Four Blood Moons: A Review

Following is a guest book review by my friend, Doug Kutilek. Doug is an author, linguist, Bible teacher, missionary, and gardner. He publishes As I See It, a monthly electronic magazine, which can be requested via an email at DKUTILEK@juno.com.

Four Blood Moons: Something is about to Change by John Hagee.  Brentwood, Tenn.: Worthy Publishing, 2013.  257 pp., paperback.

This is but one more volume in the flood of ill-considered, sensationalist “end-times” prophecy books that sell by the thousands, even millions, to the ill-informed and gullible.  Issued in 2013, before any of the much-sensationalized “blood moons” occurred, I read it in July 2015, with only one “blood moon” yet to go (and only after being repeatedly “encouraged” by a person in my Sunday Bible class, who gave me a copy of the book, to do so—I pretty accurately suspected what it would be before I read it, and don’t like to spend my increasingly limited time on such ephemeral stuff of less than “dubious” worth).

The book is awash with page-filling and book-lengthening “fluff”—irrelevant stuff, anecdotes, stories and asides—that are not germane, or only marginally so, to the announced topic of the book.  Only in the final third of the book do the “blood moons” come into direct discussion.

Here is the premise: there will be a series of four lunar eclipses—designated “blood moons,” so-called because when the moon is in the earth’s shadow, it has a reddish tint, since only light from the red end of the spectrum, being refracted by the earth’s atmosphere, illuminates the moon’s surface.   These four lunar eclipses, occurring on consecutive Passover (spring), Tabernacles (fall), Passover and Tabernacle festivals, over a period of 18 months, with a solar eclipse occurring sometime in the midst of this period, are alleged to be heralds of some monumental event in the history of Israel.

Hagee claims that the identification of the sun, moon and stars in Genesis 1:14, where they are said to serve for “signs and seasons and days and years,” means that they are to serve as prophetic sings, rather than the obvious contextual meaning that they would be markers of the passage of time, in short, a calendar.  He then leaps to Joel 2:28-32 and Acts 2:17-21, with a bit of Matthew 24:29 and Revelation 6:12 and 8:12—all chronologically during the Great Tribulation, not before—where the sun and moon are signs, or at least dramatic phenomena occur involving them.

Hagee assumes that the reddened moons and the darkened sun are references to solar and lunar eclipses, respectively.  However, eclipses are highly transitory events—minutes for solar ones, mere hours, start to finish for lunar ones, and neither visible from any but a very tiny fraction of earth (I have heard that the large majority of the “blood moons” Hagee references are not visible at all from Israel).  Far better, in context, especially Joel’s “columns of smoke,” to interpret the reddened moon and obscured sun to be references to dust and particulate matter in earth’s atmosphere which alter their appearance.  We know from direct observation that several things can cast large amounts of particulate matter high into the atmosphere, even the stratosphere, where they alter the appearance of the sun and moon—first, the smoke from fires.  Huge amounts of forest will burn during the drought of the Great Trouble (Revelation 8:7).  Back in the early 1990s when a majority of Yellowstone National Park’s forests were foolishly allowed to burn unhindered, we had high altitude haze from the smoke in south-central Kansas, more than a thousand miles away, from that one fire.  Oil fires, like those of the 1990s in Iraq, could also occur.  And there are volcanoes—Mt. St. Helens’ (1980) and Mt. Pinatubo’s (1991) eruptions spewed fine dust into the stratosphere, as did the much larger eruption of Krakatoa in 1883.  Weather patterns were changed following these eruptions, and there were reports of dramatic reddened sunsets world-wide for several years after Krakatoa.  Imagine a dozen or two—maybe many more—such eruptions all at once, in conjunction with vast forest fires.  And there is also the possibility of nuclear explosions—everyone has seen the “columns of smoke” arising from nuclear blasts.  These suck up many tons of dust and debris and carry it high into the atmosphere.  So, any one of these three—fires, volcanoes and nuclear explosions—or any combination of two or all three, could account for a reddening of the moon and a darkening of the sun, which would persist for at least months, and would be visible everywhere on the globe—a far, far, better fit than Hagee’s highly limited in time and place blood moons.

