For centuries prophecy writers have been predicting prophetic events based on a whole host of supposed end-time indicators, from wars and rumors of wars to earthquakes and stellar phenomena. The latest prophetic speculation centers around four “blood moons” called a “tetrad. Two will occur in this year and two next year. Some prophecy theorists intimate that they may have something to do with the “rapture” and other last day events like Israel bombing Iran and Russia invading Israel and so much more.
Not too long ago Christians were fascinated with the claim that, as one author put it, the decade of the 1980s was the “countdown to Armageddon” ((Hal Lindsey, The 1980’s: Countdown to Armageddon (King of Prussia, PA: Westgate Press, 1980).)) and the “rapture of the church.” When Israel became a nation again in 1948, prophecy writers argued that the final generation before Jesus’ would “rapture” His church had been born and that within 40 years of that 1948 date the church would be caught up and taken off the earth so Christians would not have endure the horrors of the Great Tribulation.
Hal Lindsey popularized this view in his 1970 bestselling book The Late Great Planet Earth.
A generation in the Bible is something like forty years. If this is a correct deduction, then within forty years or so of 1948, all these things could take place. Many scholars who have studied Bible prophecy all their lives believe that this is so. ((Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1970), 53–54.))
In an interview published in Christianity Today in April 1977, Ward Gasque asked Lindsey, “But what if you’re wrong?” Lindsey replied: “Well, there’s just a split second’s difference between a hero and a bum. I didn’t ask to be a hero, but I guess I have become one in the Christian community. So I accept it. But if I’m wrong about this, I guess I’ll become a bum.” ((W. Ward Gasque, “Future Fact? Future Fiction?,” Christianity Today, 21 (April 15, 1977), 40.))
In the same interview, Lindsey said he did not “know how long a Biblical generation is. Perhaps somewhere between sixty and eighty years.” ((Gasque, “Future Fact? Future Fiction?,” 40.)) When eighty years comes and goes, I suspect that either a generation will become longer or the start date will change.
In an article titled “The Eschatology of Hal Lindsey,” published in 1975, Dale Moody wrote: “If the ‘Great Snatch,’ as Lindsey repeatedly calls the Rapture, does take place before the Tribulation and by 1981, I will beg forgiveness from Lindsey for doubting his infallibility as we meet in the air.” ((Dale Moody, “The Eschatology of Hal Lindsey,” Review and Expositor, 72 (Summer 1975), 278.))
The late Chuck Smith wrote in his 1976 book The Soon to be Revealed Antichrist that “we are living in the last generation which began with the rebirth of Israel in 1948 (see Matt. 24:32–34).” He repeated the claim in his 1978 book End Times:
“If I understand Scripture correctly, Jesus taught us that the generation which sees the ‘budding of the fig tree,’ the birth of the nation of Israel, will be the generation that sees the Lord’s return. I believe that the generation of 1948 is the last generation. Since a generation of judgment is forty years and the Tribulation period lasts seven years, I believe the Lord could come back for His Church any time before the Tribulation starts, which would mean any time before 1981. (1948 + 40 – 7 = 1981).” ((Chuck Smith, End Times (Costa Mesa, CA: The Word for Today, 1978), 35.))
Prophecy writer, religious cult critic, and New Age foe Dave Hunt, who also believed that Israel’s national reestablishment was the time indicator and sign for future prophetic events, ((Dave Hunt, Whatever Happened to Heaven? (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1988), 64.)) lamented that Lindsey’s prophetic recklessness had a negative effect on many Christians:
“Needless to say, January 1, 1982, saw the defection of large numbers from the pretrib[lational rapture] position. . . . Many who were once excited about the prospects of being caught up to heaven at any moment have become confused and disillusioned by the apparent failure of a generally accepted biblical interpretation they once relied upon.” ((Hunt, Whatever Happened to Heaven?, 68.))
On December 31, 1979, Chuck Smith, the late senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, California, told those who had gathered that the “rapture” would take place before the end of 1981, seven years before the 1988 endpoint of the 40 year generation that began when Israel was reconstituted as a nation in 1948.
Halley’s Comet and the Jupiter Effect
Smith claimed that because of ozone depletion the image depicting a scorching sun in Revelation 16:8 would be fulfilled during the post “rapture” tribulation period: “And the fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun; and it was given to it to scorch men with fire.”
