Michael J. Sullivan
51 Harding Lane
Cherokee, NC 28719
Hm. (828) 497-9594
Cell (828) 507-5263
Dear Senator McCain,
As a Christian citizen I wanted to write you a letter voicing my concern over your friendship and association with John Hagee and the Dispensational Zionist movement. As you know you and most Americans were very concerned over Senator Obama’s association with Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s theology in connection with his socialist “change” agenda. Well, I am concerned with politian’s who associate with or have an ear to bad theology and theologians. John Hagee is a classic example of a man who has terrible theology which affects Americans and causes the Church in America to be viewed negatively in the rest of the world. My point of concern in drafting this letter is Hagee’s bad eschatology (study of Bible prophecy) which has and can influence our foreign policy in the Middle East in a negative way while at the same time conditioning Americans that – and I quote, “WORLD WAR III HAS BEGUN” (back cover of his book JERUSALEM COUNTDOWN).
Unfortunately Hagee and a lot of Evangelicals believe that 1948 was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy and that our generation which has witnessed this “super sign” is the terminal generation mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24:34 and therefore will witness the “rapture” of the Church before the Great Tribulation and battle of Armageddon begins. This brand of eschatology conditions the church to want to bring conflict into the Middle East in hopes of hastening their “rapture” off of planet earth – so the theory goes. It also conditions the church that the world is just going to get worse and worse while adopting a defeatist mentality, “Well, you don’t polish brass on a sinking ship.” Here is my fourfold plan to reverse this theological problem in the U.S. and establish peace in the Middle East. This plan entails an educational agenda given through public debate and the development of a high quality and action pack film that can be viewed globally.
First, it is important to demonstrate that the prophetic material Hagee claims is “near” and future to us was genuinely “near” and fulfilled to the first century church. This fulfillment was reached when Christ returned through the instrumentality of the Roman armies which surrounded and desolated Jerusalem and the temple in the years A.D. 66-70 (cf. Luke 21:20-32; 1 Peter 1:10-12, 4:7; James 5:7-9; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Revelation 1:1; 22:6-7, 10-12, 20).
Secondly, the focus of NT prophecy is to be gathered “In Christ” and is not fulfilled by national Israel being gathered “in the [sacred] land.” As long as Evangelicals, Israel and Islamic eschatological views see redemption and salvation as being “in the [sacred] land” mixed with an end time “holy war,” true peace will not come to the region. The true battle and “holy war” is theological in nature and addresses that only the true and Living God can give true and lasting inward peace reconciling the sinner to a holy and just God. I will establish a preterist debate team that will challenge the Hagee, LaHaye and the Hal Lindsey crowd and defeat them. Then this debate team will take on the Middle East and their false gods. This will lay the ground work for missionaries to come in and continue preaching the gospel to this region of the world that desparately needs it. However, we need to first begin in exposing the Dispensational Zionist agenda. Thus far the only thing these men are good at are “ducking” us in public debate and constantly “revising” their failed predictions with more contemporary newspaper eschatology. I would appreciate it if you encouraged your friend to step into the ring in order to “give an answer” and “defense” of his views.
Thirdly, a production of a high quality film depicting the events of A.D. 66-70 which educates the Christian and general public that this was the time period of which the return of Jesus took place and that the “land” and “kingdom” promises were realized in the heavenly realm or a time in which a “heavenly country” came “within” the hearts of the Church (cf. Luke 17:20-21/Luke 21:31-32; Hebrews 11:15-16; 10:25, 37; 13:14YLT; John 14:2-3, 23). I am in the process of contacting writers and producers of such films as the Gladiator and The Kingdom of Heaven, William Mohahan and Ridley Scott to produce such a film. This film will stir up more constructive debate over these issues which will produce healthy results.
And lastly, after the U.S. Church has been educated in this area and what the sovereign and free grace of God is, it will then be equipped to preach a gospel in the Middle East that is focused on being “in Christ” and not “in the [sacred] land.” After the gospel penetrates these cultures, the rest of the social and economic transformations that the West wants to see take place will occur.
I was hoping you could briefly write me and tell me what your particular eschatological beliefs are and if they are associated with the Dispensational Zionist movement of John Hagee. Following this letter is a more detailed article explaining my concern over the false views of John Hagee and the Dispensational Zionist movement in general. Thank you for your time.
Michael J. Sullivan
THE CHARISMATIC DISPENSATIONAL ZIONIST MOVEMENT
THE MACCAIN PALIN TICKET
A BIBLICAL AND CONSERVATIVE PEACE PROPOSAL FOR THE MDDLE EAST
BY: MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN
From the outset let me state that I am writing this article from a Christian worldview and that I am a registered Republican. Having said this, I need to point out that as Christians we are called to pray for our leaders salvation and that they and the leaders of the church, should continue in sound doctrine so that we can live peaceful lives knowing that God holds accountable those He puts in places of authority 1 Timothy 2:1-2; Romans 13:1-6; 1 Timothy 4:16; James 3:1. Recently within this presidential campaign, the liberal media has tried to make an issue of Senator MacCain’s friendship and associations with Dispensational Zionist teacher John Hagee. MacCain having lost to now President Bush for his lack of support of the Evangelicals in the past, has now decided he wants to reach out more to them through John Hagee.
John Hagee has built a foreign policy advocacy organization called Christians United for Israel (CUFI) which is pushing for a pre-emptive war with Iran. In 2006 while lobbying in Washington Hagee was clear in his agenda, “The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West,” he said. This was supposed to be a step in the right direction as allegedly mapped out in the Bible, “a biblically prophesied End Time confrontation…which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation…and the Second Coming of Christ.” Hagee not only uses guilt manipulation techniques on the members of his church and T.V. audiences to tithe to his “ministries” through his false “prosperity gospel,” but also uses guilt manipulation to push his false Dispensational Zionism doctrine. Hagee clearly insists that if you are not on board with him and his alleged Holy Spirit led agenda of believing 1948 was a fulfillment of prophecy, and that God has a literal real estate “forever” in the literal city of Jerusalem today, any other view is “sin.”[i] Political speaking engagements and responses to alter calls associated with Hagee’s teachings among mostly Republicans, have been criticized by Democrats and the Christian right whom know their Bibles better than these folks.
These concerns of MacCain’s associations with Hagee have been opened back up with the recent criticism of Republican concerns over Senator Obama’s 20 year associations and theology of Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s Black Libertarian doctrine. And it has resurfaced once again with the nominee for Vice President Governor Palin and her church membership and associations with the Charismatic Dispensational Zionist doctrine and agenda. Unfortunately, thus far in ABC’s interview with Palin, Charlie Gibson (having no doctrinal background) doesn’t know what kind of questions to ask Palin about what God’s will or “plan” is in the Middle East according to Palin’s theology. We will look at God’s eschatological plan in Matthew 24 and Revelation and see if it is the same as the Dispensational Zionist plan. But are these concerns coming from both sides of the isle for our presidential candidate’s theological convictions and associations legitimate? I believe they are.
