The end, surely? (but NOT for the EU!)

tower-of-babel-600I have blogged a few times on ‘End Times Prophecies’ and thought I might have posted my last. Recently, with the EU debate looming, old interpretations about Rome/ Babylon/ Europe/ whatever have surfaced again. Yes! Old ones, since I’d heard it all before many years ago! A very good short blog was shared on social media, from premierchristianity.com., entitled ‘I believe in prophecy. But the EU is not Babylon the Great.’ (here)

The author of the blog, Martyn Whittock, is qualified in theology and history, and specialised in the interpretation of prophecy in the 17th century. I have always wondered what previous generations (pre-dispensationalism) made of these difficult parts of scripture. He responded to a comment of mine on the blog, about how I heard about the ten-horned beast when the EU (then the EEC) became 10 members. I’ve included his reply here in full:

I remember that coin. I also remember how, in 1976, I took an assembly at school and said that the EEC was the ten-horned beast of Daniel 7. Some friends of mine thought that Henry Kissinger (US National Security Advisor and Secretary of State) might be the antichrist. I never could quite see what poor Henry had done to deserve this suspicion.

Then I went to university and studied the history of End Time prophecies over 2000 years, on my way to becoming a Medieval and Early Modern historian. It was then that I realised that we had been here before…again and again…and always got it wrong. I read ‘The Little Horn’s Doom and Downfall’ (1651) by Mary Cary, who was convinced it was Charles I, then Oliver Cromwell. That made me think. Then the EEC grew way beyond 10 nations and I knew we were the latest in the terrible track record of wrong predictions.

What is disturbing is that, in 2016, I see the same erroneous claims being recycled that I knew in 1976; only with the latest twists (eg the claim that seat 666 is left vacant in the EU Parliament). How to explain this? I think one of two explanations: 
(a) People of the 1970s generation who have never admitted their mistakes. There is a track record of failed-End-Time-predictors refusing to admit their error and, instead, recycling it in a revised form: after Jan Mathias’ failure in 1534 his successor claimed that he was the returned messiah, until the revolt was crushed in 1535; the Fifth Monarchy Men, having failed in the 1650s, then seized on the year 1666 (and failed again); the Millerites (later Seventh Day Adventists) after the ‘Great Disappointment’ of 1844 claimed that a ‘change’ had occurred in heaven (others claimed Christ had returned invisibly); Jehovah’s Witnesses reverted to similar beliefs about the failed prediction of 1914, although some seized on the events of that year to reinvent it as signalling ‘the end of the time of the Gentiles’; Hal Lindsey’s implicit assumption that the Second Coming would occur within a generation (ie 40 years) of 1948 (ie 1988) being revised to ‘encoded symbols’ that would only be understood in the 21st century by Christians with correct ‘insight’; Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson’s identification of the USSR as Gog, Magog, and Rosh being revised by Robertson (after the fall of communism in 1989) to a focus on the ‘Illuminati’; the 10-nation-EEC (now it is 28) being revised to some inexplicable future political transformation that will reduce it to 10 again.
(b) People with an antagonism to the EU (and it’s a free country so that’s ok) spiritualising their prejudices (that’s not ok) so they don’t have to worry about difficult matters such as economics, politics, etc, since if it’s antichrist you don’t need to worry about these complications, as obviously it is just wrong. So, that website which said that the 28 states will get reduced to 10(!) added that it will have a political centre in Germany and a religious centre in Rome (so, anti-EU prejudice combined with two other English historic prejudices!). Clearly a desperate attempt to force reality into a preconceived framework. Worrying, to put it mildly.
Since I believe in prophecy I think it is crucial to admit when our interpretation of it is wrong.

