THE BLOOD MOON AND THE APOCALYPSE—A TRUE SIGN IN THE HEAVENS?

THE BLOOD MOON AND THE APOCALYPSE—A TRUE SIGN IN THE HEAVENS?

 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.

(Revelation 6:12)

ASSOCIATING THE BLOOD MOON WITH THE APOCALYPSE

The word apocalypse connotes frightening images of death and foreboding. However the literal meaning of the word is far more benign. Translated literally from the Greek, apocalypse means a disclosure of knowledge.   It is connected to the act of revealing. Hence the apocalypse is a revelation or a revealing—an exposé. A better definition might be a disclosure of information which had not been previously made known.

Blood Moon Tetrads - A Sign of the Apocalypse?
Blood Moon Tetrads – A Sign of the Apocalypse?

This does not keep us from connecting the word with the most awesome of images associated with the end of the world. To picture the meaning of apocalypse, we think of heavenly signs and wonders—of portents that presage calamities coming from the sky. Indeed, the Bible fills our mind’s eye with such images. The passage from the Book of Joel, the second of the 12 Minor Prophets, speaks of the Day of the Lord which is associated with the apocalypse. Indeed, according to most interpretations, the Day of the Lord is synonymous with the day that the apocalypse will come to pass. [1]

The most talked about portent of the apocalypse in our day is the blood moon. The phrase blood moon conveys the color of the moon during a lunar eclipse. When the earth passes between the moon and the sun during a full moon it literally casts a giant shadow. It is probably too technical for most readers so I won’t try to explain the umbra and penumbra of the earth’s shadow. Suffice it to say these portions of the ‘earth’s shadow’ applies different amounts of lighting to the moon’s surface. However, speaking non-technically, the sun’s light bleeds around the edges of the earth, this light passes through the earth’s atmosphere where it is scattered by the molecules of the earth’s atmosphere. This refraction causes the resulting light that passes onto the moon to appear red as it is projected upon the moon’s surface. Usually the moon appears as a darkish red-gray—not blood red. But of course the phrase ‘blood moon’ conveys a much more graphic and colorful expression than a ‘darkened gray’ moon. Thus, the more poignant description has come to be the standard way to refer to the phenomena. The fact the Bible talks in several places about the moon turning to blood no doubt helped the phrase enter our vernacular.

The apocalypse is generally portrayed by signs in the heavens. This signs are seen as portents. Portents are omens and this noun comes from the verb portend and the Latin verb portendere which means ‘to foretell.’ Portents are signs of impending calamity, usually signs seen in the sky. Historically comets have been regarded as the most visible and powerful portents.   When comets appear the rise or fall of empires are often predicted. The most recent comet portending doom was the comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. Of course, the only real doom was for the Heaven’s Gate cult, forever remembered as the group of fanatics that committed mass suicide expecting the world to end. They hoped that their deaths would send them straight up to what they believed was a spacecraft trailing the comet, commissioned by aliens to save these cult members from certain death destined for all those who remained on earth.

The planet Mars has been regarded often as a portent especially when it comes nearest to the earth. At its opposition, when it orbits on the same side of the sun as the earth, it appears its brightest and its reddest. The distance between Mars and the earth varies dramatically because of Mars’ highly elliptical orbit. At aphelion, Mars may be 250 million miles from earth. At perihelion, Mars may be as close as 34 million miles as it was within this decade. Thus, the intensity of its brightest and color widely varies. Like a ‘blood moon’, the red color of Mars symbolized death and destruction. Indeed, in ancient Rome, the planet Mars symbolized war as its patron god Mars was equated with the god of War.[2] In Rome, the doors to the Temple of Mars would be flung wide open whenever the Roman Empire was at war (which was often!)

TODAY’S MOST POPULAR PORTENT

But those who study biblical prophecy have seen the portent of the blood moon peak their interest due to a fascinating discovery by pastor Mark Biltz, a Tacoma native. In 2008, Biltz communicated his astronomical findings to a national audience when he appeared on Prophecy in the News (produced in my home town of Oklahoma City). Co-hosts J.R. Church and Gary Stearman were most intrigued by Biltz’s findings. On the program Biltz referenced NASA’s web site that maintained a calendar of eclipses, both solar and lunar. NASA referred to a phenomenon as a tetrad, or four consecutive total lunar eclipses occurring during a two-year period. What was most peculiar to Biltzwas when this series of consecutive lunar eclipses occurred.   Tetrads have happened dozens of times during the Christian era. But only eight times have tetrads occurred on Jewish Feast Days (the same two feast days, two years running).

