In light of the enthusiastic speculation that is brewing in some circles, I was asked to address the recent hype surrounding the “blood moon.” Let me do so by answering three questions about the issue:
What is a blood moon?
A “blood moon” or a “blood red moon” is the name used to describe the reddish hue that occurs when we have a total lunar eclipse, in which the earth passes between the sun and the moon causing the moon to have a reddish appearance. When you have four “blood moon” eclipses in a relatively short period of time, it is referred to as a tetrad.
[Update: I found a more precise scientific definition of a tetrad at this link: A tetrad is “four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months.”]
Since the birth of Christ, tetrads have occurred more than 50 times. But sometimes these tetrads correspond with the major Jewish feast days, and that is something that has apparently only happened 8 times in the last 2,000 years.
Since 1492, there have been only three times when a tetrad has corresponded to Jewish feast days: 1493–94, 1949–50, and 1967–68. This current tetrad (2014–2015) marks the fourth. This tetrad will culminate on the “blood moon” that will occur on September 27–28, 2015.
Why do some people say blood moons are significant?
Some have suggested that these tetrads, when they correspond to Jewish feast days, mark major events in the eschatological timeline, especially with regard to the nation of Israel.It is important for Christians to exercise biblical discernment and care, rather than blindly jumping on a bandwagon of fanciful speculation. For example, the nation of Israel was reconstituted on May 14, 1948 just prior to the tetrad of 1949–50. And the city of Jerusalem was reunited by Israeli forces in 1967, during the tetrad of 1967–68.
Based on these past events, there is speculation that this current tetrad will signal another major event for Israel and the world, perhaps even marking the time of the rapture and the beginning of the Great Tribulation. Proponents of these views tie their predictions into biblical prophecies about the moon turning to blood in Joel 2:31, Acts 2:20, and Revelation 6:12.
How should Christians think about the blood moon speculation?
With these kinds of predictions, it is important for Christians to exercise biblical discernment and care, rather than blindly jumping on a bandwagon of fanciful speculation.
At least two primary concerns come to mind regarding these blood moon predictions:
First, these speculations are being fueled by astronomical, and even astrological, data and not by biblical data. When Joel 2, Acts 2, and Revelation 6 speak about the moon turning to blood, those passages seem to be describing something far more spectacular than a relatively common lunar eclipse.
Blood moons have occurred many times throughout history. But the eschatological events that mark the Day of the Lord will be unmistakably unique. Those biblical passages also talk about the sun being darkened, and about other cosmic phenomena taking place (such as the stars falling from the sky in Rev. 6:13). Again, the language of Scripture depicts something far more dramatic than a normal lunar eclipse.
We might also note that Revelation 6:12 associates the moon turning to blood with the sixth seal of God’s judgment during the Tribulation period. Thus, it is a phenomenon that occurs after the Tribulation begins, not before it.
Second, I am reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:36, where He said of His second coming that no man knows the day or the hour. In light of that pronouncement, end times date-setters (and those who listen to them) ought to proceed with extreme caution. The Lord similarly warned the apostles in Acts 1:7, when they asked when He would bring in the kingdom, that it was not for them to know the times or the epochs which the Father has established.
Throughout church history, there have been many who have embarrassed themselves (and tarnished their Christian testimony) by trying to predict certain future events, especially with regard to the return of Christ and the end of this age. Those who are promoting this blood moon speculation would do well to heed those same lessons.
Finally, it is important to note that when the New Testament talks about the end of the world, in places like 2 Peter 3:10–15, it urges believers to respond not by creating fanciful date-setting schemes, but rather by walking in holiness and in hope, knowing that one day our Lord will return and this present world-system will be destroyed.
Scripture teaches that Christ’s return will be according to God’s perfect timetable, not ours. In the meantime, we are to walk in faithfulness as we eagerly anticipate His return. And with that anticipation in mind, we can gladly say: “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus.”