TEOTWAWKI – The End Of The World As We Know It – has been predicted ever since humans looked up in wonder at the sky and decided it was peopled with invisible beings. Beings who wanted to do us harm, it seems. And as quickly as we people the sky, there developed an industry predicting when they would harm us, which soon led to the invention of the cash register.
Wikipedia has a long list of dates predicted for the end of the world over the last two millennia. So far, every prophecy has been wrong. But because we’re here now, you already knew that.
That doesn’t stop televangelist John Hagee from joining the growing list of failed prophets. Oh, and not only is he warning us about it, he’s written a book about his predictions too, made it into a movie and a theatrical event, and will host a live TV show about it on April 15. Ka-ching! the cash register sings.
Unsurprisingly, there’s almost always a commercial hook on prophecy these days… the more money you shell out, the greater the likelihood you’ll be saved. Apocalyptic prophecies seem to make people open their wallets a lot more than usual, so it’s good business. And look at all the free media attention it garners!
Like any good angler, Hagee is playing his audience, making sure the hook is set firmly. He wants them to believe in the so-called blood moon prophecy, when,
…an ongoing tetrad (a series of four consecutive lunar eclipses—coinciding on Jewish Holidays—with six full moons in between, and no intervening partial lunar eclipses) which began with the April 2014 lunar eclipse is a sign of the end times as described in the Bible in Acts 2:20 and Revelation 6:12.
Of course, it’s all bunk. It always has been and always will be. End of days, end of the world: not happening. Eclipses are natural and frequent occurrences, not some supernatural event.
I’ve written about these failed predictions in the past – including Howard Camping and Jose de Jesus Miranda and the so-called Mayan doomsday – all of them a load of codswallop (or, as Conrad Black might call it, “diaphanous piffle…”) brewed from a potent stew of religious and/or New Age mumbo-jumbo, spiced with gullibility, fear and ignorance. And topped with gobs of liberally cherry-picked, quotes from a religious source – usually the Bible (and often from the wacky and usually misinterpreted or misunderstood Book of Revelations).
Hagee doesn’t stray from that tried-and-true formula. Nothing wakes up the congregation and has them writing cheques faster than warning them they need to pay up before the Hairy Thunderer arrives and gobbles them all up. As USA Today reports:
He cites Acts 2:19-20 as a sign: “And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”
In extensive remarks available online on his interpretation of the Blood Moons, Hagee says, “I believe that the heavens are God’s billboard, that He has been sending signals to planet Earth, and we just haven’t been picking them up.”
He adds: “God is literally screaming at the world: ‘I’m coming soon.'”
In another interview about the film made from his book, Hagee was reported saying:
“When people leave this film they are going to be amazed at the absolute control that God has over everything that happens on planet earth,” the Cornerstone Church pastor declared, “God is in total control of men, and nations, and kings and armies, he’s in control of their life.”
Which certainly opens a can of theological worms: so Hagee’s god controls ebola? Typhoid? Tornadoes? Tsunamis? And lets children starve or be killed by cancer, lets ISIS rape and brutally butcher innocent people? It sound like Hagee’s deity should be put on trial for crimes against humanity like any war criminal. But I digress; I must save the age-old problem of evil for another post.
Not all Christians fall for the likes of Hagee or Camping. in fact, several Christian websites even debunk his claims. Bible.ca goes to great lengths to refute Hagee’s blood
money moon prophecies, trying to prove that Hagee’s biblical interpretations are incorrect… it’s a bit of an ouroboros approach and rather dense with numbers. Yowusa.com, another Christian site, also poo-poos the notion these events are aligned with historical events:
Detailed study of Judaism in history shows that significant historical events more typically have occurred AFTER Blood Moon Tetrads – hardly indicative of a prophetic “sign” or harbinger. Examples are tetrads occurring AFTER a historical event:
- Rebirth of Israel as a nation (1948 C.E.) with tetrads in 1949-1950 C.E.
- Israel’s miraculous “Six Day War” (1967 C.E.) with tetrads in 1967-1968 C.E.