Blood Moon for April 15 2014
Blood Moon for April 15 2014

Given that Judaism observes a lunar calendar (our Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar), in which ‘new moons’ and ‘full moons’ establish new months and new years; thus, lunar eclipses might seem to be of little consequence.

Still, when correlating the tetrads to events affecting the Jewish peoples, Biltz identified some startling results. He noted that the tetrads might have heralded ‘red letter dates’ for the Jews. He was particularly sensitive to that possibility since Biltz had previously studied in depth the meaning behind the Jewish Feast Days, the ‘holy convocations’ given by Moses to the Hebrews as recorded in Leviticus, chapter 23. Learning about the symbolism of these true holidays (aka ‘holy days’), energized his newly adopted Christian faith. Biltz knew he had Jewish roots, but the lessons concerning the importance of Hebrew Feasts was electrifying. He describes his discovery with these words:

One morning, as I was praying, a thought popped into my head: Why don’t I compare the dates of the eclipses on the NASA website to the dates on the biblical calendar? When I did, I was shocked to find that all four eclipses— over both years— fell on the biblical holidays of Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles. I just about jumped out of my skin. Immediately I ran to my computer and pulled up NASA’s website to look up other times when there have been four consecutive blood moons, which are total lunar eclipses, where the moon appears blood red. NASA calls four total blood moons in a row a tetrad, and they list their occurrences. I noticed there weren’t any in the 1600s, 1700s, or even the 1800s. The last time there was a tetrad was back in the 1900s, and to my amazement, they also fell on the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles. When I noticed the years these phenomena occurred, my mind began reeling. The last two times there were four blood moons in a row, they happened, first, right after Israel became a nation in 1948, and then again when Israel retook Jerusalem in 1967. I started doing a Hallelujah dance.[3]

At first blush, these instances of the tetrads did seem to hold special meaning when connected to those years in which the tetrad fell (1949-50 as well as 1967-68), dates associated with key events in the life of Israel, although the tetrads before these two much more recent sets appeared to hold less meaning. Biltz was not ready, however, to dismiss the others as without consequence. They still might be meaningful.

Below are the tetrads that fall on consecutive Jewish holidays:

  • 162-163 AD — Passover and Feast of Tabernacles
  • 795-796 — Passover and Yom Kippur
  • 842-843 — Passover and Yom Kippur
  • 860-861 — Passover and Feast of Tabernacles
  • 1493-1494 — Passover and Feast of Trumpets
  • 1949-1950 —Passover and Feast of Trumpets
  • 1967-1968 — Passover and Feast of Trumpets
  • 2014-2015 — Passover and Feast of Tabernacles

The 1949 -1950 tetrad occurred during the Jewish War of independence. The 1967-1968 tetrad commenced a few months before the June 1967 ‘Six-day War.’ Although not a perfect fit, it seemed to suggest a correlation worthy of making note. Moreover, if one connected the events of those years, seeing in them auspicious dates for Israel in which the respective wars solidified a place in the world for a Jewish homeland (and to reestablish Jerusalem as the capital of Israel), it should logically lead one to wonder if the tetrad of 2014-2015 might also point to a time of war which builds on the territorial gains obtained in the previous two “blood moon wars.” Given the current tension between Israel and Iran, the fear that Iran is preparing a nuclear weapon to be directed at the nation of Israel, it would not be an outrageous prediction that war looms.

Still, there are problems drawing this conclusion. There were intervening wars that produced much less propitious results. For one, the Yom Kippur War of 1973 almost destroyed Israel. Many other instances of conflict and war transpired between then and now, none of which were glorious victories.

Secondly, the outcomes cited in the wars of 1949 and 1967 were, for the most part, positive events. The outcome certainly was good. In conflict with this fact, however, Jewish tradition holds that for Israel blood moons portend bad outcomes instead of good ones. If true, how do we reconcile these issues?

WHAT DOES THE TETRAD MEAN FOR ISRAEL?

