On January 31, much of the Western half of the United States will be treated to an extremely rare super blue blood moon (try saying that five times fast). Some Christians believe that this rare lunar event is the final sign heralding the return of Jesus.
A super blue blood moon is rare because it requires a confluence of events that don’t happen on a regular basis.
A “blue moon” is a popular colloquialism that refers to when there are two full moons in the same month — an event that doesn’t happen often. Hence the saying, “Once in a blue moon.” A supermoon is when the moon is at the point when it’s closest to the earth. During that event, when looking at the moon with the naked eye, it looks larger than normal. Think of the super-sized McDonald’s meals of yesteryear. When a full lunar eclipse occurs, the moon is referred to as a blood moon. The way the light is distorted makes it appear red.
Put those events all together, and we get a super blue blood moon. While there is some dispute about the last time a super blue blood moon took place, Space.com asserts that this will be the first super blue blood moon in the Western Hemisphere since 1866.
For some professing Christians, this upcoming lunar event, coming on the heels of supermoons on December 3 and January 1, is the fourth sign predicted by the Bible before the return of Jesus. Are they correct? Is the apocalypse upon us?
Well, no. Or, rather, I don’t know. In fact, no one knows when Jesus is coming back. Furthermore, if Jesus’ Second Advent is next week, it ain’t because of solar events.
Much of the prophetic brouhaha is ginned up because people misread Luke 21:5-36.
In the passage, after foretelling the destruction of Herod’s Temple, Jesus’ disciples ask him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be a sign when these things are about to take place?”
Jesus rebuffs them and redirects their question. Knowing that his disciples were too focused on knowing things above their pay grade, so to speak, Jesus encourages them to remain faithful to God even in the face of wars, persecutions, and even a crumbling environment.
The thing is, ever since Jesus ascended back to the Father in heaven, troubling and violent things have been happening continuously. In fact, Jesus’ prophecy found in verses 20-24 has already been fulfilled.
In 70 A.D., the future Roman emperor Titus laid siege to Jerusalem. By the time the dust had settled, the Romans had utterly destroyed the city, including Herod’s Temple. An interesting historical note is that the vast majority of the Christians in the city escaped Titus’ onslaught. Heeding Jesus’ words, they fled the city at the beginning of the siege.
Over the generations, in reading signs and wonders into natural events, many professing Christians have predicted the return of Jesus. This super blue blood moon makes for excellent prophetic fodder for those who would rather speculate than remain faithful to Jesus in the here and now. The thing is, the words in Luke 21:25-28 about the sun, moon, and stars are clearly referring to supernatural events. While rare, the super blue blood moon is a natural occurrence that can be explained by science; there is nothing miraculous about it.
One final note, Jesus clearly forbids his followers from reading signs in the heaven in a vain attempt to figure out when he’s coming back in the parallel passage found in Matthew 24. As he says in verse 36, “But concerning the day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father.” Jesus concludes in verse 44 with the admonition, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Jesus’ words about his future coming and the signs were intended to cause his followers to stop worrying about it, stop looking for signs, and to be faithful. The very opposite of what professing Christians who believe that this super blue blood moon signals the apocalypse are doing.