It has happened again. Millions of homes across Michigan received bright, glossy, full color advertisements for a conference on Bible prophecy. The brochure promises a three day course on the end times followed by more studies in later weeks. The website promises to give the key to understand prophecy and to reveal secrets about coming world events. In less than a week the conferences will begin all across the state. Unfortunately the brochure and website give no information about the church or churches affiliated with the conference. The organization has carefully removed any specific information about the church affiliation of the sponsors. In those places the conference is being held at a church they have gone so far as to remove the full name of the church from the website.
A little digging reveals that Unlock Revelation is a conference sponsored by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The area sponsors are pastors and members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The presenters are Seventh Day Adventists and the teachings will be Seventh Day Adventist doctrine.
The Seventh Day Adventist view of the end times is very similar to this author’s. Many within the Seventh Day Adventist church are genuinely born again Christians. Despite significant areas of correct doctrine the Seventh Day Adventist teaching is dangerous. The official doctrines of the Seventh Day Adventist church put it at odds with most of Protestant Christianity.
The Seventh Day Adventist church reveres Ellen G. White as a prophet of God. They do not believe her words or writings are Scripture. Her writings are from God and are “inspired counsel concerning spiritual personal religion and the conduct of (Seventh Day Adventist) work.” (Questions on Doctrine) Their belief about Ellen White’s prophecies contradicts the Biblical description of prophets. The prophet of God uttered Divine revelation- “thus saith the Lord”- that was always accurate and always authoritative. They never gave “counsel”. They commanded because it was the Word of God.
Seventh Day Adventism denies the eternal suffering of the lost. They teach that at the very end all the unsaved will be completely destroyed. This is a problem because it denies the clear teaching of the Bible. The Bible says the unsaved will be condemned to the Lake of Fire where “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night.” (Revelation 4:11)
Adventism teaches that the believer can lose his salvation and that Jesus is still active in atoning for the sin of believers. Instead of Jesus’ atonement being finished on the cross and being applied once for all time to those who believe Jesus is now in the temple of heaven active in atoning for the Christian’s sin. Ellen G. White said, “Christ (on the cross) had only completed one part of His work as our intercessor, to enter upon another portion of the work.” The atonement was not completed on the cross and will not be complete until after the day of judgment. Only those who “are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom.” (www.adventist.org) “All who who hope to be saved by the merits of the blood of Christ should realize that they themselves have something to do in securing their salvation.” (Ellen White) According to Adventist theology, only the one who believes Jesus and is in obedience to Him is going to be saved. This is in clear contradiction to the plain words of Scripture. At salvation the believer is fully saved and his salvation is “kept by the power of God.” (1 Peter 1:5) Salvation is only by grace through faith and not at all of works. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The Seventh Day Adventist church is not a reliable source of teaching about Scripture. Their errors make them a dangerous place to go searching for truth. Many in the movement are saved, and quite a few Seventh Day Adventists reject the errors of the denomination, but the official teachings of the church undermine the work of Christ, obscure the truths of salvation by grace through faith alone and hinder the believer’s confidence in the Word of God.
The second coming of Jesus will be preceded by seven years of catastrophe. The seven year tribulation will begin with the rise of a powerful leader who will consolidate world power into his hands and require everyone to worship him. During the seven years of tribulation the world will be rocked with earthquakes, wars, famines, plagues, darkness, demonic assault and Divine judgment. The earth will reel under the catastrophes of that time. Many people are interested in knowing when these things will begin. Many turn to the Bible looking for clues to know when the Great Tribulation is approaching. Some say changing weather patterns is evidence Jesus is about to return. Is an increase of extraordinary weather events a precursor to the Great Tribulation?
Many passages in the Bible describe events on earth during the tribulation, including Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, Luke 21, Joel 2 and most of the book of Revelation. These passages all describe events after the tribulation has begun. None of them give specifics about the physical conditions of the world just before the tribulation except to say that the world will endure many troubles in the time between Jesus’ earthly life and the tribulation.
