“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
The “Four Blood Moons” movie, produced by Rick Eldridge and Pastor John Hagee, played to packed houses in South Austin, Texas on Tuesday night, a mere 1 hour’s drive from John Hagee’s hometown Cornerstone Church in San Antonio.
Both North and South theaters sold out on the Monday-only showing, and I was hard pressed to find any movie-goer not already convinced that, in the words of John Hagee, something was about to change.
Having studied the science, history and biblical basis of the phenomena of the Blood Moons more than most, and read most of the work that has been put forth on the subject, I was wondering what I might learn tonight. I was also curious what approach the movie would take.
The answers to these questions are below, in a few of my Blood Moon winners and losers.
BIGGEST WINNER: Israel
If you came in five minutes late and left while the end credits scrolled, not staying on for the final panel discussion at the end, you might think that this movie was called “Israel – God’s Love Never Changes.” For sure this movie’s meal – its meat and potatoes – was about the story of the Jews re-establishing the State of Israel with God’s help. The topic of the Blood Moons were simply the side salad, or better yet, the cherry tomatoes on top of that side salad. Actually, this approach pleased me personally because the opportunity to inform American audiences about some of the more interesting vignettes in the Israeli conflicts of 1948 and 1967 was taken, and well-executed upon by director Kieth Merrill.
BIGGEST LOSER: Mark Biltz
The discoverer of the Blood Moons phenomena was, I believe, the second person to have his face shown on camera. Biltz was the first to quote the Biblical passage of Joel 2:31 about the sun turning to darkness and the moon to blood, as a lead-in to having John Hagee tell the audience about the time he, John, first looked at the NASA website and saw the blood moons of 1492, 1948 and 1967 falling upon feast days.
By the way, this was a bit of a mis-statement because the NASA data would have told him 1493 and 1949. The editing decision to eliminate Biltz’s discovery of the Blood Moons stung a bit. Those of us who know the history of the Blood Moons know that not only did Biltz develop most of the original thinking on the topic for four continuous years before Hagee became aware of them, but it was Biltz himself that told Hagee about the phenomena in 2012. Ouch.
WINNER: Christopher Columbus’s Ships
The ships from Columbus’s second voyage in 1493 (the first year of the blood moon tetrad) were amazingly recreated on-screen. With their vivid Spanish sails (perhaps filmed off the coast of North Carolina for convenience) the view of those ships sailing together in unison was a gorgeous reminder of the adventure and opportunities that the New World, our world for those of us that live in the America’s, beckoned to Jews in Europe more than 500 years ago.
LOSER: Sultan Bayezid II
While Christopher Columbus’s ship was shown carrying one Jewish family to a new life in the new world, the most significant hero of the year 1492, the person who provided a way forward for not just one family, but many tens of thousands of exiled Jews from Spain, was Sultan Bayezid II, the visionary non-Jewish leader of the Ottoman empire.
When Bayezid II heard about the coming expulsion of Jews from Spain, he sent a whole fleet of his Navy ships to Spain to pick them up and bring the Jews to his own lands. He is also credited with having said about King Ferdinand, “You venture to call Ferdinand a wise ruler, he who has impoverished his own country and enriched mine!” Bayezid II allowed Jews to obtain citizenship in his empire and a few Jews to return to Israel. How’s that for some foreshadowing of things to come!
WINNER: Rabbi Shlomo Risken
Without a doubt, Risken’s engaging smile and witty lines about God and Israel had people on the edge of their seat, and they were clearly attracted to this warm Israeli Jew! The rabbi’s teachings reinforces something that Root Source, an organization I co-founded that aims to bridge the gap between members of the Christian and Jewish faiths through mutual learning in an informal and loving manner, have been finding recently. Christians really are attracted to the wisdom and thoughts of orthodox rabbi’s, a very exciting trend indeed for the work Israeli Jew and Root Source co-founder Gidon Ariel is also doing.
LOSER: Jonathan Cahn
Author of “The Mystery of the Shemitah,” Cahn was a huge winner, almost more than the Blood Moons themselves. However, as an author, Cahn was never spotlighted for his efforts. Writing him in as one of the movies “losers” gives me the opportunity to put his name in print, as his work on the subject is quite good.
WINNER: Christian Jewish Relations
Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, spiritual leader of Congregation Rodfei Shalom in Texas, was delightful as always. However, I thought his comment about one of the messages he sees in the Blood Moons as the increasing unity between Christians and Jews to be prescient, even if he got cut off in the panel discussion before he could expound.
LOSER: Anyone or any nation who bets against Israel, curses Israel or turns their back on Israel Dennis Prager and Hagee did a powerful job of bring that point home to an eruption of cheers and support.
In summary, the best line of the film, and the one that got the strongest reaction of the room, was when Prager said, “I think the most important verse in the Bible is Genesis 1:1. If you don’t believe that one, there is really no point in reading the rest.”
Pastor John Hagee deserves an honorable mention for allowing Christian scientist Hugh Ross in the panel discussion, who fully believes in God and miracles, but sees the Blood Moons as coincidence. While the crowd was clearly not pleased with Hugh’s take, it helped keep the overall discussion honest. Good move.