Does God act through signs of nature?
While some Christian leaders debate whether the current celestial tetrad phenomenon — four blood moons in two years — signals the end of times, ahead of this Friday’s once-in-100,000-years full solar eclipse over the North Pole, a fledgling Israeli-American interfaith organization is ascribing to the heavenly displays a decidedly optimistic and universal spin.
Blood moons are full lunar eclipses in which the sun’s rays entering through the earth’s atmosphere make for a red, or blood-like appearance. Two instances of the current tetrad have already occurred, on April 15, 2014 (the Jewish Passover) and October 8, 2014 (Sukkot, or the Feast of the Tabernacles). The next blood moon is scheduled for April 4, 2015, the first day of Passover this year and two weeks after the upcoming solar eclipse.
According to popular American evangelical Pastor John Hagee, the blood moons are historically linked with a time period “that begins with a tragedy and ends with a triumph” for the Jewish people.
The Spanish expulsion of its Jews and discovery of the New World in 1492, the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and the Six Day War in 1967 are all examples of triumph overcoming tragedy, said Hagee. This epic saga will be presented in a movie based on his book, “Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change,” which is to be screened in select theaters on March 23.
In an interview with CBN News on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Hagee claimed that in each era marked by this tetrad phenomena, “there’s a sense in the world that things are changing and God is trying to communicate with us in a supernatural way.”
‘I believe that in these next two years, we’re going to see something dramatic happen in the Middle East involving Israel’
“I believe that in these next two years, we’re going to see something dramatic happen in the Middle East involving Israel that will change the course of history in the Middle East and impact the whole world,” said Hagee, the head of the 1.3 million-strong Christians United for Israel organization he founded in 2006.
The two upcoming blood moons, Hagee said, are likely linked to Iran and the United State’s role in negotiating a nuclear deal. As reported by JTA, Hagee’s CUFI organization recently published full-page ads urging undecided Democrat senators to back a bill mandating congressional approval of any Iran nuclear deal.
“The only reason that Iran will not acquire a nuclear bomb will be that Israel chooses a military solution to that crisis,” Hagee said in the CBN interview.
“I believe that if that happens, it will start a series of events that will change the course of world history,” he said.
But not all take this semi-doomsday approach.
‘Every time one of these [tetrads] has come along, there has been a new opportunity, a new path, for the Jews’
The founders of a website devoted to Israeli Jews teaching Christians around the world see the heavenly displays as God’s way of marking milestones. They have scheduled two minutes of prayer at Jerusalem’s Western Wall during a full solar eclipse over the North Pole.
“When I put aside theories and just look at history, every time one of these [tetrads] has come along, there has been a new opportunity, a new path, for the Jews,” said Bob O’Dell from Austin, Texas, who has studied the phenomenon for 35 years.
O’Dell, a Christian American who founded Root Source with his partner, Israel-based Orthodox Jew Gidon Ariel, said, “In my experience, the worst things happen before the blood moons, not after.”
These lunar and solar eclipses are “almost like the opening and closing of a chapter,” with “big picture religious meaning,” he said.
“It seems to me that God does use natural events to signal his love — it’s not about trying to smash people with the hammer of judgment and stuff,” he said. “The Judeo-Christian view is he cares.”
To O’Dell these natural phenomena present a chance for existential questioning of the contemporary world.
‘It seems to me that God does use natural events to signal his love — it’s not about trying to smash people with the hammer of judgement and stuff’
As described in a popular Breaking Israel News article late last week, Ariel intends to pray during the two minutes of Friday’s solar eclipse over the North Pole (at 12:18 p.m. in Jerusalem) alongside potentially hundreds of Christian tourists.
The partners said the lunar eclipse, used by the Jewish sages as a metaphor for a prophecy for the Jewish people, two weeks after a solar eclipse, which signals a message for all other nations, could mean we’re embarking upon a period of potential universalist understanding.
Ariel has chosen to mark the solar eclipse’s path over water and mountainous ice on Friday through the recitation of Isaiah 11:9: “None will harm or destroy another on My entire holy mountain, for the land will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea is filled with water.”
Ariel, who eschews the term “interfaith” and instead calls himself a “Christian-Jewish friendship cultivator,” said he is just a regular American Orthodox immigrant who during his army service became interested in Christian supporters of Israel after seeing posters for the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.
He told The Times of Israel that the topic is “engaging the imagination of Christians worldwide, who have a very next-world centric” way of thinking.
‘I think it is the Jewish people’s mission to spread the knowledge of God, to be a light unto the nations’
“I think it is the Jewish people’s mission to spread the knowledge of God, to be a light unto the nations. Now in the State of Israel, we’ve developed to a position in which we can be more active in that and share the ideas of ethical monotheism,” said Ariel, who is also the founder of the Facebook group Jews Who Love Christians Who Love Jews (And The Christians Who Love Them).
The two minutes of prayer, which Ariel will lead at the Southern Wall on the corner of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, has generated a lot of interest from Christian tourist groups, said Ariel.
“It’s astounding how people have been interested. We’ve received thousands of emails,” he said.
‘It’s astounding how people have been interested. We’ve received thousands of emails’
Although a spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry said in reference to the tetrad it “is not aware of any spike in Christian tourism related to this natural phenomenon,” it would be admittedly difficult to discern since tourism in general marks an uptick during the Jewish holidays, which is when the blood moons occur.
Whether or not Hagee’s more dire predictions about an irrevocably changed Middle East will come true, for the Roots Source team the important thing is that people are discussing the matter.
As Texan O’Dell laughingly told The Times of Israel, God “loves a mystery from time to time so we can all argue about it, tweet and Facebook, and have some fun trying to see if he’s up to something.”