If you’re watching the news, you may be looking forward to a total lunar eclipse on Sunday evening, September 27. The first moon of Autumn is called a Harvest Moon–but this year, because the moon’s orbit brings it closer to Earth than usual, it’s called a “super moon.” What that means–what I got to see, to my delight, at about 6:30 this morning!–is that it appears 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than normal.
WXYZ-TV in Detroit gives this information about when to see the eclipse:
It will almost look like the moon is gone from our view and then the real treat begins!
The moon will appear full again, but it will have a orange or reddish coloring. This “blood moon” should have this hue for a little over an hour.
Then, it will transition back to the shadowed phase before the moon is full and white again. The total lunar eclipse , visible from the Americas, Europe, Africa, west Asia and the east Pacific, will be the result of the Sun, Earth for just over an hour.
The lunar eclipse will begin at 8:11 p.m.
The peak or maximum orange hue will take place at 10:47 p.m.
The orange “blood” hue over the moon will end at 11:25 p.m. and the total eclipse wrapping up at 1:22 a.m.
And if you can’t get a clear view from your window, NASA will be live-streaming the eclipse here.
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BUT DOES THE ECLIPSE SIGNAL THE END OF THE WORLD?
But for some conservative Christians, especially Mormons, the eclipse of the super moon has a special significance, beyond its scientific importance: For them, it signals the beginning of the end of the world.
In March 2014, Pastor Mark Biltz of Elshaddai Ministries in Tacoma, Washington, started an explosion of end-times prophecy by publishing his book Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs. Pastor Biltz believed that this eclipse–called a “tetrad” because there have been four “blood moons” (red-hued lunar eclipses) in short succession–signals an impending cataclysmic end of the world. He finds support for his theory in scripture and, interestingly, in the stock market. Biltz also believes that other tetrads which have occurred in the last 2,000 years all have special significance to the nation of Israel: the formation of the Jewish state in 1948, the Six-Day War for Jerusalem in May 1967, all the way back to the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492.
John Hagee, pastor of the Cornerstone “superchurch” in San Antonio, Texas, has also promoted the idea that this particular eclipse was a prelude to significant events. In his book Four Blood Moons, Hagee hinted of “the Rapture.” Speaking to his congregation, he said,
“Lift up your head and rejoice your redemption draws now. The church is soon to leave the king is coming. We’re getting ready to leave.”
Since that time, though, Hagee has taken a step back, perhaps hedging his bets. In his most recent book Three Heavens, Hagee explains that the earth will be in “dark times” for the rest of 2015 and into 2016 following the Blood Moon “signs.”
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In my recent article in the National Catholic Register, I talked about other Last-Days prophets, some current ones as well as some past prophets whose ministries have faltered when the world didn’t end as they had predicted.
I also laid out the Catholic view of the end-times which claims, along with Scripture, that Jesus will return not twice, as Rapture theology claims, but only once at the Last Judgment. You can read that article here.
But let’s, if you don’t mind, take a step back.
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WHAT IF THE WORLD REALLY DID END ON SEPTEMBER 28?
I believe it’s an important possibility to reflect upon, because I know this: that for some of us, life on this earth really WILL end on that day.
Some who draw their last breath on September 28 may today be suffering from a debilitating and lengthy illness, and may have an awareness that their personal end is near.
Others walk among us, tall and strong, without realizing that on September 28 a car will careen across the freeway, bouncing off the guard rail and ending in their path; or a gunman will carry out his ill-conceived mission in a local restaurant, firing into the crowded diner with no regard for human life. Some may fall from a bridge, or drown in a pool, or may find themselves as pedestrians in the path of a bus with malfunctioning brakes.
Most of us will live on, blissfully unaware of dangers that we narrowly escaped with the grace of God.
But if we don’t die on September 28, it begs the larger question: What if we leave this life on the 29th, or the day after that? Because we all–every single one of us–are surely dying, each day coming 24 hours closer to the time when we will leave our earthly home to stand before God.
One really good thing about Rapture theology is that it encourages believers to “be ready”–to turn their hearts toward God. It’s so easy to get caught up in the events of the age, seeking entertainment or pleasure or success or financial gain, without taking time to ponder what’s really important.
I believe that the urgent cries of Rapture theologians are just so much hooey and that, as Jesus said in Matthew 24:36, no man knows the day or the hour.
But does that mean we should just party on? I think you’re too smart for that.
Let us pray.