Shall the Sun be Darkened

A peculiar thing happened last week at the Bible Study. We were on our second evening of poring over the 24th chapter of Matthew. This is a long and significant text which deals with both the imminent destruction of Jerusalem (which occurred in AD70, before that generation had passed away) and the Lord’s return, which has not yet happened. We had discussed the various approaches and where the division between the two events in the text, if there is one, might be. Verses 29 and 30 describe occurrences in the heavens, with the sun and moon failing to shine and the stars falling. This might refer to the end of time, or it might be figurative for the end of that period of history (Isaiah uses similar terminology in chapter 13 of the end of Babylon).

At that point, all the lights went out. It was as though we were being given a rather dramatic illustration of the text. A rural chapel, we were plagued a few years ago by power cuts, so we installed a battery-operated emergency light system. The remote was duly located and these switched on; their illumination was not enough to read by (phones assisted here) but it was safe to move about. Also interestingly, or ironically, there was a bright moon which helped our getting back into cars.

Yet there was a second illustration here, known only to me and an elder. The batteries of our emergency lights need regular checking and changing. I had been tasked with changing one of these the following day. Foolishly, I forgot, and that particular light failed to shine when we needed it. One of the primary points of the Lord’s teaching in Matthew 24 is not to assist us in the devising of schemes and chronologies to predict the date, but to be ready for it as it will be unexpected, much like a burglary. By last Thursday’s power cut, I was caught out. For Christ’s sudden and earth-shattering return, may we not be!

Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

-Matthew 24:42-44, AV