Saturday, August 19, 2017

Thoughts on the Eclipse- and trivia too

I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; (Revelation 6:12)

Thoughts: An total solar eclipse is a fairly rare occurrence, but it is always a call to wake up to God.  Below is some thoughts and trivia about the Great American eclipse as seen from Chapin, SC just north of Columbia- one of the places where the total eclipse lasts the longest on the east coast. 

1) Interesting things that happen during an eclipse:
    A. There is a sunset glow on every horizon.
    B. Look for the diamond ring glow right when the sun disappears or appears.
    C. Animals may go to sleep.  The rooster may crow when the sun comes back.
    D. It gets cooler- about 20 degrees cooler in some places (from day to night temperatures).
    E. You should be able to see stars and planets in midday.
    F. Right before a total eclipse you should be able to see shadow bands- snake like figures- especially
        on white concrete or sheets.
   G. Weird projections on the ground from leaves- the leaves serve as pin-hole projectors.
   H. Bailey’s beads- pearls of sunlight shining around edge of the moon’s mountains/valleys-reddish
   I. Corona rainbows- when it is really cloudy or when it has just rained- tiny rainbows on the corona.

   J. Our view from Chapin.  The partial eclipse should barely begin at 1:05 and should continue til 3:00
  K. The total eclipse in Chapin begins about 2:39 and lasts 2 minutes 39 seconds in an area 71 miles.
  L.  This may be the most viewed event ever, and the most viewed eclipse ever thanks to the population   
       and the amount of cameras, social media, internet and TV access.  2 billion+ may watch live.
  M. It is estimated that between 547,000 and 2.1 million will come to SC to see this.  SC is the closest
       state to view the totality for 90 million people on the east coast.
  N.  The shadow of the moon (umbra) that makes the eclipse will be travelling about 1467 mph.

O. Do not look at the partial eclipse with your naked eye.  The church glasses are NASA approved.
P. You may only look at the eclipse without glasses when it is total (2:40- 2:43).
Q. There are pinhole projectors you can make and look at the projection of the eclipse.
R. While we may not have enough glasses for everyone-remember you can share! 
S.  Apple says you will not damage your phone lenses without a filter.  But it may not show up well.
T. If you are too busy taking pictures you may miss the 360 degree sunset or shadow bands. 

8/20- The Death of Jesus in an Eclipse

33At noon, 34And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Mark 15:33)

45From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land46About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,c lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)
51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection ande went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:45, 51-54)

44It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon,45for the sun eclipsed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”e When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-45)

Thoughts: Some say that the darkness at the crucifixion could not be a solar eclipse because total eclipses only last about seven minutes.  But a partial eclipse can easily last three hours. NASA says that there were eight total solar eclipses between 26 and 36 AD.
     However, Jesus died at Passover which requires a full moon, while  solar eclipse requires a new moon.  However, there could be two causes of the darkness- dark clouds combined with a lunar eclipse.  Astronomers say that there was a lunar eclipse in Jerusalem April 3, 33 AD.  There also was a large earthquake that day.  The ancients not only followed signs in the stars when a special person was born (like the star of Bethlehem and the wise men), but also darkness was seen as a sign that a great person has died.
        The darkness at the crucifixion should not be seen as just an astronomical phenomenon that just happened at the crucifixion.  It was God trying to speak to us and wake us up.

Prayer; Lord, let me listen in the darkness and light to you.  

Earthquakes and Eclipses

 4On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. 5You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquakea in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.
6On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. 7It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light.
8On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter.
9The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name. (Zechariah 14:4-9)

Thoughts: The United States Geological Society (USGS) has indicated that eclipses cause very high tides because of the alignment of earth, moon, and sun.  This also affects tectonic plates and can trigger earthquakes.  USGS suggests that during an eclipse an earthquake is 3x more likely to happen.
     Zechariah, Micah, Isaiah Amos, and Jesus (Mt 24) all combine earthquakes and the darkening of the sun.  The Mount of Olives is in the middle of an earthquake fault.  Tradition says that the Messiah will come back and split the Mt. of Olives in two.  Jesus left from the Mt. of Olives (Acts 1:9-12) and says he will come back in the same way- with angels, glory and power.  Perhaps Jesus refers to Zechariah.
        When God comes things are shaken up and are not normal.  So when things aren't normal- as in an earthquake- they remind us to look to God.

