Looking Ahead and Looking Up in 2014
“Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven.” Mat 16:1
Willful Spiritual Blindness
This incident occurred following the feeding of four thousand people from seven loaves, and the healing of many people from diseases. The implication contained in the demand by the religious leaders is that these were merely “earthly signs.” No doubt they were thinking of the prophecy of the prophet Joel.
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” Joe 2:30–32a
Jesus’ rebuke to them is twofold: He first condemns their hypocrisy in that they could discern the weather, but you “cannot discern the signs of the times.” Everything Jesus had done spoke of His identity (see Isa 61:1–3), which they refused to acknowledge. Second, He declares that this hypocrisy was the outward fruit of their inward corruption. They were an “evil and adulterous generation” (Mat 12:39). The word evil speaks of that which is spiritually malignant and harmful in its effects. The root cause of this was their blatant unfaithfulness to the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” The uniqueness of the nation of Israel was that they were “the elect”—a nation betrothed to Jehovah. However, like a faithless bride, the nation had turned to whoredom, forsaking the vows of her youth (read Ezekiel 16).
Therefore, from the root of willful unbelief came the twin fruits of evil and hypocrisy. The religious leaders of Israel were morally twisted and had a harmful, malignant effect on all around them. Since unbelief in the face of the light results in spiritual blindness (Eph 4:17–18), they could not see what was clear to the common people, though they were considered experts in all things spiritual. Jesus told them they would have but one sign from heaven—His death, burial, and resurrection—“the sign of Jonah” (Luk 11:29). Yet even when these words were fulfilled, they continued to harden their hearts against the truth.
America and Israel, 2014
Conditions in America now mirror those of Israel in the time of Christ. Religious leaders cater to the crowds’ demand for emotional stimulation and empty religious entertainment. The serious teaching of the Bible is nearly gone from the land. America—following in the train of other western nations—is entering the time of famine for hearing the Word of the Lord (Amo 8:11). At every conference, we see the words of the prophet fulfilled as people “wander from sea to sea, and from north to east [and] run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord” (Amo 8:12). Yet few seem able to discern the signs of our times.
Many of you will be aware of the extremely rare occurrence of the four “blood moons” which will begin on April 15. Let me quote from Pastor John Hagee in his book Four Blood Moons. (By the way, before I get flooded by emails, the recommendation of a book does not endorse everything in the book, nor everything the author teaches. It simply commends to you some food for thought!)
“The occurrence of a lunar eclipse is common … the occurrence of a total lunar eclipse is less common. The occurrence of a Tetrad or four consecutive Blood Moons (total lunar eclipses) is rare … A Tetrad with a total solar eclipse that is significant to Israel’s history and the Jewish Feasts is very, very rare. The occurrence of a Tetrad with a total solar eclipse historically significant to Israel and Jewish Feasts that includes a Shemittah (Sabbatical) year within its series is very, very, very rare. But a Tetrad with a total solar eclipse, historically significant to Israel and falling on the Jewish Feasts with a Shemittah year that corresponds with the Feast of Trumpets (the Jewish New Year) within its series is astronomically rare!” (pp. 235–236)
Signs and Seasons
One of God’s declared uses of the sun and moon is that of “signs and seasons” (Gen 1:14). Specifically, signs and seasons relate to Israel and her history and destiny. This is why Jesus told His disciples they had no need at that time to know “the times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Act 1:7). Being at the beginning of the Church Age, these things were not of immediate concern. The Church inhabits a period of time known as “the mystery” (see Eph 1:9–10, Eph 3:1–7), which depends not on the presence of signs, but rather the presence of a Person: the Holy Spirit of God. This unique age was inaugurated on Pentecost (Acts 2), and will continue until the Rapture of the Church. We are not to “seek for signs” because we do not need them. We have, in the completed Canon of Scripture, the “mind of Christ” (1Co 2:16) to guide us in faith and conduct.
But the Church is inextricably linked to Israel, both as the fruit that grew out of her root (Rom 11:17–19), and then as the guardian of her spiritual treasures (Rom 9:4–5), until the time of her regeneration, beginning with the 144,000 Jewish evangelists (Rev 7:1–8). The coming blood moons have interest to us as believers because of what they portend for Israel and, therefore, what they mean by implication for the Church.
The present-day departure from literal and dispensational interpretation of the Bible puts people in the same boat as the disciples in Act 1:7! The tragedy is that later revelation through the Apostle Paul clarified the issue of “times and … seasons” (1Th 5:1). Once the dispensation of the Church is properly understood, God’s plan for Israel becomes clear, and “the day of the Lord” (the Tribulation, followed by the Second Coming) is put into perspective. Those who reject the biblical doctrine of the Rapture of the Church (1Th 4:13–18) find themselves in a quandary. They are looking for the Second Coming, and the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecies to the Church, which in their view has replaced Israel. The problem is, history continues to baffle them as the little nation of Israel just will not go away! How is it that Israel continues to fulfill the ancient prophecy that in the last days she will be a “burden to the nations” (Zec 12:3) when in their view God is done with Israel? And how do we explain the fact that the prophecy declares that this will be the condition just before the Lord’s return, when “the house of David … will look on Me whom they pierced” (Zec 12:10)?
The Signs of the Times
The coming Tetrad of blood moons is a sign specifically relating to Israel. Only three times in the last five hundred years have similar heavenly signs occurred. Each time, the Jewish people were greatly affected. The first, in 1493–94, was during the Inquisition, when the Jews were driven from Spain. The next occurrence was in 1949–50, when Israel had become a nation after nearly 2,000 years of dispersal. Third, in 1967–68 during the Six Day War, when Israel reclaimed Jerusalem. Again, I refer you to Hagee’s book if you want to get specifics. What God is doing with Israel is of concern to the Church-Age believer because of the implications it has in regard to the Rapture of the Church.
I do not suggest that the Rapture will occur this April 15. What I am suggesting is that, if these unusual heavenly events are those foretold by the prophet Joel, then the “day of the Lord”—the Tribulation—is soon to begin. By deduction, we can then conclude that the time of our gathering together to meet our Lord in the air is near.
From what I have been able to gather, a Tetrad of blood moons will not occur again for many thousands of years. Either the Rapture of the Church and the Tribulation are near, or they are a long, long way off. I think we would be wise to bet our hopes on the closer prospect. There is simply no downside to living expectantly!