There are some very fascinating astronomical things happening in our solar system that started today. Last night, the full moon entered the shadow of the earth and created a cool looking and unique appearance that is different from the typical appearance of the moon. While the color of the moon during this eclipse is not always the same, and depends on different factors, last night’s was the more expected red colored “blood moon.” A blood moon is when there is a lunar eclipse at the same time as a full moon in the lunar cycle. But there is something more unusual about this particular occurrence. It is the first of four consecutive similar lunar events. There will be four more blood moons in the next 18 months. This sequence is called a tetrad, and, between the first and twenty-first centuries, there are a total of 62 tetrads. These four present eclipses will occur on April 15th, 2014 (today), Oct 8th, 2014, April 4th, 2015, and September 28th, 2015. These dates are also significant for Jews, who will have feasts that will begin on these same days. Today is the first day of Passover. Oct. 8th, 2014, will be the first day of Sukkoth (or the Feast of Tabernacles). April 4th, 2015 will be the first day of Passover again. Sep. 28th, 2015, once again, will be the first day of Sukkoth.
This sequence of feasts over a two-year period coinciding with this lunar tetrad has happened seven other times over the last 2,000 years. Some have connected these tetrad-feast cycles to significant events in the history of the Jewish nation of Israel. They suggest that, therefore, there will be something significant happen during this tetrad-feast cycle as well. I won’t go into any detail on the varying ideas of what this something significant might be that some have proposed. It isn’t necessary, since the connection to the tetrad-feast cycles and significant events doesn’t hold up to any biblical prophetic criteria. The effects of the cause are irrelevant when the cause is non-existent. If one wanted to research the primary views anyways, one would simply need to research John Hagee’s most popular work on the topic, which originated from Mark Blitz’ work on the topic, which came from Bill Koenig’s research on the topic.
Those past historic events with the nation of Israel that have coincided with past lunar tetrads are the Spanish inquisition, which resulted in a Jewish exile in 1492, the establishment of the statehood of Israel in 1948, and the Six Day War in 1967. The conclusion of the blood moon prophecy is, generally, that something significant will therefore happen during this current tetrad-feast cycle.
There are some rather significant problems with this conclusion. In fact, there are five problems this prediction needs to overcome in order to be compelling.
First, we have to take into account the calendar used to determine when these feasts begin. It is no coincidence that these feast days fall on the same day as a full moon. In fact, the dates of these feasts are determined by the lunar cycles, not the Gregorian calendar we might typically be familiar with using to determine the dates of our modern events and holidays. In fact, Easter occurs at different dates on our calendar every year, because it is determined by the lunar cycle that determines when Passover begins. This is because Jesus was crucified during Passover. This fact doesn’t mean that the blood moon prophecy is necessarily false, but simply that it must not be assumed that the odds of the first days of a feast coinciding with a full moon is 1 in 8 (8 phases to a moon cycle), and that the odds of four consecutive feasts starting on four different full moons would, therefore, be 1 in over 4,000. That’s just a bit of western, fanciful romanticism we might have a tendency to unwittingly add to the story. Each of these Jewish feasts begins on a full moon every time.
Second, a closer look at the actual dates of the previous seven lunar tetrads raises some significant issues regarding the current prophetic predictions. The previous seven lunar tetrads occurring simultaneously with these first days of the Passover and Sukkoth Feasts have occurred in the years 162/163, 795/796, 842/843, 860/861, 1493/1494, 1949/1950, and 1967/1968. This raises two important questions. First, why is something significant with Israel’s history only associated with three of seven of these tetrad-feast cycles? It would seem that if this tetrad-feast cycle was a significant indicator of something historic in Israel’s past, then something would be connected to all seven past events. It would also seem that such an historic event as the destruction of the Second Temple would coincide with such an indication. A claim that some event unknown to modern historians is attached to the other five cycles seems far-fetched.
Third, and the other question raised by these dates, is why do the lunar tetrad cycles happen about a year away from the actual dates of the historic events given as significant prophetic links? The only event that can be said to happen during the tetrad is the Six Day War of 1967. The first blood moon of that tetrad was on April 24th, and the second was on October 18th, while the Six Day War started on June 5th and ended on June 10th of that year.The date of the Jewish exile by the Spaniards is March 31st of 1492, not 1493. That’s 13 months before the tetrad-feast cycle of 1493 began. Independence Day for Israel occurred on May 14th, 1948. That’s 11 months before the tetrad-feast cycle of 1949 began. Both of these events happened almost a year before the tetrad-feast cycle. If we are to conclude that something significant will also occur during this cycle, based on only three of the last seven cycles mind you, then should we conclude that the significant event likewise already happened last year?
