by Lloyd Streeter
“All the rage” now-a-days is the talk of a tetrad (four) of “blood moons” that are supposed to be seen in 2014-2015. What is actually being discussed are four full moons eclipsed which are remarkable because they fall on four Jewish holy days, two in 2014, and the same two in 2015. These four full moons are also remarkable because among them will be a solar eclipse. Of course, there are many full moons, one every 29 days, and a few of them do fall on Jewish holy days. Several times in the past, eclipsed full moons have fallen on more than one Jewish holy day in a single year. However, more notice is taken of a 2014-2015 tetrad of full moons because they have been sensationalized by some well-known ministers who seem to find prophetic significance to them. The first minister to write of these so-called “blood moons” was Mark Biltz, founder and pastor of El Shaddai Ministries in Washington state. Biltz has linked solar and lunar eclipses to Israel’s history and biblical feast days. Another minister, John Hagee, has written a book on the subject, Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change.
The first full moon under discussion will appear on the Day of Passover, April 15, 2014. The second of the tetrad will take place on the day of the Feast of Tabernacles, October 8, 2014. The third one will arrive on Passover, April 4, 2015. The fourth and final full moon of the tetrad will happen on the day of the Feast of Tabernacles, September 28, 2015. Right in the middle of this tetrad of full moons will be a total solar eclipse, on March 20, 2015. These full moons are called “blood moons” because Mark Biltz was looking at a picture of a full moon and to him it looked red. This reminded Biltz of what the Bible says about the moon looking like blood in several prophetic passages.
The tetrad of 2014-2015 is not the first time that there have been four eclipsed full moons on four Jewish holy days. It happened in 1949-1950, and again in 1967-1968. In each case, the full moons fell on the Day of Passover and the Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, in the respective years. And in each case, a total solar eclipse arrived in the midst of the tetrad. Very few people would say that these events are uninteresting but the real question is, are the prophetic speculations taking place justified?
Unfortunately, some people have jumped to the conclusion that because past tetrads of full moons have fallen on Jewish holy days, and will again in 2014-2015, there must be some prophetic event which is about to happen, perhaps the rapture, perhaps an event in the Great Tribulation. By going back, in retrospect, Biltz, Hagee, and others have been able to arbitrarily link the full moons of 1949-1950 and 1967-1968 to important events for the nation of Israel—the birth of the nation and the Six Day War. However, Biltz and Hagee have been rather loose in choosing events that are only relatively close in proximity to the time of the “blood moons.” The events arbitrarily chosen are sometimes a year or more away from when the “blood moons” and eclipses appear.
The last tetrad of “blood moons,” before modern times, occurred in 1493-1494, again on the same Jewish holy days, and again accompanied by a total solar eclipse. That tetrad has been linked by Hagee to the persecution and expulsion of the Jews from Spain.
It should be remembered that there are notable events during every year that directly impact the history of the Jews. If someone is determined to arbitrarily select an event to link with a tetrad of “blood moons,” it will not be difficult to do, especially if plenty of latitude in time is allowed, as seems to have been done by Biltz and Hagee. The Spanish Inquisition lasted for decades, 1478-1501 and was not specifically linked to the dates of a “blood moon.” The Edict of Expulsion came a full year before the first “blood moon” of the 1493-1494 tetrad. Israel’s independence as a nation came on May 14, 1948; a full year before the first “blood moon” of the 1949-1950 tetrad. The Six Day War was fought between June 5 and June 10, 1967; whereas the first “blood moon” of the 1967-1968 tetrad appeared on April 24, 1967 (The only “blood moon” to be near the date of the historical event arbitrarily chosen.)
When the 2014-2015 tetrad of “blood moons” has become history it will be easy for the speculators to link it to some major, or not so major, event. It will be easy, especially since events a year before the tetrad and year after the tetrad may be considered. This is the past practice of Biltz and Hagee.
The important thing to remember is that Christians are supposed to get their doctrine from the Bible. The Bible is authoritative, sufficient, inspired by God, and inerrant. With such a source, Christians do not need to speculate or make things up in order to help Christians to be knowledgeable of prophecy and equipped for service. A careful study of what the Bible says about the moon turning blood red during some future prophetic event does not lead to any legitimate speculation about the tetrads 1493-1494, 1949-1950, 1967-1968, or 2014-2015. References to the moon turning blood red (Joel 2, Matthew 24, Acts 2, and Revelation 6) all refer to the Tribulation Period. Unless a teacher is setting a date for the rapture (before April 15, 2014) or implying that the church will be in the Tribulation Period, that teacher should not say that the coming tetrad has any connection with the above references. There is certainly nothing in Scripture to lead us to the conclusion that the coming tetrad will harbinger any great prophetic event such as the rapture, an invasion of Israel, or the unveiling of the Antichrist. Furthermore, it would be pure speculation to link the tetrad of full moons to any non-prophetic events such as an attack on Israel by Iran, the betrayal of Israel by a “friend,” or the development of a nuclear weapon by one of Israel’s enemies. Such guess work regarding “blood red moons” may be attention-getting and sensational, but will undoubtedly lead people astray and will result in corrupting the Word of God and wrestling the Word of God to one’s own destruction (II Peter 3:16).
