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

 

40 Questions about the End Times

Having lived in Israel for many years, meant being asked about the “End Times” on a regular basis: “When do you think [insert event] will happen?” “Where do you think we are in the time line?”

It also meant being presented with seemingly every conceivable End Time scenario. This was so prevalent that I found myself avoiding the topic altogether. Rather than my time in Israel causing me to understand the End Times better, I think it caused me to be grow somewhat dismissive of the topic, which I regret.

If you are like me or are genuinely confused about the End Times, Kregel’s new book, 40 Questions About the End Times,might be helpful.

If this book is as good as 40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law,another book in Kregel’s 40 Questions series, then Eckhard J. Schnabel will have made an important contribution to the End Times discussion.

The Day After: Beware

I can’t think I would need to remind ANYONE that a certain man/Bible teacher/prophet (or whatever he actually is) predicted specific end times events would occur yesterday. And, in the aftermath of none of them coming to pass, I want to offer a word of caution to those born again Christians who have been or are starting to scoff at this man and his prediction(s) . . . and end time events.

It’s a fine line between mocking him and ending up mocking the rapture of the saints or the Lord’s return, whichever you happen to have understood him to be predicting. As May 21, 2011 approached, I watched many Christians blog/tweet/comment to the effect that “the Bible teaches that we can’t know, so this guy is a crackpot for saying so dogmatically that he knows the day . . . and this isn’t the first time he’s done this!” That’s all well and good, but we need to be careful that we don’t begin to mock the events themselves.

I found some of the bloggers and tweeters following the deadline as it moved through the various timezones easily crossing the line to essentially say, “See, I knew it wouldn’t happen today. Today is just like yesterday, which was just like the day before.” That kind of blogging/tweeting is very close to “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation. (2 Peter 3:4 NASB)”

And we don’t get a free pass to mock because a “crackpot” has predicted a certain day. Neither do we get a pass to believe that nothing can happen today because someone predicted this date. The Lord’s hand isn’t stopped because someone disobediently or incorrectly issued a time line.

In reverse order: the scriptures encourage us to look expectantly for the coming of the day of God (2 Peter 3:11-13), not be ignorant that the “slowness” of God’s promise is actually a sign of God’s patience toward us (3:8-9), and beware that scoffers will arise in the last day questioning the Lord’s coming (3:3-4).

So, in these days after, let’s please be careful that we don’t follow the path of scoffers regarding God’s promises just because someone did what they weren’t supposed to do.

Does This Count?

A couple of years ago, I attended a media in ministry conference/seminar that attempted to help those who attended understand how to better utilize various media in our ministry efforts.

The conference was divided into two emphases: the philosophical foundations of using media in ministry and the practical “how to” aspects of filming, editing and broadcasting. Overall, the seminars were interesting and helpful, but I think most of those attending would have liked more emphasis on the practical tools.

The conference ended with the the conference professionals presenting us with certificates of completion. As each of us were called to the platform to receive our certificates, the main instructor – I don’t remember his name – would say a word of encouragement to or prophesy about the recipient. Admittedly, I was a little uncomfortable with this, but took my turn like the rest, received my diploma and prophesy, which was that I would “become high profile.”

Of course “high profile” could mean a host of things, pretty much whatever anyone desires it to mean. So, how does one evaluate the accuracy of a prophecy such as this one?

Here’s what happened: After a few friend’s giggled at me about the prophecy, I forgot about it. About 2 months ago, I was surprised to get an email from someone in England who I hadn’t heard from since 2005. This person wrote that he was prompted to contact me because he had seen me on television in England on a show that is airing around the UK.

At first, I was pretty puzzled that I was on television in the UK since I am generally not in the news and don’t do interviews. Was it something to do with baseball in the Jewish Olympics? Perhaps someone had filmed me teaching the Bible on location and somehow that video made it’s way onto a Christian television show, I thought. Suddenly, I remembered the prophecy and that I had, in fact, been interviewed at the conference and that I had signed a release form allowing them to use my likeness and/or words in anyway they desired.

I had finally connected the dots: The man who gave the prophecy that I would become “high profile” had used an interview that his crew had previously filmed as part of a show or advertisement being broadcast on Christian television throughout the UK. Honestly, I was happy to figure out how I was appearing on television in the UK, but that left me with other questions.