Fourth, if we are to allow that the significant event can occur within a year of the prophetic event, and not necessarily before the tetrad-feast cycle (since nothing as significant as an exile or establishment of statehood occurred last year), then we are to predict that something significant will happen to Israel within 13 months before or after this tetrad-feast cycle. That’s a total span of 43 months. This vast amount of time for a prediction just doesn’t jive with biblical prophecy. For example, Zechariah prophesied that Jesus would enter Jerusalem riding on the “colt of a donkey” (Zech 9:9), and that Jesus would be betrayed for “30 pieces of silver” (Zechariah 11:13), and that the money would be “used to buy a field.” Hosea prophesied that Jesus would rise after “3 days” (Hosea 6:2). So did Jesus (Matthew 12:40). I could go on sifting through the 2,000+ prophecies of Scripture, but one thing is clear, biblical prophecy is rather specific. It doesn’t play the game of ball-parking specifics that human impostor prophecy does. One might grant that 43 months is a small amount of time relative to the thousands of years of the history of Israel. It just seems, to me, that if something significant actually does happen in Israel in this 43 month period, skeptics such as myself will consider it a bit ad hoc to credit it to such a broad prophetic revelation, especially in light of the recent decades of significant turmoil we’ve experienced in the Middle East.
Finally, the biblical verses that reference a blood colored moon are in a rather specific context that do not line up with this present prediction of some significant event in Israel. In Revelation 6:12-14, John is describing the blood colored moon happening, what seems to me to be, simultaneously with a darkened sun and in sequence with a series of other events. The past seven lunar tetrads have not occurred along with any of these other signs. Why would we assume one element of this prophecy is to be literally fulfilled and not the others? That passage reads as follows:
When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
To be fair, the blood colored moon is mentioned in other places in the Bible, such as in Joel 2:31 where it says, “The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.” This Old Testament passage is also quoted by Peter in Acts 2:20. Again, the sign of the blood colored moon occurs along with the darkened sun.
Furthermore, some have suggested that Peter’s quotation of the blood colored moon ties to the darkness that came over the earth at the crucifixion of Jesus, and that this prophecy was fulfilled in the first century. The crucifixion of Jesus does not coincide with one of these cycles, by the way. So, if there was a blood moon that Peter was referring to in connection with that event, it is not one of the tetrad blood moons.
Others propose that Peter was not referring to a separate event, but the same future eschatological event referred to in Revelation 6:12-14. This passage describes the opening of the sixth of seven seals. In order for one to hold to the idea of this prophecy’s fulfillment in our present time, one would have to account for the apparent chronological sequence of prophecies revealed in the first five seals. All of these seals, understood in context, refer to a period of judgment. In fact, the blood moon is also mentioned in Matthew 24:29, where it says, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” This seems, to me, to reference the same eschatological signs that reveal the judgment period known as tribulation.
Therefore, one who proposes that we are presently in that period of judgment will have to perform some biblical-mental acrobatics to compel anyone who ascribes to a literal-grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture, or abandon such a method of interpretation altogether. Otherwise, the sequence of the opening of the seals is just non-sense. Why would the sixth seal be opened before the others? If that is the case, why call it “the sixth seal” at all? Whether one considers the prophetic blood moon sign as having occurred in the first century, or that it is an eschatological event that occurs in a future dispensation of tribulation, it is biblically inaccurate to claim that the sign described in the Bible will occur during this present age and out of the obvious prophetic sequence described in Revelation.
So, we have five significant problems for the current idea of the blood moon prophecy to overcome. It’s not quite the coincidence it appears to be at an initial look when one considers the Jewish feasts and the lunar cycles for determining when they occur. There are actually six past tetrad-feast events to account for, and only two historic events in Israel’s history are linked to these cycles. The historic events in Israel’s history given occur about one year before their respective tetrad-feast cycles. The proposed prophecy is far too general in nature to be compared to any actual real prophecy as they are revealed in the Bible. And, it requires some distortions of biblical interpretation to arrive at the idea that the prophetic sign of a blood moon even occurs in our age.
I have to admit, I do find the sci-fi prophecy stuff entertaining, and I disagree with many who deny that such ideas contribute to the academic discussion of Scripture. I also believe this specific prophecy in Revelation is one to be taken literally among a myriad of symbolism. I also tend to agree that the heavenly skies do reveal something to us about our Creator and the relationship He desires with us, as it seems to indicate in Genesis 1:14. I would not, however, agree that it reveals to us the time of the second coming of Jesus Christ, which is not the position of many who do believe in the significance of the blood moon prophecy. That kind of revelation would contradict Scripture, which says, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36) Perhaps there is something significant to the lunar tetrad-feast cycle, but to tie it directly to historic events in the history of Israel just requires some bad math.