I received an interesting email which brings up a topic I’ve been wanting to write on: What do we do when Christians label teaching material we like or find value in as “from a cult” and reject it as “deception” and, maybe, us as “heretics,” along with it? Does avoiding anything labeled a cult actually work to keep us from “deception” and “heresy?” Who decides which ministries are cults, which teachings are heretical and which are not, anyway? Let’s consider this important and common bogeyman of Christian culture.
I received the following curious question about Emma Morano from a visitor to my site:
Emma Morano just died and she was born in the 1800s. Was Emma Morano’s death 1 key event supposed to happen before Jesus’ return? I think for Jesus to come back there should be no one from the 1800s alive as a prophecy or something.
I had not even heard of her until this question, let alone a prophecy theory revolving around her. Is it legit?
I received the following question:
This is an off topic question, but do you feel it’s harmful for a believer to watch such movies as The Shack? Of course, all entertainment that we view should be weighed … but this seems to be the topic of discussion in my neck of the woods. Just like hearing your perspective.
The Shack novel was controversial in Christianity so it’s no surprise that the belated appearance of the movie adaptation has resurrected the same controversy. The Christian concern is that The Shack is “heretical,” containing non-Christian, unbiblical teaching—often in disregard to what the book actually says. The claim is that these are harmful to the believer. This naturally leaves some uncertain or scared to even touch the book. Could it put your salvation in “danger?”
An Interesting Reader Question
I received the following email from a customer of my book. His question brings up a insight I got a while back that I’ve never written on before.
The last few months have really been bothering me! I can’t stop thinking about “forsake it all.” What does forsake it all really mean? I have listen to a gentleman in Australia who has been making YouTube videos, “a voice in the desert.” This guy is really convincing! Have you heard of him? He is teaching to be Jesus’ real disciple, you must forsake it all. Stop working, making money and live in an RV or homeless. I have went as far as I have sold all my retirement and I am getting ready to forsake it all. I still have doubts. Could you shine some light on this?
(Poor guy, I hope “sold all my retirement” is not as bad as it sounds.)
I received the following question from a reader:
Tim, this really has nothing to do with end time but do you consider Paul the first false apostle? Or is it just another fear tactic by the enemy to even consider it?
It’s about time I answered this question with a post since I’ve been answering it for years by email.
5 Prophecy Approaches to Avoid Even When Prophecy Is Too Hard
In response to many questions over the years I decided to write an article rounding up the top futile approaches to knowing the future which have sucked us all in.
For example many resort to Bible codes, Christian “words” (of knowledge), self-proclaimed “prophets”, (Youtube) prophecy videos, popular prophecy speculation books (like 4 blood moons, Shemitah, etc.), or conspiracy news outlets in the hopes of shedding light on Bible prophecy.
Yet, rather than giving solid answers as reading prophecy literally does, these approaches only deliver confusion, anxiety and fear to people.
The “blood moons” hype lives on, and, of course, metamorphoses as it goes…bringing Prime Minister Netanyahu now into the story.
I would not be paying any attention to it except, invented prophecy theories like this worry people. As such and as always, several have asked me about a WND article quoting the “blood moon man” himself, Mark Biltz.
Review of the Blood Moon History
First, let’s review. Since Biltz invented the “four blood moon” prophecy theory, it has changed in meaning over time.
- Originally in 2008 Mark postulated that the return of Jesus would be seven years later at the conclusion of the tetrad in September, 2015. Soon after, it became obvious that the final seven years had not begun and Mark removed his theory from his site (although it’s on video).
- In 2013 others including John Hagee began to revisit the theory with the new idea it could spell trouble for Israel based on cherry-picking a few of the hundreds of scores of past tetrads in history. Biltz supported this reinterpretation.
“Judgment On America?”
Bilt’z new spin on it is reported in WND. He says now we have to watch out for a judgment on America because of Israel.
Biltz is focused on Netanyahu’s speech at the US Congress on the topic of a US nuclear deal with Iran. He sees significance to its timing as follows:
- “two weeks after a solar eclipse” (!)
- “a day before the Fast of Esther” (!)
- “two days before Purim” (!!)
- “a month before a blood moon” (!!!)
