BLOOD MOON MADNESS

Blood Moon Madness

By S. Douglas Woodward

Summary:  This past weekend, just before sunrise on April 4, 2015, the third of the four blood moon tetrads could be seen in the U.S.  Once more two key questions arise:  “Will the Tribulation begin this year?  Is the Blood Moon Prophecy True?”  Moreover, during the past two weeks, a dispute has arisen over who should be credited with the discovery.  This feud between two different Christian ministers (both who have written books and made films on the topic) will likely bring discredit to both and the Blood Moon Prophecy itself.  This apocalyptic approach to correlating cosmic events, selecting sacred dates, and announcing an adamant warning of the coming of Christ, inevitably stains the study of Bible prophecy.  History provides abundant examples.

London’s 17th Century Apocalyptic Portents

London: September 6, 1666: It has been 1,000 years since the birth of Christ plus 666 years (the number of the Beast). The city is ablaze. 70,000 home are on fire. The blaze has destroyed 87 parish churches. St. Paul’s Cathedral caught fire and is also destroyed. This tragedy comes on top of the 100,000 who have succumbed to the Bubonic Plague in our ravaged city.   But we must remember the comets. These stunning portents appeared just last year. No doubt they were a heavenly harbinger of the devastation we experience today. Are these desolations our final warning that the end of days is near?

The summary above, paraphrased from my book Decoding Doomsday (published in 2010) gives an account in today’s vernacular (as if in a then contemporary newspaper) of the massive fire that consumed much of the old city of London 350 years ago.

No doubt some readers might be surprised to learn that there were newspapers at that time. To prove it true, I provide an actual facsimile below from The London Gazette recapping the days from September 3-10, 1666 (Figure 1). The actual Old English language the newspaper employed analyzing the dramatic event seems most applicable to our topic, because it demonstrates that God’s providence was acknowledged and considered an essential factor in the affairs of humankind and in particular, that devastating cataclysm. We read:

…And so blowen forwards in all its ways by strong Winds, make us conclude the whole was an effect of an unhappy chance, or to speak better, the heavy hand of God upon us for our sins, shewing us the terror of his Judgment in thus raising the Fire, and immediately after his miraculous and never to be acknowledged Mercy, to put a stop to it all when we were in the last despair, and all attempts to quench it no matter how industriously pursued seemed insufficient.

As I pointed out in Decoding Doomsday, the portentous events in the auspicious year of 1666 inspired a young Sir Isaac Newton to search the Scriptures diligently to learn whether the Day of the Lord was at hand. Late in his life (about 1705), he wrote in his personal notes (likely not for public consumption), specific predictions about when the Lord would return to establish his kingdom.

 

London Gazette September 3-10, 1666
London Gazette September 3-10, 1666

The Fifth Monarchy Men

Isaac Newton was hardly alone in wondering whether 1666 could be the date Antichrist would appear and establish his reign of terror.

Tract from the Fifth Monarchy Men 1653
Tract from the Fifth Monarchy Men 1653

In those days, there was an English group of political zealots (who reckoned themselves consecrated to the Kingdom of God) who played no small part in the revolution in which Oliver Cromwell took control of the country through a military dictatorship. These notorious activists took the name the Fifth Monarchy Men, in reference to the four kingdoms (plus one) of the Book of Daniel (see Figure 1). The ‘plus one” would be the empire of Christ, the rock made without hands envisioned by Daniel (see Daniel 2:45). This rock would grow to crush all earlier empires as it grew into a mountain without equal.

The conflict between King Charles I and Parliament energized The Fifth Monarchy men. Once Charles was hanged in 1649 (the Catholic Antichrist eliminated), the Puritan Cromwell became the man of the hour who (the Fifth Monarchists believed) would clear the way for the Kingdom of Christ, the Fifth Empire, to break forth upon the earth.

Wikipedia tells us a good deal about this early group of chiliasts (aka millennialists, of whom I unashamedly count myself as one):

The Fifth Monarchists were one of many groups of Christian believers during and after the English Civil War whose theological beliefs challenged the more mainstream ideas of the day. Specifically, they believed in a geopolitical theory which maintained that four world rulers had already come and gone according to the prophecies of Daniel 2 in the Old Testament. This text recounts a prophetic dream by Nebuchadnezzar. The previous empires of which he dreamed, were interpreted to have been Babylonian, Persian, Grecian and Roman; the last empire, the Monarchists concluded, would be established by the returning Jesus as King of kings and Lord of Lords to reign with his saints on earth for a thousand years. The Fifth Monarchists saw themselves as those saints of that soon to be dawning millennium. Among prominent Fifth Monarchists were Thomas Harrison, Christopher Feake, Vavasor Powell, John Carew, John Rogers and Robert Blackborne, Secretary of the Admiralty and later of the British East India Company.