- The Jewish expulsion from Spain (1492 C.E.) with tetrads during 1493-1494 C.E.
A less fundamentalist site, Christian News Network gently but firmly debunks Hagee’s claims:
…Dr. Jason Lisle, an astrophysicist with the Institute for Creation Research, told Christian News Network that eclipses are “actually quite common.”
“In the 21st century,” Lisle said, “we will experience 85 total lunar eclipses, including the eleven that have already happened. A ‘tetrad’ is a sequence of four consecutive lunar eclipses separated by six months each. Tetrads are not all that unusual. The 21st century will experience 8 tetrads. So it is statistically inevitable that some of them will occur on dates of interest.”
Lisle further stated that lunar eclipses regularly coincide with Jewish holidays, since the Jewish calendar is based on the lunar cycle. Being surprised by an eclipse’s occurrence on a Jewish holiday, says Lisle, “would be a bit like being surprised that Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday for the next ten years in a row.”
Hagee, however, isn’t the only one trying to ride the apocalyptic gravy train. Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries started spouting this claptrap back in 2008. And, like Hagee, he has a book about it for sale on his ministry website. I’m not sure Biltz really believes in his heart that this series of eclipses signifies the ‘end days’ because he’s also advertising for a tour of the Holy lands in 2016… hedging his bets, no doubt. Still, Biltz said in an interview:
“I think it’s the beginning of the end. It’s the beginning of a whole new era, spiritually. It’s an alignment that is like no other alignment with the heavens.”
Biltz and Hagee apparently got into a bun fight over who first came up with this ‘prophecy’:
WND, publisher of Biltz’s book, “Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs,” sent a demand letter this week to Hagee seeking a public retraction and re-edit of the movie, crediting Biltz with the discovery.
“The thing that compelled me to write the ‘Four Blood Moons’ was when I discovered the scientific fact NASA was pointing out that it happened in 1492 and it happened in 1948 and it happened in 1967 and it was going to happen in 2015,” Hagee said in the movie…
“I discovered it back in 2008 and have been writing about it ever since,” Biltz said.
Neither wants to share the credit – or the profits – with the other. DVD sales and bank account balances are at stake.
Speaking of bun fights, other fundamentalist Christian sites have jumped into the fray by attacking one or more of these self-styled prophets. One site accuses both Hagee and Biltz of heresy and suggest readers:
Pray for Biltz and Hagee to repent of this false teaching and for Christians to use discernment when the latest prophecy craze is presented before them.
Amen. Except that like most of these sites, this one is basically trying to sell its own end-times and Christian ideas, by debunking those of their competitors. Sorry, but it’s really all the same sticky quagmire of bunkum.
Irvin Baxter is another wingnut pushing for the ‘end times,’ although he seems rather reserved in comparison, promising only that, “If the pattern of the last three tetrads continues, then we can expect some major event for the Jewish people.” You can buy his DVD, too (natch). Ka-ching!
In order to warn Israelis who may not subscribe to his magazine, Baxter plans a mass mailing to every resident:
There are 2.27 million homes in the nation of Israel. We plan to send an Endtime magazine to every Israeli home so that no one will miss the warning. The magazine front cover will say:
FINAL 7 YEARS TO ARMAGEDDON JUST BEGAN!
WHAT TO DO? SEE INSIDE!
The goal of the issue is, among other things to promote his Christian school (ka-ching!) and pump his online courses (ka-ching!):
- Tell them about our Jerusalem Prophecy College in downtown Jerusalem and how they can enroll.
- Advertise our 14-lesson prophecy series—Understanding the Endtime.
- Our ultimate goal will be to teach the Jewish people the prophecies of the Bible so they can know what to do.
Yeah, that’ll go over well there – teaching Jews about the prophecies in their own scriptures.
In 2016, we’ll look back a little smugly and chuckle over how these self-styled modern day prophets backtracked and rationalized when their predictions inevitably proved false. Maybe like Camping, they’ll just apologize and slink into obscurity. Or more likely, they’ll re-program the cash register with a new scam. There are still wallets begging to be emptied…