It seems Biltz is worried that Netanyahu might be rejected from speaking before Congress on that date or badly received by Obama. If support for Israel is withdrawn in this way (when Israel is “facing a second Holocaust”) Biltz fears America will be judged. He cites Joel 3:2 for this.
And the Scriptural Support?
When pastors or authors float “prophecy alerts” like this, it’s always important to look to see what they’re basing it on. Is it a prophecy right there in the text of Scripture? Or is it only a Scripture-based story full of speculation and a lot of the expert’s trusted opinion (because they are a known author or pastor)?
Nearly all theories that catch people’s imagine and spread are of the latter type, and that’s the case with this one, too.
Notice there is no Scriptural proof for his theory except Joel 3:2. The majority of the story is made up of speculation based on an event related to Israel being (only) near various Jewish holy times.
Let’s Invent Reasons Arbitrarily, Shall We?
But who says “the day before the Fast of Esther” is significant? Shouldn’t the day of something be the significant date? Jesus was slain as the lamb of God on the very day of Passover, not the day before. The pouring of the spirit came on the actual day of Pentecost, not two days before. It’s quite arbitrary or what I call “widened goal posts.”
Likewise why are solar or lunar eclipses before or after the speech important? Lots of things happen before or after eclipses since eclipses are incredibly common (thousands . Who says these are different? Where is the authority to back up that statement?
As for Joel 3:2, it is taken out of context. That chapter is speaking specifically of a future judgment on all nations together for the couple things listed. It does not say the judgment is happening now or related to eclipses! The context of Joel 3 is millennial; Armageddon at the earliest. It has nothing to do with today.
As for a speech happening near lunar eclipses, there is nothing significant to that, either. There are from 2 to 4 lunar eclipses per year. Eclipses happen. All the time. Every year. They don’t communicate anything. How could they? They are too common and predictable.
Why Genesis Doesn’t Say “Let the Moon Be For Signs”
But what about Genesis 1:14-15? Biltz claims it supports his approach to placing prophetic significance on the lunar eclipses or blood moons.
That passage in context says that the sun, moon and stars would “be signs for festivals, days, and years” and “to light the earth” (Gen 1:14 HCSB, NIV). They are not generic signals from God to man about warnings or other things pastors are imagining and writing about. The passage says nothing about God wanting us to look at the heavenly lights to receive communication from God.
Elsewhere the Bible condemns placing significance on the signs of the heavens as a practice of the heathen:
Jeremiah 10:2 – Thus says the LORD, “Do not learn the way of the heathen, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens for the heathen are terrified by them…”
Besides, unless God is spelling out letters in Morse Code by making the Sun start blinking at us, it’s all completely subjective what message would be there. One person can say an eclipse means X and another one can say Y. Who’s right? Neither! Regularly scheduled eclipses are a result of the motion of the sun, moon and planets. They are not the hand of God tweeting to us in his own way.
Our Ever-Speculating “Watchmen”
When a famous Christian author of a prophecy book like Biltz says they see potential signals from God in current events, it gets attention. Christians assume these wise men have more than just their opinion to back up what they are saying–or they would not say it.
Some may be afraid of ignoring them. What if it really is a “warning from God” and they did not heed it?
The truth is that these men are offering only very creative and compelling speculation. They are not telling you what the Bible plainly says is a sign of the end to watch for. They are stringing a few verses together after taking them out of context and then weaving a story based on traditions current events.
To them, the theory is strong enough to warrant warning everyone to “watch out, “just in case.” I do not doubt their sincerity in this. They believe they see a pattern that is real and significant and not just a result of self-deception.
Unfortunately it is much like Jesus said, the blind leading the blind and both ending up in the ditch. If people who do not know Bible prophecy well are being lead by people who misinterpret prophecy and take verses out of context, the result is failure and confusion.
Nothing to Worry About
Consequently, these preemptive warnings never prove justified. Nothing specifically predicted ever happens. Take it from someone who has been watching predictions since the 1980’s. They always fail.
Nevertheless, collective amnesia sets in and everyone forgets about the prediction, because after all, it was only a warning, a possibility. The teacher was playing it safe and had good intentions.
