The World Will End Soon! Again!

world will endWith the release of my new book, I’ve become more aware of other book launches.

Here’s a clever idea: proclaim that the world will end soon and that only your book has the details. I’m kicking myself for not bringing that into the mix for my own book.

That’s the marketing claim behind John Hagee’s recent Four Blood Moons. In his book trailer, Hagee says,

I believe that the heavens are God’s billboard. That he has been sending signals to planet earth, and we just haven’t been picking them up. … God is literally screaming at the world, “I’m coming soon.” The coming four blood moons points to a world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015.

What the hell is he talking about?

The phrase “blood moons” is taken from Joel 2:30–31: “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Hagee interprets “blood moons” simply as lunar eclipses, since total eclipses of the moon are often dark red.

Hagee’s four blood moons refer to eclipses at the start of the Jewish festivals of Passover and Sukkot (also called the Feast of Tabernacles), twice each, all in a row.

You might think that this is an incredible coincidence, but remember that these two holidays start on the day of a full moon by definition, and lunar eclipses can only happen during full moons. There are 2.3 lunar eclipses per year out of 12.4 full moons per year. (If more than two eclipses per year sounds high, remember that they don’t last long. If the eclipse is happening during the day in your part of the world, you obviously won’t see it.)

That any particular Passover or Sukkot begins with a lunar eclipse isn’t surprising, though four of these eclipsed holidays in a row is much less common.

Hagee puts on his prophet hat to interpret. He says that in the past five centuries, there have been three such events, and each has happened during an important event in the life of Israel. He said, “This is something that just is beyond coincidental.”

Time for audience participation

See if you can guess what three events are most important in the life of Israel since the fifteenth century. Guess what God rearranged the heavens to tell us.

Got your answer? Let’s see how you did.

And the first instance of four blood moons is …

We start in Spain in 1492. For this date, Christian history typically points to the end of the eight-century-long expulsion of the Muslims from Christian Spain. This “Reconquista” ended with the fall of Granada on January 2, 1492.

But no, Hagee says that God was focusing on the expulsion of Jews from Spain. The Edict of Expulsion was issued on March 31, 1492, and it gave Jews four months to leave. An estimated 100,000 Jews or more were forced to leave.

One small problem is that Hagee’s first blood moon didn’t happen until almost a year later (Passover, on April 2, 1493).

Remember that the “four blood moons” take about 18 months to play out (starting with a Passover and ending two Sukkots later). So God’s celestial show took place in slow motion after the problem had already come and gone.

Example two

Next up is the establishment of Israel on May 14, 1948. Okay, that sounds like a big development.

One small problem is that, once again, Hagee’s first blood moon didn’t happen until almost a year later (Passover, on April 14, 1949).

Example three

The last one was the Six-Day War, June 5–10, 1967. God must’ve been paying attention this time, because the first blood moon had already happened (on Passover, April 25, 1967).

But why this war? Since independence, Israel has had lots of conflicts. In particular, why not the Yom Kippur War in 1973? That war was a surprise, and there were more Israeli casualties.

And what about the Holocaust?! How does this not make the list? Israel lost less than 1000 dead and 4500 wounded during the Six-Day War. In the Holocaust, six million Jews were killed.

And God was apparently unmoved by any of the anti-Jewish pogroms. In Ukraine, for example, as many as a quarter million Jews were killed after the Bolshevik Revolution.

Let’s be clear, too, that the idea of “blood moon” = eclipse is Hagee’s invention. More importantly, the idea that eclipses occurring on Jewish holy days is meaningful in a cosmic sense is an invention. As is the idea of four in a row (instead of two or seven, say). “Four blood moons” is a marketing concept, not a biblical concept.

But we’ve just begun to laugh at Hagee’s expense, and there’s too much nutty stuff for one post.

Continue with part 2.

