Credit Fred Espenak; click image for Mr Eclipse website
Today is Passover 5774, which commenced at sundown yesterday. This is a rare occasion when Hebrew and Gregorian calendars coincide for this feast on 15th day of Nissan and 15th April. Their general lack of synchronisation arises from being based upon lunar and solar cycles respectively, as well as their different ways of accounting for cyclic gaps, or leap years in our solar calendar.
I want to give an overview to this topic in view of many references to the ‘tetrad’ of four consecutive lunar eclipses happening on the major Jewish feast days. I’ll also close with some personal observations. Also, out of respect for this holy week I will abbreviate references to G-d in the Hebrew fashion.
Not unlike the secular world, Jews use two kinds of calendars. The civil New Year is counted from Rosh Hashanah in Sept-Oct. The sacred year, from which festivals are computed, starts this month with the slim sliver of a new moon. Their seasonal festivals were started when the Hebrew slaves were set free to leave Egypt and were celebrated annually according to the Lord’s detailed instructions given to Moses. This is given in part below with emphases added to show these are not to be regarded as being Jewish alone but were ordained because they belong to the Lord Himself.:
“Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: ‘The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts…which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.
On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD ; seven days you must eat unleavened bread…” (Leviticus 23:2 & 5,6 NKJV per BibleGateway)
The Hebrew of ‘appointed time’ is mo ‘ed, the root of which ya’ad, means to ‘set’ or ‘fix’. The first occurrence is in Genesis 1:14 where the stars and heavenly bodies are created to serve as ‘seasons’ (mo’adim) and as ‘signs’ – hence the significance to a consideration of Passover and last night’s lunar eclipse, and upcoming ones.
Passover commemorates the freedom gained by the ancient Israelites when they were saved from death by having daubed lamb’s blood upon the door-posts of their homes. As a result of Pharaoh’s steadfast refusal to release them to go with Moses to worship G-d, the ‘angel of death’ visited all Egypt’s first-born of man and beast but ‘passed over’ homes where the blood appeared. It was the culminating plague that befell the major power in the Middle East as a result of a clash between its god, Pharoah, and the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had revealed Himself to Moses (Exodus 1-11 refers).
The book of Exodus continues with very specific instructions Moses and his brother Aaron were given as to what to do that dreadful night, and that the people were to commemorate it as a feast of observation throughout all generations. Thus, it’s an everlasting occasion instituted and recognised by G-d and is the first of several annual festivals.
The Lord’s Feasts (Leviticus 23)
- Feast of Passover
- Feast of Unleavened Bread
- Feast of First Fruits
- Feast of Weeks (Shavu’ot or Pentecost)
- Feast of Trumpets (at Rosh Hashanah)
- Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
- Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot)
In the 1970s Rev John Kilpatrick, pastor of Church of His Presence, recognised the importance and value of these festivals for Christians. The first three occur over eight consecutive days and, with the fourth, occur in the Spring. Their main focus is upon entering G-d’s rest. The others occur in the Autumn/Fall and focus upon entering G-d’s protection.
The first four feasts were also foundational in establishing the Church, or Ecclesia, the body of believers in Messiah Jesus. The next three will relate to the resurrection of the dead ‘at the last trump’ and return of Christ in person to reign and rule.
Despite the flexibility of the Hebrew calendar in adjusting for ‘leap years’, the period between first and last major annual festivals, Passover and Tabernacles, remains constant.
Jesus and the first and a future Passover
Jesus’ ‘last supper’ was a private celebration with His apostles within hours of Him giving up His own life. The bread and wine they shared were those of the Passover Seder, or meal, as recorded by that diligent commentator Luke:
“With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:15-16 NKJV)
And similarly for an associated cup of wine which, with the bread, Jesus said are to be regarded as His body and blood: thus specifically identifying Him as the Passover Lamb.
Jesus was not only keen to celebrate Passover – He will do so once again! This will presumably be upon His return – or am I misreading that straightforward text?
Luke also recorded that, after His resurrection from the dead, Jesus taught the disciples in depth about the kingdom and promised their baptism in the Holy Spirit. So they logically asked Him how soon it will be before the kingdom is set up and restored to Israel.