Hagee also claims three previous four-blood-moon events were tied to major events in Jewish history.  1492—the year of the expulsion of Jews from Spain, is claimed as tied to four blood moons of 1493-4; the founding of the State of Israel is tied to the blood moons of 1949-50; the famous six-day war of June, 1967 is tied to the four blood moons in 1967-8.  These are claimed as “the most important dates in all of Israel’s history,” a highly dubious claim—one could argue that the destruction of Solomon’s temple and the Babylonian exile in 586 B. C, the destruction of Herod’s temple in 70 A.D.; and the Holocaust of 1938-1945 have all of Hagee’s “most important dates” except perhaps, 1948, beat by a mile in importance (to say nothing of the coming of Messiah in the first century!).  Hagee has merely cherry-picked events that correspond, more or less (very much less), to the periods of the consecutive blood moons.  But there is one big problem—the blood-moon series’ in 1493-4, and 1949-50, came entirely AFTER the important event they are associated with, and all but one of the four blood moons did so in 1967-8.  However, the four blood moons of 2014-5 are claimed as heralding some FUTURE event, so the claimed analogy breaks down badly.

Then, contextually, the blood moons of 2014-5 CANNOT be the signs in the sun and moon of the Great Tribulation spoken of by Joel, Peter, Jesus and John, since those occur in the latter half of that still-future seven-year period.  To claim any connection is groundless sensationalism, and very poor Bible exposition.  (Hagee does claim to be both pre-mil and pre-trib in eschatology).

And what are we told these blood moons are a sign of?  Nothing except a vague declaration that “something is going to happen” regarding Israel.  No doubt true, but then just about any kind of event would fit the bill.

There are many factual errors in Hagee’s narrative regarding historic events, which I will not reference here.  Hagee displays what, to me, is a remarkable lack of a solid grasp of the over-all and in-particular teaching of Scripture, adopts really poor Bible hermeneutics, and stumbles into some monumental blunders, including the assertion that Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Transfiguration (which is in Galilee), rather than the Mount of Olives (which is just east of Jerusalem).

So far, just two months short of the final blood moon (September 28, 2015) nothing monumental in Israel’s history has happened.  Nor do I expect it to.  The whole premise of this book, and the claimed supporting evidence is a lot of hooey.  And when it proves to be just one more unfounded, alarmist / sensationalist book, it will tend to serve to discredit the Bible in the minds of unbelievers, like the recent failed predictions of the Second coming.  Hagee has sold a huge number of copies of this book—my copy is from the 23rd printing.

It seems that the market for such sensationalist literature is insatiable, no matter how poor, no matter how groundless their claims may be.  People do have itching ears, and crave to either tell or to hear something new.  Whether it is true or not is apparently optional.

Doug Kutilek

 

Screwtape Letters Part 9: Repost

UPDATE: This is a repost (with certain edits/improvements) of my most popular blog series in honor of the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death. Click here to get your copy of the 50th anniversary annotated edition.

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screwtape50thbChapter 12 This chapter offers a disturbing, yet enlightening look at how men can be deceived, distracted, and destroyed by Satan’s lifeless offerings. While Screwtape is writing specifically about a “lukewarm Christian,” I think the illustration is also valid for professed unbelievers who believe their own moral values sufficiently replace the “need” for God. After bringing his target to be sufficiently dull toward his relationship with God, Demon Wormwood is told that he (Wormwood) “will be gradually freed from the tiresome business of providing Pleasures as temptations . . . [you] will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his [the target’s] wandering attention” (italics added). Screwtape continues,

“You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s newspaper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversations he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him . . . All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, ‘I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked‘” (italics added).

Take note of the tragedy and waste found in the last sentence: ‘I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.” Imagine: In the end that you discover that not only have you not done what you should have done, but you also realize that you didn’t even like what you had done instead. You were the ultimate sucker. Screwtape’s conclusion is that, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” Beware: The gentle road is one that dulls our senses and leaves us vulnerable to Wormwood’s deceptions. To be continued . . .

Screwtape Letters Part 8: Repost

UPDATE: This is a repost (with certain edits/improvements) of my most popular blog series in honor of the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death.

Click here to get your copy of the 50th anniversary annotated edition.

____________________________________________

screwtape-classicChapter 9

Uncle Screwtape says,

“Never forget that when we [demons] are dealing with any [human] pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground.”

