Symbols of the highlights and authorities in society, political and religious. The Sun denotes the chief. The moon is next in authority, and the stars are the nobles. The morning Star is a symbol of the Christ. “I am,” says Jesus, “The bright and morning star.” Stars falling from heaven denote the destruction of nobility. Stars, moon, and sun not giving their light denotes authorities having their rule taken away.
The Bible uses cosmic language to describe nations and also His judgment upon them. Joseph had a dream of the SUN, MOON, and STARS bowing down to him. His father (Jacob) and brothers knew that he was talking about them. It was representative of Israel.
“9Then (Joseph) dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, THE SUN, THE MOON, AND THE ELEVEN STARS BOWED DOWN TO ME.” 10So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? SHALL YOUR MOTHER AND I AND YOUR BROTHERS indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?’”(Dent, 37:9-10).
John’s vision in The Revelation described the WOMAN being adorned with the SUN, the MOON, and twelve STARS – a prophetic description of Israel using cosmic language.
“1Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the SUN, with the MOON under her feet, and on her head a garland of TWELVE STARS.” (Rev. 12:1).
Isaiah spoke of the destruction and judgment upon Babylon. He said the Lord’s anger would come upon them and He will destroy the sinners from it. He used the cosmic language of the SUN, MOON, and STARS to describe His judgment upon that nation.
“9Behold the DAY OF THE LORD COMES, cruel, with both WRATH and FIERCE ANGER, to lay the land DESOLATE; And He will DESTROY its sinners from it. 10FOR THE STARS of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; THE SUN will be darkened in its going forth, and THE MOON will not cause its light to shine. 11”I will PUNISH the world for its evil, and THE WICKED for their iniquity; I will halt the ARROGANCE of the proud, and will lay low the HAUGHTINESS of the terrible.” (Isa 13:9-11).
Isaiah further said that God will shake the heavens and the earth will move out of her place because of His wrath in the day of His fierce anger. This is prophetic language of God’s judgment upon Babylon for their false gods (heavens) and their wicked people (earth).
“13Therefore I will SHAKE THE HEAVENS, and THE EARTH will move out of her place, in the WRATH of the Lord of hosts and in the day of HIS FIERCE ANGER.” (Isa. 13:13).
Isaiah continued to declare that he was talking about God’s judgment against Babylon. He used the Medes against them. He said that they will kill and destroy men, women, and children. He said that their land would be left desolate. (Isa. 13:15-20),
Ezekiel prophesied that God would judge Egypt by using the Babylonians to do it. He described similar curses that had been spoken of by Isaiah against Babylon. He said that God would cover the SUN; make the MOON and the STARS dark over it.
“7When I put out your light, I will cover the heavens, and make its STARS dark; I will cover THE SUN with a cloud, and THE MOON shall not give her light.” (Ezek. 32:7).
Now as for Old Covenant Israel (Zion), God warned that judgment shall come upon them if they did not repent. He used the SUN, MOON, and STARS to describe His coming judgment.
“10The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the SUN and MOON grow dark, and the STARS diminish their brightness.” (Joel 2:10, 3:15).
Jesus said that His judgment would come upon wicked Israel. He used the SUN, MOON, and STARS to describe the judgment. This was to be immediately after the Great Tribulation against His saints (Neronic persecutions), which ended with the rapture in AD 66. His wrath was then poured out on the nation of Israel, the city of Jerusalem, and the Temple. This was during the Jewish-Roman war in AD 66-70. This resulted in the total desolation of Israel.
“29Immediately after the tribulation of those days the SUN will be darkened, and the MOON will not give its light; the STARS will fail from heaven, and the POWERS OF THE HEAVENS WILL HE SHAKEN. 30Then the SIGN of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth (Israel) wilt mourn, and they will the SON OF MAN coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matt. 24:29-30).
From The Works of Flavius Josephus, Complete and Unabridged.
War 6.289 (6.5.3) Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year.
War 6.290 (6.5.3) Thus also, before the Jews’ rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus [Nisan], and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which light lasted for half an hour.
War 6.291 (6.5.3) This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it.
War 6.292 (6.5.3) At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple.
War 6.293 (6.5.3) Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner [court of the] temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night.
War 6.295 (6.5.3) This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies.
War 6.296 (6.5.3) So these publicly declared, that this signal foreshowed the desolation that was coming upon them. Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the twenty-first day of the month Artemisius [Jyar],
War 6.297 (6.5.3) a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it,
War 6.298 (6.5.3) and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen
War 6.299 (6.5.3) running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise,
War 6.300 (6.5.3) and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.”
War 6:408 (6.8.5) a city that had been liable to so many miseries during the siege, that, had it always enjoyed as much happiness from its first foundation, it would certainly have been the envy of the world. Nor did it on any other account so much deserve these sore misfortunes, as by producing such a generation of men as were the occasions of this its overthrow.
War 6:369 (6.7.2) Nor was there any place in the city that had no dead bodies in it, but what was entirely covered with those that were killed either by the famine or the rebellion; and all was full of the dead bodies of such as had perished, either by that sedition or by that famine.
War 3:123 (3.6.2) Then came the ensigns encompassing the eagle, which is at the head of every Roman legion, the king, and the strongest of all birds, which seems to them a signal of dominion, and an omen that they shall conquer all against whom they march;
War 7.1 (7.1.1) Now, as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be objects of their fury (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other such work to be done) Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminency; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne, and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side.
War 7.2 (7.1.1) This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison; as were the towers also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued;
War 7.3 (7.1.1) but for all the rest of the wall, it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited.
Whiston Note on War 7:31 (7.2.1) — This Terentius Rufus, as Reland in part observes here, is the same person whom the Talmudists call Turnus Rufus; of whom they relate, that “he ploughed up Zion as a field, and made Jerusalem become as heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest;” which was long before foretold by the prophet Micah (3:12), and quoted from him in the prophecies of Jeremiah (26:18).
Tacitus, Histories, Bk 5, Sec. 13
Prodigies had occurred, which this nation, prone to superstition, but hating all religious rites, did not deem it lawful to expiate by offering and sacrifice. There had been seen hosts joining battle in the skies, the fiery gleam of arms, the temple illuminated by a sudden radiance from the clouds. The doors of the inner shrine were suddenly thrown open, and a voice of more than mortal tone was heard to cry that the Gods were departing. At the same instant there was a mighty stir as of departure.
Sepher Yosippon (A Mediaeval History of Ancient Israel)
Translated from the Hebrew by Steven B. Bowman.
Excerpts from Chapter 87 “Burning of the Temple”
** For one year before Vespasian came, a single great star shining like unsheathed swords was seen over the Temple. And in those days when the sign was seen it was the holiday of Passover and during that entire night the Temple was lit up and illuminated like the light of day, and thus it was all seven days of the Passover. All the sages of Jerusalem knew that it was a malevolent sign, but the rest of the ignorant people said that it was a benevolent sign.
… Now it happened after this that there was seen from above over the Holy of Holies for the whole night the outline of a man’s face, the like of whose beauty had never been seen in all the land, and his appearance was quite awesome.
Moreover, in those days were seen chariots of fire and horsemen, a great force flying across the sky near to the ground coming against Jerusalem and all the land of Judah, all of them horses of fire and riders of fire. When the holiday of Shavu’oth came in those days, during the night the priests heard within the Temple something like the sound of men going and the sound of men marching in a multitude going into the Temple, and a terrible and mighty voice was heard speaking: “Let’s go and leave this House.
See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 5 Being a Hebrew…Audience Relevance”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 5b Hebraic Language Symbolism”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 7 Lesson 3a2”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 7 Lesson 4 Matt. 24:29-31”]