On Monday, August 21st many people in North America will get to experience the rare phenomenon of a complete solar eclipse. They are rare indeed and if you are fortunate enough to be within the path of totality you are sure to be in for an unforgettable experience. The last time it happened in North America was in 1979. For many, this is a very big deal. People from all around the world are flocking to towns all over the U.S. to enjoy these minutes of darkness and everything that surrounds it. It is sure to be spectacular as long as the clouds cooperate. However, for the Christian this eclipse can be seen from a much different and much brighter light. It is not just an event that is seen in light of astronomy, but one that screams the glory of God and His great Gospel. The psalmist David wrote in Psalm 19:1-6 about how the heavens declare the glories of God. I believe the king’s psalm perfectly expresses the coming events that will be seen in the eclipse. As you prepare to watch this great heavenly appearance, I would encourage you watch it in all of its wonder in the light of God’s Word.
The Great Event:
From start to finish there will be something just a little different about your surroundings for roughly 3 hours if you are close to the sun’s path. It will be noticeable, but subtle to begin with. Notice what David said, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge,”(1-3). During the few minutes of totality something amazing will happen. The temperature will fall. The sun will be hidden. The stars will shine as bright as they do in the dead of night. For those few minutes, everything will seem as if it was midnight. After those momentary seconds have passed, the sun will once again begin to shine, and the eclipse will wane. During this spectacular event, watch and see how God’s glory is pronounced. Watch and see the sun, the moon, and the stars all in the matter of just a few minutes. His sky, which the Father spoke into existence, and the Son holds together (Colossians 1:17) will be shouting the glory of His name. His handiwork will be seen by millions upon millions of on-lookers. Without words, both the day and the night will scream that this is the work of our mighty Creator. The event that many are coming to see started in eternity past. . . yet we get to be the beneficiaries of seeing His glory on display in a special way.
The Great Distance:
Around 9:00 AM residents on the coast line of Oregon will be the first to see this great wonder. Over the next several hours the sun will span the distance of more than 2500 miles to the coastal city of Charleston, South Carolina. During its travel it will pass through major cities, small towns, and everything in between. We travel around the sun once every 365 days, but in this Psalm, David reminds us that the message goes beyond the direct path of the Eclipse. The message of God’s created world extends to every part of the world, “ . . . their line has gone out through all the earth and their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun,”(4). People are traveling from every part of the world great distances to partake in this celestial occurrence. Although not everyone will be able to see it personally, it will be seen from every part of the world due to modern technology. While most are focusing on the sun and the rarity of this heavenly event, let us remember the great distance the Lord came to reveal Himself not just through nature, but through the true Son. Getting to see the sun and moon in all of its glory is a wonderful thing, but the Lord will be using it in every part of the world to ultimately magnify Himself.
The Great Picture:
The Psalmist writes in verse 5-6, “ . . . which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; it rejoices as a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is often pictured as the bridegroom. Here, David makes the same illusion to the sun. It “runs his course” and “its rising is from one end . . . to the other . . . nothing is hidden from its heat.” The same can be seen in the S-O-N. During the eclipse the earth will go dark. The sun will be hidden, almost as if it has been defeated and swallowed up by darkness, if only for 3 minutes. When Jesus came, and died it was indeed a dark moment for the followers of the great Rabbi of Nazareth, but 3 days later the Son broke through. The Son rose from the darkness of sin and the grave. With Him, He brought victory for all of His people. Now, He calls His own out of darkness and into marvelous light (I Peter 2:9). This is the Gospel, and it will be on full display if we are truly looking on Monday. It will be a wonderful picture of creation, the fall, redemption, and the consummation.
Monday’s event will surely be something to behold. It will indeed be a special event to witness. It’s worthy of pulling your kids out of school, and even taking off work if possible to go and participate in a near once-in-a-lifetime event. However, if you go and see it just for the wonder of creation, you could miss an opportunity to truly glory in the wonder of the Creator. God’s glory and His gospel will be on full display for the world to see as the sun and the moon do their dance, but while you’re watching from Anderson, South Carolina or your computer screen, be sure to take a moment and take the Gospel in while listening to the voice of David making melody in your soul. Take a moment to worship the Lord . . . because if the sun is truly something to marvel at, just imagine what the S-O-N is like.
Soli Deo Gloria
Adam B. Burrell