From the Magic Book
Well, tomorrow there will be a lunar eclipse and it is supposed to be the first of four “Blood Moons” over the next year and a half. The term comes from the refraction of light that bends through the earth’s atmosphere, bathing the moon in a dim red light. It’s too bad it is supposed to be raining where I live.
I had the amazing opportunity to see such an eclipse several years ago when my missionary role had me on a tropic isle. My wife and I were able to set up a couple of chairs on a tropical beach under a dark and crystal clear sky and watch the whole thing from start to finish. Somehow, on that amazing night, the idea of being a missionary “suffering for Jesus” didn’t bother us at all.
This weekend I saw an interview on TV in which mega-church pastor John Hagee informed us that this four-eclipse series is a sign from God that a world-shaking event concerning Israel is about to take place. Pastor Hagee says that this is the way God is “trying to communicate with humans.” In an astonishing coincidence he (Hagee, not God.) has also just released a new book entitled “Four Blood Moons” and it is available on Amazon and elsewhere.
My first reaction was puzzlement that the God of all creation, on feeling the desire to communicate with us, decided to give it a try. Seriously? A try? It makes it sound like God has his fingers crossed, hoping it will work. And is a series of eclipses that half the world can’t see, and 90% of those that can will sleep through, the best idea God could come up with? But never mind.
This is another example of what I call the “magic book” theory of Biblical inspiration. It starts with the idea that the Bible is the inspired word of God. OK, I am good with that. Step two is the idea that it is truthful in all that it teaches. Once again, fine with me. The next step is where I get off the bus; the ideas that the Bible teaches absolutely everything about absolutely anything.
Hagee starts with some Bible passages (Joel 2:31, Revelation 6:12), throws in the red color of the eclipse, and comes to the conclusion that this is a message from God. He then finds that previous “blood moons” happened somewhere around the birth of Israel and again around the six day war. He then conjures up his result that something big is going down.
Never mind that those passages are mysteriously apocalyptic, not passages for any time God wants to say something. Never mind that it is easy to look back and read conclusions about history into a framework you have already built. Never mind that in the volatile Middle East there is always something happening that you can hang your hat on and say you were right.
My problem is this – once you accept the magic book theory; the theory that instructions for absolutely any situation whatsoever are embedded in the Bible and all you have to do is comb through it and find the answer, you will be able to convince yourself that every conclusion you draw is “biblical.” You will be out in the range of sheer speculation but sure you are on solid biblical ground. Even if you are not prone to wild prophecies you will soon think that every decision, be it what shirt to put on today or whether or not you should quit your job and move across country, has verses that you can make say that what you want to do is what God wants.
The Bible is an amazing, one-of-a-kind book. It is the story of the relentless quest of a loving God for rebellious and sinful men; for even me. It can bring tears to my eyes and send chills down my spine. It is thrilling. It is tragic. It is frightening. It is uplifting. It is so much more than a magic book.
As I said, it is going to be raining here when the blood moon comes. I think I will just go to bed and watch it the next day on youtube. But I also think I will just let myself be awed by the universe God has created rather than try to puzzle out some secret message.