Is the astronomical event known as a “Blood Moon” that will occur on September 28, 2015 a sign of the end times and the return of Jesus Christ as many fundamentalist Christian preachers are claiming?
The so-called “Blood Moon Prophecy” is a hypothesis concocted by some Christian ministers, most notably by John Hagee and Mark Biltz, which states that an ongoing ‘tetrad’ (a series of four consecutive lunar eclipses—coinciding on Jewish holidays—with six full moons in between, and no intervening partial lunar eclipses) which began with the April 2014 lunar eclipse is a sign of the end times as described in the Bible.
“Around 2008, Biltz began predicting that the Second Coming of Jesus would occur in the fall of 2015 with the seven years of the great tribulation beginning in the fall of 2008. He said he had “discovered” an astronomical pattern that predicted the next tetrad would coincide with the end times. When the prediction failed, he pulled the article from his website, but continued to teach on the “significance” of the tetrad.”
“Hagee would later seize on Biltz’ prediction to write Four Blood Moons, which would become a best seller, spending more than 150 days in Amazon.com’s top 150 by April 2014. For the week ending March 30, 2014, it was the ninth best selling paperback, according to Publishers Weekly. By mid-April, Hagee’s book had hit No. 4 on the The New York Times best-seller list in the advice category. Hagee’s book (and subsequent sermon series at his home congregation, Cornerstone Church) did not proclaim that any specific “end times” event would occur (as did Biltz in his original prophecy), but claimed that every prior tetrad of the last 500 years coincided with events in Jewish and Israeli history that were originally tragic, yet followed by triumph.”
The idea of a “blood moon” serving as an omen of the coming of the end times comes from the Book of Joel, where it is written “the sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.”
The blood moon also appears in the book of Revelation chapter 6 verses 11 – 13, where verse 12 says ” 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”.
So is the blood moon of September 28, 2015 a sign of the end of times?
Simply put, No.
A Blood Red colored moon is a normal natural phenomenon caused by what is known as “Rayleigh Scattering“. The Tetrad of Full Moons too is a completely natural phenomenon and, while they are rare enough to be note-worthy, they still are not exceedingly rare. In fact, there have been 62 similar tetrads since the first century A.D.
In article for Space.com, Geoff Gaherty writes:
“While a tetrad of total lunar eclipses is somewhat rare, it is not extraordinarily so, and probably nothing to make a fuss about. After all, the only thing that happens during a lunar eclipse is that the moon spends a couple of hours passing through the Earth’s shadow, hardly something to be concerned about.
On rare occasions, the light reaching the moon is exactly the color of blood, but there is no way of predicting this in advance. So there are no grounds to call any particular lunar eclipse a blood moon until it actually shows its color.
Because the moon’s orbit is slightly tilted with respect to the sun’s path across the sky, most of the time the moon passes above or below the Earth’s shadow, and no eclipse occurs. Sometimes it passes only through the penumbra and produces what is called a penumbral eclipse, a moon so lightly shaded that the casual observer might not even notice a difference. There were two such penumbral eclipses in 2013, on May 25 and Oct. 18.
When the mechanisms behind eclipses were less well understood, they were thought to be omens of bad tidings, just as comets were. Now people know that these are just normal events in the clockwork of the solar system, things which have occurred regularly for thousands of years and which will occur for thousands of years into the future.”
Space.com video on the science of Blood Moons
But despite there now being a much more complete scientific understanding of the moon and lunar phenomenons (largely advanced by Jesuit astronomers in the 17th and 18th centuries) some people still view these celestial events as harbingers of doom foretold by scripture.
A common thread that one will see when reading about these modern “Prophets of Doom” is they claim to have deciphered a secret knowledge from scripture that allows them to predict the end of the world. This is often little more than a “for profit” (pun intended) modern personal gnosticism.
It is telling that those who claim to know the date of end of the world and the coming of the Terrible Judge would use the precious little time left to publish a book, release a movie, and cash royalty checks…
Another common thread is that these types of ‘preachers’ usually claim to believe in the inherently flawed notion of “Sola Scriptura” and have a selectively literalistic interpretation of the Bible. They can take a passage from the Book of Joel and claim it to be literal, but when other parts of the bible contradict their interpretation, the same literalism is nowhere to be found.
The bible is pretty clear that on that those who claim to know or have been able to calculate the end of the world are claiming knowledge not even the Son of the God, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, would claim for Himself:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” – Matthew 24:36
So, again, will the Earth end this week? No. (Well, most likely not, but nobody knows for sure, especially somebody who claims that they do.)
The best advice one could receive on the end times prophecy comes from the Bible:
“Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
– Matthew 24:42-44