By Richard Edmondson
A bit like a stirring in a hornet’s nest—this is kind of how you might view what’s going on in the insane world of Christian Zionist society right now. The “other tribe” (as it were) is breathlessly awaiting the arrival of four consecutive lunar eclipses that are expected to concide with Jewish holidays in the years 2014 and 2015.
The matter is being talked up by John Hagee, the nation’s preeminent Christian Zionist leader, who has a new book out entitled Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change. To be quite honest with you, I don’t pay much attention to Hagee. The San Antonio pastor has apparently been preaching about the coming eclipses for the past year or so, yet I was totally unaware of this until hearing the radio programs of Ron Hall.
It was back around May or June of this year I first started listening to Hall’s program “On the Warning Track,” which airs weekly on The Ugly Truth Radio Network. Hall is a member of that somewhat unusual species of life—a Christian (or at least a former Christian at any rate) who takes the teachings of Jesus seriously. This puts him, quite naturally, at odds with Christian Zionism, for as Hall articulates it, “God is not a racist.” Yet despite Hall’s aversion to this deviant form of Christianity, he keeps rather close and meticulous tabs upon it, and especially he keeps tabs upon Hagee. In fact, Hall describes himself as a “Hagee-ologist.”
Hall has posted a number of videos on the topic of Hagee’s blood moons. Below is his most recent, but you can find the others available on his YouTube channel here. A common theme that emerges in all of them is that this new theology Hagee has developed on the blood moons stands in sharp contradiction to what he has been teaching for the past 30 years or so.
Previously Hagee has always taught that the rapture will occur prior to the onset of the end times tribulation. Yet now he is linking the upcoming lunar eclipses to the the seven-year tribulation period and the Gog-Magog war—which in effect means that unless the church is raptured between now and next April 15, his previous theology was erroneous. Also, if you’re familiar with Christian dispensationalist doctrine, you know that the tribulation ushers in the second coming of Jesus. In other words, if Jesus doesn’t come back pretty soon Hagee, the director of Christians United for Israel (CUFI)—the largest Christian Zionist organization in the US, with a reported million-strong membership—is going to be left with a massive amount of egg on his face.
According to NASA’s website , the lunar eclipses illustrated on the Hagee graphic at the top of this post are indeed expected to occur on the dates given—and a visit to the website When-Is shows that the dates do in fact correspond to the Jewish holidays named. Plus, NASA is also predicting a solar eclipse to occur on March 20, 2015—just as the graphic depicts. Moreover, the eclipses are to be total, as opposed to partial or penumbral, eclipses. When four consecutive total lunar eclipses occur in this manner, NASA refers to it as a “tetrad.” Lunar eclipses, even total ones, are fairly common, occurring roughly on the order of one every 11 months or so. But tetrads are rare. According to NASA (see graph here) , in the millennium stretching from the year 2001 to 2100, a total of just eight will occur.
So precisely what are we looking at here? Are we looking at the second coming of Jesus? Are we looking at a massive hoax? Or are we looking at something else? I’ll share some of my own thoughts on these questions below, but first give a watch to Ron Hall’s most recent program on the Hagee blood moons.
Hagee says he believes the heavens are “God’s billboard” upon which the Divine Creator transmits messages to people here on earth—and of course the coming lunar eclipses are being viewed as a major new message from God by Hagee and his followers. Let’s suppose for a moment, they are right. What exactly is the message? Does it augur well for Israel and the Jewish people? Or does it bode evil? One would not think the moon turning the color of blood would be an especially auspicious sign—or that its occurring simultaneous to important Jewish holidays would herald particularly cheerful prospects for those observing such holidays—but perhaps it’s all in the eyes of the interpreter.
The basic fundamental tenet of Christian Zionism, at any rate, is that we are to support Israel and the Jewish people no matter what—no matter how many innocents they kill, no matter how many racist policies they enact, no matter how many war crimes and atrocities they carry out. This support must continue no matter what, even if Israel launches wars of territorial expansion, for of course the book of Genesis defines the land of Israel as extending from the Nile to Euphrates Rivers. So should Israel therefore conquer, say, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq (either militarily or through regime change), that’s perfectly okay by Christian Zionists, for in their view it would be condoned by God—and of course, whoever blesses the Jews in this world will in turn receive the blessings of God. Never mind that America has been lavisihing “blessings” upon Israel since 1948 and that today our country stands on the brink of economic ruin. This is not something that computes in the brains of Christian Zionists…where if there is any fault at all to be construed it is that America didn’t bless Israel enough.
