The Eclipse of Christmas

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned – Isaiah 9:2

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 On March 19th 2007 the earth experienced one of the most fantastic and amazing events in the heavens – a total eclipse of the sun! Solar eclipses have been recorded since the dawn of human history. In ages past, humans saw eclipses as full of great significance and meaning. Eclipses are certainly strange and wonderful events, even in modern times. While they are now explained by science, eclipses are still full of mystery and awe.

What exactly is a solar eclipse?  Essentially an eclipse is when the light-giving body of the sun is blocked by the moon thereby causing a temporary shadow across the surface of the Earth. The shadow of the moon on the earth is called the umbra – similar to our word umbrella – the penumbra is the larger shadow.

When a full solar eclipse happens, strange things occur on earth. The temperature can drop as much as 20 degrees! Chickens begin to roost, animals bed down, and in the shadow of the moon the world is bathed in total darkness. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote that Thales of Miletus predicted an eclipse which occurred during a war between the Medians and the Lydians on May 28, 585 B.C. Soldiers on both sides put down their weapons and declared peace as a result of the eclipse.[1]

Our world today is currently under another kind of eclipse – a spiritual one in which darkness is rampant.

It is an overshadowing not only of the Christmas holiday – but the PERSON which Christmas is all about – Christ, the true light of the world!

This Christmas season you may have noticed the flagrant bias against Christmas and its true meaning by the entertainment industry (Hollywood), by the retail world (businesses), and by our own State and Federal Government. Today the ACLU and other organizations are suing communities around the country for expressing their belief in the true Christmas story demanding that the “Separation of Church and State” has been violated.

For Christians, however, this should not come as a surprise. The attempted darkening of God’s light and truth has been going on for millennia. Consider this passage from John’s Gospel (considered to be John’s Nativity passage):

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. …Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it (John 1:1,3-5)

A few years ago, the American Atheists paid for a huge a billboard (see below) on a turnpike in New Jersey. According to David Silverman, spokesmen for the American Atheists, the purpose of the billboard was not intended to make new converts to atheism, rather it was to encourage existing atheists who are going through the motions of celebrating Christmas, to stop. Atheists should be celebrating reason, not Jesus! (not even indirectly by giving gifts and having traditional Christmas celebrations)

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Whatever the case, the billboard was just one more way of eclipsing the true Light of Christmas – the advent of the Christ-child.

Just a few days ago in the Chicago area, the heads of Mary & Joseph in a church nativity scene were vandalized and decapitated.

What other ways is the light of Christ’s truth being eclipsed today?

Sadly, there are many credible reports coming out of the Middle East of Christian children being murdered simply because of their faith in Christ! This is unbelievable! The small little light of a child is so bright that those who love the darkness must extinguish it!

There was a song I learned in Sunday School many years ago, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…”

When I think of the words to that children’s song I think of the little children in the Middle East who are murdered because of Christ.

Sadly, these precious little lights were eclipsed and extinguished by those who hate the truth and love darkness.

The attempt to eclipse Christmas reaches all the way back even to the very first Christmas itself. In the first century when Christ was born, a heinous crime was committed against innocent children in order to prevent the light from shining before it even dawned. The crime was committed by none other than Herod I (builder of some of the greatest structures in the ancient world – but also murderer of little children).

Bruce Scott summarizes some of Herod’s crimes here:

He was the classic paranoid tyrant. His fortresses reflected his mentality. He lived with constant fear and suspicion. He had spies everywhere, looking for seditious activity. Herod would occasionally disguise himself as a commoner and mingle among the people at night, listening for conspiracies. Suspects were captured and tortured. Anyone who did not swear allegiance to Herod was persecuted and/or killed. To be sure, Herod had no qualms about killing. He killed 2,000 survivors of five cities that had rebelled against him. He had his brother in law drowned. He executed his uncle, his wife’s grandfather, his wife, his mother in law, and three of his sons. He murdered faithful followers, servants, friends, soldiers, pious men, relatives – often on flimsy evidence of rumors or coerced confessions.

In the last days of his life, Herod arranger for all of the prominent Jewish leaders of the country to be rounded up, placed in a hippodrome and executed upon the word that he had died. He wanted to ensure that there would be mourning throughout the land after he died. Fortunately the orders were never carried out.

One of Herod’s most barbaric acts is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew 2:16. Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Herod had all males two years old and under in and around Bethlehem slaughtered. He was endeavoring to exterminate the promised Messiah.[2]

Herod failed.

No man can extinguish the glory of God or the light of the world, not even today.

Not only did Herod not succeed, but those who attempt to eclipse Christmas today fall short as well. God’s glory, His light and Truth fills the earth and the heavens (Psalm 19). The light of His Truth is shining even in countries where spiritual darkness is rampant. Even the blood of Christian martyrs will be used by God to bring light to those in darkness.

Sir Winston Churchill once said:

The Truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. Ignorance may deride it. But in the end there it is.

Christmas is all about LIGHT – light as a metaphor, light as a reality, and light as a symbol of Truth. The truth that there is Truth; that there is a Creator; who made all things, and that God took on human form (in Jesus) that we might know Him and reflect His glory. Christmas is when God took on human form in the incarnation. It is marvelous and mysterious at the same time!

The primary reason why God did this is so that Christ (who was innocent and sinless) could take the sins of the world upon Himself on the cross.

Why would God do such a thing? Simply because He loves the world that He made (John 3:16). Without His act of selfless love, there would be no hope and no escape from the darkness – spiritual or otherwise.