Surely, once you have read this, you cannot simply cling to this ongoing error! For 2000 yeblood-moonars, various individuals and groups within the church have made attempt after attempt to decipher the apocalyptic texts, and each one to no avail! I have already found out for myself that my prediction that Wormwood is a meteorite was wrong, debunked the restoration of Israel and the secret rapture as completely unbiblical, demolished the whole premise of the ‘Blood Moons’, as well as already showing the dangers of making predictions. Add to that the fact that when the last Lord Mayor of London procession was televised, they had statues of Gog and Magog… clearly ancient Roman soldiers, not Russia as I had been told was unarguably factual so many times! Having read the above comments about how this continual guessing and suggesting has happened numerous times over centuries, is it not clear that the whole ‘end times’ preaching we hear in so many churches is utter nonsense? And dangerous nonsense at that! As I have consistently pointed out, much of what we believe as evangelicals is political, not religious, and this apocalyptic preaching is clearly in that camp since it is attempting to explain world events and history; preconceptions and prejudices are bound to surface in all the postulating! All that is expressed above in that comment confirms this.1415471839210_wps_13_Gog_and_Magog_are_paraded

So am I saying that all the pastors who spout this tripe have been lying to us? Not at all, I think they’ve just followed along in an error from previous mentors, and become indoctrinated into the whole debacle (and just repeated and recycled what are obvious lies, like the seat no. 666 described – because it fits into their worldview). Though there are maybe some who have made good money from the books they write who should know, if they have researched properly, that their ideas are pure conjecture. I’d hazard a guess that they are simply self-deluded.

do know how difficult it is to let go of things we have always held onto, especially as we have thought of them as biblical truths linked to our faith, but as I have said before, the release from this worldview changes so much in you, and for me it’s all for the better. Let me assure you: It has not shaken my belief in the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, not one bit! I just choose to leave the timescale in the Father’s hands, and not sweat about it. I shall see signs after they unfold, like Wormwood, but predicting is modern-day divination!!

Do not practice divination or seek omens. (Lev. 19:26)

Maybe I could make one prediction for 2016? It is the end… for ‘End Times’ predictions! Let go of it all now; it’s 2000 years overdue! And then live your life for Jesus.

Grace be with you.

End Times prophecies 5: Out of the dark, and into the light.

I-found-my-therapist-to-be-condescending-and-way-tThe second Christian Rock band of my youth was called ‘Into the Light’ (in between ‘Heart & Soul’ and ‘Sword of Gideon’). We played the local club scene (the local church youth club scene!), as well as a few bigger venues, including a capacity Ulster Hall. We heard later on of another local band called ‘Out of the Dark’ and we considered doing a tour with them under the title as above. I’ve waited all these years to be able to use that phrase! It has been a long journey, and I feel like I’m emerging out of a long funk of negativity that has come from various sources. One of these has definitely been the effects of dispensationalism. Yes, I often get the ‘dis-pen-what!?’ response. This is the fifth (ETP5) of a mini-series of blogs, as well as a couple of others that touched on the topic, and it marks a moment of clarity for me that I’ve realised as certain facts, but not a full-blown epiphany.

This week my wife asked me “Could you not blog about something nice?” OK, love! Here’s a lovely picture of some kittens:

curious_kittens

I love cats! Now, back to the grumbling…

A good old friend came to see me, and using the experience of his psychology degree, told me that I had ‘anger issues’! I said categorically that I had not, flew into a rage, and told him to never darken my door again!

No, I didn’t. My friend qualified what he said to me by pointing out that we all have things that anger us; certain things that push our buttons, and we all do well to have something that is termed ‘catharsis’ i.e. a way of overcoming such anger or venting it safely, and he knew that my catharsis is writing, or specifically, blogging. I know that I did have genuine anger issues when I was a young man, which went back to a traumatic incident when I was accused of a crime I did not commit; a good therapist found that out for me and helped me simply realise it and let it go. Now in my life, there is actually only one thing (or one person) who can get my blood boiling and invoke images of destruction in my fallen mind, but my catharsis for that is to laugh at him.

victormeldrew0410_228x328To placate my wife, I checked: of the 116 blogs I have written so far, only 90 could be said to be negative rants. So there! I’m not always a grumpy old git!

