Saturday, 22 August 2015

John Hagee, September 28th and another facepalm moment for Christianity.

It is probably safe to assume that by now you have heard of the latest dates set by the end of the world prophets and conspiracy theorists. This time around we have not one but two authors, John Hagee and Mark Biltz, who are claiming that the end is nigh and the signs are there in the heavens for all to see. The basic idea is that the occurrence of four ‘blood moons’ during 2014 and 2015 are a sign that Jesus will return on or around the 28th September which is the date of the fourth and final blood moon in the series. Hagee is far vaguer than Biltz here and only says that something big and of eschatological significance will definitely take place sometime in 2014 or 2015. Believers point to scriptures like Revelation 6:12 and Acts 2:19-20 which speak of the moon becoming like blood before the end of days and Christ’s return. Some of the additional reasons given to back this theory/prophecy up are that these moons coincide with some of the Jewish holidays. September 13th for example marks the end of the Shemitah cycle and the start of Jubilee. The Pope will visit the US around about this time and the Jade Helm military exercises end in September as well. There are also a bunch of Armageddon type movies (Mad Max, Mission Impossible etc) which have end of the world scenarios with September dates in them which are said to be conditioning the masses using subliminal messaging. Some also say that a giant asteroid is headed toward earth and will crash near Puerto Rico around about the 24th September.

So what should we make of these claims? Ignoring the more outlandish claims, over here I would like to look at just two things, starting with the blood moons themselves and then looking at a few scriptures that relate to the topic at hand. Firstly, Hagee and Biltz suggest that these blood moons in the past have coincided with significant events such as the Jewish people been expelled from Spain, the discovery of America by Columbus, Israel becoming a nation and then the Six Day War in 1967. This may sound more than coincidental to some but those who have gone and checked the actual dates of these moons and events will tell you that the Spanish Inquisition was established in 1478, some fourteen years before the particular tetrad been associated with it. The actual decree ordering the expulsion of the Jewish people was in 1492, also a year before the tetrad. Similarly, Israel regained its statehood in 1948, a year before the tetrads of 1949 and 1950. The dates don’t appear any more significant with the Six Day War either with three of the four eclipses happening over the year and a half that followed.  If I start prophesying events a year after they actually take place, how much credibility would you give me? Blood moons are not actually as rare as one might think either, there have been 62 of them since the first century and the reason that occasionally some of them (eight) coincide with the Jewish feasts is that the feasts and Jewish calendar also follow the lunar cycle. Critics have also pointed out that only one of the four current eclipses will be at best only partially visible from Jerusalem. So at the end of the day what we are left with is a sign that won’t be visible to the people it is for which in the past has only appeared after the events actually occur and usually passes without any significance either.

What does scripture have to say?

Let’s look first at the scriptures which the theory/prophecy is based around:-

And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. – Acts 2:19-20

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood. – Revelation 6:12

While John Hagee’s argument is built on Acts 2:19-20, it should be noted that it forms part of Peter’s epic speech made on Pentecost. The Spirit had just fallen on the 120 who began to speak in tongues and Paul quotes from Joel 2:28-32 to explain to the skeptics what is going on (Peter’s implication is that Joel’s prophecy was being fulfilled before their eyes rather than it being directed at other people some 2000 years later). Additionally, whether we are reading Joel 2, Matthew 24 or Revelation 6, we read of only one eclipse and it is accompanied by what is possibly a solar eclipse and a great earthquake as well. To my knowledge these other elements have been left out of the prophecies concerning Israel for next month. Also, nowhere does the bible mention a tetrad of eclipses so claiming it carries a special significance seems to be a bit of a stretch.

Despite the fact that Jesus tells us that no one knows the date of His return (Matthew 24:36), despite the fact that Christians have a long and embarrassing track record of failed date settings and despite the fact that the bible specifically condemns divination and astrology (Deuteronomy 18:10, Jeremiah 10:2, 27:9-10, Isaiah 47:10-14) we just can’t seem to keep away from this sort of thing.

Why do we keep buying into the ideas of men who have a history of throwing dates out that repeatedly come to naught? Based on what I see on my Facebook feed I am aware that I run the risk of offending many of my friends with this post (which is not my intention at all). If your instinct is to dismiss this post as rubbish I implore you to come back here in October and reread this last part again. Every time we promote a false prophet the church loses credibility in the eyes of the world. Every time we share a news story that turns out to be false we sow untruth in the name of our Lord. When we as the church lose our credibility with others Jesus does as well. People out there don’t read these outlandish claims and say, “Yeah John Hagee, Edgar Whisenant and Harold Camping are nutters”. No, they think Christians are gullible and always the most likely to fall for a good conspiracy theory. I know the intention behind posting these warnings is good; many of the people I know personally who believe September will be a big month for biblical prophecy are wonderful brothers and sisters who I look up to. But come October the only people who are not left broken and disillusioned are the authors who are left counting the revenue made from their book sales and speaking engagements.

A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thoughts to his steps. – Proverbs 14:15

Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear, and do not dread it. – Isaiah 8:12.

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