The total solar eclipse of 2017 will be one of the greatest astronomical events to ever be visible from the United States. And according to some Christian groups, it also portends the end of the world, thanks to their interpretation of ancient biblical prophecy.
As the Express reports, the Great American Eclipse, as it’s being called, will be followed by another solar eclipse, this time a partial one, in parts of Europe.
You may be thinking, “That’s pretty cool, but what does it have to do with the Bible?” The answer is, of course, nothing. Nothing at all.
But for some Christian groups, it actually means it’s the end of the world.
According to the people behind the biblical prophecy site Unsealed, the Bible actually prophesied this eclipse, way back in the Book of Revelation, 2,000 years ago.
How they got there is kind of convoluted, but here’s the best explanation this writer can come up with.
- The Number 33 Plays a Role: The eclipse begins at Oregon, the 33rd state, and ends at South Carolina, at the 33rd parallel. The last total solar eclipse visible from the US was 99 years ago (3 x 33). And there’s a verse in Ezekiel 33 that somehow has something to do with it.
- The Number 40 Plays a Role: The eclipse begins 40 days after the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. And… that’s it, really.
- There’s Going To Be Another Total Eclipse In The U.S. Seven Years Later: The 2017 eclipse begins in the northwest and moves southeast; the 2024 eclipse begins in the southwest and moves northeast. And their crossing paths create a big, metaphorical letter X over southern Illinois. That’s significant, for some reason.
- The Bible Talks About A Woman “Clothed In The Sun”: And since the Sun is, of course, one of the three key players in the eclipse (along with the Moon and the Earth), that must mean something, too.
So that’s the gist of the supposed prophecy that has led some Christians to believe the eclipse will bring about the end of the world. Now, here is the part where I play the role of buzzkill and pick apart their arguments.
For starters, there have been hundreds of total solar eclipses in recorded human history, and there will be hundreds more before H. Sapiens’ time on this Earth is at an end. And yet, we’re still here. What’s more, many of those eclipses have been visible by Christians, and many of those were also accompanied by panic about God’s judgment or the end of the world. Didn’t happen, obviously.
Unsealed’s belief that numbers are significant breaks down when you realize that numbers are a human construct and not a divine one. Oregon could just as easily been the 34th state or 32nd state, depending on when the paperwork was filed. And the 33rd parallel is just a line on a map — a map that didn’t exist when the Bible was written. Had someone else been in charge of mapping out longitude and latitude, he may have come up with a completely different scheme that puts the 33rd parallel somewhere else entirely, or only has 20 parallels, or whatever. And for the record, there is no 33rd chapter of Ezekiel; the prophet didn’t divide his book up into chapters when he wrote it. The chapter-and-verse system of the Bible didn’t come about until centuries after it was written.
Most importantly, though, is the fact that trying to understand biblical prophecy is a fool’s game at best. Thousands of years, differences in language, differences in geography, and differences in culture separate us from when those prophecies were written. Theologians around the world have been trying to make sense of them for centuries, and they’ve largely come up with bupkus.
The bottom line is that the Great American Eclipse will come and go just as the thousands of eclipses before it did, and as thousands will do after it. Enjoy it for what it is and don’t try to attach some divine meaning to it.
[Featured Image by Ig0rZh/Thinkstock]