An unforgettable moment is about to occur in parts of the United States. Something like this has not happened here in Oregon for almost 100 years. A total solar eclipse will begin Monday morning, as it reaches land on the coast of Oregon and then travels as a narrow band of darkness in a path that looks like half of a rainbow’s arch. It will begin in a southeasterly direction and change to a northeasterly direction as it moves across our nation. Millions of people are getting ready for what will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of them. It will cause goose-bumps to appear and evoke cheers, tears, shouts and applause from many of the onlookers. This can be a very emotional time. It is also going to be an educational experience, and I hope it will be a spiritual experience for you as well.
Just what is it that we are going to see? What is going to happen, and why? First, you will see the moon begin to move across the path of the sun, and it will begin to get darker outside. You may wonder, “How is the moon going to completely cover the sun when the sun is 400 times larger than the moon. The reason is that the sun is 400 times farther away from the earth than is the moon. Therefore the sun and the moon appear to us here on earth to be the same size, thus making the total eclipse possible. Does that make sense to you? It cleared some of the cobwebs out of my brain!
In her article, The Eclipse Declares the Glory of God, Sue Bohlin says, “Just before totality we can see ‘Baily’s Beads’ Only seen during an eclipse, bright ‘beads’ appear at the edge of the moon where the sun is shining through lunar valleys . . . . This is followed by the “diamond ring” effect, where the brightness of the sun radiates as a thin band around the circumference of the moon as the last moments of the sun’s visibility explode like a diamond made of pure light.”
While this is happening, if the skies aren’t cloudy, you will see the sky filled with thousands of brilliant stars. The absence of the moon’s light, and the sun’s light, causes the stars to shine even brighter in the dark sky. Did you know that Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity was tested in a total eclipse of the sun? According to the theory, large bodies like the sun would bend light waves coming from stars. The problem is that when the sun is shining, starlight cannot be seen. During the total eclipse of the sun, it can. So they moved their equipment to an eclipse site and proved the theory to be true.
Getting back to the eclipse, during the period of totality, Sue tells us that, after the minutes of totality, the “diamond ring” effect explodes again on the opposite side of the moon as the first rays of the sun flare brilliantly. Sue continues, “There is so much more . . . At the moment of totality, the pinkish arc of the sun’s chromosphere (the part of the sun’s atmosphere just above the surface), suddenly ‘turns on’, as if an unseen hand flips a switch. I knew God is very fond of pink because of how He paints glorious sunrises and sunsets in Earth’s skies, but those fortunate enough to see the total eclipse can see how He radiates pinkness from the sun itself! The heavens declare the glory of God!” That’s just a taste of what you are going to see and experience.
Did you know that the earth is the only planet in our solar system that can experience total eclipses of the sun? There are several other planets with moons. The earth has only one, but Mars has 2, Jupiter has 67, Saturn has 62, and Uranus has 27 moons. But those moons do not have the right combination of comparative size, distance, and configuration for a total eclipse of the sun to ever occur. It’s as if God only wanted it to occur on this planet Earth where there are people to enjoy it and give Him the glory for it. God is “putting on a show for free” but there are “sub-titles”, so to speak, if we would like to pay close attention to them and read them. This show is not provided for entertainment purposes only.
All of us who watch this total eclipse are going to wish that the complete darkness lasted longer, but none of us are going to wish that it never ended! Half of the excitement in this experience will be watching the sun come back in all its glory again! So, open your eyes (with eclipse glasses in place) and take it all in! And don’t forget to give praise and glory to the Producer and Director of this drama in the sky. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”