The Bible nowhere tells the Christian to look for full moons on Jewish holy days, or any other signs. The Bible instructs the Christian to look for the Lord to come to rapture His church (Titus 2:13). There are no signs at all for the rapture. The signs mentioned in Matthew 24-25 are signs for the Revelation of Christ in glory, signs for which Tribulation saints are supposed to look.
The anti-dispensationalists are having a “hay-day” in ridiculing all dispensationalists (those who believe that the church will be raptured before the Tribulation begins). The anti-dispensationalists (mostly amillenialists) want to paint all pre-Tribulationalists with the same brush. All pre-Tribulationalists are being accused of believing that some great coming event is linked to the coming tetrad of “blood moons.” It is, of course, a slander and a ruse.
A correct understanding of several Scriptures will help the Christian to avoid getting involved in questionable speculations, shameful date-setting, and heretical teachings. Joel, chapter 2, is a notable Scripture that mentions that “the sun and the moon shall be dark” (Joel 2:10).
Joel’s prophecy is about “The Day of the Lord.” It is mostly about the Tribulation Period, with a few verses describing the kingdom age. Verse one of chapter one is the key verse: “Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.”
Joel says that even the animals will groan and cry because their pastures are burned up (1:18-20). He says that the Tribulation Period will be “A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains” (2:2). It is an awful time that is described as a time of Israel’s invasion, (2:3-4), a time of starvation (2:6), a time of great earthquakes (2:10). It will be a time when the Lord calls on Israel to repent (2:12-17).
Joel says the Tribulation will be followed by a time of great blessing of God upon the earth (2:18-27), a time when God will dwell with His people.
The prophet also tells of an event that was partially fulfilled at Pentecost in Acts 2. This prophecy is found in 2:28-32:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.
Verses 28 and 29 is the portion of the prophecy which was partially fulfilled at Pentecost. The Spirit being “poured out on all flesh” was not fulfilled and won’t be fulfilled until the kingdom age when “all Israel shall be saved” and God begins the millennium with a 100% saved population. What we have at Pentecost is a small partial fulfillment, sort of a precursor of that which is to come. God’s Spirit came at Pentecost in a new and different way. The church was begun that day when believers at Jerusalem were baptized by the Holy Spirit into one body.
That part of the prophecy in verse 31 about the sun being “turned into darkenss, and the moon into blood,” was not fulfilled at Pentecost. Of course not! There was no moon “turned into blood” at Pentecost. This part of the prophecy will be fulfilled during the Tribulation Period.
That part of the prophecy that says that “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (2:32) is being fulfilled during the entire church age and will continue to be fulfilled throughout the Tribulation and the Millennium. It is a promise of God to “whosoever.”
Chapter three of Joel describes the invasion of Israel by her enemies (3:1-2). This will happen during the Tribulation Period. The campaign of Armageddon and the Judgment of God upon the nations are described (3:9-17). Then this little book closes with a final promise of the millennial reign of Christ (3:18-21).
In conclusion, there is no question that the reference to the moon turning into blood, i.e., blood red in color, was not fulfilled at Pentecost and will not be fulfilled until the Tribulation Period. Dr. Leon Wood, the Old Testament scholar, wrote about the prophecy of the moon being turned into blood, “These events will transpire just preceding the millennium.” The events prophesied in Joel 2:28-31 are not being fulfilled today. They have nothing to do with full moons in 2014-2015. Any teacher who pretends that Joel 2:28-31 has anything to do with the four full moons of 2014-2015 is doing a disservice to the people in his audience, and he is mishandling the Word of God.
Matthew 24-25, the Olivet Discourse of our Lord, is entirely about the Tribulation Period, the Revelation of Jesus, and some accompanying judgments. This wonderful prophetic passage is not at all about the rapture of the church. The rapture of the church is not mentioned a single time in the Olivet Discourse.
The Gospel of Matthew was written to Jews about a Jewish King (Christ). Matthew 24-25 is about the coming of the Jewish King to rule and reign in this world.
At the end of the Tribulation, before Jesus returns to earth, we read,
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken (Matt. 24:29).
The moon will be darkened. This is perfectly consistent with Joel 2:31. This has nothing to do with a tetrad of full moons in 2014-2015. Before Jesus returns to earth at the Revelation, the moon will be darkened. Almost all of the Tribulation will be past. This will happen “after the tribulation of those days.”
Some people do not want to accept that the rapture of the church is not in view in the Olivet Discourse. But that is because they do not understand the context. One of the most important principles of Bible study is that you have to get the context right or you will not understand the Scriptures.
