- Rick LoPresti
It is not a new phenomenon that people get caught up with following "signs" of the second coming of Christ or other events. Moses warned of following signs over the commandments of God (Deut 13:1-5). There were sign seekers in the days of Christ, and He said they were wicked and adulterous (Mt 12:38-39, Mt 16:1-4, Jn 2:18, Jn 6.30, 1Cor 1:22). The Bible is certainly a book of prophecy, and we are instructed to pay attention to how current events are aligned to the scriptures (Mt 16:3,Mt 24:42-44). However, we must never get caught up in setting dates for the fulfillment of prophecy, especially the return of the Lord (Mt 24:36). We must also be aware of getting caught up in the latest alleged prophecies based on astronomical events. The Bible does mention some events in conjunction with prophecy; but those are mostly about the sun, moon, and stars not giving their light and even falling to earth, which are obviously not literal (Is 13:10, Eze 32:7, Joel 2:10, Joel 3:15, Mt 24:29, Lk 21:25, Rev 6:13, Rev 8:12).
In 2014-2015, there was a great uproar about what was being called the four blood moons. Many Christians followed the teaching that lunar patterns for those 2 years were a prophetic sign. That was over 2 years ago. Also, there are scientific problems with this teaching. Lunar eclipses are not rare. There will be 85 of them this century. The Jewish calendar is lunar, not solar. Jewish holidays occur on the new moon, in particular Passover and Sukkot. They always occur on the new moon 6 months apart. Lunar eclipses can only occur on the new moon. These holidays fell on a lunar eclipse 39 times in the 20th century, 1/6 of all lunar eclipses. There have been 62 tetrads, or 4 blood moons, since the first century. 8 times they coincided with the Jewish feasts, which is to be expected. This was hardly a unique, prophetic sign.
Many people are believing that the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 is also a prophetic sign. Here are some things to consider. Bible prophecy centers around Israel, not the United States. The eclipse will not be visible there. What if it is cloudy that day and people cannot see it? Will it still be a prophetic sign? Solar eclipses and well as lunar eclipses are easily predictable events using basic astronomical observations and calculations. They can only be seen by small areas of the earth when they occur. Solar eclipses like lunar ones can only occur when the moon is full. so we should expect them to coincide with the Jewish calendar. They have to.
There is difference between astronomy and astrology. Astronomy is the scientific study of celestial objects and space. Astrology is the belief that celestial bodies have spiritual influence over men and events on earth. Astrology is clearly associated with paganism and condemned in the Bible (Is 47:13, Dan 1:20, Dan 2:2 & 27, Dan 4:7, Dan 5:7-15). The worship of celestial bodies is clearly idolatry (Deut 4:19, Deut 17:3, 2Ki 17:16, 2Ki 21:5, 2Ki 23:5, 2Chr 33:3-5, Jer 8:2, Jer 19:13, Eze 8:16, Zeph 1:5, Acts 7:42). Some may say that believing that celestial events are prophetic signs does not constitute idolatry, but we need to be very careful that we are not attributing spiritual power belonging to God to celestial events, or correlating events to prophecy incorrectly. Much harm has been done to the credibility of the Bible and the church through these kinds of errors.
We must also beware kabbala-like mystical numerology. There are some numbers which seem to have some significance, but there is no verse that says "7 means perfection, 5 means grace, 10 means judgment," etc. The Bible is not an occultic (secret) code book. It is generally meant to be read and understood plainly. It is already the supernatural word of God. It does not need to be sensationalized to be interesting to those who are seekers of truth.
There was a presentation by Jonathan Cahn called, "The Harbinger" which has garnered much attention. The general premise that the United States needs repentance and humility before God is correct, but the presentation is riddled with errors and inaccuracies such as information about Assyria, the World Trade Center and its alleged correlation to Isaiah 9:10, the sycamore tree, a failure to acknowledge God after 9-11, the motives to rebuild in New York, and the list of "harbingers". Yet many people never bothered to "fact-check" anything he said.
Christians should not follow signs. Signs should follow them as they preach the sound teaching of Jesus Christ (Mk 16:17-20). Miracles, signs, and wonders are secondary to sound doctrine. It doesn't matter who is teaching or endorsing questionable or patently inaccurate information (Deut 13:1-5). We need to know the scriptures for ourselves (Jn 5:39, Acts 17:10-12). We also need to examine what people are saying about the Bible to ensure it is right.