Jesus stated that there would be an abundance of other signs pointing to monumental changes in both heaven and on earth. The “sun will be turned to darkness” and “the moon will not give its light” is how Matthew put it.
The prophet Joel had said those exact words of the events surrounding the death and glorification of Jesus (Joel 2). Peter informed all, both then and now, that Joel was referring to the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven, its coming in power following the death and resurrection of the Christ. He also prophesied a judgment of God against Israel.
I must suggest that Jesus was alluding to the very same things. We should respect that this is referring to the coming parallel events as Joel had recorded, because Jesus used the identical images – the same language. One event would precipitate the other — the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven would herald the end for Israel. These things were not accidentally stated or recorded.
The sun did not literally go out that day, or on any other; and as such, none of this signifying language has any identifiable literal interpretation. Some are signs on earth and others are signs emanating in or through heaven. The earth is in great distress and tribulation while heaven is exploding with signs denoting the shaking of things there (another key phrase that appears elsewhere in scripture). Change would be coming from every direction, coming in every place you might look. Some of it was to be good, some bad.
That said, the language of the prophecies did not mean then or now that the sun would go out for a while or that the moon would be literally turned to blood, or that either would simply be eclipsed for a few hours. Rather it draws on other dramatic images. This was picture painting for the mind’s eye.
Along with the momentous events of the glorification of the Lamb of God there would be no more light from God for Israel. This would fulfill the prophesied response from heaven to the rejection by Israel of Christ. What happens when someone turns out the lights? Answer: it gets dark. What happens spiritually speaking when God turns out the lights? Answer: you are in the dark and you will never find the door. You are spiritually doomed. What exactly should the phrase that Christ used to describe Gehenna, the phrase “everlasting darkness” bring to mind?
Israel forgot to pay the bill and the Lord was going to cut off service — permanently. If you cannot find the light of God you aren’t going to make it.
Israel was about to have the power cut off. They had rejected God. They hadn’t paid the bill. And unfortunately for the nation of Israel as a whole, they never paid up. Individuals found the light and came out of the dark of Israel’s night; but the collective nation never again located the switch. This indicates that they were indeed being denied the light. They had been rejected due to their rebellion one last time and forevermore.
Joel said, “The moon will be turned to blood” and that was also directed at Israel. This was another sign coming after the kingdom had been returned to men.
Better blow the trumpet in Zion. Herald that momentous things are about to happen.
Luke and Matthew were recording a prophecy as concerns the loss of life to those whom God had cut off, and upon whom he would allow the nations to descend beginning some 40 years later. It all started with the same set of events: in the rejection of The Christ, his trial, his crucifixion, and murder. All occurred before the church (the physical and spiritual form of the Kingdom of heaven that we both see and interact with) had celebrated its fortieth birthday.
Stars aren’t now and haven’t been falling from heaven; and I don’t believe Jesus was warning of a meteor shower. He meant things were going to be changing in a big way.
There were to be big events in heaven beginning with the glorification of the Son of God sitting on the right hand of the Lord God Almighty and beginning his rule over all the kingdoms of earth with “a rod of iron.” As a result of their stiff necked, failed and rebellious religion, Israel would miss the parade and they would never again see the glory of God. Thousands would die and be carried away – the nation would cease to be. They would come under the heavy hand of the godless nations and would not come out these tribulations as they had entered.
These were earth shaking events from either Israel’s or from the Christian’s point of view. This was the “end of the age.” Physical Israel is falling, and spiritual Israel rising. Israel the nation was no longer chosen or set apart — there was no protector for them. The light had been taken away. The Christians now were ascendant as the Israel of God. The Kingdom of Heaven with its occupants beheld the light. All came to pass exactly as Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place.”
Once again, how much is “all“?
“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”