WASHINGTON – The "blood moons" phenomenon, which has touched off controversy about the end of the world, just got even more contentious with charges an American mega-pastor is hijacking the discovery of the anomaly in a movie debuting in theaters nationwide Monday.
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The blood moons tetrad is a mysterious astronomical occurrence discovered by a Seattle-area pastor who postulated beginning in 2008 that it might portend spiritually significant developments for Israel and the rest of the world because of its appearance on the biblical "feast" days of Passover and Tabernacles.
But, in a new movie called "Four Blood Moons," San Antonio mega-pastor John Hagee, author of a New York Times bestselling book about the "blood moons phenomenon," claims he is the discoverer.
In the film, based on Hagee's book of the same name, the pastor best known for his vigorous defense of the nation of Israel makes the statement early in the new film, previewed by WND staff.
"The thing that compelled me to write the 'Four Blood Moons' was when I discovered the scientific fact NASA was pointing out that it happened in 1492 and it happened in 1948 and it happened in 1967 and it was going to happen in 2015," Hagee says.
See the video:
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The discovery, however, was made by pastor Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries of Bonney Lake, Washington, seven years ago – a finding he has discussed in his church, on Christian television, at public conferences ever since and which he describes in detail in his own bestselling book, "Blood Moons," and a bestselling movie of the same name. In fact, Biltz has been known since 2008 as "the blood moons pastor" and even "Blood Moons Biltz." Hagee's book was published in the fall of 2013.
Furthermore, Hagee has his dates wrong: NASA shows the blood moon tetrads occurred in 1493/1494 and 1949/1950.
Meanwhile, Biltz told WND he was interviewed for the new Hagee movie and recounted the story of his discovery for the filmmakers, but that account was left on the cutting room floor.
Biltz tells the story in his own 2014 book of how his research into the phenomenon began in March 2008 when he saw on the Internet a total lunar eclipse over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
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"I had read all the Bible verses in Isaiah, Joel, the Gospels and Revelation where the text talks about the moon turning to blood and the sun to sackcloth," he wrote. "I began to ponder the possibilities of tying the eclipses mentioned in the Bible to the possible coming of the Messiah. Because I love science and astronomy, I decided to look into the future occurrences of eclipses. I remembered that NASA has a list of eclipses that covers 5,000 years, so I went to the website to see what interesting observations I could find. I noticed that there were four total lunar eclipses in a row in 2014 and 2015."
Biltz went on to explain how he was shocked to find all four eclipses fell on the biblical holidays of Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles.
Then he went back to NASA's website to check the history of such occurrences – four total blood moons in a row – called a tetrad.
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"I noticed there weren't any in the 1600s, 1700s or even the 1800s," he wrote. "The last time there was a tetrad was back in the 1900s, and to my amazement, they also fell on the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles. When I noticed the years these phenomena occurred, my mind began reeling. The last two times there were four blood moons in a row, they happened, first, right after Israel became a nation in 1948, and then again when Israel retook Jerusalem in 1967. I started doing a hallelujah dance. It was as if I had just found treasure buried in the sand."
Besides serving as pastor of El Shaddai Ministries, Biltz is also Washington state director of Christians United for Israel, a pro-Israel organization founded by Hagee. Biltz invited Hagee to speak to his congregation in August 2012 at an event organized to honor Israel. Hagee spent a couple days in the Seattle-Tacoma area where Biltz shared with him what he had found in his blood moons research. He also provided Hagee with the original 2008 DVD teaching Biltz had done on the subject. That was Hagee's first exposure to the blood moons phenomenon. Later, Hagee called Biltz to ask for more understanding.
Hagee never hinted to Biltz about his plans to write a book about his blood moons discovery. In fact, Hagee appears to have carefully crafted a story about Biltz merely prompting him to answer a question: "Have you ever considered the sun, moon and stars in the study of prophecy?" While he offered high praise to Biltz as a "Bible scholar" in his book, Hagee never mentions that the Washington state pastor had thoroughly researched the blood moons phenomenon and presented on it over a period of four years before sharing it with the mega-pastor in detail during his visit.
In a study guide authored by Hagee to accompany his bestselling book, "Four Blood Moons," he wrote: "Intrigued by this question, I took Pastor Mark's challenge and started studying scripture alongside NASA's scientific records of the movements of the sun, moon and stars."
But, until the movie, Hagee did not refer to himself as the "discoverer" of the blood moons.
"Mark Biltz has given Hagee the benefit of the doubt for too long," said Joseph Farah, chief executive officer of WND.com and WND Books, giving his opinions. "He overlooked a grave slight by Hagee in the way he handled his book – not crediting Biltz as the man who discovered the blood moons phenomenon. Instead, Hagee flattered Biltz as a 'Bible scholar' and suggested that it was a mere question by Biltz that set off his own discovery. The truth is, Biltz had thoroughly researched and presented the blood moons, and Hagee brought nothing new to the subject – treating it, comparatively, in the most superficial way in his own book. But now Hagee has crossed a bridge too far by claiming in his movie that he is actually the discoverer of the blood moons phenomenon. This is one of the definitions of plagiarism – misrepresenting the work of someone else as your own."
What is Biltz's response?
"By the prompting of the Holy Spirit back in 2008, I discovered a series of four blood moons known as a tetrad from NASA's website," he says. "I have spoken and written about it for years. I appeared on numerous TV programs as well as the covers of magazines. Anyone doing any kind of research is well aware of this. For years I freely gave the information to any and all who wanted to know. I still do that today."