Fifth Monarchists believed that the timing of the events of the Interregnum[1] were significant because the calendar year 1666 loomed large on the near horizon. The number 666 had been identified in the Book of Revelation with the ultimate human despot to rule the world, but who would be replaced by the Second Coming of the Messiah; this only added to the belief that the Fifth Monarchy was about to begin.[2]

After the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, the leadership of The Fifth Monarchists were hanged, drawn, and quartered for treason. To say the least, the time for Millennialists to rule the world (enduring for a full 1,000 years) had not yet arrived.[3]

On the one hand, The Fifth Monarchists presumed they could take up arms and force the hand of the King of Creation and manifest the outcome of appointed times and seasons. The Fifth Monarchists were ‘dedicated to the proposition’ that Christ’s Kingdom should come upon the earth. They also believed that English Monarchy was tyrannical. Among Bible-believing Christians, these affirmations can hardly be faulted.

On the other hand, they faltered when they unwaveringly asserted the Day of the Lord had come.   Amidst awesome heavenly signs and earthly calamities they concluded that the timing was right for the Second Coming. Indeed, to them it apparently seemed the absence of a royal regent opened the door wide for Christ to return and reign. The promise of a republic (instead of the perennial monarchy) promised the dawn of a new day. Combined with moral uprightness of a Puritan like Cromwell to set things right in the Church of England, must mean the blessed land of England would enjoy the return of the One True King.[4]

Nevertheless, no amount of purification of the Church (which is why these protestants earned the name ‘puritan’), proved to be the critical factor triggering the apocalypse. The return of the Heavenly King, the final chapter in the cosmic chess match of the Bible, resided not in the hands of mere mortals no matter how clever, passionate, or determined.

In the end, the hopes and aspirations, like the bodies of these activists, were left dangling at the end of rope until their corpses were cut apart in four pieces and made a public spectacle, reminding all that the earthly King of England was no one to be trifled with. The ways of men are not the ways of God.

Isaac Newton and the Calculation of the End Times

As for Sir Isaac Newton, he soon became dissuaded that the Millennium was imminent. He determined it was unlikely to occur during his lifetime. Instead, he proposed that Christ would not return until 1,260 years from the date the Holy Roman Empire commenced (which occurred on Christmas Day, 800 A.D. at the crowning of Charlemagne in Rome), or 2,300 years from the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. (Both of these numbers were prominently put to use in the Book of Revelation while the latter was also put forth within the Book of Daniel). Newton assumed, as do most scholars of Bible prophecy today that the numbers of 1,260 and 2,300 figure prominently in calculating the precise date when Jesus Christ returns. Newton proposed, as do some others in our day, that these ‘days’ actually equal years (the so-called Day/Year theory). In effect, if one knows the year when the countdown begins, the timing of the Second Coming of Christ can be established through simple addition. Thus, Newton asserted that the Millennium could begin not before the year 2060 (1,260 years plus 800 referencing Charlemagne’s coronation); but must happen not later than the year 2370 (2,300 years plus 70, the year Jerusalem was razed). Newton summarizes his methodology as follows:

So then the time times & half a time are 42 months or 1260 days or three years & an half, recconing twelve months to a yeare & 30 days to a month as was done in the Calendar of the primitive year. And the days of short lived Beasts being put for the years of lived [sic] kingdoms, the period of 1260 days, if dated from the complete conquest of the three kings A.C. 800, will end A.C. 2060. It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner.

However, Newton—a firm believer in the Millennium—was strongly against date setting, seeing it as ill-conceived conjecture bringing reproach to the Bible:

This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fancifull men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, & by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail. Christ comes as a thief in the night, & it is not for us to know the times & seasons wch God hath put into his own breast.[5]

Two major lessons appear pertinent from Newton’s conclusions: First—he did not fear speculating when the Lord would return (the numerology of Scripture was meaningful to Newton and was intended to inform the scripturally literate as to the Day of the Lord); and secondly—Newton believed that at some future moment ‘in the course of human events’ the realms of the divine and the secular would intersect. Christ’s return would happen literally in human history.

To make the point a bit plainer, the return of Christ would not be (1) a mere mystical encounter only for the faithful with eyes to see, or (2) an accomplishment of the Church symbolically identified as “The Second Coming.” No political movement originating through the power of human beings alone (even the likes of a Cromwell or any other political figure we could name no matter how compelling) will bring about the Eschaton and the utopia which believers affirm will follow.[6] Only the Second Coming of Jesus Christ can transform the social order of this world and establish ‘peace on earth’ for once and for all. This is the orthodox view of The Kingdom of God according to those who call themselves Millenarians.

Speculations Based on Heavenly Signs

“The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.” (Joel 3:4)

But there are other important lessons to learn when we did deeper into this historical period. First, dramatic cosmic events often seem to foreshadow or portend the end of days (as they did in the case of 1666 London, with comets appearing the previous year), but speculation on the meaning of such events remains sketchy at best. Cosmic events (whether they are comets streaking across the sky or ‘blood moons’ stirring us to awesome wonder) remain ambiguous. Basing one’s eschatology on signs of the sun, moon, and stars assuredly constitutes a risky business—especially when the signs are NOT unique. Today’s fascination with the blood moons of 2014-2015 constitutes the same possibility for overreaction.