However, He told them (not upbraided them, as some think!) it’s not for them to know because that’s all in the Father’s hands but there’s a far more important mission for them – being empowered as witnesses of His Good News in taking it to the ends of the earth. Anyway, Jesus already knew His prophecy about Jerusalem being surrounded, the holy Temple demolished and the city trampled upon by Gentile armies was less than four decades away. Therefore, His Kingdom wouldn’t be based in Jerusalem.
Blood-red lunar eclipses
First, it’s important to note that the fact the first Jewish month of the agricultural and sacred calendar starts at new moon and the Passover follows 14 days later, means a full moon always features at Passover. Yet lunar eclipses are infrequent because the moon’s orbit is slightly tilted to the plane of the earth’s orbit around the sun – the ecliptic.
Only total eclipses are red because the only light has been refracted through the earth’s atmosphere, rather like why sunsets are red. (See images at link 3 below.)
As noted in Why I’m Watching, Jesus instructed all believers to watch for signs that would indicate His return is getting very close. Luke noted Jesus’ words, (shown in part only):
“…For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken…” (Luke 21 NKJV)
This reiterated and thereby endorsed what OT prophet Joel had written 9 centuries earlier about the Day of the Lord. And it was repeated to astonished witnesses of the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the Lord’s following feast of Pentecost, as stated by Apostle Peter,
…The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord… (Joel 2:31)
Therefore, we can understand why many are excited about such signs not only happening on a dedicated Jewish feast day but also when a tetrad of lunar eclipses, together with a solar eclipse, occur in sequence one after the other – it’s astonishing!
FURTHERMORE, somehow the oscillating plane of the moon’s orbit around us just so happens to wobble into the same plane as the earth and the sun (the ecliptic), thereby enabling the moon to enter the earth’s shadow on a few selected and special days. That implies an intelligent designer has synchronised those movements to occur on specific and exceptionally rare days only!
But if the hand of G-d is involved then we do need to take serious note. William Koenig comments and provides a timeline of events:
There has been a tremendous amount of discussion about this phenomenon by Pastor Mark Biltz (and others)…The fact that these events have occurred on the first day of Passover and Sukkoth in back-to-back years only seven previous times combined with the challenges the Jewish people were facing during those times is noteworthy and significant.
- April 15, 2014 – Blood-red moon – First day of Passover (visible: Australia, Pacific, Americas).
- Sept. 25, 2014 — The sabbatical year in the seven-year cycle (2008 to 2015) begins on Rosh Hashanah, and ends on Rosh Hashanah on Sept. 13-14, 2015 — the day of a partial solar eclipse.
- Oct. 8, 2014 – Blood-red moon – First day of Sukkot (visible: Asia, Australia, Pacific, Americas).
- April 4, 2015 – Blood-red moon – First day of Passover (visible: Asia, Australia, Pacific, Americas)
- Sept. 13-14, 2015 — A seven-year cycle that began on Rosh Hashanah on Sept. 30, 2008, ends on Rosh Hashanah. The sabbatical year from 2014 ends here, too.
- Sept. 13, 2015 (Elul 29, 5776) – Rosh Hashanah starts with partial solar eclipse.
- Sept. 23, 2015 (Tishrei 10, 5777) – Year of Jubilee proclaimed on Yom Kippur.
- Sept. 28, 2015 – Blood-red moon – First Day of Sukkot (visible: Eastern Pacific, Americas, Europe, Africa, Western Asia). This moon will be a super “blood-red” moon. It will look enormous and will shine over Jerusalem. My wife and I were driving into Jerusalem last June during a similar super-moon. It was enormous, breathtaking and appeared over half of Jerusalem. I can only imagine what an enormous super blood-red moon will look like over the city.
[In that newsletter William also refers to the historically significant ‘days of infamy’ for the USA of 19-20 April, as well as globally. See Further Reading #7 below. Jewish dates updated 6 Aug 2015 per Aish.com]
For a good, concise summary of John Kilpatrick’s and John Hagee’s claims check out Aimee Herd’s summary Watching God’s Heavens – what is He saying through blood moon tetrads and solar eclipses? As a regular listener to the first, I noted that pastor Kilpatrick doesn’t claim any prophetical mandate for teaching upon this matter but stresses, “I’m just a watcher, which is what Jesus told us to do” – like me!
