Blood Moons, Shemitah,, and Last Days Nonsense


Four Horsemen of the ApocalypseWhere I live, everyone has been running around like crazy, preparing. Kids are off school. People have been buzzing about how it might all go down, and who will be chosen and who will not. Some have been anxious, others elated. What has long been awaited is finally upon us.

In other words, it’s the week of the county fair.

You thought perhaps I was speaking of something else?

Like that blood moon thing. Oh, that’s yesterday’s news. Who’s going to win Best of Show in cattle is more important right now.

As for me, I’m not so much a county fair person. I’m more concerned with the aftermath of this month of September within the pathetic prophetic community in charismatic and dispensationalist Christianity.

An unhealthy fascination with the Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which fall within September, is an area of concern. This year is also a Jubilee year in Judaism, which happens every 50 years (7 X 7 Shemitah years plus one) and marks a time of the forgiving of debts and the releasing of those in bondage of any kind. Add in the blood moon tetrad we just experienced, and all manner of End Times craziness afflicted us in 2015.

Over at Charisma magazine online ( and it’s sister site,, it’s business as usual, save for a few rare posts wondering why nothing happened. For the last year or so, these sites have been spewing predictions about this month’s eschatological “certainties.” I know this because my Facebook pages have been strewn with Christians posting End Times articles sourced from these two websites.

What was supposed to happen as prophetically announced through various pricey books, DVDs, teaching seminars, and other big money generators was the end of the world, the Second Coming of Christ, the exposing of the Beast and Antichrist, the Last Battle, all manner of Israel-related stuff, signs in the heavens, and signs on earth.

Oh, and that Catholic leader guy visited America. Surely he had to fit into all that too. Had to. Gotta read all the signs.

Here’s the scorecard:

Blood moon tetrad events – FAIL

Wonders related to Shemitah – FAIL

Attacks on Israel – FAIL

Armageddon – FAIL

The Second Coming of Christ – FAIL

The Rapture of the Church – FAIL

Wow, that’s surprising, isn’t it? Not one of those things either happened or signaled anything.

What gets me is that we’ll go on about our business, get ready for fairs, go to work, cheer or lament our local football teams, and nowhere will there be an admission from all these “prophets” who made a fortune hocking End Times nonsense that they were ultimately dead wrong about everything they predicted. And nowhere will there be an apology from the editiorial staff at Charisma that they rode this nuttiness for all it was worth and that they’re sorry for having done so.

I fully believe that Jesus will return one day. I fully believe it will be during a time of great unrest and turmoil. I fully believe that a war between the forces of God and the forces of Satan will erupt sometime in the future.

But all these End Times predictions by self-anointed prophets in polyester suits seem more like astrology, numerology, divination, and outright witchcraft than anything Christian that proceeds from the throne of God Almighty.

God is not a god of error, confusion, and fear. He is not found in earthquakes and windstorms, but instead speaks in a still, small voice, yet one that carries devastating and lasting authority.

My advice to fellow believers is to stop funding and promoting charlatans who attempt to make money by peddling loud, scary predictions. Just stop. Please. Don’t buy their materials and don’t repeat their silliness in social media and elsewhere.

I also hope you will consider that today will be no different than yesterday, and that no apologies will come from those who spoke wrongly. Consider that sometime in the next year we will get another run-up of predictions heading into next September, and by the same “prophets,” and they will be wrong then too.

Whatever we do, we cannot and should not forget or excuse these failed prophetic words. We cannot go on as if the failure of these predictions does not matter. The only way the Church can be strengthened is if we stop supporting the predictions and predictors. One reason lost people no longer look to the Church for answers is because of this nonsense. It must be dealt with.

If any of us fell for all this, we should not lie to ourselves that we didn’t. Instead, we should get before God and get real with Him about our obsession with all things End Times and our tendency to fall for related nonsense. My fear is, if we don’t deal with it, should the Liar of All Liars arise in our lifetimes, we will believe his or her lies just as readily as we believed all these mistaken “prophets.”

I will add that perhaps we should examine the truthfulness of our eschatology. Is falling for this again and again a sign that perhaps what we believe about the End Times is flat-out wrong? Christians have held many differing views of the End. Perhaps the one we currently hold is incorrect.

In conclusion, I offer this.

The smartest religious people of Jesus’ day completely blew both the prediction of His first coming and its means. They got everything so hopelessly wrong that even when the anticipated Messiah stood before them, they could not see.

I believe Christ’s Second Coming will be just as surprising and confounding. It won’t occur the way we think or at the time we believe is most perfect. Yes, we are in the Last Days, but God has not stated to us the exact number of those days.

Until that Final Day of these Last Days, keep doing the work of the Kingdom and relax in letting God choose when and how He will bring it all to its conclusion.

How Being Rapture-Minded Made the American Church No Earthly Good


The Rapture--Comic book styleI started to write a clever post today on eschatology, with a setup piece of fiction about a U-Boat sinking a merchant marine ship in WWII and the merchant marine ship’s  first mate running around deck yelling, “I’m going to be rescued now, I’ll get a new ship, and I’ll be made captain!” but I just ran out of steam. Perhaps I’m weary from the mentality a good chunk of the modern American Church displays on the End Times. (A decent PDF chart of the major eschatological views.)

The prevailing view of The End among most Christians in the United States is dispensationalism. If you’re familiar with the Left Behind series of books, movies, and licensed products, you know dispensationalism. You may also have heard of it through the book The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey, which popularized the view. (And let me add, that if you have read LGPE, you’re probably a geezer, just like yours truly.)

The key pieces of dispensationalism: two distinct histories for the Church and Israel, including post-Second Advent of Christ; a removal of the Church from the earth (the Rapture—see 1 Thessalonians 4) before seven years of horrific tribulation; the Second Advent and 1,000-year Reign of Christ; the Revolt of the Nations; and the Final Judgment.

I wrote a paper in college debunking dispensationalism, but of all the things that bothered me about that view, two stick out: its youth and its presumption.

Dispensationalism as a formal Christian eschatology had no real traction until the 19th century, and it was then popularized by one man. A Christian theology that doesn’t appear until the 19th century pretty much insist that everyone who lived before that era was a moron when it came to understanding The End. This includes the folks who built the early Church, because they didn’t hold to a dispensationalist view. Nor did the great Protestant Reformers.

And as I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, when an idea starts with one man and no one else, it’s worth scrutinizing, since individuals have a strong penchant to get things wrong. And if we’re going to rejigger how the entire Church views The End, getting it wrong isn’t an option.

Part of that presumption that sticks most in my craw is the idea that the Church will be removed from the earth before the real craziness starts. Most eschatological views support the idea that the Church will be “caught up” to meet Jesus. When is the big distinction between theories, with How being secondary.

When I read the Bible, it seems clear to me that in all of human history, God never removed those who believe in Him from pain, persecution, and the fallout of a fallen world. Lot endured Sodom. Joseph lived through the famine. Joshua wandered the desert with his people. The righteous Jews went into captivity in Babylon. The faithful disciples and apostles were martyred. Time and again, the faithful went through the mess everyone else did.

Where they differed from the rest was in how they dealt with it. Faithfully. And with longsuffering.

And yet one of the hallmarks of dispensationalism is the idea that all the Christians will be removed from the planet before the real End Times suffering comes. That seems out of character with everything the Bible shows us about patient endurance in hard times.

Some Christians who follow a preterist eschatology will argue the genuine nastiness envisioned in the Bible happened in AD 70 already, and all this talk of future tribulation is a waste of time.


Regardless, dispensationalism is the predominant eschatology in today’s American Church, and it drives much of how we live.

We base our Christian theology on it.

We base our American politics on it.

We base our American foreign policy on it.

We base our American economy on it.

We base our American environmental policy on it.

We base our American lifestyles on it.

We base our Christian practice on it.

And the major mentality we espouse when we hold to a dispensational view of The End is…

It’s all going to burn,

And I’m out of here anyway.

When I look around at today’s Church in America, I see that mindset. There’s a sense that there’s no need to try to fix the Church and its problems because, hey, “It’s all going to burn, and I’m out of here anyway.”

Doesn’t matter what the issue is. Why steward the earth if God’s going to burn it up anyway? Why prepare our churches to help meet the needs of those caught up in persecution and tribulation if Christians won’t be here to do it? Why do anything that requires bold effort and genuine sacrifice if you’re just floating along before Jesus comes by with His Gospel Ship and you sail away together?

There’s a nihilism there. Can you see it? When we resign ourselves to checking out before the actual checkout, we miss whatever it is that happens before then. We forgo the opportunity to be useful.

As long as Christians have mentally checked out of the world as it is today, I think the Church will be ineffective with whatever time we have left. And it may be that instead of the 10 years some may think we have, we’re due for another 1,000 yet. How long doesn’t matter. A Church that has its Rapture bags already packed is just waiting around, killing time.

I don’t see how any of that is Biblical or even remotely Christian, though.

Godly Humor & Knowing When to Laugh


In the heyday of The Late Great Planet Earth, an impressionable young man was accosted by an itinerant street corner preacher of the apocalypse. “Son, you better get right—or get left,” the preacher shouted into his face. Unnerved by the encounter, the young man decided to do something about his predicament. So he joined the John Birch Society.

