I took this picture of the lunar eclipse from my front yard. Of course, even a good cell phone camera doesn't do it justice.
Remember last spring, when minister John Hagee predicted that the upcoming run of unusually frequent lunar eclipses would mark the End Times? Well, it didn't, as I expected. The last of these four lunar eclipses took place Sunday evening in my time zone, and was nicely visible from my front yard. It was a great opportunity for talking science with the kids, and well, that's about it. No fire, no brimstone, no end of days. Just a funky celestial event.
The so-called Blood Moon Prophecy has been around since 2008, and was originally advanced by another minister, Mark Biltz, who believed that the "great tribulation" would begin in that year, followed by the return of Jesus right about now. He was wrong. But Hagee picked the notion up and ran with it, predicting that the final "blood moon" of the tetrad - last Sunday's - would mark the beginning of the End Times rather than the return of Christ.
The idea of a "blood moon" serving as an omen of the coming of the end times comes from the Book of Joel, where it is written "the sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes." This phrase is again mentioned by Saint Peter during Pentecost, as recorded in Acts, although Peter says that date, not some future date, was the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy. The blood moon also appears in the book of Revelation chapter 6 verses 11 - 13, where verse 12 says " 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".
Around 2008, Biltz began predicting that the Second Coming of Jesus would occur in the fall of 2015 with the seven years of the great tribulation beginning in the fall of 2008. He said he had "discovered" an astronomical pattern that predicted the next tetrad would coincide with the end times. When the prediction failed, he pulled the article from his website, but continued to teach on the "significance" of the tetrad.
Hagee would later seize on Biltz' prediction to write Four Blood Moons, which would become a best seller, spending more than 150 days in Amazon.com's top 150 by April 2014. For the week ending March 30, 2014, it was the ninth best selling paperback, according to Publishers Weekly. By mid-April, Hagee's book had hit No. 4 on the The New York Times best-seller list in the advice category. Hagee's book (and subsequent sermon series at his home congregation, Cornerstone Church) did not proclaim that any specific "end times" event would occur (as did Biltz in his original prophecy), but claimed that every prior tetrad of the last 500 years coincided with events in Jewish and Israeli history that were originally tragic, yet followed by triumph.
And, in fact, nothing like that happened either. Pretty much the only result of Hagee's prediction seems to have been him selling a lot of books. I would hope that those who bought into his pile of nonsense are feeling pretty dumb right now, but that assumes that they have reflected upon their purchases at all. Research has shown that sometimes, paradoxically, people presented with evidence disputing their beliefs react by clinging more tightly to them.
But seriously, am I the only person with a reliable memory that has followed these clowns and their failed predictions? Every single time, since William Miller in the 1840's, these people have been wrong. Every single time. To me, it suggests that they're trying to answer the wrong question, and implies that either the Revelation is an allegory for events that occurred far in the past, such as during the Roman Empire's attempts to suppress Christianity, or it's not intended to be a prediction at all.
It won't surprise me one bit when the next of these false prophets come forward, and when, just like all the others, their prediction proves just as false as all the others. But as this keeps on happening, it does surprise me a little that significant numbers of people still take the idea seriously.