Author and megachurch speaker Joel Osteen raised eyebrows this week when he wrote on his popular Facebook page that Moses was present to see the sun stand still under Joshua’s leadership and that he witnessed the Hebrew boys being thrown into the fiery furnace.
“God said in Numbers 11:23, ‘Moses, is there any limit to My power?’ Osteen, leader of the 43,000 member Lakewood Church, posted on Monday, and then proceeded to expound. “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.”
The status received over 317,000 likes from his more than 8 million followers, and was shared over 52,000 times. A number of followers also agreed heartily with Osteen’s teaching in the comments section.
However, some began to notice that there was something not quite right about Osteen’s statement: Moses was dead when two out of the three cited events occurred.
“People! Moses was long dead before any of these things happened!” one commenter named Josh wrote. “You actually trust this man to be a solid teacher when he doesn’t even know something this basic?”
“Moses wasn’t even around when the sun stood still for Joshua; by that time, Moses was dead. And neither was he around when the Hebrew boys were put in the furnace,” wrote another named Leah. “Joel Osteen Ministries and the rest of y’all who gave them an amen, do any of y’all even read the Bible?”
A follower named Pamela also caught a third error in Osteen’s statement: Moses wasn’t seeking God for water in Numbers 11, but rather food.
“Moses wasn’t praying for rain, the people of Israel were asking for meat instead of manna in Numbers 11:23,” she wrote.
While all agreed that Osteen’s exhortation that “there is no limit to God’s power” is true, some were concerned about the megachurch leader’s knowledge of the Scriptures.
“You’d think a preacher of all people would know what’s actually in the Bible,” wrote a commenter named Steven. “Apparently that’s just wayyyy too much to ask.”
But others were also concerned that hundreds of thousands of followers saw nothing wrong with Osteen’s post.
“Oh man, 314,021 likes,” wrote a commenter named Alex.
“The same people who think Joel Osteen is a legitimate teacher of God’s word are the same people who, like him, either don’t read the Bible or read it with flawed, man-centered presuppositions,” added a man named Joshua. “This guy has been teaching for how long? How many people have liked this post?”
One follower asked that Osteen delete the post, advising that it would be “weird” to leave it online. The status now no longer appears on Joel Osteen Ministries’ Facebook page, but is accessible in a cached version.
As previously reported, Osteen’s wife Victoria also came under criticism in recent weeks after a video clip surfaced of the “co-pastor” exhorting the congregation that obedience and worship aren’t as much for God as they are for self-happiness.
“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it—we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy,” she declared in the undated 36-second clip with her husband standing by her side and nodding. “That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy…”
“So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy,” Osteen continues. “When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”
After online outrage erupted over her comments, Osteen issued a statement outlining that while she “could have been more articulate” in her teaching, “I stand by my point that when we worship God and are obedient to Him we will be better for it.”