Since the end of the Six-Day War, then, dispensationalists have increasingly moved from observers to participant-observers. They have acted consistently with their convictions about the coming Last Days in ways that make their prophecies appear to be self-fulfilling. Given the history of the region, the long-standing ethnic and religious hatreds there, and the attempt of many nations, both Western and Arab, to carry out their own purposes in the Holy Land, it is easy to imagine the current impasse even if dispensationalist views had never existed.

But these views have existed for a long time; and they have had their effects on generations of Bible believers in America and elsewhere. As Paul Boyer has pointed out, dispensationalism has effectively conditioned millions of Americans to be somewhat passive about the future and provided them with lenses through which to understand world events. Thanks to the sometimes changing perspectives of their Bible teachers, dispensationalists are certain that trouble in the Middle East is inevitable, that nations will war against nations, and that the time is coming when millions of people will die as a result of nuclear war, the persecution of Antichrist, or as a result of divine judgment. Striving for peace in the Middle East is a hopeless pursuit with no chance of success.

At the time of this writing, President George W. Bush and allies in the international community have suggested a Road Map to peace in the Middle East. The roadmap includes what many people believe are attainable steps that will lead to the founding of a Palestinian state and a new levels of security for Israel. In the early stages of this peace process, there seemed to be signs of hope that both sides had finally had enough of the cycles of bloodletting that have characterized the region for decades. Christian, Jewish, and Muslim groups voiced support and hope that this peace process might succeed where so many previous ones failed.

Not everyone is pleased with the prospects of peace. Militants on both sides do not accept the terms of the Road Map. Some Israelis are unwilling to turn over land they believe God gave to Abraham and his descendants. Some Palestinians do not want a Jewish state in Palestine and have sworn to keep up fighting until Israel no longer exists.

For the dispensational community, the future is determined. The Bible's prophecies are being fulfilled with amazing accuracy and rapidity. They do not believe that the Road Map will-or should-succeed. According to the prophetic texts, partitioning is not in Israel's future, even if the creation of a Palestinian state is the best chance for peace in the region. Peace is nowhere prophesied for the Middle East, until Jesus comes and brings it himself. The worse thing that the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations can do is force Israel to give up land for a peace that will never materialize this side of the second coming. Anyone who pushes for peace in such a manner is ignoring or defying God's plan for the end of the age.

What dispensationalists are willing to do about the current peace process remains to be seen. Will they decide to oppose Bush, who is probably the most popular president among evangelicals ever; or will they use their considerable political power to stop the process before it begins, if they can? What would happen if dispensationalists decided to follow the command of Jesus to be peacemakers and left the results to God? That last alternative seems to have few advocates at the present time.

The evidence shows that in the last 35 years dispensationalists have decided that faithfulness to God demands that they actively support the plan. Such support has taken many forms, from lobbying the U.S. government to guarantee its pro-Israel policies remain strong, to helping Jews in the former Soviet Union immigrate to the Land of Promise, to traveling to the Holy Land in large numbers and marching in the streets of Jerusalem to show solidarity, to contributing financially and in other ways to Israeli settlements in the so-called occupied territories, to promoting the views considered extreme and dangerous by most Israelis, to using scientific expertise to engineer a perfect red heifer to speed the building of the Temple so Jesus can return.

It seems clear that dispensationalism is on a roll, that its followers feel they are riding the wave of history into the shore of God's final plan. Why should they climb back into the stands when being on the field of play is so much more fun and apparently so beneficial to the game's outcome? As a Bridges for Peace advertisement read, "Don't just read about prophecy when you can be part of it."

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