Will the world end when an eclipse turns the moon blood red in parts of the world this month? Fringe groups of Messianic Jews and evangelical Christians aren’t sure, but they believe “something will probably happen” when the Super Blood Moon arrives on the night of September 27-28.
Patricia Hughes, a member of a Messianic Jewish group in the small city of Timaru, New Zealand, shared her best guesses with a local paper:
“I think in September lots of things will happen … maybe financial collapse,” Hughes said.
She also points out that this month is the 14th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, when the Twin Towers in New York were bombed by terrorists. The anniversary was double the perfect number according to Judaism, which is seven.
“I’m trying to stock up a bit of food just in case.”
In addition to dubiously lining up with Jewish mystical numerology, the eclipse and full moon will coincide with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot is a fairly lighthearted festival in which Jews build and decorate temporary shelters and celebrate the harvest. Astronomer Alan Gilmore says it’s not a big surprise that this dramatic full moon will appear during Sukkot, since the Jewish calendar is lunar.
Some of Christianity’s wackier elements have been predicting gloom and doom in the wake of the blood moon for years, especially since this eclipse will be the fourth of a “tetrad” of similar eclipses that have occurred over the past year and a half. On Twitter and YouTube, crackpots are connecting the series of eclipses to the recent stock market instability or fretting that Pope Francis‘ visit to the United States during the blood moon is part of an Antichrist conspiracy.
The most notable end times nut job to set his sights on this month’s cool astronomical event is Pastor John Hagee, who preaches that this month’s completion of the tetrad fulfills a Biblical prophecy.
In promotion for his 2013 book “Four Blood Moons,” Christian minister John Hagee claimed that the tetrad was a signal being sent by God.
“The coming four blood moons points to a world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015,” he said.
The reference to the impact is most direct in Joel 2:30-31, which reads, “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.”
This is, of course, a load of alarmist nonsense. Bob Seidensticker of Cross Examined has debunked Hagee’s claims in detail, but astronomers have a simpler response to his apocalyptic predictions. According to astronomy website EarthSky, clusters of eclipses are uncommon but hardly unique. There will be eight “tetrads” of eclipses during the 21st century. While it is unusual for a tetrad to coincide with major Jewish holidays like Sukkot and Passover, this isn’t a unique occurrence, either — the last time it happened was less than fifty years ago, in 1967 and 1968. The prophecies that Hagee cites have been fulfilled three times in the last hundred years and at least five more times since the Biblical verses were originally written.
The religious fringe might be off-base about the apocalyptic meaning of the Super Blood Moon, but they’re right to look forward to it. The eclipse will bring a giant, glowing red moon shortly after sundown in the Western Hemisphere and between midnight and sunrise in most of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
It’s unlikely to signal the end of the world, but it’s a great time to look up at the sky and enjoy a beautiful, rare natural phenomenon.
(Image via Shutterstock)