In addition, Halley’s Comet would pass near earth in 1986 and would wreak havoc on those left behind as debris from its million-mile-long tail pummeled the planet. Here’s how Smith explained the prophetic scenario in his book Future Survival which is nearly identical to what appears on the taped message:
“The Lord said that towards the end of the Tribulation period the sun would scorch men who dwell upon the face of the earth (Rev. 16). The year 1986 would fit just about right! We’re getting close to the Tribulation and the return of Christ in glory. All the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. ((Chuck Smith, Future Survival (Costa Mesa, CA: The Word for Today,  1980), 21.))
Nothing prophetically significant happened in 1986 related to Halley’s Comet, and there is no reason why it should have since it’s been a predictable phenomenon for more than two millennia as it makes its way around the sun every 75 to 76 years.
There was another astronomical event that caught the attention of scientists, prophecy writers, and even Isaac Asimov who wrote the foreword to the 1974 book The Jupiter Effect: The Planets as Triggers of Devastating Earthquakes. The following is from a 1997 lecture by Damian Thompson, author of The End of Time: Faith and Fear in the Shadow of the Millennium:
Back in 1982, there was terrific excitement in New Age circles at the approach of something called the ‘Jupiter Effect,’ an alignment of the planets which a couple of maverick scientists predicted would slow down the earth’s rotation, leading to an earthquake which would destroy Los Angeles. Leading fundamentalists might be expected to scoff at this; instead, they jumped straight on the bandwagon. Hal Lindsey, author of The Late, Great Planet Earth, ((Also see Lindsey, The 1980’s: Countdown to Armageddon, 30-31.)) wrote that “what we can expect in 1982 is the largest outbreak of killer quakes ever seen in the history of planet earth along with radical changes in climate.” Not to be outdone, Pat Robertson suggested that the chaos caused by the Jupiter Effect might prove the perfect cover for a Soviet strike against the US. But this prospect did not worry the Southwestern Radio Church: it suggested that the Rapture might occur just before the planetary alignment, that the earth would be righted on its axis, and that pre-Flood conditions would be restored. ((Quoted in Charles Cameron, “Overdetermined and Underestimated,” The Arlington Institute: Project Y2K (July 5, 1999).))
As we now know (and should have known then) there was no Jupiter Effect on March 10, 1982.
Astrophysicist John R. Gribben, one of the authors of the best-selling book The Jupiter Effect, admitted in his 1999 book The Little Book of Science that “[t]here is no Jupiter effect” and “I’m sorry I ever had anything to do with it.” ((John Gribben, The Little Book of Science (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1999), 39. It would be great if Christian prophecy prognosticators would admit their prophetic mistakes as Dr. Gribben did.))
But the people who get caught up in the latest end-time speculative story either have short memories of past predictions or no knowledge at all.
Without having all the facts or a worksheet of past failed prophetic claims, it’s not hard to convince the uninformed who are easily persuaded by some silver-tongued orator who claims to have some clear eye into the future based on special knowledge.
Failed predictions have led many people to mistrust God’s Word and even to reject the Christian faith altogether. In his best-selling book Misquoting Jesus, Bart Ehrman, chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, describes how he struggled to reconcile what he had been taught about the inerrancy of the Bible with what was being taught about upcoming prophecy events that never took place as predicted.
His trek down the road toward skepticism and unbelief includes what he describes as “one of the most popular books on campus” that was being read while he was a student at Moody Bible Institute in the 1970s, Hal “Lindsey’s apocalyptic blueprint for our future, The Late Great Planet Earth.” ((Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (New York: HarperCollins, 2005), 12.)) Ehrman writes that he “was particularly struck by the ‘when’” of Lindsey’s prophetic outline of Matthew 24 related to the timing of specific prophetic events. The year 1988 came and went, and now Ehrman is the standard bearer of biblical skepticism.
