Tonight, the world witnesses the biggest supermoon in early 70 years, and this extraordinary phenomenon raised speculation about the End Times and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Despite the special name, supermoons are actually quite common — “you get a supermoon about once a year,” astronomer and best-selling author Hugh Ross, president and founder of Reasons to Believe, told PJ Media. “What’s different about this one is that you’ve got the moon closest to the Earth when the moon is full, this makes it an unusual supermoon.”
Some Christians emphasize that the last time the moon was this close to the Earth was in 1948, the year the state of Israel was founded. Especially given God’s use of astronomical events — the star of Bethlehem heralded the birth of Jesus — it stands to reason that God may use this event for His purposes. But does it?
Ross argued that such speculation is unwarranted. He pointed out that the 1948 example does not work. “They’re off by about 4 months,” the astronomer explained. “Israel was not formed in January of 1948 [when the supermoon occurred] but in May of 1948.”
“There’s probably nothing biblically significant about the supermoon that’s happening,” Ross said. While the November 14 moon sets a new record, similar phenomena happen every 20 or 30 years — the next one will happen in 18 years. While the November moon sets a record, it appears “bigger in the sky by only a few percent. And I would argue that the difference of just a few percent doesn’t really qualify as being a special sign in the heaven.”
Even the book of Revelation provides evidence that this particular supermoon does not qualify as an End Times portent. “Revelation doesn’t just focus on the moon,” Ross explained. “The biblical text doesn’t just target the moon, it’s the sun and the stars as well.”
The astronomer pointed to Revelation 8, which predicts seven angels blowing seven trumpets with world-wide effects. After the fourth angel’s trumpet blast, “a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.”
Ross noted that after the first trumpet, “a third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.” He explained that the darkening of the atmosphere (and thereby the darkening of sun, moon, and stars) would be a natural result of such fires. “That’s what happens when you’ve got a lot of dust in the atmosphere.”
Others might point to the passage in Joel 2 (also quoted in Acts 2), where God declares, “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.” Even in this passage, however, the signs involve more than just the moon, and follow “fire and billows of smoke.”
Next Page: The moon has spiritual significance, even if this event does not herald the End Times.
“There is no other moon like ours,” Ross explained. “It’s a single gigantic moon orbiting relatively close to a small planet,” and this is a very rare astronomical phenomenon. Not only is this rare, but it has significant implications for life.
The astronomer attributed Earth’s high climate stability to “the ratio of the moon’s mass to the Earth’s mass that works to stabilize the tilt of the rotation axis by about a degree and a half.” This allows the Earth to tilt back and forth slowly enough to allow for long seasons, enabling “the existence of human beings and advanced civilization in particular.”
The moon also plays a critical role in slowing down Earth’s rotation rate. When the moon was first formed, the Earth rotated at about 2 or 3 hours per day, Ross explained. Because the moon is a large body, it slows down Earth’s rotation rate significantly. The astronomer noted that “24 hours is the optimal rotation rate for humans and advanced civilization.”
The astronomer said he could list off 20 different features which make the moon critical to life, human life, and advanced civilization on Earth.
He also insisted that the Earth’s moon is unique. “Of the 176 moons that we’re aware of, ours is the only one that is so massive relative to our host planet,” and it’s not even close — “ours is 50 times the mass ratio of any planet to its moon that we know of.”
Astronomers have discovered that the moon formed in a unique collision event, and this was critical for life’s emergence and complexity. “It’s one of the more powerful demonstrations that we have that the Earth must be fine-tuned” for life, Ross said. Indeed, when scientists examined the moon-forming event, they acknowledged that the best models had “too much design.” When they tried to make the models simpler, they discovered even more design.
Indeed, a 2013 article from the scientific journal Nature candidly admitted that recent discoveries involving fine-tuning of the moon were “causing philosophical disquiet.” Ross argued this disquiet was the result of “the obvious Christian implications of what they were discovering.”
While tonight’s supermoon may not point to the End Times, it should remind us all of how unique our moon is, why it is so important, and why we should give thanks to God for His intricate intelligent design.