Then last night I watched a film I had recorded: ‘Yes Man’ starring Jim Carrey. It’s an average gentle romcom, neither Carey’s finest nor funniest performance, but the premise was about a man stuck in a negative frame of mind who never said ‘yes’ to anything who went to see a modern guru who convinced him he needed to say ‘yes’ to everything… you can guess the comedic consequences. The premise was good, and it reminded me of some wonderful passages of scripture e.g.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. (Psalm 42:5)

Thoughts ran around my head all night until, unable to sleep, I just had to write this! Now I am not a disciple of ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ of Norman Vincent Peale (though some of his thoughts are worthy), or any modern equivalent guru, nor do I give any credence to the ‘name it and claim it’ nonsense of the likes of Womack or Copeland; let me put that aside right away! However, there are plenty of scriptures that exhort us to remember the benefits of our Lord, to focus on what good we have in our lives, and this is why I enjoy being in the worship ministry, since it ministers back to God, and I can help others to do this, to be positive and thankful. As I already blogged about two years ago, worship is the only thing we give to God that was not a gift from him in the first place – it is completely ours to give!

Where this fits into positivity (or ‘saying yes to everything’) in our lives, for me, is in the links between:

A man reaps what he sows. (Gal. 6:7)

and:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23)

It dawned on me that were I to be a more positive person in sowing such fruit as liberally and as often as I could, would I not reap more back? This is not anything like karma as found in Eastern religions like Buddhism, since while it contains a spiritual principle (and it possibly can), it is basically ‘godless’: I am called by God to display the fruit of the Spirit of God who resides within me and directs me. I’d like to think that in the presence of others, I do share things like joy and peace (in between my bouts of grumpiness!), and display kindness and faithfulness, but the key here is motive. Karma does allow for that, though how it works without an arbitrating divinity escapes me. This comes across as similar to the appeal of NV Peale, who does include God, but actually higher than the prosperity preaching we hear in some megachurches and on our televisions so much, since the motive there is to get something back! Though it’s not just a sham, it’s also a scam!! No, my original question was never about ‘getting something back’ but a dawning that a life lived bearing such fruit will simply please God, and as a Jesus follower, this is exactly where my heart needs to be, and should be basically all that I pursue. The reward is not in receiving ‘blessings’ but in finding fulfilment. No? Compare someone who preaches from their bible without displaying any of this fruit, with someone who lives out what they have read from their Bible – which is more effective?

Here is how this fits in with me perfectly at this time in my life: my emergence from the darkness of dispensationalism, and how my own ‘worldview’ has changed! To save going over old ground again, let me just say that dispensationalism is just the prevalent interpretation of end times prophecies that can be found in a large number of evangelical churches in the world today. I have already spoken against making predictions about the Second Coming (ETP1), how I discovered for myself that ‘the Fig Tree’ is not Israel and then that I was not alone (ETP2), then a particularly angry blog where I ripped Hagee’s ‘Blood Moons’ garbage to shreds! (ETP3), how it was incorrect predictions that caused the Jews to miss the first appearance of the Messiah, then a brief warning (from Jesus’ own command) to stop saying ‘The time is near‘, and confirmation from an unexpected source that things are not really ‘getting worse’ (ETP4). If you’re up for a lot more reading, just look up dispensationalism on wikipedia and click away on all the links there for a day or five! If you want a quick dismissal of one of the favourite things of dispensationalism, the ‘secret rapture’, which has spawned films (the most recent starring Nicolas Cage!!), just read Luke’s account of where those who are ‘taken’ will be found (17:34-37).

While I was never a devotee of dispensationalism, nor a student of end times stuff (until recently), I was certainly caught up in the prevalent worldview, which was that it’s all just about to fall apart, any day now, and the more ‘bad news’ that we hear, the closer that great day is to us, and we should practically be rejoicing in our anticipation, while we shore ourselves up in our church buildings like arks in the troubled sea of the world, but implore drowning people to get on board and join us in our mutual hugging that we’re now saved from the devil’s domain, and cower in the belief that we cannot swim, and the fear of getting wet again. Yet while there are people dying in the world without knowing Jesus, there are also good things happening in the midst of the ever-present sin and evil, and there is so much more good that we can do towards our fellow humans. While we continually think about tomorrow, which could be the day Jesus does come back (and I believe it, just that it will certainly not be silent!), we forget about today, and thus we lose sight of how we can live, and what we can achieve today!

I want to get wet!!!! Jesus himself admonished us:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6:34)

As I sat down to start this blog on an insomniac early morning, just before sunrise, I played some favourite tunes on my headphones to save disturbing my family. This is one of the songs that came up; one I have been forcing myself to sing along with when I get down….

