Televangelist windbags get away with too much. Let’s hold their feet to the fire. Today, let’s revisit John Hagee’s nonsensical Four Blood Moons hoax.
It was useful, of course—useful to Pastor Hagee in shearing the flock of their money and keeping them subservient to his “Oh dear, oh dear, the end is nigh!” message. While this was important to him, it wasn’t helpful to those of us who care about truth.
Hagee’s four scary lunar eclipses ran from April 2014 to October 2015. (Do you remember any world news during that period much more noteworthy than usual for an 18-month period? Me neither.) So weak was his story that not only was there no scientific evidence that anything dramatic should’ve been expected, the Bible itself couldn’t even support his claims.
Because the plane that the moon orbits in is off by five degrees from the ecliptic (the plane defined by the orbit of the earth around the sun), an opportunity for either lunar or solar eclipses only happens twice a year. Lunar eclipses are quite common, with total lunar eclipses somewhat less so. Much less likely is a total eclipse and then six months later, another, and then another, and then another—four total lunar eclipses over 18 months. Since the year 1 CE, there have been 57 such “tetrads.”
Why are these eclipses interesting religiously?
Now consider the religious connection. The Jewish festivals of Passover and Sukkot begin on full moons, and they are also six months apart. A lunar eclipse tetrad can line up with them—four lunar eclipses on successive Passovers or Sukkots—and there have been eight such alignments since 1 CE, with the last concluding in 2015.
What’s the religious significance of this alignment? None. Joel 2:30–31 talks about the moon turning to blood, but there is nothing about four of them, so Christian Zionist opportunist John Hagee invented a connection. Since total eclipses usually look red, he calls a lunar eclipse tetrad that aligns with the Jewish festivals “four blood moons,” and he says they line up with significant events in Jewish history. He argues his theory by looking at the three alignments that preceded the most recent one (the dates below are of the first eclipse in the tetrad).
- 1967 was the Six-Day War
- 1949 was the establishment of Israel
- 1493 was the expulsion of the Jews from Spain
The sharp-eyed reader will notice that the Jews were actually expelled from Spain one year earlier. The date for the establishment of Israel is also off. Omnipotent God apparently isn’t so good at lining things up.
Apparently, Hagee’s hypothesis was that tetrads mean either good or bad things happening to the Jewish people, with the date a little fuzzy. Note also that not all significant events get a tetrad. The Holocaust during World War II is glaringly absent. God’s message then becomes, “Something good or bad will soon happen to the Jewish people, or has happened, and I might’ve missed a few.” I have far higher standards for Hagee’s god than Hagee does.
What about those tetrads that were omitted?
It gets worse when we consider the four ignored alignments, which began in the years 162, 795, 842, and 860. Hagee doesn’t bother wondering what God was saying with these, because they don’t support his flabby hypothesis. But if God wanted to point to important events for the Jewish people, obvious candidates would have included the three Jewish-Roman Wars. Hagee apparently doesn’t credit his flock with much knowledge, but even they will know the first omission.
- The First Jewish-Roman War (66 – 74 CE) included the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70, the deaths of 1.1 million Jews (according to Josephus), and the enslavement of the survivors.
- The Kitos War (115 – 117 CE) began with ethnic Judeans outside of Palestine rising up to slaughter Roman soldiers and noncombatants—reportedly half a million. The empire violently put down the revolt.
- The Bar Kokhba Revolt (132 – 136 CE) was, like the First War, conducted in Judea. One source called it a genocide and more significant in damaging Judaism in Judea than the First War.
Piling on with more apocalypse fear
This recent tetrad provided an opportunity for opportunists like Hagee to pile on more stuff with vague, unsupported claims that it is meaningful to Christianity or Judaism says.
- The last year in a seven-year cycle in the Jewish calendar is a Shemitah year, and Hagee’s tetrad included such a year (which ended 9/13/15). Shemitah is a time to let the land go fallow and forgive debts with fellow Jews. Some said that this was meaningful, but Wikipedia says, “There is little notice of the observance of this year in Biblical history and it appears to have been much neglected.” And why imagine divine wrath when Shemitah is a time of forgiveness?
- This entire celestial farce was invisible in Israel, with the exception of the final lunar eclipse.
- Four days before the last of Hagee’s eclipses was the September 23, 2015 apocalypse. Oddly, that didn’t happen, either.
Perhaps the real calamity is the gullibility of Christians who give credence to charlatans like Hagee.
Let’s conclude by trying to figure out what’s actually supposed to happen in part 2.
— Barnum 3:16
(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 9/25/15.)
Image from krheesy, CC license