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Is it the End of the World?

Is it the End of the World?

Holocaust Remembrance Day

posted by jfletcher

Jew-hatred is thousands of years old. It is a spiritual sickness that comes from another dimension. As an evangelical Christian, I’ve had many conversations with Jewish friends who wonder why the world hates them. I believe this spiritual dimension is an overlooked reason — overlooked by many, non-Jews included.

It is almost unfathomable that 70 years ago, the Nazis murdered a third of the world’s Jews. A third!

I find that while Jews struggle with the question of Why?, my fellow Christians have a woeful lack of understanding of not only the Holocaust, but the broader history of Christians and Jews. In short, the Jewish community has suffered greatly at the hands of “Christians” and “Christian nations.” The Nazi leadership found itself in Catholic and Lutheran churches most weekends. Extermination camp victims who were used as slave labor in bombed German cities were exposed to vicious anti-Semitism at the hands of self-identifying Christians.

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Railroad car used to transport Jews during World War 2, now on display at Yad Vashem.

Railroad car used to transport Jews during World War 2, now on display at Yad Vashem.

There is a great need for Christians to understand the Jewish experience over millennia, but especially the tragic relationship with the Church for at least 1,500 years.

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I’ve visited the Holocaust museums in Washington and Jerusalem. Most of it is gruesome, but especially when one sees images of the murdered 1.5 million Jewish children. The fiends who sent them to their deaths were enabled by too many.

I personally believe the Jews are a noble people. They are a great people. As I age, I have mostly shed grudges I nurtured as a young man, but in watching my Jewish friends still hated by much of the international community (the UN’s Ban Ki-moon said this week that terrorism is justified under the “occupation.” What a repulsive individual), I am certain of one thing: taking the long view is important.

Much of the world might not believe God exists, but I know He does.

And where the mistreatment of Jews is concerned, a reckoning is coming.

Soon.

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Where are the Temple treasures?

posted by jfletcher

For this is what the Lord Almighty says about the pillars, the bronze Sea, the movable stands and the other articles that are left in this city, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon did not take away when he carried Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, along with all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem— yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says about the things that are left in the house of the Lord and in the palace of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem: ‘They will be taken to Babylon and there they will remain until the day I come for them,’ declares the Lord. ‘Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.’ (Jeremiah 27:19-22)

No one knows exactly what happened to the Temple treasures in Jerusalem, after the Babylonian siege in the sixth century B.C. The famed Ark of the covenant seems to have “disappeared” from history at that point.

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Jerusalem's golden menorah

Jerusalem’s golden menorah

Later, it would seem that the 10th Roman Legion carried away Temple treasures after their siege of the Holy City, in A.D. 70. In fact, a relief in Rome today bears an image of legionnaires carrying aloft the menorah, the multi-branched candlestick. Today, in the Old City of Jerusalem, a solid gold replica, under glass, overlooks the Temple Mount, and those who wish to rebuild the Temple intend to use this menorah there.

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It is interesting that in the book of Jeremiah, the Lord talks about the “articles of the Lord’s house” carried away by Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar. In chapter 28, just as He’d promised, God sees them returned. We are not told specifically which articles and vessels, but we can assume from the passage that these refer to items used in the Temple.

In our world today, Bible prophecy enthusiasts spend a lot of time wondering where the Ark of the covenant is. Some say it is underneath the Temple Mount, in some underground cavern.

Certain Temple Mount groups today have been busy restoring the vessels needed for Temple worship, right down to the priest’s garments. Others, of course, see such a view as starting World War III, offending Muslims worldwide.

Whatever one’s view, it is profoundly interesting to see the menorah “biding its time” so near the Temple Mount.

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Evangelicals Against Bible Prophecy?

posted by jfletcher

In only the past five years, the pro Israel Christian community has seen a downturn of support among top leadership. The roots of that are much deeper/older, but the manifestation of a move toward other views (read: Palestinian Narrative) is relatively new.

A close parallel to that reality is the frosty attitude toward the teaching of Bible prophecy; specifically the movement known as Dispensationalism. This teaching would be typical of what is found in Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series, for example.

Dr. Russell Moore’s launch of a new podcast this week typifies this move away from prophecy teaching in American churches (I know most of the best-known prophecy teachers, and most will concede that speaking opportunities are not nearly as plentiful as they used to be).

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Moore is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and from that high-profile perch he pontificates often. His tweets voicing his displeasure with Republican front-runner Donald Trump are telling (and frankly kind of weird), and mirror past calls for church leaders to refrain from endorsing or opposing candidates. It seems that the new SBC leadership has no problem taking swipes at Republicans, but you will almost never hear them take issue with, for example, Barack Obama.

It’s a new day in American Evangelicalism.

“Signposts” is another venue for Moore to slowly introduce ideas that a generation or two ago would have been foreign to evangelical audiences. Moore’s views on immigration, politics, and even homosexuality are to the left of past leaders, including his predecessor, Dr. Richard Land. Moore once worked for a congressional Democrat, and his calls for a softer approach to the culture wars sets him apart from what traditional Southern Baptists have taught.