The Bible makes no statement about an increase of unusual weather events before the tribulation. The Bible is silent on the world’s weather before the tribulation. Scripture does promise in Genesis 8:22 that normal seasonal cycles will continue until the very end. “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
The book of Revelation reveals that the events of the tribulation are supernatural in origin. A gradual increase in natural disasters is not required to accommodate the horrendous catastrophes of the tribulation. An upswing in weird weather is not an indicator the tribulation is about to begin.
The only warning of the beginning of the tribulation will be the rapture of Christians. When all Christians are taken out of the world then the antichrist will rise to power and the worldwide catastrophes will begin, but then it will be too late for many. The Christian is not to concern himself with trying to figure out when Jesus will return, but is to live in his life in faithfulness and service he will be ready whenever the Lord comes for His people. “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” ( 1Thessalonians 5:2-3, 6)
“God put the sun, moon, and stars in the heavens as signs for all of creation to understand His will.”
The recent solar eclipse in America and the four lunar eclipses of 2014-2015 led many to seek for the Biblical importance of these remarkable celestial events. One famous television pastor wrote a best-selling book about the role of the lunar eclipses in God’s prophetic plans. Some Bible prophecy teachers argue that the sun, moon and stars are given by God to warn of major events in the history of the world.
This claim is based on Genesis 1:14, “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:” Since God put the celestial bodies in the sky as signs we should be paying attention when something unique happens in the heavens. God might be trying to tell us of an important event that is about to happen.
Genesis 1:14 does not say God uses the celestial bodies to warn of future events. Just like in English the Hebrew word for sign has multiple meanings. The correct definition is determined by the rest of the sentence or paragraph. Genesis 1:14 says God put the things in the sky for four reasons: for signs, for seasons, for days and for years. The last three purposes are related to telling the time. The sun, moon and stars mark out the changing of the four seasons. The rising and setting of the sun marks out the days. The revolutions of the sun and the stars in the sky mark out the passing of the years. They are signs related to the passing of time not to omens and portents.
In the Pentateuch, the five books written by Moses, a sign is a mark, token or memorial of something. The miracles accomplished by God when He brought Israel out of Egypt were signs. They were tokens of the great power of God that confirmed His promise to the Israelites that He would deliver them. The law of God was given to Israel as a sign reminding them they were the covenant people of God. The rest of the Old Testament uses signs predominantly as a reminder of something that happened or as confirmation a promised event is going to happen. When God promised to heal King Hezekiah He gave to Hezekiah a sign that confirmed what God had promised would happen.
In the Old Testament a sign is always connected to a specific promise or event. A sign is never a vague portent of impending doom. An eclipse does not promise anything specific, nor can a single eclipse be connected to a definite promise of God. The signs of the Old Testament were attached to specific events or promises. The sun, moon and stars do not forebode the future. They are tokens of God’s faithfulness, continual reminders that He is Creator and unfailing memorials to His glory.
Conflict has long raged in Palestine over the right of Jews to have their own kingdom in the Middle East. Most of the disagreement today is political and ethnic, but many Christians and religious Jews see the possession of Palestine as a Divine right granted to the Israelites thousands of years ago. Did God promise to give the Israelites the land along the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea?
In Genesis 15:8 God promised to give Abraham’s descendants the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” In Ezekiel 47 the promise is repeated to the Israelites as part of the kingdom to be established by the Messiah. In Ezekiel is given a more specific description of the borders of the promised land. The geographical markers have changed or been lost over the millennia so it is hard to identify the exact boundaries of the promised land. Despite the difficulties of finding the specific borders it is clear that the land God promised to Abraham is all the territory between Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River stretching north to the Euphrates river (in modern day Syria) and south to beneath the Dead Sea towards a point parallel with the southeastern corner of the Mediterranean. Something like this:
After the exodus from Egypt God led the Israelites to the eastern border of the land of Canaan. He commanded them to go in and conquer the land He had promised them. If they would obey Him God would give them victory over the inhabitants. If they disobeyed God and turned to idolatry then the Canaanites and other nations would take Israel captive. Israel began to conquer the land. After early successes the nation fell into a vicious cycle of disobedience, captivity, repentance, deliverance and then disobedience again. As a result Israel conquered very little of the promised land until the time of David. Under King David and his son Solomon Israel took possession of most, but not all, of the land promised to Abraham. After Solomon’s death the kingdom split and began to dwindle. Israel has never held all of the territory promised to her by God.