The Eclipses of 2014-2015
The Eclipses of 2014-2015

True, those who study biblical prophecy have been remarkably captivated by the portent of the blood moon. The fascination began in 2008. Tacoma Pastor Mark Biltz communicated his astronomical findings to a national audience when he appeared on the television show, Prophecy in the News. To say the least, co-hosts J.R. Church and Gary Stearman were most intrigued by Biltz’s findings. On the program Biltz referenced NASA’s calendar of eclipses, both solar and lunar documenting past and future eclipses. Biltz discerned that there might be something prophetically significant about the phenomenon known as a tetrad, or four consecutive total lunar eclipses over a two-year timeframe. What was most peculiar to Biltz was precisely when this series of consecutive lunar eclipses occurred.   While tetrads happened dozens of times during the Christian era, only eight times have tetrads occurred on Jewish Feast Days—more specifically, the same two feast days, two years running.

Given that Judaism observes a lunar calendar (our Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar), in which ‘new moons’ and ‘full moons’ establish new months and years, lunar eclipses should seem to be of little consequence. And yet, when correlating the tetrads to events affecting the Jewish people, Biltz identified some apparent startling results. He noted that the tetrads appeared to herald ‘red letter dates’ for the Jews. He was particularly sensitive to that possibility since he had previously studied in depth the meaning behind the Jewish Feast Days, the ‘holy convocations’ given by Moses to the Hebrews as recorded in Leviticus, chapter 23. Learning about the symbolism of these true holidays (aka ‘holy days’), energized his newly adopted Christian faith. Biltz had grown proud of his Jewish roots and the lessons concerning the importance of Hebrew feasts had already excited him. But he was soon to become genuinely electrified:

One morning, as I was praying, a thought popped into my head: Why don’t I compare the dates of the eclipses on the NASA website to the dates on the biblical calendar? When I did, I was shocked to find that all four eclipses— over both years— fell on the biblical holidays of Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles. I just about jumped out of my skin. Immediately I ran to my computer and pulled up NASA’s website to look up other times when there have been four consecutive blood moons, which are total lunar eclipses, where the moon appears blood red. NASA calls four total blood moons in a row a tetrad, and they list their occurrences. I noticed there weren’t any in the 1600s, 1700s, or even the 1800s. The last time there was a tetrad was back in the 1900s, and to my amazement, they also fell on the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles. When I noticed the years these phenomena occurred, my mind began reeling. The last two times there were four blood moons in a row, they happened, first, right after Israel became a nation in 1948, and then again when Israel retook Jerusalem in 1967. I started doing a Hallelujah dance.[7]

At first blush, these instances of the tetrads did seem to hold special meaning when connected to those years in which the tetrad fell (1949-50 as well as 1967-68), dates in and around key events in the life of Israel, although the tetrads before these two much more recent sets appeared to hold less meaning. Biltz was not ready, however, to dismiss the other dates as without consequence—they still might be meaningful. The tetrads were as follows:

    • 162-163 AD — Passover and Feast of Tabernacles
    • 795-796 — Passover and Yom Kippur
    • 842-843 — Passover and Yom Kippur
    • 860-861 — Passover and Feast of Tabernacles
    • 1493-1494 — Passover and Feast of Trumpets
    • 1949-1950 —Passover and Feast of Trumpets
    • 1967-1968 — Passover and Feast of Trumpets
    • 2014-2015 — Passover and Feast of Tabernacles

The 1949 -1950 tetrad occurred during the Jewish War of independence. The 1967-1968 tetrad commenced a few months before the June 1967 ‘Six-day War.’ Although not a perfect fit, it seemed to suggest a worthy correlation. Moreover, if one connected the events of those years, seeing in them auspicious dates for Israel in which the respective wars solidified a place in the world for a Jewish homeland (and to reestablish Jerusalem as the capital of Israel), it should logically lead one to wonder if the tetrad of 2014-2015 might also point to a time of war which builds on the territorial gains obtained in the previous two “blood moon wars.” Today, given the current tension between Israel and Iran, the fear that Iran prepares a nuclear weapon which threatens the nation of Israel, hardly seems an outrageous prediction.[8]

Blood Moon for April 4 2015
Blood Moon for April 4 2015

On the other hand, the correlation implied in the Blood Moon Prophecy is far from a perfect fit. There were other consequential wars not aligned with the blood moon phenomenon. One in particular, the Yom Kippur War of 1973, almost destroyed Israel. Many other instances of conflict and war transpired between then and now, none of which were glorious victories but nevertheless brought temporary relief from the insidious terrorism launched from nearby border areas. Secondly, the outcomes cited in the wars of 1949 (really 1948) and 1967 were, for the most part, positive events. The outcome benefited Israel. In contradiction to this point, however, Jewish tradition holds that—for Israel—blood moons portend bad outcomes instead of good ones.[9] If true, how do we reconcile these disconfirming facts?