Prayer: Help me to lift up my head to yur glory.

(Kobe Japan post earthquake)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Prophets in Darkness

“As for the prophets
who lead my people astray,
they proclaim ‘peace’
if they have something to eat,
but prepare to wage war against anyone
who refuses to feed them.
6Therefore night will come over you, without visions,
and darkness, without divination.
The sun will set for the prophets,
and the day will go dark for them.
7The seers will be ashamed
and the diviners disgraced.
They will all cover their faces
because there is no answer from God.”
8But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the Lord,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression,
to Israel his sin.  (Micah 3:5-8- especially 6)

Thoughts: Micah's eclipse occurred on June 5, 716.  Micah calls for people to see God's power in the eclipse as a reminder that He is still around.  We may think God disappears  (as the sun disappears behind the moon).  The darkness at day is a symbol that their prophets are blind and in darkness.  God has stopped answering their prayers because they have turned away from God.  There are always people who will always say "It's okay" no matter what.  They proclaimed peace when the invaders were at the door.  The real prophets, like Micah and Isaiah, are willing to tell the people that they are  wrong when the people do not want to hear it.  The people want to hear it will all be okay.
    An eclipse is a reminder that life changes, and we continue to have the need to wake up to God.

Prayer: Lord, help me to listen to you and turn to you.  Hear my prayer.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Joel's Eclipse Calls Us to Turn from Darkness to Light

1Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—
2a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.
10Before them the earth shakes,
the heavens tremble,
the sun and moon are darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
12“Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning."13Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love,
30I will show wonders in the heavens
and on the earth,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
32And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved; (Joel 2)

Thoughts: Joel is not dated, but this eclipse referred to in Joel 2 could have been the great eclipse predicted by Thales 5/28/785.  This eclipse actually stopped a huge battle between the Lydians and Medians.  When they saw the darkness they stopped fighting.
      Joel was talking about locusts coming on the land, along with darkness and earthquakes.  It could be that the locusts were so many that they blocked out the sun, but it seems to be referring to an eclipse because the moon seems to turn to blood.  The blood red appearance of the moon or sun are often associated with eclipses.
The day of the Lord is the day God comes.  For those who refuse God and run away from His will, it is good to run away from Him.  For those who long to hear and see Him the presence of God is a wonderful thing. What Joel asks us to do is to return to Him- not on the surface, but in our hearts.  The signs, plagues and even miracles of the Bible were all meant to turn people back to God.  All who call on God will be saved.  The eclipse goes from darkness to light, and God calls us to leave darkness and go into the light of God's hope.

Prayer: Lord, help me to see you at work in the world.  Let me turn to you with all my heart.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

An Eclipse as a Symbol of Displeasure

6You have rejected me,” declares the Lord.
“You keep on backsliding.
So I will reach out and destroy you;
I am tired of holding back.
7I will winnow them with a winnowing fork
at the city gates of the land.
I will bring bereavement and destruction on my people,
for they have not changed their ways.
8I will make their widows more numerous
than the sand of the sea.
At midday I will bring a destroyer
against the mothers of their young men;
suddenly I will bring down on them
anguish and terror.
9The mother of seven will grow faint
and breathe her last.
Her sun will set while it is still day;
she will be disgraced and humiliated.
I will put the survivors to the sword
before their enemies,” (Jeremiah 15:6-9)