If you talk to many Christians about Bible prophecy, most likely you will hear them claim that all the signs for some impending prophetic event are unfolding right before our eyes. When popular prophecy writers bring up anything that might appear in the heavens, people pay attention. You don’t have to spend a whole lot of time watching the History Channel and a show like “7 Signs of the Apocalypse” to be sensitive to events like an asteroid strike, a pole shift like the one depicted in the film 2012, and the Yellowstone National Park super volcano that some scientists claim has the potential to erupt with a force 2,000 times greater than the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens that occurred on May 18, 1980**.**
Add to these a spectacular sight for the eyes, the upcoming blood moons that will grace our skies this year and in 2015. There will be four of them. If some prophecy writers are to be believed, their occurrence over a two-year period will have prophetic significance of the highest order.
What are blood moons and what do they have to do with Bible prophecy? The appearance of the reddish color of the moon takes place during a lunar eclipse when the earth aligns between the sun and the moon at the proper angle and the earth’s shadow falls on the moon. Of course, the moon does not actually turn red.
“During a lunar eclipse, the Moon passes behind the Earth’s shadow, which darkens it. If you could take a look at the Earth from inside its shadow, you would see that the atmosphere around the edge of the entire planet glows red. Once again, this is because large amounts of atmosphere will scatter away the blue/green light and let the red light go straight through. During a lunar eclipse, the Moon passes fully into the shadow of the Earth and it’s no longer being illuminated by the Sun; however, this red light passing through the Earth’s atmosphere does reach the Moon, and shines on it.”
Blood moons are not unusual. There have been many of them. There have even been tetrads. The question is, are these total lunar eclipses prophetically significant?
Those who point to “signs in the heavens” are often very selective. They only see significance when they can find events they claim are prophetically noteworthy and ignore those that aren’t. For a sign to be a sign it must be unusual, and people have to have some idea why it’s a sign at the time it appears.
One of the first people to find prophetic significance with the blood moon tetrad is Mark Blitz:
“Mark [Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries in Puyallup, Washington] found that we have had blood-red moons on the first day of Passover and the first day of Sukkot on back-to-back years seven times since 1 A.D. Three of these occurrences were connected to 1492 (the final year of the Spanish Inquisition), 1948 (statehood for Israel and the War of Independence), and 1967 (the Six-Day War) — some of the most significant days in Jewish history.
“The others were in 162/163 A.D., 795/796 A.D., 842/843 A.D. and 860/861 A.D. We don’t have any historical connections for these years at this time, but we do know of significant Jewish persecution during the eighth and ninth centuries.”
Blitz has a new book on the subject: Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs.
The two full lunar eclipses occurred in 1493/1494 and 1949/1950, not in 1492 and 1948. Why did the lunar eclipses appear after these events if they are prophetic signs? In biblical terms, a sign takes place at the time of or before the prophetic event, not after.
Prophecy writers touting the blood moon phenomenon are basing their argument on the belief that since sun, moon, and stars are for “signs” (Gen. 1:14) that a special stellar phenomenon like a red-looking moon might have prophetic significance.
It’s true that God does use the sun, moon, and stars as special indicators for redemptive events as well as warnings of judgment. God told Abraham that his descendants would be equal to the stars in the heavens (Gen. 15:5; 26:4) and the “sand which is on the seashore” (22:17). We’re told that this was fulfilled: “‘The Lord your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are this day like the stars of heaven in number” (Deut. 1:10).
Also in Genesis we are told that Israel is represented by the sun, moon, and stars (Gen 37:9-11). A similar example is found in the book of Revelation:
“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth” (12:1-2).
Consider the comments of John F. Walvoord on Revelation 12:1 and how he draws from the Old Testament to explain the meaning of the cosmic language used: “The description of the woman as clothed with the sun and the moon is an allusion to Genesis 37:9–11, where these heavenly bodies represent Jacob and Rachel, thereby identifying the woman with the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. In the same context, the stars represent the patriarchs, the sons of Jacob.” ((John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ: A Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1966), 188. Emphasis added.))
Michael Wilcock’s comments are equally helpful:
[The woman] is not simply Mary, the actual mother of Jesus; nor Mary’s ancestress Eve, whose offspring was to be the serpent’s great enemy (Gn. 3:15); nor even all mothers in the chosen line between them. For regarded as a ‘sign,’ she is adorned with the splendour of sun, moon, and twelve stars, which in a parallel Old Testament dream (Joseph’s in Gn. 37:9–11) represent the whole family of Israel. . . . She is in fact the church: the old Israel [Acts 7:38], ‘the human stock from which Christ came’ (Rom. 9:5, Knox), and the new Israel, whom he has now left in order to go back to his Father’.” ((Michael Wilcock, I Saw Heaven Opened: The Message of Revelation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1976), 118–119.))
