The Four Blood Moons
When the moon passes directly behind the earth, and the sun, earth and moon are in direct alignment, there is a lunar eclipse. Because in a total lunar eclipse the moon has a reddish glow, it is sometimes called a “blood moon.”
In recent years and months, John Hagee, pastor of Cornerstone Church, San Antonio, Texas, has been fueling speculation of something significant happening on the date of these blood moons.
His theory is as follows.
First, God has given the sun, moon, and stars as “signs” (). Hagee interprets these signs to be God’s “billboards,” with which the Almighty warns the inhabitants of the earth, and especially Israel, of important events. Second, blood moons are associated in Scripture with the second coming of Jesus Christ ( ). Of course, Hagee here assumes that when Scripture prophesies, “the moon will be turned into blood,” it refers to a lunar eclipse. Third, since lunar eclipses (or blood moons) are relatively common, Hagee looked for some really significant blood moons in history. He focused not on individual eclipses, but on sets of four lunar eclipses, called lunar tetrads. Since there have been 87 such tetrads since the birth of Christ, Hagee zeroed in on lunar tetrads that have coincided with Jewish feast days (the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles). Of those, there have been (not counting the ones we have just experienced in 2014-2015) eight. Of those eight, Hagee ignores five (AD162/163, 795/796, 842/843, 860/861, and 1949/1950) and concentrates on three.1
Those three occurred in 1493/1494 (the Spanish Inquisition), 1949/1950 (the “rebirth of Israel as a nation”), and 1967/1968 (The Six-Day War). Since very significant events happened for Israel on those three tetrads, Hagee speculated that truly momentous, earthshattering events would happen on the most recent tetrad (2014/2015). God is getting our attention! Something big is about to happen for Israel! At least, that was his claim in his 2013 book Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change.
Something big did happen. Excitement and speculation grew; Hagee’s book became a bestseller among gullible Christians; and the media mocked when (yet again!) nothing occurred in September 2015.
Hagee’s theory falls apart upon closer scrutiny. Remember that Hagee arbitrarily discards five of the eight tetrads as theologically insignificant. What about the Spanish Inquisition? Hagee focuses on the Edict of Expulsion, by which King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain banished the Jews from Spain. It was signed on March 31, 1492. The first blood moon of that tetrad occurred on April 21, 1493, almost a year after the Edict of Expulsion was signed!2 Similarly, Israel was recognized by the UN in December 1948, some four months before the first eclipse of that tetrad in April 13, 1949, which means that again God’s “signal” to the Jews was late. And as for the most recent tetrad (April 15, 2014; October 8, 2014; April 4, 2015 and September 28, 2015), nothing happened, except that some of us were able to admire the blood red hue of the moon.
Ah, but what about the significance of these tetrads falling on Jewish feast days? Is God not telling us something in that? First, since the Jewish calendar is lunar (our calendar is solar), full moons often fall on Jewish feast days, so there is nothing surprising in that. Second, lunar eclipses are beautiful, but they are not billboards from heaven warning us of impending doom. Third, if God was really interested in warning the Jews, why was there no tetrad before AD 70, or at the time of the Holocaust? Fourth, Jewish Feast Days are insignificant in the New Testament age, having been abolished with the coming of Christ (; Belgic Confession, Art. 25). Fifth, God has warned the Jews, and all nations, in the sending of His Son, the resurrection of His Son from the dead, and the promise of a Day of Judgment, all of which are recorded in sacred Scripture ( ). To paraphrase , If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though a lunar tetrad appear in the heavens.
Hagee is wrong on several basic points. First, the tetrads of lunar eclipses are not the fulfilment ofand other passages that prophesy the moon turning to blood. That happens at the end of the world, and not throughout history. Second, we are not to find our eschatology in the stars (that is astrology, not eschatology) but in Scripture. Third, and probably most important, the modern state of Israel is not God’s chosen people. Hagee is a radical dispensationalist. He believes that it is the Christian’s duty to support Israel politically, financially, and in every other way possible. God does not have a “special program” for Israel which includes the rapture of the church.
Let there be no confusion. The modern secular, un godly state of Israel is not, and shall not be in the future, God’s chosen people. God’s people are the church. We must not be carried away by strange end times speculation, but be sober and wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, we should expect more eschatological foolishness as the coming of the Lord draws nigh.
Bob De Moor: the “Hockey Game” at the CRC Synod
Bob De Moor is the outgoing editor of the Christian Reformed Church’s magazine, The Banner. Reporting on CRC Synod 2015, De Moor calls attention to disagreement in the denomination: “Deliberation was friendly—that is, until the question arose of whether or not to make declarations related to same sex relationships. Rather quickly a ‘hockey game’ broke out.”3
Several parts of this “hockey” game will be of interest to SB readers.