Connecting the Blood Moon Prophecy with the Shemitah Mystery

During 2014, Pastor John Hagee further popularized the ‘Blood Moon Prophecy’ leveraging his world-wide television audience and welding the acclaim of a New York Times’ bestselling author. Hagee has gone on record asserting the blood moon portent signifies a radical change in the course of human events. Beginning with Rosh Hashanah (and near the second blood moon on Sukkot, September 25, 2014) exists the final year of a seven-year Jewish calendric cycle known as the Shemitah. The Blood Moon Prophecy and the conclusion of the Shemitah year both occur in September 2015, with the final of the four blood moons on Sukkot once more, September 28, 2015.

Hagee once again drew upon the success of another Messianic Pastor, this time popular author Jonathan Cahn, whose bestseller The Harbinger re-energized many students of Bible prophecy. Following The Harbinger, Cahn currently enjoys another literary success with his most recent book dedicated to this every seventh-year event, The Mystery of the Shemitah.

Cover - The Mystery of the Shemitah
Cover – The Mystery of the Shemitah

Cahn indicates a high degree of correlation between the rising and falling of nations during the year of the Shemitah—and sometimes more precisely during the final week of the Shemitah year. In his most recent book, Cahn speaks of the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Russian Empire transpiring in Shemitah years. He shows the correlation of the building and the falling of the great towers of America in the Shemitah. Additionally, Cahn repeats his discussion from The Harbinger demonstrating an amazing connection between the 911 events in the United States and the fall of the Hebrew northern kingdom circa 722 BC (referred to as ancient Israel). Cahn warns that the United States could experience a dramatic downturn in its fortune (more specifically a divine judgment), at the conclusion of the 2015 Shemitah. Cahn states, “The same nation that was once marked by the rise of the world’s highest towers is no longer marked by them. It is now marked by their falling. And it has all taken place at the same time in that nation’s history, when the signs grow increasingly evident of the decline of its powers. And even more telling, it has all taken place when the signs of that nation’s spiritual and moral descent have grown overwhelmingly stark.”[10]

Cahn provides additional alarming detail through these well-written words,

What about the future? And why might the mystery of the Shemitah be especially relevant to our day and the days to come? In the last two of the Shemitah’s cycles, those ending in 2001 and 2008, we have noticed a number of significant developments. First, the timing has become amazingly precise. Both of the last two greatest stock market point crashes in history have occurred on the exact same Hebrew day and the Shemitah’s exact same climactic Day of Remission and Nullification. The phenomenon appears, in its last manifestations, to have grown increasingly precise and dramatic. Second, the phenomenon of the last two cycles was begun and triggered by one of the most dramatic events of modern times: 9/11. If it were not for 9/11, the ancient mystery would not have manifested. If it were not for the exact timing of 9/11, the timing of the stock market crash of 2001 would not have happened when it did at the time and in the exact hours of the Shemitah’s climactic conclusion. Third, the amazing precision of the Shemitah’s last two occurrences are connected to the manifestation of harbingers, prophetic signs concerning the judgment of a nation—namely, America. Combine this with the fact that the Shemitah, in Scripture, manifests as a sign of national judgment—and we have a convergence of alarms.[11]

His well-reasoned study on the Shemitah provides a strong argument that something could happen in September 2015. There is a pattern we should not ignore. Two particular devastating stock market crashes occurred in September 2001 and September 2008 at the culmination of those Shemitah years. Furthermore, the crashes shook the world exactly on Elul 29 (the very day in the Hebrew calendar when debts are nullified and slaves are freed). And yet, Cahn remains explicit that that fact does not force God’s hand or prove something must happen in September 2015. Another crash may or may not loom immediately ahead.

As I wrote at the beginning of this book, we must be careful with regard to date-setting as to when certain events must come about. The issue is not of dates but of the call to repentance and return. My concern with the focusing on dates is that it can take away from the central matter of repentance. I have warned of a coming judgment, but I have also cautioned against putting the workings of God in a box with regard to the timing of that judgment. God doesn’t have to act in the same way or according to the same timing as He has in the past. Prophetic signs do not generally happen routinely or according to a schedule. There are Shemitah years that dramatically manifest the mystery and others that do not. Nothing has to happen in the next Shemitah. Having said that, I must also give a second caution: God can work as He has in the past and can bring judgment at the time of the Shemitah. In view of both cautions, it is wise that one should be aware of the Shemitah and its days.[12]

In contrast to a more cautionary stance of Cahn, Mark Biltz has been on a blitz talking up the Blood Moon Prophecy on numerous televisions outlets for quite some time, appearing several times on The Jim Bakker Show which has a large following.[13] On the show, Biltz was emphatic that the Tribulation period was seven years in length, was synonymous with Daniel’s Prophecy of the 70 weeks (490 years, Daniel 9:24-27), and must happen coterminous with a sabbatical cycle of seven years. While stopping short of proclaiming 2015 as the absolute date that Daniel’s final week of seven years begins, Biltz made it perfectly clear that it if did not happen during 2015, it would be seven more years before it could happen. Coupled with the ‘mystery of the Shemitah year’ through the writings and presentations of Cahn, Biltz sees the evidence piling up that the culminating events of Bible Prophecy seem likely to commence in the fall of 2015.