The Holy Spirit is not telling us that there’s a giant woman out in space who’s big enough to stand on the moon, fireproof enough to be draped with the sun, and strong enough to hold 12 stars as a crown on her head (Rev. 12:1-2). She and the heavenly host attending her represent other things.
God can certainly make a giant woman and a giant baby and a dragon “having seven heads and ten horns” who is powerful enough with his enormous tail to sweep “away a third of the stars of heaven” and throw “them to the earth” (12:3–4). But is that what the passage is designed to tell us? Seeing the difficulty with this interpretation, some claim that a meteor barrage is in view.
Revelation 6:13 says that “the stars of the sky fell to the earth” (also see 8:10; 9:1). How can this be possible since the size of a star is many times larger than the earth? A single star hitting the earth would vaporize it. And yet we are to believe that the Antichrist will rule the world using super-sophisticated technology after these “stars” fall to the earth (Rev. 13).
Then there’s Revelation 8:12: “Then the fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were smitten, so that a third of them might be darkened and the day might not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way.” How can a “third of the sun” be smitten without catastrophic results on the whole earth and not just a third of it? Something else is going on here.
The more biblical approach is to follow how the Bible applies the darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars to the temporal judgment of nations (Isa. 13:10-13; 24:16, 19-23; 34:4; Ezek. 32:6-8; Joel 210, 30-31; 3:15-16; Hab. 3:6-11). In none of these examples is the destruction of the entire world in view even though cosmic language is used. ((George Eldon Ladd, Jesus and the Kingdom: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism (New York: Harper & Row, 1964), chap. 2.)) To ignore how a passage is used in the Old Testament is like trying to interpret Egyptian hieroglyphics without the Rosetta Stone.
Consider Revelation 12:3. John F. Walvoord quotes E.W. Bullinger approvingly: “It is impossible for us to take this as symbolical [Rev. 12:3]; or as other than what it literally says. The difficulties of the symbolical interpretation are insuperable, while no difficulties whatever attend the literal interpretation.” ((E.W. Bullinger, The Apocalypse (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1902), 274. Emphasis added. Quoted in John W. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1966), 137.))
No difficulties whatever? A seemingly plausible explanation for Walvoord is that the “stars” are in fact meteorites. If the biblical writers are describing a meteor shower, then I can’t see how this would be a significant sign today since there have been many of them over the past 2000 years. In the famous Leonid meteor shower of 1833, one estimate is that more than one hundred thousand meteors an hour passed by earth. If they had hit the earth, you would not be reading this, and I wouldn’t have been around to write it.
Even “a third of the meteorites of heaven” falling to the earth would have a devastating effect on our planet. The earth would be uninhabitable. Scientists have speculated that a single meteorite threw up enough debris upon impact with Earth millions of years ago that it “ended the reign of the dinosaurs. . . . The colossal energy released in its collision with Earth is now estimated to be equal to the detonation of up to 300 million hydrogen bombs, each some 70 times bigger than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.” ((William J. Broad, “New Clue to Cosmic Collision and Demise of the Dinosaurs,” New York Times (September 17, 1993), A8.))
But there is a problem with interpreting “stars” as meteorites as prophecy writer Thomas Ice does in Matthew 24:29. He says the Greek word aster can mean “falling stars” or meteorites: “Stars do literally fall from heaven. They are called ‘falling stars,’ ‘shooting stars,’ ‘comets,’ or ‘meteors.’ The Greek word for ‘star’ in Matthew 24:29 can be used in this way.” ((Thomas Ice, “The Olivet Discourse,” The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming Under Attack, eds. Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2003), 192.)) Linked with sun and moon, it’s unlikely that meteorites are in view in Matthew 24:29 considering that the first use of sun, moon, and stars refers to fixed stars (Gen. 1:14–16; Deut. 4:19; Ps. 136:8) and not “falling stars.” Sun, moon, and stars is an interpretive package deal. The same is true in Genesis 37:9–10. The stars that bow before Joseph are not meteorites.