When you get the urge to predict the future,
better lie down until the feeling goes away.
Forbes magazine (1978)

Photo credit: Ares Nguyen

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Y. A. Warren

    how about we all accept that THAT world already ended and that the Hagees and atheists are the ones who were righteous enough to be the new world order. This world will, too, pass.

    • RichardSRussell

      You posit “this world” and “that world”, and they seem to come and go like a revolving charge account? Which planet are you from?

      • Y. A. Warren

        Earth, but I’m not sure how many cycles of “reincarnation” I may have been through, being such a “righteous” person in the eyes of “God.”

        • RichardSRussell

          Well, all motion is relative, of course, but it’s kind of an interesting concept to think that, when you die, it’s the world that goes away, not you. Still, quantum theory suggests that many things we think of as solid and enduring are in fact observer-dependent, so you may be on to something here.

        • Y. A. Warren

          I’ll go with that, if it quells all the ancient fear tactics of the Voo-Doo sorcerers and high priests. BTW, I am in New Orleans, where Roman Catholicism and Voo-Doo happily coexist.

  • Jason

    “One small problem is that Hagee’s first blood moon didn’t happen until almost a year later (Passover, on April 2, 1493).”

    Bob, are you saying that Hagee’s argument would hold water if the dates matched better? :) There are thousands upon thousands of astronomical phenomena every year (not to mention meteorological and geological, all of which prophets often point to). Finding a loose pattern like this is pretty easy for just about anything.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I’d say that Hagee’s argument would hold water better if the dates matched better, but it would still have a lo-o-o-ong way to go before it were plausible.

      Thrilling conclusion tomorrow!

      And good point about the mining of coincidences for meaning. Trouble is, that his algorithm finds the expulsion (no, not genocide of, expulsion of) Jews from Spain but misses the Holocaust kind of shoots the theory down right off the bat.

      • jonch

        FYI, Robert, the Six Days War is one of the most important wars in Israel history. That day we conquered the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank (aka Juedea and Samaria) and the Golan Heights. We returned Sinai to Egypt in the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979. To this day we still battle with those Syrian bastards about the Golan Heights. Also, the Jew expulsion is also a pretty important event.

        And yes, there are Israelis with perfect grammar. :)

        • JohnH2

          Also, the Temple Mount and the rest of Jerusalem.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Fair enough. But explain to me how this list of 3 items (Jewish expulsion from Spain, independence, and 6-Day War) are the top three in Jewish history in the last 500 years.

          OK–I’ll grant you that independence ranks up there. But not the Holocaust?

          Are you saying that this blood moons thing is compelling to you?

        • jonch

          No, I did not mean that. I simply enlightened why the Six Days War is very important. Sorry you misunderstood, but as a rational human being, it’s obvious to me coincidences don’t predict the future.
          Greets

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I don’t doubt that it’s very important.

        • JohnH2

          So are all these total eclipses or are partials included? If partials aren’t included what dates appear when including partials? Why stop at 1492?

          I looked up at least that part and there were 3 in the from 700-900 and one in the 160’s. If we restrict it to dates important to the jews I am not familiar enough to say, I don’t know of anything interesting happening then in Judaism. The Maya collapse was happening in the 700-900 range, and I still don’t know of anything interesting in world history in the 160’s.

          What about going further back? Say to 1000 BC, when else has it occurred? When will it next occur after now?

          Of what use is it when it occurs after the event? Were they all visible from a singular point on earth?

          What of triads and dyad’s and monad’s? They occur much more frequently so when have they occurred?

          It is moderately interesting that it occurs over the Sabbatical year. However, given that it was not prior to the previous events noticed or looked for and the variability it appears to be a data mined correlation. It also doesn’t give a solid prediction at all about what is supposed to occur. I would hate for some radical Jewish group to take it upon themselves to blow up the Dome of the Rock or something because of this “sign”.

          It is more interesting than anything Harold Camping has come up with, but what exactly are we supposed to be expecting to happen? It is vague and given the history it is also not something to rearrange ones life over. Obviously, I haven’t read the book and am mostly going off of what you wrote and the article so it is likely I am missing pieces that would make it most likely less interesting.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So are all these total eclipses or are partials included?

          They’re all total. (Here is a chart that shows the 1949/50 moons. This NASA site is a great resource and even notes the tetrads (4 totals in a row).

          If partials aren’t included what dates appear when including partials? Why stop at 1492?

          A partial isn’t red, so I assume that’s why it’s totals only.

          I bet that he did the research to find these coincidences before 1492 but found that he couldn’t handwave anything meaningful for those dates.

          It’s doable manually, but it’s a pain (otherwise I would’ve found them myself to make that point). I wonder if he even made an exhaustive list since 1492—it’d be amusing to find any that he omitted.

          I would hate for some radical Jewish group to take it upon themselves to blow up the Dome of the Rock or something because of this “sign”.

          Good point. This dude is just making money, but there can be worse consequences than simply shearing the sheep.

          It is more interesting than anything Harold Camping has come up with

          Well, now, let’s not beat up my ol’ pal Brother Camping. I’ve gotten a lot of material out of him!

        • JohnH2

          2033 has two eclipses be ‘blood moons’ and they are part of a Tetrad but the 2032 part doesn’t land on the right dates. Assuming the world doesn’t end prior to that point, I predict that there will be predictions of the world ending in 2033, can I get a book deal on predicting that there will be lots of predictions about 2033, or is that prediction too obvious?

          I believe this is a qualifying Tetrad:

          8270 1428 Mar 31 08:21:15 279 -7072 103 T -p 0.3013 2.2826 1.3273 313.4 202.5 77.2 7S 124W
          08271 1428 Sep 23 17:29:54 279 -7066 108 T -t -0.4230 2.1148 1.0492 352.5 209.1 35.6 3N 96E
          08272 1429 Mar 20 23:02:11 278 -7060 113 T p- -0.4312 2.0650 1.0683 323.0 198.1 39.5 4S 17E
          08273 1429 Sep 13 00:30:32 277 -7054 118 T a- 0.3250 2.2652 1.2579 333.2 209.1 72.8 0S 8W

          1382 almost counts, the last though wasn’t quite total.

          isn’t this one as well?

          1399 Apr 20 19:52:49 319 -7430 102 T -p -0.4017 2.1292 1.1127 336.0 205.8 51.3 15S 62E
          08204 1399 Oct 15 12:16:35 318 -7424 107 T -p 0.3135 2.3089 1.2570 350.3 215.6 74.5 12N 173E
          08205 1400 Apr 09 08:06:51 317 -7418 112 T a- 0.3562 2.1881 1.2202 316.9 201.2 66.5 10S 121W
          08206 1400 Oct 03 14:38:36 317 -7412 117 T t- -0.

          It doesn’t look like there is any qualifying tetrads between 1493 and 1949 but there does appear to be such tetrads prior to that point.

          Someone should write a script to search for these things.

        • Itarion

          All that script would do is let this guy become Nostradamus for the 4th millenium.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          A prediction that actually came true? Sounds like a winner!

          One of the tricks is making sure that you’re all using the right calendar. The Julian/Gregorian switch happened at various times. Yes, I agree that 1428 was before the switch (1582, at the earliest), but we must make sure that the internet sources for eclipse information and Passover/Sukkot dates are using the same calendar.

          Since Passover is the first full moon after the spring equinox, maybe NASA dates + spring equinox dates would be another way of approaching it.

          Did you match these dates against the Jewish festivals?

          Thanks for the tips on dates. I may revisit this topic in April–end of the world predictions are always fun.

        • JohnH2

          I tried to, I didn’t even think to check the calendar switch though and if the Jewish site was using the same one, They should probably be double checked with that in mind.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Hagee probably explains that the Israelis kicked ass in April, but at the time of the “blood moon” in June, they were still taking names.

        • JohnH2

          I think you have your dates flipped. Passover is in April, Six Day War in June.

