I was having dinner with a friend recently; he heads an apologetics ministry. Although it hasn’t been his focus, my friend made what I think is a startling comment.
“I think the major battle today in the spiritual realm, which reflects on our world, is Israel.”I wanted to sit back and quietly applaud. I smiled.
He gets it.
In Christendom, you will often hear that this subject or that subject is “the most important thing” going on presently. You know what I mean. Marriages. Parenting. Social issues.
Within the evangelical world today — as we’ve discussed here at Israel Watch — there is a movement away from dispensationalism, prophecy, Israel. I should qualify that statement and say that that is my opinion. I travel and read widely and keep in touch with a whole score of folks, and it seems to me that there is not only a great deal of misinformation out there about the Jewish state, but just bald-faced ignorance, as well.
Pastors, in general, do not touch Bible prophecy in the pulpit. Let me say this plainly: that is irresponsible.
Some are genuinely concerned that the issue is a distraction, or divisive. I hear that a lot.
And then some are the pastors who have “crept in unawares.” They have no intention of rightly dividing the Word of truth; they have contempt for Scripture.
And they’re not going to tell their congregations that in so many words. They will smile and engage in easy conversation, and be “pastoral.”
But they do not believe the Bible is the Word of God. Consequently, the great doctrines of scripture — God created the world out of nothing, Israel is key to His end-times plan, etc. — are sanitized from sermons and Sunday school lessons.
Then there are entire ministries — I’ll name them — that either shy away from prophecy/Israel, or have outright contempt for it.
Gary DeMar at American Vision is terrific when teaching about our Founding Fathers, America’s Christian heritage, and on the subject of creationism.
He can’t stand Bible prophecy teaching, or, it seems, Israel. Gary is a leading preterist.
As the Band’s Robbie Robertson once said about an entirely different subject, there are reasons for this; it didn’t just “fall out of the sky.”
Usually, Christians from Reformed backgrounds are anti-Israel, anti-dispensationalism. Lutherans, by and large, are still devoted to Martin Luther, who, I’ll put it delicately, had a problem with the Jews.
Other mainline churches are so steeped in German Higher Criticism and Replacement Theology that they don’t realize Jesus is a Jew. They think He was a Palestinian.
The late D. James Kennedy, a Presbyterian, at least did not emphasize the miraculous nature of Israel’s modern return. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe he supported Israel’s right to exist, but he would not have embraced predictive prophecy. I’d like to point out that I highly respected Kennedy, by the way.
Another massive ministry that de-emphasizes (my word) the study of predictive prophecy and Israel’s role in the world is Answers in Genesis. The (near) Cincinnati-based apologetics ministry is in reality a creationism juggernaut. The Creation Museum is a mind-boggling facility that would rival any natural history museum in America.
But they don’t touch Bible prophecy. They do not see Israel for the significant miracle that it is, in my opinion.
(Interestingly, several leading prophecy teachers do teach the whole counsel of God; these include the peerless David Reagan and Dave Hunt. What many creationists do not understand is that many Bible prophecy guys are their friends on the subject of creationism. My great friend Tommy Ice is another that comes to mind.)
The point I’m trying to make is that the whole Bible is vital if individuals are to discover where they came from, who they are, and where they’re going.
I’m convinced to my core that Christians in the pews in America are starving for a comprehensive Bible message, one that teaches Genesis through Revelation. Now, the Calvary Churches do this, “simply teaching the Bible simply.” I wrote about this in the August edition of the Jerusalem Post’s Christian magazine.
But they don’t have much company.
(One creationist/apologist who gets it is Thomas Sharp of Creation Truth Foundation. His two-part talk at the Tulsa Prophecy Conference last April electrified the crowd. Dr. Sharp linked origins issues with prophecy and by golly, the crowd got it and loved it.)
What most Christians get today is a steady diet of teachers like Hank Hanegraaff, who are “good” on certain issues. After all, Hank has set himself up as the “Bible Answer Man.”
But pay attention to his answers on the subject of Bible prophecy. If you love Israel, those answers will scare you. Or infuriate you.
The key thing we have to keep in mind is, even conservative Bible teachers will fall victim to preconceived biases concerning Scripture. For example, an apologetics teacher who is spot-on concerning origins issues (I am an unabashed young-earth creationist) will also have been turned against Jews at some time in the past. It might have been a father, a Sunday school teacher, a college professor — in a Christian college!
But that bias will color how they read their Bibles. My point here is that with some Christian teachers, there is a deep bias against the Jews. I do not mean they are anti-Semitic, most are not. What I do mean is that they don’t “get” Israel.
I studied a fair amount of English in school, and have a journalism degree. When I sit down to read my Bible, I see very clear distinctives: God created the world in six days; the original common language was changed at Babel; He elected to form a righteous ethnic group from Abraham; Moses existed and the Exodus happened. Et cetera.
I then logically can follow the rest of history’s timeline, seeing that many, many times in Scripture, God told us that Israel would be dispersed due to unbelief, but that in the “last days” they would return en masse and re-settle their ancestral lands.
Look, this isn’t complicated. You can get on a plane and land in Tel Aviv and drive thirty minutes east and see all the fulfilled Bible prophecy you can stomach. Millions of Jews live there, in thousands of homes. They are there. They are hated by the whole world. Jerusalem is a point of major contention in embassies around the world.
It isn’t complicated. Bible prophecy is true and relevant for our lives.
It’s just too bad more teachers don’t teach that.