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.