Are specific celestial events, including Tuesday's "blood moon," really evidence that the end times are upon us or that, at the least, something profound is on the horizon concerning Israel?
It's the latter claim that's being made by Texas pastor John Hagee, whose 2013 book, "Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change," detailed the supposedly prophetic signs Hagee believes God is sending mankind.
Hagee contends that these messages are coming through tetrads -- rare series of four total lunar eclipses that occur over two-year periods. These "blood moons," named for the reddish color that results when the Earth comes between the sun and moon, are tied to major events involving Israel, he says.
"It is rare that scripture, science and history align with each other, yet the last three series of four blood moons have done exactly that," reads a description of Hagee's latest book. "Just as in biblical times, God is controlling the sun, the moon and the stars to send our generation a signal that something big is about to happen."
In an interview with TheBlaze last year, Hagee said the premise of his theory is "confirmed by NASA" data. He argued that a series of four blood moons have appeared on Passover and Sukkot, also known as Feast of Tabernacles (Passover celebrates the Jews' liberation from Egyptian slavery and Sukkot commemorates the Jews' 40-year wandering in the desert).
And each time, he said, something significant has happened concerning the Jewish people.
"This has happened only three times in over 500 years, so it's a very rare thing," Hagee said, adding that the dates during which the tetrads fell always began with "tears" and ended in "triumph."
While there have certainly been other sets of four blood moons, only eight times in the past 2,000 years have all four in a series fallen on the two Jewish holidays consecutively.
The Historical 'Blood Moons' Narrative
In 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella "issued an edict of expulsion" kicking the Jews out of Spain, Hagee told TheBlaze. This happened during the Spanish Inquisition, which began in 1478 in an effort to rid the region of Jews and Muslims.
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And that's not the only series of blood moons Hagee links to Israel, as NASA data shows that yet another tetrad unfolded between 1949 and 1950, a key time for Israel's modern-day manifestation.
"In 1948, that's the year Israel became a state," he explained. "The thing that happened prior to that was the tragedy of the Holocaust, which ended in the rejoicing of statehood."
Another tetrad happened between 1967 and 1968, a period which saw the Six-Day War — a moment of "triumph" when Jerusalem was reunified and became "the eternal capital of the Jewish people once again," Hagee said.
NASA data also shows that four blood moons emerged between the years 1909-1910, 1927-1928 and 1985-1986, but these also did not fall on the Jewish holidays.
The Current Tetrad
NASA says the current tetrad of blood moons that started early Tuesday morning will last until Sept. 28, 2015. The last tetrad to occur happened between 2003 and 2004, though it did not fall on Jewish holidays.
Hagee said that there would "not be anymore four blood moons in the future" that fall on these holidays, so he says the current tetrad could indicate the start of some major, earth-shattering events.
NASA data does appear to show six others will happen this century, but none appear to have all four blood moons fall on both Passover and Sukkot as they do in 2014 and 2015.
"When you think about the precision that God has to perform in getting the sun, the moon and the Earth in perfect alignment and to produce that exactness on passover and Feast of Tabernacles ... the random probability of that just runs off the charts," Hagee told TheBlaze.
Pastor John Hagee (Image source: YouTube/Worthy Publishing)
"I think the thing that people will take away from this is that it means, based on past history, that something is about to change in the Middle East concerning Israel that will affect the nations of world and everyone on planet Earth," he said. "No one knows for sure what it will be, but based on the pattern of the past it will involve Israel. It will begin with tears and end in triumph and change the course of history forever."
Is There a Scriptural Basis for the Theory?
Hagee took TheBlaze through biblical scripture that he said shows that God has traditionally communicated with mankind through celestial means and that "God is sending planet Earth signals from the heavens."
He cited Joel 2:20-21 in the Old Testament and Acts 2:19-20 and Luke 21:25-28 in the New Testament; Revelation 6:12 also references a red moon, though Hagee didn't mention this verse to TheBlaze.
The verses he did mention read as follows (the verses from Acts are not presented below, as they generally reference the words of Joel, though they can be read here):
Joel 2:20-21: "I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord."
Luke 21:25-28: "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."
Critics Speak Out
Not everyone accepts Hagee's theoretical paradigm.
Christian expert Hank Hanegraaff, the “Bible Answer Man” who is no stranger to speaking out against certain end-times prophecies, is among the many critics of Hagee's end-times philosophy.
He called the theory of the four blood moons "appalling" and "deplorable," flatly dismissing it in a recent interview with TheBlaze.
"What these purveyors of blood moon theology [are doing] is taking the natural use of the stars, which God ordains, and perverting it with superstitiousness which God disdains," Hanegraaff said. "The heavenly bodies are used for separating the night from the day ... [for] marking seasons, from giving light on the Earth and so forth."
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Hanegraaff examined the verses Hagee cited, noting that while Peter references Joel 2:20-21 in the verses invoked in Acts 2:19-20, there's no evidence that these scriptures are to be taken as future predictions in the modern era.
"Peter talks about the ultimate day of judgement ... it pertains to the coming of the Lord ... coming in judgement on Jerusalem and ultimately it pertains to a second coming as well, but there's no word whatsoever for taking the language of Joel and suggesting that somehow or other you can read from that language what is going to happen in the modern epic," Hanegraaff said.
He also noted that the Spanish Inquisition began 15 years before the 1493 tetrad, though it is true that it wasn't until 1492 that the Jews were expelled from the region.
Hanegraaff also pointed to some one-year differences as gaps in time that didn't make the tetrads reliable in terms of connecting them to biblical prophecy. Consider, for instance, that Israel was founded in May 1948, but the tetrad didn't start until 1949.
Hanegraaff added: "Lunar exclipses are associated with Jewish events anyway. There should be no real surprise that you find these kinds of events happening."
Kenneth L. Waters, associate dean and a New Testament professor at California's Azusa Pacific University, agreed that it's not entirely surprising that these dates would fall on Passover and Sukkot.
"[T]here is nothing particularly extraordinary about these holy days coinciding with a full moon," he wrote in a CNN op-ed. "Jewish holy days are based upon a lunar calendar. Passover is always celebrated the first full moon after the vernal equinox and the Feast of Tabernacles is always the first full moon after the autumnal equinox."
Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis provided an overview of how the calendar works, agreeing that there's nothing astounding about the dates lining up with Jewish holidays.
The group even provided tables to show that it's not unique that eclipses sometimes fall on Jewish holidays, considering the Jewish calendar follows the moon (still, some will contend that it's curious to see that this set of four consecutive blood moons has only unfolded on holidays eight times and is purportedly not set to happen again after the 2014-2015 tetrad).
Waters also made the point that the blood moons theory essentially sets a timetable, quoting Jesus in Matthew 24:26 saying of the end times: "However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows."
The blood moon was not visible from Israel on April 14. (Image source: NASA)
Dr. Danny Faulkner, an astronomer with Answers in Genesis, also noted that there are some limitations concerning where these blood moons are visible from during the 2014-2015 season.
"There also is a question of from what portion of the earth one ought to view these eclipses for them to constitute a sign," he wrote. "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."
Here's a video attempt at debunking the theory that was put together by blogger and online radio host Chris White:
A spokesman told USA Today this week that Hagee "has not associated the blood moons with the end of days" and only believes it in relation to Israel.
Watch Glenn Beck and Billy Hallowell discuss the four blood moons theory below:
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