The Solar and Lunar Eclipses as Forerunners of Judgement
The ancient sages of Israel are all in agreement that the gloom of the heavenly luminaries (today known as solar and lunar eclipses) is a depiction of great wars and plagues with which Gog and his land Magog will be judged at the time of the coming of the day of the Lord. What is to come, the wonders in heaven and blood on earth, fire and smoke in the sky, these all will be an example of the plague that will fall upon Gog for he and his cohorts of nations has dared to come up against Jerusalem. However, it all began six thousand years ago with the creation of the sun and the moon.
The creation of the great luminaries
According to the creation story, the earth was created in Genesis 1:1, and the sun, the moon, and the stars are created fifteen verses later, in Genesis 1:16.
In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth. (Gen 1:1)
And Elohim made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night, and the stars. (Gen 1:16)
Thus, we would conclude that the earth was created first before the creation of Day One, then the heaven with its sun, moon and stars came later on Day 4. Is the earth older than the universe, since it was created first relative to the rest of the universe? A close analysis of the text will show that there is a challenge with such a reading, because from a chronological perspective this creates a problem for the careful reader: How can the Almighty separate light from darkness in two separate places: in verse 4, and again in verse 18?
And Elohim separated the light from the darkness. (Gen 1:4)
… and to separate the light from the darkness. (Gen 1:18)
A closer examination of the context shows that the Torah is not merely being repetitive here, but that the narrative deals with two different types of light, which we explained in the article Concealing the Infinite Light of Creation, Part 1 and 2 of Time of Reckoning Ministry. Besides, Mosheh did not think in the manner we do today. In Genesis, Mosheh wrote what Elohim did and not exactly when He did. Genesis 1 was written down in the fashion it was narrated to him, and the question, “Which was created first?”, was irrelevant to him. Elohim said to the lights, “Lights exist” and they came to existence in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night and to be for signs and appointed times, and for days and years to come, and to give light upon the earth. And they came to exist, as He said (Gen 1:14-15). Then, in the words of Torah, it is said,
And Elohim made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night, and the stars. (Gen 1:16)
The narrator of the creation story first tells us in one line of thought that the Eternal created two great lights (luminaries), and then in the very same verse it goes on to tell that He created one of them as a great body (the sun) and the other as lesser one (the moon) which is to rule the night and the stars. And the Creator fixed them both in the heavenly canvas (the firmament) to spread light upon the earth and to set the boundaries of the day and of the night, and of the light and of the darkness. Omniscient saw that it was good, and it was evening and morning, the fourth day was created.
However, a question presents itself: “What were the two luminaries set to be: two large lights, or one large and one small?” And the second one is like it: “Why was there the necessity of the creation of so many stars and galaxies to be ruled by such a small heavenly body like the moon, a mere speck in the macrocosms? And the question that is almost forced upon us is: What is the moon’s function in relation to our world? We intend to address these questions below, as they will be further explained in the interpretation of the verses.
The lunisolar calendar of Creation
The Creator’s calendar is a lunisolar calendar (a calendar based on both lunar and solar cycles). This means that in the lunisolar calendar time is being reckoned by the motions of both the moon and by the sun. The basic measurement unit of time in the Creator’s calendar is the day. Seven consecutive days form the next unit in the calendar: the week, and four consecutive weeks form the Biblical month, which is determined by the time it takes the moon to orbit the earth: an average duration of 29.5 days; this is the lunar day. Twelve months (or thirteen in case of a leap year) constitute the year, which is determined by the time the earth orbits the sun. From both motions of the moon and the earth, the orbit of the moon is the most complex one. In its path around the sun, the earth sets the time for the four seasons starting with the spring (in the beginning of the year; see Exodus 12), the summer, the autumn, and the winter–one year. A period of one thousand years sets the largest unit of time–a millennium. The world is set by the Creator to exist for six millennia in the manner of the six days of Creation, and the seventh millennium is the Shabbat of rest, when all mankind will rest from labor in the Messiah’s reign. Then the new world. To the restoration of the Creator’s reckoning of time, the present author’s book The Reckoning of Time is dedicated. For more insights of his efforts to correctly restore the Creator’s reckoning of time, refer to the source.
