As was noted in part one of this series, prophecy is a very important ingredient in the Bible. In a general sense, the entire Bible is prophecy because God has given mankind His words through His prophets. It is also God foretelling what will take place in the future. That forecasting is what God presents to set Himself apart from the false gods that mankind is deceived into worshiping. God alone knows the future events, which He has declared hundreds and even thousands of years before they take place. Moreover, His foreknowledge of such events, revealed in more than a quarter of the Scriptures, is proof of the supernatural origin and nature of the Bible—that it is indeed God’s communication to mankind (Isaiah:42:9; 46:9-10; 48:5).
Prophecy is often a warning regarding what lies ahead so that believers can discern the times and take appropriate action. This gives unbelievers the opportunity to repent in order to avoid God’s judgment. Noah, a preacher of righteousness, was told by God that He would destroy everything that lived upon the earth by a flood (which didn’t come until about 120 years later) and that He would save Noah and his family; He told Abram that his descendants would remove the Canaanites from their land because of their wickedness, an event that took place four centuries later; Joseph was able to interpret the dream of Pharaoh warning of the famine to come upon Egypt in seven years, and then he was given a plan to keep the Egyptians from potential starvation; Jonah warned the Ninevites of God’s impending judgment unless they repented, which they did. Yet most of the Old Testament prophecies from Genesis:3:15 through Malachi:3:1 anticipated the first coming of Israel’s Messiah and have been fulfilled perfectly by Jesus Christ.
Prophecies in the New Testament primarily address events associated with the time period of the Second Coming of our Lord. Matthew 24 begins with Jesus characterizing that time with a warning of great deception, including false christs, false prophets, and lying signs and wonders. It then foretells “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (vv. 21-22). The book of Revelation supplies some of the Tribulation details as God pours out His wrath in judgment upon the earth. There will be a conquering army of the Antichrist, world war, worldwide famine, the death of half of the world’s inhabitants (Revelation:6:8, 9:15), the massive martyrdom of believers, worldwide physical catastrophes involving mountains moved out of their places, and mankind trying to hide itself from God’s judgment. Of those who turn to Christ and are martyred for their faith during the Great Tribulation, Scripture tells us, “the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelation:7:17).
So there is good news and bad news in biblical prophecy. The best of the good news was the first coming of Jesus in order to pay the full penalty for our sins and to reconcile us to God by our faith in Him alone. Having received the gift of eternal life, the next best prophetic good news for a believer is the first phase of Christ’s Second Coming, known as the Rapture. The Apostle Paul refers to that event as the believer’s “blessed hope,” which we are to anticipate with joy because Jesus is returning to take us, the bride of Christ, to Heaven for a wedding: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus:2:13). “For our [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians:3:20). “And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God” (Revelation:19:9). That is indeed good news.
Sadly, when a professing or true Christian sets a date for the Rapture to take place, an act that is contrary to what the Bible teaches (Matthew:24:36, 44; Mark:13:32; 1 Timothy:6:14-15), and that event fails to happen, people grow disillusioned and the good news becomes bad news. In some cases, the date setting arises out of a sincere desire for Christ to return for His bride. At other times, it comes from the pride of having an alleged insight into a biblical interpretation that no one has discovered before. Although both predictions may be sincere, they are sincerely wrong and have caused physical and/or spiritual problems among those who believed their erroneous teachings.
No matter who brings the false teachings, some experience disastrous consequences from them. In the 1980s, millions believed the calculations of former NASA scientist Edgar Whisenant regarding Christ’s return through his booklet 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988 and his other misfires in 1989, 1993, and 1994. Also in the ’80s, Southwest Radio Church published Apocalyptic Signs in the Heavens, which saw catastrophic consequences for the earth due to the “Jupiter Effect,” a planetary alignment that would purportedly alter our solar system. Just prior to that, Southwest Radio’s David Webber and Noah Hutchings co-authored Is This the Last Century? published by Thomas Nelson. Based in part on Hal Lindsey’s calculation that the Rapture would take place in 1981, they concluded that the seven-year Great Tribulation would begin soon after.
Although many conservative Christians considered the “rapture and doom” prognosticators to be sensationalists, attitudes changed as the turn of the century drew near. The increasing talk of a worldwide computer meltdown was too much for many Christians to brush off, especially when Y2K concerns were being raised by respected evangelicals such as James Dobson, Gary North, Jerry Falwell, Jack Van Impe, Chuck Missler, and many others. The year 2000 made its debut in grand fashion when the world, rather than hunkering down, began celebrating the new century with spectacular fireworks. On the other hand, many of those who were misled by church leaders suffered “survival” consequences: losses from selling their homes, quitting their jobs, and relocating to the country, along with the expenditure of large amounts of money for stockpiles of survival food, firearms, generators, and other survival equipment. Many were overtaken by fear, and some succumbed to suicide over their financial losses.
Fast-forward to 2012 and the Mayan Calendar scare, another “prophesied” end-of-the-world apocalyptic nightmare that turned out to be wrong. Fear is often the response of those who have no hope, not having put their trust in Jesus, the only One who can make us eternally secure. Sadly, even many of those who claim to have a personal relationship with Christ by faith alone demonstrate by their actions that their trust is elsewhere.
Of course, we are not saying that we shouldn’t be prudent in making preparations for potential disasters whether they are natural, technological, or financial. Having a one- or two-week supply of food and water on hand could be very helpful, especially if one lives in an area that is prone to weather-related catastrophes. A reasonable amount of accessible cash may also be practical. In most cases, however, to go much beyond this may lead to a self-oriented “survivalist” mentality, which is at odds with the examples and instructions of the Word of God. Stockpiling food or turning to gold for survival could create an attitude of selfishness, especially when others in the disaster are without and in great need. To share, or not to share, that is the biblical question. Does one protect his goods at all cost? Scripture tells us, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke:6:21). Who would deny that they would want someone to share their food with them if they and their families were hungry? Furthermore, the Bible tells us how we are to treat our neighbors and even our enemies: “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink” (Romans:12:20).
