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

 

@SquareTrade Is For Real

square-tradeBackground

Just under 3 years ago, I bought a MacBook Pro from Amazon and had to decide whether to extend my warranty coverage with AppleCare or Square Trade. I compared the prices and coverages and realized the latter simply offered more, MUCH MORE coverage for less money. But I had no idea if Square Trade was as good as they advertised themselves to be. In fact, it sounded too good to be true!

Square-Trade-coverage

I’m fairly skeptical when buying insurance or warranty extensions, believing it’s mostly a racket and, in the end, will not be all it is advertised to be. In spite of my skepticism, however, I often extend my warranties and hope for the best.

I feel compelled to protect myself because I realize I’m not the kind of Mac owner I see at the coffee shop. You know, the one whose aluminum body MacBook remains shiny and spotless. The one whose monitor doesn’t have smudges or scratches. I. Am. Not. That. Person. I have two kids (ages 10 and 3) who have been known to use my laptop as a spring board or step stool or decorate it with stickers. As rough as they are, though, I’m more rough on the unit. I don’t worship my Mac. I use it as a serious tool, and it shows: scratches, dents, smudges, stickers, missing foot pads, and metal eaten away from HOURS of resting my palms on it.

By now, you must realize something went wrong with my laptop and I am reviewing Square Trade’s warranty. If that’s the case, you are correct.

My Story

About 6 weeks ago, which was a few months before my warranty expired, I was unable to insert a dvd into my SuperDrive® and assumed the reason was a recent tumble my computer experienced. Since the earphone jack had not worked for some time, the two issues gave me the incentive to get it fixed. So, having forgotten I bought Square Trade instead of AppleCare, I went to Apple and was surprised that I didn’t have coverage, which likely would not have been covered by AppleCare anyway.

Puzzled about my lack of coverage and certain that I had purchased extended coverage I went to my Amazon account and called up my previous purchase records. There it was: Square Trade. At the moment, I had no memory of buying it or registering it, but had done both over 2 1/2 years prior. I was nervous, but made the call anyway.

A friendly customer service representative (CSR) answered and helped me sort out my account and make my claim. “What is the problem?” he asked. I explained my SuperDrive® malfunction and earphone jack problem and asked what’s the process to make a claim and get my computer fixed. He asked for me to hold while he updated my file, and when he returned he outlined my options: 1) I could send it to Square Trade and have their techs repair the unit, or 2) I could take it anywhere I wanted for repair and send a receipt for reimbursement. I initially chose option 1 and had a shipping box sent to me, and within minutes I had an email confirming the process and my decision to send it in for repair. However, my skepticism kicked in and I couldn’t bring myself to send it to Square Trade for repair. This was simply too good to be true and too easy. After the shipping box sat in my office for 2 weeks, I called to report my change of mind and ask for option 2. The CSR simply said “okay, let me change your file and give you a new confirmation number.” Within minutes, I had a second email, confirming my decision to choose a technician and be refunded.

Still skeptical, but feeling a little more confident I began to look for local technicians to do the work. I took my laptop in and the tech began work the next day. He called back to say that he didn’t think the SuperDrive® problem was due to a drop, it was something else that would only be revealed after he dug a little deeper, which required a go-ahead from me. He also said, that my earphone jack was likely a logic board problem and that my hard drive was showing signs of failure. All told, the price was upwards of $600 to fix what he thought was wrong, and more if the SuperDrive® was busted. I hoped for the best, gave the go ahead and about a week later, my laptop was fixed. It had a new logic board, new hard drive and a re-aligned SuperDrive®. Oh, the problem with the SuperDrive® was a plastic coin my son had inserted into the slot. I didn’t know he had done that, but realized the culprit immediately when the tech sheepishly said, “there was a coin in your SuperDrive®, a gray plastic coin.”

After paying for the repair, I immediately scanned and emailed my receipt to Square Trade. Within minutes, I received a note declaring payment would arrive within 7-10 business days. Now the wait. It was excruciating because I didn’t have $600 to throw at this thing if Square Trade didn’t come through. As promised, the check arrived without any hesitation for the additional cost of a hard drive, which was never mentioned in my discussion with the CSR.

Conclusion

Square Trade is for real! Their promises were too good to be true, but they were true. Their customer service reps were extremely easy to work with, and understanding of my skepticism. I still can hardly believe how well this worked, but I have the check in hand to prove it.

Thanks Square Trade for doing business the “old fashioned way” with integrity and courtesy.

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.

____________________________________________

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…

%d bloggers like this: