Monday, September 7, 2015

Are The Blood Moons The Beginning Of The End?

  • In 1976, Pat Robertson predicted that the end would occur in 1982.
  • In 1977, William Branham predicted the Rapture no later than 1977.
  • In 1981, Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel, had a "deep conviction" that the world would end that year. 
  • In 1985, Lester Sumrall predicted the end in a book entitled I Predict 1985.
  • In 1988, Edgar Whisenant wrote 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988 to explain why the Rapture would happen in 1988. He later revised the date to 1989.
  • In 1994, Harold Camping predicted the Rapture would occur on September 6 - then September 29, then October 2, then March 1995.
  • January 1, 2000, was the day Jerry Falwell predicted God would judge the world. This was also the day that Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins at one point claimed would inaugurate global economic chaos, and that the Antichrist would rise to power.
  • In 2000, Ed Dobson published The End: Why Jesus Could Return by A.D. 2000.
  • In 2000, Lester Sumrall tried again with I Predict 2000.
  • In April 2007, Pat Robertson’s book The New Millennium identified the day for Earth's destruction. That day has since passed.
  • May 21, 2011 was Harold Camping next guess for the rapture, with the world ending five months later. When May passed without incident, he claimed it was a spiritual rapture.
Now, John Hagee (Four Blood Moons) and Mark Biltz (Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs)  are leading a movement that claims the blood moons of 2014 and 2015 are pointing to the return of Christ this year in September (possibly) and warning us of the beginning of the tribulation, a war against Israel, or other calamitous events (almost certainly). 

Taking a stance on the blood moons has become an overly contentious issue in Christian circles. Both the proponents and skeptics are having their ability to understand the Bible accurately called into question, and that's a hard pill to swallow.  In recognition of the tension, I must note where we are united as Christians before I go into territory where we are not. 

No matter where we stand on this issue, it is Christ who unites us, not our speculation on things to come. If we disagree, may it be like iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17), not clanging cymbals full of harsh noise (1 Corinthians 13). I’m skeptical; I have godly friends whose opinions I respect who are convinced. May we all take Paul’s advice to heart as we test all things, and hold fast to the things that are good (1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21). 

  Blood Moon Terms and Definition
  • A total lunar eclipse is a ‘blood moon’ when the moon appears red. 
  • A tetrad is a series of four consecutive lunar eclipses with six full moons in between, and no intervening partial lunar eclipses.

Details and History

There have been eight-seven tetrads since the time of Christ. Mark Biltz is credited with highlighting eight that happened on Jewish feast days in the following years: 162-163, 795-796, 842-843, 860-861, 1428-1429, 1493-1494, 1949-1950 and 1967-1968. The last three tetrads coincided with significant events happening among the Jewish people:
  • 1493-1494 —occurred at Passover and Tabernacles in 1492, which is when Jews were expelled from Spain.
  • 1949-1950 —followed the re-establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
  • 1967-1968 —occurred right before the beginning of the Six Day war in 1967.

The Prediction

Biltz wrote in Blood Moons: “I saw on the Internet an incredible total lunar eclipse over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. I had read all the Bible verses in Isaiah, Joel, the Gospels and Revelation where the text talks about the moon turning to blood and the sun to sackcloth. I began to ponder the possibilities of tying the eclipses mentioned in the Bible to the possible coming of the Messiah.” His conclusion? “This could be the final curtain call before the Great Tribulation mentioned in the Bible.”

After talking with Mark about how the sun, moon and stars were linked to prophecy, Hagee records the following in Four Blood Moons: “I searched the Scriptures for a new revelation with that specific question in mind and came to two verses that shouted out to me!” Those verses were Joel 2:31 and Acts 2:20.

Based on the correlation of Blood Moons, two of the festivals outlined in Leviticus 23 (the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles), and a history of correlating events for the Jewish nation, the tetrad unfolding in 2015 will usher in momentous events for Israel (and thus the world).

The Difficulties With The Prediction


Fifty-five Blood Moons have occurred since the first century; seven have coincided with Jewish Holy Days. None were considered significant at the time though a few were considered significant in hindsight (specifically, the three noted earlier). Four tetrads that fell on all four Jewish feast days (162 AD , 795 AD , 842 AD , 860 AD) have no correlation with significant events. Even when there is an apparent correlation (such as the connection between the last three Blood Moons and events impact the Jewish people), it is not as accurate as it initially appears.
  • The Tribunal that expelled the Jews from Spain was established November 1, 1478, fifteen years before the lunar eclipse in 1492. The Alhambra Decree, which ordered their expulsion, was issued 15 months before the lunar eclipse that year.
  • The Israeli War of Independence went from May 15, 1948 to March 10, 1949. The first of the four lunar eclipses didn’t happen until over a month after the war. 
  • The Israelites took possession of Jerusalem on June 7, 1967, forty-four days after a lunar eclipse that was not even visible from Jerusalem. The next blood moons happened a year and a half later.
In addition, there are many significant events in the history of the nation of Israel that didn’t coincide with any Blood Moon signs: 
  •       1446 BC (Israel left Egypt in the Exodus)
  •       1406 BC (Joshua entered Canaan)
  •        723 BC (Ten northern tribes went into Assyrian Captivity)
  •        587 BC (Judah went into Babylonian captivity)
  •        538 BC (Cyrus proclaims the Jews could return to Canaan)
  •        533 BC (Jews began return from Babylon and arrived in Jerusalem)
  •        1-2 BC (Jesus was born)
  •        33 AD (Jesus was crucified) 
  •        70 AD (Jerusalem and the Temple destroyed by Romans)
  •        135 AD (Hadrian renamed Jerusalem, killed many Jews and expelled the rest)
  •        1943 AD (Hitler killed 6 million Jews during the Holocaust)
In other words, sometimes blood moons happen and there are no major events; other times major events happen and there are no blood moons. Sometimes they occur together. Correlation is not always causation.

