Well, the blood moon tetrad season is upon us. Woe unto us.
In Matthew 24:3 the disciples of Jesus asked him, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” Jesus told them there would be signs, but “concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matt. 24:36).
If only Jesus would have had astronomy software. Then he could have answered the disciples more precisely.1
And so here we are again. I get to open Twitter and my blog reader and have it spew dozens of stories about how Mark Blitz and John Hagee know something Jesus didn’t. And multitudes of “the faithful” buy it. I’d say it’s hard to believe Christians can be this gullible, but I’m past that. I’ll believe almost anything now.
And for the person reading this that says, “You’re not being fair, Mike — Matthew 24 has Jesus mentioning all sorts of signs, even the moon darkening.”
No kidding. Really? I’d never read that before. Riddle me this, Batman. Can you explain why (other than your pre-conceived theological system) the signs of Joel and Matt 24 couldn’t have been referring only to events prior to 70 A.D.? (And no, I’m not a preterist). Can you point out the verse that tells me that “the sign of the son of man” (Matt 24:30) mirrors the signs of Jesus’ birth? After all, that’s why this particular set of blood moon tetrads have people fired up (though that isn’t as well-publicized). The reality is that the “sign of the son of man” is never identified specifically. We have no biblical warrant to argue that it is the set of astronomical conditions associated with the Magi and Revelation 12. Zero. Would Jesus have missed that? Why would God have kept that information from him — and us — until Blitz and Hagee installed their astronomy software? What happened to computers being the sign of the beast? (That faded in the prophecy wave of the 70s).
There are quantifiable reasons to just chalk this up to another Bible scam. (One wonders how the Bible code books of years passed missed this). A lot of what Blitz and Hagee claim about the importance of blood moons for Israelite and Jewish history just doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. The same can be said for the astronomy. Here are two sources for those who actually want to probe the issue.
The Exposing PseudoAstronomy podcast: Episode 85: Blood Moons, Jewish Holidays, and the End of All Things
But Mike, Stuart Robbins, the host of that podcast, isn’t a Christian! (Cue dramatic music).
Okay, here are some debunkings from Christians who are into Bible prophecy. They ain’t buyin’ it, for good reasons:
Mark Blitz Theory Debunked (this fellow at first believed it years ago, then came to see it was bogus).
Here’s a YouTube debunking that shows the basic idea is a fine illustration of non-sequitur thinking (and outright deception):
And, finally, another YouTube debunking by my friend Chris White, the same guy who made the 3-hour debunkumentary (in which I appeared) on the Ancient Aliens nonsense.
- I’m aware that Blitz is the one who’s given a precise date for Jesus’ return, not Hagee. Hagee’s just getting a piece of the pie. His sufficiently vague prediction about some world-changing events qualifies him only for writing horoscopes. ↩
Jesus stood before Jerusalem and cursed a fig tree [Mark 11:13-14]. Though a tree withered, was it really the plant he cursed?
With prophecy people mistake the signpost for the thing signified, since the sign seems more concrete, more tangible. Mistaking the thing signified or missing the signpost are halmarks of false prophets. Yet isn’t it true that a signpost could signify just about anything, making prophetic meaning essentially unknowable?
If God is without variation or shadow due to change [James 1:17], his use of signposts to direct our gaze, shares His character. The thing signified is no less concrete and objective as the signpost itself. So the goal should be to correctly understand the signpost to understand what it signifies. Let the word interpret the word [Matt 19:26][Mark 10:27].
So, did Yehshua (Jesus) really curse an out-of-season shrub? If Jeremiah spoke truly [Jer 24:5], YHWH would regard exiles of Judah as figs. Therefore, it might appear Messiah was cursing Jerusalem, rather than the harmless plant.
The question becomes – From crucifixion onwards has Jerusalem yielded fruit anyone could be nourish by?
Do these comments have anything to do with Joel’s prophecy or this post?
If the signpost and the thing signified are both understood correctly, absolutely nothing. (In [Gen 37:9] did astronomy bow to Joseph?) However, if either is misunderstood – absolutely completely.
I might add, if Joel’s prophecy has anything to do with ‘Israel’, do we have sufficient warrant for believing people can correctly identity ‘Israel’ in the world today (given that they couldn’t 2000 years ago) [Rev 2:9][Rev 3:9]?
I would argue that while one can read the Olivet Discourse as referring to both 70 CE and a future Second Coming (which I think was wholly deliberate–the Bible is full of near-far prophecies), there’s no way one can read 70 CE or 135 CE into Joel, since his prophecy ends with the nations being brought up against Jerusalem and the nations–not Jerusalem–being destroyed. You have to hijack Joel 2:31 out of its context to get a preterist interpretation of it.
I agree with the interpretation of the cursing of the fig tree, though I don’t think it refers to Jerusalem being cursed for all time. (There are too many prophecies mitigate against that view.) Rather, it was a sign of the coming judgment of God against the Jerusalem of that time–and just as it had after the first destruction at the hands of Babylon, Jerusalem has been rebuilt and repopulated, albeit after a much longer exile.
As far as Jerusalem ever producing fruit, I can tell you from personal experience that those who go up to Jerusalem seeking God are blessed by the pilgrimage. I believe that will be even more so when the Third Temple is built, and infinitely better when the King of Israel resides within it.
Don’t forget that Luke “changed” the meaning (and wording) of Amos 9 in Acts 15. Amos 9 is quoted in Acts 15 and words are changed – Edom becomes “mankind” (Hebrew ‘edom becomes ‘adam in James’ quotation) and applied to the church, not to David’s literal dynasty, or ANY structure (like a temple or Jerusalem). Amos 9 is clearly not interpreted, under inspiration, in those literal ways. It is rather abstracted to make a theological point about the church (which is “circumcision neutral” — contains ALL believers, Jew or Gentile).
My point is that the NT authors at times think in fulfillment terms that the OT passages didn’t envision, and so you can’t use the OT wording as an argument to say “that can’t be the fulfillment.” Things just don’t work that neatly.
“Don’t forget that Luke “changed” the meaning (and wording) of Amos 9 in Acts 15.”
Did he? There’s only a single vav’s difference between the two words, and as you yourself have pointed out, there was an editing process in Babylon that included the addition of consonants as vowels. It’s very likely that at one point, “Edom” and “Adam” were both spelled A-D-M. Though we can’t prove it from the DSS that I know of (I think only one of the copies of Amos even has chapter 9 intact, and it matches the MSS), it’s just as likely that Jacob (James) was working from a MSS with the variant “Adam.”
Even if we didn’t have that relatively simple way of integrating Amos and Acts specifically, I don’t think you can use the NT’s often “midrashic” use of the OT as carte blanche permission to just ignore passages that state plainly that the Holy One would in the end save Jerusalem and destroy those who came against her. There’s just no ambiguity about how Joel’s prophecy ends.
Yes, he did – he changes (via the Spetuagint he’s using) ‘edom (Edom) in 9:12 to ‘adam (humankind) in Acts 15:17. There are others, but that’s the easiest one to see.
About [Matt 24:36] I might also add there is a fallacy of modal logic (to do with temporality) hiding in that verse.
If what Jesus (Yehshua) said was true at the point (that no one knows ..), does that make it true through out all of time?
If I say it is hailing, and my claim is true, does that mean it can do nothing but hail (since that true claim must always be true – throughout all time)?
Jesus said something true to his disciples in [Matt 24:36], but look what happens to Him afterwards chronologically:
[Matt 24:36] Jesus Himself did not know …
[Matt 27:50] the Pascal lamb was slain …
[Matt 27:60] … buried …
[Rev 5:3-4] Even still no one was found worthy to receive the knowledge that the father has sealed.
[Matt 28:6] The sacrifice was accepted [Heb 9:22]
[Acts 1:9] … and taken up to the mercy seat …
[Rev 5:6] to receive the scroll no one else could unseal [Rev 5:7] and was worshipped [Rev 5:8-9]
The same Jesus who did not know in [Matt 24:36] now knew in [Rev 6:1] since he had been found worthy [Rev 5:9] and so began to unseal what had been previously been sealed; and he reveal these mysteries through the Holy Spirit to his followers [Rom 16:25][Eph 1:9].
So, it is a fallacy to conclude that God continues to hide from all, what was once hidden from some [Pro 25:2].
