The Righter Report

Documenting A Miracle

THE SUN DARKENED AT NOON

Circa 750 B.C.

According to Amos 1:1, Amos prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah (767-739 B.C.), and Jeroboam, king of Israel (782-753 B.C.). The name “Amos” is derived from the Hebrew term meaning, “lift a burden,” or “burden-bearer” (note Isaiah 9:4 and also Matthew 11:28, speaking of the coming Messiah as one who would carry our burdens). His calling by God was to foretell of pending judgments upon a number of surrounding nations, and particularly of a coming judgment upon Israel. As was common with many Biblical prophets, along with the promise of impending judgment God also gave Amos a glimpse of events that would soon occur in the life of the coming Messiah, though the significance of what was prophesied may or may not have been made known to Amos. And so it is in the Old Testament book of Amos that we find a prophecy that for many centuries was looked upon with wonder and curiosity:

“‘In that day,’ declares the Sovereign Lord, ‘I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight….I will make that time like mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day.'” (Amos 8:9-10)

It probably wasn’t until the day of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in 32 A.D. that the prophecy of Amos took on clarity and meaning, for in Matthew 27:45 Jesus had just been nailed to the cross when the Bible records:

“From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.”

Just as the “Star of Bethlehem” marked the birth of Christ, so now God brought forth another celestial miracle to pronounce His death. This prophecy is one of those that is beyond the control of mortal man, and as such it dispels the theory that Christ could have manipulated events so as to make it appear that He was the Messiah. But is there any evidence that this really occurred? Did the sun go dark at noonday? The following extra-Biblical confirmations provide the answer:

Concerning the Samaritan-born historian Thallus, circa 52 A.D: (The writings of Thallus no longer exist, yet were alluded to by the historian Julius Africanus, as follows): “Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun – unreasonably, as it seems to me – unreasonably, of course, because a solar eclipse could not take place at the time of a full moon, and it was at the season of the Paschal full moon that Christ died.”

Likewise, Africanus wrote concerning the writings of another first century historian by the name of Phlegon: “….during the time of Tiberius Caesar an eclipse of the sun occurred during the full moon.”

Phlegon is also mentioned by the historian Origen in his work, “Contra Celsum,” book 2, sections 14, 39, and 59: “Phlegon mentioned the eclipse that took place during the crucifixion of the Lord Christ….and this is shown by the historical account itself of Tiberius Caesar.” Apparently at one time there were historical accounts of the strange darkness that came over the land that were kept in the official archives of Tiberius Caesar, though they are likely lost to history.

Finally, the 2nd century Roman born jurist and theologian Tertullian referred to a Roman archives report of an “unexplained darkness that took place during the reign of Tiberius Caesar, as can be seen in the archives of Pontius Pilate.”

The darkness spoken of in the book of Matthew occurred between noon and three P.M. in the afternoon (from the sixth to the ninth hours, as the Jews were noted as referring to the sixth and the ninth hours of daylight). Note that a solar eclipse will take less than an hour to complete, and a total solar eclipse lasts just a few minutes. This, coupled with the fact that a solar eclipse cannot occur during a full moon (the moon would be on the ‘other’ side of the earth), provides further evidence that what occurred was something other than an eclipse of the sun. Just what it was no one can say for sure, just that from recorded historical sources there was a strange darkness during the time of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. From God’s perspective, it surely was a time of mourning for His only begotten son.

Jesus once said, “I am the light of the world.” So it shouldn’t be surprising that during his death there might be a time of darkness over the land.

So there it is: The prophecy, the New Testament Biblical fulfillment, and extra-Biblical confirmations.

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July 14, 2007 - Posted by | Evangelical, History, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles

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