting, or setting of the Sun, Moon, and Stars, for the ceasing of a kingdom, or for the desolation thereof, proportional to the darkness; darkening the Sun, turning the Moon into blood, and falling of the Stars, for the same; new Moons, for the return of a dispersed people into a body politic or ecclesiastic. Sir Isaac Newton (1733)
The Day of Pentecost, or Shavuot
Joel’s use of the sun, moon and stars are exactly the same event(s) that Peter spoke of when he used the imagery as well. Joel even tells us there will be those who escape and those who survive.
In the Olivet Discourse, the Lord speaks of war and rumors of war preceding the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Joel’s prophecy states it signs in the Heavens and on the Earth, seen in the form of blood, fire and smoke. The prophecy was fulfilled by the Roman Legions as it destroyed everything in their path. We know that because of this prophecy there were those who escaped to the city of Petra just as they saw the coming Romans. We know there were survivors.
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out my spirit.
And I will give portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that all who call upon the name of the LORD shall be delivered; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls. Joel 2:28-32
Peter uses the same words found in Joel’s prophesy the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes; and says the prophesy is fulfilled in the eyes of the people standing before him!
In Peter’s quote of Joel 2:31, we learn that the change in kingdoms will be witnessed by the spirit given to sons and daughters, dreams and visions seen, maids and servants coming to know the Lord.
But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. 21 And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ Acts 2:14-21
It would be in less than 40 years that the temple would be destroyed.
It has become the fashion among many preachers to take eclipses as some sort of sign of the beginning of the “great tribulation.” Because of their misinterpretations of Matthew 24 as being future yet, they are ignoring many important facts.
This kind of preaching that certain astronomical events will align with prophecy is nothing more than “old wives tales”. But, at times using the sun, moon, and/or stars as portents of future events rises to the point of being astrology or augury.
- During the Second Battle of Syracuse (415 BC – 413 BC) a lunar eclipse occurred causing the priests to suggest the Athenians put off their attack for another 27 days. The Syracusans took advantage of this with 76 of their own ships. They attacked the Athenian ships in the harbor; 86 ships were destroyed and the Athenians were defeated.
- Just before the Battle Of Gaugamela (331 B.C.) between Alexander the Great and Darius King of Persia, there was a lunar eclipse. The astrologers of the time reported that it was a portent of Darius’ defeat.
- Columbus armed with an almanac tricked the Indians in 1514 into believing he had great powers by telling them he could effect the moon.
Such superstitious, non-scientific practices are forbidden in the Bible [Deut 18:10-11]. And those who practice such deceptions are to be eliminated.
“You shall not permit a sorceress to live.” Ex. 22:18
FYI: See Also: The Blood Moon Hoax
The End of the Mosaic Age
As Paul explains, the Kingdom of Judea must pass away in order for the gentiles to come into the kingdom. The fall of Jewish polity must proceed the momentous ushering in of the age to come.
This passage was never meant to be used to indicate a future literal, heavenly catastrophe. From Matthew Chapter 21 to here, the subject is the destruction and the fall of the Jewish Kingdom. Most emphatically, it is about the completion of Redemption in Messiah for all who will believe, to be lived out in the Messianic Kingdom.
This was one the greatest religious/political shifts in all of History. The Kingdom of God removed from the Jews was given to all who believe in Messiah regardless of nationality. The destruction of the Temple insured there would be no more sacrifice for sin.
So I ask, have they [Jews] stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? Rom. 11:11-15
So the light that once was the temple worship was being slowly put out as the nation of Gentile and Jewish believers rose on it’s ashes. No more sacrifice, the light was now in the souls of believers wherever and whoever they were.
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