Iran, Iraq, and the Future in Bible Prophecy

The huge demonstrations protesting the election issues in Iran put that country on the front pages of every newspaper.

For nearly two weeks, demonstrations have raged.  Early on, some said that they didn’t know what would happen as to whether the protests would succeed in overthrowing the regime, but most recognized that the endgame was a foregone conclusion: the regime has the tanks, the guns, and the military.  It was only a question as to whether how far things might get before they used them.

As it stands, they won’t have to, as an AP article entitled “Intensified crackdown mutes protests in Iran” indicates.  While the demonstrations might well briefly flare up again (presidential candidate Mousavi has said he would appear at a demonstration on the 24th), there has never been any serious question that the theocratic regime would stand.

The serious question that remains is, stand as what?  Will it become a more open society, more willing to seriously interact with the Western world, or will it become more hostile and more determined to pursue a violent agenda in the coming months?

Based on the prophecies in the Bible, and based on my own belief that we are entering the last days, my view is that Iran will become more hostile and violent as it is increasingly isolated in the Western world.  Furthermore, my view is that it will engage in an increasingly close alliance/partnership with Russia and with other Islamic Arab and African states.

It is important to realize that the Iranian Constitution (Article Five) is inherently apocalyptic in nature.  The still-revered Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 proclaimed that the basis for Iran’s constitution and its government would be the authority of the Hidden (or Twelfth) Imam.  This apocalyptic figure has been called the ‘expected one,’ (al—Muntazar), the ‘promised one’ (al—Mahdi’), or the ‘hidden one,’ (al—Mustatir) in the Shi’a tradition.

The threats of impending destruction of Israel and even of war against the United States have been issued in the name of this Twelfth Imam who will (according to Iranian/Shi’a Islam) come in the last days.

According to the tradition, the Hidden Imam was taken into hiding by Allah and kept there until he reappears in the last days to purify the umma and take the world for Islam.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and many others in the Iranian leadership passionately hold to the coming of the Hidden Imam.  That in itself is not necessarily frightening: Shi’ite orthodoxy has it that humans are powerless to encourage the Twelfth Imam to return.  However, in Iran a group called the Hojjatieh believe that humans can stir up chaos and violence to encourage him – even force him – to return.  And Ahmadinejad is at least a former member, and quite likely a current member of this sect.  When Ahmadinejad became president, $17 million was spent on the Jamkaran mosque, which is central to the Hojjatieh movement.  And it is even more frightening when such a man sitting as President of Iran claims to have a direct link to God.

And Dr. Serge Trifkovic has said this regarding Ahmadinejad’s theology/eschatology:

Ahmadinejad, by contrast, shares with Trotsky an apocalyptic world outlook. He favors direct action in pursuit of a permanent Islamic revolution that will pave the way for the return of the Hidden Imam, pave it with blood, sweat and tears. Indeed he’d like to speed things up, as you point out, and implicitly he hopes to achieve this by twisting the arm of the Almighty – no less so than the cloners of red heifers and would-be re-builders of the Temple hope to do as a means of speeding up the Rupture. The fact that he is more sincere in his beliefs and more earnest in his endeavors than the kleptocrats of the House of Saud are in theirs, is alarming but unsurprising. He is a visionary; they are Machiavellian cynics.

A much-more detailed analysis that comes to much the same conclusion about Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic vision is available via FrontPage Magazine.

Mind you, re-building the Temple or cloning a red heifer are scarcely the source of inherently cataclysmic activities that many too many Shiite Muslims are pursuing.

So when one considers Iran, under such leadership, to be dedicated to the acquisition of nuclear weapons after stating that Israel should be “wiped out from the map” – and with the current Ayatollah Khamenei stating that Israel is a “cancerous tumor” on the verge of collapse – well, one should be very worried.  Wiping out Israel in a fiery blaze of atomic glory would indeed be a way to create the holocaust that would prompt the return of the long-awaited Hidden Imam (if anything ever could).

Clearly Jews understand this, as 1 in 4 would seriously consider leaving the country if Iran succeeds in acquiring nuclear weapons.  Given that such an event would literally mean the end of the state of Israel even if Iran didn’t nuke them, Israel has little choice but to attack Iran’s nuclear capability (since – clearly – no one else will).

Would Israelis hold back from a planned attack of Iran if they believed the United States would prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons?  Probably.  But the problem is, they clearly don’t believe that any more.  And they certainly no longer believe that America under Barack Hussein Obama is on their side.  When George Bush was president, fully 88% of Israeli Jews believed the president was “pro-Israel”; today under Obama, only 31% of Israeli Jews think so.

Such an event, of hated Israel swooping into an Islamic country to destroy their Russian-built nuclear facilities, would itself be a likely cataclysmic event.  Do you even dare to imagine how the Islamic world would react?  And realize that just such an event is very likely coming – and coming all-too soon.

Now Vice President Joe Biden predicted that Barack Obama would be “tested” by an “international crisis” that would test his mettle.  He went on to say:

I promise you, you all are gonna be sitting here a year from now going, ‘Oh my God, why are they there in the polls? Why is the polling so down? Why is this thing so tough?’ We’re gonna have to make some incredibly tough decisions in the first two years. So I’m asking you now, I’m asking you now, be prepared to stick with us. Remember the faith you had at this point because you’re going to have to reinforce us.”“There are gonna be a lot of you who want to go, ‘Whoa, wait a minute, yo, whoa, whoa, I don’t know about that decision’,” Biden continued. “Because if you think the decision is sound when they’re made, which I believe you will when they’re made, they’re not likely to be as popular as they are sound. Because if they’re popular, they’re probably not sound.”

Joe Biden quickly turned his discussion of this international crisis and Barack Obama’s seeming poor handling of said crisis to politics and the hopes of Democrats.  But Iran obtaining nuclear weapons won’t be about politics; it will be about Armageddon.

Frighteningly, Barack Obama’s very own VP has said that Barack Obama is most certainly not ready for what may very well prove to be the most terrifying crisis in human history:

“There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama’s lack of experience than Joe Biden,” McCain spokesman Ben Porritt said in a written statement, according to CNN. “Biden has denounced Barack Obama’s poor foreign policy judgment and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realizing — that Barack Obama is not ready to be president.”

Biden frequently raised questions about Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience during the primaries. “I think he can be ready, but right now, I don’t believe he is,” Biden said during one debate. “The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.”

