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The Signs in the Sun, Moon and Stars. One of the most difficult Bible passages.

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Alan Gross, Sep 19, 2023.

  1. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    Excerpt from Signs in the Sun, Moon and Stars pg 106;

    Do you know how to interpret this passage?

    See contents of full PDF her: The Seventy Weeks and Great Tribulation by Phillip Mauro.

    See full PDF of Seventy Weeks and Great Tribulation/ click this link.

    There remains for consideration a passage which is undeniably difficult. We refer to the Lord’s saying about signs in the sun, moon and stars, which, as given by Mark, is as follows:

    But in those days after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened,
    and the moon shall not give her light,

    and the stars of heaven shall fall,
    and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

    And then shall they see
    the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”


    This passage might be taken to mean that the signs in the physical sun, moon and stars, were the immediate precursors of the revelation of the Son of man; but the teaching of Christ which we have just been considering absolutely forbids that interpretation; and to that extent it helps us in our search for the true meaning.

    Looking closely at the passage we will see that it is very indefinite. All it tells us is that in those days after
    that tribulation the commotions in sun, moon and stars will occur; but there is nothing to indicate at what
    part of those days (which now have lasted over eighteen hundred years) the described commotions would take
    place. Then which may mean any indefinite period in the future Christ Himself would be seen coming in the clouds.

    Inasmuch as what we have learned from the latter part of the Chapter forbids us to take celestial disturbances here foretold as premonitory signs of the Lord’s coming, the question arises, for what purpose then did He mention them?

    And this raises another question, namely, are we to take these words literally, as do the Adventists and some others? or are they to be taken as figurative, and as referring to the political heavens
    (i.e., the sphere of governments) as understood by some able expositors, among whom one of the most prominent is Sir Isaac Newton?



    We know of nothing at present whereby this question can be so definitely settled as
    to put the matter beyond all doubt; but we will offer some further suggestions which may perhaps contribute
    towards its solution.

    In the first place, seeing we are debarred by the Lord’s plain teaching from taking these commotions to be
    physical signs, visible to the eye, preceding and heralding His coming, or as having any special connection
    with that event, it would seem almost imperative that we give the words a figurative meaning.

    For it is not conceivable that, in speaking of this long age which was to be so full of important happenings, Christ would
    single out for mention nothing but a few isolated phenomena of nature in the physical heavens.

    This consideration practically compels us to find a meaning for the words which would make them descriptive of some distinguishing characteristic of the age, or at least of the latter part of it.

    When we turn to Luke’s account we find strong confirmation of this view.

    This confirmation appears in
    two particulars, first in the manner in which the reference to the sun, moon and stars is introduced; and second in the fact that it is directly coupled with certain general characteristics of the age, such as we should expect in a brief utterance of this kind. For Luke gives it thus (we put the salient part in italics):

    For there shall be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of
    the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles,
    until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

    And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the
    stars, and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring: Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven
    shall be shaken (Luke 21:23–26).

    According to this account the Lord does not break off His predictions abruptly at the capture and destruction of Jerusalem, but follows the Jews in their dispersion unto all nations, and also foretells the treading
    down of Jerusalem by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Thus we are carried into the periodi ot which follows after the tribulation of those days, and are informed that that period is divinely designated the times of the Gentiles. {1} And now immediately follows (in Luke’s account) the passage we are examining,

    And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars. But here we have also the further statement, and on the earth distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring, men’s hearts failing them, etc.

    From these words it is clear that the Lord is giving (which, as we have pointed out, is what we
    should expect) some very broad and general characteristics of our age, with an eye especially upon the closing
    part thereof. Moreover, in speaking of the unsettled state of the nations He uses a familiar figurative expression, namely, the sea and the waves roaring. This figure represents the turbulence of the peoples of the earth
    (see Revelation 17:15, Isaiah 8:7), just as the sun, moon and stars represent rulership, governments, and
    authorities.

    Thus we find good reason for concluding that the Lord is here speaking figuratively of unusual
    happenings in the political firmament, that is to say, in the sphere of governments, or what Paul calls the
    higher powers (Romans 13:1).