Thoughts:  There was an eclipse in Jeremiah's day- September 30, 610 BC.  After this very visible sign disaster after disaster came on the land and people.
The next year (609), the good King Josiah died when he fought against the Egyptians as they went out to fight Babylon.  In 605 Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem for not paying him tribute.  It was then that Daniel and many of the leaders were deported to Babylon.  3/16/597 Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and a second deportation took place . Then in July/August 586 Jerusalem was again conquered and the first Temple destroyed in utter fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy.
     There is typical Jeremian poetry here.  Once Jeremiah put a yoke on his shoulders to indicate the servitude of the people to Babylon.  Here he speaks of the destroyer coming at midday (vs. 8) as the moon covered the sun at midday.  He used a visible physical symbol (an eclipse) to indicate something more.  The mother's sun will set at midday- indicating that her energy and time will fade when her children are killed.  Though Jeremiah gave foreboding prophecy, no one listened.  They rejected God, gave into immorality, completely forgot the Sabbath, went after other gods and backslid away from God (vss. 6 &7).  They believed nothing bad would happen to them for they had the Temple there..  There are things God puts in our lives to remind us that we need Him and we should come back to Him with our whole hearts.  The beauty and awe of an eclipse should cause us to pause.  James Fennimore Cooper said, "Never have I beheld such a spectacle which so plainly manifested the majesty of the Creator, or so forcibly taught the lesson of humility to men."*

Prayer: Lord, help me to be able to enjoy your majesty when I see the eclipse and appreciate my need for humility before you.  Give me eyes to see. 

*Thanks to The State Newspaper via Gaie McLeod for this quote on the eclipse. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Darkness Is Not Dark to God

7Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:7-12)

Thoughts: What does Psalm 139 say about the eclipse- nothing but then everything.  It does not mention an eclipse per se, but it does mention God's reaction to light and darkness.  We are limited in what we see.  He is unlimited.  We are limited to see in the light- or with some light producing goggles (that use infrared or other light).  God was before light and sees beyond it.  The darkness does not hold secrets from God who rules over light and darkness.
    We need special dark glasses to see the sun, and we need night goggles to see in the dark.  As dogs are blind to certain colors so we are blind to some things- the angels, the souls of others and God Himself.  But God sees all.  As blind people trust in their cane or a friend's hand, so we should trust in our God who sees all things.  

Prayer: Lord, may your hand guide me, hold me fast, and help me to get through the darkness of life into your light.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Jonah and the Eclipse

3Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
6When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink.8But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
10When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:3-10)

23In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. 24He did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. 25He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea,e in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.

Thoughts: Jonah lived during the reign of Jeroboam II (786- 746 BC).  He went to prophesy to Ninevah the capital of the most powerful empire at the time.  Ninevah is the modern city of Mosul in Iraq, which was just freed by Iraqi forces.  Why would such a prominent, powerful, evil and infamously brutal city make such a sudden change?  There was a huge eclipse over Assyria June 15, 763. Wiseman noted that this eclipse and the accompanying earthquake along with famine five years previously, and a few military defeats left the land ripe for making a turn toward repentance.  Wiseman notes that the Enuma Elish (the ancient book that records Assyrian religion and history) notes that when an eclipse comes a change in power comes as well.  If indeed Jonah came out of a fish's belly he would be a sight to see- bleached white from the stomach acids.  They made an about face, and God saved them from destruction.
      I wonder, what would it take for our country to soften its heart in repentance?  We easily explain such things as eclipses, earthquakes, and famines.  Because we can describe such things in detail we believe we can remove God's hand from them.  I believe, along with Wiseman, that the total solar eclipse helped elicit the repentance of Ninevah, but I am not sure that it will cause any in America think twice.  We are oblivious to God's speaking to us through creation or in the scripture.  No matter what we believe about signs in the heavens, it still would do us good to call out to the God who is sending this eclipse.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to have eyes to see, and a willing heart to repent and turn toward you.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Prophesy of An Eclipse

9“In that day,” declares the Sovereign Lord,
“I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight.
10I will turn your religious festivals into mourning
and all your singing into weeping.
I will make all of you wear sackcloth
and shave your heads.
I will make that time like mourning for an only son
and the end of it like a bitter day.
11“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord,
“when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
12People will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the Lord,
but they will not find it.  (Amos 8:9)

Thoughts: Amos prophesied between 840-800 BC and the eclipse he foretold came about 763 BC.  The eclipse was prophesied as a wake up sign.  It was a sign that people don't need more parties, but need and hunger for real meaning- in the word of the Lord.  The people didn't need more music they needed more of God's word.  The eclipse was a sign that something was missing- the word was missing from the land.  The eclipse is a sign that the sun goes missing for a moment and that darkness happens "in broad daylight."  The eclipse might cause us to ask ourselves- what is missing from our culture and from my life?  

