What is the ‘Blood Moon’ all about?

blood moon

 

The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.” Acts 2:20

“The sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light…”  Matthew 24:29

 

What if Jesus had returned yesterday night, April 15, 2014 as many false teachers have presented? Oh, that did not happen by the way. What were you doing? Does your life and attitude show that you were prepared by faith and not by theory?

Many Christians today take their word from false teachers who are tantalizing and provocative. They feel they have special knowledge from God and thus do not read or study the Bible. Instead, they listen to fools who point to themselves, pseudo Bible teaching and not to our LORD or the true Truth of His Word. This creates the havoc of emotional driven immature Christians with false knowledge that leads to a weak do nothing faith and division in His Church.

Here comes the latest buzz, the Blood Mood!

I am sure you have heard of it, perhaps you got caught up in it, pun intended. What is this all about?

The blood moon is the earth’s moon in the night sky that will turn red, or as an astronomer would say, “in a deep red hue,” resembling the color of blood, hence the name. These events remind us of several Bible passages from Joel, Matthew, Acts and Revelation that Christ is coming back. While, others have stated that it is the significant sign of the apocalypse and or rapture or the end of days.

To make this more foreboding, there will be four of these on or close to the main Jewish feast days of Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles in the next 2 years. So, a lot of Christians have been so tied up over this. The first of these blood moons arrived on April 15, 2014 near Passover (the foreboding part is this is tax day for Americans) then there will be three more in the next two years. As, we will have one in October, 8, 2014 and then two more April 4, and Sept. 28, 2015. Astronomers say this is not rare, as even though there will be 4 in the next 18 months, normally they average 3 every 2 years. Yet, all astronomical events are rare, because we have a lot going on in our big universe.

Is Jesus coming back during these blood moons? Probably not. Yes, Jesus can come back during these events, but according to His Word, nothing needs to happen that did not already. Thus, He can come back at any moment, now, or thousands of years from now.

Lets see what Jesus said about it!

Matthew 24:29-31: “The sun will be darkened.” This is a reference to a significant astronomical event, perhaps more than just an eclipse. And this is in the form of O.T. Judgment language (Psalm 18:6-19; Isa. 13:10; 24:23; 34:4; Jer. 4:20-28; Ezek. 32:7-8; Joel 3:14; Zech. 14:6).

The question is not if or when, as many of us obsess over; rather, He will come and we had better be prepared with our attitude and mindsets! 

Darkness” was the most frightening prediction (Ex. 9:21-23)! 

The sign of the Son of man” refers to God bringing about the opportunity for people to repent for having caused Him grief. Then, the Kingdom of Heaven will flourish (Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 12:10; Rev. 1:7).

Sign” refers to the first real evidence of Christ’s second coming.

Son of man” means He is Lord and King (Matthew 10: 16-26)!

Clouds” mean judgment. This refers to a spectacular event, the numbers of angels testifying to God’s glory. It could also mean an extraordinary storm of clouds. Such as numbers of angels testifying to God’s glory (Ezek. 30:3; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; Matt. 16:28; 24:30, 34; 26:64). 

“Trumpets” were used to announce the coming of or the succession of a king. They were used to summon people together and for a war cry to motivate troops and scare the enemy (Judg. 7:8-25; Isa. 11:12; 27. 13; Jer. 4:5, 19-21; Zeph. 1:16). Here, it is a popular prayer Jesus uses to refer to a future gathering of believers in Christ (Zech. 9:14-16; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

“Taken” refers to being taken to Judgment (Jer. 6:10-12)! Most people think this is the rapture, but, it is never explicitly taught or illustrated, although this text is popular for such as view, it really means judgment and you do not want that.

Some have thought that this passage can also refer to the coming defeat of Satan and His dominion or an apocalypse, but there is no textual support; rather, it is about His second coming in His timing (Matt. 13:40-43; 16:27; 25:31; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:14-17).

In addition, Revelation 6: 12-17 tells us, “Moon turned blood red,” this may refer to an unusual lunar eclipse or even something more spectacular. These events being described are not necessarily literal, astronomic events as many today think. 

“Stars in the sky fell to earth” means the cosmic scope of God’s judgment, as all will be affected (Isa. 34:4). This was also a sign for the coming of Christ (Mark 13:25-26). It may also refer to angels coming down or some stunning event that all will see in the sky (Isa. 24:21; Dan. 8:10; 10:13; Rev. 12:4).

Here is what we should wrap our brain and faith on, what Jesus was actually saying: 

Matthew 24: 36-50: “No one knows…angels, or the Son…” Why did Jesus not know, when He is the Omnipresent God? God keeps most of His plans secret for good reason (Deut. 29:29; Zech. 14:6-9).