Here’s the context: (1.) False christs will come (24:5). (2.) Believers will hear of wars and rumors of wars (24:6-7). (3.) There will be famines, starvation, diseases, earthquakes in unusual places (24:7), especially in Israel. (4.) The saints will be persecuted, even to death (24:8-12). (5.) But those who endure until the end of the Tribulation will have their lives saved (24:13). (6.) The gospel will be preached all over the world which will result in multiplied millions of people being saved (24:14). (7.) The abomination of desolation will occur (24:15). (8.) The Jews will be persecuted and will flee for their lives (24:16-22). (9.) When Jesus comes, He will come quickly like lightning (24:27). (10.) He will come in power and great glory (24:30). (11.) He will gather up His “elect” (the Jewish people) and miraculously transport them to Israel (24:31; 40-41). (12.) The Jewish generation, i.e., the Jewish race, will not pass, will not become extinct, before those prophecies are fulfilled because God has a plan for the Jews (24:34). (13.) The day and hour of the Revelation will not be discerned by people living during the Tribulation Period (24:36, 42-44). (14.) At the end of the Tribulation, when Jesus comes in glory to establish His kingdom, two people will be working in a field and one will be miraculously taken by God’s angels. Two will be grinding at a mill and one will be taken and one left. This is not the rapture of the church. This is a miraculous catching away and transporting of Jews to Jerusalem at the Revelation of Christ in glory.
The context of Matthew 24 is the Tribulation and the Revelation. Therefore, verse 29 about “the moon will be darkened and not give her light” cannot be a prophecy of any “blood moons” of the church age, cannot have any connection to a tetrad of full moons in 2014-2015.
Those who pretend that Matthew 24:29 has anything to do with a tetrad of full moons in 2014-2015 are leading people astray. They are delving into foolish speculation about things that are not taught in Scripture. If the teacher of “blood moons” is not talking about the Great Tribulation, then he is not talking about anything in Matthew 24-25. Matthew 24-25 is entirely about the Tribulation and the Revelation of Christ in glory when He comes after the Tribulation to establish His earthly kingdom. All competent dispensationalists know that the rapture is not in sight in Matthew 24-25. E. Schuyler English wrote, “To state categorically, as some have done in speaking of Matthew 24:29-31, that this is the rapture,” is not in our opinion, good exegesis. On the contrary, it would seem to be much more scriptural to state, concerning these verses, “This is not the rapture of the church.”
Peter said, in his sermon on the day of Pentecost:
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit: and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come.
This paper has already asserted that this prophecy from the Book of Joel was not all fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. There was no sun darkened and no moon turned to blood that day. The “last days” (v. 17) began on the Day of Pentecost and the world will still be in the last days during the Millennium. The “moon turned to blood” prophecy is for the Tribulation Period.
Dr. J. Vernon McGee makes it clear that the most complete fulfillment of Joel and Peter’s prophecy awaits the Tribulation Period:
The question arises: What did Peter mean when he referred to this passage of Scripture on the Day of Pentecost? Did he mean that the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled? No, he didn’t say that. He never claimed that this prophecy was fulfilled. . . .
What does Peter say in Acts 2:16? “. . . this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (italics mine). He does not say it was a fulfillment of what Joel had predicted. Rather he said, “This is that” . . . .
In effect, Peter is saying to them, “Don’t mock at what you see happening. You ought to recognize from your own Word of God that Joel says the day is coming when God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh. If it is poured out on a few people today, you ought not to be surprised at that.”
Then Peter went on to quote the rest of Joel’s prophecy regarding what would take place: “I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come: (vv. 30-31). Was that fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost? Of course not. There were no earthquakes, no changes in the sun and moon. These will occur on “that great and notable day of the Lord.” Joel calls it “the great and terrible day of the Lord.” The Day of Pentecost was a great day, but it was not a terrible day. It was a wonderful day!
Revelation, chapter 6, is a Tribulation passage. The church will have been raptured to heaven when this chapter is fulfilled. The scientist and Bible scholar, Dr. Henry Morris says that the blood-red color of the moon in that day will appear due to the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in Israel that will fill the air with vast quantities of dust particles.
If Revelation 6 is a Tribulation scene, then its blood-red moon cannot refer to a moon in 2014-2015. The world is not now in the Tribulation Period. The Antichrist has not been revealed, and he won’t be until after the church is raptured.
To insist that full moons or solar eclipses in 2014-2015 are connected in some way with blood moons or changes in the sun and moon in the Tribulation Period comes very close to date setting. Date setting, regarding the coming of the Lord is a shameful practice that has brought much reproach upon the church of God and upon those who believe the Bible prophecies. Jesus said that even the Jews during the Tribulation Period will not know the date or the time of His Revelation from heaven (Matt. 24:36; 42; 44; 50).
A picture of a moon that looked red to Mark Biltz may not look red to others. And, certainly, a moon that has already been memorialized in a picture cannot be what the Bible predicts for the Tribulation Period. Our doctrine should be based on what the Bible actually says, not on guess work. To work up excitement over supposed events about which the Bible does not speak is not a wise course. To arbitrarily make a connection of events that the Bible does not connect is a practice that will bring shame to the teacher and will discredit the teacher who does it.
Mark Biltz, www.elshaddaiministries.us/miscpdf/markbiltzbio.pdr.
Henry M. Morris, The Defender’s Study Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, 1995), Notes on Revelation 6:12, 1438.