The Day of the LORD
Addendum: Signs in the Cosmos
In a previous article, The LORD, the Author of Calamity, I detailed from the Scripture how the LORD uses calamity to punish sinful mankind by sending various calamities upon nations, cities and individuals.
As this article shows, the Day of the LORD is a series of calamities, but those passages in which the term or its equivalents are used share a unique property: ominous signs in the cosmos. Such signs do not appear to be used in “simple” (my term) calamities regardless of their scope.
In the Addendum: Limited/Local Judgments, the events prophesied were attended by unique, unmistakable signs in the cosmos:
The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.
For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not flash forth their light;
The sun will be dark when it rises
And the moon will not shed its light.
The same phenomena were specified at the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC:
“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord God,
“That I will make the sun go down at noon
And make the earth dark in broad daylight.
Below I detail from the Scriptures all the texts which teach that Day of the LORD will likewise be attended with powerful and ominous sings in the heavens. As we review these, the Lord Christ’s words show us that these “signs in the cosmos” can’t be anything as pedestrian as comets, asteroids or solar/lunar eclipses:
There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Comets, asteroids, star novas, eclipses and other regular astronomical events are well-understood and largely predictable by known science. However, when the events detailed in this chapter occur, the response of the peoples of the earth will be unmitigated terror. Those events will defy all attempts at natural and/or scientific explanation, because it will be thought that such things are impossible. Mankind will be “in perplexity” and “fainting from fear”, trapped on a planet which appears to be moving inexorably toward a certain, albeit unknown, destruction.
[Occasionally, irresponsible “Bible preachers” (I use the term very loosely!) will try to make the case that a lunar eclipse or the “blood moon” (or other similar astronomical events) are portents of imminent, global disaster. In general, they are ignorant of the truth of the Bible concerning the Day of the LORD. And, they are rightly viewed as fools when their dire "prediction" falls flat.]
There are a few texts which state that the heavens will be “shaken”.
For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land.‘
I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.
It is difficult to imagine what a “shaking of the heavens” would look like. Regardless of the mechanics of the event, what the Apostle John saw reminded him of what a strong wind will do to a fig tree with ripe fruit.
As the Day of the LORD approaches its full revelation there will be dramatic and seemingly “impossible” signs in the cosmos: specifically, changes in the luminosity of the sun and (therefore of the moon since it reflects light from the sun—though with spectacular exceptions!).
So it will happen in that day,
That the Lord will punish the host of heaven on high,
And the kings of the earth on earth.
They will be gathered together
Like prisoners in the dungeon,
And will be confined in prison;
And after many days they will be punished.
Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed,
For the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
And His glory will be before His elders.
[Note how the prophet describes the scene: the “host of heaven” will be punished.]
Before them the earth quakes,
The heavens tremble,
The sun and the moon grow dark
And the stars lose their brightness.
“I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire and columns of smoke.
The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood
Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.”
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
The sun and moon grow dark
And the stars lose their brightness.
I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
[There are a few very interesting items to note:
The sun becomes black but the moon is still visible. Since the moon is a reflective body, not emmissive, this should be impossible. That is, if there is no sunlight to reflect from the surface of the moon, how is this possible? This "sign in the heavens" will certainly be viewed with unbounded fear and confusion.
The moon is not only still visible, it takes on the appearance of blood. How could anyone on the earth not be terrified at what is happening?
Those who are the LORD’s enemies, who thought nothing of the fact that throughout all their lives they denied and blasphemed Him are now suddenly beginning to experience His wrath. Their only objective is somehow to try to escape. Their plan? Commit mass suicide in the stunningly misguided notion that if they are buried by mountains that the LORD won’t be able to find them! Truly their horror will be unbounded on that day as they awake to the torment of Hades and quickly realize that they are being held for the Great White Throne Judgment and, ultimately, the Lake of Fire!]
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree.
[Here is another phenomenon which should be impossible as long as the sun is shining. (That is, temperature differentials cause the expansion and contraction of air, a component of the mechanics of wind.]
Another sign in the cosmos is this:
And all the host of heaven will wear away,
And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll;
All their hosts will also wither away
As a leaf withers from the vine,
We’re all familiar with rolling up a length of paper; what use to be flat and spread out is now compacted into a tube. What a spectacular sight that will be when the LORD’s enemies see the stars above moving in unison in a way that is described as a scroll being rolled up! A universe of unimaginable size will move in ways that should be impossible, across spans which are unimaginably huge, within a time frame that is impossibly small. But, it will be possible in the Day of the LORD!
[Consider what is termed the "subtended angle" of a view into the night sky. Given the immense distance to the various galaxies, they would need to move "laterally" hundreds of millions of light years within an impossibly short a time frame (minutes, hours, days) to create a subtended angle large enough to be observed on earth with the unaided eye.
As an example, consider our nearest galaxy, Andromeda. It is a "mere" ~2.5 million light years from earth. (This means that light from Andromeda takes 2.5 million years to reach us.)
To sweep Andromeda through an angle of only 15 degree would mean that it had to move (at a right angle to our view) of ~0.27 million light years. Stated another way: if the Andromeda galaxy moved through 15 degrees in any time period short of 0.27 million years, than it had to travel faster than light, something supposedly impossible. But it will be possible during the events of the Day of the LORD.
This is one of the reasons that these signs in the cosmos will bring such fear.]
As you read the texts below, attempt to reconcile the ridiculous notion of the “secret rapture”, something of the type popularized by the Left Behind book and film series (by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins). This silly, unbiblical notion (that is, the “secret rapture”) may sell books and make for dramatic movie plots but it dishonors the Scripture.
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.”
The return of the Lord Christ will be unmistakable and visible to all—anything but “secret”! As the Scriptures above teach us, the result will be global mourning (Rev 1.7) by all those who don’t confess the Lord Christ as Lord!
Similar to the sun and moon being darkened, but perhaps even more ominous, is the following:
The fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way.
Here, the Apostle John describes the selective changes in luminosity of the sun, moon and stars. Since the effect lasts only one-third of a (24-hour) day, it must likewise indicate that their “usual” luminosity was restored after the time expired.
Ultimately, though, these signs will come to an end. These signs will be at the end of the Millennium, just before the Great White Throne Judgment.
[See The Final Sequence for details.]
2 Pet 3.7
But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
2 Pet 3.10-13
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
Peter teaches here that the visible universe is going to be destroyed by fire! It should be obvious to even the casual reader that life on earth can’t continue, since it will be part of what the fires of judgment will destroy.
There will be nothing left anywhere in the universe. In fact, there will be no universe!
This will be the culmination of the Day of the LORD: the return of the Lord Christ
- to judge the nations,
- to rule His people national Israel and the earth for one thousand years,
- to judge the nations of the earth who gather around His people in Jerusalem by destroying them with fire from heaven,
- then finally destroying the remainder of the fallen creation, and finally
- to judge the lost dead by casting them into the Outer Darkness/the Lake of Fire.
When all these have been completed, then the “new heavens and new earth” will be realized.