Like Biltz, John Hagee energetically contends that the overlapping of a rare heavenly sign (the blood moon tetrad on Passover and Sukkot) coinciding with this noteworthy Hebraic calendric event (the Shemitah), has ominous consequences for our world. “These occurrences are not coincidental. This is the hand of God orchestrating the signs in the heavens. The final Four Blood Moons are signaling that something big is coming… something that will change the world forever.”[14] For Hagee, Biltz, (but less so Cahn) coupling the distinctive calendric occasion with a cosmic sign from heaven portends a date of vast religious consequence.[15]

A Counterpoint from another Prophecy Authority

But we must pause and ponder what we are witnessing. Could this apocalyptic fervor repeat the infamous ‘Great Disappointment’ of William Miller who led early Seventh-day Adventists astray when he predicted the end of the world in 1843? He had done calculations too using biblical numbers and a study of calendric events. Likewise, Miller noted a spectacular meteor shower at that time and indicated it offered cosmic confirmation of the Second Advent. Miller emphatically declared the date of 1843-44 was the moment when true believers should drop everything and head to the hills—literally. Of course, history tells us that the predicted date came and went without incident. When the prophecy failed, as always happens, other dates were proposed. They failed too. Finally, all that came of William Miller was a legacy influencing chiliasts of many flavors to set dates.[16] The Church was not well served by crying wolf.

Back to the present, Pastor Mark Hitchcock questions whether the Blood Moon Prophecy smacks more of sensationalism than identification of genuine signs in the last days. In his book, Blood Moons Rising, Hitchcock criticizes both Biltz and Hagee as guilty of this excess. On sensationalism, Hitchcock cites author and social commentator Richard Swenson, M.D., who offered this sound bite: “Hysteria brings fire to the eyes and acid to the stomach. Hype brings notoriety. Sensationalism brings a tabloid kind of success.”[17] Hitchcock continues:

For sensationalists, signs are everywhere and almost everything. In some circles, wild speculation is far too common and most often is not based on sound principles of biblical interpretation. While there are several problems with a sensational approach to signs of the times, one practical problem is that when almost everything becomes a sign, then nothing is a sign. If everything is a sign, then the entire notion of signs becomes meaningless.[18]

Hitchcock contends that the case for the Blood Moon prophecy leans heavily on what is known as ‘special pleadings’—a form of argumentation in which one only considers the evidence that confirms a point of view and dismisses any evidence to the contrary. It is akin to stacking the deck. Hitchcock sees this tactic employed here. Additionally, Hitchcock dismisses the Blood Moon Prophecy in no small part because he wishes to avoid any appearance of date-setting.[19] For Hitchcock, signs should not imply any setting of dates but should contribute to setting the stage.

Indeed, what most students of Bible prophecy can agree on are the core elements of the Second Advent and that our insights constitute a front row seat to what is soon to happen. Metaphorically, God’s people sit in the theater of world events awaiting the curtain call on God’s apocalyptic drama. We don’t know when the play will begin, but like the drama critic, we know much more about it than most. To carry the analogy further, many stare at the future as if it were a huge curtain. For them the future is cloaked because they have no idea of the plan of God. And they can’t see behind the curtain where the Final Act is being staged. And yet, for believers, we can see through the veil dimly and discern something of what is happening behind the scenes. While it is true that we don’t know the moment when the play will begin, we do know the plot of the play and the essential sequence of events. We can even sense its beginning as we see the actors taking their places.[20]

Now Hitchcock is no skeptic—he is a noted Bible prophecy preacher, pastor, and author having written many books on the subject matter. But he clearly asserts that the Blood Moon Prophecy goes too far and diminishes the literal meaning of legitimate heavenly signs which duly testify that the ‘end of days’ draws near.

Like Hitchcock, this author also has raised concern before and suggested that Biltz and Hagee might be, like the Fifth Monarchy Men, making too much of the cosmic events while rightly pointing out the dire circumstances of our world. Quoting from an earlier article of mine written about one year ago for Politics, Prophecy and the Supernatural, I pointed out another major problem with the Blood Moon Prophecy—the inscrutable nature of which events merit a blood moon tetrad to highlight them and which ones don’t:

One could adduce many other auspicious events which would seem to have greater significance and might deserve to be underscored by providential, heavenly signs. For instance, we could point out the First Zionist Conference in Zurich in 1897; or the 1917 date of the so-called Balfour Declaration (which gave the blessing of the British) to the creation of a homeland in Palestine for the Jews; or especially the capture of Jerusalem by the British General Edmund Allenby that same year; or on the dark side the horror of Kristallnacht (November 9, 1938, the ‘night of broken glass,’ the violent anti-Jewish pogrom which broke out in Germany signaling the ensuing Holocaust). Of course, tetrad lunar eclipses did not coincide with any of these very significant events. If one argues that the tetrads ‘red circle’ certain key dates, why are some highlighted and not the others? It (must be recognized as) a legitimate question.[21]

