Every Sukkot, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem hosts the Feast of Tabernacles. The embassy represents evangelical communities worldwide and is an enthusiastic supporter of Israel. The event, which has taken place annually in Jerusalem for 40 years now, draws thousands of believers and is considered Israel’s largest tourism event.
But this year, the event is taking place in the shadow of the “blood moon prophecy.” The prophecy, attributed to Pastor Mark Biltz, says the full lunar eclipse that took place on Monday is the final sign from God portending a series of dramatic events that will bring about the Christian version of the End of Days. The prophecy is based on a verse from the prophet Joel: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.”
This is the fourth lunar eclipse since April 2014, and as predicted by the prophecy, all four took place on Jewish holidays – either Passover or Sukkot. According to Biltz’s original prophecy, the fourth eclipse will be followed by a series of events, including earthquakes and meteor showers, until the war of Gog and Magog begins. That war will end with a decisive battle in Megiddo (Armageddon) and Jerusalem, and the survivors will witness the End of Days and the second coming of Jesus.
Some interpretations of the prophecy, which has become a topic of discussion on hundreds of websites, say all these events will happen within a few days. Others say they will be spread out over seven years. Either way, NASA recently took the unusual step of publishing a special announcement in response to the prophecy, saying that no asteroids are poised to hit the earth.
The blood moon prophecy has been pushed in recent years by Pastor John Hagee, whose book “Four Blood Moons” was a bestseller in the United States. According to Hagee, a prominent evangelical leader who heads Christians United for Israel, the eclipse won’t necessarily bring about the End of Days, but will portend a series of difficult events for Israel that will ultimately end in great victories. The prophecy holds that any tetrad – a series of four consecutive lunar eclipses coinciding with Jewish holidays – always foreshadows major events for the Jewish people, including in 1948 (the War of Independence), 1967 (the Six-Day War) and 1492 (the expulsion from Spain).
According to Shahar Shilo, a tour guide specializing in Christian tourism to Israel, and Dr. Amnon Ramon, a researcher of Christianity at the Ben-Zvi Institute in Jerusalem, the ICEJ has actually moderated in recent years and no longer represents the radical strain of evangelical Christianity.
Nevertheless, Shilo added, “Many evangelical preachers argue that the best place to be when the apocalypse begins is in the Holy Land. This is the only place where the sons of light can win, and many people are influenced by this.”
David Parsons, ICEJ’s media director, rejected this theory. “This isn’t part of our agenda and we didn’t make use of it,” he said. “Five thousand Christians came to this year’s event, just like last year, so the prophecy had zero influence.”
But at least one key speaker at the conference, Cindy Jacobs, told the Christian Broadcasting Network this week that “we really sense that the Holy Spirit is coming with a massive harvest, a great awakening, and I believe this red moon is a harvest moon.”
The term “harvest” sometimes refers to the mass conversion of Jews to Christianity that evangelicals anticipate in the End of the Days.
Another conference speaker, Angus Buchan, published a status on his Facebook page saying the blood moon is a sign that humanity’s time on earth is running out.
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