James B. Jordan offers some helpful commentary on this type of language:
Anyone familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures would recognize immediately that what Jesus says about the sun, moon, and stars [in Matt. 24:29] is not to be taken to refer to the physical cosmos but to the political cosmos. . . . The prophets often see the “sun, moon, and stars” falling to the earth. One of the most frequently encountered mistakes in the interpretation of Biblical prophecy today is the notion that this always refers to the end of the world at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Actually, though, this expression always refers to the collapse of some particular nation.
For example, there’s the description of a male goat in Daniel 8:10 that causes “stars to fall to the earth,” an action in itself that would destroy the earth. These fallen stars are then “trampled” by the goat. Most likely the goat refers to a civil ruler, and the stars are civil powers under the ruler’s dominion. How do the literalists handle Judges 5:20 when it states that “the stars fought from heaven, from their courses they fought against Sisera”?
In the Genesis 37 and Revelation 12 examples, the sun, moon, and stars represent Israel in its civil, religious, and political capacity as they often do for other nations. For example, Babylon’s destruction more than 2500 years ago is represented by something that was said to happen to the sun, moon, and stars:
Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger,
To make the land a desolation;
And He will exterminate its sinners from it.
For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not flash forth their light;
The sun will be dark when it rises
And the moon will not shed its light. (Isa 13:9-11; also see 24:23; 50:3; Ezek 32:7).
We know this prophetic description is about Old Testament Babylon because we’re told that God’s is going to “stir up the Medes against them” (Isa. 13:17). We read about the fulfillment in Daniel 5.
John A. Martin, writing in the Bible Knowledge Commentary on this passage, argues that “the statements in [Isaiah] 13:10 about the heavenly bodies (stars … sun … moon) no longer functioning may figuratively describe the total turnaround of the political structure of the Near East. The same would be true of the heavens trembling and the earth shaking (v. 13), figures of speech suggesting all-encompassing destruction.” ((John A. Martin, “Isaiah,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983), 1059.))
Charles L. Feinberg, writing in the Liberty Bible Commentary, states, “The sun, moon, and stars indicate a complete system of government and remind the reader of Genesis 37:9.” ((Charles L. Feinberg, “Revelation,” Liberty Bible Commentary: New Testament, eds. Jerry Falwell and Edward E. Hindson (Lynchburg, VA: Old-Time Gospel Hour, 1982), 820.)) Notice that Feinberg argues that sun, moon, and stars relate to “a complete system of government” and not literal stellar phenomena. He also references Genesis 37:9 where sun, moon, and stars are used as symbols for Israel. Other commentators follow a similar pattern of interpretation
In none of these examples does anything actually happen to the sun, moon, and stars. They represent a symbolic de-creation, a time of judgment on a national scale.
When the sun, moon, and stars are high in the heavens and giving off their light, God is pleased with the nations. When the sun and moon go dark and the stars fall, this is a sign of God’s displeasure and judgment.
We see a similar motif in the New Testament. God’s describes Israel’s coming calamity in AD 70 when the Roman army razed the temple (Matt. 24:2) and destroyed the city using examples of national judgment borrowed from the Old Testament that Jesus applied to first-century Israel:
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL [Isa. 13:10; Amos 5:20; 8:9; Zeph. 1:15] from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matt. 24:29; also see Heb. 112:25-29).
Again, nothing physical takes place with the sun, moon, and stars. All the action and change takes place on earth to the nation of Israel.
With this brief background, we can make some sense of the blood moon language quoted by Peter at Pentecost. Note that the words in ALL CAPS are direct quotations from the Old Testament:
“‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT And they shall prophesy. ‘AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE HEAVENS ABOVE AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW, BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE Lord SHALL COME. AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE Lord WILL BE SAVED’” (Acts 2:17-21).
Peter makes it clear that these events were taking place in his day among the Jews. If you recall, at Pentecost “there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). (The “under heaven” language may be significant to this entire discussion recalling the promised made to Abraham [Gen. 15:5; Deut. 1:10]). They witnessed extraordinary events, hearing the gospel being spoken in their own language: “This,” that is, the events the people were experiencing, “is what was spoken through the prophet Joel” (2:16; Joel 2:28-32). The “last days” were the last days of the Old Covenant that was passing away (Heb. 1:1-2; 1 Cor. 10:11; Heb. 9:26).
