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As many Catholics sense coming events, looking to "words of knowledge" and indications from reputed sites of apparition, evangelical Protestants, non-denominational charismatics, and Pentecostals have the same sense of impending events, though they look to something quite different: indications to do with the state of Israel.

This small nation, this bastion of history in the Middle East, is used as an augur, in many evangelical and Pentecostal interpretations of what is happening and will happen.

Every development concerning Israel -- even seemingly minor political disputes -- is related to simultaneous or immediately subsequent societal, military, and even natural occurrences. Talk against Israel in the U.N. and it is connected by some to the next quake, tornado, or other disaster.

While we think that such an interpretation often goes way too far, that when disasters are spiritually connected they are also related to cultural and moral events in other nations (as when a tornado hits across the street from the Episcopal Church's flagship cathedral in downtown Minneapolis, blowing down a meeting tent, right as it is set to vote on allowing homosexual clergy), there is no question of Israel's importance in history; its central position in many ancient prophecies; and the likelihood -- at ground zero in the Middle Eastern tinderbox, right there with Iran and Iraq -- that it will figure into some kind of major event (or events) linked to the tumultuous future so many in many denominations, including non-Christian ones, anticipate. It certainly could be pivotal.

Those watching Israel, such as the evangelical preacher and author, John Hagee of Texas, sense something coming of the same magnitude many Marian Catholics do and arrive at that notion by way of signs in the sky -- in Hebrew, owths: "signals" -- especially in the moon.

They believe an unusual sequence this year and next of "blood moons" (the way light reflects off the moon during a lunar eclipse) serves as a harbinger for the start of events we too feel are someday in the future, though we anticipate it differently.

When four blood moons occur, it's technically known as a "Tetrad," and the Tetrad soon to take place will coincide with four Jewish feast days, indicating to believers like Hagee (who I once debated a bit in a car on the way to a Dallas television studio, on the topic of the Virgin Mary) that a special time is at hand: that as Hagee puts it, "something is about to change."

"Four 'blood-red' total lunar eclipses will fall on Passover and Sukkot in 2014 and 2015, the same back-to-back occurrences at the time of [tetrads in] 1492, 1949, and 1967," Hagee argues. "Those three dates were the most important in all of Israel's history!"

It is an interesting convergence, worthy of contemplation -- as part of future events. "The world has taken a wrong turn and we need a sign from God to get back on the right track," intones the evangelist, who travels the world and has a "mega-church" called Cornerstone in San Antonio, Texas (with 20,000 members). "The four blood moons just may be that signal!"

One can look to Scripture and find some interesting correlations. An example is in Acts 2:19-20: "I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord."

There is a nearly identical message in Joel (2:30-31).

At Fatima, a great sign prophesied there turned out to be an extraordinary display of the northern lights.

Jesus did say that "there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars... When these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near" (Luke 21:25, 28).

This is all spelled out in Hagee's current evangelical bestseller, Four Blood Moons, which we will make available with the caveat that it is staunchly Protestant. Our feelings should be clear by that debate en route to the TV station. Evangelicals, who discount prophecies from the Blessed Mother, have prematurely foreseen the Second Coming many times (as have Catholics).

But we're willing to listen (the idea of a coming "sign" is endemic in Marian predictions), and Hagee states that the blood moons will occur: during Passover, April 15, this year; on the Feast of the Tabernacles, October 8, also this year, and in 2015 again on Passover, April 4, and the Feast of the Tabernacles, September 28.

After the second blood moon and before the third will be a total solar eclipse (March 20, 2015).

Our view has long been that the next several years as well as the following two decades (the 2020s and 2030s) will be most interesting. It won't be neatly packaged. A restructuring is in the offing. Events will occur, sometimes precipitously, sometimes gradually, over time. Hotspots like Ukraine and North Korea must also be figured into the equation. The whole world is in play.

But back to Hagee: it's interesting how he conveys the evangelical stance that not only will major events occur, but that they will include some kind of darkness.

"Darkness will envelop the earth in the latter part of the tribulation, for the sun, moon, and stars will not give their normal light (Revelation 8:12)," he writes. "This supernatural darkness will be shattered by the breathtaking brilliance of Divine glory such as mankind has never witnessed."

As in the past, will blood moons first spell a "trail of tears" for Israel ending though with triumph? Is it spelled in the sky?

We listen below (where there are rumblings); we look above (where there may be signals). Right there in the first chapter of Genesis the Lord said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons."


There's the word again.

In Catholic circles, "tribulation" is thought of as "chastisement." Since Fatima, signs in the sky have been observed in the way of sun miracles, cloud formations, moving stars, and so forth (including phenomena to do with the moon).

If God Himself said there would signals in the heavens above, who are we not to consider it -- including, perhaps, "blood moons" (maybe) -- with all else, above and below, that will come?

--Michael H. Brown

[Note also: Michael Brown retreats: Virginia and Texas]

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