    In Isaiah 13:7–10 we have an example of the use of this figure. It occurs in connection with a description of
    the day of the Lord. We quote verse 10:

    “For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof
    shall not give t
    heir light;

    the sun shall be darkened in his going forth,
    and the moon shall not cause her light to shine”.


    Taking these words in connection with Genesis 1:16–18, and with Joseph’s dream about the sun, moon and stars (which his father and brethren had no need of one to interpret for them, (Genesis 37:9–10),

    and in connection also with (Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:31, 3:15; Revelation 12:1) we get the idea that the sun stands for authority on earth in the broadest sense, and the moon for lesser authority, and the stars for prominent persons in the sphere of government.

    Further reason in support of the view that the Lord used the sun, moon and stars as symbols in this passage, is found in the fact that, throughout the Scriptures, the prediction of political changes of this era are
    given in a veiled form, that is to say, by figures and symbols.

    Thus, in Daniel the successive powers are indicated first as parts of a huge metallic image, and then as great beasts, following one after another.

    In Revelation the last of these beasts reappears, in its ten horned (that is its latter) stage of development, which is the state it will be in when destroyed by the coming of Christ. Individual powers are represented by horns, and
    notable personages in the political heavens by stars.

    That the sun, moon and stars are used in a figurative
    sense in Revelation is proved by the words,

    “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven;

    a woman clothed with the sun; and the moon under her feet,

    and upon her head a crown of twelve stars”
    (Revelation 12:1).

    From this we may safely infer that the sun stands for supreme governmental authority over the earth, the moon for lesser dominion, and the stars for notable rulers or potentates.

    Turning now to (Revelation 6:12) we read, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon be-came as blood, and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, which words are suited to present, symbolically, the complete overthrow of governmental authority, the bloody character of that which for the time takes its
    place, and the downfall of all rulers and magistrates.

    The reasons for speaking thus in veiled language of political changes in the world in this dispensation, are not hard do discern; for this is an era in which God’s people are strangers and pilgrims on earth, having no affiliations with the powers that be, but are taught to be in subjection to them.

    Etc., etc., etc.

    Go skip through it. It's great and enlightening, like these last pages are.

    See contents of full PDF here:
    The Seventy Weeks and Great Tribulation by Phillip Mauro.

    See full PDF of Seventy Weeks and Great Tribulation/ click this link.
     
    #1 Alan Gross, Sep 19, 2023
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2023
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  2. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    As the one actual single future event preceding Christ's second appearing.

    Matthew 24:29-30, ". . . Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. . . ."
     
  3. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    I like short messages:

    Deut 29:29
     
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  4. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    When Jesus said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up", what would you have thought He was talking about?
     
  5. percho

    percho Well-Known Member
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    Do you find it strange that the Holy Spirit inspired this word, "constellations," in Isa 13:10?

    What is that word speaking of? Who gave the constellations the names we call them?

    Gen 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
     
  6. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    The figurative significance taken from Genesis 1, into Mark 13, is the emphasis on those celestial bodies not only being 'signs', but 'signs of their rule' and, therefore, them being signs of 'governmental ruling powers'.

    Genesis 1:16 "And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also."

    In Mark 13:24 "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,

    25 "And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken."


    "But in those days, after that tribulation, (of the destruction of Jeresalem) of the sun shall be darkened, ('all governmental ruling powers' shall wain considerably) and the moon shall not give her light, ('all governmental ruling powers' shall wain considerably)

    25 "And the stars of heaven shall fall, ('all governmental ruling powers' shall wain considerably) and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken ('all governmental ruling powers' shall wain considerably)."

    ...

    ...
    Figuratively, the stars, constellations, sun, and moon, in Isaiah 13, are used to describe governmental rulers and powers, that would fall and be shaken and lose their strength, as they do in Mark 13, Matthew 24, etc., not actual literal celestial bodies...