Then there the matter of whether interpreting the Blood Moon Prophecy breaks with ‘literal interpretation’ and deems these heavenly occurrences merely a symbolic fulfillment of what the Bible conveys appear to comprise a much more dramatic series of simultaneous events. That is, the Bible seems to declare that the Sun’s darkening and the moon’s being turned to blood happen concurrently. And solar and lunar eclipses can’t happen at the same time. Coupled with the unmistakable cataclysms described in the apocalyptic passages, at best the blood moon tetrads draw attention to prophetic signs and prompt discussion—but they fall far short of fulfilling them. We read of these dramatic (and apparently concurrent or tightly sequenced events) in Revelation 6:12-17.

 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; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.  And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.  And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:  For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Which Came First? The Biltz or the Hagee?

However, now matters have taken a dramatic turn for the worse. It concerns me greatly that we suffer from an ambiguous apologetic that is compelling only to the ‘already convinced.’ But in the past few weeks, the Christian eZine, World Net Daily published an article (with contributions by friend Troy Anderson) alleging plagiarism on the part of John Hagee (or at best sloppy attribution), in his recent film Four Blood Moons, which conveys that he (and not Mark Biltz) ‘discovered’ the Blood Moon Prophecy.

This allegation followed the release of the film by Hagee and his organization on March 24, 2015. A recent follow-up story in CharismaNews follows the punches and counter-punches between the two authors (I hesitate to call either a scholar—like myself, I consider us all researchers, writers, and preachers or teachers). Joseph Farrah, editor of WND, has led the challenge against Hagee. The full story deserves to be read (See http://www.charismanews.com/us/48861-john-hagee-responds-to-allegations-he-stole-four-blood-moons-revelation). I provide a sample quote here to highlight the acrimony between the squabbling parties.

“We asked for two reasonable actions in a legal demand letter: a re-editing of the “Four Blood Moons” movie to remove the offending quotation from Hagee in which he suggested he had discovered the phenomenon; a clear unequivocal public statement that Biltz had, indeed, discovered the blood moons anomaly,” said Joseph Farah, the publisher of Biltz’s book and the producer of the movie version, wrote in a Sunday column. “But, so far, Hagee’s representatives have declined even to discuss those demands. Instead, they have acted like the offended party, claiming WND and Biltz have mischaracterized the facts.”[22]

It should be noted that both sides have something at stake—money. And that is the ultimate madness that has now infected the Blood Moon Prophecy. No matter that on or about October 1, 2015, the most likely outcome is that each will blame the other for leading the whole prophecy loving community of believers down the primrose path (instigating another episode of failed date setting). Both will have been guilty of letting their enthusiasm and genuine desire to evangelize overwhelm the plain lessons taught by the history of prophetic study. The Blood Moon Prophecy has grown to unwarranted heights through unbridled speculation. Do we expect the triggering event of Daniel’s 70th Week to happen in 2015? Will the covenant between Antichrist and Israel—the oft-identified trigger of the final seven years of Daniel’s prophecy—come to pass in the next six months? It is unlikely.

It happens too often in Christian ministry: service to the Brethren drops to second place in our priorities. Most of us who write and speak to bless the students of Bible Prophecy attempt to cover the costs of our time and expense by selling our books and videos. We are tempted to write about things that will enjoy the greatest sales, rather than the topics the LORD may be telling us to focus on. In this world, unless we are independently wealthy, we who minister to believers have to make ends meet through ‘Kingdom’ efforts. But infighting to exalt our work over someone else’s can’t be right. If we resort to plagiarism, that is especially dishonest and discredits the guilty party and the cause which we represent. Additionally, I can appreciate those that are building a large business through a prophetic emphasis in their ministry or news reporting, like Hagee and Farah, need to protect their investments and make their efforts profitable. Clearly, the claims in Hagee’s film threatens the earlier film by Farah and Biltz. Unfortunately, when capitalism gets in the middle of those who seek to serve the Church of Jesus Christ, bad things happen more times than not.[23]

Summing Up What the Blood Moon Phenomenon Should Teach Us

Regardless of who is right and wrong in the matter of its discovery, the Blood Moon Prophecy itself now stands precariously on thin ice. As the days go by, more and more cracks appear on its surface suggesting a deeper fault lies beneath. Consequently, those parties who promote it and have become identified with it, are likely to find themselves up to the ear lobes in the icy waters of failed predictions by October 1, 2015.   While I hope as do they that the Lord’s return is imminent (joined by all students and teachers of Bible prophecy), I worry that these highly public predictions are raising hopeful expectations that are bound to be dashed and lead to yet another ‘Great Disappointment’ in our day.