Notice that Joel does not prophesy that the moon will be “like” or “as blood” as Revelation 6:12 states, but that it will actually be “turned . . . into blood.” Even John Hagee, who argues for a literal interpretation of the Bible on other prophecies, notes that “the moon does not actually turn to blood, but it does appear blood-red.” ((John Hagee, Four Blood Moons (Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing, 2013), 19.)) Neither Joel nor Peter says that the moon will “appear blood-red.” They say it will turn into blood.
So what did Joel and Peter mean? Remember that what they wrote is a revelation from God; it’s God-breathed language (2 Tim. 3:16). If we are to interpret the passage correctly, we must understand how this type of language is used elsewhere in Scripture. James Jordan gets to the heart of the passage’s meaning:
[T]he turning of the moon to “blood” points, I believe, to something particularly Jewish: the sacrificial system. If they will not accept the blood of Jesus Christ, the final Sacrifice, then they themselves will be turned into blood. They will become the sacrifices. That is what the prophesied war is all about. That is what the destruction of Jerusalem in ad 70 was all about.
But Joel is issuing a warning. Those who listen can escape. “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of Yahweh will be delivered; for ‘on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape,’ as Yahweh has said, even among the survivors whom Yahweh calls” (Joel 2:32). Just as Isaac escaped death on Mount Zion because of the substitute ram that God provided (Genesis 22:14), so those who trust in the Lamb of God will escape the destruction of Jerusalem in ad 70. Such is Joel’s warning, reiterated by Peter on the day of Pentecost.
And also reiterated by John. Prophesying this same event, the destruction of Jerusalem, John writes, “And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind” (Revelation 6:12-13). The fig tree is a standard symbol for Israel, especially in this context (Matthew 21:19; 24:32-34; Luke 21:29-32). Both sackcloth and blood remind us of the Levitical system, the blood for sacrifices, and the sackcloth for the mourning associated with affliction (“leprosy”) and uncleanness.
In this way, the astral symbols are given peculiar coloring depending on context. The Babylonians worshipped the stars, and so they are extinguished. The Egyptians worshipped the sun, so God darkens it. The Jews continued to maintain the sacrifices, so the moon is turned to blood.
To round out this discussion, we need only look at one more passage. After promising the coming of the Spirit and the judgment upon apostate Israel in Joel 2, God goes on to say in chapter 3 that He will shake down all the nations of the world, and bring them to their knees. Speaking of the nations, He says that “the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars lose their brightness” (Joel 3:15).
In conclusion, the symbolism of universal collapse, the extinction of sun, moon, and stars, has reference to the fall of nations and empires. In Hebrew Scriptures it was used for Babylon, for Egypt, for Israel, and for the nations in general. At the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish sun went into black eclipse, mourning in sackcloth, and the Jewish moon went into red eclipse, the blood-red of sacrifice. ((James B. Jordan, An Extended, Historical, Literary, Theological, and Homiletical Commentary Upon the Eschatological Discourse of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the 23rd, 24th, and 25th chapters of the Gospel According to Saint Matthew.))
From what we’ve seen of how the Bible uses sun, moon, and stars to represent nations – either good (blessing) or bad (judgment) – nothing actually happens to the sun, moon, and stars. Anything that happens takes place on earth and the sun, moon, and stars retain their place in the heavens.
Fixating on the upcoming blood moons and their supposed relation to Jewish feast days misses the importance of the redemptive work of Jesus. He was crucified as “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29; see Isa 53:7; John 1:36; Acts 8:32; 1 Pet 1:19; Rev 5:6, 8, 12-14; 6:1). Jesus was crucified on Passover.
The Old Covenant passed into oblivion with Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension where he sits in heaven at the Father’s right hand (Ps. 110:1; Matt. 26:64; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2): “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split” (Matt. 27:50-51).
There are too many Christians today who are trying to resurrect the remnants of the Old Covenant when the entire New Testament is against it:
“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:11-15).
If Christians persist in claiming this sign or that sign is an indication of “imminent” prophetic events related to the “last days” and the supposed “rapture” of the church they will only do damage to the integrity of the Bible and the reliable witness of the Christian witness to world in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How many more failed predictions do we have to endure before Christians say “enough”?