The Pokey Finger of God

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Prophecy Lite

June 2nd, 2004 · No Comments · culture, media, metaphysics, ritual

Claiming to be “the Christian Voice in the Nation’s Capital,” the [Apostolic Congress] members vociferously oppose the idea of a Palestinian state. They fear an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza might enable just that, and they object on the grounds that all of Old Testament Israel belongs to the Jews. Until Israel is intact and Solomon’s temple rebuilt, they believe, Christ won’t come back to earth.

This from Rick Perlstein, reporter from the Village Voice, in his expose of the Apostolic Congress(also here). Bill Berkowitz also provides some commentary on this.

The thrust of the article is that Bush et al. are being influenced in their Middle East policy by a bunch of folks who don’t want peace there, not until the rapture, anyway. Being generally familiar with things Biblical, I was puzzled by the specificity of prophecy presented, and a bit dubious since no actual reference was provided. When I see claims like this, I like to pretend I’m from Missouri: Show me!

The “Good News for Israel” web site was brought to my attention, especially its Israel in Prophecy page, wherein I read from Israel: The Last Rogue State, By Christopher J. Patton:

Before the Lord returns two significant events must first occur: (1. the restoration of the nation of Israel in the land of promise (Luke 21:24-28) and (2. the emergence of the Antichrist (II Thess. 2:1-4). Israel has been back in its homeland since 1948 and has been in control of Jerusalem since 1967. The Antichrist is yet to appear but may soon do so in association with the European Union (the restored Roman Empire prophesied in Daniel 2:36-45).

Lucky me: I’ve got text versions of 12 different translations. I cite King James:

Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. 25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

Now this passage is swell with great themes, and no doubt has provided the seed for countless sermons, yet I fail to see where this says that the political state of Israel must exist before the second coming. There is what is tantamount to a demand by Jesus to study both astrology and meteorology in verses 25 and 26, and a pretty clear description of the state of Israel being ground out by invading armies in verse 24. Perhaps more context is needed to find this key prophecy. Reading the entirety of chapter 21, shows more clearly what Jesus was going on about in verses 24 to 28, but it’s even more obvious that the alleged prophecy is a no-show.

Immediately preceding this “key” element of verse is a fairly straight-forward “prophecy” of the siege of Jerusalem and the last stand on Masada. A few verses after this, he states that the events of his “prophecy” would occur within the lifetimes of those listening. However, Jack Kinsella of the Omega Letter says this:

Third, Jesus said these events are yet future. He pinpointed the time to just before His physical return. He told His disciples that when these things begin to come to pass, they were to look up, and lift up their heads, for their redemption would be drawing near. [Luke 21:28]

My reading of “these things… come to pass” are the events of the siege of Jerusalem and the last stand at Masada were to occur within the lifetimes of those listening to Jesus at the time. Not a thousand years later, and not in our time. I also don’t think the line “their redemption would be drawing near” means anything other than the death of the apostles, but that’s a topic for another day. I just don’t see any indication within the text of Luke 21 that would indicate that anything said by Jesus refers to a time any further distant than 50 years beyond the time when he spoke.

Jack Kinsella gives another set of references to Biblical prophecy propping up Zionism in his bombastic treatise Israel, Linchpin of Bible Prophecy, wherein he proclaims:

Prophecy Demands A Jewish State

Bible prophecy makes numerous references to the existence of a Jewish state called Israel in the last days [Ezekiel 37]. It also demands that Israel be in disputed possession of the city of Jerusalem [Zechariah 12].

And as fascinating as these chapters referenced are, they completely fail to indicate a time of a “second coming” or the return of a messiah after some future visit. They don’t indicate that the presence of an existing nation of Israel is required for the return of God’s grace. In fact, these sources are remarkably resonant in their insistence that Israel would be destroyed and its people laid to waste. Ezekiel tells of a future nation of Israel located in its usual place, but only at the whim of God and without any sort of predictable events to herald the transformation.

So I apparently have yet to find the source of the Biblical prophecy that the second coming was predicated on either the political boundaries of a modern state of Israel, or the construction of “Solomon’s Temple” on the temple mount in Jerusalem. If anyone else knows of such things or could provide a reference, it would be appreciated. Alternatively, if anyone can disprove that the statement at the top does not correctly describe the beliefs of the Apostolic Congress, or could provide the official line on this (with references, especially), this would also be appreciated.

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