Dr. Michael S. Heiser has been brought up a number of times on this blog so I think a book review of his latest novel is past due. Fourteen years after The Facade was published Heiser wrote a sequel in 2014 named The Portent. I can understand the long delay. When one writes about how Satan and his Antichrist might go about deceiving the world, just regurgitating what is already widely taught is not going to add much to the debate. The Portent is loaded with new insights that could only be written about after they were first found.
In The Facade, Heiser generally went with the cutting edge conjectures being taught on Bible prophecy and UFO forums around the turn of the century. Fallen angels returning as aliens was pretty big back then and so were return of Nephilim theories. In The Portent, Dr. Brian Scott (Heiser) considers and dismisses a lot of that and comes up with his own unique theory. Dr. Brian’s revelation comes with the help of his acquaintances but especially with his conversations with the villain of the novel. He is the same evil Colonel of The Facade. It is not my intention to be a book spoiler so I will be limiting what I disclose here.
The Portent is 446 pages with 80 short chapters. It is an interesting and easy read. It is a hard book to put down because the story line makes for a pretty good thriller and the historical truths, insights and conjectures are off the chart good stuff. About the only thing that slows the reading is thinking about the thought-provoking stuff that is being brought up. There is a lot of that. As the cover of the book states, “ EVERY OFFICIAL DOCUMENT IN THE PORTENT EXISTS – EVERY ANCIENT TEXT IN THE PORTENT IS AUTHENTIC – EVERY HISTORICAL FIGURE IN THE PORTENT IS REAL”.
When Heiser wrote The Facade he was not very well-known, he was still a student working on his doctorate. Today Michael S. Heiser is a scholar in the fields of biblical studies and the ancient Near East. He holds an MA and a PhD in Hebrew Bible and Semitic languages and an MA in ancient history. Dr. Heiser is becoming widely known through his teachings on the Internet and his appearances at Bible prophecy and UFO forums. It was partly his expertise on the ancient languages that opened up the debate about the fallen sons of gods of Genesis 6 and their Nephilim offspring.
I have heard many of Heiser’s more formal teachings on YouTube and have read his book The Unseen Realm. This novel brings together much of Heiser latest thoughts on various topics in story form. Some of the historical facts in this book are quite shocking because some of these things have been covered up by our government and a lot of what is now known has not been given due press. For example, did you know that both Germany and Japan had the nuclear bomb near the end of World War II? They just could not deliver it at that point. The book is worth the read just for the documentation of things going on in World War II and the post war era.
One frustrating thing about the book is that it falls short on delivering on some things that you might hope will be revealed. For example, there is a big section that pinpoints the date of the Lord’s birth to Tishri 1, 3 BC. It is based on the astrological alignments mentioned in Revelation 12 among other things. The book builds a pretty strong case for that date. The story then suggests that when these alignments happen again something else might occur such as the coming of the counterfeit called the Antichrist. The frustrating thing is that the story does not say when that alignment will happen again. It just says the alignments of Revelation 12 occur more than once and additional astrological factors also have to be correct for it to be a duplicate fulfillment.
I happen to know from other sources that a very good astrological alignment in the heavens will occur again on Tishri 3, 2017 (Sept 23). That would not be the same as what Heiser claims is the Lord’s birth date but I also found out that these alignments are exceedingly rare. They only occurred a couple of times in the last 6000 years and according to my source two of the three alignments did not perfectly display what was told in Revelation 12.
There was an alignment on Tishri 1, 3BC but it did not fulfill the whole picture given in Revelation 12. My source says, “there is no crown of twelve stars, the moon is very far away, and she is not giving birth to a “male child”. There was a 70 AD alignment but my source says,” Jupiter and Venus are so close together it makes them hard to distinguish. The sun and moon are in place, but she has no “male child”. The womb is completely empty. You could also argue that the moon is below her knees, not her feet.”
The best alignment according to the same source occurred Aug 5th 3915 BC. The source says, “Everything matches on this date. In fact it is such a close match that it has been speculated that this could have been the date of the Fall of Mankind when God spoke these eerily relevant words to the devil and to Eve in Genesis 3:15-16: ”
There is a lot of good information in that article that I provided a link to above. The information there might not be totally correct but Heiser does not have it all correct in the book either. One could do quite a study on this if it tickles their fancy. There are many articles on this Revelation 12 alignment available on the Internet.
