|Event 1 - Final Signs
Sun Turned into Darkness
after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened." Matthew
Twenty-five years after the Great Earthquake appeared the next
sign mentioned in Revelation 6:12,--the darkening of the sun
and moon. What rendered this more striking was the fact that the time
of its fulfillment had been definitely pointed out. In the Saviour's conversation
with his disciples upon Olivet, after describing the long period of trial
for the church--the 1260 years of papal persecution, concerning which
he had promised that the tribulation should be shortened--he thus mentioned
certain events to precede his coming, and fixed the time when the first
of these should be witnessed: "In those days, after that tribulation,
the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light." Mark
13:24. The 1260 days, or years, terminated in 1798. A quarter of a century
earlier, persecution had almost wholly ceased. Between these two dates,
according to the words of Christ, the sun was to be darkened.
On the 19th of May, 1780, this prophecy was fulfilled. It was not an eclipse.
Timothy Dwight says, "The 19th of May, 1780, was a remarkable dark day.
Candles were lighted in many houses; the birds were silent and disappeared, and
the fowls retired to roost. ... A very general opinion prevailed, that the day
of judgment was at hand." Quoted in Connecticut Historical Collections,
compiled by John Warner Barber (2nd ed.; New Haven: Durrie & Peck and J.W.
Barber, 1836) p. 403. For further commentary on this event please continue reading.
The Dark Day
"Almost if not altogether alone as the most mysterious and as yet unexplained
phenomenon of its kind, . . . stands the dark day of May 19, 1780,--a most unaccountable
darkening of the whole visible heavens and atmosphere in New England." That
the darkness was not due to an eclipse is evident from the fact that the moon
was then nearly full. It was not caused by clouds, or the thickness of the atmosphere,
for in some localities where the darkness extended, the sky was so clear that
the stars could be seen. Concerning the inability of science to assign a satisfactory
cause for this manifestation, Herschel the astronomer declares: "The dark
day in North America was one of those wonderful phenomena of nature which philosophy
is at a loss to explain."
"The extent of the darkness was also very remarkable. It was observed at
the most easterly regions of New England; westward, to the farthest part of Connecticut,
and at Albany, N. Y.; to the southward, it was observed all along the sea coast;
and to the north, as far as the American settlements extended. It probably far
exceeded those boundaries, but the exact limits were never positively known.
With regard to its duration, it continued in the neighborhood of Boston for at
least fourteen or fifteen hours."
"The morning was clear and pleasant, but about eight o'clock there was observed
an uncommon appearance in the sun. There were no clouds, but the air was thick,
having a smoky appearance, and the sun shone with a pale, yellowish hue, but
kept growing darker and darker, until it was hid from sight." There was "midnight
darkness at noonday."
"The occurrence brought intense alarm and distress to multitudes of minds,
as well as dismay to the whole brute creation, the fowls fleeing bewildered to
their roosts, and the birds to their nests, and the cattle returning to their
stalls." Frogs and night hawks began their notes. The cocks crew as at daybreak.
Farmers were forced to leave their work in the fields. Business was generally
suspended, and candles were lighted in the dwellings. "The Legislature of
Connecticut was in session at Hartford, but being unable to transact business
adjourned. Everything bore the appearance and gloom of night."
The intense darkness of the day was succeeded, an hour or two before evening,
by a partially clear sky, and the sun appeared, though it was still obscured
by the black, heavy mist. But "this interval was followed by a return of
the obscuration with greater density, that rendered the first half of the night
hideously dark beyond all former experience of the probable million of people
who saw it. From soon after sunset until midnight, no ray of light from moon
or star penetrated the vault above. It was pronounced 'the blackness of darkness!'" Said
an eye-witness of the scene: "I could not help conceiving, at the time,
that if every luminous body in the universe had been shrouded in impenetrable
darkness, or struck out of existence, the darkness could not have been more complete." Though
the moon that night rose to the full, "it had not the least effect to dispel
the death-like shadows." After midnight the darkness disappeared, and the
moon, when first visible, had the appearance of blood.
The poet Whittier thus speaks of this memorable day:--
"'Twas on a May-day of the far old year
Seventeen hundred eighty, that there fell
Over the bloom and sweet life of the spring,
Over the fresh earth, and the heaven of noon,
A horror of great darkness."
"Men prayed, and women wept; all ears grew sharp
To hear the doom-blast of the trumpet shatter
The black sky."
May 19, 1780, stands in history as "The Dark Day." Since the time of
Moses, no period of darkness of equal density, extent, and duration has ever
been recorded. The description of this event, as given by the poet and the historian,
is but an echo of the words of the Lord, recorded by the prophet Joel, twenty-five
hundred years previous to their fulfillment: "The sun shall be turned into
darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the
Lord come." Joel 2:31.