Although me and my 11 year old son watch Fox News practically every night and usually enjoy and agree with most of the commentary of Sean Hannity and Bill O’Rielly, I have not been satisfied with the lack of coverage of the Republican candidates in their associations and doctrinal views when it comes to the Dispensational Zionist movement and its dangled web it seeks to weave in our foreign policy in the Middle East. Unfortunately, I haven’t found my favorite News program “fair and balanced” on this issue. As much as I like Hannity’s views and objectivity in most areas, I just don’t see him addressing Charismatic Dispensational Zionism the way he has Obama’s associations with Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s Black Libertarian theology. One would think that having ties to a theology that is bent on ushering in Armageddon (world war III) and having thousands of Jews slaughtered in an alleged future Great Tribulation, is as dangerous if not more dangerous of an agenda for the U.S. than the small influence of Wright’s theology within the black community.
In this article I will briefly examine the history of Dispensational Zionism and some distinct features of its teachings in light of the Bible. It is one thing to have Israel as a political ally due to trade or common interests in democratic principles of government, but it is an entirely different thing to be politically interested in Israel because one believes that 1948 was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy and that the U.S. will be “blessed” if we support her real estate agendas which perpetuate conflict in the region. Does the Bible support these beliefs and others such as the Church and the U.S. need to support the importation of Jews back into the land of Israel so as to usher in the pre-tribulation “rapture”, the battle of Armageddon and the Great Tribulation in our generation? Or were these events that took place between the years A.D. 66 – A.D. 70? I will give an exegetical answer to these questions and allow the reader to draw his or her on conclusion as to whether or not this movement is Biblically based and potentially dangerous to U.S. foreign policy. I also want to make it clear that I am writing this as a former Dispensational Charismatic having attended and graduated from 3 of their colleges. And lastly I will propose a better peace proposal for the Middle East than the Zionist’s self fulfilling agenda for Armageddon to take place in our generation!
A Brief History, Main Teachers and Major Tenants of Dispensational Zionism
The modern day Christian Zionist movement is a consistent outgrowth and byproduct of Dispensationalism. This eschatological view of Bible prophecy has only been around for about 150 years. It was founded and systematized by the teachings of John Nelson Darby, and then picked up and popularized through Cyrus Scofield (The Scofield Reference Bible), D.L. Moody and Donald Barnhouse. It’s largest boost has come through the radio and television airwaves. Unfortunately when most Americans turn on their televisions or radios, he or she is bombarded and brainwashed into thinking that Charismatic Dispensationalism is the real face of Christianity and through the alleged Holy Spirit led teachings of Jerry Falwell, Jim Baker, Paul Crouch, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart, Chuck Smith, John Hagee, and Billy Graham no one should dare be “noble” enough to “search the Scriptures” whether these prophetic speculations are so (Acts 17:11).
Popular “prophecy expert” authors that liter the contemporary Christian book store shelves are Charles Ryrie (The Ryrie Study Bible), John Walvoord, Tim LaHaye, Thomas Ice, Grant Jeffrey, John Hagee, Chuck Smith and Hal Lindsey. Religious institutions peddling this false view of Bible prophecy are the Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary and the International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem, Assembly of God Bible Colleges, Calvary Chapel Bible College, The Master’s Bible College and Seminary, etc.
U.S. presidents that have embraced the system have been Jimmie Carter and Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan being so influenced, that he was convinced that his generation would see Armageddon and that Russia would be apart of it. This caused red flags to be sent up not just among the liberal left, but among conservative Christians that understood their Bibles better than Reagan and the “prophecy experts” he had been influenced by.
The ICEJ (The International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem) was founded in 1980 with the goal to “comfort” Israel by educating Jews on their national heritage and convince them to leave other countries and come back into the land of Israel. I say “comfort” in quotations because it is the ICEJ’s agenda to usher in the “rapture” of the church which would involve in their theology – a 2/3’s death of the Jewish population during the Great Tribulation. This is ironic since they claim Preterists or those that don’t support their cause are anti-Semitic and yet their theology is the most insulting and dangerous view of the modern “Jew” today! The organization has joined up with the already entrenched and powerful Jewish lobbyists to support the Israeli land and policy agendas to the U.S. and other foreign nations.
Dispensational distinctions associated with the inclusion of the Christian Zionist movement include: The separation of Israel from the Church in Bible prophecy. A “literal hermeneutic” is drilled into the students and congregations of interpreting Bible prophecy – without ample training in studying the kind of genre being studied or finding the literal meaning of the text. The “gathering” in 1948 of Israel becoming a nation was allegedly the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. The context and desolation of the first century temple Jesus and the disciples are talking about in Matthew 24 is ignored or double-fulfilled away in order for its theology to be forced into the text claiming that our generation will see another literal re-built temple to appear that will be desolated by the Anti-Christ who is allegedly “Alive and Well on Planet Earth.” Our generation is supposed to also witness the genuinely “near” (to us not the first century Christians) “rapture.” Our generation is also allegedly seeing prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes in the news, which is allegedly leading up to a global Great Tribulation attended with a world wide Armageddon which has Russia and China as alleged players. All of this is followed by a literal coming of Jesus on a literal cloud to earth. Once on earth, Jesus is allegedly going to reign on a literal throne in the literal city of Jerusalem for a literal 1,000 years in the land of Israel – as promised by God to Abraham. Allegedly another temple is going to be built with animal sacrifices taking place while Jesus allegedly smells the stench of these sacrifices as he sits and reigns on a literal throne in Jerusalem. This system is known for the belief that whenever there is a war in the Middle East, a famine, earthquake, false teaching, etc. that prophecy is allegedly being fulfilled before our very eyes in the News. These events are supposed to indicate that the rapture of the Church followed by the second coming 7 years later is genuinely near in our generation. Let’s begin here with a study of when the signs and coming of the Lord would take place as instructed by Jesus in Matthew 24. Are these past or future events?
In Matthew 24:34 Jesus clearly identifies that the “this generation” of the “you” (first century Jews not 21st. century ones) of whom He is addressing would not pass away before “all these things” (the signs, end of the age and His coming) would be fulfilled. The Greek word for “generation” here is genea and is used over 30 times in the N.T. and in each context it is never used as anything other than to address a 40 year generation or in particularly, the first century contemporary generation of Jesus, the disciples or their contemporary enemies. However, some of the Dispensational Zionists and their alleged “scholars” have admitted to this but claim Matthew 24:34 is the exception to the rule and thus they feel they have the liberty to make up their own definitions of the word to fit their theology. Let’s go over a couple of them.
