Sunday, January 12, 2014

Blood Moons and Harbingers and Israel - Oh My!


I hear a lot about the blood moons of 2014 indicating the return of Jesus. It sells a lot of books and men like John Hagee have pounced upon it and made money. But I do not see these people having arresting and unusual life changes because they believe what they say. That tells me that they only half believe it and it makes for more prophetic curiosity.

But to a more far ranging point. All of us believe Jesus is coming back. And most of us believe it is getting close to that day. And yet where are the life altering changes which seem fanatical and uncomfortable to the rest of the world? The absence of that kind of dramatic repentance seems to indicate the same thing about the blood moon hucksters. I have personally become convicted about speaking about many things that will come to pass as if I am speaking of some flannel graph timeline.

If these things do not substantially and remarkably impact our lives then we are having a discussion and not really sharing a truth we believe.

The church was birthed on the Day of Pentecost as it is recorded in the Book of Acts. Now let us imagine that no one saw or understood that Jesus would return to earth. That prophetic truth was hidden inside the sacredness of Scripture and just like the first coming of Christ men could not see it. And then imagine that in 1970 God began to open the eyes of some of His servants and they began to see clearly that Jesus indeed was coming back. And that illumination became widespread throughout the community of faith. Everyone began to see something no one had seen before and books were written and CDs were made and sermons were preached and television programs were aired that proclaimed that Jesus was coming back. It was an incredible and new revelation that was so dramatic and so colossal that it shook the foundations of our theology.

Now would you expect those who suddenly understood and whose spiritual eyes were opened to remain the same as they had been before they knew this transcendent truth? The truth we teach, the truth we see, and the truth we say we believe that Jesus will return exceeds the limits of human knowledge and experience. It can only be believed by a revelation of the Spirit. Yes, the facts can be believed, but the actual reality of such an event can only become a personal reality through the power and ministry of the Spirit of God. Just like when a sinner believes on Jesus as Lord and savior. The facts of the gospel can be communicated through human words of any language, but the reality of who Jesus is can only become a personal reality through that same Spirit.

And I sincerely believe that is part of the spiritual mandate God has for the church in these days. We have an entire lifetime of knowledge about Scripture and prophecy and even doctrinal issues. There are untold hundreds of thousands of books and tapes and Cds and seminars and conferences which at the very least reinforce what we already knew or at the very most teach us things we did not know. But with all these avenues of communication where are the dramatic changes that are sweeping the community of faith? Why does it seem like we continue to enjoy the life we have settled down into? And when we say that Jesus is coming soon and yet we witness sparingly and pray conveniently and weep only for our own situations and not for the coming judgment upon lost sinners are we not hypocrites?

In a daring and extremely clever deception perpetrated by an alliance between the devil and our flesh we have even made prophecy a round table discussion rather than a two-edged sword that cuts us deeply and then brings forth an observable healing through repentance and the power of the Spirit. And then and only then are the gracious insights into future events affecting us in the way for which they were given. But without an almost hysterical reaction to these unfathomable coming events they remain discussions for the mind and not powerful instruments that create a new heart that presents our lives as living sacrifices to our Lord and Master. They sell books but do not change lives.

This is just another symptom of a church that feeds on information and entertainment and self affirmation. How many of us have expressed verbally the notion that the coming of Christ surely must be soon and yet without our own hearts clothed in sack cloth and ashes? We speak sacred things as if we were fully surrendered and waiting in line for rewards. But have no fear (as if anyone does anymore) the modern church will soothe your conscience and fill your head with knowledge and create a kind of interest that will keep you coming back. You will not feel convicted, to say nothing of condemned, and 99 out of 100 services will see you return home, remove your church clothes, and settle into that which you lived the previous week. It is all so tepid and predictable.

And one of the most incredulous things about this situation is that the overwhelming majority of the visible church and its members see nothing wrong, at least to this level. With the church fast asleep within the walls of hedonism and selfishness it sounds no alarm nor even enters into seasons of examination and self searching. And the church continues to pump out an amazing volume of information through a vast array of media outlets which can be purchased in Christian and secular bookstores alike. And all of this with no authentic spiritual impact whatsoever.

If you were attempting to put out a fire and regardless how much chemical agent you dumped into the fire there was no result would you look for another agent? Yes, you would. Well why doesn’t the church realize the fire is still raging even though it is dumping so much communication and information upon it? The reason? It’s because the church is part of the fire and wants it to continue.

When you are the problem you cannot see the problem and anyone who suggests there is a problem you consider to be the problem.

So here we are in 2014 surmising about Jesus coming again just like in 1989 or 1992 or many, many times before. But unlike the Great Disappointment of 1844 no one is selling their possessions and leaving their everyday lives and looking for His appearing. No, this time hucksters have found another meal ticket and are feverishly selling their prophetic wares to anyone who will listen. The author of “The Harbinger” roams the airwaves and appears on shows from Baptist preachers to Benny Hinn to the 700 club and everywhere in between. And his book is made available for some kind of financial gift. Yes, sensationalism knows no doctrinal boundaries these days. If it draws a crowd and can reach into pocketbooks it will be invited among a wide spectrum of the evangelical community.

And the nation of Israel is touted as the prophetic barometer among most evangelical churches. We were told once that when Israel became a nation in 1948 that forty years later Jesus would come. We have been titillated with temple rebuilding projects and the rise of China and the Russian Bear lurking. But little has changed. And even if all that was true why has the church continued to seek the things of this world? Prophecy has become such an irrelevant ecclesiastical subject. To be fair the entire Bible has become irrelevant.