North Korea looms large, and may loom far larger in the days soon-to-come.  But a nuclear Iran is an even more terrifying prospect.  You’ll see.

As I turn to Iraq – and then to how Iraq relates to Iran in the context of Bible prophecy – allow me to first discuss Joel Rosenberg.

A Wikipedia article on Joel Rosenberg probably provides the most concise summary (accessed June 23, 2009):

Rosenberg’s novels have attracted those interested in Bible Prophecy, due to several of his fictional elements of his books that would occur after his writing of books. Nine months before the September 11th attacks, Rosenberg wrote a novel with a kamikaze plane attack on an American city. Five months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he wrote a novel about war with Saddam Hussein, the death of Yasser Arafat eight months before it occurred, a story with Russia, Iran, and Libya forming a military alliance against Israel occurring the date of publishing,[7] the rebuilding of the city of Babylon,[12] Iran vowing to have Israel “wiped off the face of the map forever” five months before Iranian President Ahmadinejad said the same,[13] and the discovery of huge amounts of oil and natural gas in Israel (which happened in January 2009).[14] The U.S. News & World Report have referred to him as a “Modern Nostradamus,”[15] although Rosenberg tries to play down those proclamations, stating that “I am not a clairvoyant, a psychic, or a ‘Modern Nostradamus,’ as some have suggested.”[16] He gives the credit for his accurate predictions to studying Biblical prophecy and applying to the modern world.[16]

Why did Rosenberg predict that there would be a “kamikaze plane attack on an American city” by Islamic terrorists?  Because he accurately understood the evil at the heart of Islam.

Why did Rosenberg predict a war between Saddam Hussein and the United States resulting in the overthrow of Saddam and his brutal regime?  That’s where it gets interesting.

Joel Rosenberg had done a thorough study of the Book of Ezekiel and of the Bible (as a couple of overlapping articles summarize – Article 1; – Article 2).  He learned that one day, according to the Bible, a massive army under the leadership of Russia and many of its former republics (Magog) and Iran (Persia) and consisting of many countries that are today Islamic [e.g. “Cush” (modern-day Sudan and Ethiopia); “Put” (modern-day Libya); “Gomer” (modern-day Turkey); “Beth-togarmah” (modern-day Armenia); and many peoples “along the mountains of Israel” (modern-day Lebanon and possibly Syria)] would form an “exceedingly great army” that would one day attack Israel.

What Rosenberg noted was the absence of two countries: Egypt and Babylon (i.e. Iraq).  Egypt had been a perennial enemy of Israel until 1973, when Egypt alone in all the Arab/Muslim world forged a historic peace treaty with the state of Israel.  That left Iraq.  Rosenberg asked himself, “How could a nation like Iraq, under the leadership of someone like Saddam Hussein, NOT participate in this mega-colossal-last-days attack on Israel?

Rosenberg concluded that Saddam Hussein WOULDN’T refrain from such an attack.  And that meant that Saddam Hussein would have to go.

And so, NINE MONTHS before the 9/11 attack, Rosenberg in his “fiction” created a scenario in which terrorists flew a plane in a kamikaze attack, and the United States took out the Iraqi regime and replaced it with a stable Western-friendly government.

And because the Bible is the true Word of an all-knowing God who knows the end from the beginning as revealed through His prophets, the scenario laid out by Joel Rosenberg turned out to be eerily true.  It wasn’t a “lucky guess”; it was based upon the God who had revealed the last days to an inspired prophet named Ezekiel some 2,600 years ago.

Thus we have Iraq, its tyrant who had filled mass graves with the bodies of at least 400,000 of his own people, overthrown and a stable democracy growing in his place.  And we have Iran, a country strongly allied with Russia; a country bent on acquiring nuclear weapons; a country that has announced its intent on the destruction of Israel; a country under the leadership of men who in all likelihood believe in establishing a future by an act of violent apocalypse.  Two countries on two very different paths.  And both paths known to God 2,600 years ago.

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14 Responses to “Iran, Iraq, and the Future in Bible Prophecy”

  1. jstambaugh Says:

    The eschatological concepts of always being pro-Israel, and of sitting back and watching the world go to pot because you’re waiting for the “the rapture” are based on an erroneous 19th century interpretation of Scripture. We really need to rethink this whole thing.

  2. Michael Eden Says:

    Wow. You got absolutely nothing right.

    Let’s see: The eschatological concepts of always being ANTI-Israel should have went out with the Holocaust. I don’t have anything to apologize for in being “pro-Israel.” Rather, you do for NOT being “pro-Israel.”

    You might want to get a clue and realize that pre-millennialism is a) quite a bit older than the 19th century; and b) is quite a bit more attested by VERY recent scholarship than your ridiculous “19th century” garbage. Let me assure you that I have quite a few books in my own personal library about the rapture and the pre-millennialism that the rapture is part of, which date quite late into the 20th century and even into the 21st. Charles Darby is little more than a footnote in the presentation of this quite contemporary (as well as quite ancient) eschatology.

    Pre-millennialism is the dominant eschatology in the Protestant church today, in terms of number of Christians who embrace it.

    Let’s go to the fact that the word “rapture” (to seize or snatch) was translated from the Greek word “Harpazo” in 1 Thess 1:10 (which has the same meaning as the Latin “rapturo”) in his Latin Vulgate in 385. Just a LITTLE before the time you deceitfully claim, I’m afraid.

    Let’s go to the writings of men such as Ephaim the Syrian, who wrote about 373 in a book entitled, “Antichrist and the End of the World”:

    ”We ought to understand thoroughly, therefore my brothers, what is imminent or overhanging. Already there have been hungers and plagues, violent movement of nations and sins, which have been predicted by the Lord.

    Let us prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ so that He may draw us from the confusion which overwhelms the world. Believe you me, dearest brothers, because the coming of the Lord is nigh. Believe you me, because the end of the world is at hand. Believe me because it is the very last time. Because all Saints and the elect of the Lord are gathered together before the Tribulation which is about to come and are taken to the Lord in order that they may not see at any time the confusion that overwhelms the world because of our sins.”

    That’s just one particularly clear example from the Church Fathers. Papias – companion of Polycarp, the disciple of the apostle John – believed in the literal earthly pre-millennial doctrine. As did Papias, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Methodius, Commodianus, and Lactanitus, Apollinaris of Laodicea, Melito of Sardis, Jerome, Gennadius, Hippolytus of Rome, Nepos, Ambrose of Milan, as well as others. Pre-millenialism was in fact the dominant view of the church for the first few centuries. It is the oldest eschatological view.

    When you make the claim that those who are sitting back and watching the world go to pot because we’re waiting for the rapture, that is just a hateful lie. In point of fact, the denominations that are doing the most to send missionaries to all parts of the world to fulfill the Lord’s commission. Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt 24:14).

    I deleted your html link because, given the fact that you came here and made deceitful statements, I did not want anyone exposed to a whole blogsite full of deceit.

  3. jstambaugh Says:

    Thanks for your response, Michael.

    I am sorry if I came accross as “hateful.” That was certainly not my intent, and I will certainly try to tone any future response down.

    While I was certainly vague, it seems that you’ve jumped to a lot of conclusions, including about my intent. I don’t know that I have time to answer all your concerns about what I said at this moment, but if I may respectfully reply to a couple.

    I, like the historic Church, believe that Christ is coming to judge the living and the dead, this is not what I am trying to attack.

    Apart from historical objections that I have toward your eschatology (which I address in my post, and in the future I intend to address interpretive problems as well), I have three problems I’d like to just get out in the open (and in the process I address several of your concerns).

    1. I have a problem with is the idea that we can some how interpret the news headlines of today to fit in with Revelation, and Daniel. Apart from its general message of hope in times of persecution, Revelation is not talking about what is going on in the middle east of today. The author of that book uses veiled and apocolyptic language to talk about the events of his day.

    2. I have a problem with the present nation of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and with the unquestioning support which evangelicans have given them concerning it due to this eschatology. They are doing very, very unChristian things to Palestians (1000s of whom are our Christian brothers and sisters), and are in direct violation of 100s if not 1000s of covanental laws, which mean they are not in Yahweh’s blessing.

    My position does not constitute anti-semitism, nor does it deny the holocaust. Outrageously horrible genocide does not give one the right to perpetrate other sorts of crimes against humanity on others. I have a serious problem with the present state of Israel’s policy toward Palestinians, if this were anti-semite, then anyone who had a problem with France’s foreign policy would be guilty of hating the citizens of France, or if anyone had a problem with Obama-era American foreign policy they would be guilty of hating all the citizens of America.

    3. I have a problem with the general fear of the “other” that your type of eschatology many times engenders. In the 1970s with Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth, it was the Soviets that we encouraged to fear, these days it’s Muslims and illegal immigrants. This sort of fear is absolutely antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. The perfect love of Christ casts out all fear. We are not to fear our enemy, but embrace and love them as Christ did. No eschatology that is engenders fear and hatred can be of God.

    Again, I am sorry, if my tone sounded hateful to you, I am certainly not trying to attack you personally. My aim is to engage in real, and Christ-like dialogue about this issue with people who disagree with me. Think of it as iron sharpening iron. I would like to continue this conversation, and maybe get back to some of the more specific concerns that you have at a future date, if you are interested.

    May the blessings and peace of Christ be with you.

    James

  4. Michael Eden Says:

    And I, in turn, apologize for my misunderstanding, James. The LAST time I had a fellow (who shared your basic views) come in, it was fire and brimstone all the way.

    I don’t fully understand why those who disagree with the Rapture (or pre-millennial, or or dispensational, or however you want to call it) feel the need to so aggressively attack us. Perhaps you could explain that. Maybe we’re doing it to you, but I don’t see that; for the most part, I just see it happening one way.

    I never tried to suggest that you denied the Holocaust, btw. I know people do, but they have to SAY they do before I’m willing to think someone believes anything that stupid.

    I’ll number my points like yours so we can easier communicate.

    1. There are a couple of “newspaper headline prophets” who do what you say. And a lot of dedicated pre-millenial dispensational scholars who do NOT. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right to judge all Christians who believe in the Rapture with the TV people you don’t like. Grant Jeffrey, for one, a “TV guy,” isn’t one who feels the need to match newspaper headlines with prophecy. And many serious scholars of dispensationalism (such as Dr. Robert Saucy) would never DREAM.

    I remember going to a Greg Laurie event, and a hyper-Calvinist was yelling that we were all going to hell because we were trying to evangelize the lost rather than trusting God’s sovereignty. Perhaps I should assume all Calvinist are just like that.

    2. I guess my thing, first of all, politically, is why you would view Israel as guilty in contrast with the Palestinians, Syrians, Hamas, and Hezbollah. When they send 8,000 rockets into your country out of the blue, how do think you should respond? When just the other day a ship loaded with hundreds of tons of weapons intended to go into the hands of terrorists who want to murder you, how do you think you should respond? When you’re the only democracy in the heart of totalitarian and terrorist regimes, should you hang around waiting for your children to be exterminated? Particularly when they have repeatedly attempted, and repeatedly vowed, to drive you into the sea?

    From the moment that Yassar Arafat blew up schools and busses attended by Jewish children, to when we saw the footage of the Palestinians dancing in the streets when the WTC buildings collapsed, to this very day, you need to realize the mindset of Islam.

    I do not think you are judging the Jews fairly at all. Not in the least. They have been the subject of vicious attacks since 1948. I suggest “O, Jerusalem” for anyone who wants to learn the history. Right out of the death camps into their next hell when they tried to live in their land (and mind you, the land God promised them forever). And then they continued to live under constant stress of attack – either by armies that surrounded them or by terrorists out to murder their children.

    3. I don’t know about this “other” thing. I was in the US Army during the Reagan years. And believe me, it wasn’t because everybody was a bunch of dispensationalists that we “feared” the “other” in the USSR. We had very real reasons, indeed.

    If you were Daniel Pearl, you would probably also understand why it kind of makes sense to fear the terrorists. Maybe you could wander around, get captured, and get your head sawed off while you squealed like a pig, and gain some useful insights??? I’m just saying.

    This idea that “Hal Lindsey” did all that is just … wacked out.

    One of the books in my library is, “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion.” It presents the real fact that it is the Muslims who are most deeply studying their Qu’rans who come to the conclusion of terrorism. And the fear that we rightly fear, is that the more “religious” Muslims get, the more terrorists we get.

    Christians spent the first century of their faith dying by the hundreds of thousands as martyrs. On the other hand, the first century of Islam was marked by war after war, launched by Mohammed and his followers. They poured across Arabia into Africa and then into Europe. One hundred years after the death of Mohammed, Muslims had fought their way, killing and conquering all the way across Europe. They were finally stopped at Tours/Poitiers, France, in 732 by Charles Martel (look at a globe to see they went all the way across Europe!).

    The literal/historical example of Islam is violence. Submission that comes by the scimitar. And I’m not a student of Hal Lindsey to come to that conclusion; I’m a student of history.

    I can also say that I’ve read a couple of Hal Lindsey’s books, and watched him on TV a few times. I don’t remember him saying, “You should be afraid. Fear these people. They are stronger and more powerful than we are. Their God is greater than our God. Please be afraid and tremble with fear around them.” Seriously, I doubt very much I “fear” the terrorists any more than you do. And I doubt very much that I “love” them any less than you do.

    As an example, if I saw an innocent Muslim being attacked, I would jump in and try to help. I’d be willing to take a beating to stand with that person. I can say that as someone who has actually TAKEN a beating trying to help someone being attacked by a group before.

    I would argue that Jesus says, “Love your ENEMIES.” He doesn’t say, “Nobody is your enemy.” We’re not told to wander around like the most ignorant and stupid and naive fools who blithely assume that everyone is our friend. We get to keep our eyes open. We get to understand that we actually HAVE enemies. And you may not realize it, but these terrorists have vowed to murder you.

    Just like that Dr. Nidal Malik Hassan murdered a dozen unarmed soldiers and wounded another thirty. I told my friends at work today: “Watch. The killer is going to turn out to be a Muslim. And we’re going to be assured that it had nothing to do with terrorism.” Now, criticize me all you want for my attitude, but I was right (two for two, in fact), and you were wrong.

    That isn’t “fearing the other.” That was realistically understanding the true nature of our enemy.

    In other words, I reject your “other” claim. I think it’s just another straw man. Like the one you gave about the 19th century.

    I wonder if you are a pacifist. Maybe you think I was sinful for joining the Army and taking part in the Grenada invasion in 1983. Maybe you think our soldiers serving and fighting today are evil. Maybe you think the soldiers who fought Hitler during WWII were evil. I’m not accusing you; I’m just wondering. Jesus would never have killed his enemies. Of course, Jesus would also never have put people in prison, either. He FREED the captives. So we should let the murderers, the rapists, and the gang bangers free? I mean, let’s not FEAR them or anything, but love them.

    I’m not trying to mock you; I’m just trying to get at just where you draw the line. Would you stand by praying for your enemies while they gang-raped your wife, or would you FIGHT them? I would do the latter, and in fact would regard the former as genuinely depraved.

    Your last words are gracious. And I’m glad that you want to argue in the spirit of graciousness. It is how brothers in Christ SHOULD argue.

    I can tell you that right now, my project is somewhat different right now. After the health care battle is over (and I actually DO fear that these people are going to pass something that ends up killing my parents when they start rationing care) I hope to move away from politics and into theology.

    I want to point out again: I DO disagree with you. I think you’re wrong in rejecting the Rapture as a literal event that will take place. But I also am willing to let you BE wrong, rather than getting overly worked up about your error. I think the Catholics are wrong about a BUNCH of stuff (and for all I know you’re Catholic), but I am willing to embrace them as fellow Christians.

    The things that matter most – the fact that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, come as prophesied to live a perfect life, model who God the Father is, and then die sacrificially in our place for the forgiveness of our sins – is the important stuff.

    Frankly, we’ll ultimately find out whether believing the Rapture is right or not.

    What I’m saying, James, is that I’ll be willing to argue/debate you to a point, but I only have limited time to do this blogging stuff, and I want to keep writing articles.

    In any event, allow me to return your greeting: may the blessings and peace of Christ be with you, also.

    Michael

  5. jstambaugh Says:

    Michael,

    Most people of my eschatological bent are overly zealous and angry against people of your eschatologicla bent, at least partly because they overgeneralize and stereotype. There are total wackos out there. There are people who have brainwashed their kids, poeple who are at this very moment tucked away in their panic rooms surrounded by firearms and canned goods and waiting out the rise of the Anti-Christ, etc., etc. But as you pointed out, not everyone who holds to pre-millenial rapture dispensationalism is a wacko, so what we have is a case of unjust generalization…much like your assessment of Islam. You need to get to know some Muslims. Like getting to know you makes it very difficult for me to dislike you, so too getting to know some Muslims helps one realize that despite the number of wackos running around with weapons, many and I would venture to say the majority of Muslims are kind, hospitible and peaceful human beings.

    I, of course, am severely disappointed in Palestinian violence, but Israel is clearly the party with the advantage. Cutting off people’s access to clean water is not a defensive move on Israel’s part. The people I support in this situation are the thousands of Israelis and Palestinians who are atttempting to change the situation using creative non-violence. I could go on about these people, but…time.

    About the broader political/social issues:

    I am one who believes that Christ calls his disciples to a life of non-violence. I would shy away from the term pacifist only because I do not think that means being passive.

    Coming to the fear thing, your stock example of the gang rape is absolutely designed (not by you, of course, this one’s the oldest trick in the “just war” book) to a) instill fear in me that by taking the Sermon on the Mount seriously I will thereby endanger my family, and b) to show that the non-violent position is ludicrous, and in fact, immoral. John Howard Yoder runs through this scenerio in one of his books, looking at all the possible outcomes and looking at the positive and negative value of each. Below is a link to a blog post if you’re interested, if not, just know that I think your scenerio is unfair and that your suggestion that the only non-violent thing that could be done in that situation is stand by and pray is, unrealistic and therefore ridiculous.

    http://theophiliacs.com/2009/09/01/three-notes-on-non-violence/

    I am sorry but as a child traumatized by watching Hal Lindsey’s show on TBN, I cannot agree with you that he doesn’t use fear as his primary tactic. I know we’re in to brevity so I won’t go into all the details of my own Lindsey experience, but believe me when I say that it was extremely traumatic for me (granted my childhood on a whole was a very good one with very little other trauma).

    So when it boils down to it, I disagree that the use of violence toward people who you fear, whether that fear is justified or not, does any ultimate good. We have not solved the problem of terrorism by launching a multi-theater war, we have proliferated and strengthened terrorism. Whatsoever you sow, that shall you also reap. Sow violence, reap violence.