One may easily object that only one of these eclipses will be visible from Israel and so the notion of a tetrad of influentially significant ‘blood moons’ is nonsense.
But that fact may mean only the last eclipse is applicable to Israel, and the others may be relevant to whichever countries will see them. Remember, these feasts aren’t just for Israel but for everyone because they are G-d’s own feast days.
As regards the past tetrads, some suppose there’s ‘confirmation bias’ in picking them. Or else, were ‘prophecies after the fact’ and not warnings because of a time lapse between lunar eclipse and supposedly associated calamitous event in Jewish history. Let’s look, for example, at what William Koenig wrote after discussion with his friend Mark Biltz:
‘Three previous back-to-back “blood-red” total lunar eclipses occurred on the first day of Passover and Sukkot right after the 1492 Spanish Inquisition (ie. in 1493-1494), the 1948 War of independence (ie. in 1949-1950), and the 1967 Six-Day War (in 1967-1968). This pattern points to a very challenging time for Israel and possible war.
‘The Jewish Talmud says, “When the moon is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for Israel … If its face is as red as blood, [it is a sign that] the sword is coming to the world …” The sages in the Talmud understood that a red lunar eclipse means that God will be bringing judgment to His people, Israel.’
1. The Spanish Expulsion was the most infamous in Jewish history. Catholic Inquisitor Torquemada’s anti-Semitic project became official policy in July 1492 after the defeat of Muslims at Grenada and thus enabling Spain to return to Catholicism. It would have taken many months to arrest and forcibly convert tens of thousands of Jews. So blood moons of 1493’s first and last feasts were truly ominous in attesting to what was happening and not just retrospective as ‘prophecies after the fact’.
2. It is incorrect to consider the 1949-50 tetrad as applying only to the previous year’s War of Independence. It could indicate decades of strife and wars were to follow. In fact that 15 month War lasted until August 1949 and in my opinion it could be applied specifically to Jerusalem. On 3rd April 1949 the Israel-Jordan Armistice was signed which affected Jews’ access to Jerusalem and their holy places such as the Wailing Wall, which was the only proximity permitted to the Temple Mount.
3. Today’s blood moon on Passover may apply to those Jews who are not in Israel but where it was actually seen – the USA. Let me quote perspicacious Caroline Glick’s analysis of her fellow Jews:
In Israel, where our freedom is physically threatened, most Jews understand and live by the lessons of Passover. But something is happening to the Jews in America. More and more, every day we see American Jews embracing intellectual bondage…
When the leaders of the Jewish American community – like their fellow leftists – side with forces of intolerance and discrimination and against Israel’s stalwart defenders and opponents of the oppression endemic in Islamic societies, it does not bode well for the future.
The red planet
The 76-m Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Credit: M. Peel, University of Manchester
Last Tuesday provided a ‘rare cosmic event’ when Mars formed a straight line with earth and the sun (ie. ‘in opposition’). But last night, the same night as the total lunar eclipse, the red planet was at its closest since Jan 2008.
In the UK we couldn’t observe the eclipse but I did notice Mars a few degrees above the bright moon but, as it was so bright, thought it was the brightest star, Sirius. Yet upon checking link 12 below I confirmed it was indeed Mars.
So, in effect we could be having a ‘double-red’ alarm being given from our satellite and nearby planet – exciting times, in a week holy to both Jews and Christians!
Carry on reading in 500th post: blood moons cont’d >>
- Jewish Calendar is very helpful with Current Calendar of comparative dates.
- Restoring the Revelation of Passover, video message by Rev John Kilpatrick
- Why total lunar eclipses are red, diagrammatic explanation at EarthSky
- What is a Blood Moon? by sky watcher Bruce McClure at EarthSky
- What is the Ecliptic? by astronomer Christopher Crockett at EarthSky
- Koenig’s notes on Mark Biltz’s analysis of 4 Blood-Red Total Lunar Eclipses
- America’s ‘Date of Infamy’ repeated – once again! by Richard’s Watch
- Blood moons and prophetic confusion by Avner Bosky at David’s Tent
- Modern Jewish History: The Spanish Expulsion 1492
- Israel War of Independence: Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement 1949
- Forgetting Freedom on Passover by Caroline Glick
- The Night Sky, Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics