Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T. A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in. In today’s program, Tom wraps a two-part series with guest, Mark Hitchcock. Here’s TBC executive director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. This is part 2 of our conversation, a discussion about prophecy, and, in particular, blood moons. That’s a teaching that’s come into the church, and people are excited about it, but it has raised a bit of controversy. And it should, because we have to question whether it’s biblical or not. The perspective – I don’t care who it is – whatever the person is teaching, if they claim to be speaking for the Bible, then we have a resource to check out what they’re saying, just as the Bereans did in Acts 17:11.
So my guest, as we get on with this, is Mark Hitchcock. He’s the pastor-teacher of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, OK, and the author of a number of books dealing with biblical prophecy, and in particular, that addresses this subject, is Blood Moons Rising, which we offer here at The Berean Call.
Mark, welcome back to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Mark: Yeah, thanks for having me back again.
Tom: You know, Mark, as we ended last week, we did mention Mark Biltz, the author of Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs, and I also mentioned last week that I listened to a kind of casual debate with him over his book and your book, and I’d just like you to just briefly…tell us what [are] your primary concerns about what he wrote.
Mark: Well, I think there are several things. I guess my primary concern is with when it comes to the whole idea of these four blood moons, and there’s this idea out there that these four blood moons that are going to occur on these four Jewish feast days, and there are going to be four lunar eclipses: Passover and Tabernacles in 2014, and then on Passover and Tabernacles in 2015. So that’s a fact, but the real problem I have with that is it’s that really the handling of the Bible to come to the conclusions that he comes to. To me, when you go to the passages that mention the moon turning to blood in Joel 2 and Acts 2 and Revelation 6, and then in Matthew 24 (it doesn’t mention the moon turning to blood, but it talks about the sun not giving its light there). The problem is [that] in all of those passages – the context of those passages is either in the midpoint or the end of the coming seven-year tribulation period, and we’re not in that period yet, because the Rapture hasn’t even happened, so 2015, where they’re claiming all of this is so significant, can’t be the fulfillment of those things because of the timing and the context of those passages.
Another thing is that nowhere in the Bible are four blood moons mentioned! It just mentions the moon turning to blood. It doesn’t mention that it’s going to happen four times. So again, that’s something they’re reading into the Bible that the Bible doesn’t say.
Also, these events in the Bible of the moon turning to blood are supernatural events – they’re not natural occurrences, like a lunar eclipse. When you read the context of these passages, this is God doing this. Also when you go to Acts 2 and to Revelation 6, there are all kinds of other things mentioned other than the moon turning to blood. There’s going to be columns of smoke and all these other different things.
So they don’t take all of those other things – they just cherry pick, kind of, one thing out of there, and then see that as being fulfilled in these four blood moons in these two years.
And so, there’s just really, to me, a host of interpretive problems that you have to make this case: things they’re not…seeing in the Bible that are there, and then other things they’re reading into the Bible that aren’t there.
So I think they’ve built kind of this whole viewpoint and this whole theory and this whole construct of these four blood moons, this blood moon tetrad and how significant it is, really out of passages that don’t say anything close to what they’re building.
Tom: And now, scripturally, Mark, help me out here. Is the blood moon event – is that a one-time event?
Mark: It seems to be. Yeah, it seems to be a one-time event, and, again, you have in Revelation 6, you have a reference there to the moon turning to blood, and then, if you take the passage in Joel 2 and Acts 2 to be the end of the Tribulation, then it could be there, again, another occurrence of this same type of an event, but again, they’re not happening on…it doesn’t mention feast days; it doesn’t mention…so, again, it depends on your chronology in these passages. And some would take it that all of those passages refer to the same period of time, and others would take it that they refer to two different times. But there’s still not four different times, and they’re never really related to Jewish feast days or things like that.
So, my view would be that, yes, there’s an event kind of at the middle of the Tribulation in Revelation 6. These other passages refer to the end of the Tribulation. But, again, that would be…others might disagree on the exact chronology.
Tom: As you know, Mark, Mark Biltz, the author of Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs, and also Jonathan Cahn, who’s the author of The Harbinger and The Mystery of Shemitah, are more than implying that, as you allude to, this September very well could be the time when the blood moon triggers world calamity and financial devastation, and so forth. Now what does that say about the timing of the Rapture and the biblical teaching about the Great Tribulation?
Mark: Well, I think, you know, there’s several problems with what they’re doing. One is…to me, what they’re doing is…I would refer to it as a “soft” form of date setting. And what I mean by that is they’re not setting a date and saying the Lord is coming back in 2015, but to me, the Bible doesn’t tell us that there’s going to be a great economic collapse in 2015 or there’s going to be a war in the Middle East in 2015. It doesn’t give us dates for any of these future events. And so, to me, to their credit, at least they’re not saying, “Oh, 2015 is the Lord’s coming.” But they are saying that it is the time of some other great event. And to me, that’s still date setting. And I think it’s dangerous because, again, they don’t know that from Scripture, and if what they’re saying doesn’t happen, then again, it’s this black eye for the Bible and a black eye for God, when actually, it isn’t God at all; it’s them.
So I think that’s the problem with that. But also, by saying there’s going to be all this devastation and collapse and all of this taking place, it’s almost as if they’re predicting the events of the Tribulation to begin this year with the church still here. And I think it’s a confused eschatology – I think at best a kind of confusing of end-time events. But the other thing is, they seem to often say how these things are going to happen, and they come about as close as you can get to saying that the Lord’s coming back, but then they always kind of back away from that.
Mark: And I think there’s a danger there, again, of even though they won’t go so far as to say that, to many people who are listening to them, I think you would clearly get that impression.
Tom: Well, let me give you an example. I think you’re wonderfully gracious by giving them the benefit of the doubt. And we do. We want to err on the side of mercy, and so on. But, Mark, as I’ve tracked these guys, it isn’t just what they write, but you see them on different programs, especially programs like Jim Bakker, Sid Roth, where they’re promoting their books and their ideas.
Now, let me just give you some dialogue here between Mark Biltz and Jim Bakker. This can be found at the…well, here’s the address: jimbakkershow.com/video/mystery-sevens-2/. It starts with actually one of Bakker’s assistants, and he says, “The year of the Jubilee, which is next fall,” and then he declares, “I would suggest to you that something so great is going to happen in the world, and to America, that it’s going to call back God’s people.”
Then Biltz agrees enthusiastically, and Bakker jumps up with Biltz actually grinning approval: “Oh, people! You’d better get ready!” And Bakker then supplies his reasons why the Jews would leave the US and return to Israel: “There has to be a collapse of our economy.”
Biltz responds to Bakker’s “Am I close?” by saying, “Yes, you’re right on.” And Biltz adds that “the Tribulation is a seven-year cycle that will follow the cyclical Shemitah cycle.”
Bakker responds: “You feel like maybe we should prepare for the Tribulation?”
Biltz: “Definitely!” He then adds, “I think we have one year to really prepare for God’s coming.”
Bakker adds: “You say that right out flat! You didn’t even give a disclaimer! Now say that again.”
Biltz: “If it doesn’t begin next year, it won’t begin for seven more years. But I don’t know if we have much time.”
Then Bakker jumps up again: “We have the “Year of Food” [offer] for $550! One of these days it will be all gone. One more event – I’m telling you. We have the “Time of Trouble,” and that’s a seven-year food offer, and that’s for a donation of $3,000. That’s [7,700 (corrected)] meals.”
Mark, at least, that’s kind of a fear-mongering thing. What their motivation is, I’m not going to judge their heart, but it just seems like a promotion not only that’s not supported by Scripture, but it increases fear among people. And, you know, we’ve seen this, as you mentioned before, date setting is always wrong, with regard to the Scripture, but the outcome, the consequences – people sell their homes, people move to the country. They, you know, basically, financially…I’m not saying where their spiritual walk is, but basically working out of fear, it destroys lives, even to the point of suicides, and so on.