Prayer: Lord, that you that you are in charge of sun and light.  Help me to listen to your word and pay attention to you in life.  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

An Eclipse Over Oppression

7When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens
and darken their stars;
I will cover the sun with a cloud,
and the moon will not give its light.
8All the shining lights in the heavens
I will darken over you;
I will bring darkness over your land, (Ezekiel 32:7,8)

Thoughts: Ezekiel is prophesying against Egypt to say that it will fall, and when it falls the sun, moon, and stars will grow dark.  This is in part because the King of Judah had made alliances with Egypt and against Babylon, but the Egyptians did not come to rescue the people of Israel when they were invaded.  Just as darkness came over the whole land during the plagues, so the Lord brings darkness again at this point of Egypt's weakness.  Darkness on the land when there should not be darkness (midday), is sometimes a sign of God's displeasure.
    Matthew Henry wisely says of this passage- "great oppressors are, in God's account no better than birds of prey.  Those who admire the pomp of this world will wonder at the ruin of that pomp.    

Prayer: Lord, let your light shine on me.  Do not take the light of your smile away from me.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Jesus the Sun of Righteousness

 2But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.  (Malachi 4:2)

78because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

Thoughts: "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" quotes Malachi 4:2 when he calls Jesus the "sun of righteousness." For those who revere God and his holy name the sun of righteousness will rise, bringing healing and causing the darkness to flee. The sun rising on the darkness shows what is right and true- whereas darkness represents groping around with no meaning, stumbling and lostness.  But when dawn comes, there is hope, healing, and strength.  The rising sun gives hope to those who are living in darkness.  Jesus is the rising sun here.  He gives hope and life to us.
     The eclipse is a mid-day symbol that darkness may cover the light for awhile, and we may live in darkness for a time- but light shines in the end.  God brings hope always.  

Prayer: Lord, when I am in darkness, help me to trust that your light will come again.  Help me to trust in Jesus as my hope that comes down for me.  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Vindicate Like the Noonday Sun

5Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
6He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

7Be still before the Lordand wait patiently for him; (Psalm 37:5-7)

Thoughts: When you are in darkness and cannot see your way, commit your way to the Lord.  It is okay to not see how the sun will shine again.  But believe that it will because you have committed your way to the Lord, and God will make you shine like the sun coming up out of the darkness.  Your reward is coming- believe it.  Believe that God can bless- turning the darkness back into light. God vindicates us.  This is the story of Jesus.  He was crucified on the cross unjustly, but God vindicated his teaching, his power, his being in the resurrection.  God vindicates us as well if we commit our way to the Lord. 
   An eclipse is a reminder that God can bring darkness in the light but also restore light again.  It is a natural signal that darkness may come, but it does not reign.  

Prayer: Lord, I commit my way to you.  Help me trust that you will reward and honor me if I stick close to you in faith.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Darkness is Overcome

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcomea it.
6There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. (John 1:1-9)

Thoughts: The incarnation is described as light coming down and piercing the darkness.  The light of all humans shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it. The eclipse is another image of this.  The dark of the moon does not overcome the bright light of the sun.  Darkness- sin and evil- will not overcome light- right and holiness.  The temptation is to think that darkness is the standard.  There appears- when we look at the sky- that there is more darkness than light.  There may appear in this life that there is more sin and evil.  Maybe your friends, the trends of the world seem to be toward neglecting God.  But God is the most powerful.  After all, what is darkness.  Darkness is just the absence of light.  Light is power, energy, beauty, hope, life, and more.  Darkness is groping, lostness, blindness.  Ironically, God sees in the darkness and the light.  Psalm 139:12 says, "Even the darkness is light to you."  God sees better than the best with infrared night vision.   God sees in the darkness- there are no surprises for Him.  He also brings hope and life into the world.  Hope and life wins.  Light overcomes darkness.  The eclipse is a sign of this.  

Prayer:  Thank you that your light overcomes darkness and your hope is more important than lostness.

Let all Mortal Flesh Keep Silence- video Fernando Ortega