Is there more to America’s 2017 solar eclipse than the eye can see? Is God trying to send the United States a message? If so, what is He saying? Although Jesus said signs in the sun would precede his return to earth (Luke 21:25-27), is the eclipse a signal of His upcoming arrival? Or, is it a sign as some say that America needs to repent of sin? Or, could it simply be a wondrous showcase of God’s handiwork (Psalm 19:1)?
Fortunately for us, Jesus was accustomed to people looking for astonishing messages from God, especially in the sky. The Pharisees repeatedly tested Jesus for a “sign from heaven” to prove He was the Messiah (Luke 11:16; John 6:30-31). In one of those conversations, Jesus refused to give a sign, choosing instead to reference an unlikely prophet whose message was preceded by a total solar eclipse.
The “sign of Jonah” (Matthew 12:39) Jesus mentioned may be nothing more than a comparison to Jesus’ death and resurrection or his way of saying Jonah represented God’s call for the people of Nineveh to repent. While Bible scholars say either or both may be true, there seems to be more to the story of Jonah than we often recognize.
Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa believe Jonah’s ministry to Nineveh, modern day Mosul, took place during a time in which Assyria was experiencing a state of decline. Inept rulers had repeatedly risen to the throne, and historical documents show civil unrest threatened to tear the nation apart.
Jonah’s simple message: “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed” (Jonah 3:4) carried a profound impact. The Assyrian people repented in record numbers, and many theologians consider Nineveh the greatest revival of all time.
Wilkinson and Boa believe it wasn’t Jonah’s preaching alone that prompted widespread repentance. Rather, it was two plagues (765 and 759 BC) and a total solar eclipse on June 15, 763 BC that prepared the people for God’s message. In fact, Amos 8:9 may speak of the same eclipse when it says, “And on that day,” declares the Lord God, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight.”
Whether you believe the 2017 solar eclipse is a call for repentance, like that in Jonah’s day, or you interpret it as a natural phenomenon of God’s creative design, the truth of the matter is this: To live a radiant life, we must all allow the light of Jesus to chase the darkness from our hearts.
So, here’s a suggestion:
For the next 40 days, pray “God, help me delight in Your light.” Set a reminder on your phone; on the refrigerator; on your bathroom mirror. Imagine what a difference it could make in your life if you developed a deep desire to follow God’s light rather than the world’s darkness.
History will judge if the Great American Solar Eclipse is anything more than a natural phenomenon. Meantime, praying “God, help me delight in Your light” encourages us to know God and experience His perspective on life.
After all, Jesus said:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12 ESV).