Cool-Dark-Clouds-HD-Wallpaper-7-For-Desktop-Background“If rain clouds come
Or the cold winds blow
You’re the one who goes before me
And in my heart I know

That this good day, it is a gift from You
The world is turning in its place
Because You made it to
I lift my voice to sing a song of praise
On this good day”

Read more:  Fernando Ortega – This Good Day Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Grace be with you.

P.S. While I personally wish this to be my last ETP blog, I somehow doubt it!

The Tribulation: Why I Am Not Building a Compound

Looks like I’m not the only one seeing the links…

Everyone Has A Story...

Armageddon ExplosionPower. Authority. Responsibility. All of these things are connected, and they are some of the first lessons we learn as children, though so many of us never realize just how clearly our lives will be constantly impacted by those lessons until the day we die.

I have met so many people in my life, from differing walks of life, with different priorities, values, hopes, and fears. Yet the one common thread we all share in our lives is we are ruled by our subconscious understanding of the power we either have or lack in our own lives, the amount other people in our lives wield over us, and what responsibilities this invisible force has saddled us and them with.

When power corrupts, as it inevitably does, the authority over us begins to benefit those with the power at our expense, and the responsibilities towards those under that authority begin…

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Thank you, David Mitchell! (End Times prophecies 4)

FraserDon’t you just love it when things come together? It’s happened to me many times, and a few of these have provoked a blog from me. This is another one, and I am truly amazed at times just where things come from. Having finished my most recent Christian book on my Kindle app on my phone (a very good and deep one that I must review here soon), I decided to go for a bit of light relief; I had come across an eBook by David Mitchell, the very funny and erudite satirical comedian who writes for The Observer and frequents our television screens, and often has me bent over in tears of laughter. I’ve never bought any of his books, but since it was only 99 pence, I thought “now there is a book I do not need to ask Karen’s permission to buy!” You see, I often have to make sure I don’t indulge too much in my addiction: books! The advent of Kindle has at least one advantage in that I cannot hide actual books from my wife’s enquiries, like “how much did this cost?”, “haven’t you got enough books?”, “you’ve only just bought one and I’m sure you haven’t read that yet!” and at the door of the bookshop; “No! Walk on!!!”

This is an unfair picture I’m painting of my good wife. She only wishes to curb my problem, but she’s good to me. Any book I think I might need for my research into my own writing or even just for my own theological self-education is fine. Without her, I would buy too much. Four bulging bookcases so far, and I know I’ve only read about half of them! However, Mitchell’s book serves no other purpose except to make me laugh, or so I thought…

It certainly is a good laugh, very satirical and scathing, but in a typically Oxbridge/ BBC/ Radio 4 comedy sort of way, all puffing-out-big-words-to-confuse-the-plebs-while-still-making-real-fun-of-the-establishment humour. As one who thinks too much, the title really drew me: “Thinking about it only makes it worse” – how apt that is for me, I thought, though I can find any reason to convince myself I should buy the next book, if I’m honest!

At the same time, I’ve been going through a phase. I’ve being going through a lot of phases, I suppose. Maybe that’s just middle-age, but I truly feel it is more than just a mid-life crisis. Many things I took for granted, or accepted as read and accepted, have been up for grabs, not least particular beliefs revolving around my faith. I have always been the outsider, looking in on a tradition I was not born into, and asking just what we believe, and where it comes from: God, our Bible, or our tradition? However, I also fall into the trap of hearing something repeated so often that I just come to see it as true. It’s human nature, and I’m not an alien, despite the many accusations I have had fired at me by those who don’t understand why I always challenge, question, enquire. Anyone who has been following my blogs will know I’ve had a new topic recently that heretofore was always off my radar. Anyone new to my blog will see in the title here the number 4, and I’m afraid that’s a giveaway, so regular followers are not in any Gnostic-like ‘secret knowledge club’. Here I go again on my own, going down the only road I’ve ever known… no, hold on, that’s an old Whitesnake classic! I was really into them in my headbanging days, so their lyrics were bound to have bounced around my skull a lot and caused a bit of damage. “A bit!” you say?

