The God Whom We Are to Fear

by K. Scott Oliphint

This past August, for the first time since 1979, North America, and other parts of the world, were treated to a total solar eclipse. Its totality could be viewed by a limited number of people, depending on their location. The fact of its occurrence was announced on television, radio and other media, and was anticipated by millions. Some traveled thousands of miles just to get a “total” view of this rare event.

One of the things that was stressed over and over again as the eclipse was anticipated was the harm that could be caused if the human eye was exposed directly, and for too long, to such a phenomenon. But why would an eclipse of the sun harm the eye? We’re all aware of the harmful effects of staring at the sun when it is bright and full. What’s the harm in staring when its effects are darkened, even totally darkened?

When we look at the sun in its fullness, our eyes naturally squint and we almost immediately look away due to its brightness. In an eclipse, that brightness is momentarily covered. The problem, however, is that the ultraviolet rays that can damage our eyes are not diminished in an eclipse. Because we need not squint during an eclipse, those rays can pour in and thus produce more damage than if the full light of the sun forces us to squint and look away. An eclipse, in other words, though it covers over the sun’s luster and overpowering luminosity, does not minimize or cover up the sun’s power to harm us. Whether “eclipsed” or not, it is the same sun, and it has the same power.

There is a fascinating interchange between God and Moses in Exodus 33 and 34. As the Lord commissions . . .

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