Nevertheless, I contend there remains a place for discussing topics like the ‘Blood Moon Prophecy’ and the ‘mystery of the Shemitah,’ especially among the students of the Bible. We are to encourage one another with biblical insights that energize our faith and remind us that the days are numbered until the Lord returns. As Paul instructs believers, “And do this because we know the time, that it is already the hour for us to awake from sleep, for our salvation is now nearer than when we became believers.” (Romans 13:11) But we dare not stake our hopes on one vivid prophecy, one alarming cosmic event, or even an extraordinary date laden with biblical meaning. Despite good intentions, untethered conjecture typically (if not universally) encourages disillusionment.

The Hebrew calendar comprises the Lord’s schedule. The Feasts of Moses, the holy convocations of festivals commemorating special events in salvation history, are themselves prophecies. Their fulfillment appears predestined to transpire on these future celebrations which portray major portions of God’s plan. However, we must be mindful that the Hebrew calendar has been subject to corruption with between 165 and 230 years ‘missing’ due to several historical attempts by Jewish Rabbis to force fit apocalyptic events into their then contemporary timeline for Messiah’s coming (a problem known as “the Missing Years”).[24]

Too many centuries have come and gone to know the exact years of Jubilee (and possibly even the Shemitah years). The Jewish calendar has been a work-in-process too with varying rules for properly calculating its months and years.[25] As Jonathan Cahn himself notes, one can speculate intelligently about the Jubilee year based upon 20th Century events such as the liberation of Jerusalem in 1917 by General Edmund Allenby and the taking of East Jerusalem in 1967 by the IDF during the ‘Six Days War’ (49-50 years apart). Their occurrences speak to ‘releasing the captives’ and destroying the stronghold of the powerful. This recognition supposes the ‘Jubilee pattern’ will persist and lead to an event within the next two years. Perhaps 2016-17 might be a year of Jubilee, but for now it remains uncertain.

In the final analysis, Bible Prophecy provides a powerful apologetic. It constitutes evidence that the God of the Bible is alive and His Word (as Jesus said) cannot be broken (John 10:35). Furthermore, stunning cosmic happenings can prove to be providential. Heavenly events testify that God has established all things (including the paths of planets, stars, and our sun and moon) to exhibit His power and glory (Genesis 1:14). And yet, an apologetic constitutes a two-edged sword. If determined to be false, it provides succor to vocal unbelievers who predictably mock the righteous for their foolishness.

Still, as Sir Isaac Newton implored his readers, the study of prophecy constitutes a matter of utmost urgency ‘at the present time,’ which translates to continuous diligent study and ‘wakefulness.’ This does not give us license, however, to weld unseasoned speculation foolishly alarming the brethren who we should instead be reinforcing in the faith. For Jesus taught us repeatedly that we at all times ought to be watching. “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36) Watching and praying characterizes Jesus’ obedient disciples:

Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart.  He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people.  There was also a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but later on he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor have regard for people, yet because this widow keeps on bothering me, I will give her justice, or in the end she will wear me out by her unending pleas.’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says! Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them? I tell you, he will give them justice speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)

 

* * * * * * * *

Douglas Woodward is the author of nine books on topics of eschatology and alternate history. His two most recent are Blood Moon: Biblical Signs of the Coming Apocalypse and Uncommon Sense: A Prophetic Manifesto for the Church in Babylon. He may be reached at doug@faith-happens.com.

 

BLOOD MOON - Biblical Signs of the Coming Apocalypse
BLOOD MOON – Biblical Signs of the Coming Apocalypse

ENDNOTES

[1] The Interregnum was the period in which the English monarchy was ‘out of office’—a time where Oliver Cromwell and his son Richard ruled as a ‘protector of the commonwealth.’ It began with the death of Charles I in 1649 and lasted until Charles II became King in 1660.

[2] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_Monarchists

[3] Furthermore, we should conclude that activist movements inspired by apocalyptic convictions are just as likely to be dangerous as separatist movements that call believers to withdraw from society. The deadly cults of the 20th century, The Branch Davidians, Jim Jones, and Heaven’s Gate (led by Marshall Applewhite) were all apocalyptic. We should remember that we are to be distinct from the world while living in it. We must avoid contamination and purify ourselves without becoming recluses. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may present what is good, acceptable, and perfect” (Romans 12:2, paraphrased)

[4] The English have long believed that England would be the center of the Millennial Reign. England was to be the New Jerusalem. A poem by William Blake, the national hymn of England, is entitled The New Jerusalem.

And did those feet in ancient time Walk upon England’s mountains green? And was the holy Lamb of God On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine Shine forth upon our clouded hills? And was Jerusalem builded here Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold! Bring me my arrows of desire! Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold! Bring me my charriot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight, Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand Till we have built Jerusalem In England’s green and pleasant land.

[5] Newton, Yahuda MS 7.3 (Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem). An excellent article, fairly treating Newton as a Premillenarian, is written by Stephen D. Snobelen and should be read in its entirety. See http://isaac-newton.org/statement-on-the-date-2060/

[6] “The divinely ordered climax of history” as defined by Dictionary.com.

