Jesus on Palm Sunday being welcomed into Jerusalem riding a donkey. Only days later he was crucified in the same city (Photo by zatletic)
Is the citizenship of Christians in Heaven above or on Earth below? All born-again believers in Christ undoubtedly realize that their true citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3:20). But why are some Christians trapped in spiritual adultery (Ephesians 5:23, 2 Corinthians 11:2) by engaging in a concurrent love affair with the modern, secular state of Israel and Jerusalem in the Middle East? The Scriptures clearly reveal that the new and holy Jerusalem in Heaven, comprised of both Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ (Galatians 4:25-26), is the only "Bride, the wife of the Lamb" (Revelation 21:2, 21:9-10).
US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel and his order to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem has excited many Doomsday-Rapture Christians. But this has caused more conflict and bloodshed in a region that has a long history of unrest. This particular brand of Christianity, heavily influenced by the late Tim LaHaye's fictitious Left Behind book/movie series , espouses a Jewish-centric ideology that was only a small part of God's redemptive plan under the Old Covenant, and has since been replaced with the New Covenant where every Christ-believing Jew and Gentile constitutes the new City of God, the one-and-only, Holy Jerusalem in Heaven. It's anti-Christian and illogical to displace the New with the Old as is the practice of Christian Zionists.
In an earlier petition to the UN from founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee's organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), Earthly Jerusalem is described as "the Holy City." In his book, The Battle for Jerusalem (2003), John Hagee frequently refers to Earthly Jerusalem as "the Holy City", "the city of God", and "a spiritual lighthouse to the entire world." CUFI happens to be the largest pro-Israel organization in America, boasting over 3.3 million members. Hagee repeated this erroneous claim, calling Earthly Jerusalem, "this Holy City" , in a statement after Trump's December 6, 2017 official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
As we shall see in the following article, this is based on an outdated and flawed interpretation of Scripture. Any professing Christian should know that Earthly Jerusalem is not holy in light of the New Testament (Revelation 21:2). This was shown historically in 70 AD when God sent the pagan Roman armies to destroy the ancient city and its idolatrous temple with fire just as Jesus prophesied forty years earlier in his Olivet Discourse.
This pro-Israel ideology is actively promoted by the Dispensational Premillennialist view of modern Israel. They see the creation of secular Israel in 1948 as the fulfillment of End Time prophecy and the "prophetic time clock" by which to determine the nearness of the end of the world and the Rapture. Similarly, John Hagee recently said "Israel is God's stopwatch for everything that happens to every nation, including America, from now until the Rapture of the Church and beyond." Another organization similar to John Hagee's CUFI, called Christians for Israel International (C4I), facilitates the return of the Jewish people to Israel (aka Aliyah). Since 1996, they collected hundreds of millions of dollars to help more than 120,000 Jews return to Israel in what they believe is an "exciting fulfillment of biblical prophecy!" . This is with the full knowledge that, according to their particular brand of eschatology, two-thirds of them will be slaughtered by the Anti-Christ in a future Jewish Holocaust. Perhaps a more expressive title for this fatalistic group of Christians should be Doomsday-Rapture theorists, or better yet, Holocaust Revivalists.
A correct interpretation of Scripture, and one that maintains the proper contextual timeframe references of the Bible, shows that modern Israel is not the fulfillment of any such Old or New Testament prophecies. This important tenet is found in the tried-and-true Orthodox (aka Partial or Classical) Preterist method of interpreting Bible prophecy. For example, Isaiah foretelling that "a land be born in one day... a nation be brought forth in one moment" (Isaiah 66:8) was fulfilled 142 years later in 538 BC when exiled Jews returned home to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity. There is no prophecy foretelling an additional, future return of Jewish exiles after their expulsion by the Romans in 70 AD and later in 136 AD. Even more, there is no prophecy foretelling a new Aliyah happening after the Jewish Holocaust that occurred during World War 2 (WW2) from 1939 to 1945. It is the Church, consisting of an ever growing number of Christ believing Jews and Gentiles, that is the continuation of the old and now defunct theocratic nation/kingdom of Israel. This is known as Covenant Theology.
Furthermore, ancient Israel's return from Babylonian captivity was foretold by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 44:28, 45:1) and mediated by King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord's anointed (2 Chronicles 36:22-23, Ezra 6:3). Whereas, the creation of the modern state of Israel after WW2 was not prophesied in Scripture, but rather, was an act of human will via the Balfour Declaration. Moreover, Jewish exiles in Babylon were promised a good life (Jeremiah 29:4-11) and "were free to go about their lives; they weren't slaves" and King Nebuchadnezzar was not a brutal dictator. In contrast, six million European Jews had to be exterminated by the Nazis prior to being given a dried up piece of land the size of New Jersey. The latter was not an act of God nor the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy as Dispensational Premillennialists purport.
So what is the reason for this Christian Zionist mentality among what should be, spiritually minded worshipers of God (John 4:21-23)? Most Israel supporters seem to have a self-interest in American prosperity and frequently reference Genesis 12:1–3 where God promises to bless those nations that bless Israel, and curse those nations that curse Israel. However, the Israel that God had in mind was Abraham’s Israel in the Old Testament (circa 1300 BC - 70 AD), not the modern Jewish State. This was already shown here.
The marked rise in grandstanding for the Jewish State is evident with the renewed push to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This began when Donald Trump successfully manipulated evangelicals into voting for him by making Israel an issue during his campaign for President. According to Pew Research, a whopping 81% of white, born-again/evangelical Christians voted for Trump in the 2016 general election for president, at least partly due to his newly adopted pro-Israel policy. Five months prior to winning the Republican nomination, and before realizing that he needed the pro-Israel evangelical bloc to win the US Presidency, he was content with being the "neutral guy" in the Arab-Jewish conflict.
