How many moons are there? Well, let’s count some of them. There are new moons, crescent moons, half-moons, and full-moons. There are white moons, blue moons, cold moons, and moons over Miami. There are hunter’s moons, harvest moons, planting moons, and thunder moons. And, the moon that has recently captured global attention (over 3,000,000 hits on Google alone in the past few days) is the ever famous Blood Moon.
Blood Moon? Such a strange, almost morbid way to characterize the earth’s moon, but even scientists’ use this graphic term to explain what happens during a total eclipse of the moon. They do their best to teach us about the sun, earth, and moon lining up; about refracted rays of the sun; resulting shadows that fall on the moon, darkening it; all part of a lunar eclipse that gives the moon a sort of copper, orange, rust-red coloration, all netted in the phrase blood moon. Ugh … a bloody moon? The thought somehow conjures up things that I really don’t want to conjure. In fact, I don’t ever want to conjure anything at all. Leave conjuring to the conjurers, I say.
Did contemporary astronomers of the 20th or 21st century coin this mysterious, gloom and doom, almost unscientific expression of blood moon. Not even close. The concept has been around for thousands of years, and the phrase is used dramatically in the context of the end times “Day of the Lord.” Let’s read about it in the Old Testament book of Joel written around 800 BC:
“Sound the alarm in Jerusalem! Raise the battle cry on my holy mountain! Let everyone tremble in fear because the day of the Lord is upon us” (Joel 2:1). Then later in the same chapter, “And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth—blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood-red before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives” (Joel 2: 30-31, italics for emphasis).
Last week’s Eye of Prophecy article was entitled, Passover, an Enduring Legacy. And, of course, it dealt with the very first Passover deliverance of the Jews from hundreds of years of bondage in Egypt. But it also explained the relevance to today’s celebration of Passover and Resurrection Day, i.e. redemption from the wrath of God and from personal (and national) sin and the penalty of that sin. Moreover, God instructed the Jews to annually celebrate that first Exodus Passover for all time. Later, when the Mosaic Law was given by God to his people, six more annual festivals were ordained, three of which required a personal journey to Jerusalem by the Jews—Passover, Feast of Tabernacles, and Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. Many Jews today believe that Messiah will make his appearance (to the observant Jew it will be Messiah’s first arrival) during Passover week. That “the day of the Lord” may bring more (temporary) heartache, but ultimately will be their Day of Redemption!
Here, I need to interject my own personal belief (based on a pretty intensive study of Scriptures and history for several decades), that each of the Old Testament festivals is a forerunner prototype, a shadow if you will of the Messiah … who he is, what he did upon his first appearance, and what he will do when he returns. We’ve already talked about the significance of Passover and how it interactively represents and relates to, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” The Feast of Tabernacles reminds the Jews of God’s protection and provision during their 40 years in the wilderness, so accomplished by God’s very presence on Mt. Sinai, in the Cloud Pillar and, of course, in the Tabernacle itself.
For Jewish and Gentile Christians in this current Age of Grace, Tabernacles also reminds us that for some 33 years, God was actually present on this earth (Immanuel, god with us) in the form of his very Son, Yeshua ha Mashiach … Jesus the Christ. Then Scripture gives us the incredible promise that Messiah will return to live with his people (the redeemed) FOREVER. Did you know that the Feast of Tabernacles is the only festival that will be a perpetual requirement for observance/celebration during the Millennial Reign of Christ on the earth, and for all eternity after that? (See Zechariah 14). Why? To never forget and to forever acknowledge that El Shaddai (Almighty God) is our very life and existence. He gives life at the moment of conception and he gives life a second time (everlasting) when we are born-again from above. We must have that life to overcome the consequence of physical death (soul/spirit separation from the body) and spiritual death (eternal separation from God). To remember the Feast of Tabernacles (also called Feast of Booths) is to say to the Lord our God, “We trust you for food, clothing, shelter, family, life, truth … for everything!”
Jewish Festivals and Blood Moons
As first postulated by Pastor/Author Mark Blitz in his publication on Blood Moons, then subsequently presented by Pastor John Hagee, founder of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, in his book, Four Blood Moons, they believe that there is an undeniable connection between full eclipses of the moon (blood moons) and major Jewish festivals, especially Passover and Tabernacles. As summarized by reporter, Tom Olago in Prophecy News Watch, “While lunar eclipses themselves are not rare—four consecutive blood moons or a ‘tetrad’ are more uncommon—sometimes going several hundred years without one. However a blood moon on Biblical Feast days is extremely rare. It has only happened eight times since 1 A.D.”