We would become preoccupied with them and miss our purpose for being here on earth. Just look at some Catholics and how they are overzealous with artifacts; in fact, there are enough so-called pieces of the cross of Christ in European Cathedrals to build a large church! There is also the obsession for the Holy Grail (the cup of Christ in His last supper). They look to “stuff” and not to substance! Let us not do that with our refusal to look to His Word and instead look to personalities.

 

Farewell to the Rapture?

 

(N.T. Wright, Bible Review, August 2001.  Reproduced by permission of the author) 

Little did Paul know how his colorful metaphors for Jesus’ second coming would be misunderstood two millennia later. 

The American obsession with the second coming of Jesus — especially with distorted interpretations of it — continues unabated.  Seen from my side of the Atlantic, the phenomenal success of the Left Behind books appears puzzling, even bizarre[1].  Few in the U.K. hold the belief on which the popular series of novels is based: that there will be a literal “rapture” in which believers will be snatched up to heaven, leaving empty cars crashing on freeways and kids coming home from school only to find that their parents have been taken to be with Jesus while they have been “left behind.”  This pseudo-theological version of Home Alone has reportedly frightened many children into some kind of (distorted) faith. 

This dramatic end-time scenario is based (wrongly, as we shall see) on Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, where he writes: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God.  The dead in Christ will rise first; then we, who are left alive, will be snatched up with them on clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). 

What on earth (or in heaven) did Paul mean? 

It is Paul who should be credited with creating this scenario.  Jesus himself, as I have argued in various books, never predicted such an event[2].  The gospel passages about “the Son of Man coming on the clouds” (Mark 13:26, 14:62, for example) are about Jesus’ vindication, his “coming” to heaven from earth.  The parables about a returning king or master (for example, Luke 19:11-27) were originally about God returning to Jerusalem, not about Jesus returning to earth.  This, Jesus seemed to believe, was an event within space-time history, not one that would end it forever. 

The Ascension of Jesus and the Second Coming are nevertheless vital Christian doctrines[3], and I don’t deny that I believe some future event will result in the personal presence of Jesus within God’s new creation.  This is taught throughout the New Testament outside the Gospels.  But this event won’t in any way resemble the Left Behind account. 

Understanding what will happen requires a far more sophisticated cosmology than the one in which “heaven” is somewhere up there in our universe, rather than in a different dimension, a different space-time, altogether. 

The New Testament, building on ancient biblical prophecy, envisages that the creator God will remake heaven and earth entirely, affirming the goodness of the old Creation but overcoming its mortality and corruptibility (e.g., Romans 8:18-27; Revelation 21:1; Isaiah 65:17, 66:22).  When that happens, Jesus will appear within the resulting new world (e.g., Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2). 

Paul’s description of Jesus’ reappearance in 1 Thessalonians 4 is a brightly colored version of what he says in two other passages, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and Philippians 3:20-21: At Jesus’ “coming” or “appearing,” those who are still alive will be “changed” or “transformed” so that their mortal bodies will become incorruptible, deathless.  This is all that Paul intends to say in Thessalonians, but here he borrows imagery—from biblical and political sources—to enhance his message.  Little did he know how his rich metaphors would be misunderstood two millennia later. 

First, Paul echoes the story of Moses coming down the mountain with the Torah.  The trumpet sounds, a loud voice is heard, and after a long wait Moses comes to see what’s been going on in his absence.

Second, he echoes Daniel 7, in which “the people of the saints of the Most High” (that is, the “one like a son of man”) are vindicated over their pagan enemy by being raised up to sit with God in glory.  This metaphor, applied to Jesus in the Gospels, is now applied to Christians who are suffering persecution. 

Third, Paul conjures up images of an emperor visiting a colony or province.  The citizens go out to meet him in open country and then escort him into the city.  Paul’s image of the people “meeting the Lord in the air” should be read with the assumption that the people will immediately turn around and lead the Lord back to the newly remade world. 

Paul’s mixed metaphors of trumpets blowing and the living being snatched into heaven to meet the Lord are not to be understood as literal truth, as the Left Behind series suggests, but as a vivid and biblically allusive description of the great transformation of the present world of which he speaks elsewhere. 

Paul’s misunderstood metaphors present a challenge for us: How can we reuse biblical imagery, including Paul’s, so as to clarify the truth, not distort it?  And how can we do so, as he did, in such a way as to subvert the political imagery of the dominant and dehumanizing empires of our world?  We might begin by asking, What view of the world is sustained, even legitimized, by the Left Behind ideology?  How might it be confronted and subverted by genuinely biblical thinking?  For a start, is not the Left Behind mentality in thrall to a dualistic view of reality that allows people to pollute God’s world on the grounds that it’s all going to be destroyed soon?  Wouldn’t this be overturned if we recaptured Paul’s wholistic vision of God’s whole creation?              
           

 http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_BR_Farewell_Rapture.htm 

[1] Tim F. Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind (Cambridge, UK: Tyndale House Publishing, 1996).  Eight other titles have followed, all runaway bestsellers.

