Answer by Philip Mott

Lunar eclipses occur when the Sun, Earth and Moon are aligned and the Moon passes into the Earth’s shadow, which can only ever happen on the night of a Full Moon. There are at least two each year, and over a quarter of them are total eclipses. Unlike solar eclipses, which can only be observed from a relatively small area of the world and last a few minutes, lunar eclipses can be seen anywhere on the night side of the Earth (assuming it’s not cloudy!) and last for several hours. If the Earth had no atmosphere, its shadow on the Moon would be completely dark. However in reality it is usually visible due to the light from the Sun being refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere. Depending on the amount of dust and clouds in the atmosphere at the time, it can appear dark grey, brown, red, orange, or any shade in-between.

Every now and then you can get a series of four consecutive total lunar eclipses, each spaced six months apart, known as ‘tetrads’. Since the Biblical feasts of Passover and Tabernacles always occur at a Full Moon and are always six months apart, inevitably a tetrad will sometimes coincide with these. The significance of such ‘feast tetrads’ was popularised by John Hagee (senior pastor of Cornerstone Church, a Texas megachurch), who in turn got the teaching from Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries. They claim that they signify momentous events connected to the Jewish people, such as the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948, and the Six Day War in 1967. They then point out that the next one is due in 2014/5. However when considering the validity of this claim, you may wish to bear in the following the mind:

1. A feast tetrad occurred in 1493/4, but not in 1492;

2. A feast tetrad occurred in 1949/50, but not in 1948;

3. Only one of the four eclipses in the 2014/5 tetrad will be visible from Israel, and even then only for a few minutes before the Moon sinks below the horizon;

4. There were also feast tetrads in 162/3 AD, 795/6 AD, 842/3 AD and 860/1 AD, during which nothing of significance happened relating to the Jewish people;

5. No feast tetrad occurred at the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC, at the birth or crucifixion of Jesus (whichever date you take), at the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, or during the Holocaust.

For a complete catalogue of lunar eclipses since 2000 BC, including tetrads, see http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEcat5/LEcatalog.html.

Although we know from the Bible that the Lord does sometimes use signs in the heavens to herald certain events, we should be careful about accepting such claims without proper investigation. We know that the Enemy works to inspire false prophecies, predictions and claims so as to engender cynicism, apathy and gullibility amongst the faithful, as well as make Christianity look foolish in the eyes of the World. We are thus called to test all things, to discern truth from error, to hold fast to what is good, and to not be carried about with every wind of teaching. In short, we should look for the signs of His return but not be fooled (or jaded) by the false ones!

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About The Contributor

Philip Mott