By Faith Abraham – Part 3

TimeWatch Editorial
December 29, 2016

In part 2 of this series entitled “By Faith Abraham” we introduced Dr. Tomer PersicoDr. Tomer Persico is a Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, and teaches at the department for Comparative Religion in Tel-Aviv University. In continuing to describe the connection between Evangelicals and Zionists he says the following:

“Zionist evangelicals oppose any peace agreement in which Israel will cede parts of the homeland, and customarily make donations to various right-wing associations in Israel. For them, Israeli sovereignty over the Holy Land is fraught with redemptive meaning. Only the continuing and eternal covenant between the Jewish people and its God in heaven can lend a messianic significance to its deeds on earth. It was such a frame of mind that prompted the well-known evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell to assert, back in 1988, that “the most important date we should remember [since the Ascension] is May 14, 1948.” The reason is because, in his view, the creation of the State of Israel “is the greatest single sign indicating the imminent return of Jesus Christ.” Dr. Tomer Persico, “Why Do Many Christians Believe Jesus Will Return After the Jews Rebuild the Temple,” HAARETZ website, July 18, 2013

Dr. Persico however acknowledges that this expectancy of the return of Christ based upon the resettlement of the Jews in Palestine has met with an apparently unexplained delay. Notice the following.


“But there’s a snag. Two months ago (May 2013) we celebrated the 65th anniversary of Israel’s creation, and for some reason Jesus has not yet appeared. What could be the explanation for his tarrying? Here our remarks move closer to Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, the day on which the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. As we know, since the destruction of the Temple, the Shechinah – the divine presence – has been in exile. However, what many do not know is the scale to which this state of affairs is also playing havoc with the efforts of the Son of God to return and redeem the world.”
Dr. Tomer Persico, “Why Do Many Christians Believe Jesus Will Return After the Jews Rebuild the Temple,” HAARETZ website, July 18, 2013

Dr. Persico now proceeds to give the reason why these Evangelical Zionists believe that Christ has not returned. He breaks up the process into three phases. He continues:

“The Temple, certain Christians will maintain, is essential for Christian redemption. Most subscribe to the doctrine of an Irish evangelical named John Nelson Darby ‏ (1800-1882‏). According to Darby, Jesus’ second coming will begin when he appears in the heavens and draws his believers to him. This sudden “rapture” will cause millions of decent Christians to disappear instantaneously from the face of the earth. Then begins the second stage : While those Christians dwell in heaven for seven good years, the earth is to be wracked by ordeals and tribulations. From natural disasters to war, life becomes hell for everyone who did not rise to the upper worlds. The Jews specifically will have a harsh passage. True, they will be living in their land in full sovereignty, but they will be unable to accept Jesus into their hearts. Instead, they will prefer to consider one of their own as the messiah. To our great regret, that figure will be, in effect, an Antichrist.” Dr. Tomer Persico, “Why Do Many Christians Believe Jesus Will Return After the Jews Rebuild the Temple,” HAARETZ website, July 18, 2013

But I hear you say, what does rebuilding the temple have to do with all this? Dr. Persico then relates the final stage of Darby’s belief system.

“This false messiah will sweep the Jews in his wake, build the Temple and reinstate the practice of sacrifice. The rest of the world will not remain idle: Hostile armies will invade the Land of Israel ‏ (all of Asia, Africa and Europe‏); two-thirds of the Jewish people will be slaughtered in the vast wars that will ensue. The remaining one-third will decide at long last to convert to Christianity. At the end of seven years, Jesus will descend from heaven together with his believers, expel the false messiah and rule for 1,000 years from his capital, Jerusalem. This apocalyptic scenario obliges his adherents to believe that for redemption to occur, the Jewish people must establish a state ‏ (which was done in 1948‏), rule in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount, and rebuild the Temple ‏ (pending‏). Building the Temple is critical, because, according to Darby’s vision, the Jewish false messiah will be bound to desecrate it.” Dr. Tomer Persico, “Why Do Many Christians Believe Jesus Will Return After the Jews Rebuild the Temple,” HAARETZ website, July 18, 2013

There are a few other variables to this belief system, but in each case, three things are fixed, the return of Israel to Palestine, the establishment of the Jewish State and the rebuilding of the Temple. Finally, Dr. Persico quotes from Hal Lindsey who wrote the book “The Late Great Planet Earth,” in 1970.

“In his 1970 book “The Late Great Planet Earth,” which became a mythical best seller and sold more than 15 million copies, evangelical writer Hal Lindsey sums up the conditions for redemption: “The main points are these: First there will be a reinstitution of the Jewish worship according to the Law of Moses with sacrifices and oblations in the general time of Christ’s return; secondly, there is to be a desecration of the Jewish Temple in the time immediately preceding Christ’s return ... If this is the time that this writer believes it is, there will soon begin the construction of this Temple.” Lindsey further exhorts his believers: “Look for movements within Israel to make Jerusalem the center of the world and to rebuild their ancient Temple on its old site.” Indeed, he and his followers have been looking ever since − and, of late, finding.” Dr. Tomer Persico, “Why Do Many Christians Believe Jesus Will Return After the Jews Rebuild the Temple,” HAARETZ website, July 18, 2013

It is easy to see then, that according to these expectations, there is not likelihood of a sharing of this land that was promised. The immovable support provided by the Evangelicals here, is also unlikely to change. Perhaps a closer look at the book of Hebrews, chapter 11 and verses 8 through 13 would be useful.

Hebrews 11:8 - By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

Hebrews 11:9 - By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as [in] a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

Hebrews 11:10 - For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God.

Hebrews 11:11 - Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

Hebrews 11:12 - Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, [so many] as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

Hebrews 11:13 - These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.


Cameron A. Bowen

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