In an article written for The Truth, September 2, 2013, Michael Snyder puzzles over the meaning of the current tetrad (underway now as I write these words in late April, 2014):

Is Israel going to be involved in a war during the blood red moons of 2014 and 2015?

According to ancient Jewish tradition, a lunar eclipse is a harbinger of bad things for Israel.  If that eclipse is blood red, that is a sign that war is coming.  And blood red moons that happen during Biblical festivals seem to be particularly significant.  There was a “tetrad” of blood red moons that fell during Passover 1967, the Feast of Tabernacles 1967, Passover 1968 and the Feast of Tabernacles 1968.  And of course the 1967 war during which Israel took full control of Jerusalem took place during that time period.  There was also a “tetrad” of blood red moons that fell during Passover 1949, the Feast of Tabernacles 1949, Passover 1950 and the Feast of Tabernacles 1950.  If you know your history, you already are aware that the Israeli War of Independence ended on July 20th, 1949.  So does the blood red moon tetrad of 2014 and 2015 signal that another season of war is now upon us?

Pastor John Hagee has further popularized what is now known as the Blood Moon Prophecy as he has a world-wide television audience and boasts of being a New York Times bestselling author. Hagee has stated that this particular sign in the heaven will change the course of human events. Coinciding with the Feast of Tabernacles on September 25, 2014 is the beginning of a final year of a seven-year Jewish calendric cycle known as the Shemittah. The overlapping of a heavenly sign with yet another dating factor of significance, Hagee contends, “These occurrences are not coincidental. This is the hand of God orchestrating the signs in the heavens. The final Four Blood Moons are signaling that something big is coming… something that will change the world forever.”[4] Apparently, the only thing more compelling than one calendric sign from heaven is another date of religious consequence coming right on its heels.[5]

Oklahoma Pastor Mark Hitchcock questions whether the Blood Moon Prophecy smacks more of sensationalism than identification of genuine signs in the last days. In his book, Blood Moons Rising, Hitchcock criticizes both Biltz and Hagee as guilty of this excess. On sensationalism, Hitchcock cites author and social commentator Richard Swenson, M.D., who offered this sound bite: “Hysteria brings fire to the eyes and acid to the stomach. Hype brings notoriety. Sensationalism brings a tabloid kind of success.”[6] Hitchcock continues:

For sensationalists, signs are everywhere and almost everything. In some circles, wild speculation is far too common and most often is not based on sound principles of biblical interpretation. While there are several problems with a sensational approach to signs of the times, one practical problem is that when almost everything becomes a sign, then nothing is a sign. If everything is a sign, then the entire notion of signs becomes meaningless.[7]

Hitchcock contends that the case for the Blood Moon prophecy leans heavily on what is known as ‘special pleadings’—a form of argumentation in which one only considers the evidence that confirms a point of view and dismisses any evidence to the contrary. It is akin to stacking the deck. Hitchcock sees this tactic here in spades. Additionally, Hitchcock dismisses the Blood Moon Prophecy in no small part because he wishes to avoid any appearance of date-setting.[8] For Hitchcock, signs should not imply any setting of dates but should contribute to setting the stage.

God’s people sit in the theater of world events awaiting the curtain call of God’s apocalyptic drama. We don’t know when the play will begin, but like the drama critic, we know much more about it than most. Many stare at the future as at a huge curtain. For them the future is veiled because they have no idea of the plan of God. And they can’t see behind the curtain where act one is being set. For believers, however, we see behind the scenes. While it is true that we don’t know the moment when the play will begin, we do know the play itself —the main characters and events —and can sense it beginning as we see the actors starting to take their places…[9]

Now, Hitchcock is no skeptic—he is a noted Bible prophecy preacher, pastor, and author having written many books on the subject matter. But he clearly asserts that the Blood Moon Prophecy goes too far and might call down fire from heaven (pun admitted but not intended), upon legitimate heavenly signs which duly testify that the ‘end of days’ draws near. Like Hitchcock, recently this author also raised some concern whether Biltz and Hagee might be making too much of the tetrad/ Festival correlation.