One such view to avoid the clear and straightforward meaning of “this generation” is to say the Greek word genea means that “the race Jews will not pass away until all these things be fulfilled.” There is simply no solid exegetical or lexical evidence for this use of genea in the NT. If the race of Jews was intended by Jesus or Matthew, they would have used the Greek word genos.
Another view which was popularized by Hal Lindsey, teaches that the generation which witnessed 1948 would be the “this generation” that Jesus said would witness all of the signs and His return in the discourse. So the dates of 1981 and 1988 were set (1988 – 7 years for the pre-tribulation “rapture”). Lindsey began by admitting that a generation “was something like forty years.” Since 40 years have passed, instead of throwing in the towel on his theory, Lindsey now claims a generation could be 60-80 years. If this doesn’t sound new, it’s because it isn’t. The “expanding” of a generation is exactly what the Mormon’s and Jehovah’s Witnesses have done with their false predictions concerning “this generation.”
This interpretation has Jesus saying in effect, “the generation that begins to see the fulfillment of these signs will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled.” John Hagee writes,
“There are ten prophetic signs in Scripture that describe the world in the last days. When these ten prophetic signs occur in one generation, that generation will see the end of the age.”[ii]
And of course according to Hagee our generation has seen all ten of these. Again, genea in the gospels and especially the phrase “this generation” is never used in directing the reader to a future generation but always the contemporary one of Jesus and His first century audience. Had this been the intension of Jesus, He could have simply said, “that generation…” instead of “this generation…” So much for taking “this generation” “literally” and how it is used everywhere else in the Bible! The fact remains that all of the signs Jesus gives here in Matthew 24 were seen and fulfilled before the end of the old-covenant age in A.D. 70.
These “prophecy experts” along with the Dispensational Zionists, allege that the Olivet Discourse is a prediction of the end of the world or the end of the Christian “age.” However, the context (beginning in Matthew 23:31-38) makes it clear that the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 (40 years later) and the end of the Mosaic old-covenant age is in view here and not a prediction of the end of planet earth. The new-covenant age and kingdom arriving at Jesus’ return is described by Him to be in the spiritual realm and “within” a person – eternal and having no end (cf. Luke 17:20-37/21:27-32; John 18:36; Daniel 2:44; Ephesians 20-21).
ALL OF THE SIGNS FULFILLED BY A.D. 70
Jesus predicted that false messiahs would come in the generation of the first century disciples and they did: Theudas (Acts 5:36; 13:6), Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37), and Simon (Acts 8:9-11) to name a few. In the epistles of John, John writes (as that generation was ending) informs the first century church that they knew it was “the last hour” because the Antichrist’s had arrived (1 John 2:17-18). For those who understand the “Antichrist” and “Man of Sin” to be the same person, we should point out that this individual was alive and “already at work” during the time of Paul (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8). Contrary to the popular science fiction writings of Dispensational Zionist Hal Lindsay, this individual is not “alive and well on planet earth” in the form of some political leader of Russia, Iran, Iraq, etc.
The Jewish historian Josephus writes of a false prophet during the destruction of Jerusalem which deceived the Jews to stay and fight the Romans:
“Of so great a multitude, not one escaped. Their destruction was caused by a false prophet, who had on that day proclaimed to those remaining in the city, that “God commanded them to go up to the temple, there to receive the signs of their deliverance.” There were at this time many prophets suborned by the tyrants to delude the people, by bidding them wait for help from God, in order that there might be less desertion, and that those who were above fear and control might be encouraged by hope. Under calamities man readily yields to persuasion but when the deceiver pictures to him deliverance from pressing evils, then the sufferer is wholly influenced by hope. Thus it was that the impostors and pretended messengers of heaven at that time beguiled the wretched people.” (Josephus, Wars, 6.3.6.).
“In AD 40 there was a disturbance at Mesopotamia which (Josephus says) caused the deaths of more than 50,000 people. In AD 49, a tumult at Jerusalem at the time of the Passover resulted in 10,000 to 20,000 deaths. At Caesarea, contentions between Jewish people and other inhabitants resulted in over 20,000 Jews being killed. As Jews moved elsewhere, over 20,000 were destroyed by Syrians. At Scythopolis, over 13,000 Jews were killed. Thousands were killed in other places, and at Alexandria 50,000 were killed. At Damascus, 10,000 were killed in an hour’s time.” (John L. Bray, Matthew 24 Fulfilled, p. 28)
“The Annals of Tacitus, covering the period from AD 14 to the death of Nero in AD 68, describes the tumult of the period with phrases such as “disturbances in Germany”, “commotions in Africa”, commotions in Thrace”, “insurrections in Gaul”, “intrigues among the Parthians”, “the war in Britain”, and “the war in Armenia”. Wars were fought from one end of the empire to the other. With this description we can see further fulfillment: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matthew 24:7)[iii]
When Jesus was addressing wars and rumors of wars, He was not referring to what is going on in modern day Russia, China, Israel, Iraq, United States, or Europe today. To reach into Matthew 24 and back into the O.T. and twist these passages and prophecies by asserting that they are referring to these modern day countries and to us today is irresponsible exegesis to say the least.
Again, the Bible and history record famine and pestilences during “the last days” (AD 30 – AD 70) of the Mosaic old-covenant age and generation (Acts 11:27-29). In AD 40 and AD 60 there were pestilences in Babylon and Rome where Jews and Gentiles alike suffered.
The book of Acts records for us an earthquake occurring in the Apostolic generation (Acts 16:26). “… just previous to 70 AD there were earthquakes in Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Colosse, Campania, Rome, and Judea.” (DeMar, Gary, ibid., 64)
The first century Christians were to expect tribulation, to be brought before kings and rulers , imprisonment, beatings, for the sake of Jesus. Please read the book of Acts 4:3,17; Acts 5:40; Acts 7:54-60; Acts 8:1; Acts 9:1; Acts 12:1-3; Acts 14:19 to see the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in Luke 21:12. In fulfillment of our Lord’s words, Paul and Silas were beaten (Acts 26:23) and Paul was brought before rulers and kings – Gallio, (Acts 28:12), Felix (Acts 24), Festus and Agrippa (Acts 25). Peter and Paul were put to death in the persecution of Nero.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
The reader at this point says, “I got you. How are you going to be able to prove the gospel was preached throughout the entire globe before A.D. 70?!?” Allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, this is not difficult to prove at all:
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world (Greek oikumene) for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14)
“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world (Greek oikumene)” (Romans 10:18)
“And the gospel must first be published among all nations (Greek ethnos)”
“…My gospel… has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations (Greek ethnos)…” (Romans 16:25-26)
“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world(Greek kosmos) and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)
“…of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world(Greek kosmos), as is bringing forth fruit…,” (Colossians 1:5-6).
