Monday, September 28, 2015

Blood Moons

Hello again friends!

We’ve waited until they passed to comment, but the last of the blood moons of this tetrad is history, last night in fact.  So we decided it was time to join those posting on the phenomena and write something about it, and the hysteria which surrounded them to an extent.

As Christians it is our responsibility to examine teachings which come along with a critical eye, as Paul told the Thessalonian to do, and hold on to what is fine (1 Th. 5:21).  That way we don’t become credulous and find ourselves cast about like a wave in the ocean for our lack of faith (James 1:1-8).  That also helps us to keep our peace in times of trouble like this.

So what was all this business about the blood moons and tetrad all ab out and why did it catch peoples imagination the point some were preparing for a desperate situation, and even the end, according to various news reports?  The subject caught my imagination not long before the tetrad began, so we researched it so I could be ready if the subject came up in any of the classes we are a part of, it did.

Basically a blood moon is a red moon, a rare event caused by the angle of the atmosphere the moon is at.  A lower angle filters out all but the red light in the reflection back to earth, though it isn’t a really deep red, it is a red shade all the same.  This is a relatively rear phenomena, though I don’t have the statistics on it at hand.  A tetrad happens when four of them fall on Jewish holidays, another rare event which can be centuries apart.  One of the things which excited people is that we had two in the last century, 1949-50, 1967 and I’m not sure of the last year of it.  Note the years, the first one was a year after the creation of the state of Israel, what the Arabs call the Naqba, or disaster and the second the year of the 1967 six-day war when Jerusalem ended up completely in Israel’s hand, another disaster for the Arabs.  In fact, every blood moon tetrad has either followed or been a harbinger for some sort of important event for the Jews, there was one a few years after the Jews were expelled from Spain, in 1692.  That’s part of what caught people’s attention.

We credit Pastor Hagee with starting this tetrad’s circus.  Somebody, I don’t know who, brought it to his attention and after his study of it he concluded that it would be very significant.  So he put together a program on it for his church, the program also made it onto YouTube, where we watched it in our own research.  It was certainly impressive.  Now, do we blame somebody for popularizing their conclusions on something?  Not at all for sincerely held views.

We’ve already explained what a blood moon is.  But why so important.  Well, first of all our lord spoke of celestial events occurring in the heavens during the final days of this present evil world (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24-25; Lk. 22:25).  With those words is it any wonder the tetrad caught folks attention and imagination?  In this tetrad a solar eclipse hit Jerusalem, right on the day they celebrated the Passover.  And this blood moon was not only a supermoon, but an eclipse as well.  Since all of this can be predicted with modern science and calculus, there was plenty of time for people to find out about it and speculate.

So, what happened?  Well, given history the Jews may not be totally out of the woods yet.  However, I submit that some very important things did happen for all I don’t really think Jesus’ words were in anticipation of that, but more in a moment on why.  Three interrelated things did occur which do not bode well for the Jews this tetrad.  The so called Palestinians were given observer status at the UN.  This appears to be in anticipation of declaring them a country and giving them full membership status.  Second, President moved the US away from its traditional relationship with Israel and rumor is may not interfere with statehood for the Arabs in the conquered lands.  Third, the US/Iranian agreement will no doubt accelerate rather than delay Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.  Iran is government by Shia Islamic fanatics who promote terrorism around the world, at times with very deadly consequences.  Given their hatred for Israel and the Jews, that is not a reassuring development.

We would like to point something else out, though.  Jesus’ prophecy has many levels to it, some signs given were common to both the last days of the Jewish polity, and the greater last days.  Wars and rumors of wars would be an instance.  The Jewish rebels of the 60s a.d. thought to take advantage of Rome’s problems with the Germans to the North to free Israel from Rome, it didn’t work.  Look at all the wars we’ve had since the beginning of WWI in 1914.  There hasn’t really been a year since then where somebody wasn’t at war with somebody else, or getting ready for it.

There were signs in the heavens in the first century, witness the sun going dark on Passover 33 a.d. when Jesus died, a similar event to this year’s total eclipse on the Passover.  However, we understand Jesus’ words as coded references as well, signifying conditions which would be present.  One reason for this is that Jesus did introduce a symbolic element when he told his listeners to “watch the fig tree,” a reference to Israel’s future creation in our century.  Given the prophecies of signs in the heaven, and the turbulence of the sea follow right on that one, doesn’t it make sense that it may well be the same sort of prophecy?  Well, Luke was the one who recorded him speaking of the storminess of the sea (22:25).

The bible tells us how to interpret such symbolic language if we are open to it.  In a number of passages we find mankind personified as the sea.  Isaiah presents the sea as telling Zidon that it has not brought forth children, young men or virgins (23:4).  Jeremiah 51:42 likens the armies of the Medes and Persians to a sea as it prophesies Babylon’s conquest by them.  And, finally, Isaiah 57:20 likens the wicked to a stormy sea, something Jesus seems to evoke with his words.  Thus we feel confident in believing that the sea in symbolism is the great mass of mankind.  Think about that for a moment because that view makes for a better understanding of some of the passages in Daniel and Revelation, where we see beasts arising from the sea.  So we see the sea mentioned by Jesus as the stormy masses of mankind.

Even though things of significance, both good and bad, seem to happen to the Jews within a few years, there really is no biblical basis for looking to the blood moons in our estimation.  Given the record, one again, the two of the 20th century happened in proximity to good events, and the one near 1492 a bad one, nobody really has a basis for concluding either way what is likely to happen if God uses the tetrads as signs.  So while they may be items of interest, the next one is in 2033, they are not predictive of the future, as in good or bad, so Christians have no reason to anticipate, or fear them.  We look to trends to determine where we stand, not dates.  That is the best way for use to let our hearts not be troubled in this day of uncertainty.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Christian Love In This Modern World

My dear friends:

In view of a number of recent happenings I am reminded of a scripture I make a point of looking at often, it is 1 Corinthians 13 1-3:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

What this reminds me is that no what I may do, or how much, or how powerful my works, presentation, or whatever, if I do it out of any other motive than love, then my works and actions are worthless, of no account. God hold us to no less a standard than this, we are to follow the Royal Law of Love (James 2:8). So what does that mean for us as Christians? Let's look at the topic some.

Christians are not under the Law of Moses, let's get that out of the way before we go any further. James, in the verse I cited pointed out that love is the Law's fulfillment, we are called to fulfill the law, not follow it. To that end Jesus left us to “commands,” taken from the law, but applied in a new way. We find that when Jesus was asked what the most important law was. His reply was:

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
(Mat 22:34-40)

The first is from the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and is just that, the first and most important law for us to follow. The second is found in Leviticus 19:18, which shows both the breadth and depth of Jesus knowledge and understating of the law, that he could take two laws from different books of the law and rate them so well. Jesus would add another “command,” or Law of Love, so named because all of them require love instead of obedience, but that one isn't really relevant to this post.

I'm going to take the second one first here for reasons which will be seen later. So, what does it mean to love our neighbors I've already blogged on the subject of love in the Bible here (, it might be a good idea for you to take a moment and read through that post. However, the word Paul and Jesus used was αγαπη and it's verb form αγαπαω, which in short, is pure and unselfish love which asks nothing back from the one loved.

That kind of love tries to avoid real harm to ones neighbor. So one who loves their neighbor in that way won't steal or cheat from them, won't hold them up for ridicule, will always be ready to help them if they need it and won't retaliate against neighbors who hate or harm them beyond minimal self defense if there is no other choice. They will go so far as to take an insulting slap, as Jesus told us to. They will provide a good example of what it means to be a true follower of Christ for their neighbor to see and show them the way.

Sadly, the belief has arisen in this culture is that it is wrong to “hurt” others feelings by refusing to endorse a lifestyle a Christian sees as headed down the “wrong path,” one of the meanings inherent in the Hebrew word for “unrighteous.” Think about it, real love instead requires one to tactfully point out a wrong course of another instead of refraining from any sort of criticism, or condoning a harmful course. We all point pout the dangers of smoking to friends we love, don't we?

Which also leads us now to the “first command.” We are to love God with all our heart and being, as Jesus stated above. That means we are to put him first in our lives and live them in such a way as to please him. I won't get into everything that means, that's because doing so requires an accurate knowledge of the God who has been misrepresented by a church system which departed from God's truth to meet the requirements of a state religion. But the fact is that God requires something of those who would follow him through his son, Jesus Christ. That is that they live their lives a certain way. That way is laid out for us at Acts the fifteenth chapter:

For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.” (Act 15:28-29)

So Christians are abjured from eating certain things, and from fornication, the point which is filling so many columns and blogs these days. The Greek word for fornication is πορνεια and covers a wide range of activities, including homosexual activities. Now, note, this is what called Christians do, they are to “abstain” from these things, not force others to. A stronger form of the same Greek verb “abstain” is found at 1 Thessalonians 5:22 and can be translated in that instance as “Avoid every appearance of evil.” Many Christians take this to mean that they are to avoid any activity which can be seen as endorsing a course of sin. Jehovah's Witnesses, for instance, have refused blood transfusions based on their understanding of these passages since the end of WWII. Many others try to avoid meat product which use blood in their diet, we are among those. To this day there are innkeepers who will refuse a room to couples they believe aren't married. And others have concluded they cannot serve celebrations of gay marriage, a form of πορνεια. That, they conclude, is a part of showing their love for both God and neighbor by avoiding “every appearance of evil.”

I can go into detail about the way fornication harms people, with unstable relationships, unwanted pregnancy and children, and a much higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases, some deadly, and here in America one in particularly still raging through the male homosexual community at a much higher rate than the rest of the population. Love for you, my neighbor moves me to point those things out. And love for God means we will never, ever accept the pursuit of πορνεια as something right, much less equivalent to following the Bible's commands, as we have all of our life as we understood them.

It is our firm belief that even for those not called to the Christian hope and race, following the plainly laid out moral course in the New Testament is the best course for anyone who wants to avoid some of the heartbreak in this world. And we appeal to anyone reading who isn't already in the race to look at the Gospel, the essential doctrine of the Christ and seek to join it. And if not, to consider the Bible's wisdom, which can help one live a life free from many of the worries of this world.

Thank you.