Luke 21:5-38: When will the sun, moon, stars darken and Son of Man arrive on a cloud?

JeffWe don’t want the Day of the LORD to arrive because of its sadly necessary turmoil, yet we hope for it. The main occupants of the heavens — sun, moon and stars — are going to appear dim and dark. It’s almost the reverse of Genesis 1.

This is not going to be a good time. Yet it’s dead and hope, wrapped in one.

I was asked last week, “What was the time period when Zephaniah and Yonah (Jonah) prophesying?” Jonah was a contemporary of Jeroboam II. That time was about 786 B.C. Zephaniah’s prophetic ministry was around 640 B.C. just before the fall of Nineveh, it was at the end. Jonah was about 150 years before Zephaniah.

Now, on to our discussion of the darkening of the sun, moon and stars described in the Yeshua’s apocalyptic discourse in Luke 21:5-38; Matt. 24:1–26:2; and Mark 13:1–14:2.

“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. 30 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.” (Matthew 24:29-30)

There are several prophecies in scripture about the of the Day of the Lord coming in darkness. It is challenge to read prophesies because of the “now and not yet” components of them. It can make understanding prophecies confusing. Many of these prophesies spoke to the near future but also to the distant future. The near future and the distant future mingle together in prophesy.

Who is being punished in these prophesies? Many of the people spoken to didn’t know better but as the Apostle Paul said, they should have known better.

Just as the fall of the various empires were a time of darkness for the people who witnessed them, the Day of the LORD will also be a time of darkness.

The principalities of the air are punished at the same time the princes of the earth are punished.

One of the saddest laments of prophesy is that despite everything that is spoken down from the ages to now, only a small remnant respond.

Here are the prophesies about the Day of the LORD as a time of spiritual darkness:

Isa. 13:10: “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.”

Isa. 24:23: “Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, For the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Yerushalayim, And His glory will be before His elders.”

Amos 5:20: “Will not the day of the Lord be darkness instead of light, Even gloom with no brightness in it?”

Amos 8:9: “‘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.’”

Zeph. 1:14–16: “Near is the great day of the Lord, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the Lord! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. 15 A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, 16 A day of trumpet and battle cry Against the fortified cities And the high corner towers.”

There are also prophecies of that day to have darkened stars as well as sun and moon. These will be seen literally as well as spiritually. The Blood Moons that have been seen recently are simply lunar eclipses. Solar eclipses do not have a red hue to them. The main occupants of the heavens are going to grow dim and dark. It’s almost the reverse of Genesis 1. This is not going to be a good time. When we see these things, the time will already be bad and just getting worse. The world will have already been simmering for a while. The good thing is that the people of God will not be surprised by it. They will be praying and lamenting over it but they will not be unaware. For those caught totally unaware, it will be terrifying indeed.

Ezek. 32:7: “ ‘And when I extinguish you, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud And the moon will not give its light.’ ”

Joel 2:10, 31: “Before them the earth quakes, The heavens tremble, The sun and the moon grow dark And the stars lose their brightness. … The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.”

Joel 3:15: “The sun and moon grow dark And the stars lose their brightness.”

The Apostle Peter quoted Joel 2:28–32 in explaining how the Spirit had been poured out with power the Shavu’ot after Yeshua’s death on Pesakh and resurrection on Bikkurim (Firstfruits). This is another “now and not yet.” Peter saw this happen before his eyes at Pentecost but yet we still wait to see this happen again near the Day of the LORD.

Acts 2:14–21: “But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Iudea and all you who live in Ierusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Ioel: ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of my spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy. ‘And I will grant wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. ‘the sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious Day of the Lord shall come. ‘and it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

Apostle Yokhanan alludes to Joel 2 in describing the opening of the sixth seal. Note that it is not easy for the wind to take off unripe fruit. Ripe fruit comes off easy but unripe fruit will only be removed with a might wind and more effort. The time of the sixth seal is near the absolute end.

Rev 6:12–13: “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; 13 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 isn’t just the sun that will be covered in a cloud but the Son of Man will be as well. Son of Man will be coming in a cloud. In Daniel 7, amid the judgment of the four “beasts,” or earthly powers, “one like a Son of Man” arrives to the Ancient of Days on the clouds of heaven.

