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Blood Moons

Introduction

I have until recently hesitated in writing about this topic because there are already so many people doing so. I originally never expected so many people to take to heart the issues surrounding the “Four Blood Moons” of 2014 and 2015, but recent events have proved me wrong. After being repeatedly asked about my take on the issue of ‘blood’ moons and Bible Prophecy I feel compelled to pen my thoughts.

Before we begin, I think it is important to note that there are many Bible verses that we refer to that mention ‘blood’ moons in reference to prophecy.

“The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.” – Joel 2:31

“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.” – Acts 2:20

“I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.” – Rev 6:12

These verses make it clear that there are some ‘freaky’ moments in history future (and perhaps past) in which the moon will appear as blood. The Hebrew word for blood used in Joel 2:31 is the same word that is used in Joel 2:30,

"And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.”

In both instances the word for blood, is the word, dâm, which means literally blood, or figuratively can mean the ‘juice of the grape’.

When referred to in Acts 2:20 and Revelation 6:12, we see a Greek word, αἷμα (aima), utilized to relay the same concept. By implication this word aima also refers to actual blood, or could figuratively refer to with ‘juice of grapes’.

What this likely means then is that at these times, as reference by these verses, the moon will be the colour of blood or the colour of red wine. This of course then begs the question, “Are these verses referring to a ‘natural’, or a ‘super-natural’ event?”

Natural Blood Moons?

When you do a little research on this, it doesn’t take long to discover that yes – there are times when the moon appears to be reddish in colour which is a stark contrast to the normal, 4000°K, white reflected light we see from night to night. Events such as Forest Fires, grass fires (or fires in general), volcanic eruptions and lunar eclipses are all well-known events that can bring about blood moons (and even ‘blood’ suns).

In all cases, blood moons are caused when the light of the moon reflected to the earth is scattered by particles in the atmosphere called the Rayleigh Scattering. A lot of people may not realize this but colours truly do happen in our brains. Light is made up of electromagnetic waves, radio waves, X-rays, gamma rays, etc. When we consider visible light, we are talking about lighting in the wavelengths of 400 to 800 nanometers (nm). Our eyes and then brain translates these wavelengths into what we perceive as colour.

visible spectrum picture

Our brains interpret the shortest wavelengths around 400 nanometers as blue, and 800 nanometers as red. The intermediate wavelengths give us all the other colours. Isaac Newton showed that white light is a fairly equal mixture of all visible wavelengths of light, that is, all the colours of the rainbow. Black, in contrast, is the absence of reflected light. An object that is black absorbs all light and reflects little or none back to our eyes. If you think about it, this is precisely why black objects are so hot on a summer day. The black object absorbs all the light energy, whereas white objects reflect it all back.

When a ray of light from a distant object on its way to your eye passes through a cloud or suspension of very small particles, some of the light is scattered off in other directions, so that you don't get to see it. Now because each wavelength is a different length (as the name implies) wavelengths of light are not scattered equally. The short wavelengths (blue) are scattered about 16 times more often, or stronger than the longer wavelengths such as red. This preferential scattering of blue light from a beam of white light leaves light that is predominantly red. When passing through a cloud of smoke particles for instance, the white light from the Sun or Moon becomes reddish because the blue light is scattered and doesn’t reach our eye. Rayleigh Scattering is precisely what makes the dramatic yellows, orange and red colours of the sunset. With the blue light effectively scattered by our atmosphere at low angle incidence, only the lower frequency lighting from the sun reaches our eyes.

Folklore

Rayleigh Scattering is also why sometimes the moon appears reddish when it is low on the horizon. In folklore, all the full moons have names. The names typically coincide with months of the year, or seasons. One of the most famous moon names is the Hunter’s Moon. It is the full moon immediately following the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon occurring most closely to the autumnal equinox. The Hunter’s Moon, in sky lore, is also sometimes called the Blood Moon. Why? Probably because it’s a characteristic of these autumn full moons that they appear nearly full – and rise soon after sunset – for several evenings in a row. Many people see them when they are low in the sky, shortly after they’ve risen, at which time there’s more atmosphere between you and the moon than when the moon is overhead. When you see the moon low in the sky, the extra air between you and the moon scatters more of the blue light, causing the moon to look reddish in colour. Voila - Blood moon.

