“The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.” – Acts 2:20
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;” – Revelation 6:12
I spent a good part of last night taking pictures of the moon and enjoying the company of my fellow stargazers as we marveled at the moon. I’m glad I had that luxury, as there is little doubt that others had been instilled with fear about the shape of things to come. Somebody, somewhere out there had written a pretty popular book, produced something vaguely like a documentary, and took up countless church services preaching about ‘Blood Moons’ as opposed to things like the love of Jesus or the fruit of the Holy Spirit. In essence, he said that these four total lunar eclipses was one of the signs that Jesus alluded to in Luke 21:
“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
And so people all over the world are watching and waiting for the fulfillment of that which is to come. They’re afraid for their friends and family members who they expect will be left behind. They believe that we’re on the cusp of Revelation unfolding right here and right now. This fear is an effective tool to manipulate people into giving up their dreams (there’s no point now) and donating their early goods (they won’t need them were they’re going.) It’s something that we’ve seen play out every single time somebody sets a date, gathers a following, and preaches their doom-and-gloom message.
Sure, technically, he didn’t circle the day and hour on the calendar, and he was careful to say: “something, somewhere will happen!” Which, of course, it will, no matter what corner of the world people live in some terrible disaster will happen eventually. People on the Ring of Fire can expect earthquakes, volcanoes, and even tsunamis. Tornado Alley can expect tornadoes. Coastal areas – hurricanes, typhoons. Famines, floods, droughts, blizzards, nor’easters, etc. There are disasters that are directly caused by people that routinely make the news. That vague language will serve him well as he comes to realize that he was wrong to try to guess God’s timing. I’d imagine a similar feeling happened after Israel was declared to be a state – anticipation of the wonders to come and disappointment when they didn’t happen. I remember reading about The Great Disappointment – how a similar prophecy unfolded and people were left bewildered and disillusioned when it didn’t pan out. Many gave up their beliefs and began rebuilding their lives from scratch (as they had given everything away.) This is the travesty of the whole thing – that people can be put into this situation and lose their faith. It’s really easy for us to be carried away given the popularity of mass media – Left Behind, both the book series and the movies, have primed our imaginations to believe that it’s going to happen any moment now.
It seems as if in all of the picking and choosing of the Blood Moon verses, he ignored this one:
For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. – Matthew 24:38-39
In all of this, the Blood Moon Prophecy is an excellent example of the disastrous effects reading Bible verses out of their context and trying to create a belief based off of three or four disjointed verses. It’s something for the rest of us to keep in mind the next time somebody sets a date for the big one. I just hope we’ll let the fear fade away and marvel at the mystery and maybe even enjoy ourselves.