The 2017 total solar eclipse has many excited for the astronomical event, including some who view it as evidence of a Creator, and some who even believe the eclipse is a sign from God about the end times.

Lipscomb Bible professor Dr. Terry Briley discussed religious aspects of the eclipse, and he also gave his take on the planetary occurrence to follow on September 23.

“What it [the eclipse] reflects is the orderliness of the creation,” Briley said. “It often reminds us of our limitation, or control, over things.”

Briley noted that perhaps God allows eclipses to happen on earth — the only planet with intelligent beings — to serve as a sort of wake-up call for His creation and to show His power and beauty.

The Biblical scholar added that the eclipse also makes him think of the book of Job, and how one of the big messages that comes out of this book is how Job’s friends are trying to explain or control things that are beyond them.

“It could be that we tend to get in to our routines, and sometimes something like this gets our attention and shakes us up a little bit. That can be a healthy thing; I think that for a believer today . . . it still is a wondrous event. It’s like, we might be able to explain how the Grand Canyon came to be, but it doesn’t make it any less wondrous. So in that sense, it’s another dimension of a creation that’s filled with wonder.”

Following the total solar eclipse, another astronomical event is coming soon as well; on September 23, some Christians believe that what will happen on this date is the fulfilling of a prophecy stemming from Revelation 12.

Revelation 12:1-2 reads, “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.” (ESV)

According to Answers in Genesis, on September 23, “the sun will be in the constellation Virgo (the virgin), along with the moon near Virgo’s feet. Additionally, Jupiter will be in Virgo, while the planets Venus, Mars, and Mercury will be above and to the right of Virgo in the constellation Leo. Some people claim that this is a very rare event (allegedly only once in 7,000 years) and that it supposedly is a fulfillment of a sign in Revelation 12.”

Briley said he thinks that ideas similar to this are constantly being presented anytime someone can find a small connection to Biblical prophecy.

“It’s a misreading of the way prophecy works, and if Revelation 12 is about what’s going to happen 40 days from the eclipse, that means that throughout all of church history, that passage has been meaningless until now. And it was written to persecuted Christians, so it had a message for them; it was not about astronomical events in the 21st century.”

Check back tomorrow, Monday, August 21, for more eclipse coverage. Lumination will be broadcasting the total solar eclipse on Facebook live from Lipscomb’s campus.

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