First, in one decision, the CRC Synod declined a request from Classis Minnkota to “instruct and admonish” the consistories of two Grand Rapids churches to discipline their members who are part of “All One Body,” an organization “advocating change in the stance of the denomination in regard to same sex couples in committed and monogamous relationships.” Clayton Libolt reports:
Far more controversial was a proposal to synod from one of its advisory committees to add to their decision language partially borrowed from the Minnkota communication condemning the “public advocacy…of sinful behavior”…. In a dramatic conclusion to the debate, the proposed statement about “public advocacy…of sinful behavior” was withdrawn by the advisory committee. The only action of synod was not to accept Minnkota’s request for discipline.4
Also at CRC Synod 2015 delegates held a “listening session” on the subject of same-sex marriage. Libolt reports:
Delegates were divided into small groups and presented with three topics for discussion. The first two were potential pastoral situations: the baptism of a child of a same-sex couple and the same-sex marriage of a child of a church leader. The third topic presented four views of the relationship between civil marriage and religious marriage, for the purpose of considering a Reformed perspective on such a relationship.5
“Listening sessions” and “study committees” are very popular, but studying something on which God has spoken clearly with a view to circumventing what God has said is wicked behavior. Advocating for sinful behavior is itself wicked behavior: “[they] not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (). Should a church member become a member of a pro-abortion advocacy group, a pro-adultery advocacy group, or a pro-idolatry advocacy group, he should be reprimanded, and, if he remains impenitent, disciplined. The same is obviously true of a pro-homosexuality advocacy group. The issues are not difficult to understand—they are just difficult to obey in an increasingly wicked world. To baptize the child of a same-sex couple is to profane the sacrament. To officiate at or even to attend the wedding of a same-sex couple is to profane the institution of marriage. To discipline a homosexual member of one’s family would be painful, but it is what God commands us to do.
De Moor laments the disagreement at synod. First, he explains the fundamental problem:
With a study report on the topic headed for Synod 2016, it seems we’re headed for trouble. Why? Because we can’t avoid our disagreements on whether homosexual practice is always sinful. That fundamental question will dog our discussions on how we are to pastorally deal with same sex relationships in our congregations. We won’t agree on what’s pastoral until we agree on what’s sinful. Synod 2015’s discussions indicated that many no longer agree with the position of the Christian Reformed Church that homosexual practice is always wrong or that such practice always requires church discipline. If we are unwise, we face years of conflict in which, as with the women’s ordination dispute, we oscillate between two extremes from year to year, based on who has more votes at synod. That will restart the hemorrhage of membership on both “sides.”
Notice what De Moor says—there is disagreement in the CRC on whether homosexual practice is sinful! The debate has moved from whether same-sex attraction is sinful—it is, just as lust is sinful ()—to whether the practice is sinful; and CRC officebearers, without fear of discipline, openly state that such practice is not sinful.
Then he explains his solution: let the local congregations and consistories decide. This, he claims, has worked with other issues—divorce and remarriage, and the ordination of women:
That “local option” helped us to clearly affirm biblical teaching, leave room for different perspectives on what is or isn’t a sin, and allows churches to exercise pastoral care and discipline in line with our understanding that the CRC confers primary authority on local councils. Would the “local option” erode our commitment to biblical teaching? No. Scripture teaches emphatically that we must “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (). And it promises that the Spirit will lead us together into all the truth ( ). Determining together God’s will for folks with same sex attraction will take time.
The “local option” will not promote unity—it will destroy it. Each consistory will define sin as it sees fit. It will lead to men and women doing what seems right in their own eyes. And it will lead to what De Moor actually wants—the eventual acceptance of practicing homosexuals in all parts of the CRC.
ISIS Barbarism Continues
The Christian Post reports on a heartbreaking story from Syria, where Islamic State militants “heinously tortured and killed a 12-year-old boy, along with 11 indigenous Christian missionaries, after they refused to leave their homeland or renounce Christ.”6
The missionaries were Christian converts from Islam. Apostasy from Islam is punishable by death according to strict Sharia law. ISIS demanded that the Christians renounce Christ and embrace Islam. They refused.
First, the ISIS jihadists cut off the fingertips of a 12-year-old boy, while they forced his father, a Christian missionary, to watch. As they beat the boy, they told him that the suffering would stop, if he and his father reconverted to Islam. They refused. Finally, the Christians were crucified in front of a mob of spectators. Other missionaries were beheaded, and their women were raped before being decapitated. Then their bodies were left hanging on crosses for two days.
As I read this report, several things struck me. First, the malice of Satan is real. How he hates Christianity and Christians! The same murderous rage that led Saul of Tarsus to lay the church of Jesus Christ waste dwells in the hearts of these wicked ISIS jihadists. Only the Spirit of Christ can dispel such darkness. Second, the grace of God is real. How much grace is required to endure torture and death for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ! Third, the power of the testimony of the martyrs is real. Christian Post reports that Muslims are turning to Jesus in Syria despite the threat from ISIS.
And fourth, a question pierced my soul? Could I—would I—be faithful to Christ in such situations? “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” ().
1 Hagee, who borrows much of this theory from Mark Biltz, appeals to NASA for the accuracy of the dates of the blood moons. NASA’s website, http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEcat5/LEcatalog.html, lists all the tetrads in history (accessed October 13, 2015).
2 The exact dates of Hagee’s first tetrad were April 21, 1493; September 25, 1493; March 22, 1494; and September 15, 1494.
3 Bob De Moor, “Don’t Walk Away,” in The Banner, http://thebanner.org/departments/2015/06/don-t-walk-away (accessed October 13, 2015).
4 Clayon Libolt, “All One Body Controversy Discussed by Synod,” in The Banner, http://thebanner.org/news/2015/06/all-one-body-controversy-discussed-by-synod (accessed October 13, 2015).
5 Clayton Libolt, “Delegates Hold Listening Session on Same Sex Marriage,” http://www.crcna.org/news-and-views/delegateshold-listening-session-same-sex-marriage (accessed October 13, 2015).
6 http://www.christianpost.com/news/isis-crucifies-11-christian-missionaries (accessed October 13, 2015).