What’s happening to my writing??? I’ve been reading David Mitchell all morning while in a doctor’s waiting room, and it’s rubbing off on me. Now there is a topic I could discuss; our NHS! It’s getting harder to see a doctor about anything, isn’t it?

Aaaaand… such ranting is what satirists like Mitchell are all about. He admits that he makes a living off things that are going bad: “utopia is a living hell for a satirical columnist!” In his amusing writings, which make good points about the world we inhabit, I discovered a kindred spirit; a man who is very given to ranting about things that annoy him, but who always looks for balance, and wishes to be careful that he rants about the things that deserve to be ranted about, and not to go down the road of our right-wing tabloid press and the social media postings of Faragists, who just want to declare that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. What exactly a handbasket is, and why we are all in it on this road to hell, is something that Meatloaf expressed when he wished to know why he repeated this favourite phrase of his father, but I digress again!

My point is… I hear this sort of rhetoric all the time from my fellow evangelicals, so much so that it used to go past my ears and out the door, but since I’ve come to see the many, many failings of dispensationalism, the words have begun to grate on me. The only way I can deal with them is to picture Private Frazer [pictured above] from Dad’s Army crying “Doooomed! We’re all doomed, ah tell ye!” every time I hear that the world is getting worse each day. In case you weren’t sure, dispensationalism (big word, eh?) is just the current predominant interpretation of end times prophecies that you’ll hear across most evangelical churches that states we are in the ‘last’ Laodicean age of the church (despite the fact that the church in China and the Middle East is anything but Laodicean, and I can point to many ‘Ephesian’ churches not far from me!), and includes stuff like ‘the restoration of Israel’ marking the last generation, and ‘the rapture’ preceding ‘the tribulation’ when ‘the beast’ will come to power and make everyone get a mark tattooed on their head or hands… so that stuff you hear isn’t ‘what the Bible says’, it’s what some preacher years ago said that he thinks the Bible says, and many have just followed his lead blindly.

You see, I have to do what I do, and that means that I sit and think, and analyse everything I hear in our churches (when I’m listening, which is nowhere near as much as I used to). And then what I do is think to myself: “Is it really getting worse?” and I think back to all we learnt in history. Yes, we have the rise of barbarians like ISIS today; truly gruesome and beyond explanation, but there were times in the past when entire cities were sacked by marauding armies and all its citizens wiped out. They all did it: Babylonians, Persians, Romans, Genghis Khan, even Israel! There were stories of cities in China who refused entry to Khan and were left, once sacked, with the heads of all the former inhabitants piled up at the gate, as a lesson to others. It was an accepted fate to happen in such times. There’s even a Chinese blessing: “May you live in uninteresting times.” Jerusalem suffered that fate in AD70, which was the main thing Jesus was warning them of. Might it be safe to say that ISIS and other extremists are the exception rather than the rule these days? Looking at things like the convening of the UN and the Geneva convention that dictates international law now, we’ve come a long way from even the 17th century, when the likes of Oliver Cromwell was credited as burning the innocent citizens of Drogheda to death, so I offer that extremists are exceptional today. More so than in the past. Those who would argue with me are listening to certain news outlets and reading certain newspapers that have an agenda to drive us into more fear and apprehension; many of them would be those who call for greater powers for governments to ‘snoop’ on us, and clearly would like us to be more scared; it even helps the sale of their papers and the price they charge advertisers. Think about it. There are also many who would like us to be distracted from where all the money is really going, so the continuing scares over extremists and how that means all immigrants and all those of a different cultural background to ours are the real enemy just serve their ends to make us turn on each other. Of course, the money all vanished in that awful credit crunch, as if that never happened before! Remember Wall Street saw a similar crash in our grandparents’ time.

And Ebola! Oh my goodness, it’s going to spread into every country and kill us all! No, in fact, it’s being controlled and being reduced in many places, but once the ‘sensational’ news is no longer that sensational, our media are onto the next scare. What on Earth did Europeans in the 14th century think when the Black Death crossed over their nations, killing thousands? The only time in history that the population of Europe actually decreased!