Where there’s Smoke, There’s… blood.

Here is another prime example of Rayleigh Scattering. You can try an experiment. Sit around a campfire during the day and look at the smoke - it looks bluish. Now look at the Sun through the smoke; it will look orange or reddish. This type of red sun and red moon phenomenon is often seen when there is a lot of smoke in the atmosphere during times of forest fires, or volcanic eruptions. An example is shown in the picture below.

moon through smoke picture

With this information under our belt it may give us a different take now on the events described in Joel 2:30-31.

"And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.” – Joel 2:30-31

Think now of a volcanic eruption and the ‘pillar of smoke’ and ash that billows out of the top of the volcano by such an event. A volcano produces enough ash to block out the light of the sun significantly; this same ash then also scatters the light of the sun and moon thereby rendering them a reddish colour by nature. I personally have witnessed similar phenomena first hand with forest fires, whereby the noon day sun was drastically diminished and the evening moon was as orange as rusted steel. Could these events in Joel 2 be super-natural events? Yes. But they could also be natural events are caused by the supernatural hand of God putting events in motion such as volcanos, earthquakes and fires.

The Lunar Eclipse

eclipse phases picture

But what about these blood moons that are currently being discussed in the prophecy circles? They all reference lunar eclipses. Well that precisely leads me to our next point.

During a lunar eclipse, you’ll see the Earth’s shadow creeping across the moon’s face until the shadow completely covers the moon. During that moment of total shadow, the shadow on the moon’s face often suddenly changes - instead of dark, it appears red. Why?

You’ve probably already guessed that the answer is again Rayleigh Scattering. And like a “Hunter’s Moon” the catalyst for this event is the very air we breathe. During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth lies directly between the sun and the moon, causing the Earth to cast its shadow on the moon.

Earth’s atmosphere extends about 50 miles (80 kilometers) above Earth’s surface. During a total lunar eclipse, when the moon is submerged in Earth’s shadow, there is circular ring around Earth – the ring of our atmosphere – through which the sun’s rays pass. The blue light is essentially scattered by the atmosphere, and the longer wavelengths, the reds pass through. Actually it is refracted (bent) toward the Earth’s surface and then bent again when it exits the other side. This double refraction essentially removes most of the blues, and transmits only the reds. Depending on the conditions of our atmosphere at the time of the eclipse (dust, humidity, temperature and so on can all make a difference), the surviving light will illuminate the moon with a color that ranges from copper-colored to deep red. Without our atmosphere, when the moon was entirely within Earth’s shadow, the moon would appear black and invisible and there would be no reason to write this article.

anatomy of lunar eclipse picture

The Blood Moon Hype

As you can see so far blood moons are nothing new. They’ve been happening for a long time as natural events throughout the history of the world. So why now the increased interest in these blood moons?

The first time many of us in the prophecy circles heard of the blood moon concept (as currently put forward by proponents) was back around 2007. Since then more and more prophecy writers and commentaries have mentioned blood moons, and significant events that appear to occur in Jewish history surrounding these natural events. The hypothesis then put forward is that we can use blood moons as predictive sign posts of future, significant prophetic events. There has been special emphasis placed on these blood moons when they occur in sets of four called ‘Tetrads’.

The two most prominent writers supporting this blood moon theory is Mark Biltz and John Hagee. Their two books “Blood Moons” (Biltz) and “Four Blood Moons” (Hagee) have served as a catalyst for Christians to give what I would consider to be unnecessary importance to these lunar eclipses. Mark Biltz is really the one who first presented this first ‘blood’ moon prophecy idea that we see today.

Mark Biltz's BookHagee's Book

Now I must caveat here that I have nothing against either Mr. Biltz, or Mr. Hagee, and nothing I say here is meant to be personal in anyway, but I do confess that I disagree with their views on these blood moons. Consider this to be an in house debate and not a personal axe to grind with any of these two men.

The Tetrad

John Hagee has mentioned that the latest Tetrad (a series of four consecutive total lunar eclipses) is a sign of the prophecy of Joel 2. In a sermon posted on YouTube, Hagee quoted Joel 2, Acts 2 and Mark 13 and claimed Christians would be foolish not to view the tetrad as a sign from God.

