Total Eclipse

Dear Woodland Hills Family,

It seems all of Columbia is abuzz about the total solar eclipse we’ll experience in just a few days on August 21st.

Dan McGlaun, veteran of twelve solar eclipses, goes over the top in urging folks to “experience the full, jaw-dropping, knee-buckling, emotionally-overloading, completely overwhelming spectacle that is totality.” Experts estimate that this total solar eclipse will be the most watched eclipse in the history of the world as we know it. *

Since Columbia is in the “path of totality,” we will be afforded the extremely rare, awe-inspiring experience of witnessing a 100% total eclipse. So folks are coming from all over the world to experience our 2 minutes and 36 seconds of total darkness in the middle of the day.

All this reminds me of the “darkness that fell over the whole land” as Jesus was being crucified. Luke tells us that the darkness came “because the sun was obscured” (Lk 23:44). Was he describing a total solar eclipse caused by the moon? Many think so. But there’s a problem. Scientists tell us the maximum length of a total solar eclipse for the last 4000 years is 7 minutes and 30 seconds. ** Yet Matthew, Mark, and Luke each record that the darkness lasted three hours! When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour (Mk 15:33).

How did this happen? What could cause the sun to be obscured for 3 hours? Did God order that some other as-yet-unknown heavenly body pass between the earth and sun at just the time His Son was on the cross? Did He appoint it to linger for 3 hours in reverential grief?

Or were the laws of nature “bent” for a time as the Creator carried the weight of our sin? If the stones would’ve cried out in praise had the people not sung their Hosanna’s, then light might well refuse to shine when the Light of the World was being snuffed out:

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin. ***

For my part, I intend to let the coming eclipse transport me, first back to that Hill where my sin met its match in the death of a Loving Savior. And then forward to the day soon coming when “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 the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky…. and all the tribes of the earth… will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory” (Matt 24:29-30).

Won’t you join me in making this moment sacred?

Blessings,
 Paul

*** Isaac Watts, Alas And Did My Savior Bleed