My problem is that the circles I move in largely listen to all this stuff and just don’t agree with my assessment, since it flies in the face of all those TV screens and pictures on the news stands. Of course I’m talking nonsense, they reassure each other, I am sure… If only I could find someone from a different background to my own to say the same thing! Then I came across David Mitchell saying he was talking about all this ‘bad news’ and trying to put it into perspective, and receiving a lot of flak from others who also saw all the ‘bad news’ and accused him of being complacent. His reply?

“Saying that things could be worse, and that they have been worse for the overwhelming majority of humans throughout the overwhelming majority of history, is not the same as being complacent. It is stating an undeniable fact. It is retaining a sane sense of proportion. It should be reassuring, but at the moment many people hate to hear it.”

Thank you, David Mitchell! I could never have expected you to be the one to concur with me. You’ve no interest in any of the theology that I debate (as far as I can tell – who knows, you might read books on the Five Points of Calvinism before you turn off your bedside lamp!), and you’re in a job that you admit seeks each day for things to rant about – you could do well from the ongoing fear and paranoia, but instead, you adopt a sane head and take a balanced look at the world around you. And you recall your history lessons too!

“History repeats itself.

Has to.

No one ever listens.”

– Steve Turner

Yes, many things are bad, but there are many good things too. Are we, as Christians, not called to find these things and enhance them, spread love and peace, and not get sucked up into the calls for retaliation and finger-pointing, or even worse, switching off since all we can see is that blinkin’ handbasket!

I love how you sum up our current fears, David: “Our disdain for the bathwater is making the baby give us anxious looks.”

Grace be with you.

Things we evangelicals have got wrong, in brief #3 (“The time is near!”)

My issues with the preaching of ‘End Times prophecies’ in churches began to appear often in my blogs a fair time ago. More recently, I have become even more skeptical of it all with realisations that things I took for granted have no basis in scripture (that’s what I get for listening blindly to pulpits too!), and I have already pointed these out in End Times prophecies 1, 2, and 3, and a recent brief thought.

Now I believe these issues have coalesced into a major problem, which occurs in maybe the vast majority of evangelical churches today. I have said before that anyone pointing to a date of Christ’s return is to be ignored, and fortunately many churches do recognise this. However, I have come to see something that is actually so glaringly obvious, I am amazed that I have never heard it being addressed….

When his disciples asked him how they would know when and how the destruction of the temple would occur (which happened in AD70, but this is a passage that is always linked to ‘end times’ and does refer to Jesus’ return)…

He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. (Luke 21:8)

The key words we seem to have overlooked here are ‘the time is near’ – how often have you heard this said, or similar phrases, like ‘we are in the last days’, ‘the signs are being fulfilled right now’, ‘I believe this is truly the last generation’, etc.? I have heard it repeatedly in every single church I have attended, and still do in my current church, so I know what I am saying will be controversial, and maybe quite unwelcome.

I had come to believe that ‘the signs are being fulfilled’ myself, although I have always said that when all things are considered, we cannot be certain about our interpretations, so we must only live by the knowledge that since we do not know clearly, we must always be ready for his return, which may be any day, soon or many years away. I must not actually believe it will be tomorrow, for then I would stop living for today, but I must act as if it could be tomorrow, so I shall be prepared for it.

I have recently come to believe that many things I thought were ‘signs’ are not (see blogs as listed above).

I have now concluded that if any pastor or preacher states that we are in the last days, or anything else that equates to ‘the time is near’ then I must ignore them, since my own Lord Jesus expressed that clearly. In fact, Jesus said ‘do not follow them’ but I know too many good pastors and preachers who say this, so I cannot choose to just dismiss them completely. I shall simply switch off when they say anything again that flies in the face of what Jesus commanded.

Well, for many years now, I have switched off any time an ‘end times’ sermon has been preached, so there’s little change on my part. Question is, what do you think?

Grace be with you.

Messiah?

Have you ever wondered why the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law in Jesus’ time, who were avid students of the scriptures, did not see the fulfilment of prophecies in Jesus, who was right before them? Even if seeing his miracles wasn’t enough to convince them, surely they would have been able to recall the many things foretold about him?

