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Planetary alignments spark more worry

Americans have blamed karma, conspiracies, Area 51, the “vast right wing” and more for their troubles.

Now an increasing number believe if something is going wrong in their lives at the moment, it’s not their fault. It’s because the planet Mercury is moving backwards.

From Sept. 17 to Oct. 9, Mercury is in “retrograde,” appearing to move backwards because of an optical illusion caused by the Earth’s planetary rotation.

Many who practice astrology believe it’s a dangerous time when mishaps regarding technology and communications are likely to occur. According to Google Trends, an increasing number of people are searching online for information about the phenomenon and several media outlets have even published “guides” for people to “survive” it.

Lena Dunham, the politically left-leaning creator of HBO’s “Girls,” repeatedly tweeted her fears about Mercury’s supposed movement.

A Huffington Post contributor even attributed opposition and protests against President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran to the spread of “misinformation” caused by Mercury being in retrograde.

Larry Schwimmer also tied the rise of Donald Trump to the movement of Mercury, claiming the planet in retrograde facilitates “an angry, emotional, hostile, and divisive political and socio-economic environment that ends up polarizing people into opposition groups (e.g. Donald Trump).”

A New York Post article mostly designed to mock the concept quoted contributor Robert Rorke admitting he finds astrology “to be true in my own life.”

“I first took an interest in astrology 10 years ago when I noticed things going amiss when Mercury was in retrograde,” he said.

Pastor Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries has a different perspective.

He is no stranger to unlocking the secrets behind the movement of stars and planets. But the discoverer of the “blood moons” and the author of “Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs” says there is no comparison between astrology and what he terms “biblical astronomy.”

“The big difference is in astrology the signs in the heavens are all about you,” Biltz told WND. “In biblical astronomy, it’s all about the Creator.”

Biltz supported his case through Scripture. He cited Psalm 19, verses 1-4, which read: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

That, he said, means the heavens “are singing to mankind of God’s praises.”

“They sing in a language all nations understand. As long as we are focused on what God is saying to us about Him we won’t fall into the trap of thinking they are talking about us.”

Biltz’s “biblical astronomy” is not without its critics. David Lazarus, writing in the Times of Israel, denounced “sensational, unfounded interpretations of the Hebrew calendar.”

Lazarus believes prophecies about the Shemitah cycle and the blood moons can lead people to become disengaged or even lose faith if dramatic events don’t take place on the days predicted.

Biltz responded: “According to his article it sure doesn’t sound like people have become passive or disengaged! In his article he says: ‘Following these unbiblical prophecies is dangerous on many levels.’

“But what is he talking about? The Bible plainly prophesies the sun will turn to sackcloth and the moon to blood several times even from Yeshua’s (Jesus’) own mouth. What Bible is he reading?”

Biltz argues he has never predicted the final blood moon of the tetrad, a series of four such events on Jewish holy days in 2014 and 2015, will herald the end of the world or even an especially dramatic event on that date.

However, he believes a rational examination of the history surrounding the blood moons and the odds against this particular tetrad occurring suggests God is sending a warning to the nations to repent.

“Sure, some people will always be disappointed because they are hoping for the Lord’s return or the end of the world, but that is absolutely not what I have been saying,” said Biltz. “As far as economic collapse, I don’t think it will happen at the blood moon eclipse and never said it would. I believe they are signs that it could happen anytime over this next year.”

According to Biltz, signs in the heavens aren’t a sure guarantee of future events, but communication from God. He cites an example from Scripture.

“Every year at this time the book of Jonah is read on Yom Kippur. Jonah wanted Nineveh destroyed and even quoted God saying they would be. God changed His mind at that time and didn’t destroy Nineveh till later.

“These signs in the heavens are totally biblical and are the very reason why God even created the sun and the moon. He warns and hopefully we repent.”

Biltz rejects any comparison to astrology and denies his teaching “makes a mockery of our Messianic faith” as Lazarus alleged in the Times of Israel.

Instead, Biltz argued: “What makes a mockery is people going to extremes with their theology on both sides. Those that preach the imminent end of the world, yes, but also those who have no understanding of biblical principles in understanding the signs of the times.”