April 14th, 2014
12:53 PM ET
Opinion by Kenneth L. Waters Sr., special to CNN
(CNN) - Are the End Times finally at hand? To some Christians, the answer will be as clear as the moon in the sky.
Monday night will host a rare celestial event: a “blood moon,” which occurs when the Earth spins between the sun and the moon.
During this lunar eclipse, the shadow of the Earth catches the refracted sunlight, casting a reddish sheen upon the moon.
Christians who draw a divine connection to the celestial show are citing the Bible's Book of Acts, in which God says:
That passage echoes the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Joel, one of Judaism's 12 minor prophets.
The sequence of four consecutive blood moons (known as a tetrad) has occurred several times before, in 1909-10, 1927-28, 1949-50, 1967-68, 1985-86, and 2003-04.
This cycle, the four blood moons will all take place on religiously significant dates for the Jewish people.
The first comes April 15, 2014, the second day of Passover.
The second will come on October 8, 2014, during the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles.
The third will come on April 5, 2015, during next year's Passover celebration, and the fourth will arrive on September 28, 2015, another Feast of the Tabernacles, also known as Sukkot.
That said, there is nothing particular extraordinary about these holy days coinciding with a full moon.
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.
But that hasn’t stopped some well-known Christians from drawing supernatural connections.
John Hagee, a televangelist and megachurch pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, preached a sermon series called the “Red Moon Prophecies” in 2013.
Hagee expanded on those sermons in book titled, “Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change.” In it, the pastor claims the lunar eclipses foreshadow “a world-shaking event,” originating in the Middle East between April 2014 and October 2015.
"There's a sense in the world that things are changing and God is trying to communicate with us in a supernatural way," Hagee told CBN News.
"I believe that in these next two years, we're going to see something dramatic happen in the Middle East involving Israel that will change the course of history in the Middle East and impact the whole world," he said.
Monday night, Hagee is airing a special webcast that he says will reveal "direct connections between four upcoming blood-moon eclipses and what they portend for Israel and all of humankind."
Hagee says that previous blood moon cycles occurred at momentous events in Jewish history: In 1493, as Jews were expelled from Spain; in 1949, as the state of Israel was founded; and in 1967 during the Six Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
"There are no solar or lunar accidents," said Hagee, who leads a church of some 20,000 members.
But something remarkable always happens somewhere in the world when events like this occur. That’s just the way the world is – blood moons or not.
The Bible often speaks of astronomical signs indicating the End Times, but they are ambiguous and non-specific. And Jesus discouraged Christians from setting timetables and questing after signs.
"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," Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew.
The Apostle Paul also talked about signs of the End Times - not to establish a calendar, but rather to comfort members of the church who thought death would deprive them of the opportunity to see Jesus’ Second Coming.
In times of widespread fear, insecurity and uncertainty, religious leaders and secular theorists, some well-meaning and some who are not, will exploit the need for hope and assurance by declaring exclusive discovery of some secret plan hidden in the disorder.
We have seen this before: the fear of Y2K in 2000; Harold Camping’s predictions of the apocalypse in 2011; the “Mayan” Apocalypse on December 21, 2012; and now the blood moons.
But instead of looking to the heavens for signs of the future, Christians should focus on the hope and promise of the gospel message and seek to reflect Christ in word and deed.
And especially as we enter Holy Week and anticipate Easter, may each of us look within our own hearts for those shadows that keep us from enjoying the fullness of relationship with the Creator of the sun, the stars, and yes, the blood moons.
Kenneth L. Waters is associate dean and professor of New Testament at Azusa Pacific University. The views expressed in this column belong to Waters.
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