The world was agog over the rare (“once in a blue moon”) lunar phenomenon that took place in the evening of January 31 this year 2018. It was known here in the Philippines (as perhaps elsewhere also) as the “super blue blood moon.”
According to meteorologists, the last time the same event happened was in 1982 — 36 years ago: the moon could be viewed at its rising as bigger than usual (thus “super”) since it was then closer to the earth than at other times; it was a “blue moon,” according to one definition, because it was the second full moon within the same month (January 2 and 31 this year 2018) [see: Two Full Moons in One Month!]; and the moon took on a reddish color (thus like blood) as an effect of a total lunar eclipse, plus other factors like volcanic ash in the atmosphere.
Meteorologists predict that a similar phenomenon will next take place in 2037, nineteen years from now. [For more on the scientific explanation of “blood moons” check out this link: https://www.space.com/39471-what-is-a-blood-moon.html.]
What has excited many people about “super blue blood moon” — more than the other aspects of the phenomenon — is the “blood” part. And that not just because of the unusual red color as such. Many believe that a “blood moon” is a portent of catastrophic events to visit our earth. And they will cite Bible verses to prove it.
Indeed Joel 2:30-31 declares God as saying, “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.”
Revelation 6:12-17 describes the opening, by Christ (Revelation 5:1-5), of the sixth of “seven seals” covering various successive occurrences on earth and in heaven. And after the “sixth seal” is opened “there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood…,” etc.
Did the “blood moon” in the evening of January 31 this year fulfill these almost-identical prophecies? And can we say that we are now — this year 2018 — in the beginning of the prophesied period known as, and covered by, the “sixth seal?”
Who can tell?
But what happened the last time a “blood moon” appeared — in 1982? If that was a fulfillment of Joel 2 and Revelation 6, why hasn’t the “great and awesome day of the LORD” (equated in the Bible with the return of Jesus Christ to earth) taken place after all these years?
The next “blood moon” is predicted by meteorologists to still be 19 years away. Will that event be the portent of Christ’s imminent return, which will be heralded by the opening of the last and “seventh seal,” comprised of seven trumpets that will announce the pouring out of the successive “seven last plagues” of God’s wrath upon sinful and unrepentant mankind (Revelation 8-9, 15-19)?
If the next appearance of a “blood moon” were the sure-fire marker for the opening of the “sixth seal,” could we, then, predict the approximate time of Jesus’ return? But Jesus said of His return: “…of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only….Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:37-44).
If we expect Christ to return in or around 2037, when the next “blood moon” will occur, we can be certain He will not come shortly after that year! It could be much later — or sooner! [For a sample of what some preach about the Biblical significance of “blood moons” see this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Moon_Prophecy.]
This being the case, Christ commands His true followers to “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming…you also be ready” (Matthew 24:42, 44). Luke 21:36 adds: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man.” [“These things” refers to the signs Jesus mentioned in Verses 25-26.]
While the word “watch” is translated from the Greek gregoreuo, meaning “to keep [spiritually] awake,” watching could also mean observing the signs of our times that are to precede Christ’s return to earth. [See: The Comings of Christ.]
Matthew 24:4-34 gives Christ’s answer to His disciples’ question [|”…when will these things be (the total destruction of the temple at Jerusalem, or the existing remnants of it])? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age (Verse 3)? [See: The Temple in Ezekiel 40-48 and “The Next Chapter of History.”]
As many Bible students understand, the signs Jesus listed correspond neatly — even in their chronological order — to the “seven seals” of Revelation 5-8.
Where are we now?
When we understand that the first five “seals” have already been opened by Christ, we will know that we are, right now, on the threshold of the “sixth seal.”
Indeed we have seen, over the centuries, the coming — and continuing — of the “things” covered within these first five “seals”: false prophets, wars, famines, death (through pestilences and incurable diseases), persecution and martyrdom of the true disciples of Christ, and “earthquakes in various places.” In fact our time — “the last days,” before “the end of the age” — will see these signs intensifying and thereafter ushering in the events covered in the “sixth seal.”