[2] See my Jesus and the Victory of God (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1996); the discussions in Jesus and the Restoration of Israel: A Critical Assessment of N.T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God, ed. Carey C. Newman (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999); and Marcus J. Borg and N.T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999), chapters 13 and 14.

[3] Douglas Farrow, Ascension and Ecclesia: On the Significance of the Doctrine of the Ascension for Ecclesiology and Christian Cosmology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999).

Exegetical look at Matthew 24, Part IV

Vs.29-31: The sun will be darkened. This is a reference to a significant astronomical event in the form of O.T. judgment language (Psalm 18:6-19; Isa. 13:10; 24:23; 34:4; Jer. 4:20-28; Ezek. 32:7-8; Joel 3:14; Zech. 14:6). The question is not if or when, as many of us obsess over; rather, He will come and we had better be prepared with our attitude and mindsets!

· Darkness was the most frightening prediction (Ex. 9:21-23)!

· The sign of the Son of man refers to God bringing about the opportunity for people to repent for having caused Him grief. Then, the Kingdom of Heaven will flourish (Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 12:10; Rev. 1:7). Sign refers to the first real evidence of Christ’s second coming.

· Morn. Jesus is coming back and this time it will not be subtle; it will hurt, hurt people who do not believe and believers who have become apostate as in cause pain while still being glorious (Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 12:10-12)!

· Clouds mean judgment. This refers to a spectacular event, the numbers of angels testifying to God’s glory. It could also mean an extraordinary storm of clouds. Such as numbers of angels testifying to God’s glory (Ezek. 30:3; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; Matt. 16:28; 24:30, 34; 26:64).

· Son of man means He is Lord and King! (See study, Matthew 10: 16-26).

· Trumpets were used to announce the coming of or the succession of a king. They were used to summon people together and for a war cry to motivate troops and scare the enemy (Judg. 7:8-25; Isa. 11:12; 27. 13; Jer. 4:5, 19-21; Zeph. 1:16). Here, it is a popular prayer Jesus uses to refer to a future gathering of believers in Christ (Zech. 9:14-16; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

· Some have thought that this section can also refer to the coming defeat of Satan and His dominion, but there is no textual support; rather, it is about His second coming (Matt. 13:40-43; 16:27; 25:31; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:14-17).

What About the Rapture?

Where does this all come from? Look at the text:

According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

Let’s take a look: the context is Paul being “pastoral” and encouraging his people who were being martyred, and seeing their loved ones killed or imprisoned at worst and at best losing their homes and livelihood. In these extreme tough times, Paul addresses his grieving people with a prophecy to look forward to. He gives a hope to foster them with the consolation of anticipation of what Jesus will do to support them, so they can press on with their persevering faith. The prophecy is real and will come about; the fact of our Lord’s return is a reality that no Christian group that adheres to God’s Word would deny. The questions and debates center on what is not important, and that is the details of when and how this will come about. One of these details is called the Rapture where Christians will be caught up and rise into the air to meet Jesus in the clouds. The passage in English clearly teaches this, or so I thought until a little research told me otherwise. And now, I was faced with a paradigm shift in my eschatological thinking.

What I had always thought was not backed up with facts—only presumptions. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 has been the principle passage for this theory. It is interesting to note that none of the Church Fathers nor any of the Reformers or anyone in Church History taught this “theory” until the 1830’s when heretical groups ignoring the context of the passage, Greek word meaning, and the meaning of the metaphors in question, as what they meant to a first century Jew or Greek.

The word rapture is not in the Bible, which is not a problem since many theological terms are not in the Bible such as Trinity or essential ministries such as Youth Ministry. But, the concept of a rapture cannot be found either. It is, at best, a misunderstanding, and at worst, a cynical, sinister pawn to distract us—the Church—from that to which God is calling us. As a word, rapture is originally from a Latin word meaning “caught up” or “caught away”, and is based on 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. The exegetical problem is our being “caught up” with Him as air being lifted up in the sky. Is this what the text actually says? In reality, it was a Greek military term set in Jewish judgment language that is used here; John and His readers would have laughed at our theories! Let’s look at this word-by-word in the Word.

