Mega-church pastor Joel Osteen may lead the largest Protestant church in the United States, but a recent Facebook post shows he might need to go back to Sunday school.
A Monday post to his verified Facebook page, Joel Osteen ministries, read: “God said in Numbers 11:23, ‘Moses, is there any limit to My power?’ He was saying, ‘Moses, you saw Me part the Red Sea, stop the sun for Joshua, keep three Hebrew teenagers safe in a fiery furnace, don’t you realize that I can bring water without rain?’ There’s no limit to God’s power.”
As of Friday afternoon, the post had over 317,000 likes and 52,000 shares. (RELATED: Joel Osteen Needs More Security Than A Third World Dictator)
There’s just one problem: According to the Bible, Moses was dead before Joshua asked God to stop the setting of the sun, and long before the three Hebrew youths were burned in the furnace.
The Old Testament Book of Joshua explains that God appointed Joshua as Moses’s successor after Moses’s death (the first sentence literally begins, “After the death of Moses…”), who led the Israelites into battle against the Amorites, during which he commanded the sun and the moon not to move. “So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies,” (Joshua 10:13).
The story of the “three holy children,” as the Hebrew youths are sometimes known, is told in the Old Testament Book of Daniel. According to the passage, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned around the 6th century B.C. (long, long after the projected time of Moses), ordered his people to worship a large golden idol, “and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace,” (Daniel 3:6). The three Hebrew youths refused to worship the idol and were thrown into the furnace, but were not burned.
In many Christian traditions this passage is particularly important because it is understood to prefigure Christ — when the king asked whether the three were burned, one of his counselors replied “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God,” (Daniel 3:25).
Some of Osteen’s followers noticed the error, with one commenter asking “Bro, do you even Scripture?”
Osteen, who has neither a bachelor’s nor a divinity degree, lives in a $10 million dollar mansion in Houston, Texas, and has an estimated net worth of $40 million. Nearly 50,000 people attend services at Lakewood Church every week, and millions more watch his televised sermons. Lakewood, whose “central campus” is a 16,000-seat arena, is notable for its total lack of crosses and other Christian symbols or imagery.