The Bible makes it clear that God created the sun and the moon to serve as “signs.” “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens...and let them be for signs and for seasons...’” (Genesis 1:14).
So what is a “sign?” It is something that points beyond itself. It is not reality itself, but simply points to it, like a sign out in front of a restaurant that lets you know you’ve reached your destination. A sign is a symbol, a pointer, an indication, a token of something beyond itself.
Peter echoes Genesis 1 in Acts 2, where he quotes Joel at length. “And I will show wonders in the heavens above, and signs on the earth below...the sun shall be turned to darkness...” (Acts 2:19-20a).
When observable phenomena occurs in the heavens, particularly when it happens to the sun and/or the moon, we must consider what things are being signified beyond the occurrence itself.
Now in the thoughts I express here, I am not all pretending that I have received some form of revelation from God about the meaning he wants us to attach to a total eclipse of the sun. This is simply an effort to ponder this sign in the heavens and speculate as to its possible spiritual implications. God knew that this precise event would come at this precise moment in our nation’s history, and it is entirely appropriate for us to ponder its significance.
It is intriguing that when God speaks of the role of the sun and the moon in Genesis, the sun is identified as the heavenly body designed to “rule the day,” while the moon is designed to “rule the night” (Genesis 1:19).
The sun, if it is a symbol of anything, is certainly a symbol of God’s radiant truth, which is intended to reveal, to illuminate, and to enlighten every soul on planet earth. John uses this as a metaphor to describe the advent of Christ. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Jesus is further described as “the true light, which enlightens everyone coming into the world” (John 1:9).
The night, on the other hand, is a symbol of spiritual darkness, deception, and error. Jesus himself used this metaphor when he said, “This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19).
The path of this total eclipse of the sun is remarkable, in that it crosses over the entire continental United States, almost perfectly bisecting America from the Northwest to the Southeast. And in that path, the sun will be perfectly blotted out, by the ruler of the night, plunging all of America in its path into virtual total darkness.
This is a metaphor, or a sign, of the work of the Prince of Darkness in obscuring the light of God’s truth. Satan, and those who unwittingly serve as his accomplices by resisting the public acknowledgement of God and seeking to repress the expression of Christian faith in our land, are bringing on us a dark night of the national soul.
We, as God’s people, must resist this eclipsing of God’s light by engaging in spiritual warfare against “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” of which Ephesians 6:12 speaks. We must fight, using the weapons of our warfare, which are “not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4), to resist the encroaching darkness through prayer and proclamation.
We must fight the darkness that we may return this nation to an unapologetic acknowledgement and embrace of the God of the Founders and his transcendent standard for human behavior as enshrined in the Ten Commandments. It is through these two classic, foundational American ideals - reverence for God and for his standards for life - that we can reclaim this land from spiritual darkness.
As the Creator of the universe, God has designed the movement of the heavenly bodies such that an eclipse of the sun lasts only for a short season, after which the sun emerges once again in all of its powerful, resplendent, and unquenchable glory. What God will do in the heavenly world we can see, can and must be mirrored in the heavenly world we cannot see.
By his grace, may his glorious truth emerge once again from the darkness and fill this land with his pure, unfiltered, and radiant light.