End Times Fatigue

Over the past decade and a half there have been several high profile eschatological prognostications. And now another…

This time it’s the so called “Blood Moons.” Sound’s ominous,doesn’t it? Like a title from Stephen King or Dean Koontz. This time the end times prophet is John Hagee, the pro-Israel Pentecostal pastor from San Antonio, Texas. He wrote a book  titled “Blood Moons” in anticipation of the phenomenon. If the exigencies of a busy 21st century life have distracted you, a moderately rare series of four full lunar eclipses, also known as a tetrad began early this morning (April 15, 2014). Astronomers have calculated the last of the four will occur on September 28th, 2015. What makes this Tetrad more rare is  that each of the four lunar eclipses coincide with important Jewish observances, two blood moon eclipses will accompany Passover and two will occur during Sukkot.

Today is Passover, the memorial of ancient Jewish release from Egyptian slavery. The term Passover refers to the point n the Exodus narrative when God’s Death Angel passed over the Israelite families that obediently splattered the blood of the sacrifice they ate that night on the door posts of their houses. All of the firstborn in the land of Egypt were killed by the Death Angel, but no observant Israelite household was touched by the tragedy. This was the final event that prompted Egypt’s Pharaoh to expel all of the Israelite slaves from his land. Passover was one of three pilgrimage festivals, which the ancient Israelites were to celebrate by traveling to Jerusalem. Shavout (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Tabernacles) were the other two.

Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Booths is an eight day celebration of God’s protection of, and provision for, the people of Israel. In ancient times it was a harvest festival to celebrate the ingathering of grain and grapes, and it commemorated the Israelite wilderness wandering prior to entering the Promised Land. During the festival ancient Israelites lived in outdoor shelters under the stars. These “booths” were made from the branches of trees. In Jesus’ time this was a beautiful and festive celebration (Read the Gospel of John chapter 7 for an example of Jesus’ observance of the festival) . Even in our time Sukkot is considered a significant and joyous celebration by the Jewish people, the observant of whom still celebrate by sleeping outside under shelters.

Pastor Hagee believes that the coincidence of these eclipses is a portent of ominous events to come. The Bible does speak of the moon turning red like blood (Joel 2:31, quoted in Acts 2:20); hence, “Blood Moons.” The physical cause of this at the end of a full eclipse is due to the sun’s light being filtered as it passes through earth’s atmosphere on the way to the moon. The color is reddish, from a pink to a rust hue. The question is, is there eschatological significance to these, eclipses. I’m going to say that’s a definite maybe.

You’re probably as worn out by end time predictions as I am, and, if you are like me, skepticism always accompanies the hearing of such prognostication. However, if the first century disciples of Jesus were in high expectation of his return shouldn’t I be looking for his second coming all the more?

We’re warned to be prepared. Jesus himself said, “Therefore, you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44). The Lord also told a story to illustrate. It is called the Parable of the Ten Virgins. In 1st century Palestine, bridesmaids—who would all have been virgins— waited with the bride for the arrival of the groom, so they might accompany the couple to the wedding feast. Pay attention to the story as recorded in Matthew 25:1-13 (New Living Translation).

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids* who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’
“All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’
“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’
“But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’
“So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

Rather than becoming weary of all the predictions, let us continue to be ready at all times for the return of Christ. He will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2 among many), and no one knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36), but those of us who believe the Bible and follow Jesus should not be surprised when it happens. Instead, let us be vigilant, let us be prepared.

“But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6, ESV).

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.  The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:11-12, ESV).

Be prepared!