>Lunar Eclipse and Short Days

>My Facebook friend, Pauline Trummel (whom I’ve never met, but whom some people say looks like me and that’s why we become electronic friends), shared a link to this amazing photography of the winter solstice total lunar eclipse taken by William Castleman in Gainesville, FL.

In a note below the video pane, Castleman explains what equipment he used and how he assembled the shots into a time release video. Accompanied by Debussy’s Nocturnes, the result is well worth the few minutes it takes to view.

Through hazy clouds early on Tuesday morning, I saw the top crescent of a white moon mostly obscured by gray shadow. What I saw doesn’t begin to compare to Castleman’s incredible progression of a black shadow devouring the gleaming moon and then turning it blood red.

Those writing early in the week about the upcoming lunar eclipse predicted that the great amount of volcanic ash currently in the atmosphere would cause the moon to turn dark orange or blood red. That prediction made me think of this prophecy from the biblical book of Joel:

And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes (Joel 2:30-31).

Castleman’s time lapse video vividly depicts the moon turning to blood. Watching that video reminded me again of Joel’s prophecy, which is quoted by Peter in his famous Pentecost sermon:

And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day
(Acts 2:19-20).

I knew that Peter had quoted from Joel about the Spirit being poured out:

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.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit
(Joel 2:28-29).

I hadn’t realized until this morning, however, that those verses in Joel immediately precede the prophecy about the moon turning to blood.

And I wasn’t aware that Peter quoted Joel’s important conclusion:

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved
(Acts 2:21).

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. 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 2:32).

Another Facebook friend, Charles McNinch, posted Joel 2:30-32 as a comment under my status about viewing the lunar eclipse. We agreed that we are the true survivors!

Charles also wrote that this was the first lunar eclipse to fall on the same day as the winter solstice in 372 years!

Almost four hundred years is a very long time in our human scheme. If we have physical strength, our years are seventy or eighty—full of toil and trouble—and are soon gone (Psalm 90:10). The rare person who lives over 100 years is usually feeble at least of body, if not also of mind. Our finite minds compare four hundred years to the entire scope of United States history, while to God a thousand years are like yesterday when it is past or like a watch in the night (Psalm 90 again, verse 4 this time).

God ordained that this total lunar eclipse would occur on the shortest of the year’s short days. That’s something to think about it, isn’t it? Nothing happens by chance in this universe. This timing is part of God’s eternal plan.

I’m not advocating any Harold Camping style end-times prophecy, but the timing and the appearance of this lunar eclipse are reminders that the days are short.

“Today,” writes the author of Hebrews, quoting David, “if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:7-8, Hebrews 3:7, 15; 4:7).

Peter urged his hearers to “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:38-39).

Just as Peter urgently expresses the covenantal promises of God, the author of Hebrews urges immediate repentance: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:12-13).

This sense of urgency continues into the next chapter of Hebrews as the author discusses the hope of eternal rest, the need for genuine repentance, the power of God’s Word, and our Great High Priest:

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Jesus the Great High Priest
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:9-14).

The bloody eclipse reminds us that the days are short. God knows every thought and intention of our hearts. His Word reveals our sins to us. One day each of us will stand naked before the judgment seat, where every sin will be exposed.

But we can hold fast to our confession and approach the throne of grace with confidence because our High Priest, Jesus Christ, grants us mercy and grace in our times of great need. He is able to sympathize with us in all our temptations because he is human as well as divine. Because he resisted all temptations and lived a perfectly obedient life in our place, our sins will be accounted for by him on that great and terrible day. Then we will enter our eternal rest.

The bloody moon reminds us of the quickly approaching judgment, but God’s Word reassures us that we have nothing to fear. Our High Priest is also our Judge who will declare, “This one is mine! I have paid the price!”


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