The Coming Blood Moons

Commentary by Jack Kelley

I first wrote about the so-called blood moons five years ago.  At the time a video series on the subject was being heavily marketed as revealing the date of the second coming. By now most people no longer believe that, but the series is still popular and since we’re getting close to the next one’s arrival I’ve been getting questions about the blood moons again. So here’s an update.

As many of us already know there are some remarkable celestial events coming in 2014 and 2015. There are two sets of lunar and solar eclipses that will take place on or near Jewish Feast dates. There will be lunar eclipses on April 15 and October 8 in 2014 and on April 4 and September 28 in 2015. What makes them remarkable is that in both these years the spring eclipses will come on Passover and the fall ones will come on the Feast of Tabernacles.

When four consecutive lunar eclipses are all total eclipses the series is called a tetrad. While there will be 6 other tetrads during the 21st Century those in 2014 and 2015 are the only ones that will all come on Feast dates. We should note that of the 2014-15 lunar eclipses only the last one (Sept. 28, 2015) will be visible from Israel, and then only partially.

But there’s more. In 2015 there will also be two solar eclipses, and again one will come in the spring and the other in the fall. The spring solar eclipse will take place on the first day of Israel’s religious year (Nisan 1) fourteen days before Passover, and the one in the fall will come on the first day of the civil year (Tishri 1) six months later, which is Rosh Hashanah, or the Feast of Trumpets.

Does This Happen Often?

Counting the ones in 2014-15 there will have only been 13 tetrads in the last 500 years and of those only 2 have previously come at the time of Jewish feasts. One was in 1949-50 and the other one was in 1967-68. A tetrad being a series of four, that means we’re talking about eight total lunar eclipses. Of those eight only the one in April 1950 was fully visible from Israel, four others were partially visible and the rest were not visible at all. (Since these are being touted as signs to Israel, you might wonder why they weren’t all visible there.)

The tetrad in 1949-50 began a year after Israel’s re-birth as a nation on May 14, 1948. The one in 1967-68 began in April, about six weeks before the 6 day war that ended in the reunification of Jerusalem. The proximity of these occurrences to watershed dates in Israel’s modern history leads some to believe that the tetrads coming in 2014-15 will be similarly important to Israel.

Personally I’m not as impressed with this as some others are. Biblical history tells us God’s signs are clear and specific. The Bethlehem star is a case in point. If you’ve ever tried to follow a star without the benefit of modern equipment, you know the fact that the Magi were able to follow it to Jerusalem from hundreds of miles away is impressive in itself, but then it led them from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, a distance of only 5 miles. According to Matthew 2:9-11 the star led them right to the house where the Lord’s family was staying. Could it be God?

Contrast that with the tetrads in 1949-50. They weren’t specific to the event they were supposed to be heralding. God’s chosen people officially became a nation again after a 1900 year absence on May 14,1948 but the first eclipse in the tetrad didn’t appear until a year later. Signs from Heaven are supposed to tell us that things are about to happen, not that things already have happened. Proponents of this theory had to search through the records to find an event related to Israel’s history that would coincide with the date of the eclipse. They chose the conversion of Israel’s provisional government to a permanent one. Did God wait until then to provide a sign because He was uncertain as to whether Israel would make it? And did anyone on Earth recognize these events as signs from heaven at the time? You could forgive Israel for not noticing. For the most part the eclipses were not even visible there.

To prophecy students, the rebirth of Israel was a long awaited sign that the end times had begun, and everyone of them noticed it. This is the sign God was sending us at that time, not a series of eclipses that arrived a year after the fact, and were only visible to some.

At least the first half of the 1967-68 tetrad bracketed the six day war that led to the reunification of Jerusalem, but again no one noticed it for 40 years. That’s probably because neither of the 1967 eclipses was visible at all in Israel, and of the 1968 eclipses only the one in April was visible and then only partly so. Three out of the four could not be seen at all by the people for whom the sign was supposedly intended.

Some say the tetrads of 1949-50 and 1967-68 happened during two important wars in Israel, the war for independence and the six day war. They use this as support for predicting another important war for Israel in 2014-15. This at least sounds plausible, even though the war of independence ended a month before the first of the 1949 eclipses occurred, and none of Israel’s other important wars happened during a series of eclipses. But there are three wars prophesied for Israel that have yet to happen, any of which could theoretically take place between the spring of 2014 and the fall of 2015. Of course I’m referring to those prophesied in Isaiah 17, Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39.

