moon, jesus

Why We Should (& Should Not) Be Excited About Today’s Blood Moon

God is at it again. He’s actually at it every second of every day. But there are moments here and there, like today, where he cranks up the show. Three notable lunar events are coinciding in one, for a spectacular, rare astro-show; a “Super Blue Blood Moon.” The last time this happened over the western hemisphere was in 1866.

By the time you read this, chances are that you have already missed it. But, if it is before 3:30 am local time in Hawaii on January 31st, 4:30 am in Anchorage, 6:50 am in Chicago, 10:30 pm in Tokyo, 11 pm in Australia, or 1:30 am February 1st in Pevek, Russia, then you haven’t missed the show. Weather permitting, it will be best visible from the Rockies, west, including Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, and east to north east Asia.

What is so spectacular about this “Super Blue Blood Moon”? And who cares?

It is a total lunar eclipse, a blue moon, and supermoon all in one event. If you missed it, the moon appears huge, an orange-red color, and shines during all the sunrises and sunsets occurring on Earth. Similar to the total solar eclipse some of us witnessed back in August, the mechanical fine-tuning is remarkable. Consider it briefly.

First, January 31st marks a “Blue Moon.” The phrase has nothing to do with its color. Instead, it refers to an “extra” full moon in a month’s time. Typically there is one full moon per month. The average lunar cycle is 29.53 days. So, when the calendar is right, you get two full moons in a month, something which happens an average of every 2-3 years.

Second, January 31st also marks what is called a “perigee syzygy.” If you’re not hanging out with your astrophysicist friends, “supermoon” will do. On average, the moon is about 250,000 miles from Earth. During a perigee syzygy, the moon scoots about 27,000 miles closer, to a distance of 223,000 miles from Earth. Supermoons, which occur about five times per year, render the appearance of the moon 14% larger and 30% brighter. If you live where I do, supermoons provide for a great 3 am whitewater rafting trip or downhill ski outing.

Third and finally, January 31st marks a total lunar eclipse. There are three types of lunar eclipses (penumbral, partial, and total), with total being the most spectacular and comprising about 35% of all eclipses. An eclipse of the moon (or lunar eclipse) can only occur during a full moon, and only if the moon passes through some portion of Earth’s shadow. What are the mechanics behind a total lunar eclipse? It’s sort of a flip-flop from a total solar eclipse.

Three objects are needed for any kind of eclipse: an illuminating object (the sun), an object that shields it (the moon in a solar eclipse, Earth in a lunar), and the receiving object (Earth in a solar eclipse, the moon in a lunar). Our sun is about 93 million miles away and seven million miles in circumference. The moon is that 150,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 lb rock which constantly satellites the Earth, and never gets a mind of its own, veering off into space. Finally, the Earth is our 13,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 lb planet spinning and moving fast. All three of these, like every astronomical body in the universe (including the universe), hang on nothing (cf. Job 26:7).

It’s not really fair to call the moon merely a “rock.” That rock contains things like iron and titanium. It has liquid iron core a few hundred miles in diameter. The moon, including its distance, plays an important role in making life possible here on Earth. Its steady orbit and gravitational pull gives stability to the earth’s wobble on its axis, leading to things like a relatively a stable climate. The moon also creates the movement of the ocean. High and low tides are all due to the gravitational pull of the moon. How does that core stay hot? How did it get in there?

For a total lunar eclipse to occur, the sun, earth, and moon need to line up perfectly. That may seem simple, but it’s not. First, everything is moving really fast. The Earth spins at 1000 mph, moves around the sun at 18 miles per second, and tilts back and forth. The moon is moving at 2300 mph and orbits the earth on an axis that is tilted 5 degrees, making a straight line-up less likely. While all of that is happening, the sun, along with the rest of the solar system, is moving at about 500,000 mph through space. So, it’s going to be a bit tricky to line it all up.

Second, even if the sun, earth, and moon do line up, that does not automatically mean the eclipse will happen. First, the moon must be in its full stage. And, similar to a total solar eclipse, if the earth is too close to the sun, the sun would simply shine around it and you would not have an eclipse. The moon must also pass through the earth’s umbra, or completely black shadow at the right distance and in its full stage, as a full moon. The umbra is only about 5500 miles wide. For the moon, moving at 2300 mph, to pass through a small shadow like that, in a very large outer space, it must thread the needle. It’s sort of like a blind placekicker successfully kicking the football through the uprights from 80 yards out, while the stadium and goal posts are moving. But nothing is impossible with God.