    Coming back to the rapture: First of all, my 19th century argument is not a straw-man, did you read my post? Your Ephriam of Syria quote is a straw-man. 1. Scholars can prove fairly definitively that it was not written by Ephriam of Syria, 2. And can you or anyone produce a Greek mss. of that passage, or even the provenance of that particular translation. I’m sure as a student of theology you know how malleable Greek can be in the hands of those who wish to use it for their aims.

    Enough of that: I believe that Jesus will come back to earth to establish a reign of peace and justice. I believe that he will fulfull the prophesies of the OT, I believe we’ll all beat our weapons into farm equipment, I believe that lions will lie down with lambs, and little kids will be able to play with vipers without fear. In short, I believe that on the last day Christ will restore all Creation (Rom. 8), and reconcile all things to Him. God’s Will will finally be done on earth as it is in heaven, and heaven and earth will be the same thing–the new Earth and the New Jerusalem spoken of as the Church’s final hope at the end of Revelation.

    I believe that Christ, through the establishment of the Church, has already started this transformation in the world, and has already established His Kingdom here on earth. And I believe it is the mission of the Church to live in the Kingdom now, to be pictures of a different world, and a different way of doing things. I believe our primary purpose is to fight (non-violently of course and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit) for peace and justice and unity aka The Kingdom of God, now, knowing that one day Christ will return and finally set everything straight, and finish the work of Kingdom.

    What’s really the coolest thing in the world, is that we, as brothers in Christ, can and are enjoying a certain amount of unity despite our vast doctrinal, political and social differences. That realization as it is being lived out in our brief correspondence is more amazing to me, and more important to me than winning a debate.

    Peace of Christ,

    James

  6. Michael Eden Says:

    It’s kind of funny, James, because you say, “Most people of my eschatological bent are overly zealous and angry against people of your eschatologicla bent, at least partly because they overgeneralize and stereotype.” In other words, even as you say “not everyone who holds to pre-millenial rapture dispensationalism is a wacko, so what we have is a case of unjust generalization,” you are continuing to generalize.

    That is frankly why I am quite disinterested in arguing with you. Because that’s what I keep getting.

    And when you say, “I am sorry but as a child traumatized by watching Hal Lindsey’s show on TBN, I cannot agree with you that he doesn’t use fear as his primary tactic.” And that pretty much indicates that I’ve got someone emotionally scarred as a child instead of someone objectively considering the evidence. I for one read Lindsey’s “There’s a New World Coming” as a child, and I was thrilled by the wonder that awaited Christians.

    For what it’s worth, my best fried years back was an Iranian guy named Bijan. He was actually one of the best friends I’ve EVER had. And amazingly, we became friends shortly after I got out of the Army, during a time when the US Army was transitioning away from the Soviet-dominated Cold War mentality toward recognizing the threat of militant Islam.

    Now, what you are saying about Ephraim of Syria flies in the face of most scholars. And most scholars argue that in fact pre-millenialism was the dominant view of the church for the first few centuries. It is the oldest eschatological view that is also claimed by Church fathers such as Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and many others.

    Your description confirms you as a postmillennialist. It used to hold premillennialism’s place as the most widely held view by the church – until World War I and then World War II pretty much put the kibosh on it having any kind of veracity. OK. The Church is perfecting the world, making it better and better until finally Christ is able to show up and claim the world. Pardon me, but yeah, right. I sure do see THAT happening.

    The reason premillennialism eclipsed postmillennialism, and the reason postmillennialism went down the drain, is because Christians opened their eyes and saw that their eschatology wasn’t matching reality. And they saw that their interpretation was completely wrong.

    Premillennialism in a paragraph: Christ told his Church that a time of Great Tribulation was coming, a time when the whole world would follow a blasphemous leader who would be the Antichrist. He would emerge during a time of great economic upheaval, during a time of famine and wars (Rev 4). And appear to have all the answers. People would begin to worship him as God; he would DECLARE himself to be god – and he would literally be personally indwelt by Satan. God would begin to issue judgments against the world – just as He did during the Exodus, only much broader in scope and much greater. Human society would rebel against God, and ultimately even rebel against Antichrist in a last days series of incredible wars. And then – on the verge of the human race destroying itself – Christ would come just in the nick of time and put an end to the madness as the King of kings and the Lord of Lords.

    Now you go ahead and explain how your viewpoint is happening and mine is not.

    Regarding Israel, I recognize the Jews aren’t absolutely perfect. But who is? As far as your argument that they have the superiority, let me assure you that they sure didn’t have it when they were outnumbered 20-1, and their enemies had armored brigades rolling in in 1948. That was when the Arabs vowed to complete Hitler’s genocide and drive all the Jews into the Red Sea. And they have been FAR more moral in their superiority to their adversaries than the Arabs were to the Jews in their superiority. And they are far the better in this fight than their enemies to this very day. The terrorists murdering women and children, whom they have deliberately targeted, proves that. The rockets they have used to the tens of thousands now, that they launch with no regard for who gets murdered, proves that. Israel is in an impossible position, surrounded by the most vicious and bloodthirsty people on earth who want only to murder them all.

    I would submit to you that the reason the Jews have so flourished in Israel and now have superiority over their enemies is because God – who brought the dead bones back together (Eze 37) – has blessed them. The land that is now fruitful and prosperous again was barren until the Jews returned to it.

    And, for what it’s worth, in these last days, as our dollar devalues, as our economy appears increasingly likely to implode, I am NOT afraid. Because I see God’s hand – the hand that let me know in advance it was happening – in it. And I know that God ultimately wins.

    So I hear you telling me that I’m frightened, and that all the people at my church are frightened, and I know that you don’t have the faintest clue what you are talking about. You have no idea whatsoever what it’s like to believe as I do, or what motivates people who believe as I do. Such descriptions as “fear” amount to nothing more than the most base insult and personal attack. And why should I want to argue with someone who makes that his project?

    As for the Sermon on the Mount, and total non-violence, I simply disagree with you. Jesus also said He also brought a sword (Matt 10:34); and if you spiritualize the sword in Matthew 10, I can just as easily spiritualize its lack in the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus told us how to live out Kingdom values (but note: we’re not quite there yet). The fact is, Jesus told us that division would follow His coming, not peace and harmony. Further, when I read the Sermon on the Mount, I don’t see the part where Jesus says, “And if armies attack your people, lay down your arms and surrender. And if your wife is beset upon by gang rapists, stand by idly and pray for them.” God is just as well as loving, and such would be neither just OR loving. And Paul is very clear in his teaching that the sword – violence – will continue to have a very real and God-sanctioned role in Romans 13 in his discussion of governments in order to maintain justice and protect the people. And since I’m not going out killing anyone these days, it is the role of our government that we’re frankly talking about.

    And there’s the whole issue of the Old Testament: are you going to tell me that we’ve got two different Gods, one that authorizes violence in certain circumstances, and one who utterly forbids it in all circumstances? I mean, Phinehas stopped a divinely caused plague by killing a particularly sinful pair with a spear (Numbers 25:&). Did the nice God beat up the mean God and send Him packing? (But wouldn’t THAT be violence?). But that doesn’t work either, because in Revelation 19:15 it is now our nice God HIMSELF bearing a sword – with His armies following with Him.

    Let me put it thusly: I agree with the Scriptures, which tell me that to everything there is a season (Ecclesiastes 3:1). And that if and when I am forced to use violence to prevent a greater evil, I should use it in a manner consistent with the Scriptures. That’s pretty much the point that Augustine was getting at, when he formulated his “Just War” concept that continues to inform virtually the entire Christian Church today.

    Again, James, you are arguing from a very extreme fringe. And I submit that there are times when NOT using violence when such is called for are as evil as when others use violence inappropriately.

    Violence isn’t “evil” in and of Himself. Or else God is evil. Because God a) uses violence Himself; and b) commanded His people to use violence.

    Now, your last paragraph is something I can truly get behind, James. Because if you have confessed your sin, and your need for salvation, and confessed the Awesome Christ as your Savior and your Lord, then we in fact have MUCH to unite around. We’re brothers. And that’s the kind of unity that Paul talked about in Ephesians: not a unity where we agree on everything, but rather a unity through the Holy Spirit in which we have the essentials in common, and we have unity where it most counts.

    One of the ways we can enjoy the true unity we have in Christ is to agree to disagree on the NON-ESSENTIAL issues that divide us, and focus on the ESSENTIAL essence of Jesus Christ and the faith that He causes to save and transform us.

  7. jstambaugh Says:

    Michael,

    Maybe we have a different definition of generalizing, but when I use qualifying words like most, some, many; that by very definition minimizes generalization.

    Anyway,
    About the Church Fathers all being pre-millenial.

    1) Scholarship is not on your side. I don’t know which scholars I am flying in the face of, or where they teach, or where they got their degrees in Church History, or which peer-reviewed journals and publishing houses published them. But, I do know that Dr. N.T. Wright of Oxford and Cambridge, Dr. Stanley Hauwerwas of Duke University, Dr. Sandeen of the Univ. of Chicago, and on and on all disagree with your scholars.

    2) Even the act of saying that anyone before the 19th century was pre-millenial or post-millenial is an anacronism; it is forcing a modern classification on people who lived and wrote in a time when that classification didn’t exist. The Church Fathers were not thinking in terms of post-millenial and pre-millenial.

    3) It is absolutely true and we agree that the Fathers up until the time of Constantine were expectently waiting for the return of Christ. It is also true that many of them spoke of the Great Tribulation, but ALL of them thought of this event as signifying the persecutions that they were enduring under various emperors of the Roman Empire. The first people to be described as anti-christs were Roman emperors, like the emperor Nero and Caligula which play into Revelation, or what about the Emperor Titus, who in AD 70 stood in the Temple in Jerusalem and declared himself god (does that ring a bell)? So when anti-christs = roman emperors, and tribulations = persecutions of the early church, what remains or pre-millenial dispensationalism?

    4) We also seem to agree on the role of the Church Fathers in informing our theology. I am glad, more evangelicals need to start reading the Fathers and see how evangelical theology can be informed by Tradition. Take the real Ephriam of Syria’s stance concerning asking the saints to pray for you… :)

    As to your comments about non-violence, we are very far from each other in terms of hermeneutical method, and you do not seem to have the desire to read and consider my arguments (including those on my blog) and insist rather on continuing to talk about people gang raping my wife, and how Israel is fully justified in persecuting thousands of Palestinian Christians (not to mention Palestinian muslims) because they are surrounded by Arabs who are upset at them for persecuting thousands of Palestinians. The fact is I do not expect Muslims or Jews to stop the ever worsening cycle of violence. That would our job as Christians.

    Peace of Christ

    James

  8. Michael Eden Says:

    James,
    I believe if someone goes back- particularly to your first comment – they will see a whopping load of generalizing. And then even when you try to tell me that your NOT generalizing, you proceed to issue a rather sweeping generalization. Maybe I can smarmily say, “Most postmillennialists are drooling idiots,” and then assure you I didn’t generalize because – after all – I used the word “most” rather than “all.” Perhaps that works with you. It doesn’t with me.

    I believe that this is now the third time I’ve told you I don’t want to keep arguing with you about this issue. It’s a worthy issue for debate, but it is simply not my project. There are plenty of articles online; and plenty of people who WANT to argue about this stuff.

    I’ve got scholars like Charles Lee Feinberg, Darrell Bock, Robert Saucy, Robert Lightner, Craig Blaising, Charles Walvoord, Roy Zuck, Charles Ryrie, Robert Thomas, Grant Osborne, Jeffrey Khoo, J. Dwight Pentecost, Norman Geisler, Alan Gomes, and, if I might add, Billy Graham, who disagree with your scholars. And I note that you did a very good job picking anti-premillennialists. And I did just as good of a job picking pro-premillennialists.

    The early church overwhelmingly held a view called “chiliasm” (which is the Greek word for “Millennium”), a view which directly embraced a literal seven year period known as the Great Tribulation, followed by the return of Christ to rule and reign for a millennium. Robert P. Lightner writes, “It is generally agreed by students of the early church that premillennialism was the view held by many in the post-apostolic age. That it is the oldest of the three millennial views is seldom debated….”

    Papias, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Methodius, Commodianus, and Lactanitus, Apollinaris of Laodicea, Melito of Sardis, Jerome, Gennadius, Hippolytus of Rome, Nepos, and Ambrose of Milan were all premillennial.

    Interestingly, the earliest guy whom we find disagreeing with chiliasm is Marcion, the heretic.

