Isaiah makes a statement that may elaborate on the role of the sun in the Day of the Lord. Most sixth graders can easily enough deduce the meaning of “the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun.” The moon reflects the sun's light, so if the sun were to increase in strength sevenfold, the moon's light would increase commensurately. While some folk interpret the increase in the sun's brightness to be symbolic, relating it to Christ's radiance and such, a literal meaning is more pertinent.
A conventional view of the sun is that is it a “main sequence” star. Astronomers classify stars on a continuum based on size and heat, both of which relate to internal characteristics of a star. Some are red, some white, some small, some big, some hotter than others. Average stars are classified in the “main sequence.” In the past, the sun was considered main sequence, that is, as stars go, pretty much as an average Joe.
More recently, however, scientists who study these things have come to view the sun as at least a mildly variable star. A variable star is usually not main sequence. It is one that, for any number of reasons, fluctuates in brightness. One reason for this fluctuation can be the internal functioning in the star. These stars expel large amounts of matter, usually in the form of gas, and with it, heat, light, and what is called solar wind. When it expels gas and solar wind, as in the coronal mass ejection of 1989, it not only affects brightness and heat, but it plays havoc with the earth's magnetic fields. It is becoming apparent, too, that this disruption can, in turn, trigger seismic and volcanic activity.
How disruptive is disruptive? Well, the coronal mass ejection of 1989 turned out the lights in large areas of northeast America for days. A similar event in 2012 was absolutely massive, but missed the earth. If a major flair or coronal mass ejection came close to the earth, it could well lead to the levels of destruction we read of in Isaiah 30 and Revelation 8, 16, and 18.
What a difference can a single day bring? Lika Guha-thakurta, a NASA scientist, writes in NASA Science News:
The sun . . . is a variable star. But it looks so constant. . . . That's only a limitation of the human eye. Modern telescopes and spacecraft have penetrated the sun's blinding glare and found a maelstrom of unpredictable turmoil. Solar flares explode with the power of a billion atomic bombs. Clouds of magnetized gas . . . big enough to swallow planets break away from the stellar surface. Holes in the sun's atmosphere spew million mile-per-hour gusts of solar wind. And those are the things that can happen in just one day.
Here are a few of the many scriptures that might refer to intense solar activity during the Day of the Lord (or even during the Tribulation):
» Deuteronomy 32:22: Intriguingly, in the Song of Moses, God refers to His use of heat as He punishes apostate Israel. This passage describes an extremely intense, penetrating fire.
For a fire is kindled by My anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains. [ESV]
» Isaiah 11:15: Here, God says He will
. . . utterly destroy
the tongue of the Sea of Egypt,
and will wave His hand over the River
with His scorching breath. . . . [ESV]
» II Peter 3:7: Peter's comments here may refer to the Day of the Lord.
But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. [ESV]
What a Difference a Day Makes
Isaiah 30:25-26 calls our attention to an important principle, a tenet that doubtlessly springs from the merism that lies at the core of God's very nature. As if to emphasize the value of the message, God repeats the principle, using different images, in these successive verses.
That principle is just this: On the heels of destruction will come the forces of restoration. Notice carefully the word when, and the term, in the day, both repeated in these verses. We are left with the real sense that the forces of destruction and construction will appear virtually simultaneously. Maybe not fully concomitant but surely close. The two verses merit closer consideration.
In verse 25, God sends running water on the very day when He brings to nothing the high towers. We learn about these two highly dissimilar incidents—the fall of the towers and the coming of the water—in virtually the same breath. This gives us the impression that God will mercifully begin the healing process soon after the destruction, almost concurrent with it.
Let us look into the imagery a bit. The running water could refer to the Holy Spirit or to information, specifically, the knowledge of God that will eventually cover the earth, as Isaiah declares in Isaiah 11:9: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
Isaiah 41:17-18, 20 echo this thought. In verse 18, God promises He will bring water to barren hills while, in verse 20, He links that water, at least generally, to knowledge about Him.
Returning to Isaiah 30:25, we understand that the high towers could refer to military fortifications. In our context today, they could just as suitably denote institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, or even the United Nations—anything which people rely on as a bastion of strength and a source of protection. As so often is the case, the prophet Isaiah supplies his own commentary. In Isaiah 2:12, 15-17, he defines the tower as anything that represents the pride of mankind. Verse 12 establishes the context as the Day of the Lord, the same timeframe referenced in Isaiah 30 with the time, “in the day.”
Returning to Isaiah 30:25 once more, we understand that the mountains could refer to governments, as in Daniel 2, and “every high hill” could refer to false religious practices, as in I Kings 14:22-24.
In fact, the term “every high hill” appears six other times in the Old Testament, each time referring to the practice of false religion. A similar term, with about the same meaning, “high places” appears no less than ninety times in the Old Testament.
The bottom line regarding Isaiah 30:25 is this: God brings flowing water on barren hilltops at about the same time that He brings to naught mankind's oppressive governments (mountains) and his false religions (high hills).
Turning our attention to Isaiah 30:26, we see much the same thought, dressed in entirely different imagery. In this verse, God says the sun's light, and presumably its heat, will be seven times greater than normal and that the moon will shine as brightly as the sun normally does. That would be quite destructive.
Notice, though, all that takes place when He “binds up the brokenness of His people, and heals the wounds inflicted by His blow.” So again, the act of restoration, stated here with the terms “binds up” and “heals,” is closely linked with the act of destruction. The two acts may not occur fully simultaneously, but they appear to be extremely closely connected in time.
The Goodness and Severity of God (Part One)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Isaiah 30:26: