Namely the sun, moon, and star sign in Amos 8, the Sixth Seal in Revelation 6, and the Olivet Discourse. Which shortly precedes the second coming and the day of the lord.
Our goal today is to figure out what is actually going on here. We will start with looking at the verses in question.
Verses In Question:
Isaiah 34:4 "All the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree."
Isaiah 51:6 "Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment,
and they who dwell in it will die in like manner;
but my salvation will be forever,
and my righteousness will never be dismayed."
Ecclesiastes 12:1-2 "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain,"
Ezekiel 32:7 "And when I extinguish you (Egypt), I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud And the moon will not give its light."
Joel 2:10 "Before them the earth quakes, The heavens tremble, The sun and the moon grow dark And the stars lose their brightness."
Joel 2:30-31 "I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes."
Joel 3:15 "The sun and moon grow dark And the stars lose their brightness."
Amos 8:9 "It will come about at that time, declares the Lord GOD, I will cause the sun to set at noon and the earth to darken in the daylight."
Zephaniah 1:14-15 "The great day of the LORD is near,
near and hastening fast;
the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter;
the mighty man cries aloud there.
A day of wrath is that day,
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,"
Second Peter 3:10 "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be dissolved in the fire, and the earth and its works will not be found."
Matthew 24:29-31 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Revelation 6:12 "I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;"
Somewhat controversially, I will also include Revelation 11:13:
"And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven."
The reason for this is:
-Matthew 24 places the sign at the end of the "tribulation" of the church ("Immediately after the tribulation of those days...").
-The tribulation is a 3.5 year period (the last 3.5 years before the wrath of God begins) beginning at the "abomination of desolation" (Revelation 11:2, Revelation 13:5, Daniel 12:11)
-Revelation 11 connects the ministry of the "two witnesses" with the great tribulation by also saying their ministry lasts 3.5 years (the two witnesses preach in Jerusalem during the tribulation).
-The earthquake described in Revelation 11:13 is said to occur 3 days after the two witnesses are killed at the end of their 3.5 year ministry in Jerusalem.
-The sun, moon, and star sign is often connected with an earthquake
So I believe it is reasonable to use Revelation 11:13 as additional information on the sun, moon, and star sign. Specifically, that the earthquake impacts 1/10th of Jerusalem and kills about 7000 people.
The "moon as blood" verses are interesting, but there are better alternative explanations:
1. Blood isn't always red, it is often black (especially when aged), so it would make sense if it was simply darkened like the other heavenly bodies.
2. It could be that the darkening of heavenly bodies is reddish in color, a red "haze" or cloud cover.
There are also several verses mentioning cloud cover, which also have nothing to do with eclipses.
Another problem is the lack of usefulness an eclipse would serve as a sign of the second coming. Eclipses occur at predictable times and regularly occur multiple times per decade.
The USA got lucky with one that was visible coast to coast. But that's happened several times since the first coming and nothing happened. There is no reason it would be relevant to biblical prophecy.
The USA does not appear in biblical prophecy and despite the bizarre idea Americans tend to get in their heads of the USA as the center of the universe, it's ultimately just one more nation under the sun (that happens to be a better place to live than most other countries).
My basic answer to this is: Prove it!. As I described in an earlier article, we should read the bible literally whenever it doesn't give us a reason to read it otherwise. And "it's prophecy" is an extremely poor reason in my opinion. There is no reason at all to assume everything in prophecy is non-literal, like any other book of the bible, you need to give a contextual reason not to take it literally.
The reasons they do give when pressed are usually:
1. Some/all OT uses of the prophecy were already fulfilled and it was symbolic there.
This doesn't really work because (as usual) you have to fudge the text to make earlier uses of the sun, moon, and star sign about historic events.
The best example of alleged historical fulfillment is Ezekiel 32:7, which refers to a judgement against Egypt. The chapter gives several prophecies against Egypt. Although it is true that some of the prophecies must have been fulfilled already, there is no reason to assume they are all about the same event.
The chapter doesn't actually present a chronology of any kind, just various judgments God will unleash on Egypt at an indefinite time in the future. We can't say that just because one of the chapters prophecies about Egypt was already fulfilled, that *all* the prophecies against Egypt are fulfilled. (Egypt is after all, still an active country in the world today)
And also, the suggested fulfillment of the sun, moon, and star sign are not particularly well-recorded in historical records, so it wouldn't be out of the question that there was a literal darkness during those events as well as the yet future event.
2. Celestial bodies are used elsewhere to symbolically refer to angelic beings and glorified believers.
This statement is true but as I stated in a previous article, the Bible uses symbolism relatively often and exploits whatever it needs to make it's point.
The use of an ordinary object (the sun, stars, a door, a fruit tree, grass, a house, etc.) symbolically (even if used the same way multiple times) does not mean all future uses of the object in scripture are symbolic. This argument simply fails.
It would be like saying because the Bible uses the word "door" symbolically once, every time it uses the word after that is symbolic for the same thing it was used for the first time.
3. The events could not physically, literally occur in real time and space.
Usually the argument here is from the New Testament verses that refer to the stars falling from the sky or the sky rolling up like a scroll.
My response would be that although the language describes a real, physical, literal event, the language is phenomenological (language that is describing what the event looks like from a first person perspective, rather than describing the precise, objective, scientific nature of the event, an example would be us saying "the sun rose").
This is clear from the "moon turned to blood" point. Obviously, whether it is describing blackness or redness, the text isn't saying the moon will physically transform into a giant glob of blood in the sky.
The simplest explanation from the New Testament verses alone is that this refers to some kind of massive meteor shower. We still use the term "falling star" or "shooting star" for meteors and comets today.
And it wasn't even scientifically inaccurate at the time the text was written, because in both Ancient Hebrew and Greek the word translated "star" includes what we define as "stars" in addition to planets, meteors, and comets (really, any heavenly object besides the sun and moon). They weren't "wrong", they just defined the word differently, in a way that was more useful to them. Just as we define the word in a way more useful to us.
However, when we consider the many old testament uses that refer to the stars as "darkened" or "not flashing forth light", I think the more likely explanation is that the sign really does refer to what we (today) call "stars" albeit probably including the planets as well. But is phenomenological language for the stars not being present in the sky any longer (they are darkened out of sight), the idea would not be the visual of the stars currently "falling" but rather "already have fallen".
Consider the fig tree idea. When the figs fall, the tree no longer has figs present on it. It is empty. I believe the text is colorfully describing the sky being empty of stars (it therefore appears the stars have fallen from the sky).
As for the sky being "rolled up like a scroll", it could also be a colorful description of darkness, or alternatively, the mention of cloud cover in some of the Old Testament verses could imply that the darkness is caused by cloud cover that looks in some way like the sky is being "rolled up like a scroll", see below pictures:
Exactly how God will accomplish this is not entirely clear, but we are given enough information to know it when we see it. There is no reason to interpret these visions of the future symbolically, it may be a supernatural event over the earth, or there could be some providential, natural (maybe even artificial) explanation for it.
Thanks for reading!