    Isaiah 13:10; For the stars of heaven,.... This and what follows are to be understood, not literally, but figuratively, as expressive of the dismalness and gloominess of the dispensation, of the horror and terror of it, in which there was no light, no comfort, no relief, nor any hope of any; the heavens and all the celestial bodies frowning upon them, declaring the displeasure of him that dwells there (God):

    and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; which are assemblages of stars, or certain configurations of the heavenly bodies, like in Job 9:9; "Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south", where in Job 9:9 rendered Orion; ...which is one of the constellations, and one of the brightest; and the word being here in the plural number, the sense may be, were there ever so many Orions in the heavens, they should none of them give light.

    the sun shall be darkened in his going forth; as soon as it rises, when it goes forth out of its chamber, as in Psalm 19:5 "Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race", either by an eclipse of it, or by dark clouds covering it:

    and the moon shall not cause her light to shine:
    by night, which she borrows from the sun; so that it would be very uncomfortable, day and night, neither sun, moon, nor stars appearing, see Acts 27:20 "And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away", by the sun, moon, and stars, may be meant king, queen, and nobles, whose destruction is here prophesied of; it being usual in prophetic language, as well as in other writers (f), to express great personages hereby.

    See Gill:

    Isaiah 13 gives a picture of God using the Medes and Persians to bring war against Babylon as the instruments of God's wrath, to destroy the land of the Chaldeans and the prophetic language of the the constellations, the sun and the moon not giving their light, which figuratively are the government ruling powers that couldn't stop it.

    "This chapter contains a prophecy of the destruction of Babylon, literally understood as a type and exemplar of the destruction of the mystical Babylon, so often spoken of in the book of the Revelation: an account is given of the persons that should be the instruments of it, and of the desolation they should make; which would issue in the utter ruin of that once famous city.

    "The title of the prophecy, and the person that had it, and brought it, are expressed,


    Isaiah 13:1 orders are given to the Medes and Persians to prepare for war,

    Isaiah 13:2 and are described as the Lord's sanctified ones, his mighty ones, and who rejoiced in his highness,

    Isaiah 13:3 by the multitude of them, by the length of the way they came, and the end of their coming, by divine direction, and as the instruments of God's wrath, to destroy the land of the Chaldeans,

    Isaiah 13:4 wherefore the inhabitants of it are called to howling, because that destruction from the Lord was at hand,

    Isaiah 13:6 the effects of which were fainting, fear, consternation, pain, and sorrow, without the least relief and comfort,

    Isaiah 13:7 the causes of which were their sin and iniquity, particularly their arrogance, pride, and haughtiness, ..."
    ...

    literally described here:
    "and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; which are assemblages of stars, or certain configurations of the heavenly bodies, devised by the ancients; to which each of the names are given for the help of the imagination and memory; the number of them are forty eight, twelve in the Zodiac, twenty one on the northern side of it, and fifteen on the southern. R. Jonah, mentioned both by Aben Ezra and Kimchi, says that "Cesil", the word here used, is a large star, called in the Arabic language "Suel", and the stars that are joined unto it are called by its name "Cesilim"; so that, according to this, only one constellation is meant; and Aben Ezra observes, that there are some that say that Cesil is a star near to the south pole, on which, if camels look, they die; but, says he, in my opinion it is "the scorpion's heart". Jerom's Hebrew master interpreted it to him Arcturus; and it is in Job 9:9 rendered Orion, and by the Septuagint here;"
     
  7. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Gill and just let him have the say:

    You won't believe this, of course 37, but the coming of the Son of Man is in Providential Judgement, as in the previous verse where the 'carcass' are the Jews at the destruction of Jerusalem and the eagles are the Roman armies gathered together, having destroyed them and the Temple, etc.:

    "For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together."

    "That is, immediately after the distress the Jews would be in through the siege of Jerusalem, and the calamities attending it;

    "just upon the destruction of that city, and the temple in it, with the whole nation of the Jews, shall the following things come to pass; and therefore cannot be referred to the last judgment,..."

    "not in a literal but in a figurative sense; and is to be understood not of the religion of the Jewish church; nor of the knowledge of the law among them, and the decrease of it; nor of the Gospel being obscured by heretics and false teachers; nor of the temple of Jerusalem, senses which are given into by one or another; but of the Shekinah, or the divine presence in the temple.