Emphasis has been added to draw your attention to the critical wording of this sentence. These three words – healthy, normal, satisfying – dramatically qualify the statement. Without these qualifiers, the sentence takes on a completely different and opposite meaning.

Take some time to let this settle into your heart.

Further to the topic of the Christian and true pleasure, I recommend John Piper’s book, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. Don’t be fooled by the title, there is nothing immoral within. Quite the opposite, in fact.

To be continued . . .

Screwtape Letters Part 7: Repost

UPDATE: This is a repost (with certain edits/improvements) of my most popular blog series in honor of the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death.

Click here to get your copy of the 50th anniversary annotated edition.

____________________________________________

screwtape50thbChapter 8

“The thief [Satan] does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I [Jesus] have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10 NKJV).”

In his effort to explain the essential difference between the demons and God, Screwtape captures the truth of Jesus’ words from John 10:10 when he says, “We [Satan] want to suck in, He [God] wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over.”

Isn’t it interesting how, in our day, the two parties are usually described in the opposite way? Generally, we hear God described as one who wants to take things away, when He really wants to give us real life. Unfortunately, Satan has deceived so many to buy into the lie that he, the Destroyer, has more to offer than God, when, in reality, he is the one taking way.

So many times I have heard someone say, “If I can’t do X, Y, or Z in heaven, then I would rather be in Hell doing those things with my friends.” And every time, “X,” “Y,” or “Z” was simply one of Satan’s cleverly disguised efforts to suck real life out of that person. In the end, these poor souls will only discover that “X,” “Y,” or “Z” are not just life takers, but life destroyers.

How sad that Jesus extends a hand saying, “I have come that you might have life, and that you may have it more abundantly” and so many people misunderstand that as something other than an offer of true reality – true satisfaction – TRUE LIFE. Satan is a liar; don’t be deceived.

To be continued…

Screwtape Letters Part 6: Repost

UPDATE: This is a repost (with certain edits/improvements) of my most popular blog series in honor of the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death.

Click here to get your copy of the 50th anniversary annotated edition.

____________________________________________

screwtape-logo.0Chapter 7

All extremes except extreme devotion to the Enemy [God] are to be encouraged. Not always, of course, but at this period. Some ages are lukewarm and complacent, and then it is our business to soothe them yet faster asleep.

In this excerpt, Uncle Screwtape is teaching his nephew the art of discerning the times. What he wants Wormwood to understand is that at times it is better to direct the Christian’s attention toward absolute devotion to a cause, even a “good” cause, rather than toward God.

My observation is that usually in the beginning, the cause is justifiable because it generally fits within the framework of being a “biblical responsibility.” For example, many times I have seen Christian men become so engaged in their jobs that they eventually lose both their spiritual life and their families because of chronic absenteeism at home. They presumably devoted themselves to their job in order to fulfill their biblical responsibility of providing for their family (1 Timothy 5:8), but their devotion to their job became increasingly larger than their devotion to their family, or to God. The demands of the job grew to the point that there was no time to pray or meditate on Scripture, or spend time with the family. Next thing you know, the husband/father is hardly ever home and is trying to fill his absence with stuff. Of course, it takes more money to buy more stuff and more time on the job(s) to make more money. And the cycle starts spinning out of control.

Sadly, many pastors fall prey to this, putting their devotion to “ministry” above their devotion to God. The results of this are staggering: no prayer, no meditation, no spiritual life, and no joy – only rigorous, legalistic efforts at ministry. Unfortunately, the examples of extreme devotion to a cause being destructive to a devotion to God are legion and are not limited to dads or pastors. I’m sure that anyone reading this can think of several examples of their own. Beware, lest we too fall prey to extreme devotion to something other than God!

The second point that Uncle Screwtape makes about discerning the times is that of mediocrity. In other words, if a Christian is lukewarm about his devotion to God there is no need to spark his devotion to become extreme toward another target. From a demon’s perspective, it is sometimes better to “let a sleeping dog lie.” The dysfunctional state of popular Christianity is, I think, the result of the Wormwood & Sons of the underworld simply allowing lukewarm Christians to continue in their slumber. The Apostle John gives us a warning of the danger of staying comfortably lukewarm:

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I ill grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 3:14-22 NASB)”

To be continued . . .

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