Beliefnet
Is it the End of the World?

On our recent trip to Israel, Jonathan took note of a hilarious oddity we saw as we emerged from the shopping bazaars of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Fastened overhead was a sign that one might hardly take notice of in, say, Mobile, Alabama. The nod to Dixie is something we are familiar with, those of us who live in the South.

Yet anomalies like this—numerous in our world—pale in comparison to the state of Israel itself. For many, this “resurrection” of an ancient people, the Jews, is a coincidence (as I’ve read in a popular study Bible).

It certainly is not a coincidence, but it is an oddity. Israel is an anomaly in our world, and our suffering world can actually find a ray of hope if they look to the Jewish state, which, by historical standards, should not exist.

But the prophets spoke of a return. There is never going to be a return of Babylon. Or the Aztecs.

This anomaly on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean is at the end of the day a marvelous display of God’s power and provision, directly through the fulfillment of predictive prophecy.

Think about that.

Dixie-land in the Promised Land

For a long time, there has been a controversy in the Christian world about Jews, and their place in God’s economy. While I think His obvious love for them is plainly eternal and has never been revoked, there are many in the Church today (particularly in America) who embrace what has been called “Replacement Theology.”

This idea basically states that because the ancient Jews rejected God and followed after foreign gods, He transferred His famous Old Testament blessings and promises from them to…the Church.

Too many even believe that the OT itself is now outdated and irrelevant; whole denominations give it minimal if any study. Oddly, one organization famous for passing out copies of the Bible, excludes almost all the OT.

In the run-up to Hitler, the German Church severely curtailed the teaching and study of the Old Testament, or Hebrew Scriptures. This was a key puzzle piece for the Austrian corporal, as he put into practice his grotesque plans for the Jewish people.

Yet in the Old Testament itself are numerous prophecies that attest to the fact that God Himself has never forsaken the Jews, and never will.

In Jeremiah 51:5, He declares:

“For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the Lord of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.”

In one fell swoop, God is telling us that Replacement Theology is false. He acknowledges that the ancient Jews allowed sin in the land, and then He also quite clearly states that that corporate sin was not enough to revoke His unconditional covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15).

God loves all people. All means all. Included in that list is the nation He has brought back in our time. The Jews—Israel—are under the watchful care of the One who created them.

God’s love for the Jewish people—which I enjoy watching—is sure and permanent.

Try replacing that.

The Bible is filled with lots and lots of marvelous prophecies. It is almost a shame that we focus mostly on a few of them (the rise of the antichrist in the last days, etc.).

One of my favorites is found in Jeremiah 29:13:

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

The occasion of this prophecy—which is deeply personal for each of us—was a letter from the prophet Jeremiah, to the Jewish captives in Babylon. They had been conquered and driven from their land, but God was reminding them through Jeremiah that not only had He not forgotten them, but He told them specifically that after they had been exiled for 70 years, He would suddenly return them to the land of their forefathers; this prediction occurs in verse 10.

But tucked into this grand promise is the one in verse 13. You see, no matter who you are or where you live, the Lord of History is accessible. He was telling the Hebrews that eventually they would seek Him and find Him, yet the promise is applicable for individuals too, in all times and places.

Perhaps you are from another faith tradition, or no faith at all. In this age of global communication, perhaps this will be read by a Sikh, a Muslim, an atheist.

We bluster at each other, sometimes, and declare that the other is dangerous, or simply misguided.

I am simply saying to you, though, that through the astonishing fulfillment of Bible prophecy, you can find the One you long to find.

There are almost countless remarkable prophecies in the Bible, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But it would be easy to put Jeremiah 29:13 near the top, don’t you think? It is a promise, a prophecy, from God Himself that you can claim for yourself.

How about it? Are you looking for faith in many places? Do you have questions about the Bible and its prophecies? If so, let me know. I’m very discreet. God is even more discreet. With Him you can share the secrets of your heart, and find Him.

David Mamet, the playwright, has written a wonderful book, The Secret Knowledge, in which he traces his personal journey from liberalism to, well, something to the right of that.

At one point, he writes the following:

“The elections of 2008 were characterized by vicious, indeed vitriolic, feelings and expressions of rage on either side, each side thinking the other on the brink of destroying the world.”

Mamet is right, of course. Republicans and Democrats view the other as dangerous and a threat to our way of life. Republicans are accused of having an itchy trigger finger, while Dems are minutes away from surrendering the fort to Al Qaida.

What does the Bible say about the destruction of the world? (One would have to meet me halfway here, if you don’t embrace biblical eschatology. Play along with me.)

The Book of Revelation outlines a scenario in which Jesus Christ returns to our physical world and puts down, as it were, the supreme rebellion: antichrist, imbued with power from Satan, rallies an impressive army. Christ, simply by his appearing, destroys this beastly army and then we see a sweeping succession of events that culminate in a new heavens and a new earth.

My point here is that—assuming this scenario is true and yet future, and I do assume it—what brings us to this final ghastly scene is not the ascendancy of one side or the other.

Rather, the world is on the brink if destruction because it is a collective effort. Both sides. “Republican” and “Democrat.” Totalitarian and free. Religious and non-religious.

The answer to the question of this post is that all of us, collectively, have the capacity to destroy the planet. The great message of the Bible is that the ultimate hope, Jesus Christ, intervenes at the precise moment we need Him.

And, finally, to really throw your brain into over-drive, the Bible also predicts that the world’s Creator (again, Jesus Christ) will also finally destroy our diseased and dying planet. Then He will re-make it into His original vision, for all time.

What a wonderful world that will be.