The Georgia Baptist Mission Board staff took a break from a staff meeting on Monday to go outside the Missions and Ministry Center in Duluth to see the solar eclipse. It was incredible and amazing!
I remember the March 7, 1970 total solar eclipse well. It was referred to as “the eclipse of the century.” I was serving as pastor of a church near the coast of North Carolina at the time. I was amazed at how dark the sky became that afternoon and the experience prompted me to ponder the marvel of God’s handiwork.
Total eclipses are one of the many evidences of our Creator God. Interestingly, the moon is just the right size so that when it eclipses the sun we have a rare opportunity to study the sun’s corona, the outermost part of its atmosphere. It is amazing to consider that this phenomenon can be seen from a planet with human beings to appreciate it – and its Designer.
There is no question but that “the heavens declare the glory of God.” Psalm 147:4 says that “God telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.” That is incredible, because there are an infinite number of stars.
Furthermore, some of these stars are enormous. For example, VY Canis Majoris is so large that if it were placed into our solar system, its diameter would almost fill the entirety of Saturn’s orbit. Additionally, the galaxy NGC 6872 is over five times the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy; and scientists tell us that there are millions of galaxies.
To put all this in perspective, Laura Danly, the curator at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, stated, “If the Milky Way galaxy were the size of a poppy seed then the observable universe, everything we can see, would be about the volume of the Rose Bowl (football) stadium…[and] that entire volume is filled with a cosmic web [of] superclusters linked together from one side of the universe to the other.”
Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us that on the day Christ was crucified a sudden, strange, mysterious darkness fell over the scene at Calvary. It was darkness at noontime, darkness in the presence of the sun, while the sun was brightly shining. The darkness at Calvary smothered the sun at high noon! No wonder God caused the earth to tremble.
After this week’s eclipse there were several of us discussing whether or not it was an eclipse that caused the darkness when Christ was crucified. We agreed that God has so designed the cosmos that solar and lunar eclipses can be predicted years in advance. I just finished reading about a total solar eclipse that will occur August 12, 2026. The omniscient God of creation would know the precise time of every solar eclipse throughout history.
Is it possible that God so precisely designed the universe that he orchestrated from the dawn of creation that a total solar eclipse would occur in Jerusalem simultaneously with the death of Christ on the cross of Calvary? That in itself would be a miracle of epic proportions.
However, the mysterious darkness lasted for three hours, far longer than any total solar eclipse has lasted. Furthermore, the time of the year was the Passover, which was always observed at the time of the full moon. When the moon is full an eclipse of the sun is impossible.
Mark and Luke indicate that darkness fell over the whole land. Many scholars interpret that to mean the whole earth was submerged in darkness. So, it was very likely a cosmic event. Even total solar eclipses can only darken limited portions of the earth.
Furthermore, it was a sudden and great darkness. All at once, suddenly, unexpectedly the whole scene at Calvary was shut down and a death silence covered the land, with the miraculous darkness apparently vanishing three hours later as quickly as it appeared. Eclipses emerge slowly and exit is a similar fashion, so what happened in the heavens the day Christ died could not have been a solar eclipse.
So, the darkness at noonday when Jesus was crucified was more than a divine coincidence; it was a one-time event created by an omnipotent God to show the world that heaven was grieved and had put on the black robe of mourning at the universal sinfulness that required the sacrificial death of the Son of God to redeem a sinful humanity.
Monday’s darkened heavens was just a reminder that our sins and rebellion against a Holy God cause grief in the portals of glory.