As I say, and as Ron Hall points out on his radio programs, what Hagee is preaching now about the blood moons contradicts the end times theology he has been propounding for the past 30-odd years. Ah, but this doesn’t seem to have been noticed by his followers. Why? Probably because they are all agog over the coming signs in the heavens.
Blood moon websites have sprung up here, here, here, here, here, and here, and the issue is being discussed on countless other websites, forums, and videos. One of the websites, Prophecy News Watch, sends out a newsletter every few days or so recapping headlines in the mainstream news and offering an analysis on how these current events apply to biblical prophecy. Some of the articles pertain to Israel, though not by any means all. And some of it sounds quite reasonable, expressing concern over things like increased government powers to spy on citizens, or bank failures and the danger of depositors’ accounts being looted. We also find mentions of “wealthy globalists,” as well as Bilderbergers, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the like, although any mention of Jewish involvement in these avocations seems to be carefully avoided. The unstated message seems to be that the bad government and the bad bankers are out to get you, but the Jews are on your side.
A number of articles deal with world affairs, and it is here, of course, that support for Israel—referred to in the newsletters as “God’s timepiece”—emerges front and center. “As Peace Talks Continue, Palestinian Terror Groups Prepare for Jihad,” reads the headline over one, while another discusses “Israel’s Final Warning on Iran.” There are also exhortations on the “rise of Islam” as well as an article headlined “Here’s Why Israelis Are Once Again Angry With Obama: ‘Absolutely Perplexing,’” in which the administration is taken to task for leaking information regarding Israel’s most recent bombing attack on Syria. All of these subjects are put forth as signs of the end times, with undercurrents of the Gog/Magog war being possibly not far off, and of course the approaching lunar eclipse tetrad hovers above all of it like a detonable umbra. Taken as a whole, what it suggests is that the entire thing has grown larger than life, larger even than Hagee himself.
Perhaps to no surprise the story is also receiving traction in the mainstream media, as well as the Jewish press, though for now it mostly seems confined to religious blogs and websites. Equally unsurprising is that Christians who have criticized Israel and raised concerns about the treatment of Palestinians are now coming under attack on some of the websites propagating the blood moon theology.
A report at JewishPress.com credits a Christian pastor by the name of Mark Biltz with making the discovery of the upcoming tetrad and its theoretical significance. On his radio programs, Hall indeed seems to afford Biltz a certain measure of pastoral kudos, but he also says Hagee’s new philosophy was developed in consultation with three rabbis. Moreover, he believes the CUFI leader likely is following a script he’s been given to read—a not unreasonable presumption given Hagee’s close ties to Israeli leaders. At any rate, it would appear that someone, or multiple someones, were scouring NASA’s website looking for something to bite on—and they found it.
The blood moon prophecy is based upon Joel 2:31, “The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon to blood before the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” with a similar prognostication also found in Revelation 6:12. We can also hear echoes of this in the comments of Jesus, who in the synoptic gospels speaks of signs to watch for in the heavens (where the moon does not turn red per se, but simply goes dark), and who also predicts the cataclysmic destruction of Jerusalem. But how do we get from “point A,” i.e. Jesus’ comments in the Olivet discourse, to “point B,” the end of the world? Hagee and the other blood-moon philosophers have an answer.
Hagee declares, and a visit to NASA’s Five Millenium Catalog of Lunar Eclipses confirms, that tetrads occurred in the years 1493-94, 1949-50, and 1967-68, and he notes that these dates correspond roughly to significant periods in Jewish history—respectively the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and the Six Day War in 1967 (What he doesn’t mention is that 1967 was also the year of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty; that 1948 also corresponds to the Nakba, when more than 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes or massacred at Deir Yassin and elsewhere; or that Spain wasn’t the only country the Jews were expelled from in 1492—they were also expelled from Sicily, followed by expulsions from Lithuania and Naples in 1495, the year after the Tetrad was completed, which in turn preceded approximately twenty more expulsions from various locations throughout the following century). And while it may be neither here nor there, 1948 was also the year Gandhi was assassinated and the signing of the Treaty of Brussels, leading to the founding of NATO, took place. Both are events which could, imaginably, be thought of as divenly heralded by a moon turning to blood (and of course Gandhi was an anti-Semite and Israel is a de-facto member of NATO today). In other words this is like a piece of rubber that can be stretched, twisted, and molded into just about any shape…although, at the same time, I will not deny that the confluence of four consecutive total lunar eclipses—either in the upcoming tetrad or in previous ones*—with a series of Jewish holidays is rather startling and not to be dismissed easily.
So what are we likely to see if we look up into the night sky on the four dates in question? Will the scheduled eclipses turn the moon deep red in color? It all depends. According to NASA, a total lunar eclipse “is the most dramatic and visually compelling type of lunar eclipse,” yet atmospheric conditions at the time the eclipse occurs can have a powerful and commanding impact on how it appears.
