Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Blood Red Moon

The blood red moon was not one of my intended topics this week, but several people have asked me about it, so I'm plunging in. 

There are two passages to which reference is made when considering the "blood moon". The first passage is found in Joel 2:31. The second, in Acts 2:20, is actually a quote from the Joel passage. The verse from Joel says, "The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes." (Joel 2:31 NASB). When you read that, there is a tendency to think "blood moon" equals end of the world. That is certainly understandable, but let's look at the entire book of Joel first before we decide. 

This short book of prophecy contains only three chapters.  Joel opened with a description of a plague of locusts that caused incredible destruction in the land. He indicated that the plague had come in response to the wickedness of the people. He described them as being so consumed with seeking pleasure that they were immune to seeking God's will.  When the crops were destroyed by the locusts, there was nothing to offer as a grain offering, and there were no grapes, thus no wine, for the drink offering. No one seemed to care. He urged the people to mourn the consequences of the plague that had come as a result of their collective sin, but it sounds as if no one did.  

Joel had particularly harsh words for the priests. He said the destruction from the locusts should cause the priests to mourn and weep, lead others to fast and cry out to God, sound an alarm, and return to God with their whole heart. He explained that the consequences of being out of fellowship with God were that we lose our joy and our gladness. They could both quickly be regained by repentant hearts! 

Joel saw such wickedness around him that he warned that the day of The Lord was near. He feared judgement was at hand and that it would be terrible. "Who can endure it?" he asked. Just as always, a hard word of judgement is followed by a promise of hope and mercy.  

"Yet even now," declares the Lord, "Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments." Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil. (Joel 2:12, 13 NASB)

This is one of my favorite passages, and it concludes with words that are so beautiful. If we repent and return to The Lord with hearts broken over our sin, "who knows whether He will not turn... and leave a blessing behind." (Joel 2:14). When we deserve the harshest of judgement, our very gracious, kind God responds to hearts broken by sin with a blessing instead! Joel goes on to describe the bounteous blessings God will pour out on His people. God had sent the locusts to accomplish a specific purpose (repentance) and, when that was accomplished, He promised that He would more than make up for what the locusts had stolen. 

He goes on to describe an outpouring of God's Spirit on all mankind. No one would be left out. Rich, poor, male, female, young, old. All would share in His Spirit. He described signs and wonders that would happen, including astronomical happenings. (Solar eclipse, blood moon). Do not misunderstand this. The blood moon in 2:31 is an interesting sight, but it should point us to the promise in 2:32. "And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord Will be delivered..." (Joel 2:32 NASB)

Whoever calls on the name of The Lord will be delivered!  The blood moon pales in comparison, doesn't it?

Charter 3 is a summary of all the wonderful things God will do, but there are two promises to which we can cling. 
1) Sin (our own or that of others) can never take us so far from God that He cannot restore us and avenge us. ( Joel 3:7)
2) God will protect His own. He WILL protect His people. (Joel. 3:16)

The moon will look red like blood, and we may call it a "blood red moon". Whether it presages the end of the world or not, no one can say. Jesus made it very clear that no one but God the Father knows when that will be. That blood moon, however, had one very definite purpose. It points us to God and reminds that judgement will come, but mercy is still available and with it comes abundant grace as well. Both are ours for the asking. 

Here's the link for part 2 of this series:
http://leannahollis.blogspot.com/2014/04/blood-red-moon-part-2.html