Wait. A popular pastor with great rhetorical skills publishes a book on prophecy, and you have the gall to suggest the book may be in error?? But isn’t everything that is printed by pastors with great rhetorical skills correct?
That would suggest maybe my childhood pastor, whom I remember teaching from”88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988″, was in error… from time to time. (Maybe like when he started the series on “89 Reasons why…”)… I mean, if we Christians aren’t living in constant fear and dread, how can we fulfill Christ’s command to go and make gullible scaredy-cats of all the nations…?
I stand rebuked! 🙂
I am glad to see some one else is not buying this BS besides me
These guys may believe this, I suspect they do. Sincerity don’t cut no ice though. They unwittingly bring dishonor on Christ to the unbelieving world by these senseless predictions.
I’ll pray for them.
Thank you Michael! They played the blood moon video at my church last Sunday and I kept thinking, “The Jewish calendar has full moons fall on feast days. So, an eclipse those days would just be normal…so what?” Then as I listened I was realizing that the blood moons came after the significant Jewish events. Ugh – I’m tired of Christian sensationalism. Posting Chris’s video to Facebook.
Seems to me that the trend for the past two thousands years; a the huge majority of persons who proclaim that the earth’s population will live through the end time, are now dead.
But if a person needs a scary warning to motivate them, they should read Hebrews 3:7-19
If Russia turns out to be Gog or Magog, and their recent incursion into Syria turns out to be the beginning of the final battle before Jesus returns, I will find it very difficult to believe that these last three tetrads of lunar eclipses were not signs of the end times. But I guess under this scenario, there will be Someone we can ask to settle the dispute. 🙂
tetrads are not rare, the preciseness of the cycles Cahn and others describe has holes and mistakes you aren’t told about; Russia is not Gog or Magog.
I’d add that America is not the focus of biblical prophecy, and the “sign of the son of man” is never defined.
“Something big happened within a general timeframe of a few years around a tetrad, thus confirming the Blood Moon prophecy.”
Such thinking is why the Blood Moon book today is outselling Unseen Realm. That’s okay, though.
Let’s have a long-term “yeast in the lump” outlook of reconfiguring evangelical passivity into a praxis of thinking and engaging the Bible how the writers and their audience thought and engaged it… and eventually, books like Unseen Realm will outsell the pulp fiction like the blood moon books.
Correct me if I’m mistaken, but there have only been 8 lunar eclipse tetrads that have fallen on Passover and Sukkot in the last 2,000 years. That would make them rather rare. It was almost 500 years before the one that started in 1948, and it will be 500 years after the one that just ended. That makes this cluster of 3 tetrads, which occur within a 66 period of each other, and two of which have occurred in close temporal proximity of significant prophetic events – the rebirth of the nation of Israel and the repossessing of Jerusalem by the Jewish people – draw special attention to themselves.
How do you know that Russia is not Gog or Magog?
Who said anything about America being the focus of prophecy? (Though I suspect that if America is involved, then it is Babylon).
Yes, the sign of the Son of Man is not defined. So what?
> there have only been 8 lunar eclipse tetrads that have fallen on Passover and Sukkot in the last 2,000 years, etc.
Indeed – see the last part of my reply. I’m not aware of any biblical passage that tells anyone to look for this “signage” in relation to the second coming.
Yes, let me correct you:
Russia is not God because no verse in Scripture makes this claim, and because the claim is based on awful reasoning: “Hebrew nesi’ rosh is translated ‘prince of Rosh’ and ‘Rosh” sounds like Russia.” First, nesi’ means “chief prince,” not “prince of Rosh. Second, the idea that one language’s assemblage of SOUNDS matches another language’s assembly of sounds in meaning is literally lunacy. Does “chin” in Chinese and English (same sound) have the same meaning? Of course not. Languages simply to not work this way. It’s an absurd method.
America being the focus is related to the Cold War hermeneutic about Russia being Gog (the Russia=Gog thing first surfaced in the 60s and 70s; I’m old enough to remember that). It’s also the foundational idea to some key points of silliness peddled by Jonathan Cahn and others. Can’t recall what part of your question (or even which question) made that pop into my head.
