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The Lunacy of Blood Moon Prophecies - Pt. II

In A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter, Miriam Huffman Rockness writes about the relationship between John Ruskin – an English Victorian art critic, educator, and multipotentialite - and Lilias Trotter his student and friend. Concerning his philosophy of art, Ruskin believed that 'the chief aim of art is to ‘teach you how to see’. He noted that, “the greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see”. This observation is not just an apt reminder for pastors and educators who wrestle to effectively communicate the infinite and eternal thoughts of God, but I believe Ruskin uncovers the ageless tension existing between Antiochian and Alexandrian exegetes. The tenacious insistence of Antiochians in denying a more allegorical approach to the Scriptures places them in Ruskin’s “thousands of thinkers.” Ruskin, a product of both a strict Protestant upbringing and the Zeitgeist of the mid-1800s, understood the intersection between art and the Creator when he insightfully noted, “To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion, — all in one.” Not all Antiochians may “see” and that’s alright. Not every Alexandrian can be an Einstein. God created systematists as well as artistes. He created the left hemisphere of the brain with its propensity for analysis, logic, math, and structure. And, He created the right hemisphere of the brain with its propensity for art, imagination, intuition, and music . Alexandrians and Antiochians bear the image of God – each with their distinct viewpoint and value reflecting the diversity, complexity, and uniqueness that is the mind of God. As is with gender, neither is superior nor is either perfected in and of themselves. However, when brought together, the human potential of each is unlocked and maximized.

"To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion, — all in one.”

So, what does this have to do with Blood Moon prophecy? Well, much. Those who interpret prophecy with wooden literalism not only fail to see the deeper meaning of the prophecy, but often cause the interpretive "misfires" we've already discussed.

Exposition of Joel 2:28-32

Pastors John Hagee and Mark Biltz are proponents of Blood Moon prophecies which – for the reader unfamiliar with these prophetic interpretations – are a series of four lunar eclipses that line up to the Jewish holidays heralding the end of the world. It is not my intention to malign nor disparage these two pastors. They are believers of Jesus Christ and have exceptionally good intentions with their attempts to warn the world of what they believe is the impending judgment. Their efforts are not to be mocked or ridiculed given their motives. That said, because they hold to strict literal hermeneutic of the Bible – and especially of eschatology – it prevents them from seeing prophetic events clearly - not only do they arrive at improper conclusions, they cause the opposite of effect on both believers and unbelievers.

Hagee and Biltz often mention the blood moon of Joel 2:31 as a primary example of the Blood Moon prophecy:

…I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions…I will pour out My Spirit in those days. 30 “I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. 31 “The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord Will be delivered…” Joel 2

Certainly, these verses sound ominous. The plain understanding of these words would seem to conclude calamity as the heavens would somehow be affected resulting in a great loss of life (blood) that includes fire and smoke. And yet, isn’t it interesting that the Lord describes this day as “great and awesome.” How can the loss of life be "great and awesome"? If this is a calamitous event, as Hagee and Biltz and many others are convinced, then is God boasting about pleasure He will receive from the destruction of His people, or is He just stating that on “that day” He will be both great and awesome? If the former, God would be dishonest as He has declared that He takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked (Ez. 18:23, 33:11) let alone His people - Joel's audience. If the latter, then why would God need to declare Himself to be any greater or awesome then what He already has declared Himself to be (Isa 46:9)? I don’t think it’s either position. In fact, it is a great and awesome promise! Let’s deconstruct this part of the promise to see what we find.

Wonders in the Sky and on the Earth

Let’s start with “wonders in the sky and on the earth.” The Lord notes that there will be signs manifested both in the heavens and on the earth on this day. On this day, the Lord will use the celestial bodies as tools of communication.

Here's a question for consideration. Has there been a day in history where there have been simultaneous signs both in the sky and on the earth? This question helps us to start discovering a timestamp for the event. If we can identify an historical event that meets the strict criteria of the prophecy (all of the elements of the prophecy – not just parts), then we can begin to determine whether or not the event is pending or has been fulfilled. Incidentally, the answer is yes! There was such a day and both Luke and Matthew recorded it:

“…now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 because the sun was obscured…” Luke 23

The sun was darkened for three hours casting darkness across the land. However, this was no ordinary darkness for it was not – as many would suppose – a solar eclipse. According to NASA, this was a partial lunar eclipse , and yet, lunar eclipses don’t cause darkness upon the Earth. Rather, it is the Earth that causes darkness upon the moon. Moreover, because it was a partial lunar eclipse, we are assured that while part of the moon was dark, the other side would have had reflected light from the sun – ruling out a physical darkening of the sun. So, there was a sign in the heavens - a lunar eclipse.