The “sixth seal”
Revelation 6:12-14 lists the events to take place before Jesus Christ’s bodily appearance in glory to vent His wrath upon sinful and unrepentant mankind, and to reward His saints with glory. Great earthquake. The sun becomes black as sackcloth. The moon becomes like blood. The stars of heaven [possibly meteorites] fall to the earth. The sky recedes, attended by so great earthquakes that “every mountain and island” is “moved out of its place.”
As we can see, these occurrences are extraordinary. They are not the result merely of “natural” processes. They are supernatural! God deliberately and purposely makes them happen.
There should be no doubt that, in our time, the Almighty God can turn water (and skies) into blood, cause fire and smoke (through volcanic eruptions and hailstones), and cause the sun to go dark, as God did in Egypt through Moses (Exodus 7:14-21; 9:13-26; 10:21-23).
Would it be difficult to turn the moon into a bloody-red color by divine fiat — not merely through the course of nature? As Jeremiah 32:26-27 has God asserting, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”
Thus let us not look to predictions by men based merely on known natural phenomena, nor to dates they set. And we should be wary about preachers setting dates as well for certain prophecies to take place. [See: Beware of False Prophets and Fake News.]
As Jesus told His disciples before He ascended to heaven, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which God has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7).
Will we never know the time?
Besides the heavenly signs and other signs already mentioned here, there are other major markers in the Bible that will help us know how close we are to the end of this present age and to the return of Christ.
- Lawlessness to increase worldwide (Matthew 24:12). The apostle Paul warned of “perilous times” “in the last days” and listed moral and spiritual problems that lead to perils (2 Timothy 3:1-9). “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (Verse 13). [See: “The Next Chapter of History.”]
- Knowledge to increase (Daniel 12:4). Along with people running “to and fro” in travel worldwide, fantastic and incredible advance in human knowledge in the sciences, technology, history, etc. has exploded in the last decades. This includes knowledge and understanding of God’s word that, in parts, had been heretofore “closed and sealed till the time of the end” (Verse 9). [See: “He Marveled” and Leanings; also, for examples, see: The Trinity Doctrine Reconsidered and Two Goats Together.]
- The true gospel preached into all the world (Matthew 24:14). The Church of God, now sorely divided into many denominations and “splinter groups,”has been unable to preach the true gospel of Christ and of the kingdom of God with thorough effectiveness. It will take the work of God’s “two witnesses” (Revelation 11:5-12) to complete the worldwide preaching of that gospel before the end of this age (Matthew 24:14), to unite a divided, scattered and devastated flock of Christ (Zechariah 13:7; Isaiah 53:6), and to bring them into one “fold” under the care of the “Good” and “Great” Shepherd (Jesus Christ) and His faithful under-shepherds (John 10:11-16; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
After the death of the “two witnesses” an angel of God will preach “the everlasting gospel” to all the world (Revelation 14:6-7), before God pours out the last plagues on spiritual “Babylon” (Verse 14; 18:1-24). [See: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!” and Drunk With Strange Wine.]
Paul assures faithful Christians that, although the Day of the Lord and Christ’s return will be unpredictable like the coming of a “thief in the night” (2 Peter 3:10; Matthew 24:43), ultimately Jesus’ true disciples (as children of “light” and of the “day”) will not be “in the darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5 :4).
In Amos 3:7 God assures: “Surely the LORD God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” God’s faithful servants will know when Christ will return shortly before He actually does!
Many Bible passages exhort God’s people to “prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12) — to be ready, as Jesus says. The apostle Peter exhorts them to “be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:11-12) — and loving Christ’s appearing (2 Timothy 4:8).
To help in that preparation, see: “I Never Knew You!“ Saved for Good Works, God’s Spirit and Obedience, The Higher Law of the Spirit, Breaking Down Our “Walls of Jericho,” and The Value of the “Firstborn.“
May you who read this article be among those in these “end times: who are — or will be — wise and understand the “deep things of God” (Daniel 12:9-10; 1 Corinthians 2:9-12; James 1:5-8)!
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.