And on what biblical basis would America be Babylon? We aren’t an empire threatening the people of God (which is why NT writers linked Rome to Babylon — Babylon had taken the people of God into exile and destroyed the temple; Rome was holding them underfoot and wound up destroying the temple). I don’t see America as a threat to the people of God. Biblical writers of course knew nothing about America.
My point in the last item is that the connection of celestial bodies and prophecy (in the Bible anyway) is very vague. The sign of the son of man (which is connected to celestial portents) is never identified — which sign/object). Without that, maybe you can point me to a passage that says the Jewish passover calendar and blood moons are part of what we should look for at the second coming. Because the actual (biblical) language is so vague, the only conceivable connection is the Joel passage – which was quoted as fulfilled at Pentecost — and so the question is why should we look for it again? What verse tells us to do that? Typically, this belief arises out of a misunderstanding of what the new covenant promised and why it was connected to the Joel passage by Peter.
By the way, I have not bought or read Hagee’s Four Blood Moons, nor do I intend to do so. I have ordered The Unseen Realm, and I really looking forward to reading it.
Dr. Heiser had claimed that lunar eclipse tetrads falling on Passover and Sukkot were not rare. Only 8 in the last 2,000 years strikes me as being rare. Which would mean that Dr. Heiser is mistaken. This does not prove that they are signs. But if rarity is considered one of the conditions for being a sign, then they meet that condition. If you add the condition of being in close temporal proximity to a significant prophetic event, then at least two of the last three tetrads meet that condition, also. If it turns out that Russia is indeed either Gog or Magog, and their military expedition into Syria is indeed the beginning of the final battle, then all three of the last three tetrads have met this additional condition. Under those circumstances, as I initially said, it would be difficult for me to believe that they were not signs. But as I also said, under those conditions, there would be Someone who could settle the debate for us. 🙂
You need to ask Stuart Robbins about the astronomy.
Here’s the point (again – and last time): let’s say tetrads are rare. Then:
Why should I care? What biblical passage tells me to look for tetrads (as opposed to simple lunar eclipses — the modern prophecy peddlers have taken a lunar eclipse and made it into something else — but the question still applies: where is the verse that tells me this will be something specific to look for with respect to end times?)
I’d suggest that if we want to divine biblical prophecy we ought to use what the Bible says are the specific signs (it doesn’t give much specificity in that regard, though). Using any other filter or litmus test is, by definition, not a biblical hermeneutic.
2. I’ll add one — where’s the verse that connects tetrads, Gog, and the second coming?
> But if rarity is considered one of the conditions for being a sign, then [tetrads] meet that condition.
Think through your argument. Having such an overbroad and vague criterion allows a vast number of things or events to qualify as a sign. If so many things can be signs, then signs are no longer rare!
The belief that Russia is either Gog or Magog predates the Cold War by quite some time. I believe that pseudo-Philo was the first to make that claim. But that isn’t the only old source.
So your claim that Russia is not Gog or Magog isn’t based on anything stronger than that the Bible doesn’t say Russia is? That’s it? You make claims that X isn’t why Y because the Bible doesn’t say X is why very often?
Okay, I’m willing to say that America isn’t Babylon. What’s your point? What does that have to do with my original comment? What does Cahn have to do with my original comment?
I agree that the Bible is very vague about celestial events as eschatological signs. Which is why I’m not sure that this last tetrad is indeed an eschatological sign. But if the conditions are met – Russia turns out to be Gog or Magog and this is the initial step of the last battle- then I think it would be reasonable to believe this tetrad and the last two were eschatological signs. Do you really find that so unreasonable? If so, why?
You misunderstand the ancient “equations” — Russia as we know it didn’t exist back then. Some modern scholars see God as a reference to Scythian warriors from the ancient Asia Steppes (which would have been included in the old Soviet Union – slimly – but that view is wrong for DIFFERENT reasons). The modern Gog = Russia, though, is driven by politics and the Cold War. Gog isn’t Russia along any line of argument.
The point about America is that Cahn filters his interpretations through the idea that our American destiny somehow drives or influences or is indicative of a prophetic timeline. It isn’t. Prophecy isn’t about the rise or fall of America, so any view that is articulated (in whole or part) with that underlying assumption is flawed.