Mark: No, you’re right. I mean, it’s tragic, and another problem with what he said there, as you just read, is that destroys imminency.
Mark: Because he’s saying, “Okay, if doesn’t happen now, then it can’t happen for seven more years.”
Mark: Jesus says we’re to be looking for the Blessed Hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior. He says we’re to be waiting up for our Savior and for His return. When someone says these things, and they don’t happen now then can’t happen for seven more years, to me, that’s problematic. And I agree with you. It is fear-mongering, and it smacks of commercialization and merchandising. And so, it’s not good, but what we see, though, and I see this time and time again, and I try to point this out to folks, is one of the real problems, and I’m aware of this in my own life, in my own teaching, error begets error.
Mark: You get one error, and then it tends to compound itself in another error and another error, and so, again, that’s why we want to go back to the Bible. And the Bible is our plumb line, it’s our standard, and what we say, we want it to be consistent with the Bible. When you get off of that, especially in areas like this, where people are…people are very susceptible in these areas. Again, I’ve said this a couple of times, but the days we live in are uncertain. There’s a lot of fear out there, and it’s easy to prey on people’s fear today. It is! And we want to give people hope. We want to tell them that Jesus is coming – that they can have their hope and their trust and their faith in Him and be delivered from the coming wrath. And that’s the message that we have for people today. When that is abused in that way, it’s sad and unfortunate.
Tom: You know, we also – thinking of the body of Christ – we want to encourage, exhort, and I’m thinking about 2 Timothy 4:3, that declares (prophetically, by the way) that the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine. So our exhortation, you as a pastor, a pastor-teacher, our exhortation is to get into the Word of God. Now, do you see that as a major reason, when people aren’t into the Word of God, why so many Christians are vulnerable to these blatant abuses of biblical prophecy today?
Mark: Sure. That’s the big problem we have. Really, all of these different areas. One of the areas where there’s a great lack today is in discernment. You know that. That’s what your ministry’s about. But people don’t know the Bible, and so they are susceptible to these kinds of things. And I think a lot of people know that. Again, I read these books, and they just pull a few scriptures out of some different places about the moon turning to blood and kind of weave this whole theology out of that, and again, they’re not looking at the context of the passages, the timing of these things, the source of them, how many of them there are stated in Scripture, and all of that. And people who are undiscerning – and I think, you know, people… there’s a sense with a lot of people that they want these things to be true. They read it, and they want it to be true, and they’re looking for things out there to kind of grab onto and hang onto to give them some kind of solid foundation and give them some hope. And there are people that are coming along and giving them these kinds of things.
It’s a serious thing. You mentioned I’m a pastor of a church, and James 3:1: Don’t let many of you become teachers, knowing as such you will incur a stricter judgment. We have a responsibility to handle the Word accurately and to be shepherds for people and not to come in and lead people astray.
So that’s why I write books like this. I do have a passion for God’s truth, and I have a passion for the Lord, but I also have a passion for God’s people, and when I see them being led astray by things like this, then I like to try to do what I can to try to correct the record.
Tom: And certainly where we can equip them, especially as things get more difficult. And, fellowship! So important. Like-minded brothers and sisters in the Lord who are into the Word of God. They need each other. We need each other, and all of that.
Mark, a while ago I wrote an article for The Berean Call, and the title was “Is Your Eschatology Showing?” And the point of the article was that Christians who are ignorant of the events of the Scriptures that are going to take place prior to Christ’s return, really are vulnerable, I think, to unwittingly supporting agendas that are contrary to what the Bible says will take place.
Now, eschatology – some people may not know the term, but it’s just chronology that the Bible lays out about what’s going to take place, and it’s not a mystery, is it? You know, certainly there may be some things where we’re not given all the details, but basically, the chronology is there. But these guys, it seems to me… When I say “these guys,” those who are writing these books, Mark, they couch them in “mystery.” Everything’s a mystery, like “Shemitah.” But I think that’s attractive to people. They say, “Oh, listen to this! This is secret. This is a mystery. This is esoteric.” What do you say to that?
