“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken…” – Matthew 24:29 [Underlined Scripture passages are my own emphasis.]
The moon shall not give her light? Does this phrase imply that the moon generates her own light? Just how are we to understand this declaration by the Word of God?
Scientifically, we know that the light that comes from the moon is sourced from the sun, which is reflected off the moon’s surface and is visible on Earth. When it comes to our vantage point – eyeing the moon from Earth – we can clearly see that the moon reflects the light of the sun as we observe the phases of her lunar cycle.
This scientific truth is enhanced by lunar and solar eclipses and our landing on the moon itself, not to mention satellites and the International Space Station orbiting around Earth along with the many space probes and space telescopes we have sent into our solar system and the Milky Way galaxy.
That the moon reflects the sun’s light and is visible on Earth is a scientific fact and is without refute.
In our study verse, and others like it, then, are we essentially witnessing scientific errors within the inerrant Word of God?
When it comes to the Bible saying that the moon gives her own light, this is actually a scientific expression of observational perspective. There are other factors in play that we should also take into account as we consider Matthew 24:29 and other seemingly difficult passages — many of which we will examine within this study.
After I completed this study survey with my own words and research into the original languages, I went back and added several embedded links from highly respected scientists at a few creation science ministries for the reader to peruse the many unique topics presented within the study.
This article is designed to help aid and arm the child of God with information to disarm attacks by atheistic Darwinian evolutionists and individuals from other religions who have dismissed the Holy Scriptures on the grounds of supposed scientific errors found within its pages.
As is to be expected, there will always be logical and rational explanations available to us when it comes to any criticism one might level against the Word of God, and it is our responsibility – to the best of our ability – to have those answers prepared in advance.
Point of Zero Observational Motion
To begin our investigation, let us first examine what is known as a point of zero observational motion.
Here is our Biblical example:
“Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.” – Joshua 10:12-13
From Joshua’s and Israel’s perspective, “the sun stood still, and the moon stayed” in the heavens for the space of “a whole day” as witnessed from Earth. This is known, scientifically, as a point of zero motion from the perspective of the observer. Obviously, though, this phenomenon was due to Earth halting her rotation, along with the moon, by God’s majestic omnipotence and sovereignty.
In this unique situation, there were no dire effects upon Earth that would have been the result had Earth stopped her rotation on a natural level. At the end of the Tribulation, we seem to see a similar scenario!
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” – Luke 21:25-26
Unfortunately, many prophecy teachers have unnecessarily interpreted the above passage figuratively by suggesting that “the sea and the waves roaring” is a metaphor for the masses of people in all nations being in “distress.” There is no reason for doing so, however, as a literal interpretation is not only viable and logical but in accordance with what Earth and the heavens, from man’s observational perspective, will experience physically at the end of the Tribulation. [The Parable of the Fig Tree]
[For a literal and chronological understanding of this unique verse within the Lucian account of the Olivet Discourse, please see Luke’s Olivet Discourse. And for a collective chronological combined study of all three accounts of the Olivet Discourse, please see The Olivet Discourse in its Entirety.]
These anomalies that our Lord characterized above in Luke 21:25-26 are conditions one would expect from Earth’s rotation slowing down, moving back and forth, and possibly coming to a complete halt, which would necessarily (from humanity’s observational perspective) result in “the powers of heaven [being] shaken” with “signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars” — something completely unknown in human history, with the possible exception of the global flood.
“… for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake. The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved [split/torn/violated], the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed [moved to and fro, sway, totter] like a cottage [hut]…” – Isaiah 24:18b-20a
So, in short – from a perspective of zero observational motion – the sun did stand still in the sky for the long day of Joshua and will evidently do something very similar during the Tribulation when Earth is divinely shaken, reeling, and possibly arrives at a complete halt, but with outright tragic and calamitous environmental impact that will terrify the inhabitants of Earth!