  • Word of the Lord means Jesus is telling us all that He indeed is coming and when He does it will be loud and clear. This was a term used in other ancient texts for a special visiting king who was celebrated (Matt. 24:27; Luke 22:61; Acts 20:35; 1 Cor. 7:10).
  • Shout/loud command, refers to a command or a stern summons, and in connection with Trumpet (1 Kings 1:34; Rev. 1:9-20; 9:13; 11:15-19).
  • Trumpet means God is calling like a war cry, of impeding danger, and for us to pay attention (Ex. 19:16; Psalm 47:5-9; Isa. 31:4; 42:13; Amos 2:2).
  • Caught up. This is a metaphor for meeting, as in catching up to the party with whom you are meeting. Heed this; an important emissary or king is coming such as one of the Caesars coming to join him and/or to escort Him, or He will escort those who show. Here it indicates that Christ has come, and His angels escort us as we meet Him. This does not mean to rise up in the air, although God can certainty do this if He chooses, but this is not what the text says. This is about the excitement and ecstasy of the event.
  • Clouds. This means judgment is coming or hear and the end is here, time is up and the coming of the son of man from Daniel. This also means a spectacular event, such as numbers of angels testifying to God’s glory. It could also mean an extraordinary storm of clouds (Ezek. 30:3; 32:7; Joel 2:2; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; Matt. 16:28; 24:30-31, 34; 26:64; Rev. 1: 1-8).
  • Meet the Lord in the air means two opposing armies who meet in the middle of a battlefield to discuss terms. Meeting in the air was also a way to say dignitaries are here (which was a great honor), from a city and are meeting with emissaries from another city to escort them to a meeting. Sometimes this meant meeting halfway, like diplomats or generals of opposing armies at a village as a neutral zone. This also meant gathering people to join and/or meet. Here, it is with Jesus when He comes back as a “royal coming” (Matt. 24:27-31; Acts 17:7). Rapture is the Latin rendering of the Greek word “harpazo.” The Latin rendering of “raptus” is where we get the word rapture. It is not from the Bible. This does not mean we get to fly up into the air; we may, but the passage and the others people use to support this theory in the contexts clearly states otherwise.

The object of this passage is Christ; He is coming is one of the themes of this Epistle, Matthew 24, and Revelation. This passage is basically announcing to us that Christ is coming back. This was comfort for the suffering Christians at that time, but chastisement for those who were evil and rejected Him (Deut. 33:2; Isa. 19:1; Zech. 1:16; Mal. 3:1-2; Matt. 10:23; Rev. 2:5; 3:20). Various first century Jewish groups saw that at the end of the age there will be a resurrection of the dead and a judgment, basically what Jesus taught too (1 Thess. 2:12; 5:3; Acts 17:7). The application can denote the assembled Church will come together to meet with Jesus physically or in some supernatural way that is yet undesignated.

In Mathew it is called, the Coming of the Son of Man! A spectacular rising into the air to meet Him! (Matt. 24:29-35). This passage is also used to show the belief that the entirety of true believers of Christ as Lord—the Church—will be suddenly taken up into the sky to meet Him in mid-air in the clouds. This is a fun theory and many people are so very dogmatic about it that fights occur as to when and how this will happen. Very few people actually look at the text to see what it really is saying.

Another passage that is used for this rapture is in Revelation 4:1-5: a trumpet said. This means God is preparing to give a command or the pronouncement of His Word (Ex. 19:16). Here, many misguided interpreters read into the text a “rapture,” and string together other passages out of context to create a grand theology out of injudicious reading and inserting ideas that are not in these passages at all, such as 1 Cor. 15:51-54.

This practice of using these texts and others for a Rapture is called “isagesis” which is inserting into the text something that is not there or a personal interpretation of a text from one’s own ideas. However, we are called to read His Word with “exegesis,” or a right explanation and analysis of the text from what it actually says. Also, in the Revelation 4:1-5 passage, the word “church” does not appear until Revelation chapter 22. Many think this means the church is not on earth during the last days. Again, this is reading into a text our ideas and not God’s. We are never to stretch or construe Scripture according to our whims and/or opinions. Rather, we are to plainly seek what He has for us from what He has clearly revealed to us.

This does not diminish the excitement and wonder when Christ does come back and we get to meet with Him. That will be far more excitement and hope than any convoluted theory could ever produce! The main point is this: we are called to join Him or be whisked away to judgment. We meet Christ on His terms to receive our rewards for being in Him and for those who reject Christ to receive judgment; it is simple as that. No elaborate esoteric theories are needed (Dan. 7:13; Matt. 24:31)!

Is there a “Secret Rapture?”

Some misguided Bible teachers have even been teaching there will be a secret rapture or a second rapture or mutable raptures. They claim each shout of the trumpet from relation is a new rapture. This is ridiculous, as a shout of a Trumpet means God is preparing to give a command or a pronouncement of His Word (Ex. 19:16). God’s way of making this spectacular and public then to be in secret misses God’s point and power. This will be very public; everyone will see the Coming of our Lord—both the dead and the alive, and that is no secret!