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Everything you need to know about the ‘blood moon’ apocalypse debate

Time-lapse video captures a total lunar eclipse, also known as a "blood moon," which was visible from the U.S. as it dipped into Earth's shadow. (Video: Reuters)

For a very brief time on Saturday, the moon will turn an orangey-red, depending on conditions, during an Easter weekend lunar eclipse. Although the east coast of the United States will be shut out of this particular “blood moon” in the sky, it’s just the third of four such eclipses spanning a period of a couple years — an event known as a tetrad.

The phrase “blood moon tetrad” is a wonderful phrase that seems to demand its own apocalyptic mythology, which it, in fact, has.

A total lunar eclipse on April 15, 2014, marked the beginning of a remarkable series of eclipses all visible from North America. (Video: NASA)

Although not every full lunar eclipse turns a blood red color earning its colloquial name, the current tetrad has become the focus of speculation in some circles about its relationship to the coming end of the world. Something, the theory goes, simply must be coming with the tetrad.

[Pass the jelly: How to watch the ‘breakfast’ lunar eclipse Saturday morning

So, are we two blood moons away from the End Times? Let’s find out!

What does the Bible say about blood moons? 

As Sarah Pulliam Bailey has previously noted, there are two major blood moon references in scripture. They are pretty similar, but in different books:

  • “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord,” – Joel 2:31
  • “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord.” – Acts 2:20

So, potentially not a good day for humans.

But the authority on what the blood moon means for those who believe really has more to do with a little cottage industry of blood moon-themed books promoting the theory.

Okay, so what do those blood moon books say about blood moons? 

The books are built on a Dan Brown-esque imposition of coded messages and signs on biblical history and the Bible itself, with titles, such as, “Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change,” and “Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs.”

Root Source’s Gidon Ariel has explained why he thinks a tetrad is particularly worth paying attention to: “Not only does God’s name have four letters, but it was on the fourth day of creation that God created the sun and the moon, establishing them as signs to mark sacred times, such as the Festival of Passover.”

[Apocalypse now? ‘Blood moon’ prophet explains what’s behind the doomsday predictions]

Mark Biltz, founder of the Washington State-based El Shaddai Ministries, wrote the latter of those two books mentioned above. He spoke to The Washington Post last year about what he thinks the blood moons are saying:

“I’m just saying there’s a good chance there could be a war with Israel,” Biltz told me in an interview. “I’m also saying there’s a good chance there could be economic calamity. And I’m basing that on the Bible and patterns.”

Blitz has told World Net Daily, where he is a regular interviewee and contributor, that he believes Jewish tradition dictates an interpretive difference between solar and lunar eclipses. A solar eclipse, he said, is a message for the entire world. A lunar eclipse is a message for the Jewish people.

The message of the tetrad, many followers believe, is potentially a bad one for Israel …

Is there anything we can do? 

Let me finish!

The message of the tetrad, some believe, is potentially a bad one for Israel unless American Christians continue to stand with Israel and with Jesus. Both Blitz and fellow blood moon believer (and Root Source co-founder) Bob O’Dell have asked Christians to pray for the duration of Saturday’s eclipse.

Of course, many blood moon believers, including megachurch pastor John Hagee, believe that this particular blood moon closely precedes the Rapture of Christians, Armageddon and the second coming of Christ. 

So there’s more than one person promoting this blood moon theory? 

There is, in fact, a rivalry.

Blitz, quoted above, has recently accused Hagee of ripping off his blood moon theory and claiming too much credit for it, just as Hagee was preparing to release a movie called “Four Blood Moons.”

Blitz characterizes himself as the discoverer of the whole blood moon apocalypse idea, after he noted a connection between NASA’s charts of eclipses and the Jewish holiday calender. According to Blitz, he started putting together his theory in 2008. He’s been a public proponent of the blood moon prophecy ever since, although his book on the topic came out in 2014.

Hagee, meanwhile, published his own popular book about the blood moons in 2013, a year after Blitz says he first talked to Hagee about the theory. Hagee has since become a very popular authority on the prophecy, and says that he discovered the theory independently based off those same NASA eclipse charts.

The feud played out publicly, in part on the pages of World Net Daily in recent weeks.

I read Capital Weather Gang’s great explainer on Saturday’s eclipse and learned that blood moon tetrads happen on the regular, in cycles of boom and bust. What makes this blood moon tetrad different from any other blood moon tetrad? 

Well, while this doesn’t necessarily make the current blood moon tetrad unique for reasons we’ll get to soon enough, those who believe it’s a divine warning of significance have pointed to the alignment of each blood moon with a major Jewish holiday:

  • April 15, 2014 – Passover
  • October 8, 2014 – Sukkot
  • April 4, 2015 – Passover
  • September 28, 2015 – Sukkot

As you’ll remember, there was also recently a solar eclipse, right in the middle of all those blood moons.

But there have already been two blood moons! The world’s still here. 

In fact, Blitz believes that the blood moon prophecy is already coming true. Again from World Net Daily:

“After the first blood moon, we’ve had the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, we’ve had the advance of ISIS, a two-month war between Israel and Gaza, the Ebola plague, the overthrow of Yemen, upheaval in the Middle East, and economic meltdowns coming. We still have over a year to go. More judgment coming anytime in 2016 as well is what these blood moons are referring to.”

Does the blood moon tetrad have anything to say to President Obama?

Oh, does it ever! Last year, Blitz posited that the blood moons were in no small part meant as divine warnings to the president about his Middle East policy. “The moons are like flashing red warning lights at a heavenly intersection saying to Israel as well as the nations they will be crossing heavenly red lines,” Blitz wrote, “and if they do, they will understand as Pharaoh did on Passover night 3,500 years ago that the Creator backs up what He says.”

How do you explain the alignment of the eclipses with all those Jewish holidays? 

The Jewish calender, unlike our solar-based 12-month calendar, is primarily based on the lunar cycle. Meaning: it makes sense that every once in a while, an unusual but not unheard of phenomenon, such as a tetrad of full moon eclipses would fall on four holidays that correspond to the moon’s cycle — especially when some of them, such as Passover, always begin on a full moon.

Interested in more religion stories? Read more from Acts of Faith:

18 stunning photos of people around the world marking Good Friday

What Passover can teach you about getting rid of clutter and finding joy

Father, Son and Holy Roast: How coffee became Christians’ acceptable vice