“The molecules in Earth’s atmosphere scatter short wavelength light (e.g. yellow, green blue) more than long wavelength light (e.g., orange, red),” says the space agency. “This process, which is responsible for making sunsets red, also gives total eclipses their characteristic red-orange color.”
But a host of things which may be found in the atmosphere—clouds, dust, aerosols, tiny particles of organic debris, or volcanic ash—all effect the moon’s appearance during an eclipse. “For instance, major volcanic eruptions in 1963 (Agung) and 1982 (El Chichon) each dumped huge quantities of gas and ash into the stratosphere, and were followed by several years of very dark eclipses.” And one lunar eclipse which occurred on December 9, 1992—a year and a half after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines—was “so dark that the Moon’s dull gray disk was difficult to see with the naked eye.” So striking are the variations that a French astronomer propsed a five-point scale, known as the Danjon Scale, for evaluating the appearance of the moon during lunar eclipses:
- L=0 Very dark eclipse
(Moon is almost invisible, especially at mid-totality)
- L=1 Dark eclipse, gray or brownish in coloration
(Details are distinguishable only with difficulty)
- L=2 Deep red or rust-colored eclipse
(Very dark central shadow, while outer umbra is relatively bright)
- L=3 Brick-red eclipse
(Umbral shadow usually has a bright or yellow rim)
- L=4 Very bright copper-red or orange eclipse
(Umbral shadow has a bluish, very bright rim)
So what does all this mean for Hagee? L=0 or L=1 eclipses in 2014-15 obviously won’t make for especially noticeable messages on God’s billboard, and while an L=4 eclipse would be plenty noticeable, an orange moon with a blueish tinge, though quite lovely to look at, probably won’t bear much resemblance to flowing blood. So is Hagee sitting tight, keeping his fingers crossed, hoping he’ll get L=2 or L=3 eclipses? Is this what he has staked his reputation upon? And what if the blood moons don’t appear, the Gog/Magog war isn’t fought, and Jesus doesn’t return? Will the pastor be publicly disgraced and tossed out of his job as leader of the most powerful Christian Zionist organization in America?
On the other hand, is Hall correct when he suggests that Hagee is reading from a script that has been prepared for him? If so, who gave him the script and why? What will we see when we look up into the sky on those nights? Will we see the moon? Will it be the real moon? Does the technology exist to project holograms into space? What are we really staring at here? Is it a hoax? Is it real? Is it pure coincidence, an act of God, or a viper’s coulé? The only thing I can say with any certainty is that the apparition now supposedly approaching will raise within the public—religious believers certainly but no doubt also non-religious persons to some degree as well—a sense of expectation, of impending cataclysm, or that “something is about to change,” as Hagee puts it. What sort of mental state does this put people in? This is the key question. Does it result in massive numbers of people becoming more vulnerable, more susceptible, to deception on a grand scale, perhaps grander than anything we have heretofore seen? And how much of this will Israel milk to its advantage? Will the Jewish state initiate a “Gog/Magog” war by launching an attack upon Iran? Or how about this for a scenario: will “Jesus” return, meet with the Israeli prime minister, go on network TV and endorse Israel’s settlement policy? It seems implausible, nigh outright preposterous, on the face of it, but given the readiness with which millions have accepted the official 9/11 story, that people would embrace something so obviously fraudulent is probably not to be discounted. Moreover, Israel and its Jewish supporters in America do seem a bit prone toward overplaying their hands these days.
Regardless of what happens (or doesn’t happen) in the coming two years, Hall deserves a great deal of credit for his reporting on this story. As we are only too aware, the mass media, as well as our own government, are in the hands of truth’s bitterest enemies, but an ancient and very wise admonition from the Disciple John can sustain us and offer some much-needed help in seeing through the deceptions: “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you.” (I John 2:24).
My own advice is simply: watch, be alert, and hope that sanity somehow finds a way to prevail…and above all else remember that God is not a racist.
* Biltz claims that the tetrads of 1967-68, 1949-50, and 1493-94 all coincided with Jewish holidays, and specifically, in each case, the holidays of Passover and Sukkot. There are several websites that convert Gergorian to Hebrew calendar dates. The one I chose was Hebcal.com. The conversion program there does show the 20th century eclipse dates as corresponding to the two holidays. In the case of the 15th century tetrad there is a discrepancy of 9-10 days, which is probably attributable to the conversion from the Julian to the Gregorian calendars. The Gregorian calendar did not go into effect until the year 1582.