The history of the Israelites and the current political situation makes it seem unlikely that the Jews will hold all the promised land. However, God’s promises will always be fulfilled. When Jesus returns to establish His kingdom He will make Jerusalem His capital city. He will rule over the whole earth. He will be King of Israel and give to the Jews the land promised to Abraham’s descendants. God always keeps His promises.
The claims of the Bible provide an ample basis on which to test Scriptures’ reliability. Possibly the greatest avenue for verifying the veracity of Scripture is in prophecy. No other religious book in the world contains the amount of future telling contained in the Bible. The vast number of prophecies in the Bible provide abundant opportunity to determine if the Bible is trustworthy.
The standard for testing Biblical prophecy is set by the Bible itself. Deuteronomy 18:22 sets the bar as it can be set. If a prophet claims to be speaking the Word of God his prophesies must be completely accurate. If the prophecy fails just once then the prophet and his message is not of God. Since the Bible claims to be of God it must be right all the time. Have the prophecies of the Bible failed even one time?
The Bible contains many fulfilled prophecies. These prophecies are often very specific in their nature. For example, the prophecies of Jesus birth tell of his family (He would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and David). They tell of his birth place (Micah 5:2) They tell of the tragic events surrounding Jesus’ birth (Jeremiah 31:15) The Bible tells when Jesus would be born. The Bible foretells Jesus’ birth and the events surrounding His death. It prophesies the kind of death He would suffer, the abuse He would take, His betrayal, His burial and His resurrection.
The Bible contains specific prophecies about the rise of kings and kingdoms. The Bible prophesies the defeat of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. The Bible prophesies how long the people of Judah would be captive in Babylon. It tells of the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the year when the rebuilding would take place. The Bible foretells the rise of the Persian empire, the reign of Cyrus and his role in rebuilding Jerusalem. Through the prophet Daniel God revealed that Medo-Persia would overthrow the Babylonian empire and then would itself be overthrown by the Greek Empire. Scripture tells of the destruction of Edom, Tyre, Sidon and Nineveh. All happened just as Scriptures foretold.
The complete list of Biblical prophecies fulfilled cannot be given in a brief article. Over 300 specific prophecies of Jesus were fulfilled in his first coming. Dozens of specific prophecies about Israel and the other ancient nations have all been fulfilled. Many of the prophecies are very specific. The huge number of Biblical prophecy fulfilled is more than coincidence. The Bible is exactly what it claims to be, the Word of God.
The return of Jesus will be preceded by a seven year period of time called the Tribulation. The book of Revelation gives significant detail about the events of that time. The tribulation is a time of God’s judgment on the world. Aside from the flood, the tribulation is the single greatest outpouring of God’s judgment on mankind for sin. The tribulation is the last great judgment of the nations of the earth. God promised in Gensis 9:11 that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood. Of all the horrible things that happen during the tribulation catastrophic flooding is never mentioned. Is the judgment of the tribulation like the judgment of the flood?
During the flood in Noah’s day, God destroyed every breathing thing on the earth except those in the ark. The flood began with 40 days of violent rains and the breaking up of the earths crust to release the fountains of the deep. The waters continued to rise for about six months until they covered the whole world. A little over a year after the beginning of the flood the earth was sufficiently dried and recovered for those on the ark to come out onto a transformed world.
Unlike the flood, the tribulation will last for seven years and none will be escape the horrors of that day. Unlike the flood, the tribulation will be made up of many different kinds of terrors. Some of the terrors will be natural, some economic and some demonic. Some will involve massive war, some will be men persecuting men, all will be the supernatural judgment of God. Revelation describes the catastrophes of the tribulation in such a way that it appears they will be a series of horrible events, some overlapping the others. The judgments of the tribulation will move the world forward to the final world war that will immediately precede the return of Jesus.
