by Jerry Richardson 3/13/15
April 4, 2015 is the occurrence of the 3rd of a lunar total-eclipse tetrad recently popularized as “four blood moons.” Most of North America will be able to see portions of the eclipse. The term “blood moon” is an ancient name for a total lunar eclipse; however, “four blood moons” has been defined and promoted, by some writers—especially Mark Biltz and John Hagee—as having special prophetic significance relative to the nation of Israel.
WHAT ARE FOUR BLOOD MOONS?
To quality as “four blood moons”, according to Biltz and Hagee, the four moons of an astronomical tetrad (4 consecutive total lunar eclipses without a non-eclipse) must occur on Jewish feast days—for example, April 4, 2015 coincides with Nissan 15, 5775 (Passover) on the Jewish calendar. And in addition, there is a total solar eclipse that occurs on a Jewish holiday during the inclusive-span of time of the tetrad. According to Hagee and Biltz that total solar eclipse for the current tetrad is the one that will occur on March 20, 2015. It will not be visible in the USA, but will be visible, as a partial eclipse, in Jerusalem. Mark Biltz declares that the eclipse falls on 1 Nisan (the biblical first day of the Jewish year):
As you can see, in 2015 we have a total solar eclipse on March 20 followed by a partial solar eclipse on September 13. But I hope that you are asking yourself right now the same question that I did, “But when do they fall on the Biblical calendar?” The total solar eclipse— March 20, 2015— is on Nisan 1; the very beginning of the religious year and the very day the fire fell from heaven and lit the altar at the dedication of Moses’ tabernacle!
—Biltz, Mark (2014-03-18). Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs (p. 155). Kindle Edition.
There are two potential problems with Mark Biltz’s statement concerning the solar eclipse on March 20, 2015.
First, the solar eclipse in Jerusalem will not be visible there as a total eclipse; it will appear as a partial eclipse with an eclipse magnitude of about 13% (percent of the sun’s diameter covered by the moon) with obscurity of the sun only 5.7%, hardly noticeable. Furthermore, since Jewish calendar days begin at sunset (approximately 6 pm), March 20, 2015 (Gregorian) overlaps 29 Adar and 1 Nisan 5775 of the Jewish calendar; and since the solar eclipse will end at 10:38:59.2 UT1 (12:38:59.2 local) on March 20, 2015; this means that the solar eclipse will occur and end in the middle of the day on 29 Adar and not on 1 Nisan which begins on the evening at the end of the day of 29 Adar.
Last, but certainly not least, something of significant, historical importance, “major prophetic events”, happen to the Jewish people during the time (approximately) of the occurrence of a “four blood moons” event.
John Hagee attaches the following significance to “four blood moons”:
The history of the world is about to change forever, and God is sending us messages on His high-definition billboard by speaking to us in the heavens— using the Four Blood Moons; the question is… are we listening?
—John, Hagee (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (p. 24). Kindle Edition.
Mark Biltz has this to say:
When God is about to be up to something big, He will send us signals via the sun and the moon on His feast days.
In summary, we have had only eight tetrads in the last two thousand years that fell on the feast days. Major prophetic events have occurred on or around the last three tetrads over the past five hundred years. The ninth tetrad starts on Passover in 2014.
—Biltz, Mark (2014-03-18). Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs (p. 49,155). Kindle Edition.
The tetrads focused upon in the Hagee and Biltz writings concerning “four blood moons” are those of 1493-94, 1949-50, 1967-68, and 2014-15. Did God just start using tetrads in 1493-94 to signal “major prophetic events”? Or did someone just start paying attention?
IS FOUR BLOOD MOONS ABOUT ASTRONOMICAL OR CALENDAR RARENESS (UNCOMMONNESS)?
How often do lunar eclipses occur?
Here are the NASA numbers for the 5 millennium period, 2000 BC – 3000 AD.
- 12064 lunar eclipses altogether (2.41 per year)
- 4278 Penumbral, symbol N (36.3%, one every 1.14 year)
- 4207 Partial, symbol P (34.9%, one every 1.19 years)
- 3479 Total, symbol T (28.8%, one every 1.44 years)
—Statistics for Lunar Eclipses (NASA)
A total lunar eclipse occurs somewhere on earth approximately every 18 months (one every 1.44 years on average).
Advocates of the “four blood moons” thesis obviously wish to portray the occurrences of tetrads as “uncommon.” Most of us would agree. Mark Biltz states the following in his book:
But four total lunar eclipses in a row are not as common as one would believe. Among the 3,479 eclipses over five thousand years, there will only be 142 tetrads. There were 62 tetrads over the last two thousand years. Of these, only eight fell on feast days, with the ninth coming in 2014– 2015.
—Biltz, Mark (2014-03-18). Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs (p. 145). Kindle Edition.
It is clear from his writing that Biltz wishes to associate the concept of uncommonness (“not as common as one would believe”) with prophetic signs; however, the more proper biblical-approach, I think, would be to associate improbability with prophetic signs. For anyone to accurately foretell the future with recognizable specificity is certainly improbable; yet improbable-foretelling is the test for prophetic-genuineness stated in the bible—Deuteronomy 18:22 is one reference. This test is predicated upon the accepted significance of a highly-improbable act (accurately foretelling the future).
Uncommonness is not at all the same thing as improbability. We need only one example here: Halley’s Comet. The appearance of Halley’s Comet is universally considered to be an uncommon event, many people who see it will only see it once in their lifetime—it reappears to earth-watchers every 75-76 years. But though its appearance is “uncommon”, it is not in any sense improbable; in fact its appearance is so probable, so regular, that its orbit-time can be calculated using Newton’s laws of motion; Newton’s friend Edmund Halley was the first person to calculate the orbit of the comet named after him, and to correctly predict its return.
Blitz’s statement quoted above leaves unclarified the significant difference between uncommonness and improbability. He also conflates astronomical-events with calendar-events. Astronomical-events are in no way dependent upon either the Gregorian or the Jewish or any other calendar.
Biblical signs and miracles, reported in the Bible, were evident due to their physical nature. They were not in any way dependent upon when they occurred on any calendar, Jewish or otherwise. An event might have been uncommon astronomically, for example, “the star of Bethlehem” (speculated by some to have been a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Venus) but the uncommonness of the event had nothing to do with when it occurred on some calendar. If a calendar was mentioned later relative to a supposed miraculous event, it was to commemorate the date rather than to report the date as part of the miracle.
God’s deliverance of the Children of Israel out of Egypt was a miraculous occurrence; resulting from the repeated plagues that God sent, via Moses, to persuade Pharaoh to release the Israelites from their servitude to Egypt. The miracle of the last plague (The Passover) was not that it occurred “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening” (14-15 Nisan) —Exodus 12:18; God ordained that date, for the Jewish people, to be a remembrance of the event; the date was not per se part of the miracle.
It is easy to manufacture uncommon calendar-events from a combination of calendar-events and astronomical-events. For example:
My birthday is a very common calendar-event, it occurs once a year on September 22th. But If I specify that a total lunar eclipse is to occur on September 22, then using the range of years from 1582 AD (first full year of the Gregorian calendar) to 3000 AD, I find only 2 occurrences, 9/22/1801, 9/22/2583—using the purchased Alcyone Astronomical Tables with their routines, or using the free Hermit Eclipse to obtain the same results.
In the time period 1582-3000 there are 970 total lunar eclipses; so the chance of one of those total lunar eclipses falling on my birthday is 2/970 = .00206 = .206%. Since there are 970 total lunar eclipses occurring during 1419 years, the average probability of a total lunar eclipse occurring in a single year is 970/1419 = .684 = 68.4%; Hence we can calculate the probability of my birthday occurring during the referenced time period as the product of two probabilities .00206*.684 = .00141 = .141% (odds, 708:1).
Yes the calendar-event is very uncommon, but not miraculous; and it is not based upon a truly uncommon physical-event; it is simply an uncommon calendar-event; and I defined the event, not God.
Similarly, relative to the occurrence of total-lunar eclipses, lunar tetrads are uncommon but not extremely improbable.
During the 5000-year period from -1999 to +3000…Approximately 16.3% (568) of all total eclipses belong to one of the 142 tetrads occurring over this period (Espenak and Meeus, 2009).
—Lunar Eclipse Tetrads (NASA)
So what about the probability of a “four blood moons” event? According to Biltz, 9-sets of “four blood moons” occur in the 21 centuries from 1st Century to 21st Century. I’ll take Blitz’s word for that. He also calculates, as I do, that there are 62 occurrences of lunar tetrads in the same time period.
So the statistics for 21 centuries (1st – 21st inclusive), are the following: The probability of the occurrence, on average, of a lunar tetrad in any given year is 62/2100 = .0295 (2.95%). If a lunar tetrad occurs, the probability (according to Biltz) of it being a “four blood moons” event is 9/62 = .145 (14.5%). Hence the probability of a “four blood moons” event occurring in any year in the 21 centuries referenced is the product of the two probabilities, .0295*.145 = .00428 = .428% (odds of 233:1).