Relative Motion and Zero Motion
“In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” – Psalm 19:4b-6
his circuit. The critical charge is silly that this verse reflects an unscientific geocentric view (the sun orbiting the earth). All motion is “relative motion,” since no one knows where a stationary “center of the universe” might be (the sun apparently moves in a gigantic circuit around the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and the galaxy itself moves with respect to other galaxies). The most scientific way of dealing with different motions is to assume a point of zero motion, and measure other motions relative to that. The best point to assume a point of zero motion is the one for which the equations of motion are simplest. For all surveyors, all navigators, and most astronomers, that reference point is the surface of the earth at the location of the observer. David takes this scientific approach in referring to the sun’s motion relative to the earth. At the same time, his statement is also correct for any other assumed fixed point, since the sun and the galaxy do actually move throughout the whole universe.
The same scientific perspective of relative observation can be applied to the moon giving “her light.”
Though the moon is actually reflecting the sun’s light, to the observer on Earth – with relative observation in mind – the moon appears to give her own light. Though the moon reflects the sun’s light, the light we see on Earth at night is essentially given to us by the moon. If the moon was not present in our sky, we would not have that light from the moon at night.
All of this applies to the other planets in our solar system that reflect the sun’s light as well.
Similar to seeing an image reflected in a mirror, we can say that there is an image in the mirror, but we also know that the image in the mirror is a reflection from another image that is in the mirror’s sight of view.
Giving Forth from Oneself
According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the Greek word for “give,” as in “the moon shall not give her light” is Strong’s Greek: 1325. δίδωμι (didómi) — to give (in various senses lit. or fig.) (biblehub.com), and can mean, in this context, “give forth from oneself,” which would make sense as the moon is reflecting the light of the sun back to Earth from “herself.”
Here is Thayer’s entry:
a. with the force of tocause, produce, give forth from oneself: ὑετόν, from heaven, James 5:18; καρπόν, Matthew 13:8; Mark 4:4, 8f (Deuteronomy 25:19; Sir. 23:25); σημεῖα, Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; Acts 2:19 (Exodus 7:9; Deuteronomy 13:1, etc.); ὑπόδειγμα, John 13:15; φέγγος, Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24…
The moon is clearly reflecting the sun’s light and giving forth from herself that light to Earth.
Does the Bible teach that the sun revolves around Earth and that Earth does not move?
“From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised.” – Psalm 113:3
This expression is universal in nature to every language and culture on Earth. To our vantage point on Earth, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west as Earth rotates once on her axis each day. Here again is our relative motion from zero observation utilizing a worldwide universal expression.
“The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.” – Psalm 93:1 (1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 96:10, Psalm 104:5)
The word for “moved” or “removed” in the Scriptures that are cited above is the Hebrew word 4131 מוֹט “mot” – a primitive root; to waver; by implication, to slip, shake, fall: — be carried, cast, be out of course, be fallen in decay, exceedingly, fall(-ing down), be (re-) moved, be ready, shake, slide, slip.
Context always determines the proper definition of any word in any language, and the proper definition, in the context of these verses, is to slip, be out of course, be removed.
While Earth will certainly have some of these characteristics for a very short period of time due to the divinely sent catastrophic worldwide earthquake toward the end of the Tribulation (Revelation 16:18), the truth is, that for approximately 6,000 years since creation, Earth has been secure and will be secured again by Christ throughout the Messianic Millennial Kingdom.
There is no indication in the above passages that Earth does not rotate on her axis, as this is not even the contextual definition describing a world that “cannot be moved.”
Though the Scriptures contain many scientific insights and truths that often took mankind centuries or even thousands of years to confirm, the Bible does not address the innerworkings of molecular creation, life, Earth, or the cosmos and is not to be thought of as an entirely scientific manual in this regard.
Nevertheless, would not one expect the universe and its dynamic innerworkings to be just as intricate and mysterious as the human body with its wonderous brain, DNA and the genome, and the molecular structures of all living and non-living matter?