Mark: Well, there is an allure and a seduction to things like that…you know, this new thing that’s been discovered, or whatever they are, and I do think you’ve hit on something there. There is an attraction to that, and, again, with this world we live in, people want to be in the know. If there’s something out there that can give them some special insight, they want to know about it. But, again, we go back to the Bible, the book of Revelation, the very first of the book, it’s called the apocalypsis of Jesus Christ. The word “apocalypis” means to take the veil off something, to uncover it. So, it’s a book we should understand. It’s not the covering, the hiding. It’s the uncovering, and it’s assumed that we can understand it because the very third verse – it’s the only book in the Bible with a blessing attached to it. It says, “Blessed is the one who reads, the one who hears, and the one who heeds the words written in this book, the prophecy of this book, because the time is near.”
So again, this is something we should be able to read, to hear, to understand, to obey, and so when things come, like blood moons – I think that’s why a lot of these things attract people. “Blood moons.” It sounds kind of…I don’t know, kind of creepy almost, or kind of mysterious, or… You know, “blood moons,” “Shemitah,” the whole 2012 thing was based on the Mayan calendar. So, all of these kind of things, I think, have an allure, but again, if you just go back to the Bible and see what the Bible actually says, really, as you pointed out, the overall scenario, or the template, that the Bible lays out for the end times is not really that complicated.
We all believe He’s coming back. We believe there’s going to be a final resurrection, a final judgment, there’s a heaven, and there’s a hell. That’s what we all agree on, regardless of our particular viewpoint on the end times. But there’s all these kinds of things out there, again, to kind of draw people in, and when people see these kinds of things that are new, and new discoveries, the antenna should immediately go up; the alarm button should go off, the flashing lights should go off in the mind that this is something we need to proceed and enter into with caution.
Tom: And, Mark, as you mentioned last week, we see things developing. We see the apostasy growing. We don’t see very specific prophecies being fulfilled, for example, we mentioned 1948, the restoration of the nation of Israel, and so on. You know, from my writings, I’ll take a verse like 2 Timothy 3:1-2, “Mark my words, in the last days, there will be perilous times. Men will be lovers of their own selves,” and I can apply that to a generation – the psychological generation, okay? Because it really deals with loving of self, which is what psychology and humanistic psychology teaches.
So, anyway, without locking things down, as you pointed out, we don’t know the timing of this, when it’s going to happen, but things do seem to be closer than they were. But here’s my concern. As I mentioned, if you don’t have an understanding of the chronology of what will take place according to the Scriptures – now, help me out here, Mark – the next kingdom that I see developing, according to the Scriptures, is the kingdom of the Antichrist.
So again, we don’t know when, but we see this in development, my point being that do we keep our eyes open to certain things that certainly develop that may seem good – for example, Rick Warren has his Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan. He’s trying to solve all the problems of the world by bringing different religions together – I mean, that’s not my idea, folks. That’s all documented. Or you have, the Kingdom/Dominionists. They believe that Christians need to take over the world before Christ can return. We have, among the young people, we have a popular group Jesus Culture, and their eschatology is Kingdom Dominionism. That’s what the lyrics of their songs – and they’re incredibly, hugely popular. So my point is that if we are not aware, at least for a heads up, if we’re not aware of the chronology of Scripture, we can buy into a program that’s working for the Adversary, not true to Scripture.
Mark: Well, no, that’s right, and you know, it is interesting, in the early church there were things about the end times that were being taught that greatly upset people. We have in the book of Thessalonians, the whole book of 2 Thessalonians – the first part of it, they’ve been sent a spurious letter, a counterfeit letter as if from Paul that they were in the Day of the Lord. That the Day of the Lord had come. And they were confused… So one of the reasons we need to understand prophecy is because we do live in days of great deception, and a lot of the deceptions are about the end times. There’s a lot of cults out there gaining great traction in people’s lives by teaching false views about the end times. Because they know people are interested in this. So that’s kind of their entrée into these things. So, it is very important – and, again, not every person is going to be a Bible scholar and understand all the intricacies of the end times, but it is incumbent upon us as believers to understand what the Bible says about these things so we don’t get pulled in and sucked into these, I would call them “fads,” that come along.
