15 April 2014

And I beheld when the moon became as blood

(Since there's a lot of Christian hysteria over the tetrad of lunar eclipses that began last night, I thought I'd repost this from August 27, 2007.)

Did you see it last night? I did. The moon darkened and turned red, just like the Bible said it would.

I'm not sure just what to make of it, though.

Does it mean that Jesus is back?

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matthew 24:29-30

Well, the moon was definitely darkened, but the sun seemed normal enough and I didn't see any stars fall. Still, Alberto Gonzales resigned yesterday and Larry Craig pleaded guilty of lewd conduct charges. So maybe "the powers of heaven were shaken" a bit.

Or is it the end of the world, "the great and terrible day of the Lord" that I've heard so much about?

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. Joel 2:31

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come. Acts 2:20

Or has the sixth seal of Revelation been broken?

And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood. Revelation 6:12
God has a strange way of communicating, doesn't he? The naturally occurring signs and wonders are all part of God's special sign language. Last night's central lunar eclipse was one of his most spectacular signs and was clearly a fulfillment of the Bible's prophecy (that there have been hundreds since the prophecies were made only shows how accurate the prophecies have been).

But what was God trying to tell us? (It must be a really important message since God repeats it so often.)


Verbivore said...

Maybe God was trying to tell us that the moon was directly oppoosite the sun.

Jason said...

The "sun, moon and stars" have always been taken to be symbolic of political powers, much like the symbolic "powers of heaven" reference you correctly used in your post.

If you see eclipses as God 'communicating' with mankind, your faith is be to commended. :)

Bill said...

When I was twelve, the preacher at my church quotes these biblical passages. I became obsessed with the night sky and started noticing the stars "drifting." One night I was riding in the car with my dad when I saw a moon as blood red as your picture. I can still remember how my heart sank. "Jesus is coming back and I'm not ready!" I was terrified in a way I have never been before or since. Several months later I told my Dad I wanted to be baptized into Christ and did so. How strange that it is fear which so often brings people to the 'Lord's side.'

BaldySlaphead said...

Hi Jason,

I always find it interesting when people say things like you do above; 'The "sun, moon and stars" have always been taken to be symbolic of political powers'.

Do you mean that in all four of the quoted passages in the original article, the words 'sun', 'moon' and 'stars' are used in a symbolic sense? If so, and this is my real point, how do you know?

Many times in discussions such as these, particularly where the literal, face-value reading of the Biblical text shows it to be nonsensical, contradictory or whatever, is that pro-Bible debaters will claim a symbolic or otherwise non-literal reading of the text and resolve the problem in this way.

Do you have some special concordance that tells you when it is appropriate to read things at face value and when things are symbolic or metaphorical (etc)? It often appears that this must be the case, but when asked if they can provide this concordance so that all may be able to view the text in the correct manner, they never do, which is certainly unsporting at the very least!

The problem is that not allowing those of us who are critical to see this concordance tends to make us rather cynical that any such thing exists.

Obviously I'm being slightly facetious there, but it is a genuine question and a serious point.



Jason said...

Hi Baldy,

I would submit the same question to you: how does an atheist know what is literal in Scripture and what isn't?

Likewise, in cases like this, Bible critics will choose a literal meaning when a symbolic meaning is more in keeping with the context and, more importantly, consistency of similar symbols elsewhere.

More evidence to pause and consider whether a literal or symbolic meaning should be applied:

1. Revelation is a book of symbols - there's no reason or basis to pick out the phrase "the moon into blood" and claim it's literal.

2. Show me any time in Scripture that the language, such as in Matthew 24, is used for the literal destruction of the solar system, together with stars many times the size of our sun crashing into the planet.

3. Note the Biblical evidence against a literal reading of the symbols:

a. Isaiah 34:4-5. Literal dissolution of the heavenly bodies or political upheaval?

b. Ezekiel 32:2,7. A literal destruction of the heavens or political upheaval?

c. Isa 13:1, 9-10. Signs in the literal sun, moon and stars or political upheaval?

d. Gen 37:9. Sun, moon and stars - literal or symbolic?

hoppers said...

usually, in Texas anyway, if the moon is red it means it will probably rain tomorrow. Maybe not the great prophecy that anyone was expecting but it still means you don't have to drag the sprinkler out for the yard.

Unknown said...

Hey Jason
"Show me any time in Scripture that the language, such as in Matthew 24, is used for the literal destruction of the solar system, together with stars many times the size of our sun crashing into the planet."

Well that's exactly it, the ancients didn't know stars were that giant. They seemed to assume they were tiny objects that could drop from the sky. It still doesn't answer the question of wether they might have meant it would happen literally.
I of course agree that if anything, the bible is to be taken symbolically. But someone who says it must be taken literally can't just cherry-pick.

Historylover said...

I actually don't go in for all of the crazy sign watching and just marveled at out incredible the event was. However, if you are interested in signs as proposed by the Bible, the return of the Messiah corresponds to the Jewish Fall feasts, not the Spring ones, so it wouldn't happen now anyway. Just food for thought.

Stephen said...

I wish I'd been in a location where I could have seen the eclipse, instead of under cloudy skies in Chicago. The "blood-red" moon is pretty cool... I've seen it before.
Not too worried about Jesus coming back for the quick and the dead, though. ;-)

Steve Weeks

roy thomas said...

Maybe all that ordered DNAs of different creatures, all those topoisomerases, all those precision physical laws just came out of nowhere and formed us..starting millions of years ago and going nowhere! Maybe the Jesus of history was just a figment of some people's imagination. Maybe he was just a liar or a lunatic! Why did John say?:"He was in the world and the world was made by him and the world knew him not"

Lifestyles 2012 said...

Steve - you are too easy to debate. Your stirring up trouble. The Bible says not to mess with astrology and try to find special meaning. Jeremiah 10: 2-3

Stephen said...

"The Bible says not to mess with astrology and try to find special meaning."

What about Genesis 1:14, Judges 5:20, Matthew 2:1-2, and Luke 21:25?

"Special meaning"... read "cherry-picking".

Steve Weeks

Lifestyles 2012 said...

Steve - I stand corrected. It was clear that God said we can use them as a clock. That is what it was designed for. Now - when you read about the signs of the coming of Jesus. There were 100's of people who claimed to be the messiah. I guess those who interpreted "the signs" is the sky were not too smart. I guess they were not "wise men." You may ask - then why are these wise men following a star. Well - I bet God put it in their heart to follow that star. As for me - I won't follow astrology unless God does a burning bush telling me the special meaning. Oh - and I will use it as he instructs - as a clock.

Stephen said...

Far more important than serving as clocks, stars are the source of all the elements heavier than hydrogen, helium and (I think) lithium. Up to iron, these elements are produced by nuclear fusion, and for elements heavier than iron by nucleosynthesis during explosions of supernovae (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernova#Source_of_heavy_elements ). What this means in plain English is that you and everything around you is the product of normal stellar processes. We are all "star-stuff"!
Steve Weeks

Stephen said...

I hope people have been watching the current science series, "Cosmos". The universe we inhabit is a strange and wonderful place far beyond the wildest imaginings of the authors (all human) of the bible.
Steve Weeks