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Will Jesus return in the next 18 months?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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A view of the most recent 'blood moon' total lunar eclipse as seen over Mexico City, which NASA has confirmed as the first of four consecutive total lunar eclipses that will occur in 2014 and 2015, April 15, 2014 (Credit: Reuters/Edgard Garrido)

Last week’s lunar eclipse produced a “blood moon” as the sun’s rays were refracted by Earth’s atmosphere and turned the moon a reddish hue.  It was the first of four blood moons to come, a phenomenon known as a “tetrad.”  Last week’s event fell on Passover.  The next will be on October 8, the Feast of Tabernacles; then on April 4, Passover in 2015; then on September 28, another Feast of Tabernacles.

A host of books has been published on this phenomenon, all claiming that something historic will happen in the next 18 months.  Some predict war in the Middle East; others predict the return of Christ.  However, NASA tells us there will be seven more sets of tetrads before the year 2100.  That’s 32 blood moons in all.

I have no idea if these events have anything to do with Jesus’ return.  But I do know that a “blood moon” was associated with his death.  When Peter preached his Pentecost sermon, he cited Joel’s prophecy: “the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, that great and magnificent day” (Acts 2:20).  Interestingly, on April 3, AD 33, a Passover lunar eclipse was visible from Jerusalem.  As a result, a “blood moon” rose that night over the Holy City.

Whether that event marks the precise date of Jesus’ death or not, we know that he died on Good Friday and was raised on Easter Sunday.  What he did is more important than when he did it.  And what he did is intended to transform our lives for eternity and for today as well.  But here’s the problem: his resurrection can empower us today only if we experience it today.  If the risen Christ is a figure of history and a fact of faith but not a Person we encounter daily, we miss his transforming power in our lives.

Here’s how to know if you are experiencing the risen Jesus: are you awed by God?

When Isaiah saw the Lord he cried out, “Woe to me!  I am ruined!” (Isaiah 6:5).  When Jeremiah heard his call he responded, “Ah, Sovereign Lord!  I do not know how to speak—I am only a child” (Jeremiah 1:6).  When Ezekiel saw the Lord he fell facedown (Ezekiel 1:28).  When Daniel received the vision of God, he says that his face “turned pale” (Daniel 7:28).

When Jesus first demonstrated his miraculous power to Peter, the burly fisherman pled with him, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8).  When Paul encountered the risen Christ he was thrown from his horse and blinded for three days (Acts 9:1-19).  When John saw the glorified Jesus he “fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17).

I encourage you to make time today to be awed by God—time to worship him, to listen to his Spirit, to meet him in his word, to see him in his creation.  Stay in his presence until you know you have met him, and you cannot be the same.

Mother Teresa told her students that if they would spend time praising Jesus, they would have all the power they needed for the day.  Easter is not intended to be an event but a lifestyle.  When last were you awed by God?