When is the world going to end?
Though this question may be at the back of many people’s minds from time to time, it comes into the mainstream every few years or so as some new doomsday prophecy makes people start wondering – “what if this is it?” It’s been a while since the last one, though (May 21, 2011, to be precise), so it seems we’re just about due for another. That’s where two religious leaders by the names of John Hagee and Mark Blitz come into the picture.
To briefly explain the theory: Hagee and Blitz have circled this Sunday night as the final step in a lunar pattern that indicates that something big is going to happen. While Hagee hasn’t exactly said that the world is going to end, many are building doomsday theories based off of his study of biblical prophecies and the lunar calendar. Based on Joel 2:30-31’s mention of the moon being “turned to blood,” Hagee points to the cycle of four “blood moons” that began last year and will finish on Sunday night (September 27th). This particular lunar eclipse cycle stands out because of its ties to the Jewish feast calendar, coinciding with the Passover at its beginning and the Feast of Tabernacles this weekend. As usual, people who are looking for additional signs of doom and destruction have found them in world events, as Hagee and others have pointed to the Iran nuclear agreement and its supposed effect on Israel along with uncertainty in the stock market and even the Pope’s visit to America. As the cycle completes this weekend, adherents are warning of “a world-shaking event” happening in the near future.
The problem is, even before you get into what the Bible says, the theory completely falls apart. First of all, “blood moon” is a relatively new, completely unscientific term. (The four eclipses are more accurately known as a lunar tetrad.) There’s no blood. The moon doesn’t turn red. It just appears red, and only for some of the planet. That’s the second problem. The eclipses haven’t even been visible in Israel, the place Hagee points to as the focal point of these signs. Additionally, since Israel’s holidays have always been based on a lunar calendar, it’s not unheard of for their holidays and festivals to fall during lunar eclipses.
As for Hagee’s biblical interpretation of Joel 2:30-31, numerous problems arise. First, the same prophecy mentions the sun going dark. That clearly shows that God can’t be talking about eclipses, because there is obviously no way for a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse to happen at the same time. Second, and most importantly, in Mark 13:32 Jesus told His disciples that even He didn’t know the hour or time of the last day, so we certainly aren’t going to. In 2 Peter 3:10, Peter reminded us that the last day will come like a thief, telling us it’s never going to be something for which we’ll be able to prepare. Paul echoed that sentiment in his letters to the Thessalonians, where he made the case that they needed to stop waiting for the end and just live their lives as faithful Christians. Somebody who tries to find out what events are going to take place as a precursor to the second coming and the end of the world is completely ignoring the Bible.
On the bright side, every time one of these end times hoaxes occurs, a few valuable lessons can be learned.
First, be careful how you approach the Bible. As I wrote just a few days ago, it’s dangerous to approach the Bible with preconceived ideas. Hagee serves as the perfect illustration. He took a vague Old Testament line about the moon turning to blood, observed that we would have a few reddish-looking lunar eclipses, noticed that those eclipses coincided with Jewish holidays, and then found the world events that created the dramatic backdrop. He didn’t ask what the verse meant. He didn’t let the Bible interpret itself (as Mark 13:32 debunks the foundation of his entire effort). He made the Bible say what he wanted it to. Don’t make that same mistake, and don’t let someone else make it for you. Learn to study the Word for yourself. As Blaise Pascal said, “Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.”
Second, stop trying to find us in the Bible. A whole lot of money is made by people who are able to find a way to make the Bible fit today’s events. People want to know what the Bible says about America, about the rise of communism in Russia and China, about the spread of Islam, and any other number of things. Always remember that the books of the Bible were written to mean something to their original recipients, and to tear anything out of that context and apply it to ourselves is horribly arrogant and precludes any chance of discerning what God intended for the text to say. All you need to know about the world today is that God is still in control of the White House, Tehran, Moscow, and every other seat of power (Romans 13:1).
Third, you don’t have to worry about it. There is one way in which the Bible predicts your personal future. You’re going to be judged for your deeds (2 Corinthians 5:10). While people get so worked up over things like the blood moon prophecy, they forget what Jesus said – don’t fear physical death, fear Him who can put you to death both physically and spiritually (Matthew 10:28). In 1 John 5:13, John tells us that we can know we have eternal life, that “blessed assurance” described in the hymn books. When you know that God is in control of everything that happens, you know that Jesus died for you, and you know where you’re going to spend your eternity, what else matters? Who cares about all of these scary, misguided end times prophecies? Put your faith in Him, repent, and be washed in the blood, and the day of judgment will have you rejoicing rather than nervously waiting and watching for the end.
By Jack Wilkie
Jack Wilkie is the author of “Failure: What Christian Parents Need to Know About American Education” and is the speaker for Focus Press’s “The Lost Generation” seminar. To schedule a seminar at your church, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Blood Moon and the End of the World
When is the world going to end?