By way of comparison, the probability of my concocted “uncommon”, birthday, calendar-event is about 3 times smaller (less-likely) than the probability of the “uncommon” calendar-event of “four blood moons.” To get a “feel” for the improbability of this “uncommon” calendar-event, reflect upon the fact that the probability of being dealt the poker-hand labeled a “straight” in 5 cards is 0.392% (odds of 254:1); hence, the probability of having “four blood moons” in any given year, .428% (odds of 233:1), is better than the probability of being dealt a “straight” in any 5 cards. An event of “four blood moons” is uncommon; but it is not highly improbable. Odds against a royal flush in a single 5-card deal are 649739:1; now that’s highly improbable.
ARE TETRADS BEING EQUIVOCATED WITH FOUR BLOOD MOONS?
Proponents of the “four blood moons” thesis often do not make clear the distinction between an astronomical tetrad (4 consecutive total lunar eclipses without a non-eclipse), and a “four blood moons” event as they define it.
Falling on a Jewish feast day does not make a tetrad a tetrad. However, coinciding with certain Jewish feast days, plus additional criteria, makes a tetrad a “four blood moons” event according to some authors; but that is not the same as an astronomical tetrad, and to interchange the two terms without clear distinction is to equivocate.
This sort of equivocation is seen in John Hagee’s book, where he states, after discussing 3 previous historical tetrads (1493-94, 1949-50, and 1967-68) and prior to discussing a fourth, the tetrad of 2014-2015:
There will be a fourth series of Four Blood Moons in the near future. NASA has stated that this will be the last appearance of a Tetrad in this century.
–John Hagee, FOUR BLOOD MOONS, Something is About to Change, Kindle edition, p.218, paperback, p.221
The above statement is plainly not true unless the NASA definition of a tetrad is redefined to mean a tetrad that coincides with two pairs of specific Jewish holidays. I think it unlikely that NASA would embrace this re-definition of an astronomical tetrad.
Here are the 8 lunar tetrads that will occur in this century:
Total Lunar Eclipse Tetrads from 2001 to 2100
DO FOUR BLOOD MOONS QUALIFY AS A PROPHETIC SIGN?
Despite the fact that the stated or implied importance of “four blood moons” is to be a prophetic sign for Israel; however, for the current tetrad (2014 – 2015), three of the “four blood moons” are not visible at all in Jerusalem; those occurring on: 15 April 2014; 08 October 2014; and 04 April 2015 are not visible at all in Jerusalem.
The final “blood moon” of the current tetrad will occur on 28 September 2015 and will not have all phases of the eclipse visible but will have total-eclipse (total umbral) visibility in Jerusalem. Data for anyone interested in verifying visibility and non-visibility can be found in the appropriate-portion of the free NASA database of lunar eclipses; and the free NASA Local Visibility of Lunar Eclipses; or the free Vercalendaro Caculator; I also use and recommend packages (purchased) from Alcyone Eclipse Calculator and Alcyone Ephemeris.
The defenders of the “four blood moons” thesis claim that it is unimportant whether these prophetic signs are visible or not in Jerusalem; even though through-out biblical history, prophetic signs were normally visible to the targets of the prophecy. Yes, I know, maybe Israel isn’t the target of the prophecy. Or perhaps the appearance of the occurrence on television will suffice for “visibility.” The writers who are determined to promote the “four blood moons” as a prophetic event will no-doubt claim afterwards that the event was prophetic regardless of how history unfolds relative to the nation of Israel. Historical significance can easily be claimed because historical significance is very subjective. Here is my comment:
The fact that I question the suggested significance of “four blood moons” as a prophetic sign does not mean that I think that God’s providence will not be present, and recognized, in the affairs of Israel and in the lives of the Jewish people.
I will not be at all surprised if extraordinary events occur, relative to the state of Israel in the years of 2014-2015. But I do not believe that such events will be, or have to be, signaled by a tetrad or “four blood moons.”
In any event, there are already numerous indicators—political pressure, vicious hatred, jihad, and annihilation-threats directed against Israel—that make important change very likely.
I believe in Almighty God and His biblical covenants, and I believe He will providentially care for his chosen people, Israel. I do not claim to know when or how. However, I do not believe that “four blood moons” are prophetic events. I do firmly believe that:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
—Psalms 19:1 KJV
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