In case you haven’t heard, there is a total solar eclipse coming this Monday. Here are some things you might want to know about the event.
Opportunity to Share the Christian Faith
From what I have heard, witnessing a total solar eclipse is spectacular! The last time so many people in the United States had access to such an event was almost a century ago (far fewer people could see the 1979 eclipse that clipped the northwest portion of the country). The beauty of something so far outside our control points to the work of a Creator who deeply loves us.
I started making plans to see the eclipse nearly a decade ago. Because the universe behaves so reliably, scientists can predict when eclipses will happen many years into the future. The reliability of the physical world is a notable biblical idea, as described in Jeremiah 33:25–26. In fact, observations during a 1919 eclipse provided important early confirmation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. That theory scientifically codified the idea that the laws of physics governing the universe are constant throughout time and space and regardless of motion. As I discuss in a recent Christian Post article, this little bit of information can facilitate discussions about the Christian faith with nonbelievers.
Avoid End-Times Speculation
While the eclipse provides a great opportunity to talk about Christianity, some Christians will inevitably use this phenomenon to predict the beginning of the end times. Make no mistake, I do believe that Jesus Christ will return and this world will end. My personal favorite so far claims that the 2017 eclipse and the 2024 eclipse (which will form an X across the United States and are 7 years apart) mark the start and end of the tribulation—which will start near Carbondale, Illinois. Given that almost all the end-times prophecy in the Bible seems to focus on Israel, I find this unlikely. However, any explanation of why this eclipse signals the end will invariably match all the other predictions—namely being wrong.
Resources for the Late Planner
If you haven’t already made plans to be in the path of totality (where you can see the Moon completely block the light from the disk of the Sun), it is probably too late to do so. Chances are the roads from you to the path of totality will have too many cars to make the trip worthwhile. If so, you still have some options. Everywhere in the continental US will experience an eclipse anywhere from almost 50% (northern Maine and southern Texas) to 100% along the path of totality. With a decent pair of eclipse glasses or using binoculars to project the shadow on the ground, you can get a good view of the eclipse. If you want to watch the eclipse live from various locations along the path of totality, NASA has provided this link. And for all the details you might want about the eclipse, see https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/.
Don’t be discouraged if you missed this eclipse. The reliable laws of physics guarantee that another eclipse crossing the US will occur in 2024. And the reliable Creator behind those laws will allow us to see his handiwork just seven years apart. Start making your plans now!