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Signs in the Stars or Sensational Distractions?

April 8, 2024: a total solar eclipse awes Americans, but some students of Bible prophecy warn it is an omen of impending judgment upon the U.S. Is this eclipse a harbinger of divine judgment upon America or are people misinterpreting God’s Word and misunderstanding the signs of the times?

The Apostle Paul commanded Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). The word translated as “study” carries the idea of giving one’s best effort. One of the greatest treasures that God has given this world is His Word. Those who believe the Bible is God’s infallible Word are responsible for diligently handling and accurately teaching it.

Thus, to understand if the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse is a prophetic sign, we must begin by understanding what the Bible says about these kinds of signs. Luke 21:25 speaks of “… signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars.” A parallel passage in Matthew 24:29 states that, “… the sun [shall] be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven.” Zechariah 14:6–7 and Joel 2:10 speak about similar signs in the heavens.

Although these verses are in prophetic passages predicting a future event from the time it was written, very little has been proven at this point. It is a massive leap to say these verses are fulfilled in the April 8, 2024, eclipse. Much more evidence is needed to make this case. This is where Bible prophecy students come to a crossroads. Will the investigation for more evidence begin by studying the signs of the stars or the words of Scripture?

These few verses are given as prophetic proof without any understanding of the context. It is wholly inappropriate to use them as a springboard for starry speculation without first understanding the context. Both Zechariah 14:1 and Joel 2:1 make it clear that the signs described will occur during the “day of the Lord.”

It would take a whole other article to explain the significance of this phrase in Bible prophecy. So, forgive the brevity at this point. In essence, the phrase “the day of the Lord” refers to God’s judgment upon Earth. Most Bible references speak to an end-times fulfillment of this “day” in which God will fulfill His promises of wrath upon unbelievers and deliverance for believers.

Thus, if the April 8, 2024, eclipse is the fulfillment of these Bible prophecies, then the implication is that we are living in the biblical “day of the Lord” right now. Does that line up with what Luke 21 and Matthew 24 say about the signs in the stars? Remember, do not read the headlines back into the Bible. Diligently study God’s Word first and foremost. Never force alleged signs into biblical interpretation because spiritual and theological disaster will result.

Rightly Dividing the Olivet Discourse

The parallel passages of Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13 contain Jesus’ reply to His disciples’ questions concerning the end times. Verses from these passages are often used to support eclipse events like April 8, 2024.

The careful student of Scripture will notice that the disciples do not ask about the church nor is the church mentioned in these passages. Jesus’ teaching focuses on Israel and the Second Coming. Other clues from Matthew 24 connect with the seven seals of Revelation. Louis Barbieri pointed out some of these parallels in The Bible Knowledge Commentary:

  1. False Christs (Matt. 24:4–5)—The first seal is Antichrist (Rev. 6:1–2)
  2. Wars and rumors of wars (Matt. 24:6–7a)—The second seal is warfare (Rev. 6:3–4)
  3. Famine (Matt. 24:7b)—The third seal is famine (Rev. 6:5–6)
  4. Pestilences and martyrdom (Matt. 24:7b, 9–14)—The fourth and fifth seals are death and martyrdom (Rev. 6:7–11)
  5. Earthquakes (Matt. 24:7b)—The sixth seal is an earthquake (Rev. 6:12–14)

As the Olivet Discourse continues, Jesus reveals even greater details about what will happen during this time. Part of Matthew 24:29 was quoted previously without giving its fuller context to show how easy it can be to twist the Scriptures. Jesus said: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matt. 24:29; Rev. 6:12–14).

Let the context of this passage soak into your mind. Jesus is discussing the Great Tribulation. In the very next verse, Jesus describes His Second Coming. Students of Bible prophecy cannot rip verses out of their context to support their theories. Those who use the Olivet Discourse passages to support their theory on the April 8 eclipse are doing just that.

The only way they could use these passages in defense of such a position is if the world is experiencing the Great Tribulation right now and the Second Coming of Jesus is right around the corner. Many other scriptures make it clear that we are not currently experiencing the Great Tribulation. We are not in the great day of God’s wrath (Rev. 6:17).

Astonishingly, some who hold a pre-Tribulation view of the Rapture are promoting these theories on the April 8 eclipse and use these verses to support their case. No benefit ever comes from taking scriptures out of context. Do not get swept up by sensational claims and neglect to rightly divide the Word of God.

Are Eclipses Only About America?

Some have built the case that the April 8 eclipse is God’s way of warning America of impending judgment as He warned Ninevah through the prophet Jonah. The biblical case to support this argument is flimsy at best. It takes a lot of creativity to come up with some of the arguments being passed around online. Be careful of reading too much into these things.

Do we need eclipses to know that God’s judgment is coming upon America? No, we do not. If you want to make a strong, biblical argument, the Bible has all kinds of verses that reveal what happens when a nation walks away from God and His truth. We do not need extrabiblical proof to know that God’s judgment will come to those who reject His truth.

Further, these eclipse arguments make America the central focus of Bible prophecy. Consider some important questions. Do we hear a dire, “prophetic” warning about eclipses when America is not involved? Do the other eclipses or other countries not count in God’s prophetic program?

Proponents of this view make it sound like eclipses are rare events. Did you know the twenty-first century will experience 224 solar eclipses, among which 68 will be total solar eclipses? During the same hundred-year period, Earth will experience 230 lunar eclipses, among which 85 will be total lunar eclipses. It’s not quite as rare as some people make it out to be—over 450 eclipses in 100 years.

What about past eclipses and signs in the stars like the four blood moons from Passover to Sukkot in 2014–2015? The same passages discussed in this article were used ten years ago to support the blood moon theory that was supposed to signal the Rapture and kickstart the seven-year Great Tribulation. That was a bust. When the church fails to diligently study and rightly divide God’s Word, the cause of Christ is hurt and a Gospel stumbling block is placed in front of unbelievers.

By the way, if the Rapture hasn’t happened yet, save this article for 2032–2033 because the same tetrad of blood moons will occur. Pull it out again in 2043–2044 when the extremely rare Super Tetrad occurs between Passover and Sukkot—a cycle of four solar and lunar eclipses.

If God wanted us to know the timing of the Rapture, Great Tribulation, and Second Coming, He would have told us in the Bible. In His infinite wisdom, He chose not to reveal that to us but commanded us to be about His business until He calls us home to be with Him.

Stay faithful to His Word. Stand firm upon its truths. Avoid distractions that undermine the authority and reliability of God’s Word.

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Josh Davis

SWRC Staff Evangelist Josh Davis accepted Jesus Christ as Savior at a young age and grew up in a preacher’s home. While preparing for a career in pharmacy, God redirected Josh’s heart, mind, and future to prepare for ministry. He earned a Master of Divinity from Southern Evangelical Seminary near Charlotte, NC. He has served his home church in pastoral ministry since 2007. God has blessed Josh with a lovely wife and two wonderful kids.

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