Aaron David Fruh

On Eclipses and War: Why Some Christian Theologies Find Solace in Jewish Pain

As an Evangelical Christian, I have never understood how our eschatology (the study of end-time events) often finds ways to interpret contemporary Jewish suffering as a Christian blessing in disguise. You would think we would be grieving over Jewish pain, but it seems there is more intrigue—curiosity about the centrality of Israel in Bible prophecy—than empathy. Psychologists say that one of the core traits of a narcissist is the inability to share in another’s pain. If that’s true, then searching for personal benefits in Jewish anguish makes narcissists of Christians who engage in this practice.

I don’t know how Christian theologies make this leap, but I think I know why: it is because the re-gathering of the Jewish people to Israel and their subsequent oppression by other nations is a core sign in a particular Christian doctrine of the rapture of Christians before the great tribulation spoken of in the Bible—an event where Christians are caught up to heaven, escaping persecution (according to this theory) while Jews are left behind to be terrorized by evil forces.

It amazes me how—for the sake of self-preservation (the why)—Evangelicalism’s most trusted eschatological view (the pre-tribulation rapture of the church) is drastically void of empathy—even going out of its way to painstakingly cling to “signs” that guarantee Christians will be inoculated from all end-time pain while Jews go it alone.

In the last decade, many popular Christian “prophets” have declared the consecutive appearance of a tetrad (I’m not making this up)—four eclipses with six “blood moons” between them in 2014 and 2015—a sign of the end of days and a Christian’s escape from tribulation. To enhance their theory, these “prophets” pointed out that the four eclipses would occur on Jewish holidays—a “sure” sign their theory was accurate.

But drawing upon Jewish holidays to manipulate and massage theological presumptions into inevitable future events is dubious. The irony is that the same people who use the feasts of Israel to promote their eschatological view of a tribulation-free future for Christians, not Jews, is that the meaningful truths of the feasts are often lost in translation, having only been studied in light of pertinacious and pedantic eschatological theories. Purblind. Not to mention the elephant in the room—the exploiting of Jewish customs and identity in order to ultimately condemn the Jews to tribulation while Christians enjoy paradise—theological narcissism at its best.

One of the Christian “prophets” who pushed the blood moons theory said in a sermon this past Sunday, April 7, “God is sending this solar eclipse tomorrow to warn the body of Christ of the rapture of the church.” After the audience’s applause and joy-filled shouting subsided, he went on to quote Luke 21:25 from the New Testament and proclaimed, “There will be signs in the sun—that’s tomorrow. And there will be signs in the moon—that’s the four blood moons that have already happened.”

But eclipses have been around for millennia. According to NASA, from 1 CE to 1000 CE, there were 2351 solar eclipses. In the twentieth century, eclipses totaled 228, of which 71 were total. If you were born in 1980 and live to be 100, you will witness 80 total solar eclipses. So, to proclaim this week’s solar eclipse and the blood moons that fell on Jewish holidays in 2014-2015 as signs of a coming Christian exit and imminent Jewish suffering seems disingenuous.

One pastor who downplayed Monday’s solar eclipse as a sign of the rapture instead used Israel’s present war with Hamas as proof of the soon departure of Christians: “This is fulfilling Bible prophecy because the Bible says that in the last days, Israel would be isolated. She would stand alone . . . Look, Jesus is coming. The rapture of the church in which the Lord comes for His people can happen at any moment.” So the October 7th, 2023, bestial slaughter of 1,200 Jewish innocents, rather than something to be grieved—is a welcome sign of a Christian’s escape from pain? Tragic.

Someone once said that to be truly human, one must see oneself in the face of the other. If Christians read their Bibles in light of the historical suffering of the Jewish people—the eternal “other”—who have endured great anguish in being the forebearers of God’s moral law, and casually disregard God’s choice of the Jewish people as if it were a trivial thing, all the while selfishly jockeying for a first class seat on a theorized early flight from torment, I wonder if they are truly human at all? A person who professes to be a Christian but does not see themselves in the face of their Jewish brother who suffers lacks that foundational characteristic that is the mark of a true Christian: Love.

In a time when the world has run amuck with violence and hatred, it is natural to hope for an escape hatch. But rather than manipulating theology for the purpose of self-preservation while throwing Jews under the proverbial bus, it may be time for some Christians to rethink the motivations behind their eschatology, express empathy for their Jewish elder brothers and sisters in their present existential fight for survival, and leave the mystery of the end of days in the hands of the God of Israel who so extravagantly loves the Jewish people that He says of them in Zachariah 2:8: “For whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye.”

About the Author
Aaron David Fruh is a Research Fellow at The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) and the President of Israel Team Advocates, whose mission it is to change the growing anti-Israel narrative on college campuses. Aaron is the author of five books including The Casualty of Contempt: the alarming rise of Antisemitism and what can be done to stop it (editor), and Two Minute Warning: why it’s time to honor the Jewish people before the clock runs out. Aaron has written for The Jerusalem Post and The Algemeiner.