But look around. There is no mass rush to repentance. There isn’t even a slight curbing of the frivolities. The restaurants and movie houses are still packed with believers. The car showrooms still write out many years of debt to professing believers. The political action committees still count dollars given by church members. The television still shine brightly throughout the day and night. This thing about blood moons and harbingers and Jesus’ coming lends itself to some curiosity, but it holds no more sway over believers than rising gas prices. It is a sham and a fraud.

But one thing is for sure. Jesus will come back. He will return to this world one day. And the question is not when. The question is what will he find when He does return. Should it matter to us if He will return 100 years or 100 days or 100 hours from this moment? Is not our commission and mandate from our Lord the very same regardless of any prophetic timetable? And yet we muse about one world religions and Jerusalem temples and the identity of the antichrist while we completely ignore the sacrifices inherent in following Jesus regardless of when He returns. This is not the faith of Christ; this is a religious game.

Martyrs gave their blood and preachers were arrested. Missionaries left everything and slaves served in Jesus’ name. Muslim converts were stripped of their livelihood and Chinese pastors were imprisoned. Christians were hung and quartered and crucified and fed to lions and slaughtered in many ways. And yet with all that as His glory and part of our own spiritual lineage we are allowed to kick back and enjoy the fallen scenery? Standing upon the blood soaked holy ground of the martyrs we rush to and fro seeking the next titillation and fleshly fulfillment? Just what kind of wickedness is this that we call the church? This is not the church. This is a Disney ride called the “church” where you can be a part of a simulation and experience the ride for a few hours and then return to the group among which you came. It is just like the Holy Land Tour in Orlando complete with a Jesus, a cross, and a resurrection being used to entertain and elicit some sentimental emotion and it only costs you an admission fee.

Never before in the history of the church has there been such a fire wall between our faith and our personal lives. And you can read a few verses and say a few prayers and then live just as attached to this material world as are the heathen and yet you can be called a Christian. That is some amazing prestidigitation, however only we are fooled and God knows the trick. And once in a while we can gather a few verses and sew them together and make a pattern which we can sell as pointing to a year in which Jesus will come. And we can sell some books and CDs and we can muse about its authenticity and without missing a hedonist beat we can move on in pursuit of earthly fulfillment. It is all so predictable and pitiful and it must break the heart of God.

But watch for it. The blood moons are coming. The programs will cover it. The books will be selling. It will provide a minor source of entertainment without any corresponding repentance. And on December 31st, 2014 we will have to find some other Biblical novelty upon which to set our sights. Let us be honest here. The church is not looking for Jesus. It is looking for a prophetic itch to be scratched. So lions and tigers and bears; and blood moons and harbingers and Israel, oh my! It changes nothing.
Remember this:
Until the church takes the first coming of Jesus seriously
it will only look at His Second Coming as barely more than an interesting gimmick.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic article! It pierced me through and through.

The article brought to mind all of the times during my years in the institutional church whenever there was a major issue in the middle east it would be the culmination of the Ezekiel prophecies but then Russia wasn't a player for awhile so it turned to the Psalm 83 prophecies. Then it became the blood moons and so on.

I have grown weary of the chatter put up by "prophecy teachers" anymore. What is taught is the "verse du jour" so they can keep people hooked and sell their books and CD's.

Like you, I would rather occupy until He returns, keeping watch because He told us these things are the beginning of the birth pangs. But in the church today all of the hyperbole doesn't even generate a sense of urgency anymore. Most I know in the institution are only looking out for themselves in their hope for the rapture so they don't have to suffer.

Praying for you brother as you continue to speak Truth at every turn.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Pastor Rick...a truly arresting post for all who seek Christ.

Anonymous said...

(Saw this on the net. Annette)

Blood Moons, Pretrib Rapture, Etc.

Heard of the coming blood moons? Is the pretrib rapture symbolized by anything in the heavens?
Hal Lindsey, influenced by occultic astrology, asserts on p. 124 in "The Late Great Planet Earth" that the famous Sphinx in Egypt has the head of a "woman" - even though encyclopedias say it's the head of a "man"! Hal's plagiarism on that page of a 19th century British theologian is his acceptance of the occultic Virgo-to-Leo theory - a "Christian" zodiac arbitrarily starting with Virgo (Virgin Mary) and ending with Leo (Christ returning as "Lion," Rev. 5:5).
Those who swallow this guesswork often see Ursa Minor (part of Cancer which precedes Leo) as a heavenly "symbol" of a pretrib rapture!
Pretribs also insist on separating the "church" from "Israel" - but when you aren't looking (or thinking) they blithely "prove" pretrib by the Jewish feasts in Leviticus, the stages of a Hebrew wedding (Google "Pretrib Rapture: A Staged Event"), and the one "taken" and the other "left" in "Jewish" Matthew 24.
Amazingly, Jewishness (and even anti-Jewishness) has been uncovered even in pretrib dispensationalism's 19th century foundation (Google "Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism")!
The current "blood moons" craze (promoted by lunar persons including rock musician Scottie Clarke and John Hagee) is tied to - you guessed it - the same old Jewish feast days.
Yes, there's something colored red in the future of the church, but I don't have moons in mind. What will really turn red will be the collective faces of many when it finally dawns on them that their any-moment fly-away was nothing more than an end time hoax!

Anonymous said...

I go by a futurist/literalist reading of acts 1:6-8 - no one knows when Jesus is coming. Period. Every date setter has failed, and these foolish theories are an embarassment to the Church. There is ONE body, ONE coming of Christ, and ONE people of God who will be preserved through tribulations. Please stop fantasizing about being raptured out of your problems and get back to being what the church was meant to be. I hope I live to be 100 so I can live to see all this TOM FOOLERY not happen. This article below was written by conservative evangelicals, and it disproves the so called "blood moon" prophecy.

Anonymous said...

And with all due respect, the pre trib rapture is BS.