That’s a Dan Edelen original, folks. It’s also about as close as I come to poking fun at the events of this last weekend’s Rapture bust.

The impression most people get about me from this blog is that I’m a super-serious, modern day counterpart to that street corner preacher of the joke. Laughter humor funPeople who meet me in person are often struck by the fact that I’m funnier than they thought and not so deadly serious. In fact, some people don’t understand why I’m laughing all the time.

Fact is, I love to laugh. People who can’t laugh at themselves when they should or who can’t lighten up at all bother me more than just about any kind of person. Something IS wrong with a stick in the mud.

Which is why I want to point out what bothers me about how we Christians joke around.

I read a ton of barbed yucks at the expense of Harold Camping and his followers over the last month. I can expect that from people who aren’t Christians, as the whole Rapture thing—even when viewed biblically and with solid theology—sounds weird to unbelievers. No surprise. It was the sarcasm from Christians that took me aback, though.

I was 25 in September 1988 when 88 reasons were given by some Rapture aficionado for the removal of the Church that month. I recall the stories of the euthanizing of pets, the homes sold, the bunker mentality, and so on. I also remember the subsequent suicides, the financial ruination, and the falling away by those who pinned their hopes on getting out of here on the predicted date, which obviously came and went.

In short, none of that aftermath was funny then. That stuck with me for this latest go-round of Rapture predictions. It’s why I wasn’t laughing over the Camping fiasco. Likewise, false teachings and false prophecy are not funny because they take a human toll.

The Bible says this:

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
—1 Peter 5:5b

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
—Philippians 2:3-4

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
—Galatians 5:14-15

My experience in life is that cutting humor used against others has a surefire way of backfiring. When we’re making fun of someone else, it almost always has a way of getting out of hand.

It’s an issue of humility on our part, too. Sure, someone may be woefully deceived, but our role is not to  stand apart from that person but to help in any humble way we can to restore them to truth. Mocking others never accomplishes this goal.

Those Christians I have known who have had the most effective lives for Christ and for reaching out to others are universally NOT known for their jibes. Quite the contrary, they have a winsomeness that attracts people and lets those hurting or misled people know that they are dealing with someone who is safe and can be trusted. In such an adversarial age, when mocking is considered a high art by some, and people go at each other’s throats over the littlest things, shouldn’t the Christian response run counter to the way of the world?

At my core, I am an arrogant person. Of all the sins that afflict me, pride is the worst. I thank God daily that He continues to weed out this toxic root in my life. I truly believe that I am a more humble person today than I once was.

More than once in my younger days, I was confronted by fellow believers who told me I used humor to hurt other people. And they were right. It was a way of making myself look superior. But it was stupid on my part, and I know that now.

I share that because many Christians are still in that place of thinking more of themselves than they ought. It’s why their ministry is less effective than it could be. It’s why other people don’t seek them out when they need help. It’s why no one wants to listen to them when they try to witness. It’s why those Christians give up witnessing at all.

But this is a post about humor, and I don’t want to be all dour lest I perpetuate that false view that I’m some deadly serious killjoy.

I can’t point to any Scriptural mandate here, but I think humor works best within the shared human experience. Rather than poking fun at one person or at a group of people who have a serious problem, when we laugh at the silly things that afflict us all we find a way to cope with the world. God gave us laughter, and I think humor—when used rightly—has a way of defusing tension and making life more manageable. When we use humor to create tension, especially tension in or toward a person or group of people who are “not us,” we stray from God’s best.

Many years ago, I was at a large Christian retreat center. My group had plans, but I had others, so I stayed behind in the lodge and talked with an elderly man. We sat around and enjoyed the glorious day, relaxing and telling jokes. He was a stitch and had me in tears at several points. Just a really funny guy. When I asked him his name, he said, “J. Oswald Sanders.” I was stunned. This was the great biographer of the apostle Paul and one of the foremost theologians of the age.

So yes, Christians can be funny. Even the heavyweights.

And they should be.

Truthfully, too many Christians need to learn to lighten up. We all need to learn to laugh at ourselves a bit more, but not in a way that hurts others. I think that only comes with a willingness to be humble and to recognize that life is hard. Even if it isn’t hard for us, it may be for someone else, and we need to consider the state of another person’s life before we assault them with joking. We do need to consider what is funny for us may not be funny for someone else. Better that we find something mutually funny, something in the shared human condition, that makes it less about our superiority and more about the positive attitude that faith in Christ brings to help us overcome the vagaries of life.