The troubles of the tribulation will be varied. They will include horrible famine, extensive war, earthquakes that overthrow mountains and rearrange geography, hundred pound hailstones that fall and fire that destroys a third of the trees and all grass on earth. One third of the ocean will be turned to blood, killing a third of the sea creatures and destroying a third of the ships on the seas. One third of the fresh water will become poisonous killing a third of humanity and later all the water in the oceans and rivers will be turned to blood. Men will be afflicted with horrible sores, burned by extreme heat from the sun and then terrified by the fall of sudden, painful darkness. The destruction will be celestial. The stars will fall from the sky, the sun will be blotted out, the moon turned red as blood, The horrors of that day will be so great men will hide themselves in caves and mountains to try to escape the destruction. God will release demons from their imprisonment to bring torments upon men and to lead massive armies into battle.
Estimates of the death tolls during the tribulation reach as high as 85% of humanity. Like the flood God’s wrath will wreak havoc on the world. As in the days of Noah God’s judgment on sin will be unleashed on humanity. The tribulation will be very different from the flood in its disasters, but most importantly it will be different in its purpose. The tribulation will not just be the execution of God’s wrath. The tribulation will bring about the restoration and repentance of the nation of Israel. The tribulation will prepare the world for the kingdom of Jesus and the final fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. The flood was the second great earthly judgment on mankind, and the tribulation is the last. They share many similarities but have some very important differences that makes the tribulation a unique event in human history.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” At Christmas we remember the birth of Jesus. Jesus’ birth is of universal importance because Jesus is God who set aside His Divine prerogatives, clothed Himself in humanity and suffered the punishment of man’s sin so men can be saved. John 3:16 famously describes Jesus as the “only begotten Son.” That Jesus is begotten of God may seem to be at odds with the Biblical doctrine that Jesus is the eternal God. If Jesus is the eternally existent God, in what way is He begotten of God?
Psalm 2:7 presents a powerful promise of the coming Messiah. God comforts His servant David with the promises He will establish His own Son as King of Jerusalem who will reign over all the earth. The Messianic promise of God is certified by the Divine decree, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee.” In the New Testament Paul declares that Jesus is the Son decreed by God in Psalm 2. The begottenness of Jesus is the eternal decree of God to establish God the Son as the Messiah of Israel who would reign as King over the entire earth.
John 1:14 connects the incarnation- God the Son’s taking to Himself humanity- with His being begotten. Jesus is begotten of God in His birth into the world. Jesus was not conceived by natural means but by the power of God uniquely working to generate a child. Jesus’ begottenness is the working of God to miraculously create a body for the Son within Mary’s womb. His begottenness is in the working of God to send the Son of God, the seed of woman, into humanity to become the Savior of man.
God the Son is the eternally existent God who created all things. He is fully God and equal with the Father in existence, eternality, infinity, majesty, power and glory. The begottenness of Jesus does not imply the least inferiority. The begottenness of Jesus does not imply a point in eternity in which the Father existed alone without the Son or the Spirit. Jesus is described as begotten because of the Divine decree that the Son would take upon Himself humanity. Through His humanity Jesus would become the Savior of those who trust Him and He would be the conquering King that would rule all the earth. Jesus is begotten in His human personage and in His Messianic work. God the Son did not spring into existence on Christmas day (or nine months before His birth). God the Son has no source nor origination. The Son of God is fully God, the second person of the Trinity, who shares entirely in the identical, eternal essence and existence of the Triune Godhead.
According to a handful of teachers about Bible prophecy the series of lunar eclipses that started last year is a sign from God that something significant is about to happen in the world, probably in relation to Israel. This predication is based on the idea that when the Bible says the moon will be turned to blood it is referring to a full lunar eclipse, also called a blood moon. A quick online search of the Bible reveals the phrase blood moon is not found anywhere in the Bible. The phrase is a modern one that possibly originated in the 1800’s. Though the blood moon is not found in the Bible, the question still remains, does the “moon be turned to blood” refer to a full lunar eclipse or a special series of eclipses?
The moon being turned to blood is most likely not intended to teach that the moon will change its substance to become actual blood. Instead, the phrase seems to be describing an event which causes the moon to take on a deep red color like that of blood. Though the phrase blood moon is descriptive of the appearance of the moon during the lunar eclipse, the assertion that it is descriptive of a lunar eclipse tetrad is uncertain at best. The coloration of the moon during a full eclipse is not that different from the deep orange of a moonrise occuring just after sunset. Why are harvest moons not on the prophetic booksellers table? Despite the efforts of modern authors, no evidence exists to suggest that the writers of the Bible or the original readers would have understood “moon turned to blood” in terms of an eclipse. We cannot today make a passage mean something it never meant.
