Tuesday, 22 April 2014

MOON MADNESS



I am sure that many of us will have heard about the “four blood moons” hypothesis that has been circulating in Christian circles over the last few months.

Essentially the hypothesis runs like this:

During 2014/15 there will occur a notable astronomical phenomenon known as a lunar tetrad. This constitutes four successive total lunar eclipses ("blood moons"), with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months.

Lunar tetrads are not especially unusual. There will be eight in the 21st Century alone. 

The excitement is aroused by their alignment on this occasion with the Jewish Feasts of Passover and Tabernacles as observed in Israel (the first of these was in the Passover just celebrated).

The claim is that this alignment between the tetrads and the feasts only occurs at very significant periods in Jewish history, and so we in the Church ought to be on the lookout for a significant eschatalogical event during 2014-15. The bolder proponents are even linking this to the Second Coming itself. 

 John Hagee appears to qualify as one of the primary culprits behind the current excitement due to his 2013 book Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change.

 I had looked at this issue a while ago and it required only a very brief internet search to satisfy myself that the “four blood moons” claim lacked any merit and so I forgot all about it.

Would that everybody else had!  

 The concern that prompts this post was aroused over the Easter weekend when a member of our congregation told me that she knew of someone (not from our church I’m pleased to say) who had actually been “witnessing to an unsaved person apparently by warning them about this coming astronomical event.

My heart sank.What is this unfortunate witnessee going to conclude when the whole thing proves to be a non-event as it surely will?  

 There are many problems with the "four blood moons" proposition but I only wish to deal with its central claim: that this astronomical phenomenon manifests remarkable congruence with Jewish history.

If we can show that this, the central proposition, has no validity to it; then there is no need for us to even consider the many biblical and exegetical problems that are also thrown up.

Below is an explanation of the most basic flaw in the hypothesis as I see it:

 Establishing some kind of association between lunar eclipses and the Jewish Feasts is not difficult since those feasts are timed to coincide with the Full Moon. The Full Moon Phase is the only time that the alignment of sun/earth/moon will permit a lunar eclipse to occur.

 Tracking back in history over as long a period of time as 2,000 years, it would be reasonable to expect that there would have been a number of lunar tetrads coinciding with the Feasts and so it proves.

The occurrences were:

1. 162-163 AD
2. 795-796 AD
3. 842-843 AD
4. 860-861 AD.
5. 1493-1494 AD
6. 1949-1950 AD
7. 1967-1968 AD

 Anyone with a basic knowledge of Jewish history must, in viewing these dates, come to the conclusion that the alleged links with events in Jewish or Israeli history are largely illusory. Certainly the first four occurrences cannot be equated with any event of significance in Jewish history that I am aware of.

 We must also consider the significant omissions where we might reasonably have expected correlations. Why, for instance,  are there no examples of tetrads coinciding with the Fall of Jerusalem (AD70), the Kitos War (AD 115-117) or the Bar-Kochba Revolt (AD132-5)?

 Moreover, whilst the latter three occurrences are relatively close to significant times in Jewish history (namely 1492, 1948 & 1967) even these still tend to miss the actual historical event by up to two years.

So out of seven possibilities there turn out to have been three near-misses and four complete misses. Surely God’s watch ought to keep better time than that!

In short then, I consider the whole thing to be  –if I may use a theological expression- complete and utter tosh.

  But it concerns me that there are so many believers who seem eager to embrace these wild-eyed theories whenever they come along, and one can only wonder why these alarmist ideas seem to be so much more attractive to some of us than the solid meat of God’s Word.  The Bible tells us all that we need to know about the Second Coming!

 Regardless, responsible people in the Church have a duty to do everything they can to stamp on this “four blood moons” nonsense whilst we still can. The Church badly does not need another Y2K/Harold Camping type fiasco. Such false alarms serve only to bring into disrepute our warnings of coming judgement. 

 We are already promised that endtime scoffers will be aplenty (2 Pet 3:3-4), I see no need for us to provide them their ammunition.

 So I would suggest that it might be a good thing if the next time we are in a witnessing situation we just stick to the Gospel and leave the astronomy out of it.