Many of God’s creation secrets, from molecular creation to biological life, to Earth, and to the universe itself, would have to await man to examine and investigate God’s creative works to discover what God had hidden; sometimes, even in plain sight.
God desires that mankind search out His glory within His creation by His command to subdue Earth (Genesis 1:28) and to gain knowledge by studying all His amazing creations.
With this in mind, please take note of the following passages and their implications.
“The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.” – Ecclesiastes 1:6-7
“And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.” – Revelation 7:1
“Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places. He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.” – Psalm 135:6-7
“He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.” – Jeremiah 10:12-13
The yearly seasons.
Are these passages congruent with the notion of an Earth that does not move, lying listless in space, or to an Earth that rotates on its axis at an angle, moving in an elliptical orbit around the sun, producing the effects we observe in our everyday lives year after year?
I will allow the reader to ponder and contemplate the question for themselves.
To see a live feed from the International Space Station of Earth: HDEV (nasa.gov) or 🌎 LIVE: NASA Live Stream of Earth from Space (ISS) – YouTube
A word of warning to any brother or sister who believes the universe revolves around a listless Earth at the center of the universe: you are literally one thought removed from believing in a flat Earth.
Figures of Speech
All languages have what is known as figures of speech, and the Bible is no exception.
Here, my basic working definition of figures of speech (as there are many), is a metaphor, something that is said that should not be taken literally but represents something else.
Here are a few examples.
“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” – John 10:9
Is Jesus a literal door? Of course not. This is a figure of speech – an illustration or picture of a spiritual truth, if you will.
“Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” – John 6:54
Are we to really eat of the flesh and drink of the blood of our Lord and Savior for salvation? Again, of course not. This, again, is a figure of speech that is illuminating a spiritual truth.
We must discern, through comprehensive Bible study, when something is to be taken literally or not. And there are many other forms of communication – apart from literal interpretation – that is common among all languages and expressed in variously unique ways within the Holy Scriptures, as well.
Understanding the Languages of the Bible and Literary Devices
The student of the Scriptures, in order to fully comprehend to the best of their abilities what the Bible is communicating, must put the time and effort into looking into the original languages of Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). Thankfully, the Bible student today has many wonderful resources to aid them in their study efforts.
There are also numerous considerations we need to take into account involving our comprehension of the Word of God and how it communicates truth to us through literary devices such as symbolism, poetry, analogies, metaphors, allegories/parables, figures of speech, universal expressions, linguistic expressions, etc. It is imperative that the student of the Word is able, through textual analysis, to decipher when these diverse forms of literary devices are employed and how to apply them. Obviously, we are to take the Word of God literally, except when these methods of communication make themselves apparent, which they always should and always do.
As a note for those of us who use the King James Version (KJV): Old English words used by the KJV translators often had different meanings than those same English words in use today. This is something one needs to be very cognizant of when reading and studying the KJV, which is still the best translation we have available, despite some confusing word differences in Old English and modern English.
Similar to figures of speech, in consideration of our study’s theme, is that of linguistic expression.
Every language has expressive phraseologies that seek to convey certain thoughts and/or situations. And many of these linguistic expressions are universal in nature!
The Bible has numerous examples of being the catalyst for many modern-day linguistic expressions. Here are just two examples.
- Regarding David and Goliath, we have the linguistic expression of “slaying the giant” in overcoming an overwhelming obstacle in a believer’s life.
- In the same vein, regarding having faith as a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20, Luke 17:6), we have our linguistic expression of “moving mountains” by a strong faith that is aligned with the will of God.
A Biblical Example of Linguistic Expression
“And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.” – Revelation 7:1
When the Bible refers to the four corners of the earth, does this signify that Earth is flat and in the shape of a square or rectangle as some suggest?
This is just a maxim or saying – or a linguistic expression – to signify all the earth. This would be equivalent to our modern-day vernacular of “the ends of the earth” – an expression also found in the Bible.
Yet there is more.
The Greek word for “corners” is 1137 γωνία “gónia” and means an angle, a corner, or a quarter.