"The heavens are God's billboard, and when something big is about to happen, He gives planet earth a sign in heaven," "It's a signal that something significant is about to happen. Pay attention. NASA has said this is coming. God has said through Joel and Saint Peter, 'Listen! When this happens, it's unusual.'"1

What’s interesting is that in many of the sermons and talks surrounding this topic, Hagee repeatedly mentions that these Tetrads are extremely rare. However, there are actually a total of 8 tetrads expected for the 21st century alone, one of which has already happened in 2003/2004.

Tetrad List

There is a catch though. Proponents regard the ongoing tetrad (#2) as being especially significant because it coincides with two important Jewish Holidays: Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles. The April 2014 and April 2015 eclipses align with Passover and the October 2014 and September 2015 align with the Feast of Tabernacles. As a student of prophecy myself I am definitely intrigued when I see things of this nature. God does work in amazing ways, and he has been known to have his plans orchestrated through the seemingly ‘natural’ progression of history. However, the more I looked into this, the more I came to realize that while perhaps something might happen, I wouldn’t go to the bank with it. My ultimate fear is that when nothing happens, Christians that have been vocal about this (the media has totally noticed this hype) will be made out to be foolish, and Christianity will take another blow to integrity.

The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar. Their twelve months are currently calculated as containing 354 days, which leaves their year eleven-and-one-fourth days short of the true solar year. This is corrected by adding a "leap month," known as Ve-Adar, seven times during a nineteen-year cycle. Because it is lunar base, in any given year it is therefore inevitable that a full moon should fall on or near the feasts of Passover (15 Nissan) and Tabernacles (15 Tishri). Nissan and Tishri are the first and seventh months on the Jewish calendar.

This lunar based system begs the question, “Just how common are Tetrads?” We’ve already seen that we are expecting 8 of them in the 21st century. Well, depending upon the century in which you live, a lunar tetrad (four consecutive total lunar eclipses spaced at six lunar months apart from one another) may happen fairly frequently – or not at all.

For instance, in our 21st century (2001-2100), there are a total 8 tetrads, but in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, there were none at all. If we include all the centuries from the 1st century (AD 1-100) through the 21st century (2001-2100), inclusive, there are a total of 62 tetrads. The last one occurred in 2003-2004, and the next one after the 2014-2015 tetrad will happen in 2032-2033.

In all fairness to proponents of the “Four Blood Moon” idea, we need to look at which tetrads, if any others, coincide with the Jewish Feasts of Passover and Tabernacles. There appear to be a total of 8 occurrences in the past 21 centuries:

  1. 162-163 A.D.
  2. 795-796 A.D.
  3. 842-843 A.D.
  4. 860-861 A.D.
  5. 1493-1494 A.D.
  6. 1949-1950 A.D.
  7. 1967-1968 A.D.
  8. 2014-2015 A.D

Now I must admit that I’ve heard proponents of the blood moon theory give historical support for some of these tetrad’s whereas they’ve show some relevant ‘Israel’ historical event during the times of the tetrad, however, not all of them.

For example, it is claimed that the Six Day War in Israel happened during the 1967-68 tetrad, however the total eclipses were April 24, 1967, October 18, 1967, April 13, 1968 and October 6, 1968. The Six Day War ran from June 5th thru 10th, 1967. You will note that these dates don’t line up at all with the tetrad dates. Of note is also the fact that none of the lunar eclipses ( tetrads) were visible from Israel. Many people don’t realize that lunar eclipses are localized events. Because the moon is smaller than the earth, its shadow doesn’t cover the whole surface, plus an eclipse could occur on the other side of the planet and we might not see it at all.

Some proponents have stated that ‘Israel became a state during a tetrad’. Not true. Israel became a nation on May 15th, 1948. The first total eclipse in the closest tetrad didn’t occur until April 13th, 1949! And yep, you guessed it, NOT VISIBLE from Israel anyway.