An Attempted Eclipse at the Second Advent

In the Old Testament Psalm 2 is a Psalm about Christ. Theologians refer to it as a “Messianic Psalm.” Anything in the Old Testament that refers to Christ (the Greek word for Messiah), literally means “anointed one,” is considered to teach some truth about Israel’s Savior and King.

Psalm 2 is particularly interesting because it refers to a future time when the rulers and the nations of the earth will rise up and stand against Messiah, attempting once again, to eclipse God’s Light and Truth.

The Psalmist begins:

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together…(verse 1)

And exactly what are these world-rulers meeting about? He continues:

…against the Lord and against His Anointed (Messiah), saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us’ (verses 2-3).

But God’s response to them is mockery.

(Yet)…He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘As for Me (GOD), I have set My King (Messiah) on Zion, my holy hill’ (verses 4-5).

And God’s further response is that complete dominion of the entire earth will be given to His “Anointed” (Christ Jesus)

I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage, and the ends of the earth Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potters vessel’ (verses 7-9).

Finally a word of warning to rulers who attempt to eclipse, darken or oppose the Anointed One.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are those who take refuge in Him (verses 10-12).

Conclusion

To those think that Christmas as well as Christianity, is a huge sham: have you stopped to truly  consider the evidence presented on this website and by this ministry? The central claim of Christianity (the Resurrection) is supported by an amazing amount of evidence.

For Christians who feel the encroaching spiritual darkness, Christmas is a reminder to all of us that the Light of the world HAS indeed come! Until He comes again, we are commissioned by our Lord Himself (the Light of the World), to continue to shine His light in the darkness so that a total eclipse of Christmas never happens.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-17)

[1] http://www.iep.utm.edu/thales/#SH8a (accessed, 12 Dec. 2014)

[2] Bruce Scott, Israel My Glory, Nov/Dec, 2006, p.20

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7 replies
  1. John Moore says:

    The eclipse metaphor suggests that public expressions of atheism block expressions of Christianity, but that’s not true. The Christian message is as loud and clear as ever. The only difference is that other messages also exist today, whereas they were silent before.

    Let’s use a slightly different metaphor in which Chrisitanity is indeed the sun and atheism is the moon but they aren’t eclipsing. When the sun shines, you can barely see the moon at all. When the sun goes down, the moon might be quite evident, or it might not. But then the sun rises and burns away all the doubt and despair of night! The sun always rises again.

    As you said, “No man can extinguish the glory of God or the light of the world, not even today.” So what’s the problem? Go ahead and let those atheists have their silly billboards. That doesn’t diminish Christianity.

    Reply
    • Ted Wright says:

      Thanks John. I’m not suggesting that public expressions of atheism diminishes Christmas. Atheists have every right to have billboards, books, etc…

      My post was intended to be devotional and aimed primarily at a Christian audience. I was trying to give a theological (behind-the-scenes) explanation for (what seems to me and many others), an increasing hostility to Christianity & Christ (the person whom Christmas is about).

      I’m not sure that the Christmas message is loud and clear as ever, even among those who call themselves Christians.

      Reply
  2. Andy (@ItsAndyRyan) says:

    “Just a few days ago in the Chicago area, the heads of Mary & Joseph in a church nativity scene were vandalized and decapitated.”

    Atheist posters get defaced and vandalised all the time too, including the one you pictured above.

    How is this evidence of bias against Christianity?

    The ACLU frequently defends the rights of Christians as well as atheists. The organisation has no bias against Christianity.

    Reply
    • Ted Wright says:

      Thanks for the comment! Very true Andy. It seems like just about every religious and even non-religious view has it’s distractors and persecutors. The primary audience for my post was Christians, and intended to be devotional. The eclipse of Christmas, of which I wrote about, is not merely the defacing of nativity scenes or billboards. In the Christian worldview, our culture is influenced by spiritual angelic forces (some evil and some benevolent). But, if your’e an atheist or non-theist, I wouldn’t think that you would accept that as an explanation for the conflicts and wars we see in our world today.

      Reply
      • Andy (@ItsAndyRyan) says:

        Wars have many causes. Russia is sabre-rattling right now as its leaders know its economy is toast – China is the next superpower, Russia is on an inexorable slide. The latter is like a cornered animal. It’s defeated, so it’s only available option is violence and aggression.

        Other nations fight over resources – as water, fuel and/or land becomes sparse, people will fight over them.

        As to whether we are currently seeing MORE conflict and wars, I’m not sure. I’ve heard the argument made that historically speaking this is actually a relatively peaceful time. Americans might feel more under attack simply because of 9/11. This was the largest terrorist attack on US soil, but it doesn’t mean the world in general is a more violent place.

        Reply
  3. Toby says:

    Herod was supposed to murdered a bunch of children, yet Josephus who wrote quite a bit about him was mute on the subject. And Herod is thought to have died in 4 BCE and the census (that for some unknown reason required people to travel somewhere instead of counting them where they actually lived) done by Quirinius in 6 or 7 CE . . . so . . . how does that work? Herod was dead by the time and unborn jesus was traveling in the belly of Mary to Bethlehem. How could Herod have ordered jesus killed when he was already dead?

    Reply
    • Ted Wright says:

      Thanks for the questions. I’m actually working on a separate article which directly addresses some of your questions. You can see how I respond in a few days. I’m sure others may have some of the same questions that you posted and would like to know the answers too. Thanks!

      Reply

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