Regarding the definition of angle, one could easily see the four angles of a compass signifying north, south, east, and west, or the directions of up, down, right, and left, respectively.
North/Up = ᐱ
South/Down = ᐯ
East/Right = ᐳ
West/Left = ᐸ
And regarding the definition of quarter, this is how the word is translated in Revelation 20:8, “And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.”
These “four quarters” are equivalent to the four quarters one might observe on a map of the world, separated into a quadripartite of northwest, northeast, southwest, and southeast.
This linguistic expression, to reiterate, is an axiom expressive of all the earth or the entire earth and does have some scientific qualities within the adage as well.
Linguistic Expressions Regarding Our Topic
Here are some linguistic expressions to consider regarding our topic.
When light from the sun is refracting off our windshields when we are driving, we generally say, “The light [or glare] from the windshield is hurting my eyes.” We do not normally say, “The light from the sun, refracting off the windshield, is hurting my eyes.”
When the sun’s light is reflecting off the window of our house and hits our eyes when we are outside, we generally say, “The light from the window is blinding me.” We do not normally say, “The light from the sun, reflecting off the window, is blinding me.”
In both examples, the sun – the originator of the light – is generally omitted from our modern-day linguistic expressions.
In the same manner, when we see a full moon at night, we generally say, “The moon’s light is beautiful tonight,” or “The light of the moon (or the light from the moon) is exceptionally brilliant tonight.” We do not normally say, “The moon’s reflecting of the sun’s light back to Earth is beautiful tonight,” or “The sun’s light, that is reflecting off of the moon back to Earth, is exceptionally brilliant tonight.”
When we are on Earth, looking towards the moon, indeed it is the moon’s light we observe even though that light originated with the sun. God’s creation account seems to agree:
God in His creation account does not differentiate between the light of the sun or the light from the moon. They are “two lights, the greater light… and the lesser light.”
An Example of Believers Giving Their Light
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16
When we let others see our light, are they seeing the light that we possess or the light of Christ reflected in us, that shines forth from us?
“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light…” – Ephesians 5:8
John, in his beautiful discourse on the Son of God, regarding this Light, said:
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
Every man and woman that comes into the world is endowed with a certain quantity of Yeshua’s true Light to “lighteth every man,” giving them life. But when a man or woman comes to Christ in faith for salvation, that Light instantaneously becomes brightened and, through spiritual growth, enhanced by His divine Light that is reflected within us for the world to see.
This light, of course, is spiritual, but this light is perceptible and very real.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken…” – Matthew 24:29
Scientifically and Biblically speaking, when The Moon Shall Not Give ‘Her Light’ at the end of the Tribulation, this will occur simply because “the sun [shall] be darkened.”
As a sidenote, it appears all of the stars in the universe will not give their light, either, giving the impression from Earth’s observational perspective that “the stars shall fall [or fail] from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” while Earth reels to and fro, possibly resulting in a complete halt of her rotation.
It should also be noted that this phenomenon of the sun being darkened and the moon not giving her light with the stars falling or failing from heaven could be a result of massive global volcanic eruptions of rock and ash into the atmosphere from the greatest worldwide earthquake in history that would block all celestial light from arriving on Earth.
As far as our topic is concerned (and those who are intent on trying to prove the Bible to be unscientific, in error, and/or in contradiction), when the Bible student puts in the effort and considers true science, linguistics, logic, reason, rational thought, and examines the original languages of Scripture, we discover that there is absolutely nothing to see here… other than the moon and her light, of course!
Upon reflection of our topic, spiritually: Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, with the sun’s light becoming her own light to the inhabitants on Earth, so, too, do believers in Christ reflect the Son’s light, and His light becomes our light in the eyes of the world.
“Ye are the light of the world.” – Matthew 5:14
What an amazing, powerful, loving, and compassionate God we serve, that we should be called the sons of God!
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…” – 1 John 3:1a
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
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