It is also worth noting that their interpretation of the relevant biblical passages diverges from traditional interpretations. That doesn't automatically make them wrong; it should, however, make us cautious.
  • The two verses that "shouted out" to Hagee have nothing to do with end times prophecy. Joel 2:31 and Acts 2:20 are identical (“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord") because Peter quoted Joel verbatim to demonstrate that Joel's prophecy was fulfilled by the arrival of Christ and the pouring out of God's Spirit at Pentecost. A look at the classical commentaries quoted at show this to be the dominant understanding
  • The same clash between their interpretation and the interpretation throughout church history applies to Isaiah 13:10 and Isaiah 24:23 as well, two other popular passages cited by defenders of Hagee and Biltz.
  • Revelation 8:12, another key passage, strikes me as an odd verse to cite in support of their claim. In addition to the verse having unaddressed references (a third of the stars, not just the sun and moon, become dark), the entire context of Revelation 8 demands three previous messengers contributing catastrophic judgments before the fourth messenger in Revelation 8:12 makes an appearance. If everything is to be read in the same way 8:12 is read, a third of the world should have burned, all the grass should be gone, a third of the sea should be turned to blood, a third of ships should have sunk, and a tremendous number of people should have died from poisoned water. To simply cite one verse does not do justice to the context.


For an event of this significance for the nation of Israel,  one would think those living there would be able to see these warnings clearly. That is not the case. 
“Of the 16 lunar eclipses in 1493–94, 1949–50, 1967–68, and 2014–15, only the first and third in the 1493–94 sequence and only the third in the 1949–50 sequence appeared as blood moons in Israel. For the current tetrad, the only location where all four eclipses will be visible as blood moons is a small region in northern Baja California, Mexico.
It seems odd that the nation to whom the blood moons are most directly a sign would be so unlikely to see them. 


The prophetic speculation at this point is varied enough that it’s almost guaranteed that something will happen reasonably close to the blood moons, and it’s vague enough that almost anything will count. Based on what I have read, something (war, economic collapse, the rise of a world leader, natural disasters) could happen somewhere within a fairly large window of time. It could even be secret negotiations  - a meeting, a treaty, a speech, a secret pact - that  initiate a chain of events that will eventually have serious consequences. In other words, almost no matter what happens, a correlation will be found. The American Vision noted how Hagee's discussion allows for this to happen:
In mainstream news outlets, however, Hagee has kept his predictions much more general. In an older interview with Fox, and now when contacted by New York Daily News, Hagee only predicts “something big is about to happen.” This is, of course, the kind of prediction that cannot fail to be proven true. If anything big happens between now and the feast of tabernacles 2015, Hagee can point to it as proof he was right.” ("Why John Hagee is certainly wrong about 'blood moons")


Some of the initial prophecies associated with blood moons have already failed.  Around 2008, Biltz was predicting that the seven years of the great tribulation would begin that year (he later removed the article from his website). John Hagee has had a number of things to say about international events that give a legitimate reason to question his predictive power and accuracy:
Hagee points out that the four blood moons (April 2014 to September 2015) will be split evenly by a full solar eclipse. He tells us what he thinks these things mean. Lunar eclipses are portents for something to happen to Israel. But, “The solar eclipse is a symbol of God’s judgment against the gentile nations.” Hagee is not content with general speculations. He wants to get specific about this. "Hold on to your pants: Now, which gentile nations is God warning in this coming eclipse of the sun in the heavens? . . . The prophet Ezekiel in chapter 38 makes it very clear which gentile nations are on God’s hit list. They are Russia, Iran, Libya, Germany, Turkey, and Ethiopia—the nations that we call the nations of the Arab Spring.”  
He is referring to [last spring's] eclipse of the sun—March 20, 2015! In the midst of this combination of lunar and solar eclipses, therefore, God’s message to Israel is that He will deliver the modern nation of Israel “from Iran, from Russia, from Turkey, from Libya, from Germany, from all of the nations who are saying, ‘We’re going to wipe Israel off the map.’” Against these nations, Hagee continues, pointing to his chart of eclipses: “I am going to wipe Iran and Russia off the map. That’s what God is saying here. And I’m going to prove that Scripturally...”

In Conclusion

Here are my two main concerns about the current claims. 

First, I believe the Bible is being read inaccurately by failing to give proper consideration to the genre, the context, etc. Christian pastors, scholars and theologians are questioning Biltz and Hagee's reading of the passages of Scripture in question, and rightly so. This inaccurate reading of Scripture concerns me because of the ripple effect when this happens. Specifically, the merit of genuine prophecy takes a hit when inaccurate prophecy grabs headlines. Generally, we can begin to apply questionable exegetical principles to other biblical issues. 

Second, the history of failed predictions have a common element: sincere readers of Scripture were convinced they had discerned the time of Christ’s coming (or other aspects of the end of the world), and they offered meticulous biblical arguments to support their claim. In spite of their sincerity, Jesus’ claim that no one will know the day or the hour was confirmed each time (Mark 13:32). I see no compelling Scriptural reason why this time will be different.

I may be wrong. I've been wrong plenty of times before. We should have a pretty good idea soon enough. No matter what happens, I hope the discussion swirling around this event will help us as a church to learn and grow in our knowledge and application of Scripture. 

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