The Bible teaches that something will happen which will cause the moon to take on a deep crimson hue. To understand if this most recent series of blood moons is a fulfillment of the Biblical prophecies, one must look to the Bible. The reference in Joel 2 declares the moon being turned to blood will be associated with the sun be darkened and wonders of fire and smoke in the skies. Revelation 6 expands on these events teaching that at this time the stars will begin to fall from the sky. Most importantly for our understanding, and most destructive to the theories devised by blood moon speculators, is the timing of the moon being turned to blood. Revelation 6 describes these horrible cosmic events as taking place during a time called The Tribulation. The Tribulation is a seven year period of intense suffering unlike anything ever seen before. The catastrophes of that time will not be natural but supernatural. The violence and destruction of those seven years will be unmistakably different from the earthquakes, hurricanes and tragedies happening today. The moon will not be turned to blood before the tragedies begin but in the middle of a series of horrific events. Since the world is not engaged in another world war, and since the world is not stricken with near universal famine, and since a quarter of the earth’s population has not been struck down in painful death, and since the sun has not been blotted out of the sky, and since the world has not been shaken with an earthquake that moves the mountains and islands out of their place, and since the stars are not falling out of the sky, then I can say with Biblical certainty these lunar eclipses are not fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. (Revelation 6:1-17) The moon being turned to blood is a horrible happening preceding the day of Jesus. It is not a sign given for speculation, but one part of the wrath of God being poured out on mankind. God has already communicated in His Word all that mankind needs to know about the return of Jesus. He is not using eclipses to reveal special information about the end of the world.
Will everything change as one author foretells? I have no doubt that significant events will continue to happen in the years ahead. Those looking for proof of their conjectures will find ample evidence in the normal wars, catastrophes and political upheavals of the world. Those looking for Biblical truth will find the lunar eclipse is a sign that the celestial bodies are still spinning as God has ordained. When the moon is turned to blood mankind will know already know something is happening and God’s wrath is being poured out on humanity.
On the evening of September 27, the last of four “blood moons” in a will occur. The term blood moon is relatively modern and used by some to describe a full lunar eclipse. During a full lunar eclipse the moon takes on a deep orange color which has prompted the creative designation “blood moon”. Much attention has been given recently to the lunar eclipses, and especially the phrase blood moon, due to the conjunction of four lunar eclipses in a row, called a tetrad. Each of these four eclipses also coincide with a Jewish festival day. Since the death of Jesus a series of eclipses that also coincides with Jewish feasts has happened a handful of times.
The unique series of eclipses has prompted several men of different Christian denominations to publish books about the prophetic significance of these blood moons. The authors claim that the blood moons of 2014-2015 are significant signs regarding the end of this age and portend major, possibly catastrophic events that probably also indicate the soon return of Jesus. These teachers make such claims because of the uncommon occurrence of a sequence of lunar eclipses each falling on Jewish feast days and because several prophetic passages refer to the moon being turned to blood as a key event taking place shortly before the return of Jesus.
The original Biblical passage is Joel 2:31 which says, “The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord.” Just before the Messiah comes as King to judge the earth, the moon will be turned to blood. In Acts 2 Peter quotes the prophecy of Joel and proclaims it was partially fulfilled in Jesus. The fulfillment was partial because Jesus is the promised Messiah who sent His Spirit upon men as He promised and Joel prophesied. The entire prophecy of Joel has not yet been fulfilled because Jesus has not yet come as a conquering king to establish His worldwide kingdom. Revelation 6 contains the last prophecy about the blood moon. Revelation 6 prophesies that the moon will be turned to blood during the final judgments just before Jesus returns. Because this is an event has not yet happened, some men are seeing great significance in the current series of lunar eclipses.
The Bible does not use the phrase blood moon, but it does describe the moon being turned to blood. To understand the Bible’s teaching on this subject, two questions have to be answered. First, is a lunar eclipse what the Bible is talking about when it says the moon will be turned to blood? Second, can we learn anything about when Jesus will return from normal astronomical events? The next article will attempt to address these two questions.