Yesterday I had a great opportunity to discuss the book Holy Land Key by Pastor Ray Bentley, of Maranatha Chapel, San Diego, California. For those unaware, Maranatha is my home church and Pastor Ray is my pastor, so not surprisingly, Ray and I have discussed issues raised in his book on several previous occasions.
Three topics have been of interest to my blog readers: the Gospel in the Zodiac, Blood Moons and the role of Israel’s 7 festivals in relation to God’s plan of the ages.
1. The Gospel in the Stars.
Let’s be really blunt: this has nothing at all to do with astrology or any kind of star worship or horoscopes. The Gospel IS in the stars. We know that the heavens declare God’s glory, attributes and even wrath. We also know beyond dispute that God has used the stars to proclaim Christ’s first advent and that the stars will also announce his second advent. Further, from Adam to Moses there was no written revelation and it is perfectly reasonable to believe that God ensured the continuity and accuracy of the oral tradition by enabling what was said to be tied to what was seen. In other words, the signs of the Zodiac were something like God’s great PowerPoint in the sky. Yes, the symbolism and meanings of the constellations did devolve into something pagan later, but God created the constellations and declared them good. Just as we are still in the image of God while being corrupted by sin, so also a later sinful exploitation of the constellations does not mean they didn’t serve God’s purpose originally. And besides, as Pastor Ray observed, we know the Gospel from God’s Word but that doesn’t mean we can’t see it reflected in God’s creation.
2. Seven Festivals of Israel.
I think I always knew Christ was crucified during the Festival of Passover and that the Church was born on the Festival of Weeks (Pentecost), but only recently and from Pastor Ray did I learn that Jesus lay in the Tomb during the Festival of Unleavened Bread and was raised on the Festival of First Fruits. As for the latter, I had no excuse because Christ’s resurrection is even called the First Fruits by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. Knowing this has been edifying and even helpful in teaching because, for example, 1 Cor. 5 refers to the Jewish practice of removing yeast from your home, refers to Christ in the next sentence as “our Passover” and then refers to our celebrating the Festival of Unleavened Bread by getting rid of the old lump of dough and starting fresh with a whole new lump.
More recently our church has focused on the three fall festivals: Festival of Trumpets, Festival of Atonement and the Festival of Tabernacles. I have learned a great deal about these feast days and regret that I was a Christian for 30+ years in complete ignorance of them. A year ago I could not have even named them. Now I am on a journey of discovery with these holidays. Personally, I am not prepared to make any prophetic predictions based on the dates of these festivals, and I can attest that Pastor Ray has not made any predictions either. Some people (who maybe read too many blogs ) will inevitably succumb to the temptation to set dates and time tables for Christ’s Second Advent, but that should not deter us from celebrating and learning. Paul said in Colossians that we should not let anyone judge us on the basis of a Sabbath, festival or new moon. To celebrate them, whether you are of Jewish or Gentile background, is a matter of Christian liberty.
3. Blood Moons.
The Blood Moons issue has become extremely popular and has produced hundreds of “me too” self proclaimed prophecy gurus making all kinds of outrageous claims. But I can say emphatically that Ray Bentley’s book (which has one chapter on blood moons) does not fall into the trap of making predictions based on the lunar eclipse schedule. Rather, Pastor Ray’s statements and book are measured and cautious. One must not paint all with a single broad brush. That said, Pastor Ray and I don’t agree on every minute detail involving tetrads and historical events over the last 2000 years. But we do agree that God can, has, does and will use moons and the Sun and stars to get us to watch, wait, warn and worship. These blood moons currently may be viewed as God’s traffic lights. The lights are changing from Green to Yellow to Red: we need to stop, look and listen.
So as is often the case, members of one body will agree more than they disagree. Let’s remember that.