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I've always thought that in Revelation 6:12 where it says:

I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair...

... that the sun would actually turn black. But about a week ago I found in Genesis:

"As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." - Genesis 8:22

So I guess that won't happen. What does it mean, then?

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1) Revelation is very metaphorical. 2) There are solar eclipses "all the time", but they don't stop the seasons. 3) I really have no idea what Revelation 6:12 is talking about :) –  Flimzy Oct 10 '11 at 18:34

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The darkening of the sun (and the other signs) are repeatedly emphasised as heralding the day of judgement, by the prophets and in the New Testament, including by Jesus himself. Regarding your Genesis 8:22 reference, I think an important part of that verse is the first bit: "As long as the earth endures". All of these prophecies are about the end of the world, so the condition no longer holds. (Admittedly, the Revelation chronology does not have the actual end of the world occurring at this precise moment - but I would tend to see the end of the world as a single "event" regardless of how long it takes to accomplish.)

This section of Revelation draws heavily from Isaiah, who prophesied that on "the Day of the Lord", (13:4, NJB)

The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will no longer give its light.

Similarly, Ezekiel 32:7 prophesied against Pharaoh, saying:

When I extinguish you I shall cover the skies and darken the stars. I shall cover the sun with clouds and the moon will not give its light.

Joel (2:10, 4:15) uses language similar to Isaiah above, and specifically (3:4 or 2:31 depending on your Bible) says:

The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the Day comes, that great and terrible Day.

Peter quotes this passage in Acts 2:20. Most importantly, Jesus himself said (Matthew 24:29, also Mark 13:24):

Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

These signs demonstrate the sovereignty of God over the heavens, and show that his Day is literally a universe-changing event. It is not confined to any one group of people, but affects the entire world. Here, the reference to sackcloth brings to mind mourning garments, a poignant reference for what is about to happen: the sun itself is in mourning.

After the judgement, there will be no need for the sun and moon in any case. Their transformation or disappearance at this time shows us that the New Jerusalem is on its way.

No more will the sun give you daylight, nor moonlight shine on you, but Yahweh will be your everlasting light, your God will be your splendour. Your sun will set no more, nor will your moon wane, for Yahweh will be your everlasting light and your days of mourning will be over. (Isaiah 60:19-20)

I could not see any temple in the city since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple, and the city did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God, and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it. (Revelation 21:22-23)

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How do we know that Revelation is talking about the end of the world? –  Flimzy Oct 10 '11 at 21:45
@Flimzy I suspect the writer here is using that phrase in a popular sense. Biblically, the end of the world as we know it is in view -- simply read chapters 19-22 of Revelation to see what all the disasters lead to. It ends in the coming of Jesus Christ, the overthrow of Satan, and the setting up of His everlasting kingdom, which the prophets foretold. –  Steve Sep 15 '13 at 13:04

For the record, it is not a passage about the end of the world. The Christian story is more about the recreation and restoration of all things. But in reference to the book of revelation, it was a dream and was intended as a letter to encourage Christians under the persecution of Nero. The blackening of the sun is more a veiled reference to the nearing judgement of GOD than anything else.

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

can you provide some references for these statements? As it stands, this isn't a good answer for this site –  warren Mar 26 '12 at 13:48

the sixth seal (rev 6:12-13) are prophecies that have already been fulfilled, it is the sign of the opening and establishment of the new world., where people went to escape religious prosecution.

verse 12 gives us three signs signifying the sixth seal being opened.

"and lo there was a great earthquake"

Great earthquake of Lisbon 1755 which killed a huge amount of people and was one of the biggest earthquakes in history

"and the sun became black as a sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood"

the dark day of New England may 19th 1780 it was dark in the daytime, and the moon was red.

"and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth , even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs"

The great meteor shower of 1833 when countless meteors shot across the sky, and the meteors appeared to fly in all directions, and has been one of the biggest meteor showers in recorded history.

notice how all these events happened in the order that rev 6:12-13 puts them in.

But these are only telling us that we are close, but we will never know how close. Because we cannot guess when the day will come, because he comes as a thief in the night, and people will not be prepared for his coming. we can only look to the signs and prophecies that signify that his coming is close, but not yet.

may peace be upon you all, and i pray that each and every one of you who read this will stay fervent seekers of truth, and will come to understand the truth more and more. do not pray to god to be right in what you say, but pray that you will find what is right instead. and continually seek for truth, and to understand it. Because even an 80 year old man who has studied the bible for almost his whole life, still finds, and comes to understand more things the more he studies it.

god speed.

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Down-voted as a poor answer because the natural sense of the passage indicates a rapidly unfolding progression of events, not a series of scattered and unrelated events over decades. The passage indicates that people recognize the phenomena's unique role as pointing unmistakably to the wrath of God. –  Steve Sep 15 '13 at 13:13

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