On Jan. 31, there will be a super moon, a blue moon and a blood moon, causing some people to predict the end of the world

INDEPENDENT FILE PHOTO - Will RobertsonDo you ever think about the end of the world? There are many people out there who have made entire careers of doing that, and of getting other people to think about it too, by coming up with a prediction for the end of the world, or at least of an event that supposedly shows that it's getting really, really close.

Now, understand that I am a person who believes that the world will, in fact, come to an end one day when Jesus returns to deal the final blow to sin and death. But I also know that in my own lifetime there have been dozens of sure-fire predictions of the end of the world, none of which have happened.

The reason that this has been brought to mind is that just a few days ago an article appeared online stating that the moon was about to do something that had not happened in 150 years. On Jan. 31, there will be a triple phenomenon: a super moon, a blue moon and a blood moon. And I don't doubt that, by the time you read this, some people will be predicting that this is a portent of the end of the world. (Of course, it didn't mean the end of the world 150 years ago when it happened!)

A super moon is simply a full moon at the point of its closest approach to the earth. The moon's orbit is not round, but oblong. Every month the moon is closest to the earth at one point in its orbit. When the moon is fully illuminated at that point, it appears slightly larger and slightly brighter than full moons that aren't at that close point. (The difference is not usually noticeable to us from one full moon to the next, but scientists have delicate instruments that can measure the difference.)

A blue moon is simply the second full moon in a calendar month. In this case, the moon was full in the evening of Jan. 1, and will be full again on Jan. 31. This happens from time to time, but not every year. However, in 2010, both January and March had a "blue moon," and February had no full moon at all.

A blood moon is a recently popularized term for what used to be called a lunar eclipse. The term was put into common use during the four eclipses that occurred during 2014 and 2015, supposedly fulfilling the passage in Joel that says "The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Joel 2:31 New International Version). Blood moons occur somewhere in the world at least twice every year, and sometimes as often as five times in one year, so they are not really that rare.

But when all three of these things occur at the same time, that is fertile ground for people to start predicting the end of the world. Maybe it will be this time, but the odds are not with the predictors. Jesus himself famously said about the end of the world, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Matthew 24:36), the idea being that we aren't to worry about trying to figure out when it will be. Instead, he warned his followers to always be ready, because he will ultimately come "at an hour when you do not expect him" (Matthew 24:44).

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