20140923darksun

By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope

To understand the time of fulfillment of this prophesy, we must back up and read the entire passage that Peter quoted and the context regarding to whom and when Peter was speaking.  

This was Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost.  It was preceded by the Lord’s ascension to glory:

Acts 1:9  And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

Before ascending to the throne in Heaven, Jesus prepared His followers with words of delight and duty.  He told them of the Power they were about to receive and how they should use that Power in service to Him.

Acts 1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Following Jesus’ ascension we read of the people receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit:

Acts 2:1-4  And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The passage goes on to tell of doubters and mockers who were present and in verse 14 Peter begins to answer them in what is often referred to as Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost.  While speaking, Peter quoted the prophet Joel:

Acts 2:14-16  But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.  But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

Acts 2:17  And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

Acts 2:18  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

Acts 2:19  And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

Acts 2:20  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

Acts 2:21  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

The question raised is whether the sun being turned to darkness was fulfilled when Jesus was on the cross.  We know there was a darkness for three hours on that day: 

Matthew 27:45  Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth 

The answer to the question of whether the sun being turned to darkness was fulfilled when Jesus was on the cross is…yes…and no.  There certainly was a darkness that day, but was it the darkness of which God spoke about through the prophet Joel?

In hermeneutics (the study of the Bible) there is principle of interpretation called the Law of Double Reference.  We see it throughout the Old Testament where a prophecy has had a near or partial fulfillment, but not a complete fulfillment.  God is faithful to do what He has said He would do (Deuteronomy 7:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:24) and He is complete and precise to fulfill prophecies exactly as He has spoken them.  We see this in the many already fulfilled prophesies and promises in the Bible, so we can trust that the prophesies that are yet to  be completely fulfilled will be done so with the same precision.

In studying prophecy, we must also remember that in the Jewish mind the understanding of prophecy came through seeing patterns.  This is unlike the Greek mind in which prophesy was understood by knowledge or wisdom.  God revealed to His people signs and wonders and gave them types and patterns to unfold His purpose and plan before their eyes and in their understanding.  The understanding of prophesy through pattern is seen by the many examples that point to the coming of Israel’s promised Messiah.  We read of a clearly prescribed pattern for the Tabernacle/Temple and the implements  of worship, and for the prescribed rituals of Levitical service for both worship and sacrifice.  Through type and pattern, these things “spoke of” (or prophesied of) a coming Messiah who would redeem them.  When Jesus came He fulfilled the prophetic patterns, all of which had been given to help the Jews recognize Him as their Messiah.  

In answer to the question about the sun turned to darkness, it’s reasonable to see the darkness on the day of crucifixion as a partial, or near, fulfillment of the prophesy of Joel, but it was not a complete fulfillment.  It was a whisper of a far fulfillment that is yet to come. At that time all of which the prophet Joel spoke of will be completely fulfilled.

The words in Acts 2:17 point to this still being future.   “In the last days” can mean anytime from the cross until the second coming of Jesus.  Peter proclaimed in his sermon on the day of Pentecost that all of the things the prophet Joel spoke would be fulfilled “before that great and notable day of the Lord come.”  (Acts 2:20) “The great and notable day of the Lord” is a clear reference to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Read again the words and focus on the words in bold…things that are yet to take place:

Acts 2:17  And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

Acts 2:18  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

Acts 2:19  And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

Acts 2:20  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

Acts 2:21  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Most notable are the phrases, “the sun shall be turned into darkness,”  “The moon into blood” and “that great and notable day of the Lord come.”  Cross references indicate that these things are linked to the end time and await a future complete fulfillment.  I provide the cross references for your further study.

“the sun shall be turned into darkness:”  Revelation 6:12

Sunshine represents wellness and light.  The darkening of the sun represents calamity— notably the kind of calamities mentioned in the previous verse: “blood” [like blood shed in war], and “fire” [like rioting and burning of cities in warfare], and “vapour of smoke” [like the smoke of fire rising to the heavens].

“the moon into blood:”  Revelation 6:12

The “moon into blood” could be an indication of a lunar eclipse, the way the color the moon appears when the atmosphere is filled with “vapor of smoke” or it could mean a miracle of the moon being turned into blood.  These words also refer back to verse 20—this will be a “wonder in the heavens above.” 

Both of these events were spoken of by Jesus when He said, 

Matthew 24:29  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:

While there have been eclipses that have darkened the sun and moon, the other things spoken of in these verses have not taken place.  Plus the verses in question are each followed by a very clear prophecy of the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:20…before that great and notable day of the Lord come

Matthew 24:30  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.

In Conclusion

All of this is fun to dig into, and we should do our best to understand what God is revealing to us about the end times and the Lord’s return.  However, this is never to be our focus or our mission. 

There’s a great deal of talk these days about blood moons and how they can be predictive of the timing of the end.  The conclusions seem a bit contrived to me, and they have resulted in some date setting, which is not a good thing.  Remember the appointed times in the Bible follow a Jewish calendar, which is a lunar calendar.  There will be a new moon on the first of the month and a full moon at mid-month.  With Jewish feast days set accordingly, the concurrence of a lunar eclipse and a feast day has happened before and will happen again.

I do not believe that the blood moon of the end times will be a lunar eclipse, anymore than I believe that a solar eclipse took place on the day of crucifixion.  In my opinion that is man’s wisdom explaining away a miraculous sign from God–given to be a witness of His might and power in bringing about His will.  The prophet Joel said that the moon would be turned “into blood.”   I believe God can, and will do that.  To say that a lunar eclipse will occur reminds me of a friend who excitedly told me of the discovery of a bush in Israel that burns and yet is not consumed.  That proves the burning bush, he reasoned.  I disagree.  It denies the reality of the “fire” that Moses saw.  He saw the glory of God, a burning fire in the midst of a bush.  It was a miracle!

Should we study prophesy, both that which has been fulfilled and that which is yet to be fulfilled?  Absolutely…but do so with caution.  Do not let it take you captive.  We will not be able to completely understand unfulfilled prophesies until we see them through the “rear view mirror.”  It’s easy for us to look at the prophesies that pointed to Christ and wonder why the first century Jews did not recognize their Messiah.  We, too, are missing much in understanding future prophesy.  One day all  of God’s prophesies will be fulfilled but until that time, remember that we are not told to be the “watchman on the wall” or the sons of Issachar who watch the heavens and the stars.  As Christians our focus is to be looking up—watching for our Blessed Hope the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for His church (Titus 2:13).  Let us keep our eyes on Him and allow His Holy Spirit to direct our actions in loving service for the Lord and in loving service to others.  The Lord doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbors do!

Go serve your King!

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