Here’s one of the questions: Is it a legitimate prophecy if he already had my interview “in the can” and knew he could/would use it in a future production that would be broadcast in the UK? (I suspect it is being broadcast elsewhere, too.)

Oh, one more thing: A friend told me on Saturday that I have recently been on Hungarian television. But that broadcast had nothing to do with the media conference.

City of Faith

The idea for this offering is the result of an odd convergence of two things: PYROMANIAC’s (still unfinished) discussion of “Rubber Prophecies” and my own encounter with someone intimately involved with the recovery efforts surrounding Oral Roberts’ failed City of Faith.

In his discussion about the validity of the prophetic word in our day, PYROMANIAC (a.k.a. Phillip Johnson) illustrates his point by citing Mr. Roberts’ attempt to explain away the appearance that the City of Faith had been a terrible miscalculation of hubris or misguided charismania, which had been published in the December 1989 edition of Charisma Magazine [pg. 88]:

God said in my spirit, “I had you build the City of Faith large enough to capture the imagination of the entire world . . . . I did not want this revelation localized in Tulsa, however. . . . “

As clearly in my spirit as I’ve ever heard Him, the Lord gave me an impression. “You and your partners have merged prayer and medicine for the entire world, for the church world and for all generations,” He said. “It is done.”

I then asked [God], “Is that why after eight years you’re having us close the hospital and after 11 years the medical school?

God said, “Yes, the mission has been accomplished in the same way that after the three years of public ministry My Son said on the cross, ‘Father, it is finished.'” [Emphasis added.]

Having grown up in Dallas with most of my family remaining in the greater Oklahoma City area, I am familiar with Oral Roberts and his City of Faith Medical Center. I, too, am familiar with its demise, but since I didn’t/don’t run in ORU circles, I was not aware of the disclaimer cited above.

Before, I had always thought the words of Jesus were at some level an indictment against Mr. Roberts’ efforts at building the City of Faith: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish. (Luke 14:28-30 NIV)’”

The irony that Jesus specifically mentioned a tower was not lost on me, and my previous thoughts that Mr. Roberts had clearly been indicted by Jesus’ warning seemed to be confirmed in the summer of 2005.

Imagine my embarrassment to find out more of this story from an Orthodox Jewish man in Israel. While sitting around a softball field swapping stories about Oklahoma, my acquaintance told me of his “personal audience” with Mr. Roberts. He (my acquaintance) was one of the three major players in land acquisition and management in and around Tulsa during the days of Mr. Roberts’ financial crisis and Mr. Roberts wanted to give him, a Jew – one of God’s chosen people – the first shot at purchasing some of the student housing and various other properties of his financially sinking empire. It isn’t clear whether it was the “chosen people” thing, or that Roberts had been told that this guy would give him a better and fairer offer than the other two companies that was more compelling. Maybe it isn’t even important.

In any case, I got a blow-by-blow retelling of the ghost-town atmosphere and the sadness that hung in the air as the crane lifted and removed the giant praying hands. I was blushing as this Orthodox Jew told of his sadness at seeing this pitiful situation and of seeing “The Giant Oral Roberts” almost groveling before him to be bailed out.

My acquaintance said he left Mr. Roberts’ office with the intention of calculating a bid, but quickly realized that he couldn’t acquire any property from the City of Faith at any price. “Imagine the headlines,” he challenged. Then he laughed while seriously suggesting a possible newspaper headline: “Jew Takes Over City of Faith.” “No way, not at any price!!!”

I guess it’s okay to wipe the blush off my face, now that I know that the City of Faith wasn’t a miscalculated effort at self-promotion, or, perhaps more importantly, the result of false prophecy. Rather, the apparent failure of the City of Faith was comparable to Christ ending his public ministry on Calvary’s cross: Mission accomplished.

And I thought it was hubris to simply embark on the City of Faith project. That pales in comparison with suggesting that its apparently premature demise was similar to Christ’s apparently premature death. In the latter, it’s clear that His work was finished. In the case of the former, let’s just say…I don’t believe the explanation.

It makes me nervous when men say, “God [privately] told me….”

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:19-21 NASB)

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