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I'm writing this article in 2024 in response to the hype around the full eclipse that will be happening over central North America. I want to use this article to explain what the Bible was talking about when it talks about the sun, moon, and stars darkening before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. (Joel 2; Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; Acts 2)

If I say it once, I'll say it a hundred times, the Bible was written in a time and culture that communicated far different than we do in the west today. If you've ever seen a movie about Old Rome and you listen to the way they speak in the movie, you'll see they use imagery to communicate their sentiments. Watching one of those old movies you may hear statements like "the soil will be watered with your blood" or "the sun will be darkened with the destruction of your nation", and many such statements. These movies use imagery like this because that's the way they communicated and Israel, including the Bible, communicated the very same way. We must interpret the Bible in the context of the way they communicated or we end up in grave error that leads to a plethora of
failed predictions and teachings.

The first thing I want to point out is Luke 21:8.

He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. (Luke 21:8)

Messiah Y'shua warns of two groups of people, those who claim to be the Messiah (I am he) and (comma) next quote, the end is here (the time is near). Is Messiah talking about people claiming to be the Messiah AND saying the end is near?

The best way to determine this is to ask the question if one is needed for the other. In other words, does someone who claims to be the Messiah have to proclaim "the end is near"? No, they don't. Does someone who is proclaiming "the end is near" need to also proclaim they are the Messiah? No, they don't. This statement with two different quotes is talking about two different descriptions. One person can fulfill both but they don't have to.This mean's Y'shua is talking about anyone who proclaims to be the Messiah and/or anyone proclaiming "the end is near".

Notice that He's not talking about people who predict the exact time. He's talking about people who just claim the time is close. He then tells us to avoid those people. These people don't know what they are talking about and they are claiming to have a divine knowledge that even Messiah Yeshua Himself does not know (Matthew 24:36). Still, people predict and they follow those who predict "the time is near" and no one takes heed to the warning of the one we claim to follow.

One of the things that makes this portion of Scripture confusing is the
chiastic structure. We'll look at this at the end of the study.

As pertaining to the cosmic signs we see listed in Joel 2, Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, these are statements of imagery. If they are not imagery, they would not be in existence today.

Referring to the overthrow of ancient Babylon the Bible says:

For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
will not give their light;
the sun will be dark at its rising,
and the moon will not shed its light. (Isaiah 13:10)

And referring to the judgment of Edom we read:

All the host of heaven shall rot away,
and the skies roll up like a scroll.
All their host shall fall …. (Isaiah 34:4)

Look at the words of Psalm 18 as it talks about David being delivered from his enemies and from Saul.

Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. (vs 7)

Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils. (vs 15)

Here's a prophecy on Israel

“And on that day,” declares the Lord God,
“I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight. (Amos 8:9)

Ezekiel predicted judgment that was coming on the pharaoh of Egypt.

“Son of man, raise a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him: …
7 When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens
and make their stars dark;
I will cover the sun with a cloud,
and the moon shall not give its light.
8 All the bright lights of heaven
will I make dark over you,
and put darkness on your land,
declares the Lord God.
9 “I will trouble the hearts of many peoples, when I bring your destruction among the nations, into the countries that you have not known. (Ezek 32:2, 7-9)

We see that these words are judgments upon nations and the words we read in Joel, Matthew, Mark, and Luke are all the same imagery. These statements are not meant to be taken literally.

While it's now obvious of the imagery used, what may be confusing some people is Lukes next statement:

At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Luke 21:27

What is this coming of the Son of Man if not the second coming? Remember, "all these things", including this statement, is supposed to happen before the generation of Messiah Y'shua is to pass away (See also
Fig Tree).

To look at this "Son of Man coming in a cloud" let's look back into the Old Testament again to get some context of language.

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)

This statement of Messiah Y'shua is a
remez which all those listening would have heard His quote of Daniel 7 and they would have known exactly what He was saying.

The Ancient of Days is YHWH and Messiah was about to ascend and be enthroned, sitting at the right hand of YHWH. The "coming" is His ascension and then coming back (invisibly) in Judgement upon Jerusalem. It's not talking about a second coming.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke were not the only ones to mention the darkening of the sun and moon. If we look at Joel 2:30-32 we read:

I will show wonders in the heavens
and on the earth,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
32 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be deliverance,
as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
whom the Lord calls. Joel 2:30-32

Does that wording look familiar? This is another
remez like I mentioned earlier. Messiah Y'shua was quoting out of Joel and the listeners knew exactly what He was talking about. I want you to notice verse 32. It says, "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved…" and this statement is after the darkening of the sun and moon and the "coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord". Everyone knows that when Messiah Y'shua comes again then it will be too late to call on His name.

Messiah Y'shua was not the only one to quote from Joel. During the Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit fell upon the 120 in the upper room, Peter had this to say to those questioning what was happening.

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts 2:14-21)

Peter was not in error in claiming they were in the last days. There will be three periods of time: Adam to Abraham, Abraham to Messiah Y'shua, and Messiah Y'shua to the renewing of the world. We have been in the last days, the last period of time, since the coming of the Messiah. Here, Peter was explaining the pouring out of the Spirit and warning about the impending doom to come upon Jerusalem.

This is why we must make sure we are properly interpreting Scripture in the way they intended it to be interpreted, the way Israel spoke, the way they view learning, THEIR
context and not ours.

I mentioned earlier that the portion of Scripture in Luke 21 is written in a
chiastic structure. If you don't understand what this is and its importance then I would encourage you to follow the link and read about it or you will be confused in the rest of this study.

Let's look at the structure real quick.
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By looking at the chiastic structure, as chiasm's were meant to indicate, we see the main point of all that Messiah Y'shua was talking about here is the destruction of the temple. The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple is the point of the chiasm, the point of Messiah Y'shua's message, and considering they wrote and spoke in these structures, they would have picked this out of His talk right away.