Believers need to think such things through in the light of Scripture, particularly since our days are loaded with fearmongering false prophets and some “survival food” con men preaching certain doom. The latest to conjure up forthcoming dark clouds on the horizon are those who promote the teaching that there may well be a combination of two prophetic events taking place in the year 2015 that could result in unprecedented physical cataclysms and financial crashes. The use of italics for “may well be” and “could” is given to note that those purveyors of disasters have used such language in order to cover themselves from being accused of false prophecy. Even so, those “disclaimer” terms are lost in the hyperbole of their fearmongering.
The two leaders in this alleged confluence of biblical tribulations are Jonathan Cahn (The Mystery of Shemitah) and Mark Biltz (The Blood Moons). They are supported by a cast of false teachers and sensationalists and their associated organizations that include Jim Bakker, Sid Roth, John Hagee, Pat Robertson of the 700 Club, and Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily, to name but a few.
What then of the biblical significance of the so-called mystery of shemitah and blood moons? There is none in the context in which Cahn and Biltz present them. Cahn promotes shemitah as a universal principle that applies to all nations and “their financial and economic realms.” No. Shemitah was given exclusively to Israel as a blessing should God’s chosen people follow His commandment. It involved obeying the seventh day of the week as a day of rest and every seventh year as a year of rest. God promised to make provision on the sixth day and year to supply the Israelites’ needs during their day/year of rest. Also, during the seventh year there was to be a “release” of all the debts of the Israelites. Jonathan Cahn further compounds the central error that he taught in his book The Harbinger by applying a law of God to America—a law that applies only to God’s exclusive covenant people: the Jews. This is false prophecy in the sense that it seriously misrepresents the Scriptures. Cahn is heavily promoted by WorldNetDaily, which heralds him as a modern-day prophet and revealer of “The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future.” Joseph Farah, WorldNetDaily’s chief, is the producer of Cahn’s documentary Isaiah:9:10 Judgment, and the website is a chief supporter of Cahn’s books.
The blood moons teaching of Mark Biltz is also false prophecy because, as with Cahn’s abuse of Scripture, Biltz forces the biblical term into his own agenda. The Bible clearly applies the conditions and the consequences of a blood moon (singular) to the seven-year Tribulation period: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matthew:24:29); “I beheld when he had broken the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of the heaven fell unto the earth” (Revelation:6:12-13). If Biltz concurs that the “blood moon” verses take place during the Great Tribulation, then 2015 must occur in the latter part of the Tribulation. What does that indicate for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture? It either took place in 2008 and was a partial Rapture, or it will be a Post-Tribulation Rapture, neither of which is biblical.
If Cahn’s and Biltz’s beliefs were merely a matter of false teachings that are of the faith-wrecking kind among the multitudes of those who buy into their unbiblical assertions, it would be tragic enough. They have, however, become the latest tool of the evangelical fearmongers as they apply their prophetic distortions to alleged soon-coming financial crashes and physical catastrophes worse than any thus experienced on the earth. Their promotional appearances with Jim Bakker, as just one example, would give credibility to the snake oil pitchmen of yesteryear (2 Peter:2:3). After Biltz declares, “I think we have one year to really prepare for what God [has] coming,” Bakker responds, “It’s time to get ready. That’s why God has called me to tell you to store food…you don’t have to order from us to hear the Word of the Lord. But you should have food….What are you gonna do when the stock market crashes?....We have the Morningside recipes….We have the Year of Food for $550 dollars….One of these days it will all be gone. One more event…I’m telling you, if we have a big earthquake on the West Coast or say a volcano going on, or something major, there will not be any food left for months and months….We have…‘The Time of Trouble’ offer, and that’s a seven-year food offer, and that’s for a donation of $3,000…[that’s] 7,700 meals.” Biltz adds that what’s ahead is the “Super Bowl of human history and people need to get ready and that’s what I believe these are signs of” (http://jimbakkershow.com/video/mystery-sevens/).
WorldNetDaily devotes numerous pages to selling survival food as well as self-defense and preparedness gear. Thomas Horn, author of Nephilim Stargates, is another distorter of biblical prophecy who claims that the Nephilim have returned and who also sees blood moons as a foreboding of things to come. As CEO of SurvivorMall.com, his website features hundreds of supplies to supposedly help Christians to be prepared for the last days.
What’s wrong with the present conjured-up scenarios that relate to pending catastrophes? Will there be a time of utter devastation that the world hasn’t experienced since Noah’s worldwide flood? Yes. However, it will happen according to God’s chronology and not according to man’s ideas about when it will happen and how to prepare for and survive it. The timeline is given in the Scriptures, beginning with Christ’s returning for His bride (believers in Him) to take them to Heaven prior to the time of Jacob’s trouble, the Great Tribulation, during which God pours out His wrath upon the entire world. Even a cursory reading of what takes place as presented in the Book of Revelation clearly shows the futility and folly of imagined survival tactics. No, survival during the Great Tribulation will be only by God’s miraculous intervention for those who come to Christ during that time period. Prior to the Tribulation, believers are “to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come,” keeping in mind that “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (1 Thessalonians:1:10; 5:9-10).
Our living together with Him involves pleasing Him in every way, and our waiting involves opportunities by His grace to be fruitful and productive with joy as we look for our “blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus:2:13). TBC
Revised 26 November 2014