People move on to the next warning…which will surely come and is sure to be right (this time).
If you want to jump off that merry-go-round, I recommend you understand the words of Jesus on what the real one and only “sign of the end” is which can now be understood.
Christians have a well-deserved reputation as a judgmental group. When you write a Bible blog for Christians you get reminded of this often in reader feedback. I’ve come to learn that anything I share can offend someone.
But as the latest site visitor email reveals, you can also get judged by Christians for what you don’t write. Check this out:
The Bizarre Email
Hello Tim, I am a first time reader of your site. I had come long ago convinced of a “post trib” rapture, as it is known. I am curious, however, as to who have been your mentors. I have not found yet on your site any mention of any Christian brother, or group, which you should have given “honor to whom honor is due”, even with regard to those critical to your conversion. This is not particularly encouraging, even though I agree with most that I have read so far, and also what I have read concerning what you believe.“Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.” Ecclesiastes 10:1I noticed in your October ’14 speaking engagements that you would have been in Medford, Oregon, the home of the late Jim Mckeever’s Omega Ministries, near where his widow lives now.What’s up?[name withheld]
What an awkward email to read, especially the ending telling me I had visited the town of a dead minister’s widow (when I actually was in Medford, OK not OR). But that’s not the main problem. I cover the main issue with his email in my reply to him.
Thanks for reading and congrats on seeing the truth on the rapture. I assure you that one cannot understand prophecy correctly if they have the rapture in the wrong place.
I have to say, this is the first time after thousands of emails since I started blogging in 1998 that anyone has implied I am suspect just because I don’t talk about my conversion or “mentors” on the site as I “should.” (“Should” being a word loaded with judgment, in case you were unaware.)
If you cannot judge the teaching on my site by its own merit against Scripture like a Berean (Acts 17:11) and need to judge it by me, my history and influences, then my site is probably not for you. My site is for people who evaluate what I have written by Scripture, not for people preoccupied by what is not there.
I say this in love and without any hard feelings or judgment. I wish you well in your Bible study.
Clearly, running a Bible blog is not a job you should undertake if you have a thin skin! You can and will be judged for everything you can imagine and also things you never imagined, as in the case above.
The key is to not take things personally. When you falter in this, ask yourself why a complete stranger was able to get under your skin. Evaluate where you may be weak in faith or love or whatever and pray for help from God. In this way you can become less easily offended with time and act in more perfect love no matter who you are dealing with down the road.
It helps to remember also that most of the time when someone is offensive as above, it’s coming from their own hurts, fears or weaknesses. Hurt people hurt people as my wife is fond of saying. In other words, what some people say about you reveals much more about them than it does yourself.
That being the case, it is entirely appropriate to not just pray for yourself but to pray for the hurts and healing of the person who offended you.
But do me a favor, don’t write back to an offensive person to say “I’m praying for you!” Many Christians have turned that normally positive phrase between friends into a backhanded insult for those they have a conflict with. =)
As the author of a book called Planet X in Bible Prophecy, it’s no surprise that several readers have written me about the recent announcement of two new planets dubbed Planet X and Planet Y.
What’s my opinion of this? Could these fulfill bible prophecy such as Wormwood? Here’s a quick explanation to answer these questions.
New Planets? Not So Fast
First, do not misunderstand the announcement. No new planets have been spotted in our solar system. So far, only dwarf planets have been discovered (like Ceres, Eris, Makemake and Haumea). (Because of all these discoveries, Pluto went from being a planet to a dwarf planet in 2006.)
The announcement is only presenting new evidence that suggests a couple more planets exist. The evidence comes from studying the orbits of other objects around other stars beyond Neptune, called extreme trans-Neptunian objects” (ETNOs). There are irregularities in these orbits that could be explained by at least two more massive planets beyond Neptune.
If these planets exist, they would be so far out–more than 200 times earth’s distance from the Sun (200 AU)–that they would be difficult or impossible to spot with existing instruments. That’s why you may be waiting a long time before they are confirmed or ruled out.
“Tim, Is This Proof of The Planet X / Nibiru?”
This naturally leads to the question of whether this is finally some official evidence for the infamous legendary Planet X.