Pastor Blitz further explains that the last two cycles of blood moons that took place on Jewish festival days occurred a short time after two monumental events in Jewish history: the national birth of Israel in 1948 and the recapture of Jerusalem in 1967. Another blood moon cycle occurred in 1492, around the time that the Queen and King of Spain expelled all Jews from that country. In Western civilization we also remember 1492 for what? Of course you know: Columbus sailing to and discovering America!
Thus, Pastors Blitz and Hagee speculate that the current tetrad could very well be in proximity to another significant event involving Israel. They could be right. Putting it another way: I would be the last to say that they’re wrong, if for no other reason than the historical precedents just cited. However, I would also caution against an automatic or default cause and effect type of association between this blood moon tetrad and the Rapture which sets in motion The Day of the Lord.
The first of these four blood moons took place this past week—April 15th on Passover. It’s my understanding that tens of thousands stayed up (or got up) in the early morning hours after midnight to watch the two-hour gradual eclipse of the moon. There was a time when I might have joined them; but at this stage of my life, it was way past my bed time! Besides, that’s what newspaper and internet photographs are for.
The next blood moon will occur this year on October 8, the festival day of Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles. The third one next year—again on Passover, April 4, 2015—and the final blood moon eclipse on September 28, 2015 … again on Sukkot.
Fortunately, neither Pastor Blitz nor Pastor Hagee dogmatically claim that one of these events will be the day when Christ raptures the Church. And, that’s good, because no one knows the day or hour of our Lord’s return. To select any one of the four days would be just another attempt to “guess” even though the guess may be on a significant date, such as those that comprise the tetrad. As said, one of those days has already come and gone (April 15th), without an event of huge consequence happening to/in Israel or, for that matter, anywhere in the world.
Connections between Rapture, Festivals, Moons, End Times?
Personally, I think it would be great if the Rapture would occur on one of these very important festival dates. Especially September 28th … my birthday. Kidding, but not entirely! But all of us who passionately long for the return of our glorious Savior Jesus Christ know full well that ANY day (the sooner the better) would be a wonderful day! Alongside of the triumphant return of Christ to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to set things right throughout the entire earth, the Rapture of believers in Christ will be the most spectacular event of all time. Not necessarily the most important (that belongs to the day that our Lord arose from the dead), but arguably the most stunning.
So, based on the previous tetrads in proximity to the rebirth of Israel and the recapture of Jerusalem, can/should we expect a milestone event to occur, particularly affecting the nation of Israel? To answer that question, let’s return to Joel 2:31, “…and the moon will turn blood-red….” Or, is there a direct connection between the coming lunar eclipse tetrad (one leg of the tetrad already past) and the Rapture of the Church, or the Day of the Lord?
First, this prophecy will be fulfilled, “before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives.” The obvious implication here is that it will take place during the aspect of the Day of the Lord that involves God’s wrath poured out on the earth … in other words during the Great Tribulation. The Day of the Lord includes both punishment (Tribulation) and blessings, which will begin with the Millennial Reign of Christ on the earth. The tetrad events of 1492, 1948, and 1967 are too far in the past to connect them to the day of the Lord which has not yet arrived. Plus, the fact that there have been eight of them since 1 A.D. leads us to the conclusion that, although there very well could be a connection between a full lunar eclipse and something dramatic taking place in Israel, we should not dogmatically conclude that one of the remaining three blood moons will immediately precede or coincide with the beginning of the tribulation. Not only that, but notice what else will take place, and in what order. “The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood-red…”
Jesus amplified and expounded on this passage during his Mount of Olives discourse to his disciples regarding the end times. He said, “Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29). The strong implication in these two passages concerning the sequence of events is that the darkening of the sun (also refer to the fifth bowl judgment found in Revelation 16:10) and the moon turning to blood will take place well into the seven-year Tribulation period, perhaps half-way through. But this “turning of the moon into blood-red” will be much more than just an eclipse of the moon. For sure the eclipse of the moon (especially on Biblical Jewish festival days) is a marvelous sight to behold. Equally remarkable is that some of these “tetrads” have been in very close proximity to monumental milestones of Jewish history.
One or more of the remaining three blood moons might occur at the same time or close to the same time as some significant event (say, for example, an Israeli preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities). But, I don’t believe the blood-red moon of Joel will be a “normal” lunar eclipse. It will be a very special wonder in the sky, which will probably take place totally separate from a regular scheduled eclipse that all scientists can predict with a great deal of certainty and accuracy. I’m convinced that the blood moon during the Day of the Lord will “eclipse” (pun intended) any and all blood moons that have already occurred or will occur again during a scheduled eclipse of the moon. It will truly be a supernatural event in which the moon will look more blood-like in appearance that any eclipse ever witnessed by man.
