Earlier this week, the earth experienced a lunar eclipse. Within the United States, only Hawaii, Alaska, the western states and several other locations were hosts to a total lunar eclipse. That’s when the earth totally obscures the light of the sun from reaching the moon. The eastern of the U.S. experienced a partial eclipse but the positioning of the earth prevented those of us in the midwest from seeing the grandeur of total darkness as the earth passed between the sun and the moon.
However, as I went to bed on Tuesday evening, I was surprised by the the beauty and the brightness of the moonlight streaming through our second story foyer window. It was beautiful to see the full moon perfectly centered in our window – not a cloud in the sky – one of those real divine moments that you can’t prepare for – you can only appreciate them when they happen.
Late Tuesday/early Wednesday was when this celestial event occurred. In fact, it was about 4:47 a.m. when the eclipse started here – north of Indianapolis. It was also a full moon. The spring full moon is sometimes called the Flower Moon – out of respect for all the plants that are flowering at this time of year and it should also be noted that as the sunlight is kept from the surface of the moon, it tends to turn a reddish color – referred to as a “Blood Moon.” Oddly, the moon also appeared larger than normal, a super moon, so it was a pretty special night. We had a Flower Super Blood full moon!
There will be another lunar eclipse later this fall, and in the coming years, we will actually have a full solar eclipse that will be visible from our driveway here in Carmel, IN. That event will happen on April 8, 2024 – the first time since September 14, 1205 – that’s 819 years ago that a full solar eclipse happened in this area.
The word “eclipse” does not occur in most translations of the Bible. However, we have many references to the sky turning red, occurrences with the sun and many theologians believe that these scriptural events mean that eclipses were recorded. Sometimes, language translations lose their original meaning and this is the case in tonight’s verse. It is believed that the oldest record of an eclipse is in the book of Joshua, where our verse is from.
Joshua, who led the people of God into the Promised Land after the death of Moses, across the Jordan River during flood season, tells us, in Joshua 10:12-13, “On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel: “O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.”
It is thought that in the original Hebrew the word used to describe the sun “standing still” could also be translated as an “eclipse” in Babylonian, a related language. In similar fashion, it is thought that Joshua was praying that the sun would be kept from its usual “shining.” This would, of course, coincide with our modern day definition of an eclipse and it was during this time that Israel defeated the Amorites!
This all occurred as Joshua was leading the people of God into the Promised Land. Eventually, the Israelites prevailed and occupied the land promised to Moses by God. Revelation, Matthew, Mark, Isaiah, Joel and other books in the Bible also make references to what we would call “eclipses.”
My encouragement tonight is that God is more powerful than we can possibly imagine. In fact, in Genesis we read the creation story and Moses even refers to the sun and the moon as the “greater” light and the “lesser” light. This would have been an insult to the Egyptians who worshipped more than 300 different gods, including Ra, the sun god.
The intent here was that God was so powerful and grand compared to the greater and lesser lights, that they were not worth naming! My prayer is that we will continue to be in awe of the things that God, in His infinite wisdom, has created for us, including the sun, the moon, the stars and the eclipses. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…