    Now, what that means is that even if Ephraim the Syrian DIDN’T write the “Antichrist and the End of the World” which has been widely attributed to him, there is still such an abundance of evidence that the early church believed basically as I do that it really doesn’t matter WHO wrote the 4th century book. It is still certainly enough to demonstrate that you were flatly and flagrantly wrong when you stated that my view didn’t begin until the 19th century.

    Furthermore, I feel I have better things to do than argue over whether N.T. Wright believed that Ephraim the Syrian or someone else wrote that book. And I heartily recommend you go somewhere and have that argument with someone who wants to have that argument.

    Your statement 2) is rather absurd, in that it insists on rhetoric over reality. The early church held to the view of “chiliasm,” which meant “millennium.” The early church fathers read the word “millennium” in their Latin Bibles and took it literally. Why wouldn’t they? The Columbia Dictionary says, “Belief in the millennium is called chiliasm by historians of the ancient church.” In other words, in the narrow sense that they weren’t calling themselves “pre-” or “postmillennialists” is correct; but only because they ALL basically believed in what we today understand as premillennialism. It wasn’t until the third century that we began to get any meaningful challenge to the chiliastic/premillennial viewpoint.

    As for your 3) It is interesting how emphatic you are in stating what you cannot possibly even begin to document. We’ve got what we’ve got in the Bible – which most Christians today interpret very different from you – but show me the apostolic age Christian who was declaring that all of John’s Great Tribulation was occurring during the time of Nero (i.e. preterism). Neither ONE of us has ANYTHING that survives from that period, and you should KNOW that. Scholars who try to make any other claim are offering their speculation, not presenting the evidence. By the time we get into the first century, however, and actually have writings, pretty much everything we DO have from the pre-Nicene Church fathers until the mid-third century agrees with me. When we start getting into Origen and then Augustine, my view fades and your view takes over.

    I believe that there was probably some such element in the early Church. And Peter – who lived under Nero and was executed by him – dealt with it in 2 Peter 3:1-9. Clearly HE didn’t think the prophecies of Revelation and the Lord’s coming was happening as he spoke. And he argues to be patient regarding the Lord’s coming just as the Lord Himself is patient. It’s the same argument I’d give to a scoffer today.

    And now your view has faded and my view has taken over once again.

    Your right. We DO have a very different hermeneutic. That should have been obvious from the start. And that is why I don’t want to get into a long argument. We’re not arguing over the facts as much as we are arguing over our interpretation of the facts. It becomes a virtually impossible argument to win.

    You say that I “insist rather on continuing to talk about people gang raping my wife.” And to the extent that I do so, it’s because you have never tried to argue how or why that would be the right thing to let the gang do. Certainly the fact that you think that I’m a sinner for fighting to prevent my wife’s violation, whereas you think that you are a saint for standing placidly by waiting for the gang to finish violating her, is rather massive evidence of a very wide divide, indeed.

    I’ll ignore the incredible straw man you built suggesting that my argument is that “Israel is fully justified in persecuting thousands of Palestinians.” Just as I’ll ignore the fact that you didn’t even begin to contemplate what Romans 13 says about God giving governments the sword in Romans 13 rather than demanding that any Christian government of the future completely disarm itself so every Hitler and Stalin and Mao can eradicate us.

    Now please, James, I beseech you, if you are indeed a brother in Christ, please cease in repeatedly bringing up that which clearly divides us.

    As you accurately pointed out, we have very different hermeneutics. I have a literal/historical interpretation of Scripture, and you have an allegorical/symbolical interpretation. The bottom line is this: only time will ultimately tell.

    This is my blog. I’ve got mine, you’ve got yours. Please feel free to say whatever you want on your blog. And please feel free to argue with anyone who wants to argue with you to your heart’s content. You have your axes to grind, and I have mine. But please don’t keep coming back over and over again in an attempt to force me to grind your axes.

  9. jstambaugh Says:

    Michael,

    I really wasn’t trying to be rude by arguing with you, I just assumed that since you were arguing, I could argue back. But, it’s your blog, I’ll let you have the last (argumentative) word. Thank you for spending time talking to me. Believe it or not it was useful and edifying for me. Good bye and God bless.

    Peace of Christ,

    James

    P.S. About your views concerning Israel…just kidding.

  10. Michael Eden Says:

    James, I had already regretted my choice of words that I came back and edited out the “rude” part even as you were posting. And I apologize for it (i.e. if I didn’t regret it I wouldn’t have taken it out).

    I’m more than willing to continue to ‘talk’ to you. Particularly over all the other things that we hold in common. But I’m not willing to continue a lengthy argument that will almost certainly have no resolution.

    There always comes a point where two people should simply agree to disagree.

    I am trying to write an article every day. When I get into a detailed argument like this, and have to spend 1-2 hours researching just to respond to a comment – and then several comments – I can’t write my articles. I literally lose my own time and agenda to someone else’s.

  11. jstambaugh Says:

    Michael, I of course accept your apology, and I understand where you’re coming from completely–you are right to not allow me to monopolize your time.

  12. Michael Eden Says:

    I’m glad you understand, Jason.

    You do strike me as a man with a heart for God. And I would submit that it is more important to have a heart for God than perfect doctrine (on the non-essentials).

    After writing my last longer comment, I realized that I was not angry at you, but at the time it was taking me to respond to your comments. And that I had taken it out on you. As I said, sorry about that.

    I actually WANT to get more involved with religion and theology, but if you just start selecting articles at random, you’ll see that my focus has been politics.

    Mind you, even if I were to focus more on religion, there’s STILL only so far I’m willing to have a discussion/argument before I say, “Maybe we should agree to disagree.”