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Prophecy teacher Don Perkins (according2prophecy.org) visits with conference participants in Tulsa.

Prophecy teacher Don Perkins (according2prophecy.org) visits with conference participants in Tulsa.

On the pilot podcast, Moore spent most of his time taking a swipe at classic Bible prophecy teaching.

Now, have some prophecy teachers taken license with Scripture? Of course. Too many of them have come too close to the edge of outright predicting the Return of Jesus Christ.

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But Moore seems intent on being too reactionary in the opposite direction. In the maiden voyage of “Signposts,” he avers that we really can’t know when Jesus will return; it might be a “million years.” He says we just don’t know.

He then dissects Matthew 24, but falls prey to the same affliction his ideological opponents sometimes do: bedrock faith in his own interpretation. He insists that Jesus was not giving the Apostles signs that we can observe and then deduce the season of His Return.

It is the latest in a series of communications in which Moore makes it clear he is not your grandfather’s ERLC chief. That is not necessarily bad, but for our purposes, his dislike of prophecy teaching impacts countless congregations across the country, because of the messaging stranglehold evangelical leaders have on the community as a whole. We have only to look at the vast influence of Rick Warren’s “Purpose-Driven” model to see that. New Thought evangelical leaders like Moore, Warren, Andy Stanley and others has consolidated power; folks in the pews seem unaware of this.

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Most problematic with Moore’s interpretation of the Bible with regard to prophecy is his failure to appreciate the specialness of the Jews and Israel in history, including future history. In short, I believe Moore is a “Replacement Theology” guy, which is a person who believes in essence that because of past Jewish sins, God has “transferred” His promises from the Jews to the…Christian Church. Many prophecy teachers rightly claim that this teaching is a scourge in the current American evangelical community.

I couldn’t agree more. If one reads Moore’s blog, one can easily see where he falls on the question of Israel’s role in history. He simply is indifferent at best.

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Most importantly, Moore doesn’t seem to be a fellow who readily admits that he might be wrong. And he is wrong about Israel and wrong about Bible prophecy. To say that Jesus might not return for a million years is simply false. In fact, the Lord gave us plenty of affirmation in the Bible (particularly the Hebrew Scriptures) that the “Final Generation” can know the general season.

I would challenge opponents of that concept to read Zechariah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah, and tell me how God doesn’t let us know the general timing of the End of the Age. The chief proof that we are in that season is the intensifying international pressure on Israel, which will culminate in the information provided in the last chapters of Zechariah 10-14. I’d like to discuss this with Russell Moore.

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Irresponsible evangelical leaders often masquerade as responsible evangelical leaders.

In the end, their hubris trips them up. As Israel becomes more of a pariah in the international community, and coalition armies form against her, the view that Christ’s Second Coming is a billion light years away becomes the real false teaching.

I think that’s Moore to the point.

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Happy Birthday, Israel!

posted by jfletcher

Today marks 67 years since the founding of the state of Israel.

At 4 p.m. on the afternoon of May 14, 1948, officials of the developing Zionist government met at a theatre in Tel Aviv; David Ben Gurion read the declaration of independence for the Jewish state, over international radio, thus marking a turning point in modern history.

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The Jews had been waiting since World War I for Great Britain and the Western powers to make good on a promise to establish a Jewish state in the ancestral homeland, then known as Palestine.

Now, in 2015, when one steps off the plane at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, sea breezes, palm trees, and a bustling, cultural, and industrious country greets the visitor. Actually, many millions of visitors each year. In addition, Israel’s economy is the envy of the world. That this tiny strip of sand could be transformed into “Silicon Valley 2” and is home to almost eight million people is a testament to the hard work and grit of the Jewish people.

It is mostly a testament, though, of God’s provision and faithfulness.

Time and again in the Bible, the prophets called out to a time far into the future, when the Lord would restore Zion’s fortunes.

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At the same time, saith the Lord, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.

Thus saith the Lord, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.

The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.

Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.

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For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God.

For thus saith the Lord; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.

Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.

They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. (Jeremiah 31:1-9)

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Truly, Israel is an astonishing miracle in our world today. Yet, most people do not see it that way, because they have not read the Bible, or been told about this remarkable fulfillment of prophecy. Nowhere in history has another people returned to their ancient homeland thousands of years after leaving (though there has always been at least a tiny Jewish presence in the land).

A copy of Israel's Independence declaration, written in Hebrew.

A copy of Israel’s Independence declaration, written in Hebrew.

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Ironically, Israel’s establishment also activated a prophecy that would follow: the world would increasingly have a problem with Israel and would finally move to attack Jerusalem (Zechariah 10-14).

By the time Ben Gurion read Israel’s declaration, and dancing commenced in the streets, five surrounding Arab armies massed at the borders.

The next morning, they invaded Israel.

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