Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blood Red Moon, part 2

In the first section of this series, we looked at the passage in Joel in which "the moon will be turned to blood" is first mentioned. 

The second pasage that has attracted recent attention is Acts 2:20. 

'The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. (Acts 2:20 NASB)

This verse is a direct quote from the pasage in Joel. The setting is quite different. You may remember that Joel was written during the time surrounding a plague of locusts and resulting destruction. A little review of Peter's situation might be helpful. 

After His resurrection but before He ascended back into heaven, Jesus instructed his disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That sounded pretty exciting, as you can well imagine. They began to speculate and ask if that would be when Jesus restored the nation of Israel. He told them bluntly that it was not their job to worry about what was going to happen when. "God the Father has that firmly under control and needs not a bit of help," He said. (Leanna paraphrase) "It is your job to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit, then be my witnesses throughout the world. Tell everyone about Me!" 

Before we go one sentence further, we need to understand something. Jesus made it very clear here, as He had in other places, that we are to be about His business and not be overly focused on when He is coming back, when the world will end, or when God will bring judgement. God has that under control and He is keeping the dates to Himself. In a manner of speaking, He is planing a surprise. Our relationship to Christ will determine if this is a good surprise or not.

After Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples and friends went to the upper room where they were staying and spent the next 52 days dedicating themselves to prayer. When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together, the sound of rushing wind came, followed by the tongues of fire, then they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages. (The original word here is glōssa and can mean tongue, language, or dialect.) 

Needless to say, the noise of the wind, as well as everyone speaking at once, attracted some attention. There were people in Jerusalem from all around the world and they were astonished to hear these Jewish people speaking in their language. Some were utterly amazed but some were saying, "They are just babbling drunk!" 

An amazing thing happened next. Peter, who was afraid to acknowledge that he knew Christ when confronted by a servant girl, was transformed by the Holy Spirit within him. He was a common fisherman, not a Biblical scholar. With amazing boldness, he jumped up in front of the crowd and started preaching. 

"First of all," he said, "these men aren't drunk! Second, this is the very thing Joel prophesied." He quoted the passage from Joel 2:28-32 that described the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on young and old, rich and poor, men and women. It spoke of visions, dreams, and prophesy. He quoted straight through the section about the moon being turned to blood and the signs and wonders in the heavens, to end at verse 32, which says that everyone who calls on the name of The Lord will be saved. 

Peter was just getting started. With the idea of calling on the name of The Lord as his starting point, Peter began to tell them about his Lord, Jesus. He explained everything in crystal clear terms. Like all good speakers, Peter tied his starting point back in to his ending point. When the listeners were cut to the heart with conviction, they asked what they should do. Peter told them they should do exactly what Joel said to do. They should repent of their sins, call on the name of The Lord Jesus, and be saved. It was an amazing altar call, as 3000 people were baptized that day! 

Peter did mention the moon turning into blood, there is no denying that. Taken in context, though, it is abundantly clear that he was much more interested in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, the urgent need for repentance and the complete forgiveness available than in astronomical signs, and we should be, too. 

If you are overwhelmed by the guilt of your sin and in desperate need of forgiveness, do what both Joel and Peter recommended. Follow the signs that point to Jesus and find exactly what you need!

Part 3 will look at "signs" and we will continue the study of blood red moon.

In case you missed part one, here's the link: