The Pope and the Lunar Eclipse
In a sermon in 1964, William Branham sought to tie in a lunar eclipse with the Pope's visit to Jerusalem:
But is his connection justified by the facts? Are his facts correct?
What really happened
On December 30, 1963, there was a total lunar eclipse that covered western North America and eastern Asia.
From January 4–6, 1964, Pope Paul VI visited Amman, Jordan, Old Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth. It was the first time a reigning pontiff had flown on an airplane, the first papal pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and the first time a Pope had left Italy in more than a century.
Was the lunar eclipse a sign?
It is interesting that the lunar eclpise could not be seen (it was not even partial) in either Rome or in Israel. One would have thought that if God was showing something supernatural in the heavens that he would have got the eclipse to cover at least Israel.
Was the timing supernatural?
The eclipse happened approximately a week prior to the Pope going to Jerusalem. One would also have thought that if it was truly supernatural that would have occured while the Pope was in Israel. Why couldn't God at least get that right?
Did the eclipse happen in seven stages?
A lunar eclipse does not happen in stages. It is an astromical event whereby the shadow of the earth is cast on the moon, causing the moon to grow dark. The shadow initially starts at one side of the moon and gradually covers the entire moon (in a total eclipse). There are no stages. There is simply a continuum of the shadow moving across the moon.
A more reasonable explanation
Was William Branham simply looking for something to vindicate himself? He even admitted he was looking for something that would do just that - ""There it is, just exactly, see, just what I've been looking for.". Why did he feel it was necessary to invent the "seven stages" of the eclipse? Was it to justify his doctrine of the seven church ages?
Quotes of William Branham
And isn't it strange that just before the pope took his journey to Jerusalem, that the moon in the heavens made a total blackout, just a few days before he took it, his journey. He's coming here also, you know, see. Now that's never been known, see. But what does it show? That, this, he's doing this to win fellowship as he met on the day after he come into Jerusalem, he met the Greek Orthodox hierarchy. And what does that reflect? Fellowship, they're wanting Protestants and Catholicism joining together, which they are doing and will completely do. And God reflected this to us, in the moon, of a total blackout. By His mercy and grace…
Did any of you see the paper where they took the pictures of the moon? I have it here. If it ain't a perfect image, leaving out the seventh age which is not yet, exactly the way I drawed by the Holy Spirit, the Church Ages. There's the six of them, the seventh is not finished yet. The six conditions of the moon, how in its brightness in the first church age; dark in the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth; just the way the Holy Spirit let me draw them on the board, and then identified them with Hisself on the wall of the tabernacle, two years ago. The moon reflects itself, and science again picks up the picture of the, Church Ages, just as they picked up that Light yonder and put it in Life Magazine, of the opening of the Seals, of the revealing in the age of the seventh angel. In the days of his ministry, the seventh messenger, the mysteries of God, which all the mysteries has been along the ages, should be revealed, made manifest, it should be at that time. And He did it! His words don't fail. Isn't that a mysterious thing? God drawing in the heavens the same thing that they hold, same God let me draw on the blackboard, and then by Himself. That's three times He's perfectly identified it, and just before the pope goes into Jerusalem.
Which, that was the church, the moon is the church, represents the church. And before the church, the shadow of the world crosses the moon. And the shadow of worldlyism, the shadow of worldliness, worldly church, has swept across to black out the entire Light of the Bible. The world got in the Light of the reflection. Do you understand? The world crossed in the light of the moon, and blinded out the sun. And the reflection of the moon that's supposed to be giving light to the earth, it was blacked out. And It come in and drawed the pictures just exactly like It did, by inspiration, before it happened.
Now that, I believe, Sister Simpson, was the Tucson paper. I don't know if Sister Simpson knew… She didn't understand it then. She said, "I cut out some pictures for you, and some notes, out of the paper," handed it to me.
And I thought something strange. I went in there and picked it up, and looked at it, I said, "There it is, just exactly, see, just what I've been looking for." And there it was in the paper.
Sister Simpson might tell you what paper it's in, if you want to get a copy of it. [Sister Simpson says, "It's December the 28th."—Ed.] And—and what say? ["It's the evening edition of December the 28th."] Evening edition of December the 28th.
See, before he went to Jerusalem to block out its Light, or what access it does have. What time, position, and what rights It has to shine, now it's cutting It off altogether, for the last age, the seventh church age where she goes into darkness. What a great thing the Lord is telling us. In everything, It's never failed but what God in the heaven has declared it and told it, looked to it, and here has identified it and a-vindicated it, that it is the absolute Truth.
Now, I guess you got it here in Phoenix. If anyone… How many in here ever seen where I had them pictures drawed of the Church Ages? Raise up your hands. I guess… See how the Lord drawed them in the skies, the other night? Just exactly the way it's drawed up there at the tabernacle. Perfectly, exactly the way that the Holy Spirit gave it by inspiration, three years ago, at the Tabernacle, there it happened in the skies. "In the mouth of two or three witnesses, let every word be established." The Holy Spirit first moved by inspiration; I drawed them on the platform. Then He came down Himself and made His vindication of it, as the moon and the Light going out, going out, and to this Laodicea Age going into total darkness again. And here He comes down and vindicates it on the moon, just at the time that all the churches are going together in a consolidation, of the federation of churches.
Now we find out what made the moon reflecting the light. God showing, first, on the blackboard; next, by His Own Presence; then in the heavens He showed the sign. And then out of Rome went the pope, over into Palestine; which, to the ordinary eye, people screamed and fell on their faces, and worshiped the man. Not any more against him than I would be a minister that would join up with such. It's all the same spirit.