What does it all really mean?
UNUSUAL HUE — The moon did indeed appear blood red during a total lunar eclipse in the early morning hours of April 15. (Photo by Pam Agrimson)
By JESSICA LUTGENS
By now, most of you have heard about the “Blood Red Moon” that occurred around 2 a.m. last Tuesday, the 15th. It’s been all over the media, generating headlines like “Blood moon a sign of the end times?” and “Blood moon: Lunar eclipse or sign of dire consequences?” Further popularized by several books claiming that the “blood moon” signifies the end is coming, the Rapture and Apocalypse will take place, Jesus will return to earth, and “traumatic, world-changing things will happen to Israel” before September of 2015, this (and the three to come) total lunar eclipse has caused much speculation and debate.
What exactly is the significance of this lunar event? The eclipse was the first in what is known as a tetrad, which is described as a series of four total eclipses, each separated by six lunar months. The dates of each lunar eclipse are, in 2014: April 15th, which is also the Jewish holiday of Passover, and October 8th, the Jewish holiday of Tabernacles (Sukkot); in 2015: April 4th (Passover) and September 28th (Tabernacles). This coincidental alignment of Jewish holidays with the lunar eclipses, along with other alleged signs, has some of the more radical of the religious folk predicting — what else? — the end of the world.
One of the books published on the topic, entitled “Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change,” appears to be one of the biggest
perpetrators that sparked so much public interest. Written by Christian pastor, televangelist and founder of San Antonio’s Cornerstone Church in Texas, John Hagee, the book describes the 2014-2015 lunar tetrad as a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, referring to Bible verses such as Joel 2:31, “The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood before the great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” Hagee has recently been quoted saying, “I believe that the heavens are God’s billboard, that He has been sending signals to planet Earth and we just haven’t been picking them up.”
To back this up, Hagee points out that of the eight tetrads that have fallen on these Jewish holidays, three also occurred the same time as significant events for Israel and Jewish people: in 1492, Jews were expelled from Spain by the Inquisition – the same time that Christopher Columbus discovered America; in 1948, Israel was born as a modern state; and in 1967, Israel was victorious in the Six-Day-War and recaptured Jerusalem. The two latter events were the first to occur in 2,000 years. Therefore, Hagee predicts that between April of this year and September of 2015, the Rapture will take place: in short, Christians will go to Heaven, Israel will fight a battle called Armageddon, and Jesus will return to Earth.
And with his book currently No. 4 on the New York Times Bestseller List (in the advice/how to section), it’s obvious that many are giving this doomsday idea serious thought. But it seems these theories are, once again, simply much ado about nothing.
Enter, science. There are two lunar eclipses each year, and according to NASA, tetrads are not that rare – the next, after the 2014-2015 tetrad, will take place in 2032-2033 (eight will occur before the year 2100). Fred Espenak, NASA/GSFC, said in a public statement, “The most unique thing is that they’re [the lunar eclipses] visible from all or parts of the United States.” Ironically enough, they cannot be seen from Israel.
What’s the significance of a “blood moon” versus a regular lunar eclipse? There are actually three kinds of lunar eclipses: penumbal, partial, and total. A total eclipse occurs when the Earth comes between the sun and the moon, causing sunlight to be refracted through Earth’s atmosphere and providing illumination. Because Earth’s atmosphere strongly scatters light in short wavelengths, the illumination on the moon is given a red hue – hence the term “blood moon,” which can be found in descriptions of such lunar events as far back as eclipses are recorded.
As for the correlation of the dates of the eclipses and Passover/Tabernacles, it’s inevitable that a full moon will occur on or near both of these dates, as ancient Hebrews used a lunar calendar and dated their equinox celebrations as the day of the full moon in “Nisan” (usually falling in March/April). If one were to look into it further, you would find that many of the most important holidays in all religions are essentially calendar-based; meaning they are set to the patterns of regular changes that occur through the year.
Once upon a time, when a “blood moon” occurred, it would send people into a panic – for all they knew, the world very well could be ending. But in this day and age, with all the information we’ve acquired about the world and its history (not to mention the fact that the modern calendar we use is much different than the Gregorian, or Jewish, calendar) there’s less tolerance for such theories.
So, does the “blood red moon” signify anything more than a natural occurrence? Chances are slim to none, which may be unfortunate news to doomsday believers, but the facts are there. Instead of worrying or trying to predict when the world is going to end, try living life, making it the best it possibly can while you’ve got it. Enjoy the wondrous beauty of nature as three more total lunar eclipses take place, turning the brilliant white full moon we’re used to a strange red hue as sun, earth and moon align. It really is an amazing thing to witness — how small we seem in the grand scheme of things.