Once in a (Super) Blue (Blood) Moon
Although we missed seeing the event in our area because the cloudy skies, this morning’s so-called “Super Blue Blood Moon” was a pretty rare event. It was the combination of being a second full moon in a calendar month that was also on the closest approach to Earth while passing through the Earth’s shadow. The last time it happened was 1866, when—just in case you were wondering–beef sold for 11 cents a pound, a quart of milk set you back almost a whole nickel. We can’t say what the price of gasoline was because it was still seen as just a by-product of the oil refinery process and was simply dumped out as waste.
While a “super blue blood moon” is a rare and beautiful site, those familiar with biblical prophecy think of it a bit differently. One of those prophecies is found in Chapter Six of the book of Revelations when, as the seals on the scroll of Judgment are being opened we read: “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.” In biblical prophecy when the Moon turns the color of blood, the End is near.
Google “blood moon biblical prophecy” and you’ll find many examples of so-called “Biblical scholars” who, unhinged from the stability of Orthodox Tradition, rant and rail about the end of the world, which they seem to be able to predict accurately. Every few years. At least until that day passes and they come up with a new prediction.
While the end of the world is a common theme in some segments of Protestant Christianity, we Orthodox don’t seem to talk about it much. There is no debate regarding if and when Christ will reign on the earth for a literal thousand years before the final judgment, and we certainly don’t put a date on an event that He himself said “you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13).
But that doesn’t mean the End is something that we don’t believe in or don’t care about: we just simply assume it to be fact. The world will “end” for us either at the End of Time (Judgment Day) or when each of us individually passes away from this life. No matter which, our life as we knew it ends, and we appear before the “fearful judgment seat of Christ.” Because we are not caught up in trying to interpret the skies or calculate a date, we can focus on the fact that the end is coming, and freed from the need to predict when, we can put all our efforts into preparing for it.
The coming season of the Great Fast for which the Church now prepares us in this pre-Lenten period is perhaps the greatest example of how the Church prepares us for this coming inevitability. We are called to transfer our focus from our efforts to facilitate life in this world and put them toward facilitating life in the next. The increased prayer, fasting, and almsgiving of Great Lent is not just about cleaning up our life or restoring a more appropriate level of morality. It is about preparation for another time the Moon will turn red like blood, one last time. As we will hear soon in the Gospel on the Sunday of the Last Judgment, the results of our spiritual efforts are that we manifest one of two realities about ourselves: we are revealed to be either followers of Jesus Christ who do His commandments or as those who do not. Of course we’re assuming that the actual Last Judgement—the one when Jesus really returns—doesn’t come before the “Sunday of the Last Judgement” in two weeks. Always a dangerous assumption.
So if this site of the Moon turning blood red reminds us that the End is coming, good! We don’t need to waste time figuring out when the end will come because we may not have that much time. Let us use whatever time we have in the best way we can—working to become ever more faithful followers of Jesus Christ, the immortal king who leads those who follow Him from death to life.