Recently, two of the former Republican Presidential contenders whom Trump defeated in the primaries, US Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, hopped on the Trump bandwagon and introduced a bill hoping to force the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is in accordance with an older law already passed by Congress in 1995 sponsored by then-House Speaker and now-Trump endorser Newt Gingrich.
With the renewed fervor to move the US embassy from its current location in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, it seems that some Christians have forgotten Jesus' declaration, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting" (John 18:36). Jesus explicitly told his followers not to fight for an earthly kingdom (John 18:11). Instead, he taught his disciples, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9). If Jesus' first-century apostles and disciples did not contend for the liberty of Jerusalem and Israel under Roman occupation, why are some 21-century Christians possessed with the urge to promote more tension in the Middle East for the already free and sovereign Jewish State?
Sultan Abu Al-Einein, a senior Fatah official, warned that Trump's plan for relocating the US embassy will cause a new wave of violence against the Jewish people. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, said that the Palestinians would view this as crossing the red line in the peace process. While some Palestinian officials went so far as to say that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would constitute a declaration of war against the Palestinian people. Just days after US senators Cruz and Rubio introduced the bill, a Palestinian rammed his truck into Israeli soldiers between East and West Jerusalem, killing four and injuring 17 others.
Although there is no justification for unprovoked violence against the Israeli people, Muslims also have a legitimate claim to ancient Jerusalem. For example, beginning in 640 AD, multiple Muslim Caliphates (political-religious state) ruled over Jerusalem until 1099 AD (461 years). The Ottoman Turks also ruled over the ancient city for another 400 years from 1517-1917 AD. So it is understandable that Muslims contend for the ancient city. Christians, however, have no reason at all to interfere with disputes between Jews and Muslims over the possession of the ancient capital city.
The reason why some Christians actively engage in grandstanding for the secular Jewish State is a result of their Dispensational Premillennial roots. You see, in this flawed version of eschatology, the end of the world and the Rapture cannot occur unless Jerusalem and Israel are betrayed by the rest of the world and stand alone against their Arab neighbors. In their minds, this event was realized and fulfilled last week when President Obama refused to veto a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements in contested territory.
This fatalistic plan involving modern Israel and the Jewish people was recently condemned by Jewish delegate Mark Alan Siegel:
The [Dispensational Premillennialist] Christians just want us to be there [in Israel] so we can be slaughtered and converted and bring on the second coming of Jesus Christ. They're not our friends. They want Israel to pursue policies which are antithetical with its security and existence. The worst possible allies for the Jewish state are the fundamentalist Christians who want Jews to die and convert so they can bring on the second coming of their Lord. It is a false friendship. They are seeking their own ends and not ours. I don't believe the fundamentalists urging a greater Israel are friends of the Jewish state.
Mark Alan Siegel, a Jewish delegate and the chairman of Florida's Palm Beach County Democratic Party (September 5, 2012)
His obvious disdain for Christians espousing Dispensational Premillennialism is entirely warranted. This same Doomsday-Rapture mentality was partly responsible for the "hands off" policy when it came to speaking out against the poisonous anti-Semitism that swept over Europe during WW2. Author Dwight Wilson summarizes his findings as follows:
Pleas from Europe for assistance for Jewish refugees fell on deaf ears, and "Hands Off" meant no helping hand. So in spite of being theologically more pro-Jewish than any other Christian group, the premillenarians also were apathetic - because of a residual anti-Semitism, because persecution was prophetically expected, because it would encourage immigration to Palestine, because it seemed the beginning of the Great Tribulation, and because it was a wonderful sign of the imminent blessed hope.
Dwight Wilson, in Armageddon now!: The premillenarian response to Russia and Israel since 1917, (1975)
Christian Zionists also like to use the phrase, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!" (Psalm 122:6). But if they really want peace for the secular city, why are they hell-bent on causing Arab resentment by relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem? Why not just leave the US embassy where it is in Tel Aviv while Jews and Arabs continue negotiations? Perhaps it would be better to allow actual Jews living in the Middle East to decide what is best for their nation and thereby, prevent another Jewish Holocaust, rather than taking advice from the already falsified Dispensational Premillennial brand of Bible prophecy. Such staunch, pro-Israel Christians should abandon this fatalistic belief system straightaway and more fully honor their spiritual marriage vows by tending to the spiritual kingdom of God and Heaven which consists of present-day saved Jews and saved Gentiles and which has no boundaries, while anticipating the future coming of the new and holy Jerusalem from Heaven at Christ's physical return to Earth to raise the dead and preside over the final judgment (Revelation 20:7 through Revelation 22:5).
It is at this time in the distant future (i.e., "on the last day" [John 6:39-44, 6:54, 11:24, 12:48]), that Jesus will "restore the kingdom to Israel" (Acts 1:6), but not into the hands of apostate Jews whom the Lord already declared would be cast out of the kingdom of God (Luke 13:28). It is the Church (i.e., regenerate Jews and Gentiles in Christ Jesus) to whom the kingdom will be restored; the city on a hill (Matthew 5:14), the new and holy Jerusalem, the city of God, which comes down from Heaven above (Revelation 3:12).
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Sabz, S. (2017, January 7). Two Jerusalems: Holy and Unholy. Retrieved from http://scienceandbibleresearch.com/two-jerusalems-holy-unholy.html