[7] Biltz, Mark (2014-03-18). Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs (Kindle Locations 101-109). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

[8] The conflict poses a ‘nuclear showdown’ as author Bill Salus proposes in his recent book by the same title (a fine study on the prophecy of Elam).

[9] In an article written for The Truth, September 2, 2013, Michael Snyder puzzles over the meaning of the current tetrad (underway now as I write these words in late April, 2014):

Is Israel going to be involved in a war during the blood red moons of 2014 and 2015?

According to ancient Jewish tradition, a lunar eclipse is a harbinger of bad things for Israel.  If that eclipse is blood red that is a sign that war is coming.  And blood red moons that happen during Biblical festivals seem to be particularly significant.  There was a “tetrad” of blood red moons that fell during Passover 1967, the Feast of Tabernacles 1967, Passover 1968, and the Feast of Tabernacles 1968.  And of course the 1967 war during which Israel took full control of Jerusalem took place during that time period.  There was also a “tetrad” of blood red moons that fell during Passover 1949, the Feast of Tabernacles 1949, Passover 1950, and the Feast of Tabernacles 1950.  If you know your history, you already are aware that the Israeli War of Independence ended on July 20th, 1949.  So does the blood red moon tetrad of 2014 and 2015 signal that another season of war is now upon us?

[10] Cahn, Jonathan (2014-09-02). The Mystery of the Shemitah: The 3,000-Year-Old Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future, the World’s Future, and Your Future! (p. 224). Charisma House. Kindle Edition.

[11] Ibid, pp. 228-229.

[12] Ibid, pp. 237-238.

[13] See the first of several discussions, Jim Bakker Show 2014 | Show# 2470 | Aired on March 13, 2014.

[14] John Hagee, Four Blood Moons: Something Is about to Change (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing, 2013) pp. 237.

[15] Of course, if this statement is considered by itself, Pastor Hagee has assumed what he is trying to prove.

[16] The Jehovah’s Witnesses were a legacy group of William Miller. They first cited 1914 as the end date, but became world champion date setters proposing a half dozen or more dates in the 20th Century for the Second Coming.

[17] Richard Swenson, Hurtling toward Oblivion, p. 15-16, cited by Mark Hitchcock, Blood Moons Rising: Bible Prophecy, Israel, and the Four Blood Moons (p. 18). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Kindle Edition.

[18] Hitchcock, op. cit., p. 18.

[19] This pejorative harkens back to the frequent failures of Bible believing groups such as the Millerites of the 1840s or the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 1910s and ‘20s who claimed the world was coming to an end.

[20] Hitchcock, op. cit., (p. 24).

[21] See L.A. Marzulli, Prophecy, Politics and the Supernatural, May 2014 edition.

[22] Farah is hardly out of line for asking for Hagee to confirm publicly that Biltz and not Hagee discovered the phenomenon. Reediting the film might be going too far since Hagee’s statement is ambiguous. However, Hagee should apologize—but we shouldn’t hold our breath for that to happen. Additionally, students and teachers of Bible Prophecy know who discovered the Blood Moon Prophecy. And many of us sense already that Pastor Hagee seems too often inclined to be full of himself. Unfortunately, this detracting quality overtakes virtually all megachurch pastors. Humility seldom constitutes a fruit of the spirit that hangs heavy on their vines.

[23] My personal opinion is that Biltz (who I know and consider to be a sincere man and dedicated minister to his flock), is the undisputed discoverer of what is nevertheless, at best, only a possible correlation. Biltz publicized it in 2008 long before Hagee was discussing it.

[24] J.R. Church discusses this in detail in his book Daniel Predicts the Blood Line of the Antichrist as well as providing a comprehensive calendar of including possible Jubilee years, with specific dates in Bible chronology. Church pointed out that while the current Jewish calendar conveys we are in the year 5772, today’s actual year since the creation of Adam is much closer to the year 6000. See also the following study, Jewish History in Conflict: A Study of the Major Discrepancy between Rabbinic and Conventional Chronology, by Mitchell First (Jason Aronson, 1997). Wikipedia comments:

The 2nd century CE, rabbinic work Seder Olam Rabbah, which formed the basis of the era counting of the Hebrew calendar, interpreted the prophecy of seventy weeks in Daniel 9:24–27 as referring to a period of 490 years, with a “week” being interpreted as a period of seven years, which would pass between the destruction of the First and Second Temple. This is used to date the destruction of the First Temple to 423 BCE (3338 AM) – about 165 years after the current scholarly dating of the event. The discrepancy between these two dates is referred to as “missing years”.

(See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_years_(Jewish_calendar) .

[25] “The principles and rules were fully codified by Maimonides in the Mishneh Torah in the 12th century. Maimonides’ work also replaced counting ‘years since the destruction of the Temple’ with the modern creation-era Anno Mundi.” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_calendar .