Note: The Christian (Gregorian) calendar is a solar calendar based solely on the motion of the earth around the sun. It was adopted from the Roman calendar which Julius Ceasar created. The Roman calendar in turn was adopted from the Egyptian calendar. The Muslim calendar however is a lunar calendar based on the motion of the moon around the earth. In order to keep the reckoning of time intact, the Christian authority had to add an addition day in February, and that year is called “leap”. Thus, in the Gregorian calendar, every fourth year is a leap year which has 366 days including 29th February. Islam is not concerned with correcting its calendar, and for this reason “Ramadan” floats from season to season. We now return to the text.
The Hebrew word for “year” is שָׁנָה shanah, and for “two” (as used in Gen 1:16) is שְׁנַיִם shenayim. It is obvious that both shanah and shenayim derive from a common primitive root שָׁנָה shanah, whose meaning to fold, to duplicate (literally or figuratively), can be best seen in Gen 41:32, as we read,
And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh two times because the matter is established by Elohim, and Elohim will shortly bring it to pass. (Gen 41:32)
The root shanah originates various words associated with the act of repetition, hence, the Biblical year (as a revolution of time) and all appointed times of the Creator are in a cycle or in a repetition of the previous year. All this reckoning of time of the Creator, we summarized above, is defined in one verse by the narrator of Genesis in the words of Elohim who said,
Let lights come to be in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and appointed times, and for days and years. (Gen 1:14)
So, the “day” is established as a unit of time separated by the alternation of light and darkness, and in the vault (the firmament) two orbits are set: the larger one for the sun controlling a major units of time “year”, and the smaller one for the moon, defining another unit of time “month”. In the Torah, “month” is set to control the future rhythm for life in a pattern of seasons and the appointed time of the Creator.
The heavenly phenomenon
The sun and the moon appear (to an earthly observer) in the sky as discs of equal sizes. The observation angles of the sun and the moon (as seen from Earth) are equal, because of the equal size of the heavenly bodies as they appear in the sky. This is caused by a peculiar phenomenon which we will now explain.
The sun’s diameter (about 1,391,400 km) is 400 times larger than that of the moon (3,474 km). The sun however is also about 390 times further away. The exact ratios of the diameters of the sun and the moon are as follows. The ratio of diameters (sun to moon in km) is:
1,391,400 / 3,474 = 400.5
The ratio of distances (“sun to earth” vs. “moon to earth” in km) is:
1.496×108 km / 384,400 km = 389.17
Thus, this peculiar combination of the moon’s size and its distance to the earth causes the moon to [only] appear in the sky the same size as the sun. This is the reason we have total solar eclipses (when the moon interrupts light from the sun) and lunar eclipses (when the earth interrupts sun’s light shining on the moon). Because both ratios are not equal (400.5 vs. 389.17) but close, we observe another peculiar phenomenon called “solar protuberance” when the solar radiation protrudes from the moon’s disc as seen in this spectacular photo.
The above observations therefore point to the importance of setting the sun and the moon in this particular manner in the sky. With this we answered the first question above, namely, that indeed the sun is the greater heavenly body than the moon, but both the sun and the moon appear equal on the heavenly canvas (the firmament), yet they are called great qualitatively for they function equally in the Creator’s reckoning of time. As to the necessity of the creation of the unknown number of galaxies, nebulas, stars, and black holes, this is a difficult question to answer decisively. It is not possible to come to any understanding concerning this matter. Only the Creator in His infinite knowledge can tell why He needs them, and we in our finite supposition will leave it as is, unanswered.
What is however the sun and moon’s function in relation to our world other than to set the basic units of time: day, week, month, and year, and create an optical illusion? To this we now turn.
Eclipses and judgement
There is another reason for setting the sun and the moon in equal sizes (in appearance) in the sky that causes solar and lunar eclipses. And the reason is that the whole universe may tremble at the judgement of Elohim, for it was written.
The earth shall tremble before them, the heavens shall shake. Sun and moon shall be darkened, and the stars withdraw their brightness. (Joe 2:10) And I shall give signs in the heavens and upon the earth: blood and fire and columns of smoke, the sun is turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of Yehovah. (Joe 2:30-31)
In the heavens, when the sun is darkened (covered by the moon), and the moon assumes a blood-red appearance (covered by the earth), are frequently mentioned in the Tanak (Isa 13:9-11, Isa 24:23, Eze 32:7-8, Joe 2:10, Joe 2:30-31, Amo 8:9) and in the Apostolic Writings (Mat 24:29; Mar 13:24; Luk 21:25). It is generally accepted that the dark sun and the red moon are depicted in the Scripture as harbingers for approaching judgment and great catastrophes.
When the sun and the moon will become dark, the Lord will roar from Tsiyon, and the heavens and earth shall shake. But His people who will be found in the Land will be saved for He will their refuge and a stronghold. And when this comes to pass everyone will know that it was the Elohim of Israel who has caused all these plagues to fall upon the earth (Joe 3:15-17). By the darkening of the sun, the turning of the moon into blood, the Mighty One of Israel expresses the dread which wherever men turned their eyes the horrible scene between heaven and earth would fill them with terror of the coming judgement on the terrible day of the Lord at the coming of Mashiach.
That these phenomena affirm something much greater than the natural solar and lunar eclipses, is made evident from the predictions of the judgment of the wrath of the Lord that is coming not only upon the whole earth and upon the world-powers, but also in the heavens, as it was written by the prophet: “the heavens and earth shall shake” (Joe 3:16). These signs also have their type in the plague of darkness in Egypt (Exo 10:21), although this plague can hardly be attributed to the natural causes of the eclipses of the sun and moon. Egypt was indeed a world-power, which collapsed never to return to its former glory. But as the overthrow of this world-power was an omen and prelude to salvation and redemption, so will it be with the overthrow of every wicked world-power on the day of the last judgment, when the present world will be changed in order to enter the seventh millennium of the Lord.
Therefore, whenever the Scripture uses the eclipses describing that the sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood is not to be taken metaphorically, but as a heavenly phenomenon which signifies that the Lord will fill the whole earth and universe with signs of His wrath, which will paralyze men and cause fear among the living, as if all nature were changed into a scene of horror. The sages also say that at the Exodus from Egypt Elohim used only part of His power. But in the end of days, when the whole world comes against Jerusalem, He will use all His power.
The Second Exodus from “Egypt”
There will be a second, even a greater Exodus of Israel unseen and unheard before in human history. Moreover, the stage is being set for a second Exodus that will be so great that the exodus from Egypt will be remembered no more. In the first Exodus, we were redeemed from Egypt, and it will be in the second Exodus in which we will be redeemed once again from “Egypt”. As it is written in the book of Malachi, the second Exodus will commence with the opening of the book of remembrance of those who fear the Lord YHVH. Then those who are found written in the book will be redeemed again, and this will be the final redemption.
Then shall those who fear Yehovah speak to one another, and Yehovah listens and hears, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, of those who revere Yehovah, and those who think upon His Name. And they shall be Mine, said Yehovah of hosts, on the day that I prepare a treasured possession. And I shall spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him. Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves Elohim and one who does not serve Him. (Mal 3:16-18)
The terrible day of the Lord YHVH will be preceded by the coming of His messenger, who will prepare the way before the Lord of hosts. It is not indeed a general judgment which the prophet is depicting here, but a certain catastrophe falling upon the nations that will bring the whole world into suffering.
Behold, I am sending My messenger to clear the way before Me, the Sovereign you seek shall come to his temple suddenly, even the messenger of the covenant that you desire, behold, he is already coming, says Yehovah of hosts. (Mal 3:1)
This second Exodus is affirmed in the expression “again a second time” in Isaiah 11, which leads the reader directly to the time of the Exodus from Egypt. We read,
And it shall be in that day that YHVH again a second time shall recover the remnant of His people who are left … And He shall gather the outcasts of Israel and assemble the dispersed of Yehudah from the four corners of the earth. … And YHVH shall put under the ban the tongue of the Sea of Egypt and He shall wave His hand over Euphrates River with the might of His Wind, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and shall cause men to tread it in sandals. And there shall be a highway for the remnant of His people, those left from Ashshur, as it was for Israel in the day when they came up from Egypt (Isa 11:11-16).
In this descriptive statement of another exodus is implied that the second and final redemption will outshine the former from Egypt by comparison. Then, the messenger of the Lord will suddenly come to lead the people to the Land, as he led them out of the land of Egypt.
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