“Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar, the Lord of hosts is his name.” Jeremiah 31:35
Monday’s solar eclipse afforded us a tremendous opportunity to see and experience God’s sovereignty up close. It was all that anyone around the country seemed to be talking about for days leading up to Monday. We here in the Carolinas had one of the better viewing seats in all the world. I hope each of you had the opportunity to witnesses it and see something that was nothing less than astounding.
Prior to the eclipse, I simply went to a website and put in my zip code. Just from that bit of information it showed me exactly what I would be seeing during the eclipse, down to the very minute. Then as the afternoon progressed on Monday and the minutes ticked by, everything went perfectly to plan. Every calculation was exact. There were no variances in what we were supposed to see compared to what we actually saw.
What a display of God’s complete sovereignty. Even before the foundation of time, God had ordained that this would transpire. That at that very moment the moon and sun would cross paths. The Bible tells us that when God put the sun and the moon in place He set them on this very course.
Did you know that the doctrine of God’s sovereignty was one of the core principles of the Reformation? For John Calvin, who came onto the scene just a few years after Martin Luther posted his 95-Theses, the sovereignty of God was his most central doctrine. Calvin fully adhered to the belief that God had absolute control over everything that happened in the entire universe. Nothing was left to chance or free will, not even salvation.
To support his argument, Calvin drew from two Old Testament events that were similar to the eclipse that we witnessed this week. The first is found in Joshua 10:13. This is the account where Joshua says before all of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the valley of Aijalon.” Scripture tells us that indeed the earth stood still for a whole day so that the Israelites could conquer their enemies. The other account that Calvin uses is found in 2 Kings 20:11. This was the account when King Hezekiah was asking Isaiah what the sign would be that God would heal him. It says, “And Isaiah the prophet called to the Lord, and he brought the shadow back ten steps, by which it had gone down on the steps of Ahaz.”
The God who stopped the rotation of the earth for a whole day and commanded the sun to retrace its steps, is the same God who brought the moon and sun in perfect alignment for us to see. Calvin wrote that God does these miracles so that we would know that all things are “governed by him in its course, and that he may renew the remembrance of his paternal favor toward us.”
God reveals Himself to us each and every day. Some days it may be more subtle than a solar eclipse but it is always there. The Psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” May we be observant each day to see God’s revelation of Himself that is given to us and to see His paternal favor stretched across all of creation.