If it’s not cloudy where you live this morning, step outside and look at the moon. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Isn’t that spectacular? This morning saw a total eclipse of the moon, and it was beautiful. In fact, if you saw it near ‘totality,’ you also saw it turn a somewhat shocking shade of orange or red- what’s called a ‘blood moon.’
It’s an ominous sight, to be sure, but this is a normal astronomical phenomenon caused by the Earth rotating between the sun and the moon, casting shadows through the atmosphere and coloring the moon a reddish hue in the same way the sunset lights up a beautiful red when the sun is seen through more of our atmosphere.
That’s what we know now. But millennia ago, before lunar astronomy had really taken off, that ominous sight was a true cause for panic. And unsurprisingly so. The moon is a fairly constant sight in our night sky- seeing it is a comforting thing, and it’s upsetting to see it look differently than usual. But to people who worshipped the moon, it would have been a terrifying sight, conjuring ideas of the end of the world.
Seeing an eclipse- solar or lunar- as a harbinger of the apocalypse makes sense. And as tempting as it is to laugh at ancient people who thought the world was ending every time the Earth got in the way of the sun and the moon, don’t we kind of do the same thing?
As a human being, you have a habit of putting things in pretty high places. Martin Luther said our hearts default to idol-making- putting things into divine places that were never meant to be there.
How have you felt when your car got scratched by a careless driver in a parking lot, or the grocery store was out of your favorite cereal? Or when a hero disappointed you, you missed an opportunity, you were diagnosed with a dangerous disease, or a significant other left you?
It’s easy to feel like the world is dropping out from under you when familiar things change. And it may not be easy- probably won’t be, in fact. But God promises that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever- and then follows it up by proving it.
God never leaves or forsakes us. His Spirit, given by His son Jesus, will comfort and guide us during the eclipses and apocalypses of our life.
And on another level, just like the moon can appear to have vanished during a blood moon but is still present, God’s existence and goodness are not affected by His visibility. He remains, the tides continue, and one day- maybe years from now, but maybe sooner than you think- He will be visible again.
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Want to learn more about this astronomical phenomenon? Eclipse: The Celestial Phenomenon that Changed the Course of History is available on Amazon, and buying it through this link helps Redeeming Culture at no cost to you. Thank you!