Tom: Right, and some of them have… they’re so much a part of Christendom, for example, I mentioned the article, “Is Your Eschatology Showing?” Last week I mentioned coming to Christ at the time when The Late Great Planet Earth was the most popular book, and I didn’t know about prophecy, didn’t know about the Rapture, and so on. But in terms of eschatology, my church, my former church, the Roman Catholic Church, they were amillennialists, okay? They believe we’re in the Millennium now. So that’s had an effect over millennia!
Mark: Sure it does! It does, and if you believe that we’re going to go through the Tribulation period, that has an effect now. If you believe that you know the day when Jesus is coming back, that affects the way you live now. There’s all of these things…what we believe about the future does have ramifications for now in our lives. And we need to understand. What I see today, this is really an ironic development, I would say today in churches, at least during my lifetime, there’s less being taught about Bible prophecy and eschatology by far than ever before. Less being taught, but we need it now more than ever!
Mark: We’re the generation that needs it now more than ever, and yet, it’s being taught less. And I do think that that is a plot of the enemy, a strategy of the enemy, to silence pastors and preachers and teachers on this. The people don’t have an appetite for it any more, and I think that again, many people will be caught short and caught unaware because they’re not being taught these things. They’re victims, really, for these kind of things that come along that create all kinds of panic and fear and so on.
Tom: Yeah, and it doesn’t have to be that way, which brings me… Mark, we’ve got just about a couple of minutes left, but here’s my question. As I mentioned to you, you’re really making a wonderful contribution by your prolific writing, and I mean prolific, folks, by informing Christians about erroneous teachings and false interpretations of prophetic scriptures, but, Mark, what would you say, in these last few minutes, to our listeners – how would it be best to help them to avoid being deceived in apostasy as it increases, seemingly exponentially in our day?
Mark: Well, I think, you know, again, the main thing is to be involved in a local church, supporting a local church where the Bible is taught, availing themselves of the resources that are out there today. Every place I can think of in the New Testament – just a few that pop into my mind here where it mentions the idea of apostasy, is in 2 Timothy 3 – a long chapter about apostasy. Of course, that’s where the passage is that says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, that a man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished for every good work.” And you have the book of Jude, you know, all about apostasy. You go down to the end, and it says we’re to be building ourselves up in the most holy faith, which again, is the study of God’s Word and the Scripture. So, when you think about the great need we have today – and, again, it’s not just to study the Bible, though, for head knowledge. We need to know the Bible and be passionate about the Bible and be passionate about living the Bible, and allowing the Bible to be transforming our minds and our lives. And that is, to me, the great defense that we have in this world today, where there are so many ideas out there – so many wrong ideas and so much false teaching. I know that doesn’t sound real flashy, maybe, to people, but I do think that to be Bereans, it is exactly what you always say, to study the Scriptures to see if these things are so. That is the great defense God has given to us in these days.
Tom: Yes, it’s available, and He’s equipped us. He’s given us not only His Word, He’s given us the Holy Spirit, and He’s given us fellowship to encourage one another in all of this.
Mark: Yeah, what I would say, it’s the Word of God, it’s the Spirit of God, and it’s the people of God. Those are three great resources that we have.
Tom: Well, my guest has been Mark Hitchcock, and Mark’s book is Blood Moons Rising, but he’s written a number of other books related to prophecy, so I would encourage one and all to check them out. And, Mark, I really appreciate so much what you contributed, and God bless you, bro, and thanks for being with us!
Mark: Well, thank you very much, and I appreciate you all and the work you’re doing, and may God continue to have His rich hand of blessing upon you and upon that ministry.
You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7
featuring T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon, 97708. Call us at 800.937.6638. Or visit our website at the bereancall.org