I think the modern fascination with looking for rare astronomical phenomena like blood moon tetrads and saying, “Egad, that’s a biblical sign of moons turning to blood!” (aside from being astrology) absolutely misses the rules of reading the genre of apocalyptic biblical literature.
When I read about God causing the earth to reel and rock, the foundations of mountains to tremble, thunder, lightning, hailstones and coals of fire from the sky causing an earthquake so fierce, that the channels of the sea and the foundations of the earth are laid bare,… I might think it’s a sign to look for to determine the coming end of days. I might even look around for a meteor shower followed by severe earthquakes and tsunamis.
Except according to this passage, Psalm 18, all of this already happened when God rescued David from Saul. Literally. These things literally happened. But of course reading something literally in apocalyptic poetry entails a different meaning to in the mind of the ancient Hebrew than in the mind of a 21st Century American raised with a scientific materialist background. If I want to force my astronomy and meteorology into this passage, I suspect I’m doing damage to the text and the meaning David was trying to convey.
My point was that if rarity is one of the conditions, then tetrads where all four lunar eclipses fall on Passover or Sukkot, would meet that condition. I did not claim that rarity is the only condition.
> I did not claim that rarity is the only condition.
How do you know there are any conditions? How can you know what these conditions might be?
oops…I forgot to close tag on one of those.
> I forgot to close tag on one of those.
Actually, you mismatched the first tag. It opened with a bold tag and closed with an italic tag (the HTML was visible in the email notification for some reason).
I’m somewhat amazed at your inability to read and understand my initial comment.
First, nowhere in it do I mention Cahn or America. It matters not one iota to me what Cahn has said, nor whether America is involved. I don’t understand why you think it does matter to me.
Second, I said that IF it turned out that Russia’s entering Syria was the beginning of the Gog/Magog battle, then I would find it difficult to believe that the past three tetrads were not signs.
I’m sure somewhere in your academic history you had to take a logic course. So you should be able to understand what the two parts of a conditional proposition are. So assume, merely for the sake of argument, that it does indeed turn out that Russia entering Syria is the beginning of the Gog/Magog battle. Given that circumstance, do you really find the second part of that conditional proposition unreasonable? If so, why?
Now the link you referred me to about tetrads mentions that there is one coming up in 2032-2033. And in fact, two of the eclipses fall on either Passover or Sukkot. But the other two do not. Having all four eclipses of a tetrad fall on both Passover and Sukkot is what rarely happens. Only 8 times in the past 2,000 years. the last time before 1949 was in 1493-1494. I have found a number of sites that mention that the next tetrad where all four eclipses will fall on either Passover or Sukkot will be in about 500 years. If so, then that sets these last three tetrads apart from the others. Two of them have occurred in close proximity to significant prophetic events: the rebirth of the State of Israel and the retaking of Jerusalem. Even though there is no mention of lunar tetrads in the Bible, the fact that a rare celestial event has occurred twice in close proximity to two prophetic events should at least make us a little curious. I’m not saying that we should be convinced that they are signs. Just a little curious. Now if it happens a third time, then yes, I will be convinced that they were signs. But then I expect that Someone will be present to settle the question for us.
As far as whether Russia could be Gog or Magog, you seem to punt on the question. Matthew Henry, long before the Cold War, pointed out in his commentary that some people thought it was. I don’t know if Russia is or isn’t. But IF, in retrospect, it turns out that they are (or were), then I’ll be convinced the lunar tetrad was a sign. Again, notice the “IF.” Normally I don’t need to point things like that out to people, but you don’t seem to notice that tiny little word.
Meanwhile, I’m enjoying your book, The Unseen Realm. It makes much better reading than your comments here.
It’s not about you peddling Cahn’s specifics. The point is that the ideas of Cahn and the other stuff are related by certain eschatological presumptions.
Big Fan of Yours! I would consider myself a preterist, but would really like to hear your opinion on this. Are the time statements in Matt 10,24 “this generation, quickly, soon, etc” to be taken literally? It would seem to fit that the “Heaven and earth passing away” that did away with the law would be talking about the Temple and Old Covenant Israel. Im not looking for a debate here, honestly looking for an unbiased opinion from a scholar and would be delighted to here any suggestions you might have. Thanks and keep doing what you are doing!