That’s a question that comes my way constantly. There are plenty of YouTube videos, photos, or expert testimonies on the Web purporting to prove Planet X’s existence. Some readers who come across these send them and ask my opinion on a regular basis.
What I tell them is that, despite the title of my book, I’m not looking for Planet X, and I don’t recommend anyone else does either. Planet X does not matter. Bear in mind that Planet X is a grab-bag of legends and theories about a tenth planet on some arbitrary-sounding “3600 year orbit” supposedly responsible for past cataclysms. It supposedly was due to come in 2003 and then again in 2012. It’s a mess and has been rightly debunked by astronomers.
However, there is an important truth hidden in the theory: that there can be other undiscovered planet-sized objects out there still. That’s why my exposure to the Planet X theory in 2002 played an instrumental role in helping me to finally begin to see “star” Wormwood (Rev 8:10) as a rogue planet, and not just a comet or asteroid. This was important as objects of that size don’t work to explain the events of the cosmic disaster sequence from the 6th seal to the 4th trumpet (Rev 6:12-8:13). At the same time, I was unable to imagine there could be undiscovered small planets lurking out there before I heard Planet X theory.
Since then several dwarf planets have been discovered by astronomers, leading to the demotion of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet. I think a dwarf planet can explain everything Revelation describes happening including the great global earthquake, global meteor shower and perturbation of Earth’s orbit to a 360 day year.
“Ok, Is This Wormwood?”
Definitely not for at least two reasons.
- The reports suggest new planets that are massive, several times larger than earth. Wormwood will be something smaller than earth, no bigger than Mars, since it breaks up from earth’s gravity instead of the other way around.
- The report places these objects with orbits out past Neptune (TNO). Since Wormwood is described as passing close to earth, it cannot be an TNO but must be something orbiting the inner solar system.
More importantly, I would not count on Wormwood to be sighted and reported very long before it strikes. When I read Revelation 6 about the beginning effects of Wormwood at the 6th seal, the panicked stampede of people to the mountains tells me they were not warned or not in time enough to prepare something better than mountain caves.
In other words, I don’t look for evidence for Wormwood any more than I do for evidence of Planet X. I’m counting on the coming Elijah prophet (or another prophet sent by God) to warn us all when it is coming and that it is time to flee to the safety God has prepared.
In other words, we don’t have to be paranoid or focus on watching YouTube channels, conspiracy news or even regular news to escape Wormwood and other end time events. We can stay focused on what Jesus said to do (love God and love neighbor) trusting that God’s plan works for those found “so-doing” just as well as for those who constantly research online for signs. How could a loving God’s plan work any other way? =)
If you have more questions on Wormwood see the category on my main site.
A reader sent me this request on “Jewish Prophet Tom Deckard”
Tim, I wanted your opinion on this Jewish Prophet Deckard’s warning.
I looked into Deckard around ten years ago when he was on The Prophecy Club. I even bought his Prophecy Club DVD since I was intrigued and didn’t want to make a mistake and miss a real prophet. Well, I had some big problems with what he taught (can’t remember now what). Then I spoke with someone who had him come to their church and they reported how unloving, abusive and egotistical he was. That may be hearsay, but it did help to reignite my waning interest in him. I was underwhelmed.
As for the claims of 100% accuracy, where is the link to the proof? If someone was really 100% accurate, word would get out that his words never fall to the ground (like it says of Samuel 1Sa 3:19) and everyone would know he was a prophet (next verse). Not so with this guy. Plus he ought to be doing signs and wonders as any unknown prophet does to establish himself (unless they had a special birth like John T.B.).
Finally, his word contradicts bible prophecy, in my opinion. Rev 18 tells us America the Babylon is still the world economic power with merchants flowing to it until the day she is destroyed by fire, not economic collapse. See http://www.escapeallthesethings.com/us-economic-collapse.htm for specifics.
Also, if he is really telling people to leave, where is the supernatural provision to do this impossible task? That’s what prophecy predicts in Rev 12 (eagle’s wings) when God’s people are told to go (Rev 18, “come out of her”). See http://www.escapeallthesethings.com/faith-to-escape-tribulation.htm for what that looks like.
