When I entered the ministry in 1972 I was ready to take on the world. I had all the answers. I knew what was next on the prophecy side of the coin. Yes, I was God’s man. Every Church that I pastored over the course of the next 33 or so years was met with a course on prophecy. Out came the charts, studies guides, and tapes. From time to time I even used a movie about the end times. In preacher meetings that was always a topic of discussion. Each preacher had his theory and certain twist of the end times. It always involved some sort of conspiracy to take over the world too. Of course it had to be true since Israel has returned to their land. Those where the heady days of my early ministry
But over the course of time common Biblical sense started to set in. During this time several popular preachers and Christian leaders made predictions of different sorts about the end. I remember the first time I ever heard and saw the famous "Walking Bible" Jack Van Impe. It was at the Greenville Civic center in downtown Greenville, SC. I was a student at that time at Bob Jones University. A school that I still hold dear no matter my differences with them. I heard and saw Van Impe preach his famous sermon on prophecy which blew me away. He knew it all! Many students and others all but ran to the alter to get saved. WOW! But a revelation came to me a few short years after I entered the ministry. Van Impi was to speak in Atlanta, GA. He met with a group of Independent Fundamental pastors. Among them was one Methodist preacher, a close personal friend, who was one of the founders of that group. The great Van Impe refused to let that Methodist pastor sit on the platform with the rest in that group. Evidently Van Impe thinks only Baptists are Christians.
Then there was the book “Eighty-eight Reasons Why...” by a former NASA guy named Edgar Whisenant who also made a clear prediction for September 1988. 4.5 million copies were sold in bookstores and elsewhere. The time came and went. Nothing happened. But all those who believed that author made an excuses for this gross sin and then came silence. You would have thought that Christians had learned their lesson.
Along came the dark age Calvinist and founder of Family Radio Harold Camping, who not only once, but twice made predictions of His return. He was a two time loser. The first prediction came with his book “1994.” While he was not necessarily dogmatic about this prediction, he did set the date of September 6, 1994. Nothing happened. In later books “We are Almost There!" and “To God be The Glory” this annihilationist Calvinist preacher pointed to May 21, 2011 for the rapture and October 21, 2011 for the last day of the world. Across our nation you could see billboards, signs on cars, and all the trimming warning us to repent for the time is at hand. And who said it? The dark age annihilationist Calvinist and founder of Family Radio, Harold Camping. It made this writer want to throw up. It was disgusting!
Of course there were many other predictions along the way. But still, I started to think more carefully about this. Then came the collapse of the Soveit Union, and the first Gulf war. The great Bear from the north was gone and a great depression set in on the prophecy business. I personally found myself on the streets of Moscow, in Red Square no less, passing out Gospel tracts. But the prophecy mills were rejuvenated with the first Gulf war. And the more I thought the more I realized that this sort of thing may not be the desired goal that our Lord set for us in the Great Commission. And so it is, every so often, some preacher or church makes a sensational prediction based on a few verses that seem to indicate what they say is true. Just like the newest one now, “The Four Blood Moons.” It is to start tonight as I write.
There are several preachers and groups who have been really pushing this concept. However, none more so then Hagee’s "Magic." And so tonight, Sept. 17, 2015 is the last of the Four Blood Moons (FBM). Always accompanying these predictions seems to be an amazing amount of research. And then comes the books, videos, and mp3 recordings. Astonishingly pastors and lay people alike follow. Particularly when a personality like Hagee is leading the charge. There is no honest reason for Christians to follow this junk apolgetic. Is it the fear that by not embarcing this they will be accused of denying His return or what? But it is strange, that so many of these lies or predictions never come true and yet people continue to follow. And in recent times these prophets are even more dogmatic than ever. Interestingly enough, if they should come true, what good is it since people are now waiting to see if it will finally happen. If then this is used to call sinners to repentance, it seems to me to be counterproductive. It will be too late for them to repent.
Now with the exception of Harold Camping, most of those doing these predictions hold to some form of the Premillennial Dispensational (PD) point of view. This they insist is just what the Bible teaches. This view has become all but a fundamental doctrine to most Evangelicals, Charismatic’s and Fundamentalists. To question this orthodoxy is almost a heresy. The whole series of “Left Behind” movies and books have their base in the theory of PDism. With it comes sensationalism to a high degree. Van Impe has this sensationalism down pat too. All prophecy must be taken literally. That is fine with me, except, the Church victorious over the ages always held to a live and let live attitude on prophecy. These guys do not. What they say you must believe or else.
So what is the bottom line requirement of prophecy anyway. First that you believe he will return as he was taken up both bodily and physically. Second that he will raise all the living and the dead in judgement. And finally those who are washed in the blood will be with him forever. These three things are essential. Nothing more. What happens here is none of our concern except that we are to mind the Lord.
Lets look at the gist of what is being said with the FBM dogmatic. They say that this phenomenon occurs with four consecutive blood moons coinciding with Jewish feast days. That every time this has happened something dreadful happens shortly thereafter to either the Jews or those around them. They say that this has happened 10 times since AD 1. And so we are going to see it once more. And what makes this time so different than in the past? The difference that gives this more urgency is the fact that Israel is back in its land. There is no denying that Israel seems to be part of the end time saga. Yet I wonder if we got it right. That is, just what role will Israel have? But that is another subject all in itself.
Now the FBM, as usual for many PD’s, is based on a mathematical formula. For example Daniel's Seventy weeks has a lot of math figuring in order to find the “last” seventh week. This theory is no different. What the four means is a series of feast days over a period of time. This period of time is called tetrads meaning four. An interesting side note, just as in the book “Eighty-eight Reasons Why...,” they invoke NASA. And here is what they say NASA is saying about this tetrad, as if NASA gives a hoot. The discovery that these prophets made via NASA is in bullet form below.
