Amos 8 and a Total Eclipse of the Sun

“Usually there’s a big ball of light in the sky
But now on this Day of the Mon
Nothing I can see
A total eclipse of the Sun”
(with apologies to Bonnie Tyler and James Richard Steinman)

I admit, I’m just not that into it.

Chasing Monday’s eclipse, that is. I’m a science apologetics geek, but for some reason, I just can’t get excited about this astronomical event. I mean, it’s cool and all. It’s the first total solar eclipse to be visible across the contiguous United States since June 8, 1918. The “path of totality” (i.e., those areas where one can see the Moon totally eclipsing the Sun) will cross 14 states, though all 50 will see at least a partial eclipse at some point. Et cetera. Still, I’ll be content to check it out later on TV or YouTube.

A lot of other people, however, are certainly talking about it a lot — some just thrilled with the science of it all, some talk about astrological implications, while others go on and on about end-times prophecy, messages from God, and general doom-n-gloom. That last group just needs to give it a rest, if ya ask me. (Well, so does the second group, but that’s a different discussion.) The amount of unwarranted speculation and scriptural misapplication is appalling.

A Facebook friend of mine by the name of Robert Hawes is similarly concerned, and he graciously gave me permission to share a FB post he wrote about those concerns.

I’m hearing a teaching now that Amos chapter 8, where God speaks of the sun going dark at noon and judgment falling on the land, is more than likely a reference to the upcoming solar eclipse in the United States, and is a harbinger of imminent judgment. [Ed. Note: My daily Bible-reading schedule has me reading Amos this weekend. I’m also reading a sci-fi novel titled Dark Is the Sun. Signs from above?!]

In response, let me first point out that the prophecy itself in Amos chapter 8 specifically references Israel:

“The end has come for my people Israel. I will spare them no longer.” – Amos 8:2

Those I heard expounding on this supposed prophecy of Doom for America tried to get around this obvious reference to Israel by arguing that the United States of America is really the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel. They make some elaborate biblical connections in an attempt to prove this assertion. And while I’m not going to try to get into this exhaustively, I will say that the Lost Ten Tribes is an extra-biblical concept. The ten Northern tribes of Israel did not vanish entirely after they were taken into captivity by Assyria; they ended up being scattered throughout the Middle East, Asia Minor, and Eastern Europe. The Jews of Jesus’s time knew exactly where they were:

“Where does this man intend to go where we will not find him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is he?” – John 7:35

Also see Acts 2:5-11.

Also of alleged significance in the teaching I heard was that Amos chapter 8 refers to the new moon at the time the sun goes dark, and it will also be new moon when our solar eclipse happens in a few more days. But there is nothing surprising or significant about this, given that total solar eclipses ONLY happen when the moon is new. The two events go together by necessity.

Yes, it’s true that God uses celestial bodies as signs and for seasons, but not every such event carries special significance. Lunar and solar eclipses occur in predictable cycles. Even some ancient civilizations worked out the math for predicting them. Furthermore, there is no particular significance in eclipses that happen near Jewish holidays, given that the Jewish calendar is lunar based.

It’s true that there are several Bible passages that state that the sun and the moon will both go dark before the Lord returns, but it is also clear from those passages that those events are particular events that will happen in conjunction with other events that are spelled out for us in some detail. The purpose of those details is because the God who created these objects and set these cycles into motion didn’t want us to go out of our minds with dread every time they happen, as many people did for thousands of years in the past, especially in civilizations where they hadn’t worked out the ability to predict these events.

1999 solar eclipse

Some are also pointing to various numerical relationships that seem to occur and repeat with relationship to the eclipse and various upcoming days this fall. But I would remind you again here that eclipses can be predicted because they happen in accordance with laws that are very precise and mathematically based. Math is basically the language of the creation, so it should be no great surprise to us that we find events like this happening with a certain regularity. Our calendars are solar and lunar based, after all.

I agree that trouble seems to be looming on the horizon for this country and could break upon it at any time, given a number of factors; however, where Bible prophecy is concerned, we have to be vigilant that we not go beyond what the text lays out for us in relation to signs that will accompany future events. Bible teachers in certain circles have fallen into the unfortunate habit of spiritualizing everything in what seems like an almost desperate attempt to be continuously relevant to the headlines. The result has been an endless stream of predictions that have gone nowhere and have done nothing but embarrass the Church of Jesus Christ. Let’s avoid that tendency and save ourselves a lot of grief by sticking close to what the word says.

Well said!

Now, for those planning to view the eclipse (using the appropriate method/equipment, of course), have fun and enjoy God’s amazing design in nature!

Also, for a little more info and good advice, here is an article about the eclipse from my go-to source on this sort of thing, Reasons to Believe: “The Great 2017 Eclipse”. (Astrophysicist Dr. Jeff Zweerink is the author.)

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