The years of 2014 and 2015 bring with them an interesting and uncommon occurrence called the "Blood Moon Tetrads." This title reflects the fact that there will be four "blood moons" during these two years, an astronomical phenomenon involving the eclipse of a full moon. These total lunar eclipses will occur on April 15th and October 8th of 2014, and April 4th and September 28th of 2015. Because of atmospheric conditions during these total eclipses, the lunar surface will appear "blood red" from our perspective. Fortunately for Americans, all four of these blood or red moons will be visible from the United States.
The Blood Moon Tetrads have occurred a number of times in the last several centuries, with an attendant mythology developing around them, including and especially among Christians during the past nearly 2,000 years. As Robert Tulip states in The 2014 Astrotheology Calendar (2):
Some fundamentalist Christians link this series of four eclipses or 'Tetrads' to prophecies of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. They cite biblical mentions of the blood moon, including the apostle Peter's quote from the prophet Joel in Acts 2:20 and the opening of the sixth seal described at Revelation 6:12.
Robert also points out that this natural occurrence is valuable not only to Christian prophecy but also to those interested in ancient religion and mythology revolving around nature worship, called "astral religion" or "astrotheology." Says he, "Eclipses were key events in the ancient world for showing the exact position of the stars against the seasons, checking the calculations of astronomers in the days before the invention of telescopes."
These astronomical calculations included what is called the "precession of the equinoxes," a phenomenon caused by the earth's tilt on its axis. Tulip relates that the ancient Greek astronomer credited with "discovering" or chronicling the precession, Hipparchus (fl. 134 BCE), used the "blood moon next to Virgo's bright star Spica" in order to "prove that the equinox position had shifted compared to the old star maps from Babylon."
Like their predecessors among not only the pagans but also the Jews, early Christians and their descendants down the ages were fascinated by the sky and searched it regularly for portents of God's will. Christians traditionally have scoured the Bible for any sign of prophecy that might be used to predict the purported return of Jesus Christ or "Second Coming." The blood moons have been struck upon because of the mention of celestial events in the Bible in several verses, including Luke 21:15:
And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars...
Acts 2:20 is another such "prophetic" verse, essentially repeating the scripture at Joel 2:13:
The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes.
Because of these biblical verses, many fervent Christians have been awaiting Christ's return on every blood moon since the second century or so. The tetrads or collection of four such events in two years have been viewed as especially powerful. The blood moon tetrads of 2014 and 2015 are no less alluring to devotees, whose websites, books and videos on the subject can be found around the internet.
Boötes and Arcturus
As N.W. Barker and I explain also in The 2014 Astrotheology Calendar (27-28), the constellation of Boötes and one of its stars, Arcturus, are also important markers within Christian astrotheology, as Boötes is deemed the "coming one," a herald of the messiah. Thus, the constellation's location during the blood moons is also of interest to Christians.
Tribulation and Dark Age
Unfortunately, this supposed return of Christ as depicted at Revelation 14:14-20 must be accompanied by slaughter and bloodshed that will destroy much of the world's human population. It has been surmised that there will be a modern Dark Age in the near future, because of these scriptures, as Revelation 9:13-15 describes the killing of one-third of the world's population - nonbelievers - while Isaiah 13:12 depicts mankind as becoming "more rare than fine gold."
Obviously, the billions of people globally who are not believers in the Bible will not be happy with such a dreadful fate. Some of these nonbelievers likely will point out that all previous instances of Christ's purported return have failed and that there is even a debate whether or not Jesus was a historical figure who actually came in the first place. Thus, skeptics will predict also that no such event will happen during the coming blood moons of 2014 and 2015.
In any event, the Blood Moon Tetrads are sure to excite millions of people worldwide, both for their supposed "prophetic" quality as well as for their marvelous beauty. We may hope what these blood moons will usher in is peace and understanding between all peoples globally.
For more information about the blood moons, please see The 2014 Astrotheology Calendar. See also Jesus's Return, Blood Red Moons and the Bootes Constellation