Four Blood Moons: Revisiting John Hagee’s Embarrassing Failure

Four Blood Moons: Revisiting John Hagee’s Embarrassing Failure November 15, 2019

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.

Astronomical background

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.

(For further detail on Hagee’s ill-advised dabblings into prophecy, I’ve written more here. And about his movie. And about what actually makes a good prophecy.)

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.

There’s a sucker born every minute.
Barnum 3:16

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(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 9/25/15.)

Image from krheesy, CC license
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  • Michael Murray

    Ambrosia ? Yes please. Ah! I needed that. Busy day ? Oh yes I’ve been reviewing the drafts
    of the final year projects. Young Zeus has done a nice job with his mountain. But poor young YAHWEH he really is hopeless. I wonder if he’s cut out for being a Creator sometimes. He had his planet’s moon 5 degrees of the ecliptic! So I said “Well I don’t know about you but that’s not
    what we call fine-tuning at this School for Gods and Creators”. He keeps insisting he wants to graduate at Universe Creator Level. Sigh. What? Patience? Yes I know it’s a virtue. But somedays I feel like I’ve been working here for an eternity. What ? I have ? Oh yes. Well I guess that explains it.

    • What I sometimes consider like to consider is “If this particular claimed fine tuning trait were not present, would people consider that evidence that there is not a creator?” Usually I think the answer is “No” – and yet if some of the traits that are not present were, it’s not hard to imagine people claiming them as proof of said creator.

      On this and related to this post, my denomination makes a massive deal of the return of Israel to their land – it basically feels like their number one apologetic. And yet I’m pretty sure if they hadn’t taken control in 1948, or if the state had later failed, they wouldn’t be going “Oh, the prophecies have all failed, we must all deconvert and join another religion or become atheists”. I’m not sure why I should accept their prophecies that work as “conclusive” when they wouldn’t accept the prophecies that fail as evidence God’s hand is not at work…

      Earth’s not bad, though, and the fjords are pretty nice. Deservedly won an award for their creator. 😉

      • Michael Murray

        Ah yes young Slarti – one of our best students.

      • Consider that the vast majority of the univers is inhospitable to Earth-based life and you can see that any sort of fine tuning doesn’t exist anywhere we’ve seen yet. Given the number of exoplanets that have been found, the only conclusion is that if there is a fine-tuner, he’s pretty inefficient considering the number of planets that were made before he got it right.

        • Len

          Most of planet earth is inhospitable to earth-based life. Some of it can survive in places other than where it currently exists but not much. For example: fresh versus salt water sea life, warm versus cold climate animals. And don’t even think about humans getting by in the harsh bits of our “specially designed planet”.

    • Otto

      Sounds like someone hasn’t lived up to their full potential…

    • NSAlito

      Can’t remember the name of the young YouTube snot* who claimed that the perfectly circular orbit of Earth around the Sun was somehow proof of God’s design.

      ____
      *”viperfang”?

      • Greg G.

        After sleeping on it, “VenomFangX” came to me this morning.

        • NSAlito

          Thanks!

        • Greg G.

          Không có chi.

          I should have worded that better. The name came into my mind not that VFX came to me in person.

    • Jim Baerg

      If you are interested in what a solar system fined tuned for life would actually look like: read this series
      https://planetplanet.net/the-ultimate-solar-system/

  • Jim Jones

    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.)

    Trump formally announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015. And all 6hell9 was let loose.

    • Otto

      That would be more aptly named the Four Brown Moons since it has been such a sh!tshow.

      • Jim Jones

        The Four Horsemen of the ‘Apocollapse’.

        It’s almost incomprehensible how bad Trump is. I can’t think of a single redeeming quality.

        • NSAlito

          Mortality?

        • Jim Jones

          Not nearly soon enough.

    • Pastor Hagee would probably disagree that Trump is a bad thing. In other words, it was thoughtful of you to try to salvage Hagee’s bullshit, but he won’t be reaching for this life preserver.

      • Jim Jones

        Trump is a toad, a poisonous toad.

  • Michael Neville

    Does Hagee explain the significance of the number four? There have been thousands of lunar eclipses since the 1st Century, why is the tetrad so important?

    • Sure–why not three lunar eclipses in a row? Why not a lunar and a solar close together?

      His story doesn’t even make a clever coincidence since his dates don’t actually line up with significant historical events the way he claims.

  • Greg G.

    I flew over the North Pole in a plane during the fourth of those full moons. I survived.

    • NSAlito

      I bet you really didn’t, and only your ghost is posting here.

      • Greg G.

        Now I feel like Bruce Willis.

        • Chamber

          “I see dead people *shudders* on sticks”

  • Rational Human

    Failure? Yes. “Embarassing”? For who??? These hucksters are incapable of embarrassment
    or shame.

  • flexilis

    I had a couple of acquaintances who really got into the 4 blood moons craze. They were conspiracy fans in general, and also into Christian Judaism or Hebraic Christianity or something. They cautioned me not to travel on the Shemitah. One suggested I get out of the stock market before SOMETHING happened.

    What a deflation of their concerns. Amazingly I never heard another word from them on the subject. There is always a new conspiracy to fill their need for relevance.

  • Michael Murray

    Is this a particularly American thing this kind of conspiracy craziness ? Or do we just hear the American version because of your domination of a lot of global media and culture ?

    • NSAlito

      I hear such nonsense from India, Africa and Southeast Asia.

      I remember a commentary in The Economist when they were discussing the surprisingly large population of Creationists in the US (before the Dover trial). It included a reference to British readers who might laugh at the Americans before turning to the horoscope page.

      Europe seems to be bigger on homeopathy and faux arguments against GMOs.

  • NSAlito

    The pulpit-pounders’ interest in seemingly nonreligious things tends to correspond to news trends and popular memes. Thus, they leverage pre-existing Internet/Facebook interest in “blood moon” coverage, the Trinity from fidget spinners, some “shockingly immoral” item extracted from heavily-promoted Disney movies, etc.

  • carbonUnit

    Because the plane that the moon rotates revolves around the Earth in is off by five degrees from
    the ecliptic (the plane defined by the orbit of the earth around the
    sun)…

    Rotation has to do with an object spinning on its axis.

    • eric

      The moon does spin on it’s axis. Once per orbit around the Earth. 🙂

      • “its”, not “it’s”.

        • Greg G.

          …if we want to be pedantic. But who doesn’t?

    • Fixed, thanks.

      • carbonUnit

        On reflection, perhaps the word ‘orbits’ would work better than revolves. I went with revolves reflexively because getting rotates and revolves confused is a common mistake. Its It’s one of those pedantic things… 😛

        • I know the revolves/rotates distinction, but, like homonyms, it sometimes comes out wrong.

          Good point about orbits. That’s a more distinct word and may be clearer.

  • Marc Weeks

    Hagee himself is a “flabby hypothesis.”

  • Jane Ravenswood

    time to stone the false prophet. Poor Christians, all waiting for the magic end times so their sadistic fantasies come true. And all will die knowing that it was a lie.