Even so, if you are, or were, outside at the right time this morning (or evening) you saw God’s handiwork as it all lined up. And you probably saw the moon with an orange-red tint. Why? Similar to the solar eclipse, a small ring of the sun’s light passes through the earth’s atmosphere, landing on the moon. The earth’s atmosphere filters out most of the sun’s blue light, which only leaves the reddish orange visible upon the moon. If the earth had no atmosphere, as some planets, then the moon would be black during the lunar eclipse. Why is the total lunar eclipse close to an hour while the solar was only a few minutes? The lunar eclipse is visible much longer than the solar because the moon’s shadow is much smaller when projected onto the earth.

What would the total lunar eclipse look like from the moon? Similar to the total solar eclipse. If you were standing on the moon, you would see a ring of reddish light around the earth’s atmosphere. Like the solar eclipse, the earth would be totally dark, except for the tiny dots of city lights. So, why should you be excited about the super blue blood moon? Because it shows how utterly majestic God is. It reminds us that he is far, far greater than us. “When I consider Your heavens…the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that you take thought of him?” (Ps. 8:3-4). God is unspeakably glorious. Astronomical events remind us that God is deserving of all worship, I should repent of my sin, give my life to Christ, and live a life of praise to him (cf. Ps. 148:32 Pet. 3:11).

And that’s the only reason that we should be excited about the blood moon. That’s it. Nothing more. But, what about biblical correlation between the blood moon and apocalyptic events?

The internet has been deluged again with fantastical blood moon eisegesis. One example, from an individual with 213,000 YouTube subscribers, says that in light of today’s blood moon, “We need to stay alert for major earthquakes, potential tsunamis…because of the gravitational pull of a super moon and a lunar eclipse combination…The coming apocalypse is upon us.”

He goes on to identify apparent correlations between Zechariah’s vision and events today (Zech. 1:7-21):

When Zechariah saw this vision, it was in the month of Shevat, and we are in the month of Shevat. It was also the second year of king Darius’ reign. We are in the second year of president Trump’s reign…He goes on to talk about Israel and Jerusalem in the 70thyear. We are in the 70th year of Israel as a nation.

He continues:

Another thing to know…on the day Trump was sworn in, he was 70 years old, 7 months, and 7 days. Tomorrow, on the day of the eclipse, Trump will be 71 years old…7 months, and the 17th day…Are you serious? These are numbers that are unbelievably coming together…The devil’s back has got to be breaking. It’s the birthing pains of the end times. It is a prophetic sign.

Sadly, the devil is probably just laughing.

Another blood moon eisegete claims that the rapture is to happen around today’s blood moon.

This is irresponsible handling of Scripture that distracts from true worship of God. There is no biblical correlation between a lunar eclipse and any biblical apocalyptic event. Furthermore, there is no demonstrable correlation between a lunar eclipse/blood moon and geological, political, or military upheaval. The most that we can responsibly say about such lunar activity is that it causes a tidal difference of a few inches in the ocean.

Christians need to stop getting lured away on these apocalyptic snipe hunts. There is nothing in the Bible to exegetically substantiate these far-fetched myths. These are strange doctrines which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering godliness. And it’s not a lack of faith to reject these fantasies, but an abundance.

It would be best if Christians ceased attempting to link every normal thorn-and-thistle-world event with something in the book of Zechariah or Revelation. We pollute and profane these holy, sacred books in doing so. And we sound more like the Witch of Endor than sober-minded followers of Christ. Blood moon hype is foolish astrological clownery that needs to be laid to rest. It’s not coming about from reverent study of Scripture, but eisegetical skullduggery.

It’s also a terrible witness to the world. It makes Christians look unnecessarily awkward. And, as some do, let’s not play the “the-word-of-the-cross-is-foolishness-to-those-who-are-perishing” card to excuse our apocalyptic frivolities. We ought not link foolish astrological eisegesis with the glory and purity of preaching the substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ. If people laugh at us for preaching apocalyptic blood moons, we are not being persecuted for the faith, but for foolishness.

That day when the moon actually turns “blood red,” as foretold in Scripture (Joel 2:31Acts 2:20Rev. 6:12), it will be stunningly noticeable to all. It won’t be a faint orange-red tint like this morning, observable in the corner of a continent to the gleeful cheers of a few nerdy astrophysicists. Instead, it will be a devastating humiliation of God’s astronomical bodies, sending proud, puny humanity to their faces in trepidation.

In the meantime, let us heartily praise God for his skillful craftsmanship on display above us. And, let’s give ourselves to sober-minded scholarship when handling the sacred Scripture, for the glory of God and upbuilding of the church.

“The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1 Pet. 4:7)

Source: The Cripplegate