Well, actually, even the disciples didn’t really ‘get it’ until after his resurrection. They truly believed he was the Messiah, the Son of God, but his arrest and execution struck a blow to them and sent them scattering in fear, even though he forewarned them of this on many occasions. Why? To put it simply, they weren’t expecting that sort of suffering Messiah, who would die for all our sins and take them upon himself (even though Isaiah clearly pointed this out – 53:5 et al.). They were looking for what all Israelites, under Roman oppression at that time, were taught to expect from prophecy:

I’ve said before; see the predicted signs once they happen. We are told to watch for them but never to predict. Predicting was the problem the Jews had when Jesus appeared – they all thought the Messiah would be a warrior king who’d run the Romans out of town and establish a new glory like David’s Kingdom again, so they couldn’t see God’s real plan when he sent his peace-preaching son. Even less could they grasp what he was saying when he said he must suffer and die – it didn’t fit into their worldview. Even John and James asked him to sit them on his right and left in his ‘Messianic Kingdom’ (Mark 10:37).

Let us not make the same mistake when looking for Jesus in our own lives, or for his coming again. Let him be what he wants to be for us, not what we expect, and to come when the Father sees fit. If our worldview hinders this, may we have the grace to change it.

Grace be with you.

Stop it! Just stop it now!! (End Times prophecies 3)

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A friend posted this graphic to my timeline and invited my comments. Once I stopped laughing, I offered them. When I looked at the complexity of this, I then became sad; sad for the poor miserable soul who wasted half their life investigating and plotting it out. I’ve mentioned before that I spend a lot of time playing online games on my phone, but that is truly a better use of time than this nonsense!

These people need a life! Seriously!

This is ground I’ve gone over in my previous End Times prophecies 1 & 2. However, my journey is not complete yet… I’ve had some things I thought were set in concrete smashed to bits by my own investigations, and I’m entering a new era of discovery in my theology and my life.

Let me just get this clear, since I’ve only alluded to it before, stating sweepingly that Hagee’s ‘Blood Moons’ is ‘a load of old codswallop’ – here’s why, very briefly (since it doesn’t need to be elaborated on):

The premise is taken from one verse of scripture, Joel 2:31:

The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

This was repeated in Acts 2:20 when on the day of Pentecost the Apostle Peter spoke to the crowd and quoted this section of Joel’s prophecy.

The premise has now been proposed that it speaks of lunar eclipses when the moon turns a copper colour, sometimes a bit more red depending on the physics of it. These lunar eclipses occur in occasional tetrads of four spread over two years. That much is scientifically, astronomically true. Then it is stated that these tetrads have only occurred eight times since the time of Jesus, and they have all coincided with the Jewish feasts!

Rubbish! The whole eight tetrad thing is deception from the start (yes, I will use the word deception with no apology) since there have been 64! Yes, 64!! The Jewish feasts only occur at full moons, and lunar eclipses can only occur at full moons. Do the maths and work out the probability (roughly one in 6 of the 64 should ‘coincide’ with the feasts) and the eight tetrads that happen to occur with the feasts are actually less than coincidence, they’re predicted! And not by prophets, by any astronomer with a slide rule! The moon orbits the Earth every 27.322 days, so like a clock it is precise, measurable, calculable; it meters out days and months inexorably and inevitably, so the ‘wonderful’ figures and sliding scales in the graphic above are nothing more than the waxing and waning of our single natural satellite, that has always maintained control of our tides (and the hearts of romantic poets and minstrels).

I could jumble and juggle the maths myself to get any sort of graph I like, but I’d have no desire to get into it; reminds me of that Jim Carrey film, ’23’, that I’ve only ever seen trailers for. He becomes obsessed with seeing 23 everywhere, then sees 2s and 3s, then finds a 6 and says ‘that’s 2 times 3″ or a 5: “that’s 2 plus 3!” and so on… it’s clear he’s going mad.

That’s just the scientific argument. What about the theology? I could start by saying that this is just poetic imagery and such grand and terrible things about darkened suns and moons are found all over apocalyptic literature, of which many passages do not talk about ‘the end’, but let’s leave that aside and just accept the interpretation that Joel 2:31 is describing a real time in history with accurate detail:

As I said, this is all based on just one verse… no, hold on, it’s actually a half verse! What about ‘the sun turned to darkness’? If we’re talking about lunar eclipses, then there must also be a solar eclipse, yet the two can never occur together – we’d need two moons for that! (In case you haven’t studied astronomy from a child like I did: lunar eclipses occur when the moon is behind the Earth, solar eclipses occur when it’s in front of us, between the Earth and Sun). Yet nowhere do these people even mention the sun!