And he said unto them ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Greek kitisis) ” (Mark 16:15)
“…from the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature (Greek kitisis) under heaven, of which I, Paul became a minister” (Colossians 1:23)
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Greek ge)” (Acts 1:8).
“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth (Greek ge), and their words to the ends of the world” (Romans 10:18)
Jesus nor the Apostle Paul meant nor understood these phrases for “into all the world,” “all nations,” “every creature,” or “end of the earth,” to be global terms. These are describing the nations of the Roman Empire or the world as they knew it.
In Luke’s account of the abomination that causes desolation, the fulfillment of this prophecy is identified with the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem and laying it waste in the years of A.D. 66-A.D. 70, “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.” (Luke 21:20-22). History records for us that the early Christians were not deceived by the Jewish false prophets and fled to Pella and were safe.
Hagee ignoring that all of these signs were fulfilled in the first century and how “this generation” is used in the gospel’s, decides he wants to add a couple more. He claims the number one sign is that there will be a “knowledge explosion—Daniel 12:4.”[iv] The portion Hagee is addressing states, “Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” This is usually interpreted by these “prophecy experts,” to mean something like this, “just look at the age and generation we live in with the expanding knowledge computers and the Internet has given us. And what about the inventions of the car and plain? The increase of knowledge in the area of transportation has caused us to be able to go “here and there” globally.” Is this what the passage has in view?
All this text is teaching, is that as time progresses nearing the “time of the end” (note not the end of time!), knowledge and understanding of Daniel’s prophecy and the Messiah’s salvation (cf. Daniel 9:25-27) will be given. People came from all over to hear the teachings of Jesus explain the meaning of the OT prophets and how they spoke of Him. Through the teachings of Jesus and the NT writers, along with the Great Commission being preached and fulfilled throughout the then know world, knowledge of Daniel’s prophecy increased and Jesus said its fulfillment would be in their “this generation.” Paul speaks much about the “mystery” that had been given through the OT prophets, but was now made known to the Church—in regard to how all prophecy is fulfilled “in Christ” and through the Church consisting of the Jew and Gentile union into one body (cf. Colossians 1:25-27, 2:3; 2 Corinthians 1:20; Ephesians 2:11-3:4). Jesus and Peter clearly teach that all OT prophecy was given to the first century generation to understand and see the fulfillment of (Luke 21:22, 1 Peter 1:4-12; 4:5-7). Knowledge of Christ and the Church as the fulfillment of ALL OT prophetic fulfillment increased within the first century Church before Christ returned and put an end to the old-covenant age by A.D. 70. In the context of Daniel’s prophecy it is a knowledge of Christ and the Church that is the purpose and climax of all OT prophecy not the inventions and speed of cars, computers and space ships! Besides hasn’t each generation considered itself as having increased in knowledge? Hasn’t each generation improved transportation? Hagee as usual is way off!
Another bizarre “sign” Hagee gives is, “International instant communication—Revelation 11:3, 7-10.”[v] Of course Hagee takes the testimony of the two witnesses “literally” and if the entire globe or “the inhabitants of the earth” witnesses their death, then according to this kind of thinking it must imply the invention of the television. The two witnesses whom have the characteristics of Moses and Elijah, have to do with the testimony of the OT (the Law and prophets) and the people of the Land (not the globe–Rome and apostate Israel) seeking to silence this testimony. The number three and a half is a broken seven and represents a time of sorrow and pain. So this has reference to the rejoicing and coming together (of these at one time enemies – Rome and apostate Jerusalem) in a united cause to silence and put Christ and the testimony of the Church to death (cf. Matthew 24:9; Colossians 1:24). A global televised production of this alleged event, is so far removed from the context of the prophecy which was to be fulfilled “shortly” (cf. Revelation 1:1), that it is just scary and desperate speculation on the part of Hagee and other modern day prophecy guru’s.
Any Bible College or seminary class on hermeneutics would tell us that we need to follow a grammatical historical hermeneutic. One of the steps involved in interpreting how language and terms are used is to honor the way language is used during the time it was written in. Josephus who was a close contemporary of Jesus’ time describes the destruction of Jerusalem in practically the identical language:
“Now this vast multitude is indeed collected out of remote places, but the entire nation was now shut up by fate as in prison, and the Roman army encompassed the city when it was crowded with inhabitants. Accordingly, the multitude of those that therein perished exceeded all the destructions that either men or God ever brought upon the world;”[vi]
The words “For then shall be great tribulation…” are words linking the tribulation period with the preceding fleeing of the disciples from Jerusalem in the previous context (vs.17-20, cf. also Lk.21:20-23). The great “wrath” and “distress” upon “this people” in the “land” in (Lk. 21:23) is parallel to Matthew’s tribulation period described for us in Matthew 24:21.
Those claiming that A.D. 70 couldn’t have fulfilled what Jesus states here because, “after all look at what Hitler did to the Jews” are arguing using false premises and using circular reasoning. This statement assumes what it needs to prove. In other words it assumes that after A.D.70 God still has covenantal dealings with what is today called modern Israel. Jesus taught that in A.D.70 the kingdom would be taken from Israel and given to a nation bearing the fruits thereof – the church (cf. Matthew 21:33-45; 1 Peter 2:9). The covenantal promises made to Israel under the Mosaic Torah had not been completely fulfilled by the cross but were still in the process of “growing old” and were “ready to vanish” in a “very little while” (Hebrews 8:13-10:37 cf. Romans 9:4-5; 11:15-27; 13:11-12). Post A.D. 70, there is no covenantal “Israel” in Scripture, let alone an Israel awaiting a prophetic fulfillment of the Great Tribulation and “rapture” of the Church.
“The stars shall fall from heaven” and “the Son of Man coming on the clouds”
God’s coming on the clouds and stars falling from heaven, as used elsewhere in the Bible, are metaphors referring to the judgment of nations, not the destruction of the physical planet. This can be seen in such O.T. passages referring to the fall of Babylon, Egypt, Edom, and Israel (Isa. 13:9-10; 19:1; 34:4-5; Ezk. 32:7-8; Amos 5:21-22; Psalm 18; Psalm 104; Hab. 1:2ff.). In Matthew 24, the context is the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. The sun, moon, and stars represented the universe of Israel and her rulers which would fall from her covenantal significance by A.D. 70 for rejecting Christ and His Apostles and prophets (cf. Matthew 23:31-36). Reformed and Puritan theologian John Owen had this to say of this text,
“And hence it is, that when mention is made of the destruction of a state and government, it is in that language that seems to set forth the end of the world. So Isa. 34:4; which is yet but the destruction of the state of Edom. And our Saviour Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew 24, he sets it out by expressions of the same importance. It is evident then, that, in the prophetical idiom and manner of speech, by ‘heavens’ and ‘earth’, the civil and religious state and combination of men in the world, and the men of them, are often understood” (John Owen, Works, Banner of Truth Pub., Vol. 9, 134).
Did God come on a literal cloud when he judged Egypt by means of the Assyrian’s in 670 B.C.:
“Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt” (Isa. 19:1)?
Even Dispendationalist’s admit this language in Isaiah 19 is not literal but figurative.[vii] Was the literal heaven “dissolved” and rolled back like a scroll and did literal stars fall down from heaven when National Idumea (or Edom) was judged by God in the OT?
“And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.” (Isa. 34:4-5)
This is not the first place in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus predicted that His return would occur within the lifetime and generation of those who were listening to Him (cf. Matthew 10:22-23; 16:27-28; 26:64). Jesus in the book of Revelation (through John) likewise addresses His return and the fulfillment of these prophetic events to ocurr in an “at hand” “near” and “soon” time frame (cf. Revelation 1:1, 3; 3:11; 10:6-7; 22:6-7; 10-12, 20). The inspiration and integrity of the rest of the N.T. bears witness that Jesus would return imminently in their generation (cf. James 5:7-9; 1 Peter 1:4-12; 4:5-7; 1 John 2:17-18; Hebrews 10:25, 37; 13:14YLT; 1 Corinthians 10:11; to list just a few examples). For Hagee and these folks the “rapture” of the church and the second coming are literally “near” to take place in our generation, but for the first century Christians, “this generation” and “near” meant thousands of years. This is no way to interpret the Bible!
“One will be taken and the other left”
Matthew 24-25 and the rest of the N.T. is addressing only one second coming and judgment to occur at the end of the old-covenant age. There are not two different comings mentioned in the N.T. – 1) a secret “rapture” and then 7 years later 2) the second “visible” coming. In context, this passage is addressing the taking away of the Jews into captivity by the Roman armies and those left would be slaughtered and left to rot like a dead carcass (cf. vs. 28).
ISRAEL’S LAND AND TEMPLE PROMISES
Dispensationalism argues that Israel under the Abrahamic covenant has not yet inherited all of the land promised by God, in spite of God clearly saying otherwise (Genesis 15:18; 1 Kings 4:20-21; Joshua 11:23; 21:41-45; Nehemiah 9:21-25). The objection from Dispensationalists is that Israel has not inherited the land “forever.” Sometimes in Scripture “forever” means forever and other times it simply means a long time. Under the old-covenant God’s promises made to Israel concerning the land had not failed to come to pass. In type and shadow form, through the 40 year reigns of David and in particularly Solomon, Israel received peace “in the land” as promised by God. All the blessings under the old-covenant were realized “in the land.” However, in the N.T. we discover that the anti-type of the Abrahamic promise is found in the gradual 40 year “this generation” pre-parousia reign of Jesus’ and the reception of a “heavenly country” that was “about to come” in the first century (Hebrews 11:13-16; 13:14YLT). The N.T. emphasis is not “in the land” but rather in a person – “in Christ” through faith. For “in Christ” are all the promises of God realized (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20). The life within the seed and core of the Abrahamic covenant is fulfilled in the “seed” of Jesus Christ and all those who believe in Him (Jew or Gentile) and become the true new covenant Jew or Jerusalem of God (Galatians 3:6-29; 4:21-31; Romans 2:28-29). Dispensational Zionism teaches that the millennium temple of Ezekiel’s prophecy is a literal temple with animal sacrifices to be performed while Jesus is literally reigning in Jerusalem for a literal thousand years. However, according to the Apostle Paul in Romans and Galatians along with the writer to Hebrews, Christ’s sacrifice is a once and for all atonement which perfects God’s people and the animal sacrifices pointed in type and shadow form to Christ’s sacrifice! Again, the Apostle Paul quotes Ezekiel’s millennial temple prophecy and clearly says that it is the Church that fulfills Ezekiel 37:27/2Corinthians 6:16 (cf. 1 Peter 2:4-6; Ephesians 2:19-22). Jesus says that “according to the Scriptures” (cf. ex: Ezekiel 47), from out of a Christian’s heart will come “living waters” (cf. John 7:37-39). Christians are the New Jerusalem, New Creation and Bride which came down from heaven when the old-covenant Jerusalem/Adulterous Bride was destroyed “shortly” and “soon” in Revelation 17-22:6-7, 10-12, 20. This heavenly City that comes down from heaven is NOT a “literal” city! The purpose of the establishment and maturity of the New Jerusalem (the Church) in A.D. 70 is that the Church is now prepared to bring the Nations of the world “healing” through the gospel. The reason there is evangelism and “sinners” being born and converted in the New Creation is because it is a description of what is taking place in the New- Covenant age today – Ezekiel 47; Isaiah 65-66/2 Corinthians 5:17; John 8:38; Revelation 22:1-17. Imposing a sensationalist “literal hermeneutic” within the genre of a vision and apocalyptic literature, is a disaster of great proportions for the Church and one that does have political ripples and consequences in how we as a country founded upon Biblical principles understand our foreign policy!
JESUS OFFERED A LITERAL KINGDOM BUT
IT ALLEGEDLY GOT “POSTPONED”?
Dispensational Zionism teaches that Jesus allegedly had taught the Jews a literal nationalistic kingdom but since they rejected His offer, Jesus postponed His plans of setting up a literal 1,000 year millennial kingdom in Jerusalem and had to the settle for plan B – the “sad” reality of the cross. What kind of non-sense is this dear reader?!? Jesus NEVER taught anything resembling the literal nationalistic expectations the Jews of Jesus’ day had or the kind of Messianic kingdom Dispensational Zionists are holding out for! Jesus did nothing but explain that His kingdom was “not of this world” and “within” the believer in the terms of spiritual birth, water, bread, freedom from bondage, death, and life, the Jews thought carnally and interpreted these concepts physically and biologically (cf. John 3-6; 7:38; 8:31-58; 18:36-37; Luke 17:20-21). When the Jews came offering Him a physical nationalistic kingdom (the false eschatological expectation of the day), Jesus flat out rejected their concept of the kingdom (cf. John 6:14-15). There is not a single verse in any of the gospels where Jesus describes His kingdom in literal nationalist terms as the unbelieving Jews and the Dispensationalist Zionist teaches. Nor is there a single N.T. verse that states or even infers that Jesus offered a literal kingdom but due to Israel’s rejection it got postponed for thousands of years. Surely such a major element in the Dispensational teaching has some support in the Gospels and Pauline literature doesn’t it? No, not even close folks. The truth of the matter is that Jesus began reigning and establishing the Messianic Davidic kingdom promises through the cross and ascension hardly postponing it (cf. Hebrews 1-2; Acts 2)!
“We are on a countdown to crisis. The coming nuclear showdown with Iran is a certainty. The war of Ezekiel 38-39 could begin before this book gets published (MJS- don’t worry it won’t and it will get “revised” once again). Israel and America must confront Iran’s nuclear ability and willingness to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons.”[viii]
“No prophetic scripture is more crystal clear than Ezekiel’s vivid and specific description of the coming massive war in the Middle East that will sweep the world toward Armageddon. Ezekiel’s war as described in chapters 38 and 39 will consist of an Arab coalition of nations led by Russia for the purpose of exterminating the Jews of Israel and controlling the city of Jerusalem.”[ix]
Of the battle of Armageddon as described in Revelation 16, Wal-Mart sensation Tim LaHaye writes of China’s alleged involvement,
“…China is already moving in the political direction that will make it possible for her to do what Revelation indicates she will during the Tribulation: march over the Euphrates River to participate in the Battle of Armageddon. Such an action would have been considered imposible just sixty years ago. Today it is not only feasible, but with her Communist-inspired obsession to take over all of Asia and perhaps even the entire world, it may be feasible. Just another suggestion that “the time is near.”[x]
Revelation 16:16 is simply a historic reference and symbol of war that is directed to a place – the mount of Megiddo or the city of Megiddo where famous battles of Israel had been fought (Judges 5:19; 2 Kings 23:29) and is thus used as we might use the term “Waterloo” or someone “Meeting your Waterloo.” Gary DeMar captures the intent of the text well when he writes,
“Israel remembered Megiddo as a place where God vented His divine wrath against rebellion, whether exhibited by Israel or a foreign power. God brought the nations of the world against first-century Jerusalem as he had promised (Matthew 22:7; 24:34). Rome, as an “empire of nations” (Syria, Asia Minor, Palestine, Gaul, Egypt, Britain, and others) representing all the nations of the world (see Luke 2:1),came up against Jerusalem and destroyed her.” “There were those in Israel who actually attempted to fight against this world empire and, met their “Waterloo.” “It no more takes place in Megiddo than Jerusalem is Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon”[xi] (MJS – These cities in Revelation describe apostate old-covenant Jerusalem 11:8; 18:24/Matthew 23:31-36).
As John writes towards the end of his “this generation,” the prophetic things of Revelation that include this battle, were to be fulfilled “shortly” not 2,000+ years away.
THE BATTLE OF GOG AND MAGOG – UH, WHERE’S RUSSIA AGAIN?
Like the other eisegetical embarrassing elements to Dispensational Zionism, is the belief that Russia will invade Israel because Ezkiel 38:2 and 39:1 use the Hebrew words rosh (which sounds like Russia) and Meshech (which sounds like Moscow). The other reasons are that Russia has some ancient cities residing in its domain that were ancient cities recorded in Ezekiel. But none of these other cities “sound like” their modern counterparts like rosh (Russia) and Mesech (Moscow) allegedly do. Obviously this sound alike word game of “hermeneutics” is a “make up the interpretive rules as you go” game that is being plaid fast and loose with God’s Word. Again DeMar writes,
“The most damaging piece of evidence to the theory that Ezekiel 38 and 39 refer to modern Russia’s invasion of Israel during the Great Tribulation is that there is no mention of Gog and Magog or Meshech and Tubal in Revelation 4-19, yet this passage is where dispensationalists tell us the Great Tribulation is described. Revelation 20:8 describes the battle of Gog and Magog as coming after the thousand years. Moreover, its characteristics are quite different from the Ezekiel battle. This means, like “Jezebel” (Revelation 2:20), “Sodom and Egypt” 11:8), and “Babylon” (14:8), the Battle of Gog and Magog is characteristic of an Old Testament event, but it is not the same event! One is past (Ezekiel 38-39); the other is future – after the “thousand years” (Revelation 20:8).”[xii]
WAS 1948’s “GATHERING” A FULFILLMENT OF O.T. PROPHECY?
Dispensationalist’s insist these chapters in Ezekiel are describing the “last days” battle post A.D. 70. This and Ezekiel 6:6-9; 12:15; and Jeremiah 29 are allegedly descriptions of Israel being “scattered” among the nations in A.D. 70 and then “gathered” back from among the nations in 1948 to face this battle with Russia in Ezekiel 38-39 – so the theory goes. Hagee writes,
“MORE THAN 2,600 years ago the prophet Ezekiel prophesied the resurrection of Israel from the Gentile graves in the lands to which she had been scattered, predicting the rebirth of Israel, whih took place May 14, 1948. Ezekiel also prophesied about the Holy War that will take place in Israel some time after Israel’s restoration to independence.”[xiii]
“The dry bones in Ezekiel’s vision represent the nation of Israel during the Dispora, beginning in A.D. 70 (Ezkek. 37:11). Gradually the bones came together, and the sinews and flesh came upon them.” (ibid., 130-131).
Hagee doesn’t address that a requirement according the old-covenant law of Moses was that Israel had to repent and establish their covenantal faithfulness in Jehovah with “all their heart” before they could be gathered/resurrected back into the Land (cf. Deuteronomy 32:2-4). Where was this “with all of your heart” repentance and faith in Jesus Christ from the “Jewish Nation” in 1948?!? These were and remain a people professing Atheism more than a nation embracing Christianity let alone Biblical Judaism! Some Dispensationalists disagree with Hagee’s interpretation of Ezekiel 37 for this reason,
“The Israelites residing in Palestine today are not the fulfillment of this prophecy.”[xiv]
John Hagee and Dispensational Zionists believe that the OT prophecies concerning the restoration of Israel such as Isaiah 11, 35, 43, 44, 61; Ezekiel 11, 28, 34, 37; and Jeremiah 30-31 were made only to national Israel and do not apply or can be fulfilled in the Church. These are allegedly “proof texts” for Jews around the world to re-inhabit Israel today and are necessary to be fulfilled before Christ can return. However, the context of these passages and how they are understood by the NT authors, make it clear that they are fulfilled when national Israel was restored and gathered back into Her land under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah (in type and shadow form – read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah), or spiritually applied and fulfilled in Christ and through the Church (God’s new-covenant Israel “an elect and holy nation” in anti-type substance form).
It simply is a false premise given by Hagee and Dispensational Zionists to claim OT promises made to Israel cannot be applied to or fulfilled in the Church as God’s restored and transformed Israel/Temple. Peter and the writer to the Hebrews applies the “last days” promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the arrival of the new covenant salvation and the imminent first century second coming of the Lord in Joel 2 and Jeremiah 31 to the Church. The first century Church clearly was promised to experience the fulfillment of these OT promises in their first century “this generation” and in a “very little while” (cf. Acts 2:16-20, 40, Acts 10; Hebrews 1:1; 8:8-13, 9:26-28, 10:25, 37). In Acts 15 the Jerusalem Church understands that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the Gentiles coming to faith in Christ, is the fulfillment of Amos 9 which is the rebuilding of David’s tent. The Apostle Paul also claims that the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s temple prophecy in Ezekiel 37:27 is fulfilled by the Church being the temple of the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians 6:16. The Apostle Paul also applies the new-covenant promises made to OT Israel in Jeremiah 31, Isaiah 45 and 59 concerning the arrival of the new covenant salvation, to be fulfilled and realized for the Church with the arrival of Christ’s imminent second coming from Zion in Romans 11:26-27; 13:11-12. There is absolutely not one passage where an inspired Apostle or writer claims these OT passages are not or kind of sort fulfilled through the Church but they will ultimately be fulfilled by the generation that witnesses Israel becoming a nation some 2000+ years and counting (ie. 1948-to the present).
Again, anyone interested in the context of such OT passages that are allegedly dealing with 1948, can see these texts are dealing with the scattering of Israel and Judah under the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities and the gathering among the nations of Israel back into her land happened during the times of Nehemiah and Ezra. A gathering back into the land of Israel is described as a coming out the “graves” and being resurrected (cf. Ezekiel 37). These were one of the past national scatterings/death and gatherings/resurrections of Israel but the anti-type or true fulfillment of these passages and the eschatological “gathering” as described in Matthew 24:30-31 for example, is describing the gathering/resurrection of the elect (the Church) into Her new-covenant spiritual Kingdom when the old one was destroyed and judged in A.D. 70. (cf. Matthew 21:33-45/1Peter 1:4-9). In A.D. 70 the remnant of Jews and Gentiles (the Church/the Restored Israel) was gathered/resurrected out of the graves and bondage of spiritual sin and death and given eternal life (John 5-11).
The final reason that all OT prophecy (including the restoration of land promises) cannot apply to 1948 and our generation, is that Jesus and Peter specifically say that ALL OT prophecy will be fulfilled in their “this generation” and were given for their day to see the fulfillment (cf. Luke 21:22-32; Acts 2:20-40; 1Peter 1:4-12/4:5-7).
THE CHARISMATIC / PENTECOSTAL FACTOR
When bad eschatology (the study of Bible prophecy) is mixed with bad Pentecostal and Charismatic doctrine, it is a recipe for disaster especially if it is held by our political leaders or these people have their ear. Because these alleged modern day “prophets” who have been conditioned to believe that our generation will witness Armageddon have divine “revelations” about “things to come” in the Middle East. “Divine revelations” for Christ coming in our contemporary generation is not something that just takes place within Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witness cults. Sara Palin not only has some bad eschatology, but she comes out of an Assembly of God Church, where there are alleged “prophets” and “prophecies” still taking place. I too was once a Charismatic having graduated Calvary Chapel Bible College so I know the kind of thinking and justifications that take place within these movements. Allow me to briefly address Pentecostal and Charismatic doctrine exegetically.
The traditional Baptist and Reformed sectors of Christianity do not sufficiently deal with an educated Charismatic. The Charismatic doctrine is accurate when they claim that if the Church is still in the “last days” (cf. Acts 2) then the sign gifts of speaking in tongues, prophesying, healings, etc. remain for the church today. They are also correct to teach that if Christ has not returned and we are not beholding Him “face to face” then these revelatory gifts remain (1 Corinthians 13:8-12/Revelation 22:4). And they are also correct to say that if the Great Commission is still unfulfilled and we have not reached the “end of the age,” then these sign gifts remain for the church (cf. Mark 16:15-18/Matthew 28:18-20).
The problem for the Charismatic or the futurist trying to persuade the Charismatic that he or she is in error, is that all these groups share some faulty presuppositions. The “last days” was a period marking the end to the old-covenant age not a period of some 2,000 + years covering the end to the new-covenant age. The “Great and Terrible Day of the Lord” and judgment of Acts 2 – 3 would fall upon their apostate “this perverse and crooked generation” that had crucified their Messiah (cf. Acts 2:20, 40).
It is untenable to interpret 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 as the completion of the Bible. When Scripture is allowed to interpret Scripture, this passage is clearly referring to the Second Coming, but as we have seen, Jesus promised that He would return in their “this generation” (Matthew 24:27-34) not some future one. So the “face to face” is not a literal biological face to face seeing of God, any more than the beholding of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ and the transformation into His image in 2 Corinthians 3-4 is meant to be an ongoing biological transformation. The context is the contrasting of the old-covenant glory which was in the process of passing away, to new-covenant glory which was in the process of being received. “That which is perfect” (the goal or the end reached), is correctly identified with the consummative “the end” in Matthew 24 and 1 Corinthians 15:24. However, “the end” in 1 Corinthians 15 is associated with the destruction of and victory over “the sin,” “the death” and “the law” in 1 Corinthians 15:55-56. The phrase “the law” everywhere in Pauline theology has reference to the Mosaic Torah, which was all fulfilled and done away with in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the Temple. This event clearly marked the end to that old-covenant age and the ushering in and maturing of the new.
Since I have already demonstrated that the Great Commission has been fulfilled according to the Apostle Paul, I will not belabor that point again here.
Being a former Charismatic, I sincerely understand the frustration that exists for Charismatic “tongue speakers.” What they perform is learned behaviour and has nothing to do with speaking known foreign languages which is what we see happening in the miracle of Acts 2. Many non-tongue speaking denominations claim that the tongue speaking that takes place in Mormon, Catholic, and Pentecostal/ Charismatic churhes is “from the Devil.” This is also false – it is simply learned behaviour and there is no element of the miraculous in any of it. The purpose of speaking in other languages and the charismata (the miraculous gifts) was that they served as signs to unbelievers and the early church of an imminent judgment/salvation coming upon Jerusalem for rejecting their Messiah (Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 14:21-22). They were given to the maturing and growing first century church and now that He has matured into manhood, there is no longer a need for them. They have “ceased” according to 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.
SHOULD WE HOLD OUR POLITICIANS ACCOUTABLE IN THEIR THEOLOGY AND ASSOCIATIONS?
Just as my co-Republican friends wish to hold Obama accountable to his ties to Black Libertarian Theology, so we need to hold MaCain and Palin accountable to their associations with the Christian Charismatic Zionist movement. Palin having attended a Dispensational Charismatic church needs to be closest looked at on the Republican side. Recently the conservative side feels the liberal media’s look at Palin’s charismatic and Zionists eschatology is uncalled for and not fair. I totally disagree. The Liberal’s were rightly concerned in the 80’s with Ronald Reagan convinced certainty from reading these “prophecy experts,” that Russia was going to get involved in the battle of Armageddon and also said to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, “You know, I turn back to your ancient prophecies in the Old Testament and the signs foretelling Armageddon, and I find myself wondering if we’re the generation that’s going to see that come about. I don’t know if you’ve noted any of those prophecies lately, but believe me, they certainly describe the times we’re going through.”[xv]
No one wants someone in control of our army and nuclear weapons who has the potential to be swayed from a divine revelation or prophecy in his or her church mixed with a bogus eschatology. God ended up rebuking Reagan, and using him in the direct opposite direction leading to the events of the Cold War and the dismantling of Russia. However, Russia is back in the News and so are the “prophecy experts.” I have no problem getting militarily tuff with Russia or the Musslim world in order to defend our freedoms. But the Church ought not to mix bad eschatology with politics. There are levels of extremists within the circles and associations that Obama, MacCain, and Palin have. It is our job as Christians and our civic duty as U.S. citizens to press them from the Scriptures for answers to these very important questions. I for one, am “ready to give an answer” for the “hope” that has been realized within me and will “not blink” when called upon to defend that Christ as our Tree of Life has come and is currently healing the nations and will continue to do so. My “hope” is realized and does not leave the church “sick” (cf. Proverbs 13:12; 1 Peter 3:15/Luke 17:20-21). Since there is an association problem with MacCain and Hagee’s eschatology, and Christians are called to “always be ready” to defend their positions, I publically challenge John Hagee to a debate over these issues on Fox News. Hagee, you have “ducked” us long enough. You are a coward.
WHERE WILL TRUE PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST COME FROM?
Peace in the Middle East for Israel and the Arab and Muslim world will NOT come from an eschatology that thinks the literal land of Palestine is the focus and climax of Bible prophecy or paradise on earth! Unfortunately this faulty premise is what unites and consistently divides Dispensational Evangelicals, Israel, and the Muslim world. Peace will be achieved first and foremost with the REAL gospel being preached in the West which should be centered on being “in Christ” through faith and not “in the [sacred] land.” Having said this, I should point out that I am not a liberal pacifist in any way shape or form, and believe in a just war. But in the long run, there can be no social change at all levels unless the gospel penetrates these Eastern countries. It only took a handful of uneducated men to turn the Roman Empire or the “world upside down” within one generation. The same can be true of accurate debating and evangelism to the Middle East today.
Unfortunately, to be as honest as I can and as frank as possible, the Arminian (salvation by works), Charismatic, Dispensational Zionist does not understand nor have the gospel message to take that will transform our culture let alone one that will bring healing to these areas of the world. In the end, this is not a military fight, it is a doctrinal one that will first be won here in the U.S. and then one that will overcome Israel and the Muslim world.
The gospel to the U.S. and Muslim world is not found within our bumper sticker theological society – “Jesus loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life, won’t you please accept Him today.” It is rather “repent” and turn from your false gods or “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” (Isaiah 2:12). God does not redemptively love all men and women (cf. Psalm 5:5-6; Romans 9:9-13). God is not some mamby pamby sweating deity up in heaven looking down wanting to save all of mankind but is constantly getting His will overridden by those who reject Him. This is a humanistic Jesus, not the God of the Bible.
Within the liberal “scholarly” world and even within Judaism and the Muslim communities, is found the offensive argument in seeking to refute the claims of Christ and Christianity – that being, Jesus failed to return in the life time and generation of His first century followers as promised (Matthew 10:22-23; 16:27-28; 24:34). Most Evangelicals simply stick their head in the sand and hope these arguments and texts go away. But it is only the position argued here that can truly embrace a Christ who didn’t fail and that His words can be trusted. It is only the position taken by this writer that can truly bring healing to the Middle East. For its only hope is not to be found “in the land,” but rather in a person “in Christ” through faith. Until this is realized for the Church in its evangelism, not much will be accomplished. I support and continue to support the war, but I see a larger doctrinal one that needs to be fought here in the U.S. and then carried to the Middle East between Israel and the Arab world – TRUE abiding “peace” is found “in Christ” not “in the [sacred] land.” This will ultimately be a battle waged with the Christian soldier swinging of the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God) not the military one. I support our troops and pray that our Christian Politicians and soldiers will study the Word with us and support us in our fight.
I realize of course this doesn’t sound as exciting and sensationalistic as what the Charismatic Dispensational Zionist’s are peddling as they turn Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation into a modern day science fiction novel for our generation. Their eschatological hopes are carnal and are things which can be seen and not on the things which cannot be seen (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:18; Luke 17:20-21). These people can’t help but thinking of themselves as the center of attention within world history. Contrary to their teachings, the end of the world is not around the corner and we have a long way to go yet (cf. Ecclesiastes 1:4). I’ll put up my Middle East Peace Plan (as emphasized above) over the Dispensational Zionist’s any day and any time! The true gospel really does speak peace and comfort to Israel (the Church) whose gates are open to all the nations of the world Revelation 22:17. For more articles by Michael J. Sullivan please visit www.treeoflifeministries.info
[i] John Hagee, IN DEFENSE OF ISRAEL THE BIBLE’S MANDATE FOR SUPPORTING THE JEWISH STATE, (Lake Mary, FL: FrontLine, 2007,) 4-5. It is true that Christians are called to continue in doctrine and in the teachings of Jesus and Apostles, but since Hagee’s teaching is not Biblical, his exhortations are purely manipulative.
[iii] Gary DeMar,Last Days Madness Obsession of the Modern Day Church, (Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1994), 62-63, (emphasis MJS).
[vi] Josephus, Works of Josephus, War of the Jews, 6-9-4.
[vii] John A. Martin, Ed. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty OLD TESTAMENT, Ezekiel, (Colorado Springs, Colorado: COOK COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRIES, 2004,) 1065-1066.
[viii] Hagee, Ibid., 53 (parentheses added by MJS)
[x] Tim LaHaye, REVELATION UNVEILED, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan 1999), 256.
[xi] DeMar, Ibid. 224-225.
[xii] DeMar, Ibid., 269.
[xiii] John Hagee, JERUSALEM COUNTDOWN A PRELUDE TO WAR, (Lake Mary, FL: FrontLine, 2007) 129.
[xiv] Charles H. Dyer, Ed. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty OLD TESTAMENT, Ezekiel, (Colorado Springs, Colorado: COOK COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRIES, 2004,) 1298-1299 (bold emphasis MJS).
[xv] DeMar, Ibid. 220.