In order to escape from Isaiah’s warning not to be like the astrologers of his time they invoke scripture to try to cover their evil. They snatch the phrase from Gen 1:14 “let them be for signs.” Then on to Matthew 2:2, they grab this phrase for validation of their using stars and signs, “for we have seen his star in the east,....” Then to make sure you are convinced that this mischief that they are about to do is true, they run to poor Joel 2:30-31 where he states: “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.” And they carefully place a cherry on top of this dangerous creation by citing Revelation 6:12 where St John says “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.” So with all this reproof, dare we cite the truth of Isaiah against these great teachers? And by the way, most all these preachers and teachers holding this view are dispensational teachers. That is they have divided the Bible into seven dispensations on how God dealt with man. And once those dispensations are past, those scriptures given for that dispensation should not be understood to imply much of anything to us in our present dispensation. Let me explain.
Some years ago I remember debating the issue of eternal security with a brother who was a die-hard dispensationalist. It seemed like any OT passage I cited he simply said that it does not pertain to us in this dispensation. By the end of our discussion I was super frustrated because he had, and I doubt that he knew this, denied two thirds of the scripture via his dispensational view. It was crazy. Since this word does not appear in many of the articles, though much is based on such, I find it interesting how, except for prophecy it is used. They will time and time again make exceptions for dispensationalism in order to have it their way. After all, prophecy is different.
In Genesis 1 we find a statement of fact. “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:” There is no real indication that verse is concerned anything about using the stars or moon to predict world events. In the context, it seems to deal only with the physical in nature. It does not seem to be talking about astrology in the sense of end time predictions or what Isaiah is condemning.
Then on to Matthew 2:2, for the phrase to validate their use of the stars as signs, “for we have seen his star in the east,....” O man so much has been written on this one in recent years. But in the context, we have no indication that these men where Jews. Just that they wanted to come and worship. Also, this star was extra special which cried out for attention for anyone who would look. Is this any different from the angels appearing to the shepherds on the hillside keeping watch? It is all in the context of God fulfilling that long awaited promise to Adam and Eve. From the hill sides to the heavens, all the world is full of his glory and wonder. Christ was the object of Abraham's faith and all those faithful followers in the OT. Now all this being said, where are we commanded to look for angels to appear on the hillsides today much less a wandering star to show the end is near? That was not the reason for the star. Not in the least. You see, we have a more sure word, the Bible.
Now what about the prophet Joel? He says “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.” This is another phrase of the moon turning to blood. But wait. He is writing in what is called prophetic language. That is it may not happen literally when certain events take place though it is equally shocking as if it literally happened. If the sun is turned into darkness, that would literally be it for our solar system and the earth. We would be toast! Is the moon going be turn literally into blood? No. I remember the days of the cold war with the Soviet Union. We know Putin is working hard to start it all over so as he can win claim to victory over the west. But at that time, preachers where claiming that when Russia got to the moon and planted their red flag there that was fulfilling this passage. Since the Russian flag was red, that is what it meant. If they were right, then the moon did not turn literally into blood. So now we must fulfill Joel’s prophecy. Of course we are taught that there can be many fulfillings of any prophecy. Really? So there can be two great tribulations, two or more of “the” antichrist’s and so forth? I think not. That idea is totally foreign to scripture. But it is a good cover for the old bottom when you are wrong. Sorry friend, this does not give anyone permission to use stars or moons to predict any event in the Bible.
Where is their divine permission to use astrology? Once again they use the most beloved of our Lords, disciples St John. He says in Revelation 6:12 “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.” This is a most fascinating book. It was spoken to John by our Lord himself and he recorded every word. It is therefore true. Yet through the ages many fine Christians debated the many aspects of this great work. The date of this books writing is debated. If the book was written before AD 70, much of it could have taken place before the fall of Jerusalem. If AD 90, most of it is yet to come. They tried to figure out whether it was talking about past history or future history? They wondered and argued if it were to be taken literally or how? Is it prophetic language, and if it is what is it referring to? And besides, making it AD 90 is most profitable to many. And I do not mean profitable in a spiritual sense. My problem is that if it is totally literal, like they make the moon into blood, how could this earth last? On this passage I think that we need to give a wide berth. Let us not get dogmatic here. Just trust that he who gave it to John will in time reveal its wonderful work.
Let me pick up one more passage to comment on. That would be from our Brother Matthew. He says in 24:15-18, 21: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes…For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” I believe this has been fulfilled. The great historian Josephus, a Jewish historian who converted to Christianity, made an interesting comment on this passage. He said that as the Roman soldiers smashed Jerusalem, that the Christians because of this warning left the area, and not one was lost. For this historian, this event was verified by the Christians listening to our Lord's warning. It was the great abomination as he and they knew it literally was. When they saw this great abomination of desolation taking place they fled. This has been fulfilled, and no other is needed.
While I believe that Israel has a role in prophecy, I do not believe a lot of what I hear about it. Particularly if the PD’s are involved. There is no doubt in my mind that we could be in the last days. However, just recently I have been going through some of my sermon collection that were recorded in the early 50's. And without fail, all those preachers trumpeted that America was finished and Jesus was at hand. Have we gone too far? Perhaps this is natural for all preachers. But in reality, Jesus himself warned us against worrying about the last days. The very last thing he said to the apostles in Acts 1:7 he said “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” These were Christ’s last words, and still we have such outright arrogance concerning the dogmatics of prophecy! Then add what the Prophet Isaiah said, “Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.” God have mercy on these know it all preachers. He will return. Take that to the bank, but don’t bank on the Four Blood Moons nonsense. Don’t buy those books and tapes, but give what you would spend on that stuff to a well deserving missionary or pastor.