Oil Be Damned

Part One

For a while now Hal Lindsey has been promoting Zion Oil & Gas, a company that introduces itself as a

private U.S.-based corporation formed under Delaware corporation law [the laxest in the USA – RB], exploring for oil and gas in Israel on a licensed area of approximately 95,800 acres located onshore between Tel Aviv and Haifa.

The company is looking for funds that

will be principally used to drill one or more high-risk oil and gas exploratory wells on the license. In the event of a commercial discovery, following recoupment of certain exploratory costs, Zion intends to donate 6% of its gross revenues from the license to two charitable trusts to be established by Zion, one in Israel and one in the U.S.

According to Lindsey, writing recently in WorldNetDaily:

[Genesis 49] predicts [Jacob’s] great blessing [to Joseph] will come from “the deep that lies beneath” his land. And specifically on “crown of his head.” The land that was allotted to Joseph’s two sons forms the profile of a man’s head.

Now listen to another prophecy about the blessing of another of Jacob’s sons whose land adjoins Joseph’s.

Moses proclaimed blessings on Jacob’s sons just before he died. He predicted concerning Asher:

Asher is most blessed of sons; let him be favored by his brothers, and let him dip his foot in OIL.

– Deuteronomy 33:24

Not sure about the geographical Rorschach test (Hal provides a map; you can judge for yourself), and one suspects some kind of anointing oil is suggested in Deut 33 (any Hebraists out there?), but those suitably impressed by Hal’s previous predictions (the USSR attacking Israel and nuking the USA comes to mind for some reason, or the end of the world in the 1980s) should know that Zion Oil and Gas is a hot Hal tip for investors:

The land allotted to Asher looks like a leg with a foot. Its toe points straight at the crown of Joseph’s head. Zion Oil’s leases are directly under where Asher’s toe points. Coincidence? If it were anywhere other than Israel, I would say it is merely coincidence. But here we are dealing with a nation of miracles in the crosshairs of God’s prophetic Word.

One thing Lindsey doesn’t tell us, though: Zion Oil and Gas includes on its board as a director Ralph F. DeVore, who is described as being also “a director of Hal Lindsey Ministries”. The Dallas Business Journal last year noted that

The company listed 72 shareholders of record as of July 11. Chairman and CEO John M. Brown currently owns 69.5% of Zion; director Ralph DeVore owns 18.1%.

Meanwhile, an old Jack Kinsella Omega Letter reposted here (“Excerpted from the Omega Letter Daily Intelligence Digest Volume 32, Issue 8″) states that:

Last week, Hal Lindsey came to Toronto to speak at a prophecy conference…With Hal was his cousin and fellow evangelist, Ralph, of whom I had heard much but had not yet met. Ralph is also involved in the oil exploration efforts ongoing in Israel. Ralph directed me to the Scripture that has guided Zion Oil and Gas to drill in a specific place in northern Israel.

There’s no other Ralph connected with Zion Oil, so this must be Ralph DeVore. In other words, Hal Lindsey informs us that Zion Oil is an excellent investment, but does not tell us that his cousin is a major shareholder.

Part Two

Meanwhile, The Observer today reports on an Israeli company that claims to have struck oil:

In an announcement that could shift the power balance in the Middle East, it claims to have discovered a £3 billion oilfield in the centre of Israel. But Tovia Lushkin says his company, Givat Olam, needs £18 million to develop wells and extract the oil.

Lushkin is an ultra-Orthodox Jew, and he too uses Deuteronomy 33 as his guide:

Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath…and for the precious things of the eternal hills [Givat Olam], and for the precious things of the earth and fullness thereof.

However, The Observer does not tell us that this is not the first time Givat Olam has discovered black gold. A website called Prophecy Corner archives a 1998 email from Christian Zionist group Bridges for Peace:

Bridges for peace: Clarence H. Wagner, Jr., International Dir. – Jerusalem: 11 Dec 98 OIL EXPLORATION IN ISRAEL

“The Givat Olam Oil Exploration Company redrilled a well near Rosh HaAyin to confirm the presence of oil in the area. A huge gas flame, more than seven meters high, shot from the well, confirming the presence of gas or oil.

“Tests will be done over the next few days to determine the quality of the gas or oil. In addition, Givat Olam is trying to raise NIS 60 million on the Tel Aviv stock market to finance the drilling of another well three kilometers away.”

So what happened? Well, an AP report from last month, when the current claim was first made public, includes the following:

Israeli oil expert Amit Mor said the company had made claims of oil discoveries in the past that had not born fruit. “They have a credibility problem,” he said.

Part Three

As it happens, there is one real reference to oil in the Bible, although no-one seems to talk about it. This is in 2 Maccabees 1:19ff, where we read how the sacred fire of the First Temple had supposedly been preserved:

When our fathers were being exiled to Persia, devout priests of the time took some of the fire from the altar and hid it secretly in the hollow of a dry cistern, making sure that the place would be unknown to anyone. Many years later, when it so pleased God, Nehemiah, commissioned by the king of Persia, sent the descendants of the priests who had hidden the fire to look for it. When they informed us that they could not find any fire, but only muddy water, he ordered them to scoop some out and bring it. After the material for the sacrifices had been prepared, Nehemiah ordered the priests to sprinkle with the water the wood and what lay on it. When this was done and in time the sun, which had been clouded over, began to shine, a great fire blazed up, so that everyone marvelled…When the event became known and the king of the Persians was told that, in the very place where the exiled priests had hidden the fire, a liquid was found with which Nehemiah and his people had burned the sacrifices, the king, after verifying the fact, fenced the place off and declared it sacred…Nehemiah and his companions called the liquid nephthar, meaning purification, but most people named it naphtha.

My New Jerusalem Bible judiciously notes that “The story combines elements of Persian fire worship, v.34, with some knowledge of the properties of naphta – crude petroleum – which so impressed Greek and Roman geographers and naturalists”. Just the thing to inspire modern oil worshippers.

UPDATE (14 June): I finally found the Givat Olam website (link added above) where you can see Lushkin with the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

UPDATE 2 (5 Feb 2005): Ralph DeVore has quit Zion Oil, citing the company’s “rebellion against God” for allowing itself to become more Jewish than Evangelical. See here.

UPDATE 3 (26 Sep 2005): A bit on John Brown’s inspiration, James R Spillman (Hal Lindsey stole his idea, by the way).