In fact, Biltz appeared on "Prophecy in the News" in 2008 talking about the issue:
And also in 2009 on Sid Roth's "It's Supernatural":
Farah, the publisher of Biltz's book and the producer of the movie version, added: "If anyone thinks they have the complete blood moons story after reading Hagee's book or seeing his movie, they are sadly mistaken. Biltz's book and movie contain far more data from NASA and a much more thorough biblical and prophetic analysis. That's not sour grapes on my part. That is just the unvarnished truth."
He also added that WND heavily promoted Hagee's book for the same reason Biltz cooperated in providing Hagee all the research he needed – because it would bring attention to the subject matter.
"But, again," Farah reiterated, "when he suddenly begins characterizing himself, in no uncertain terms, as the 'discoverer' of the blood moons phenomenon, as he does in his new movie, it's time to call a spade a spade."
Interviewed by telephone by WND about how he first learned of the blood moon phenomenon, Hagee said it was from reading scripture. He made no reference to Biltz, who had been teaching about it for years and who had shared the highlights of what he had learned with him during a visit to Biltz's congregation in August 2012. He also reaffirmed that he "discovered" the blood moons without Biltz's published research done four years earlier.
"It dawned on me that God is using the heavens as a billboard," Hagee said. "And when I got on the Internet and discovered these four blood moons that had happened and would happen, I literally levitated out of my seat."
Biltz has been using the analogy of the heavens being "God's billboard" since 2008 in connection with his writings and talks on the blood moons subject.
Asked if he got any inspiration from Biltz, who had chronicled in detail his findings on the blood moons four years before sharing them with Hagee in 2012, he responded: "If you read my book, it opens when I'm in Washington on a speaking tour for the night to honor Israel. Pastor Biltz is the sponsoring pastor and his church was the driving force behind this event. And he asked me, 'Have you ever considered the stars as having a spiritual significance?' And I said, 'Well, other than what's written in the word of God, no.' He said, 'Well, I think that God is using the stars as recorded in the book of Genesis to communicate with us.' And I said, 'Well, that's something I had not thought about.' We then had our night to honor Israel and while I was on the plane home, I started thinking about that. The flight home was about three hours, and I pulled out my Bible and started reading the record of Joel the second chapter, Acts the second chapter, Luke the 21st chapter and said there must be something to this. We then went home and I got on my computer and started looking up blood moons. And I really didn't find anything until I plugged in the issue of 1948 and blood moons. And there popped up the NASA statement about the blood moons appearing in the history of Israel."
For the record, there were no blood moons in 1948 – a date Hagee uses in the film as well. The blood moons tetrad confirmed by NASA’s website took place in 1949.
"It seems clear from Hagee's words – both in the film and in an interview where he was specifically asked about the influence of Mark Biltz on his book – that he is downplaying Biltz's documented discovery of the phenomenon," said Farah. "If one really searched the Internet for 'blood moons' in 2012, Mark Biltz's prolific teachings would have been the first thing to pop up with all the information Hagee has included in his book and movie – indeed, a lot more."
WND asked Hagee if he knew why Biltz's own recollections about discovering the blood moons phenomenon were left out of the movie, and Hagee responded simply: "I do not."
Hagee is the founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a non-denominational evangelical church with more than 20,000 active members. He is founder and president of John Hagee Ministries, which telecasts his national radio and television teachings throughout America and in 249 other nations. He is the author of 35 books, including several on the New York Times Bestseller's list. His latest is "Four Blood Moons," though he has a new book scheduled for release in May – "The Three Heavens: Angels, Demons and What Lies Ahead."
Hagee's career as a pastor and author has not been without controversy.
In 2007, he wrote a book called "In Defense of Israel," in which he said Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah of Israel. The book was actively promoted by Hagee that way.
Yet, Jesus clearly proclaimed Himself as Israel’s Messiah throughout the gospels:
- affirming it to emissaries of John the Baptist in Luke 7:20-23;
- affirming it to Peter in Matthew 16:16-17;
- affirming it to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:25-26;
- affirming it in Mark 14:61-62 to the high priest;
- the title "Christ," used throughout the New Testament is the Greek word for Messiah or “anointed one.”
Hagee reportedly rewrote a portion of the book, explaining that he was misunderstood, in response to criticism of his claims. Yet, Hagee's own video promotions of that book emphatically state Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah of Israel.
"This book will expose the sins of the fathers and the vicious abuse of the Jewish people," Hagee says in video promotions of the book. "'In Defense of Israel' will shake Christian theology. It scripturally proves that the Jewish people as a whole did not reject Jesus as Messiah. It will also prove that Jesus did not come to earth to be the Messiah. It will prove that there was a Calvary conspiracy between Rome, the high priest, and Herod to execute Jesus as an insurrectionist too dangerous to live. Since Jesus refused by word and deed to claim to be the Messiah, how can the Jews be blamed for rejecting what was never offered? Read this shocking expose, 'In Defense of Israel.'"
Hagee, likewise, raised controversy within the church by claiming Jews do not need to accept Jesus the Messiah to be saved. Yet, Jesus preached exclusively to the Jews of Israel and his famous statement in John 3:1-5 about the need to be "born again" was to Nicodemus – a Pharisee and ruler of Israel. All of the apostles were Jewish and nearly all of the followers of Jesus even decades after His death were as well. In fact, Jesus only preached to Jews throughout His ministry. Years into his own ministry, Peter, the apostle to the Jews, was, indeed, shocked to learn that non-Jews could partake in the promises of grace and forgiveness of sin offered by Jesus.
See the trailer for his new movie:
NOTE: Media wishing t0 interview Mark Biltz, please contact him here.