I am not fond of how Heiser makes Jesuit priests the foremost hero’s against evil in his novels. The Jesuits are agents of deception themselves. Perhaps Heiser is trying to appease big tent Christianity with his Jesuit selection? I also think the solution to one crisis near the end of the book might be doing the same thing. A long-haired mystical Christian guru type that hears directly from God forbids the villain from doing something in Jesus name and the villain is stopped cold. If it were that simple, why not defeat the villain in the name of Jesus throughout the story? Of course, if that was done there would not be much of a story and there would be no need for a sequel. Was this just put in the book to appease the Charismatic faction in the tent? Will the next book have Hearing From God seminars led by Beth to equip the characters so that they can be defeating the Colonel?
In the novel, Dr. Scott (Heiser) comes down hard on some contemporary theories found on the Internet and Bible prophecy circuits. He basically calls them baptized Blavatsky (the founder of theosophy and the author of The Secret Doctrine). Heiser implies that the return and disclosure theories are not well thought out, have no textual support from the Bible and they never would be convincing enough to deceive the masses. I generally agree, but Heiser’s theory is even more far-fetched and there is not a bit of his synthetic biology theory to be found in the Bible.
I have thought before that the Antichrist deception could in part come from what people think is Jesus. Would people believe that a cloned Jesus is Jesus? That is food for thought. If they could find genetic material believed to be from Jesus, they might attempt to clone Jesus. The book suggests that bone fragments could be used from what some believe is the family grave of Jesus. Even so, few believe that any of these bone fragments actually come from Jesus so nothing like cloning would even be attempted. On the other hand, if they could actually find genetic material from Jesus they might attempt something like that. The question remains, where would they get the genetic material since the Lord took His body with Him? Perhaps it could be from His blood or the shroud? Most people believe the shroud is authentic. I have recently read one article that even said that they hope to get genetic material from Jesus from the shroud.
Yikes, I just thought of something else. Don’t Catholics say the actual body and blood of Jesus is in the Eucharist? It could give the worship of the Eucharistic Jesus a whole new meaning.
In spite of Heiser fascination with Jesuits, mystics and red-haired green-eyed women, there is a lot of worthwhile stuff to be found in this book. Heiser apparently could not help himself on the Rapture issue. In the book he had to take his shot against Rapture believers. He says those that believe in the Rapture are splitters and those that just believe in one coming are joiners. He obviously is using his splitter joiner expression for maximum effect. He spins it as follows: Those that believe in the Rapture put the passages about the Lord’s coming in two piles where one pile is about the Rapture and the other pile is about the second coming. Those that believe in just one coming at the end of the age put all the passages in one pile but they do not think everything said has to be fulfilled in some exact literal sense. Here is the rub, Heiser then says that Bible believing Christians do not split anything else in the Bible into two piles. He implies that those that believe in the Rapture are driven by preconceived theology and not what is in the text.
What kind of argument is that? Show me even one other issue besides the two comings where Bible believing Christians could split the scriptures into two separate events? Arguing from a negative is not going to win debate points. The splitting works because it is the only way that God is not double talking about His coming. The scriptures teach one coming for the Lord to get His bride before the wrath of God falls, and one coming of the Lord with His saints at the end of the great tribulation. It is not splitting, it is properly discerning the word of God. Everything written about the Lord’s coming was not talking about His coming for the Church. Some scriptures are written to Israel. One must properly discern the scriptures about the Lord’s coming and not just throw them into one big pile that tends to leach out allegory. On the other hand, most in Christendom will not be going in any Rapture anyway, so I guess you can say that most in big tent Christendom have it right about themselves.
I obviously do not agree with everything Heiser says, but I actually liked The Portent very much. The story line is riveting and I think Christians will find the information in the book very thought-provoking. Heiser left us hanging again. The saga about Brian and Melissa encounters with the dark side at Dream World (Area 51) and beyond are far from over. I will be looking forward to the next novel in the facade saga. I do not have a clue where Heiser will be going with this in his next novel. He probably does not entirely know that himself. He probably went fishing for new information right after he completed this addition.
Michael Heiser ends the book with a postscript and a puzzle that readers can take part in. He says correct solutions to the riddle might get your name in the next novel. Heiser offers a handbook to The Portent on ReadThePortent.com.