Plus, in conjunction with the moon turning to blood, the sun will become completely dark … no light at all for a period of time. And, so will “the moon give no light…” I believe this will take place soon after the moon turns to blood. There will also be other, “wonders in the heavens and on the earth—blood and fire and columns of smoke” (Joel 2:30). And, “…the powers in the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29).
Listed to what Jesus said would come next, “And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens … And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).
The Joel prophecy of what is clearly a one-time moon turning to blood-red and giving no light event, preceded by the sun (completely) darkened doesn’t fit with 2000 years of periodic lunar eclipses in which the moon is described as a “blood moon.” In other words, Joel’s prophecy isn’t being fulfilled gradually over hundreds of years. However, these blood moon lunar eclipses have been a harbinger and a forerunner of what will take place during that great and terrible day of the Lord. And, in God’s sovereignty and emphasis on holy days that he established for the nation of Israel, blood moon tetrads have been linked with milestones in Israel’s history, and very well may do so again. And, as much as I (and many of us) would like to see the Rapture take place on one of these glorious festivals (holidays, meaning Holy Days), I’m equally convinced it will not.
When We Least Expect
Instead, the Rapture will most likely take place on some “ordinary” day far removed from such days as Passover, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Christmas, Resurrection Sunday, Purim, or any other vitally important day that we might revere and celebrate. Why on earth would I say something so anticlimactic, so over-the-top, so uninspired, so uneventful, so … well, so, negative!?
What is the basis for such a conclusion? This premise is based on what Jesus, himself, said. Most of us know the passage; in fact, we’ve just referred to it, i.e. Matthew Chapter 24 (and 25). Many of you will recognize the verse. Here it is: “You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected” (Matthew 24: 44, italics for emphasis).
Did you catch that? Of course, you did. To further emphasize and reinforce his statement that no one knows the hour or the day of his return, Jesus gave us another strong clue. He will return (on a day) when we least expect him to arrive. There are 365 days in the year (360 if you use the Hebrew calendar). If we rely heavily on what Jesus is telling us, then combine it with all the other end times passages, I think we can safely assume (predict) that he will not take us home in the Rapture on any holiday of great importance to us or to the Jews. Besides, the only prophecy remaining for the church, itself (the body of Christ consisting of both Jews and Gentiles) is the Rapture. This prophecy has no bearing whatsoever on all the predictions pertaining to Israel and the Jews, such as the physical and spiritual restoration of Israel as a people and a nation.
Thus, I believe it is a mistake, at least a miscalculated presumption to claim or even to speculate beyond mere possibility that blood moon tetrads (lunar eclipses) have a direct correlation with the Rapture of the Church. If that were the case, then our Lord has teased us some 7 ¼ times during the past 2000 years. Some could even argue that we have been misled to think that blood moon tetrads will signal the return of Christ. But misled only if they make a connection that should be reserved to significant events pertaining to Israel. Do you see the difference?
Blood moons? Do they apply to Israel? Absolutely, they do, but we never know which ones or when, until something happens such as the Six-Day War of 1967. Do blood moons apply to the Church or the Rapture? Highly unlikely; however, the Great Tribulation that follows the Rapture will see an abundance of signs/wonders in the heavens and unimaginable plagues on the earth never experienced before and never to be experienced again. The reason that the darkened sun, and the blood-red moon which gives no light of Joel Chapter 2 will be so utterly spectacular, is because it will defy all scientific explanations including a lunar eclipse. And, these signs will be but two of many wonders in the heavens and earth, “before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives.”
Things to Ponder
As a matter of emphasis, I would repeat my (and I think all who passionately hope for the soon-to-be glorious appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ) earlier preference that the Lord’s return might be on a significant day of the year. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if the Last Trumpet would sound, our mortal bodies transfigured, and we ascend to heaven (Rapture) while we’re opening presents on Christmas Eve or Day? Or while we’re listening to Handel’s Messiah on Resurrection Sunday? Or while Jews and some Gentiles are celebrating Passover?
The evidence weighs heavily against the Lord’s appearance on such days. But as suggested: Any day of the year would be the most wonderful day imaginable, if it were the day of our Lord’s return to take us home! Meanwhile, let’s follow Paul’s majestic appeal to Titus and other believers: “For the grace of God had been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed” (Titus 2: 11-13).