I would guess that by now many of you have heard of "The Coming Four Blood Moons." The evangelical world is all a buzz about this thanks to Pastor John Hagee who has made this teaching of the blood moons quite popular. John Hagee is the founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas—a non-denominational mega-church with more than 20,000 active members. It is said that Hagee speaks worldwide into 99 million homes. So he has a big influence in the Christians community.
Hagee did a three part series on "The Coming Four Blood Moons" back in December of 2012. He has videos of this series for sale and a book on it that came out in October. Hagee is teaching that starting in April 15, 2014 there will be four blood moons and a solar eclipse. He says that these eclipses are verified by NASA. He says there will be a blood moon on Passover and Sukkot in 2014, then a lunar eclipse on the first of Nisan and then two more blood moons on Passover and Sukkot of 2015.
Hagee is carful not say that these coming four blood moons will be the Second Coming of Christ. If fact he says, "None of these dates are mine, half of them belong to God and the other half to NASA." He says that these four blood moons are God's predictions and NASA's predictions, He says he is making no predictions. But he continually ties the coming four blood moons to verses in Scripture that talk of the Second Coming. If these blood moons are tied to the Second Coming then he is making predictions, is he not?
When you hear of these four blood moons it seems to be very significant. I mean they happen on the Feasts of Yahweh of Passover and Sukkot two years in a row. And they are confirmed by NASA. You have got NASA saying that there will be lunar eclipses on the same day as the feast of Passover and Sukkot, is this a sign?
I remember well the summer of 1988, which was 26 years ago. I was on vacation in Erie, PA, sitting by the pool at my mother's house reading the book, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be In 1988, by Edgar C. Whisenant. Mr. Whisenant laboriously demonstrated why Christ would return to the earth in September, 1988. I was a young Christian and the evidence that Whisenant put forth was compelling to me. But I wasn't alone, six million copies of his book were sold and caused quite a stir among evangelicals in the summer and fall of 1988. Regional news reports noted that a number of Christians took his message so seriously that they quit their jobs in anticipation of Christ's imminent return. I called to order a book from a major Christian book outlet that September, the day before the predicted return of Christ, only to be told by a recording that the employees had the day off to spend with their families before the Lord returned. Needless to say, they all came back to work disappointed that the Lord didn't show.
I think that the stir that this teaching of the coming four blood moons has caused is very similar to what happened in 1988, and I believe it will end the same way. With a lot of disappointed and disillusioned believers.
I would like to spare you that disappointment and disillusionment by attempting to set the record straight on these coming eclipses. Here is what I want to do this morning. I want to share with you exactly what it is that Hagee is teaching, and critique it. I am NOT attacking John Hagee, I am critiquing his teaching on these blood moons. I want to look at what NASA and astronomy tell us about these blood moons. Then I want to share with you what the Scriptures says about the time of the coming of Christ.
Let me share with you of an "Educational Study. " In this study people were given a new concept (such as the earth is round) and asked to believe it, which resulted in them setting aside some things they already believe. It required a paradigm shift.
50% believed it immediately—without thinking.
30% didn't believe it, immediately—without thinking.
15% wanted to wait awhile while they make up their minds, but asked for no clarification and no further information.
5% of the people analyzed all the details and finally came to a conclusion.
The results of the study go like this: It is estimated that 5% of the people think, 15% of the people think they think, and 80% of the people would rather die than think. I think that the Bereans in Acts 17 were among the 5% that think. They analyzed the details and came to a conclusion. Today all I am asking is that you be a 5%er, be a Berean. I am not asking you to believe me, do your own research.
First of all let's look at what Hagee is teaching. He reads:
"But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. Mark 13:24-25 NASB
Then Hagee says, "These verses describe a time in the future when the sun and moon will eclipse at the same time." He says these coming blood moons are God's signs to this terminal generation that something big is going to happen soon. He connects these four blood moons with Israel. Saying that every time these four blood moons appear it is a sign of something big happening for Israel.
Hagee says that these four blood moons have happened three other times to mark significant events in Israel's history. They happened in 1492, which was the Spanish Inquisition's final year, when the Alhambra Decree ordered all remaining Jews who would not convert to Christianity to leave Spain.
The truth is that these four blood moons actually started the following year. So I have to ask, Was Yahweh late in giving a sign? Would God give a sign in the heavens a year after the event that the sign pointed to already happened?
The four blood moons occurred on:
Remember that Hagee said, "The heavens are God's billboard, and when something big is about to happen He gives planet earth a signal that something significant is about to happen." What good was a sign after the event already happened?
Hagee says the next four blood moons happened in 1948, which was Israel's War of Independence and when they received statehood. The four blood moons also actually started the following year. And again I ask you , What good is a sign after the fact? Cant the eternal sovereign Lord of the universe be more precise with His signs? The four blood moons occurred on:
Hagee says the next four blood moons happened in 1967, which was Israel's Six-Day War. The four blood moons occurred on:
Hagee says that each time, God lit up the heavens by four blood moons. He makes it sound like these are the only times the four blood moons happened, but that isn't quite true. In Hagee's video that is posted on Youtube HERE, at the time 32:07-32:39, Hagee says, "The world's greatest scientists at NASA confirm that the four blood moons have happened 3 times in 5,000 plus years. And it's getting ready to happen again starting in April 2014." This was no doubt a mis-speak because later he says, "It happened 3 times in 500 plus years.
If you check NASA's web site you will find that we have had lunar eclipses on the first day of Passover and the first day of Sukkot on back-to-back years seven times since A.D.1. The coming four lunar eclipses will be the eighth time this has happened since A..D. 1. Out of the seven occurrences only three of these have been loosely connected to Israel. The others were in A.D. 162/163, A.D.795/796, A.D.842/843, and A.D.860/861. We don't have any historical connections to Israel for these years.
Peter, explaining what happened at Pentecost, said:
but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: Acts 2:16 NASB
"This"—referring to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the birth of the Church, the arrival of the New Covenant, the beginning of the second exodus for the New Israel. Peter says that what you are seeing happen here is "...what was spoken of through the prophet Joel." Peter is saying, "This is what Yahweh told us would happen through Joel." The first century church was experiencing the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy. "This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel." This is the most remarkable event in the history of Israel, and there are no blood moons here. Doesn't that seem odd?
Are these coming four lunar eclipses as significance as Hagee and others are making them out to be? Not according to Dr. Danny Faulkner who has a PhD in Astronomy. Dr. Faulkner's primary research interest is Stellar Astronomy wherein he has done significant studies on Binary Star systems.
Dr. Faulkner has written an article, "Will Lunar Eclipses Cause Four Blood Moons in 2014 and 2015?" It can be found at HERE.
Let me just share with you some of the things Dr. Faulkner has to say:
"A wide range of color and brightness can be found in lunar eclipses. This is based on atmospheric conditions at the time including dust and humidity levels. While the color of some total lunar eclipses could be compared to blood, others are more orange, similar to a pumpkin. Still other eclipses look yellow, and some are very dark—virtually black… In short, most lunar eclipses don't appear blood-like, so it is a bit presumptuous to assume that any particular future eclipse—or, in this case, four eclipses—must of necessity be "blood moons."
So they may not be blood moons at all. So it is impossible to say that these coming four lunar eclipses are going to be red in color. But Hagee needs them to be red to tie them to the Scriptures about the moon turning to blood.
Dr. Faulkner goes on to say:
Isn't it unusual to have a lunar eclipse on the same day as Passover or Sukkot? No, it's really not that unusual. Remember, a lunar eclipse happens only at full moon… Passover is the fifteenth day of the first month and Sukkot begins on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, six months after Passover. Thus, Passover and Sukkot are always at full moon and always six months apart.
A lunar eclipse must happen exactly at full moon. On a lunar calendar the fifteenth of the month falls on or within a day of exact full moon, so any lunar eclipse must be on or within a day of the fifteenth of the month. Hence, any lunar eclipse that happens near the equinoxes must fall on or within a day of Passover (spring) or Sukkot (autumn). Therefore the coincidence of these festivals with lunar eclipses is not that rare.
He later says:
On most calendars the dates of Passover and Sukkot are listed as the conventional date on which the sunset would commence the respective observances. For instance, in 2013 we said the Passover began on the evening of March 25, but in Israel it began on March 26, for there it already was March 26 at sunset.
So our dates are really not that accurate as to when these eclipses take place.