Readers would also be surprised to learn that this current tetrad? The April 2014 thru Sept 2015 set of blood moons that all the current hype is about are not visible from Israel either. It would seem very strange to me, to have God orchestrate a sign for Israel, or about Israel, that can’t even be seen FROM ISRAEL! 2014-2015 Tetrad:

  • 15 April 2014: Not visible from Israel
  • 8 October 2014: Not visible from Israel
  • 4 April 2015: Not visible from Israel
  • 28 September 2015: Visible, but moon sets at sunrise during the eclipse - not likely to be "blood red" as the sky will brightening as the moon goes into totality as the moon sets.

Of equal note and relevance is that there are many, many important times in Jewish history that seem to be absent from any tetrad, or blood moon activity at all. For instance:

  1. There was no Tetrad in 1446 BC when Israel left Egypt in the Exodus
  2. There was no Tetrad in 1406 BC when Joshua entered Canaan in the Conquest
  3. There was no Tetrad in 723 BC when the ten northern tribes went into Assyrian Captivity
  4. There was no Tetrad in in 587 BC when Judah went into Babylonian captivity
  5. There was no Tetrad in 538 BC when Cyrus proclaims the Jews could return to Canaan.
  6. There was no Tetrad in 533 BC when the Jews began their return to Canaan from Babylon and arrived in Jerusalem.
  7. There was no Tetrad in 2-3 BC when Jesus was born
  8. There was no Tetrad in 33 AD when Jesus was crucified (although a lunar eclipse does seem to line up with the date according to Daniel 9)
  9. There was no Tetrad in 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed
  10. There was no Tetrad in 135 when Hadrian renamed Jerusalem "Aelia Capitolina", renamed the land "Palestine" after Israel's archenemy the "Philistines" (Goliath) and killed all the Jews and expelled them from Canaan.
  11. There was no Tetrad in 1943 AD when Hitler killed 6 million Jews during the Holocaust of the Second World War.

It would seem that some, if not all of the above moments in Jewish history are worthy of a blood moon, or tetrad, but yet, none occurred.

Signs of the Times

Before we leave the topic of Four Blood Moons, I feel I need to add a small caveat here. I am not saying that prophetic events could not happen during this years’ tetrad, but what I am saying is that we shouldn’t ‘bank’ on it happening. God could use any period in history, or any sign, or wonder to accomplish his plan, but I think we cross the line when we emphatically point to certain events with assurance. The Bible is full warnings and signs of what the world will look like at the end of the age. I myself have written many articles on the issue, all of which can be viewed from our website2. I will also be the first to admit the Bible does in fact say,

“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;” – Luke 21:25

However, the problem I have with these moments of ‘prophetic hype’, such as what we see now with the Four Blood Moons and the tetrad discussions, is that they are lacking research and are careless in application. This sets an unbelieving world higher on their pedestal of disbelief, because once again those crazy Christians predicted the end of the world – and nothing happened.

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." – 2 Peter 3:4

The very ones who are to proclaim the gospel and that the King is coming are they who are pushing people away, and feeding the skepticism with reckless speculation. Remember that Christ said, “The Master of the servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know” - Matt 24:50

I take this verse, and others like it (cf. Matt 24:36-39, 1 Thess. 5:1-3) to mean that Christ will return on a day when we least expect it, not when we most expect it. There are definitely signs that point to the season of the Lord’s return; however, the specifics such as future, predictable astronomical events take us too far into speculation. We need to be sober and vigilant, and above all else Berean in such matters. There are so many other proofs in Scripture that point to the Lord’s soon return, that to put our finger at something like Four Blood Moons (which has the least Biblical backing) is careless, if not folly.

I believe blood moon event(s) mentioned in Joel, Acts and Revelation will either be supernatural or perhaps naturally caused results from supernatural events (ie: dust clouds, pillars of smoke, etc). But in all cases I would expect these to occur outside of normal, expected, mathematically and astronomically ordained and predictable events. A day which we ‘do not expect’ certainly cannot be a day that we can mathematically predict from the cosmos.

Serving the King,

J.R. Hall



Endnotes:

  1. The Coming Four Blood moons, Youtube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lqk3XdMkDY
  2. For more information on signs of the end times in the Bible, see our four part series titled, “Signs of the Times” Sign's of the Times - Part I

References:

  1. Eclipse information was obtained from the NASA website. http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEcat5/LE1901-2000.html

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