BLOOD MOONS AND THE SIGNS OF HIS COMING
The recent interest in the so-called blood moons (lunar eclipses) of 2014 and 2015, have brought the question of the timing of the Apocalypse back into the discussion for many—not just those who study Bible prophecy. The very unusual occurrence of four blood moons within a short interval of time (in this case 18 months), with those blood moons falling on certain very important of the Jewish ‘feast days,’ has given rise to increased speculation about the end of the world. Why is this the case? Because the blood moon portrays a portent in the heavens that speak of apocalypse.
For many reasons, the apocalypse appears imminent. But whether it commences soon, several decades from now, or beyond—more than ever before—the only hope for our troubled nation and our world rests in the truth of the Bible and its prescriptions for our personal lives, our culture, and our nation.
Many will object to this assertion; their tag-line likely being, ‘been there, done that.’ However, the unfortunate reality remains that the witness Jesus’ followers were ordered to give to the utmost parts of the world and to the very end of the age, often failed to resemble what Jesus truly taught and the authentic spirituality he demands of us. Somewhere along the line, those meant to serve as ‘salt’ in the world lost their savor. No small part of why this happened owes to the fact that the apocalyptic element of Christianity was downplayed or eliminated altogether. The message “Jesus is coming” was “interpreted right out of existence,” being altered to mean something far different than what Jesus instilled in the minds of His closest followers.
In other words, the Christian message appears irrelevant to many members of our society not because it was tried and found wanting; but because many of its teachers today (and during the past two centuries) so rarely represented a most essential element of the gospel of Christ, leading too few converts to commit themselves to its achievement.
Many modern-day preachers ceased the proclamation of an authentic gospel when they jettisoned elements indispensable to its meaning, in particular the biblical catchphrase “The Kingdom of God is at hand!” Fearing an accusation of preaching ‘hell, fire, and brimstone’ too few ministers heralded what Jesus proclaimed, “Repent and believe—before it is too late!” For far too long, the gospel has been diluted—its life-changing message watered down. It has failed to affect society because it became a message directed only for inward comfort, not outward change.
A ‘KINGDOMLESS’ GOSPEL HAS HAD LITTLE IMPACT
And yet, Christ’s admonition that God’s Kingdom comes, remains crucial for this element catalyzes all other aspects of Christ’s radical solution for humankind—a solution that has both personal and social implications. When the gospel of Christ does not contain a strong dose of apocalyptic fervor, the audience interprets the offer of salvation as a ‘take it or leave it’ proposition. It is advice only—lacking any mention of repentance from immorality, any mandate to forsake self as priority, any call for justice for those dispossessed.Without the stark reminder that the Kingdom of God is not of this world—not compatible with human government or manmade religious efforts to acquire happiness and purpose—Christianity has nothing different to offer, nothing worth dying for. And once we acknowledge that there is nothing worth a martyr’s death, we soon realize that there is nothing worth living for either.
True Christianity and true spirituality (what we believe and how we put it into practice)stand upon the premise our time in this life remains short—every moment counts. And yet, in the short period we have on this planet, we leave a legacy—good or bad. Each and every day our actions leave an indelible imprint in the fabric of time. Our lives either enhance the design in the tapestry or disfigure the picture it provides. As an old preacher friend of mine used to say, “Every day is a day of judgment.”
At the danger of reducing this truism to a sound bite, or worse, an abbreviated limerick, allow me to offer this rhyming proverb: We spin the weave we wish to leave. To switch the metaphor: we make our mark indelibly on the paper regardless of whether we lift a pen. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches how we should live and why this lifestyle provides hope and meaning. However, the irony is that evangelists diminish the impact of the gospel when they disregard the proximity of the end of days.
The paradox should not be that surprising to those who reflect on the teachings of Jesus. They were full of apparent contradictions: “He who loses his life for my sake shall find it.” “He who wishes to be great among you must be servant of all.” And many other similarly disconcerting teachings. Should it be shocking that the most effective way to change the world is to predict that its ending has now come into view? Indeed, in the final analysis, the so-called harbingers of doom may be the greatest of optimists for they see a new world coming after the existing order crumbles. They expect that a society now stressed to the breaking point stands at the brink, ready to be overturned. Soon it will be transcended. In short, therein lies the message of the Kingdom of God.
It remains my contention, however ironic it may seem to the reader, that too little optimism exists today because far too few hold fast this conviction that the apocalypse stands ready to break upon us—the Kingdom of God is near to us (Luke 10:9). In fact, it appears in our midst now (Luke 17:21).
To be more emphatic: there remains only one foundation from which to build an enduring hope. It requires believing in a gospel with the conviction that only the Second Advent of Jesus Christ can achieve the radical transformation humanity needs, both individually and corporately. His return culminates history, specifically accomplishing our salvation as expressed through the words of the New Testament. We cannot compromise and say we must only experience inward transformation because we do not know when the Lord will return. That is, as they used to say, a cop out.
In response, atheists or agnostics will complain: “At best this can be no more than a dereliction of duty! At worst it is the greatest of grand delusions!” But the promise of the Second Coming comprises the gospel truth. As we will soon show, it conveys what Jesus taught. Likewise, His Apostles institutionalized this expectation at the beginning of His church. Even as the first century came to a close and the Lord had not returned, we saw throughout the ‘patristic period’ (characterized by early leaders like Polycarp, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Origen, Athanasius… leading up to St. Augustine), that the soon coming of the Lord was strenuously upheld. It was essential to the Church’s message. The Lord may tarry—but that does not mean He has forever delayed His return.
The dark predictions of what lies ahead—a sun black like a sackcloth of hair and a moon turned blood red—are merely the most dramatic of many ominous signs depicted for the last days by the Bible. Not long ago, almost everyone agreed these images were no more than imaginative symbols.However, such frightening pictures no longer seem too fantastic to occur in our empirical reality. Many scenarios suggest how such horrible sights could become the standard way our ‘sky lights’ appear. In this regard, it now seems easier than ever to be a biblical literalist. The blood moons of 2014 and 2015 remind us of this unimpeachable fact.
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This article was drawn from BLOOD MOON: BIBLICAL SIGNS OF THE APOCALYPSE.
CLICK HERE for information about the book and to purchase.
NOTES “Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)