    "The glory of God, who is a sun and a shield, filled the tabernacle, when it was reared up; and so it did the temple, when it was built and dedicated; in the most holy place, Jehovah took up his residence; here was the symbol of his presence, the mercy seat, and the two cherubim over it: and though God had for some time departed from this people, and a voice was heard in the temple before its destruction, saying, "let us go hence"; yet the token of the divine presence remained till the utter destruction of it; and then this sun was wholly darkened, and there was not so much as the outward symbol of it:"

    "...and the moon shall not give her light; which also is to be explained in a figurative and metaphorical sense; and refers not to the Roman empire, which quickly began to diminish; nor to the city of Jerusalem; nor to the civil polity of the nation; but to the ceremonial law, the moon, the church is said to have under her feet, Revelation 12:1 so called because the observance of new moons was one part of it, and the Jewish festivals were regulated by the moon; and especially, because like the moon, it was variable and changeable."

    "and the stars shall fall from heaven; which phrase, as it elsewhere intends the doctors of the church, and preachers falling off from purity of doctrine and conversation;

    "so here it designs the Jewish Rabbins and doctors, who departed from the word of God, and set up their traditions above it, fell into vain and senseless interpretations of it, and into debates about things contained in their Talmud;"

    "and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken"; meaning all the ordinances of the legal dispensation; which shaking, and even removing of them, were foretold by Haggai 2:6 and explained by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Hebrews 12:26 (the opposite being) whereby room and way were made for Gospel ordinances to take place, and be established; which shall not be shaken, so as to be removed, but remain till the second coming of Christ."


    "Not the sound of the great trumpet, mentioned in the following verse; nor the clouds of heaven in this; nor the sign of the cross appearing in the air, as it is said to do in the times of Constantine: not the former; for though to blow a trumpet is sometimes to give a sign, and is an alarm; and the feast which the Jews call the day of blowing the trumpets, Numbers 29:1 is, by the Septuagint, rendered , "the day of signification"; yet this sign is not said to be sounded, but to appear, or to be seen, which does not agree with the sounding of a trumpet: much less can this design the last trumpet at the day of judgment, since of that the text does not speak; and, for the same reason, the clouds cannot be meant in which Christ will come to judgment, nor are clouds in themselves any sign of it: nor the latter, of which there is no hint in the word of God, nor any reason to expect it, nor any foundation for it; nor is any miraculous star intended, such as appeared at Christ's first coming,

    "but the son of man himself:

    "just as circumcision is called the sign of circumcision, Romans 4:11

    "and Christ is sometimes called a sign, Luke 2:34

    "as is his resurrection from the dead, Matthew 12:39

    "and here the glory and majesty in which he shall come:

    "and it may be observed, that the other evangelists make no mention of the sign, only speak of the son of man, Mark 13:26

    "and he shall appear, not in person, but in the power of his wrath and vengeance, on the Jewish nation which will be a full sign and proof of his being come:

    "for the sense is, that when the above calamities shall be upon the civil state of that people, and there will be such changes in their ecclesiastical state it will be as clear a point, that Christ is come in the flesh
    (in His incarnation), and that he is also come in his vengeance on that nation, for their rejection and crucifixion him, as if they had seen him appear in person in the heavens.

    "They had been always seeking a sign, and were continually asking one of him; and now they will have a sign with a witness; as they had accordingly,


    "that is, the land of Judea; for other lands, and countries, were not usually divided into tribes, as that was; neither were they affected with the calamities and desolations of it, and the vengeance of the son of man upon it; at least not so as to mourn on that account, but rather were glad and rejoiced:"


    "The Arabic version reads it, "ye shall see", as is expressed by Christ, in Matthew 26:64. Where the high priest, chief priests, Scribes, and elders, and the whole sanhedrim of the Jews are spoken to: and as the same persons, namely, the Jews, are meant here as there; so the same coming of the son of man is intended; not his coming at the last day to judgment;

    "though that will be in the clouds of heaven, and with great power and glory;

    "but his coming to bring on, and give the finishing stroke to the destruction of that people, which was a dark and cloudy dispensation to them: and when they felt the power of his arm, might, if not blind and stupid to the last degree, see the glory of his person, that he was more than a mere man, and no other than the Son of God, whom they had despised, rejected, and crucified; and who came to set up his kingdom and glory in a more visible and peculiar manner, among the Gentiles.
     
  8. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    Two things. Is not 70AD. And before the wrath.
    The wrath follows Christ's second appearing. Revelation 6:12-17.
     
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