The recent eclipse (Aug 28) reminds me of something I heard many years ago regarding the sun, the moon, and the earth. The man who shared it with me (and others) was an important mentor for me in my early years as a young man and believer. He’s now gone on to be with the Lord, but the illustration stays fresh in my mind many years later.
An eclipse is simply when the earth comes between the sun and the moon when the moon is at its full phase– usually when it’s dark. It’s quite a stunning, yet somewhat slow process.
As I was watching this recent eclipse I saw a further illustration based on what I had heard before. It has to do with God’s intended purpose for the moon as an illustration of the role of the church. The sun represents the Lord Jesus, the moon is a symbol of the church, and the earth would be the people in this world.
The sun is our source of light (and heat!) and its light reflects upon the moon. The moon’s light reflects upon the earth. The moon has no light of its own, it simply reflects the sun’s light. The moon is (generally) only visible during the night as the earth and moon move through the heavens, in their own orbits and their own rotations.
When the moon reflects the sun most strongly is during its phase as a full moon. Its beauty upon the earth or the water is extraordinary. So bright you can actually drive in an unlit, deserted area (like a desert!) and drive a car with the headlights off (I’ve done it and it’s fun!). Yet during this full phase, its brightest time, an eclipse actually dims the light so much it becomes nearly dark, as if it were a new moon.
In the book of Genesis, in the account of Creation on the fourth day (Gen 1:14-19), it says there were lights created and put into the heavens. These lights were the sun, moon and stars, and were created for particular purposes. The primary purposes being as signs for seasons, days and years, and to “preside or rule” over the day and night– the sun over the day and the moon over the night. An additional purpose was to “divide the light from the darkness”.
Nowadays we see great beauty in lunar eclipses, even in solar eclipses because they are stunning physical phenomenons. In ancient times, perhaps even today in some cultures which favor superstitions, lunar eclipses instilled fear in the hearts of many. In many civilizations over many centuries, it has been seen as a bad omen, a sign of bad things to come, because of these superstitions and fears. [See this link for more on that... ]
Although I can appreciate the beauty of an eclipse, as an illustration it causes me concern. Not because of superstition, nor religion per se, but because of what it represents.
The purpose of the church is fairly simple. To reflect the light of the Lord to the people in the world, whoever they are, wherever they are. Jesus expressed this by using the metaphor of believers being a city upon a hill, in Matthew 5:14-16, and telling the apostles (and other disciples) they were to be His witnesses upon the earth, to the people of this world (Acts 1:8).
An eclipse in nature is a natural phenomenon, but when the “world” interrupts the light of the Son, creating an eclipse effect upon the Moon (the church), it is an entirely different thing.
My concern is this– how much influence is the world having on the church? Are we (the church) reflecting the light of God, or the light of the world’s culture, values, opinions, etc.?
In short, is it the Lord’s light we are reflecting or the world’s darkness? Has our reflection been dimmed and muted? Are we dividing the light from the darkness or have we moved into the shadow of the earth’s darkness? Who’s influencing who and at what cost?
Looking into the western sky the next day, I once again saw a full moon as the night shifted to day. I was reminded and encouraged that God’s purposes shall prevail. And yet, lingering questions remained in my mind. He is faithful, but will we, the church– believers in the Lord Jesus, be faithful to Him and His purposes? Will we reflect the Lord’s light or be dimmed by the earth’s shadow?
So each true believer must consider the following questions– What gets in the way of the Lord’s light reflecting onto us? What comes in-between us and Him? What do we allow to take His place within our lives? Is this an infrequent or common occurrence? What will keep it from becoming frequent? And are we (you) even aware of it?
I’m reminded of several verse in the epistle of Philippians chapter 2 where Paul is exhorting these believers (and us!) to become– “blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life...” (Phil 2:15, 16) May it be so...