But, what about a sign on the Earth? Well, we've already noted that there was an inexplicable darkness cast across the land. But Matthew noted an additional sign in his Gospel account:

“45 Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour…50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. 51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” Matthew 27

The earth shook so violently that not only did rocks split in two, the veil of the Temple – a thick curtain – tore in half – from top to bottom. Matthew tells us that it was an earthquake that caused the tremor. Given the earthquake's violent tremor and it's being coupled with darkness, a plausible natural explanation might be a small volcanic eruption from the Golan Heights' volcanic field. A small eruption could cause an ash cloud to block the region from sunlight while accounting for the severe tremor. Regardless of the source of these happenings (whether through natural or supernatural means) we find that the Crucifixion meets partial criteria for satisfying Joel’s prophecy. But does it meet the full criteria? We need to continue the deconstruction process.

Blood, Fire, and Columns of Smoke

Interestingly, the text groups the symbols of blood and fire and smoke distinctly from the heaven and earth symbols and I think there’s a good reason for doing so. I believe it’s a symbolic triad – a series of three independent symbols linked together to provide a unified meaning which, in this case, represents the process of covenant-making or a reference to the covenant-keeping God. We can observe this same triadic pattern in the establishment of the Abrahamic covenant:

Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other17 It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram…” Gen 15

The account of the Abrahamic covenant has many of the same symbolic elements used in Joel’s prophecy. There’s darkness ("very dark"), smoke, and fire. While blood is not implicitly stated in the text, it is implied in Abram’s sacrificial actions. Since these animals were cut in half, he would have shed their blood when he killed them; thereby, satisfying the demands of the covenant-making process. The same unstated, yet implied covenantal blood shedding can be found in the Gen. 3:15 account when God makes garments for Adam and Eve to cover them.

Upon Abram’s obedience in fetching and slaughtering the animal sacrifices, YAHWEH – the covenant-keeping God - passes between the slaughtered animal pieces (smoking oven and the flaming torch), thus sealing or, better, “searing” the covenant with Abram by fire, smoke, and blood. All three persons of the Trinity are emblematically represented in this agreement: the Father speaking to His friend Abram, the Spirit of God passing in the middle of the “divided animals” animals which Abram slaughtered (we cannot help but think of the Cross of Christ is flanked by two other crosses), and the bloodied sacrificed animals - emblematic of Jesus’ work on the Cross. It is noteworthy that Gen 15:18 notes that “ 'on that day' the Lord made a covenant with Abram". It was a special day. A "favorable" day. Is it possible that the “great and awesome day of the Lord” referenced in Joel 2:31 is not just a reference to judgement but rather a similar day to Abram's day – a covenant day? I believe so. The symbols of blood, fire, and smoke in Joel’s prophecy show that Yahweh - the covenant keep God - was about to renew the covenant with His people. The covenant structure with its requisite terms for benefits and sanctions (“blessings and curses”) and repentance are all part of the agreement spelled-out by Joel. And, like the Abrahamic covenant, this agreement would have promises just as deep and rich - including creaturely promises of good and deliverance from oppressors. This covenant also offers a promise of His presence being “poured out” on males and females as well as all mankind. God promises to give of Himself fully and without restriction - not just to men but to women too. He would also pour Himself out not just to Jews but to Gentiles alike for the promise is for all mankind. The old gender boundaries and racial categories are removed. In these promises, we hear Gospel tidings. Consider, for example, Jesus’ declaration at the launch of His ministry. Is there a resemblance between Joel’s covenantal promise of deliverance and Jesus’ message?

“18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, 19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” Luke 4

What about the gender and racial elements? Any New Testament correlatives?

12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” 1Corinthians 12

27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3

“...put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— 11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3

All of Joel’s prophetic promises are fulfilled in and through Christ.


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