There also is a question of from what portion of the earth one ought to view these eclipses for them to constitute a sign. One might think that Jerusalem would be a key site, but the first three total lunar eclipses in 2014-2015 won't be visible from there, and only the beginning of the final eclipse will be. One must ask whether a sign that few people notice is much of a sign.
The signs in the Bible are signs to Israel, His people. So what good are these if those in Israel won't see them? Some say, "They can see them on the internet."
Dr. Faulkner, talking about the solar eclipse, says:
The first eclipse (March 20, 2015) is total. Having personally experienced one total solar eclipse, I can testify that a total solar eclipse is stunning and awe-inspiring. Therefore a total solar eclipse could be interpreted as a great sign to those who witness it. But how many people will witness this particular eclipse? The eclipse path is in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. The only landfalls that the eclipse path will make are the Faroe Islands and Svalbard. The population of the former is 50,000 and the latter less than 3,000. The eclipse is of short duration, and the weather can be overcast much of the time at that latitude. There is a good chance that few people, if any, will actually see this eclipse.
If this is supposed to be a sign from God, why is it that so few people have just a slim change of seeing it? How is that a sign?
What does the Bible says about the Second Ccoming of Christ? If we are going to understand the Bible we must understand the hermanutical principle of audience relevance which seeks to discover what the original audience understood a passage to mean. The concern of the evangelical interpreter is to understand the grammar of a passage in light of the historical circumstances and context of the original audience.
Hagee, speaking of the coming four blood moons asks, "Is this the end of the age?" I think it is safe to say that most Christians think we are living in the last days and that the end of the age will be soon. Let's look at what the Bible says about the end of the age. The first thing I want you to see is that the end of the age is attached to the destruction of the Jewish Temple in:
Yeshua came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down." As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" Matthew 24:1-3 NASB
Their question was two-fold. First they ask, "When will these things happen?" All three of the Synoptic Gospels ask, "When?" The "these things" refers to the Temple's destruction in verse 2. In verse 1, the disciples point out the Temple buildings to Yeshua. In verse 2, Yeshua says, "All' 'these things' shall be destroyed." It should be clear that they are asking, "WHEN will the Temple be destroyed? When will our house be left desolate?" After all Yeshua had just said about judgment on Jerusalem (Matt. 23), and then about not one stone being left upon another, the disciples' response is, "When?" That makes sense, doesn't it? I would hope so.
The second part of their question is, "What will be the sign of Your coming and the end of the age?" These are not separate questions that can be divided up into different time-events. The disciples had one thing, and only one thing on their mind and that was the destruction of the Temple. With the destruction of the Temple, they connected the coming of Messiah and the end of the age. Their question was, "When will the end be?" Yeshua gives them the sign of the abomination of desolation, which Luke interprets as the armies gathered around Jerusalem. Then Yeshua tells them quite clearly that the end would come in "This generation" (v 34). The word "generation" means: "those who are contemporaries or live at the same time."
So, the age that was to end was the Jewish Age. It would end with the destruction of the Jewish Temple and the city Jerusalem. The disciples knew that the fall of the Temple and the destruction of the city meant the end of the Old Covenant Age and the inauguration of a New Age. This brings us to a very important question,
"HOW MANY AGES ARE THERE?"
William Barclay says:
Time was divided by the Jews into two great periods— this present age, and the age to come. The present age is wholly bad and beyond all hope of human reformation. If can be mended only by the direct intervention of God. When God does intervene the golden age, the age to come, will arrive. But in between the two ages there will come the Day of the Lord, which will be a time of terrible and fearful upheaval, like the birth-pangs of a new age.
Zechariah 14 teaches us that the "Day of the Lord" and the destruction of Jerusalem were connected. So, the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the "Day of the Lord," marked the end of one age, the Jewish age, and the beginning of the New Age, the Christian Age of the New Covenant.
All through the New Testament we see two ages in contrast: "This age" and the "age to come":
"Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:32 NASB
The word "come" at the end of the verse is the Greek word mello, which means: " about to be." We could translate this, the "age about to come" (in the first century). Many think that the age to come will be a sinless age; not according to this verse. Sin against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in that age, referring to the age of the New Covenant, our present age. We see here that both of these ages have sin in them:
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:21 NASB
Here again we see the two ages. So, the New Testament speaks of two ages, "this age" and "the age to come." The understanding of these two ages and when they changed is fundamental to interpreting the Bible.