  • http://batman-news.com Anton

    The quality of Hagee’s work will surely inspire the invention of the fail moon.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      John Hagee is literally screaming at the world. (No–I meant mooning. He’s literally mooning the world.)

      • http://batman-news.com Anton

        “Stuff is bad! Not like before!”

  • RichardSRussell

    Somewhere, Harold Camping is rolling his eyes.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      You mean he’s mad because he didn’t think of it first?!

  • http://www.dwnomad.com Dustin Williams

    With something so vague as “a world-shaking event” happening in a as broad of a period as 18 months, it will be easy for him to pick a hit. The problem he’ll have is what event to pick to be the fulfilment of that.

  • Pofarmer

    Meh. I’ve been reading Andrew Dickson White. This is the same thing, the EXACT same thing that christian Charlatans have been pulling, literally for centuries, to embroil the masses. You would think someone would catch on.

    • Itarion

      Well… You did. Congratulations, you cracked the code.

      • Pofarmer

        Do I get a cookie or something?

        Seriously though. Historical illiteracy is a horrible, horrible problem.

        • Itarion

          Yes. (.`:) It’s supposed to be chocolate chip, but it might be an oatmeal raisin.

          If you do not learn from the past/you mistakes, you are bound to repeat them.

          [Insert subject] illiteracy is a horrible, horrible problem.

    • wtfwjtd

      Definitely another example of SSDD. When I was a kid, The Big One was the “planetary alignment” that was supposed to be some super-rare astrological event that signaled the End of Days. This one was in 1982, and IIRC it was the charlatan Hal Lindsay that concocted it. Sad thing was, lots of people I knew bought into this tripe, including my parents. It really had a negative effect on my childhood, thinking that “the world was going to end” and that I’d never get to grow up and do cool adult stuff like everyone else. I mean, we really, really believed this. It’s hard to put the kool-aid down when everyone around you is guzzling it…and worst of all, forcing you as a child to drink it too.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      The founder of Cornell? I understand that he was very pro-science, but I’m not sure how he fits this context.

      • Pofarmer

        Yes, i have been reading one of the online versions of “on the history of the warfare between science and religion in Christendom”. (descriptive but not snappy). In the chapters about signs and wonders in the heavens, he talks about how preachers used things like Comets and eclipses to tell people how horribly bad they were, and that the world was ending so they better repent of their sinful, sinful ways.

  • http://thread-of-fire.tumblr.com/myblogs Brian Pansky

    ” he has been sending signals to planet earth, and we just haven’t been
    picking them up. … God is literally screaming at the world”

    it’s interesting to see when believers have ideas about communication i used to have.

    it places so much blame on the person who is supposed to receive the message. any competent communicator should know that it is the other way around, responsibility is quite heavy for the sender of the message to do a good job of that.

    this god character is actually really bad at basic communication. (in addition, with great power comes great responsibility)

    also, asserting that the heavens (or god) are “screaming”, when they are literally silent and very easy to ignore, not notice, or even forget, is outright dishonesty.

    • http://batman-news.com Anton

      asserting that the heavens (or god) are “screaming”, when they are
      literally silent and very easy to ignore, not notice, or even forget, is
      outright dishonesty.

      As silly as we all find Hagee’s work, I don’t necessarily think it’s true that the heavens are silent. Certainly they spoke very clearly to our ancestors, who worked out viable calendars from observing the constellations proceeding along the ecliptic. They didn’t have to know what stars were, they merely used their arrangements to conceptualize time.

      • http://thread-of-fire.tumblr.com/myblogs Brian Pansky

        nothing you said makes a case for communication, rather you are talking about utilization. they aren’t even close to being the same thing. shoehorning the words “spoke very clearly” into your sentence doesn’t change that.

        plus you are talking about past people, but i was under the impression that hagee is saying that the present people are the ones being screamed at.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Easy now. I wasn’t saying that God is talking to us through the stars or anything. I just wanted to point out that we derive knowledge of the universe through observation, and the sky has indeed provided such knowledge.

    • wtfwjtd

      If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it really make a sound? If a god is screaming at the world and no one hears it, is (s)he really making any sound at all?

      • http://thread-of-fire.tumblr.com/myblogs Brian Pansky

        you seem to be responding to my last paragraph, and disagreeing in some way.

        for the record, my last paragraph had to do with how reasonable an expectation it is for such a message to be received. it seemed to me hagee was using the word “screaming” to imply it being very noticeable. i also thought it was like when believers say “it’s obvious god exists, just look at the trees and stuff”, i think a passage in the bible says non-believers have no excuse. saying something is obvious seems like a way of blaming the people that disagree, or something.

        i’m not saying the god must not be making any sound at all. i’m saying the god is not being as obvious and attention-grabbing as had been implied by hagee. and he should be embarrassed about the communication skills his god has.

        • wtfwjtd

          Brian, sometimes snark doesn’t translate too well on forums. I have no disagreement with anything in your post above. I definitely agree, if this is the best communication method that the Christian god can muster, he must be a very poor communicator.

        • http://thread-of-fire.tumblr.com/myblogs Brian Pansky

          oh 😛

  • Itarion

    One small problem is that Hagee’s first blood moon didn’t happen until almost a year later (Passover, on April 2, 1493).

    Quick, what happened bad for the Jewish people about a year ago?

    Who is he trying to kid? They’ve been just a few hundred miles from a warzone for the last decade, and IN a warzone for no small part of that.

    • JohnH2

      ” what happened bad for the Jewish people about a year ago?”

      Or good.

      • Itarion

        Point is, there’s nothing that will really stand out coming up. Although a conclusive finalization of the Israel-Palestine peace talks would make me give this a second thought.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Didn’t they already give out a Nobel Peace Prize for that?

          Any finalized peace process could be un-finalized. I would think that 20 years of peace after such a settlement would be enough to call this issue resolved, but I fear that we would be kidding ourselves if we thought it couldn’t get undone beforehand.

        • Itarion

          Hence “conclusive”. You know, the peace talk to end all peace talks, if you will.

        • JohnH2

          “a conclusive finalization of the Israel-Palestine peace talks”
          I assume a conclusive finalization of the peace talks that leads to peace is desired as opposed to a conclusive finalization that leads to total war of extermination.

        • Itarion

          Finalization, not termination. Although either permanent peace by death or mutual agreement would stand out, albeit in slightly different ways.

  • Itarion

    Here’s a clever idea: proclaim that the world will end soon and that only your book has the details. I’m kicking myself for not bringing that into the mix for my own book.

    As in your book doesn’t proclaim the end of the world, but should have; or as in your characters don’t, but should have?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I was thinking the former, but whatever brings in the sales.

      That’s Hagee’s strategy. I’m guessing he’ll ring up more sales than I will.

      Kids, I’m afraid that today’s lesson is that sensational BS sells.

      • Itarion

        Well, that, and the relative sizes of the target audiences. There are far too many literate idiots.

        That said, I read some of the excerpts you posted. It’s very good. But I’m waiting to read it in one go. I love the feel paper in my hands.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I’m a real-paper kind of guy myself. I like to be able to add notes to the margin (how else can I correct the author??).

        • Itarion

          Adobe reader has a notes option in their latest version, if you can get your hands [or your computers analogue to hands] on a PDF.

          It’s still not the same.

  • Amy Aletheia Cahill

    I debunked Hagee’s video on this (since I didn’t read the book) on Facebook with glee. HOWEVER, he is correct about Israeli Independence Day, one of the biggest dates in Israeli history. That happened on May 14th, 1948. The first moons of the tetrad falling on Passover (April 23rd, 1948) and Sukkot (October 18th, 1948) happened in 1948, NOT 1949. My sources are NASA ant the Jewish calendar. So he got that one right.


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