When you compare Tom Deckard to the characteristics of true prophets in the Bible and in end time prophecy as my article on the Coming Elijah explains, I think you too will lose all interest in self-proclaimed prophets like Tom Deckard.
Update: A Former Deckard Cult Member’s Testimony
A reader who became a follower of Deckard (to the tune of $2000+) shared the following testimony about their experience with what he calls the “Tom Deckard cult:”
A short synopsis of my time with the Tom Deckard cult if you care to read as an example of something you might pass on to warn others.
One summer after becoming convinced I should give my life and material wealth to “The Prophet” I traveled the 500 or so miles from NY to Indiana for the quarterly meeting of the faithful. I spent three days and sleeping in my SUV and came home with a new Jewish prayer shawl, official skull cap, and all the tapes and CDs they had on hand, a total of over $2,000.00 worth. As I worked my way through the many hours of seminars and meetings, (they record every one) I became disillusioned and finally convinced there were too many serious deviations from scripture in this self proclaimed prophet’s teachings.
He claimed to be Moses and Elijah the two end time witnesses and prophets rolled into one. That should have been the first sign of something not “Kosher” though he claims to be Jewish. Speaking of his many miracles around the world and how he would lead the lost tribe “Ephraim” to the place of safety in the soon coming tribulation he has the look of a prophet and talks a good talk and has gathered a considerable following appearing on the Prophecy Club, It’s Supernatural and such.
I was looking for Elijah and thought this is the one. A big problem is the miracles all happened somewhere else in the world. I haven’t seen or heard of one here. At the meetings he first had everyone line up for exorcising the demons (everyone 500+ had them) then the next day they lined up for healing. As far as I or anyone there could see or discern nothing happened.
He had a clever way of masking the bit about chasing out the demons. Claiming to first have mastery over them he commanded they not cry out or make even a peep or he would send them to the pit. If any did not obey he said he would set those hard cases aside and deal with them privately so as not to make a show and disrupt the meetings. Very clever! I or you can make the same proclamations and slap every one in line on the head saying demon be gone. At the end we boast about how efficient and powerful we are as so many struggle for hours if not days and weeks getting demons to leave the possessed.
It was not so easy explaining away the complete lack of healing. One out was he did not do it in his power there are these two angels who may or not be present, they do the actual miracles. Then there is, “well it may not be instant,” lets go on with the offering Â and on with the teachings, dinner is ready in the cafeteria.
Many things to tell, but keeping it brief, just a sample. Wondering where the place of safety is for the Tribulation? They bought an island in the Turks and Cacaos. The loyal are expected to sell all and buy a parcel and build a bungalow. At the time I was there, no electric, running water, crop land or grazing land. The island is a few feet above the ocean. Not to worry! The prophet will be there and rebuke the Tsunamis and hurricanes. Food will either come from the sky or a full dinner will appear on the table after praying, better than Manna from heaven.
A sample of false teaching: On CD Tom Deckard tells how he spoke with the prophets and saints in Heaven before he was born and volunteered to come down and be the end time prophet. Yes he believes in preexistence, if only for himself and a chosen few; unlike the Mormons. I still have all his material, it is not my word, his words.
If you read all this Tim you can see how many families are following this man to disaster.
I have to admit, if you gotta tell people the truth that they are not going up in a pretrib rapture to Heaven for the Tribulation, it helps to soften the blow by explaining next how God is protecting you at a luxurious tropical Caribbean island! That’s shrewd. Sure sounds better than what the Bible teaches about going to a radioactive desert country in the Middle East.
Seriously though, if even half of the testimony is accurate, then both Deckard and his followers are woefully deceived. There will always be false prophets to deceive believers. There will always be believers lacking discernment who get to learn the hard way by being fleeced by a false shepherd (or two).
Note that there’s no shame in being deceived by a false prophet. We all lack wisdom in some way that leaves us with our own particular blind spots. For some this leaves them open to falling for a con-man or two before they have the false prophet discernment that others already have. I personally have fallen for con-men (Costa Rica attracts them) but thankfully no false prophets.
If you want avoid that painful experience yourself, then learn how to recognize false and true prophets from the Bible now. Once you do, you never need to fear being taken by a false prophet or missing a true prophet.