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A Great Sign Appeared in Heaven

Daily Reading: Revelation 12-13

Scripture Focus: And a great sign appeared in heaven. (Revelation 12.1a)

Devotional Thought: A solar eclipse prompted today's devotion. There was a lot of attention given to "The Great American Solar Eclipse" in 2017. Today's devotion is based - in part - upon an article by Doug Estes in Christianity Today, online edition.

Estes writes: "There are no clear-cut examples of eclipses recorded in the Bible. However, there is one clear use of eclipse in a book that was likely known to Jesus, Paul, James, and most of the first Christians. It occurs in the wisdom of Ben Sira, which many people today call Ecclesiasticus. In his book, popular among the Hebrew people in Jesus’ day, Ben Sira reaches a point where he calls on the people of God to repent of their sins. People are nothing compared to God; we don’t have the power to even change the course of our lives. 'What is brighter than the sun? Yet it can be eclipsed,' he wrote. We humans like to revel in our splendor, but we are so naturally eclipsed by our brokenness."

Usually there are dire warnings aplenty when natural events like an eclipse take place. Celestial phenomenon, meteorological anomalies, geological upheavals are all seen as harbingers of judgment and are occasions for predictions of doom and dismay. But, we need no occasion besides the great tragedy of sin and its effects. As Estes indicated, our own brokenness eclipses the imagined greatness to which we so desperately cling.

So, what can we learn from eclipses and earthquakes? Are they signs? If so what are they signs of? Yes they are signs. They are signs of the power and majesty of God. As the Psalmist said, "The heavens declare the glory of God." When we see these signs, may we remember we are a part of "God's grand creation" (Estes).

Prayer: Father, thank you for the wonder of creation all around me. Thank you that your love fills this vast universe you made. Thank you for the reminders of your love and power. Amen.

Psalm of the Day: 1 Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you! 2 Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call! 3 For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace. 4 My heart is struck down like grass and has withered; I forget to eat my bread. 5 Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my flesh. 6 I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places; 7 I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop. 8 All the day my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse. 9 For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink, 10 because of your indignation and anger; for you have taken me up and thrown me down. 11 My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass. (Psalms 102:1-11)

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