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A Sign from God?

As of the time that I am writing this, we are less than one week away from the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse over the United States of America. This eclipse will pass over a great portion of the Eastern United States and will be viewed by many people who have traveled into the areas where they can see the totality. It will be a day remembered by everyone who gets to witness what they see. People will write about it, tell stories about it, post it on TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, and every other social media site that exists. It will be an event like no other and then it will pass and fade into obscurity like so many others.

Unfortunately, there are also many, and I do mean many, false prophets out there who are saying that this eclipse is a sign from God that the United States needs to repent. It doesn’t take much time to find these doom-sayers and profiteers vying for attention on TV and social media. I cannot tell you how many people have reposted the numerous articles concerning the eclipse going over towns named Nineveh and how it is a sign that God is calling the United States to repent.

For the sake of this article, I watched a couple of those videos and I want to let everyone know that the conclusion that these people are coming to is absolutely not true. For those who have been spared the horrible theological twisting that these people are spewing, I am sorry for what you are about to read. However, I think we need to know what is out there so we can be better prepared to stand against them. Part of a ministers calling is to teach sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:9) There is a lot to rebuke in these teachings, so here we go.

First, is the intentional misrepresentation of Scripture. The videos I watched were from well-known, modern-day “prophets” whose names I will not advertise on this post. When they did give Scripture references, they intentionally left part of the verse out. Here is an example.

One of them read from Luke 21:25 and 28 like this –

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars…Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 

This is exactly what they read and what they started preaching on. What they are trying to do here is show that the signs in the sun, moon, and stars are signs for us to look for something that they never really illustrated very well.

Now, if we apply the number one rule for Biblical interpretation to this verse, we will know that there is something missing; actually, there is a lot missing. They intentionally left out half of verse 25 and all of verses 26 and 27. Let’s put it all together and see what the Scripture actually says.

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 

Does any of this have anything to do with a total solar eclipse?

The answer is resoundingly, “NO!”

It is one of the prophecies that Jesus gave concerning His return. It has nothing to do with an eclipse or anything like that. In fact, we can see that even more clearly if we use the cross reference of the same passage in Matthew. Look at Matthew 24:29-31.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Obviously, this has a lot more to do with the end of days than it does with a solar eclipse.

Second, these profiteers have made a big deal about the path of the eclipse going over towns named Nineveh and how that means that God is calling the United States to repent before He destroys the nation or something similar. The fact that the eclipse is going over towns named after Biblical towns and cities has nothing to do with a call to repentance and everything to do with the people who settled the Eastern half of the North American continent.

Many of the first European settlers who came to North America were Christians escaping religious persecution. This would account for the many Biblical names of towns and cities in the Eastern portion of the continent. As people moved further west, they had less and less Christian influence leading to towns and cities being named after people and other such things more and more.

Third, comes the incorporation of man-made ideas to make their fear-mongering sound legitimate. This is one of the most egregious errors I have heard from these false teachers surrounding this eclipse. This teaching follows the events of Jonah and how Jesus addressed the Scribes and Pharisees looking for a sign. This is one giant stretch of the imagination just seeing what they are thinking here, so please bear with me. I am going to show you what they teach and then explain why it is problematic.

“On June 15, 763 BC, there was a near total solar eclipse that was seen over Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian empire. This was the same Nineveh that God had sent the prophet Jonah to call to repentance. Jonah came into Nineveh on the same day that the eclipse happened in 763 and because eclipses are always a sign from God, the people of Nineveh knew that they were under judgement if they did not repent.

Then when Jesus was asked for a sign, He told the scribes and Pharisees that the only sign that they would see is the sign of the prophet Jonah. Now, our Western mindset says that this means that Jesus would be in the grave for three days and three nights, just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, but the Jews would understand that this would mean the sign of an eclipse. Then when Jesus was crucified and the sun went dark, they saw the sign of Jonah in the sky and should have repented then.”

Now, I have really scaled this down to the basics of what these false teachers are saying. They give a lot more flare, story-telling, and quick-wit to their “teaching.” The reason I did this is so you can see exactly how absurd what they are saying is and why we should not be listening to them.

Yes, there was a solar eclipse on June 15, 763 BC, over Nineveh. However, we have absolutely no proof that this was the day, or even the year, that Jonah went to Nineveh to preach to them. The Bible does not say that the sun was darkened when Jonah went to Nineveh. In fact, the Bible does not confirm any of this conjecture.

What does the Bible say?

The sign of the prophet Jonah is definitely not an eclipse. Look at Matthew 12:38-42.

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

Okay, so anyone who can read can see a major problem with the way these false prophets and profiteers are mishandling this text. Just for an exercise in how to handle the Word of God properly, let’s do some comparison. Let’s compare what they are teaching to what the Bible actually says.

They teach that Jonah entered Nineveh on the day of an eclipse. If you would like to go and read the entire book of Jonah and see if it mentions an eclipse, you are more than welcome to do so, but I can assure you that it does not, not even in the Hebrew.

They teach that the Scribes and Pharisees would understand that Jesus meant that an eclipse was the sign of Jonah. However, Jesus clearly states what He means. “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

They teach that the city of Nineveh repented because they saw the eclipse when Jonah entered the city. However, Jesus also clearly states why the city of Nineveh repented.  “For they repented at the preaching of Jonah.” Jesus did not say anything about an eclipse, he said they repented because of the preaching Jonah.

This is a sad reckoning when it comes to what is being taught concerning this eclipse and whether we should be listening to these doom-sayers and profiteers. Anyone who will stand in a pulpit and openly contradict the words of Jesus should not be teaching the Word of God. They are unqualified to teach. Anyone who listens to them needs to stop now and find a solid, Bible-teaching, Bible-believing preacher who has the truth of the Gospel as their guide, not man-made ideas.

So, what does the eclipse mean to us as Christians? What does the Bible say about it?

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)

This is what the eclipse is all about. It is the heavens declaring the glory of God! It is creation saying that God is to be glorified above all! It is the sky above us proclaiming the handiwork of the Creator!

So, what does it mean to us?

It means that we should enjoy our Creator through the works of His hands. It means that we should give glory to God because He shows us who He is through the things He has created, even a solar eclipse.

If you are in the path of the eclipse, or traveling to be in the path of it, please enjoy the handiwork of our Great God!

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