In an article recently written by me for my friend L.A. Marzulli, and his eZine (Prophecy, Politics and the Supernatural, May 2014 edition), I point out another soft spot in the Blood Moon Prophecy:

One could adduce many other auspicious events which would seem to have greater significance and might deserve to be underscored by providential, heavenly signs. For instance, we could point out the First Zionist Conference in Zurich in 1897; or the 1917 date of the so-called Balfour Declaration (which gave the blessing of the British) to the creation of a homeland in Palestine for the Jews; or especially the capture of Jerusalem by the British General Edmund Allenby that same year; or on the dark side the horror of Kristallnacht (November 9, 1938, the ‘night of broken glass,’ the violent anti-Jewish pogrom which broke out in Germany signaling the ensuing Holocaust). Of course, tetrad lunar eclipses did not coincide with any of these very significant events. If one argues that the tetrads ‘red circle’ certain key dates, why are some highlighted and not the others? It is a legitimate question.

Despite this concern, I am persuaded that the there is something to the Blood Moon Prophecy. So then how do we judge the Blood Moon Prophecy to be legitimate apocalyptic sign in the heavens?

Here is how we can build a case for it: one can argue that until 1948 with the reestablishment of the Jews in their ancient homeland of Israel, any tetrads overlapping with the highest of Jewish Feast Days had little to no prophetic significance. Not until Israel was ‘back in the land’ did ‘red letter’ events qualify for prophetic recognition. The Yom Kippur War, the skirmishes in Southern Lebanon and Gaza have all been ‘negatives.’ Perhaps the Blood Moon tetrad is meant to herald something positive for the reestablishment of Israel as a nation and as a prediction that soon, “all Israel shall be saved.” (Romans 11:26)[10]

This might only seem to be a convenient argument to which panicky advocates resort in order to advance their failing case. And yet, this principle of prophetic interpretation has been invoked by many prophecy scholars for the past 70 years or so. Many futurists hold to this principle [those who believe Bible prophecy includes elements not yet fulfilled] as well as dispensational scholars [that school of theologians that has championed eschatology during this same 70-year period]. Therefore, I offer this principle up for how one can reasonably regard the Blood Moon Prophecy to be an authentic heavenly sign purposefully intended by the God of the Bible (that is, signaling that the last days are indeed upon us).

In summary, the argument for the meaningfulness of the twentieth and twenty-first century tetrads builds upon the facts that consecutive occurrence of these lunar eclipses are (1) rare astronomical events which (2) coincide with meaningful Jewish Feast Days and (3) take place within the same timeframe as what biblically oriented Christians see as prophetically important occurrences. Therefore, given this alignment, they may be genuine divine signals. This collection of three tetrads in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries may form a ‘gestalt’ that is worthy of note.[11] Collectively, they may call attention to the relevance of Bible prophecy at this specific period in history. Indeed, whether right or wrong, one could argue the Blood Moon Prophecy has already achieved this objective (although I would insist that if it constitutes a genuine sign, by definition it must be legitimate.)

* * * * * * *

 This article is drawn from BLOOD MOON: BIBLICAL SIGNS OF THE COMING APOCALYPSE.  CLICK HERE for information on the book and to purchase at Amazon.

NOTES

[1] The meaning of the Day of the Lord is complicated because there are so many biblical names for this period.

[2] Romans considered themselves ‘Martians’ or children of Mars. Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus, the twins suckled by a she-wolf, but descendants of Aeneas a warrior of the Trojan War, who was purportedly the offspring of Mars himself. The account of his experiences is the subject of Virgil’s’ Aeneid.

[3] Biltz, Mark (2014-03-18). Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs (Kindle Locations 101-109). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

[4] John Hagee, Four Blood Moons: Something Is about to Change (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing, 2013) pp. 237.

[5] Of course, if this statement is considered by itself, Pastor Hagee has assumed what he is trying to prove.

[6] Richard Swenson, Hurtling toward Oblivion, p. 15-16, cited by Mark Hitchcock, Blood Moons Rising: Bible Prophecy, Israel, and the Four Blood Moons (p. 18). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Kindle Edition.

[7] Hitchcock, op. cit., p. 18.

[8] This pejorative harkens back to the frequent failures of Bible believing groups such as the Millerites of the 1840s or the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 1910s and ‘20s who claimed the world was coming to an end.

[9] Hitchcock, op. cit., (p. 24).

[10] The meaning of ‘all Israel shall be saved’ stands as the crux of the conflict between dispensational and covenantal schools of theology. .

[11] A psychological term, gestalt implies the whole is more than the sum of its parts.