Be Cautious of Celestial Cross-Referencers

Be Cautious of Celestial Cross-Referencers

by John Rogers

On April 8, 2024, many are going to turn their eyes (safely) toward the sun to witness The Great North American Eclipse. As that day approaches, you’ll more than likely (if you haven’t already) hear things like:

“This is the sign of the prophet Jonah!”

“The first eclipse to go across America was in 1776!”

“The second eclipse that went across America was in 2017. It took exactly 1 hour and 33 minutes to cross America.”

“The April 8 eclipse is going to happen exactly six years, six months, and six days after the 2017 eclipse.”

“It’s going to begin at Eagle Pass, TX!”

“As the 2017 eclipse passed seven Salems, the 2024 eclipse is going to pass seven Ninevehs.”

“The 2017 and 2024 eclipse will make an X across America.”

While some of these statements are factualish, beware. Take heed. Be cautious of celestial cross-referencers.

Celestial cross-referencers take the events of the sun, moon, and stars (celestial bodies), connect it to a (usually) eisogeted, or pulled-out-of-context Bible verse (cross referencing) and say this is what God is trying to communicate to his people. They say, “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2 ESV). They say, “God is speaking through creation, and if we would just open ourselves up to what he is saying, we can hear God!”

Celestial cross-referencers are usually proof-texters. I’m not talking about the good practice of proof-texting that supports a theological position or interprets another Scripture with Scripture. I am talking about the bad kind of proof-texting—one that backs up a mere idea, feeling, or quiver in your liver, with Scripture. An example of this, borrowed by David Powlison, is like when someone decides to move to Philadelphia because they opened up their Bible, and their finger landed on Revelation 2:7. So in no way am I telling you to be careful about people who use a helpful method that depends on biblical revelation from start to finish. I’m warning you about the dangerous, false teachers who use a hermeneutical approach that begins with speculation and then uses biblical revelation to support someone’s “prophetic” reputation.

Here are some examples of dangerous proof-texting I’ve heard regarding the upcoming eclipse. I heard a preacher say that the duration of the 2017 eclipse (1 hour and 33 minutes) was clearly calling us to unity because 1:33 was plainly pointing to Psalm 133,
 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” He also made his listeners aware that April 8 (4.8) is clearly a reference to Exodus 4:8 which says, “If they will not believe you,’ God said, ‘or listen to the first sign (first eclipse), they may believe the latter sign (second eclipse)” (ESV). And lastly, he connected Eagle Pass, Texas to Matthew 24:28—the place where the “vultures will gather.”

But how does he know that 1:33 refers specifically to Psalm 133? He doesn’t. How does he know 4.8 is referring exactly to Exodus 4:8? He doesn’t. How does he know that Eagle Pass is exactly a reference to Matthew 24:28? He doesn’t.

This is why we have to be cautious of celestial cross-referencers. For one, because we can’t be completely sure that they’re right. Two, because we would have to trust them with an equal trust as the Bible. Three, because when it comes down to it, they’re “not rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). They use Scripture to speak after them to back them up when a true prophet lets God speak first and then explains what he has said. Ultimately, they’re making the Bible submit to them.

Does God want us to be unified? Yes! But Polaris doesn’t tell us that, Paul does (see Eph 4:1-3). We don’t need someone telling us what the heavens are declaring when God has already spoken through his apostles and prophets. Does God reveal himself through creation? Yes (see Ps 19). God does reveal himself through the firmament, but he reveals himself more firmly through his Word. Therefore, we don’t need to open ourselves up to hear from the stars. We just need to open our Bibles to hear from the Holy Spirit (see John 14:26; 16:13-15).

I mean, can’t I also say that because the eclipse is traveling through Sulfur Springs that God is warning us to not be like Sodom and Gomorrah whom Yahweh destroyed with fire and sulfur from heaven (see Gen 19:24)? Sure. But am I right? I can’t say for sure. I can only speculate.

What I can say with certainty though is that:

...if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority (2 Peter 2:6–10 ESV emphasis mine).

Is God using an eclipse to get peoples’ attention? I believe so. I believe he is going to use it in the same way he uses birds and flowers (see Matthew 6:25-33), sonograms and spring days, a camp fire and Chick-fil-A waffle fries. I believe so because that's what Scripture teaches (see Rom 1:18-20). And it is my hope that as people safely look upon the sun on April 8, that we would implore them to look upon the Son and be saved (see 2 Cor 5:20).

Our Lord Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the prophet Jonah” (Matt 12:39). The aforementioned celestial cross-referencer said the sign of Jonah is referring to the Assyrian eclipse in 763 B.C. Again, this is bad proof-texting. If you just keep reading, Jesus himself will say that the sign of Jonah refers to his burial and resurrection. He says:

“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.“
Matthew 12:40-42 ESV

Be cautious of celestial cross-referencers. And with all this talk about Nineveh, we need to remember that the people of Nineveh repented because of Jonah’s preaching of the word of God, and the queen of the South drew near to hear the wisdom of God through his servant Solomon. So as April 8 approaches and as the Day draws near, let’s remember that something greater than Jonah is here. Something greater than Solomon is here. Something greater than the celestial bodies is here (see Col 1:16). He is the resurrected Jesus. And he makes his appeal through us as his ambassadors. So on behalf of Christ, let’s implore the lost to be reconciled to God (see 2 Cor 5:20).

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