The four beast-powers in Daniel 7 parallel the metal-powers shown in the image Nebuchadnezzar saw and Daniel interpreted, recorded in Daniel 2.

  • Babylon is the power who is like a lion with wings like an eagle (Dan. 7:4) . This is paralleled by the head of gold in Daniel 2. Nebuchadnezzar is elsewhere compared to both the lion (Jer. 4:7; cf. 49:19; 50:44) and the eagle (Ezek. 17:3, 11–12). Lions with eagle wings are a symbol of Babylon.
  • The bear, standing up on one side with three ribs in its mouth (Dan. 7:5) parallels with the arms and chest of silver of Daniel 2. This the kingdom of Media and Persia
  • The leopard-like beast is Alexander the Great of Greece with four bird-like wings and four heads (Dan. 7:6) corresponds with the belly and thighs of bronze of Daniel 2.
  • The next empire is Rome. It was the dreadful, terrifying, extremely strong beast with large iron teeth and 10 horns. It corresponds with the legs of iron and feet of iron and clay of Daniel 2.

A number of commentators have noted that the statue of Daniel 2 has two legs and two feet, and the Roman empire divided in two in its waning years. We should be careful not to force our version of history to be superimposed on scripture. The “little horn” is not always the same “little horn.” The one in Daniel 7 is Greece. The other little horn, that comes out of Rome is not one and the same figure.

The statue has two legs and those legs have a meaning, too. We see in history that in Rome’s waning days, it did split into two: West and East. Emperor Diocletian in A.D. 285 partitioned the empire into east and west. Emperor Constantine I from A.D. 324-330 moved his capital to Byzantium, renaming it Constantinople.

Rome controlled the western side. The western empire imploded after invasions, ending in A.D. 476 when Germanic warlord Odoacer forced emperor Romulus Augustulus to abdicate.

Byzantium controlled the eastern side, which remained in power for an extra 1,000 years after Rome fell.

The Islamic Ottoman empire conquered Constantinople in A.D. 1453, killing the last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI. The Ottoman Empire remained in power until 1918.

We need to look at the pattern of these nations, not necessarily the nations themselves.

The Ancient of Days steps in with judgment, and the “One Like a Son of Man” carries it out.

Dan 7:9–10, 13–14: “‘I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. 10 A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened. … I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.”

In the midst of this discussion of the different empires which will come and go, we see this vignette of timelessness. When we compare Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, we see this rock cut without rocks. It was a euphemism of the Messiah. The phrase Son of Man was not only a euphemism of the Messiah, but also a title God gave to Ezekiel.

This Messiah comes in the form of a man whom is the true image of God shines forth. This true king in the midst of these other kings, will come in and will never be thrown down. The little horn will do some incredible things but it will not be victorious.

This darkening of the sun, moon and stars and the darkening of the clouds are the harbingers of the Day of the LORD. Clouds are ephemeral, they come and they go, but that is juxtaposed over something that will last forever.

Regardless who one thinks this “little horn” is (the pope, Nero, Constantine, etc.), the symbol used is identical to what comes out of the four descendant horns of the goat in the vision of Daniel 8, a צְּעִירָה ts’irah (H6810, little; from צָעַר tsa’ar H6819, to be or grow insignificant) horn (Dan. 8:9). We see this Messiah who doesn’t act like a conquering Messiah at the end of days conquers everything.

Yeshua departed in a cloud and will return in a cloud.

Acts 1:6–11: “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Ierusalem, and in all Iudea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.’ And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Iesous, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’”

1st Thess. 4:13–18: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Iesous died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Iesous. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christos will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

Among the Spirit’s outpouring for dreams and visions before the Day of the LORD will be that of recognition for rejection of God’s Messiah.

We don’t want the Day of the Lord, yet we hope for it. Things are going to be dark, but in the end, there’s something brighter. There is hope that will come out of that. The new Heaven and the new Earth are a restoration of all things, just as the Day of the LORD is the destruction of all things. It’s dread and hope — all at the same time.

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.

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