Many heresies are borne from one verse (or more often actually half a verse) taken out of context.

And look at the end of the verse, which is what we’re meant to be looking to happen: if it’s a sign for the coming of ‘the day of the Lord’ then why would God give us that sign eight times over 2000 years? Is that not a bit deceptive? Those who saw the ‘first tetrad’ (whichever one of the 64 that was!) would have been deceived into thinking ‘he’s coming soon!’ and so would those who saw the second, and the third… how would anyone know which one was ‘IT’?
And if these ‘eight’ tetrads have been significant, why not nine or ten or… isn’t twelve a ‘perfect’ number in scripture? Yeah I’ll go for that: wait until the twelfth! I now notice in the graphic that there is allusion to further tetrads into 2019… what? So the ninth set is going to be right after this one? So we are looking at more? How many? Oh, and this one now is the most ‘perfect in symmetry’ since 3000 BC!? Now I start to smell a rat! Any of these things should show symmetry since, as I said, they align mathematically according to the fixed cycles of the moon. If previous tetrads did not have symmetry, then something went wrong with the moon’s orbit! That would be noteworthy, not the ‘symmetric’ one! Anyone remember these sort of things from before? Someone would post a meme on Facebook saying something like “hey look, this year is the most significant date in history since, like, about 2002 years before the year in which Jesus died!” and then they display their wonderful maths, and I’d reply a minute later with “actually, that also occurred in every century since then; here are the dates….”

If you read this and still wish to go after the ‘Blood Moon’ stuff, be my guest, you’re entitled to, but please don’t go around trying to tell others all about it; you’ll only drag them down with you into a useless pursuit after nothing and just make a fool of yourself (and much more importantly, my Lord Jesus!).

Just in case you think I’m being smug about this, let me say that I’ve been here before myself. I read ‘The Bible Code’ some years ago and was taken in by it, stunned at what was being shown. I should have known better: there is no hidden code in scripture, waiting for a computer age to find it out; that’s the age-old teaching of Gnosticism, the idea that there is a higher, ‘hidden knowledge’ that only an elite can tap into. It’s also a general problem when a small group of believers think they’ve found some ‘great truth’ in the Bible and end up sneering at those who ‘just can’t see it’ – it’s a common trap of conceitedness.

The Bible Code was later debunked when some hoax-slayers managed to get the same ‘results’ from the works of Jane Austen!

 No, my main worry now is that we have become far too obsessed with something that we’ve already been warned about. John Hagee worked at the start of this idea with a man called Mark Blitz, who has now been discredited and forgotten since he made a prediction that the tribulation would start about 2008 and Jesus would return on 28th Sept. 2015 (the ‘last’ blood moon). Glad to see that such predicting distinguishes these people as contradicting our own Lord Jesus who said that ‘only the Father knows the time’ (Matt. 24:36). However, when I read another statement Jesus made, in his ‘Olivet discourse’ I get more worried:

He replied: ‘Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am he,” and, “The time is near.” Do not follow them. (Luke 21:8)

Jesus actually warns us about anyone who says “the time is near”! Does this mean all the preachers who do the usual round of ‘end times’ sermons? Something to think about, surely. I believe in the Second Coming, absolutely, but I also believe the words and warnings of my Lord when it comes to trying to figure it all out. Like I said before, watch for the signs as they happen, but do not predict! So please, stop doing that, or following those who do, right now! Free yourself.

Still like that ‘Blood Moons’ stuff? Worried about admitting that you wasted so much time reading it and believing it? The time I ‘wasted’ reading rubbish like ‘The Bible Code’ I treat as lessons for me that stopped me listening again to things like this.

Turns out I was right when I smelt a rat! Click here – it’s all a pack of lies! [Note, though, that the debunker in this video, right at the end, makes the same mistake of making his own prediction!]

Grace be with you.