  13. annalisa Says:

    I accidentally stumbled upon your website while looking up a term on Wikipedia. I read your article entitled, Iraq, Iran and Future In Bible Prophecy. I enjoyed it VERY much. It is good to see someone not only speaking up for Isreal, but understands HOW her enemies are gathering against her. I did however get a frightful headache reading the following blogs/argument(S) between justambaugh and yourself between NOV.5th and 6th (2009). Not because of what you said but because of what the other guy actually believed. I was actually getting dizzy with what was being said, and how many times you had to repeat yourself. He was NOT understanding you and I kept expecting you to not respond to him after so many explanations of your position. I was really hoping that SOMEONE was actually going to remind people (like him) that have been deceived and brainwashed into believing that if we are truly Christians then we’re just supposed to have this wonderfuzzy feeling of “love” for everybody, and not HATE the things that God hates, esp. those who persecute God’s elect. I was glad that you tried. How can anyone who reads the bible not notice what God is going to do to anyone who mistreats the Jewish people; “the apple of his eye”? “I will bless those who bless you and CURSE THOSE WHO CURSE YOU”. I was especially grateful that you reminded him that the same Jesus who told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, is the same Jesus who was doing ALL the talking in the old testament, including when the Isrealites were commanded to kill their enemies, every man, woman and child; even the animals were to be killed. Someone got in trouble with that one when he thought the better of it, and did not do as he was told, and he himself ended up being beheaded. Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever should BELIEVE on Him…
    Yet that same Son who said “He who has seen me has seen the Father”, said He will pursue his enemies into hell! That’s extremely strong but correct if you have read the old and new testament, and put more stock into there being One God instead of three, with the middle one saying that we should just love, love, love, and instead putting MORE faith in what man’s opinion is OF the Word, than by way of so many comentaries on what the Word is actually saying, written by men. It seems to me that this has become an essential arrow in the liberal arsenal these days. Any time someone takes an accurate stand for Jesus in being harsh with evil doers, (not even comparable with what Jesus will do to them) we hear “arn’t you supposed to love your enemies?” and the like. You must consider the source-it is spiritual in nature, and not of the Holy Spirit. I would love to scroll through the above talking points from him, but it would be an exhaustion that I cannot bear to go through again except when you finally got around to explaining that when God commands killing, it is about Holiness/ridding the world of evil/ Phinehas spearing those two. You explained that God himself brings a sword in Rev 19:15 but that IS symbolic-God doesn’t need a litteral sword to kill all those who will not obey; it is as John describes it in another part of the book of Revelation (I can’t look it up right now; it’s 1:30 A.M.) but John says the sword in his mouth IS the WORD OF GOD. If I’m not mistaken, and if I understood you I’m sure you know more than I do, I have not studies all those other books you mentioned, but I thought you were refering to when Jesus says “think not that I have come to bring peace, but a sword”.
    You cannot argue with someone like that who has been so biased in their thinking that even though they toned it down after their initial rude criticism of Jewish people and you they could not apologize for it outright. Why would he have decided to change his tone if he felt he had said nothing wrong. You however apologized, and I realize that was to keep the peace, but when you have done or said nothing wrong, why did you feel the need to apologize? Do not allow this world to guilt you into apologize when you haven’t done something wrong. All you did was say the truth. If someone gets offended… this is what Jesus meant (and more) when he said “think not that I have come to bring peace, but a sword”.
    I really enjoyed your article; I hope there will be more to read although I’m not sure where to find them. As I said, I accidentally stumbled upon you. You can e-mail me when and if you have time just to let me know where to find your articles.
    P.S. One last thought-I was so taken aback by that guy’s position toward toward Isreal and the people living in Palestine (there are NO peoples called Palestinians; that’s new, within our century sometime I believe. I was told this a long time ago by someone who actually knew and I don’t remember the facts. They are Arab people that much is certain but to say that they are palestinian implies that they are indiginous to Palestine and OWN that land. They do not. If I’m not mistaken, that land belongs to the Isreali’s as given to them by God. You would have to research the original boundaries as described in the old testament.
    Now I have forgotten my original thought and where I was heading with it… Now I remember-You both kept “blessing” each other. Do you remember the scripture, I can’t look it up now but I think it was Paul who warns us of not even allowing someone in our homes who does not bring the same gospel as we have received? We are similarly told not to bless or to “lay hands suddenly” on someone else. With that man’s attitude toward not only the Jewish people but their “palestinian neighbors” I have to wonder who is author and finisher of his faith? There is only one Holy Sprit who “will lead us and guide us into all truth” It was not about being wrong on the smaller issues that was a point of contention when reading your entire and lengthy chat with him; it was not about the large amount of books he had read; he also had read more than me. It was his lack of “Christianity”, not religiosity that had me bothered. If this man had come to my door and said those things, I would not have bid him good fellowship, my brother-there was something REALLY off there. I think you noticed it and were trying to educate this poor “brother”, and were desperately trying to hold on to your Christian love, but I think you noticed it too-otherwise you would not have kept repeating yourself about not wanting to argue over and over, and noticing that he was not directly answering your questions, even when you pressed him more than a few times. So don’t be so apologetic to everyone who calls himself “brother”. I understand that everone of us matures in the Lord at different times, but I CANNOT love or call someone “brother” who loves and feels sympathy for those who are trying to remove the apple of Gods’ eye from his very eyesocket.
    Sincerely,
    Annalisa

  14. Michael Eden Says:

    Annalisa,
    Enjoyed reading through your comment. And, yes, through the Holy Spirit, and through your desire to pour yourself into the Word of God, you “get it.”

    God is love. And everything God does is permeated with love. But God is holy, just, righteous, pure. He does not tolerate sin; and in fact He judges sin. If He did not judge sin, He would not only not be just, righteous, and pure; He would not even be loving. A universe without God judging sin would be a hell, not a heaven. Think of a gang of thugs going door-to-door, raping, torturing, and murdering, while the police department said, “We can’t deal with that; we’re a “loving” police department.

    So the God who loves is the God who judges sin. And ultimately He will judge all sin into the lake of fire. And that is why Christ – Himself God in every way – came to take our place and die such a terrible death for our sins. Sin and the consequences of sin is no game. People can laugh at us or condemn us all they want; but we’re here to warn them, and try to win them for Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.

    The Jews ARE the apple of God’s eye, as He said (Deut 32:10; Zech 2:8).

    God began a good work in Israel; He will finish that work. Before the coming Great Tribulation, Christ will rapture His Church. And from that moment, He will begin to restore Israel. He will call 144,000 witnesses from each of the 12 tribes, and they will evangelize the world for Jesus of Nazareth. And, ultimately, even in the horror of Armageddon, national Israel will “look on the One whom they pierced, and mourn Him as though for an only son” (Zech 12:10).

    There are people who call themselves Christians who get so angry at that biblical truth. It literally makes me want to cry.

    I often consciously try to take the tone of an adult dealing with an unruly child; I don’t want to just yell all the time, I want to try to affirm something positive in these people now and then.

    I believe that we are in the last days, Annalisa. And, tragically, some of the people we argue with will only begin to understand what we were saying after the Rapture, when they found out they were left behind.

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