WHAT AGE DID THE NEW TESTAMENT WRITERS LIVE IN?
The New Testament writers lived in the age that they called "this age." To the New Testament writers the "age to come" was future, but it was very near because "this age" was about to end:
Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 NASB
The wisdom and rulers of "this age" were coming to nothing because the age was passing away. He is speaking of the Jewish leaders and the Old Covenant system. The rulers of "this age" crucified the Lord. These rulers would shortly have no realm in which to rule because "this age" was about to end:
Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:11 NASB
Paul said very plainly that the end of the ages was coming upon them, the first century saints. "This age," along with its wisdom and rulers, was about to end:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. Hebrews 1:1-2 NASB
Yeshua was speaking in the last days. What last days? The last days of the Bible's "this age"—the Old Covenant Age:
Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Hebrews 9:26 NASB
When was it that Yeshua appeared? He was born, not at the beginning, but at the end of the ages. To suppose that he meant that Yeshua's incarnation came near the end of the world, would be to make his statement false. The world has already lasted longer since the incarnation than the whole duration of the Mosaic economy, from the Exodus to the destruction of the Temple. Yeshua was manifest at the end of the Jewish Age. Peter says the same thing:
For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 1 Peter 1:20 NASB
Yeshua came during the last days of the age that was the Old Covenant Age, the Jewish Age. That age came to an end with the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. All the things prophesied by Yeshua in Matthew 24 occurred at the end of that age.
Alright, so the New Testament writers lived in what the Bible calls "this age." We today live in what the Bible calls "the age to come." The "this age" ended in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the Jewish Temple and the end of the Old Covenant Age.
We now live in what was to the first century saints the "age to come." When most Christians read in the New Testament and see the words "the age to come," they think of a yet future (to us) age. But the New Testament writers were referring to the Christian age. We live in what was to them the "age to come," the New Covenant Age.
Yeshua said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. Mark 10:29-30 NASB
If we are not living in the "age to come" we do not have eternal life. We live in the "age to come," we have eternal life now!
We must understand the principle of audience relavance: the Bible was not written "to" us, it is "for" us, but it was not written "to" us. It was written to first century believers. Once we understand this, the time statements begin to make sense to us.
Notice what Yeshua said to His disciples about His coming:
"For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Matthew 16:27-28 NASB
Verse 27 clearly speaks of the Second Coming, He comes with the angels to reward every man. So far no problem, but look at the next verse. "I say to YOU there are some standing HERE who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coning in His kingdom." Who are the "YOU" of this verse? Verse 24 tells us that Yeshua is speaking to His disciples. So Yeshua is saying to His disciples who were standing there that some of them would still be alive when He returned in the Second Coming.
Now some say He is talking about the transfiguration of 17:2, but that is only six days later and none of them had died in that six day period. Did He come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and reward each according to his works at the transfiguration? Of course not! How about Pentecost? No, that was only two months later and they were all still alive except Judas.
What are the possible explanations to this verse. I see only three, if you have others I would like to hear them.
1) There are still some of the disciples alive today. I don't think I could convince any of you of that one.
2) Yeshua was confused or lying. I hope I could not convince any of you of that one.
3) Hang on! Yeshua actually did what he said and came in the life time of His disciples. I would like to convince you all of this one.
This seems like the simple and clear answer that holds to the inspiration of Scripture. Yeshua did what He said He would do. I am very comfortable with that, how about you? Let me ask you a question, "Does Scripture contradict Scripture?" No! The primary rule of hermeneutics (the science of biblical interpretation) is called the "analogy of faith." The analogy of faith is the rule that Scripture is to interpret Scripture. This means that no part of Scripture can be interpreted in such a way as to render it in conflict with what is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture. Another principle of hermeneutics is that the implicit—that which is suggested though not plainly expressed: is to be interpreted by the explicit—that which is clearly stated. I don't know how you see it, but to me Matthew 16:27-28 is explicit!
If you are going to believe what Yeshua is saying here, you are going to have to make a paradigm shift because the idea of Christ's Second Coming being past is new to you. This idea might be new to you, but this idea is nothing new to the disciples because Yeshua had already told them that He would return in their lifetime:
"But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. Matthew 10:23 NASB
So who is Yeshua talking to here? The twelve! That is very clear from the context. Yeshua didn't switch from talking to the twelve to talking to some yet future to us generation. Throughout this discourse, Yeshua has His present audience in mind. Yeshua uses the second person plural throughout the discourse to make this point more than clear. There is nothing in the passage that gives any indication that Yeshua has any other audience in view other than His immediate audience.
Now to most Christians, who read the Bible like a newspaper, "You" doesn't mean "the twelve" in the first century; "You" means "US" in OUR century. But understanding the hermanutical principle of audience relevance, we know that "You" means the twelve that Yeshua was speaking to in the first century.
Matthew 10:23 makes it clear that Yeshua is talking about His Second Coming as the Son of Man: "You will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes." The phrase, "Son of Man," comes from Daniel 7:13 and refers to the Son of Man being presented before the Ancient of Days. Yeshua is saying to His twelve disciples that they will not have fled through all the cities of Israel, fleeing from their persecutors, until the Son of Man comes. This is promised deliverance for them-the twelve!
This seems so clear and simple to me, so why do so many Christians miss this? I think that you are all aware that our paradigms can blind us from seeing certain truths. If, in your eschatological paradigm, you see the Second Coming of Christ as the end of the physical world, a cataclysmic, earth burning, total destruction of life as we now know it, you will certainly miss what Yeshua is saying here. Because life goes on, you can't believe that Yeshua returned as He said He would. It just won't fit your paradigm. Let's look at a verse that shatters the paradigm that views the second coming as the end of the world:
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Yeshua Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 NASB
This verse shatters the paradigm that views the Second Coming as fiery destruction of the whole earth. Do you see that? If the Thessalonians believed that the nature of the Second Coming was an earth burning, total destruction of planet earth, how could they be deceived about its arrival? If the Second Coming was, as many view it today, Paul could have written them and said, "Look out the window, the earth is still here, so the Lord has obviously not come." They thought it had already happened, so they must have viewed the nature of the Second Coming differently than most folks today view it. If we can allow a crack in this earth-ending Second Coming paradigm, maybe we can begin to understand the truth of the Second Coming.
When ever I talk about the time statements of Scripture, someone inevitable says, "Yeah, but a day with the Lord is as a thousand years." That is true, God is not bound by time. But man is, and He is writing to men. As we have seen, the Second Coming was "imminent" in the first century, but was it imminent before the first century? The fact is that what Yahweh said was near to the apostles, He said was not near to the earlier prophets:
"And the vision of the evenings and mornings Which has been told is true; But keep the vision secret, For it pertains to many days in the future." Daniel 8:26 NASB
This was written in the 6th century B.C., and the vision pertained to "many days in the future"—it was a long time off. It was to be kept secret or sealed up. Now notice:
And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Revelation 22:10 NASB
This was written in the 1st century A.D., and the time of the vision "was near." What God said was far away in Daniel's time, He said was near in the apostles' time. The implication is inescapable: soon means: "soon"; near means: "near"; God knows how to tell time.
The Bible was not written in 2014. We must always remember that the first-century Christians were the first believers to read the words of the New Testament, and we must seek to put ourselves in their shoes. What did these words mean to them? The Bible was written "for us," but it was not written "to us." It is not until we understand what it meant to them that we can apply its principles to us.
Now I know that most of you hold to a theological paradigm that says the Second Coming of Christ is yet future. What I would like to do is to get you to examine your paradigm in light of the inspired Word of God. I know that you believe in the Second Coming because the Bible teaches a Second Coming, and you believe in inspiration. What I want to get you to realize is that the same Bible that teaches the Second Coming also teaches the time of the Second Coming. And to deny either the fact or the time of the Second Coming is to deny the inspiration of the Scripture.
I submit to you that either Scripture is wrong about the time of the Second Coming and thus not inerrant or our paradigms are wrong about the nature of the Second Coming. Which one of those are you more comfortable with, an incorrect paradigm or an uninspired Scripture?
The coming four lunar eclipses have nothing to do with Scripture. The Lord has returned in the first century just as He said he would. We don't need to look to the heavens for Yahweh to speak to us in signs. He speaks to us today through His Word.