Is That Biblical?

But let’s look at what, if anything, the Bible says about this. The underlying support for the eclipse hypothesis is Genesis 1:14 where the King James translation reads,

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years;

To make the passage read more easily in English, the translators inserted the word “and” in several places in this verse. According to the interlinear Bible, a more literal reading of verse 14 would go like this.

Let there be lights in the expanse of the heaven to separate the day from the night. Let them be for signs; seasons, days, years.

Inserting the additional articles makes the King James version look like the lights are for signs as well as to mark the seasons, days and years. But I think the interlinear is closer to the original intent of Genesis 1:14. The NIV translation agrees. It reads,

Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.

All this to say it’s not clear that Genesis 1:14 says one of the functions of the lights in the sky is to serve as signs of important events. This has to be read into the passage. Most likely it simply says that observing the Sun and Moon enable man to keep track of time.

Second, the phrase “moon turned to blood” comes from Joel 2:31 which says this will happen before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Peter quoted this verse in Acts 2:20. In Rev. 6:12 we find another appearance of the “blood moon” phrase.  These three are the only such verses in the Bible and they all agree that a “blood moon” will appear sometime before the beginning of the Great Tribulation.  This is the only time a blood moon will actually occur.  It was prophesied in Joel 2:31, repeated in Acts 2:20 and will be fulfilled in Rev. 6:12.

But all three of these references also mention the Sun going dark at the same time.  Most of us know that the Moon doesn’t produce any light of its own. Light from the Moon originates on the Sun and is reflected to Earth. You can’t have a lunar eclipse if the Sun is not producing any light, as is the case in Joel 2:31, Acts 2:20, and Rev. 6:12.

Some explain this as being a case of a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse happening at the same time. But that’s impossible, too. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon. As the light from the Sun bends around the Earth and passes through it’s atmosphere on the way to the Moon it takes on a reddish hue. During a total eclipse this will make the Moon appear to be dark orange in color, causing it to be called a blood moon.

But a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth. As the eclipse progresses the Moon will look like a black ball crossing the Sun. In a total solar eclipse all the Sun’s light will be blocked and both the Sun and the Moon will appear to have turned black.

Matt. 24:29, which speaks of the end of the Great Tribulation, says the Sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. This event is also mentioned in Mark 13:24-25. (In Luke 21:25 it’s referred to as signs in the sun, moon and stars.) It’s what a total eclipse of the Sun looks like, although in this case I believe something much more permanent will be happening. I don’t think the Sun will ever come back, but will be replaced by the New Jerusalem.

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it (Rev. 21:23-24).

Also, from any given location a lunar eclipse can only happen at night and a solar eclipse can only happen during the day. For these reasons you can’t have a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse at the same time.

How Many Blood Moons Are There?

The Bible only mentions one blood moon, not a series. Nor does it mention a blood moon in connection with any event in world history except the one that will come in advance of the Great Tribulation. All this means the celestial event prophesied in Joel 2:31, repeated in Acts 2:20 and fulfilled in Rev. 6:12 is unlikely to be an eclipse of either the Sun or the Moon.  Clearly the appearance of a blood moon before the beginning of the Great Tribulation is intended to be a unique and unmistakable sign.

What’s Your Point?

In conclusion we can say that the mention of the sun and moon as signs in Genesis 1:14 probably refers only to keeping track of time. We can also say that the past tetrads do not meet the test of a Biblical sign as exemplified by the star of Bethlehem or the blood moon of Rev. 6:12. Further, tetrads are never mentioned in the Bible at all and therefore can’t be Biblically linked to any significant event in Israel’s history or future. And finally, the blood moon that will signal the coming Great Tribulation is a single sighting, not a tetrad, and most likely isn’t due to an eclipse at all because the Sun will be dark and it’s impossible for solar and lunar eclipses to happen simultaneously.

Therefore, although there’s a high probability that something of prophetic significance will happen in or to Israel between the spring of 2014 and the fall of 2015, I don’t think the tetrads that will occur during that period can be viewed as a sign from God that this will be the case.

Amos 3:7 says, Surely the sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets. It’s still true that if you want to know everything the Lord has revealed about coming events, the best place to look is in the Bible.  Natural occurrences can never substitute for the word of the prophets. Selah 04-27-13