Note from Jan: Barack Obama likes to re-write history. Jill Martin Rische is not just an apologist — she is also an historian. Obama has insulted Christians more than once, the worst in recent months at the prayer event in February, but again at the Easter breakfast a few days ago.
Obama’s “Crusades” remarks in February crossed a line in boldness, offensiveness, and historical inaccuracy. As Todd Starnes says, “Have you noticed that whenever there’s a Muslim holiday, he never takes that opportunity to criticize or critique the Muslim faith or Muslims in general? But whenever there’s a Christian holiday, he doesn’t hold back. He tells it like he thinks it is.”
I asked Jill to set the record straight. Learn more about Jill, who is the daughter of the late Dr. Walter Martin, at http://www.waltermartin.com. She is part of the communications’ team here at Olive Tree Ministries.
When Jesus called Satan the father of lies, He revealed the enemy’s number one tactic. Evil attacks truth; it seeks to change and confuse the facts. It creates and spreads lies using the weapon of redefinition.
For centuries, the enemy worked to redefine God as anyone but Jehovah, Jesus as one of many ways, and the Church as anything but loving. It is a pattern proven in history, and two thousand years later, the father of lies is at it again.
When the President of the United States tries to diminish ISIS atrocities by saying, “People committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” you see the art of redefinition at work. Christians do not kill unarmed civilians — Muslim radicals do; the Church does not demand the death of anyone who disagrees with them — ISIS kills everyone, including little children.
So why did Barack Obama bring up the Crusades?
It was a “you’re guilty, too” moment, aimed directly at Christians. But that is a lie.
The truth is that the Crusades were battles fought to free Jerusalem from Muslim invaders. Islam was the aggressor, as it is the aggressor today.
Muslim warriors descended on the Holy Land in 634 AD, enslaving and killing Jews and Christian Pilgrims, and threatening an invasion of Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. During this time, Christianity was the official religion of a divided Empire, and it was a succession of Emperors and European Kings who came against Islam in the name of Christ.
The wars continued for centuries until in 1095 AD, Pope Urban II sent out a desperate plea for help in freeing the Holy Land from Islam. It is this war, and several others that occurred between1095-1291 AD, that would eventually be labeled the Crusades. History records the military facts: it was a fight over territory claimed by both sides, not Christians doing “terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”
Why did the Muslims invade the Holy Land?
It was the judgment of God upon a rebellious people.
One of the most powerful moments in human history happened when Jesus approached Jerusalem and wept over the city. In that moment He prophesied saying, “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:43-44)
Forty years later
The armies of the Roman General Titus laid siege to the city of Jerusalem (70 AD). Four Roman Legions — 25,000 men — surrounded the city and set fire to the Temple, tearing stone from stone in a desperate attempt to save the melting gold. The Jewish historian, Josephus, accompanied Titus and witnessed the brutal destruction of the Temple:
These Romans put the Jews to flight, and proceeded as far as the holy house itself. At which time one of the soldiers…set fire to a golden window, through which there was a passage to the rooms that were round about the holy house, on the north side of it.
As the flames went upward, the Jews made a great clamor…Nor can one imagine any thing greater or more terrible than this noise; for there was at once a shout of the Roman Legions, who were marching all together, and…the people under a great consternation, made sad moans at the calamity they were under…one would have thought that the hill itself, on which the Temple stood, was seething hot…. (Josephus, Antiquities xi. 1.2)
What Happened to the Jews?
Although most Jews were taken as slaves, the Sanhedrin remained, along with small groups of Jews who lived outside the ruins of Jerusalem. As decades passed, they hoped to rebuild and many small rebellions against Rome continued until the Emperor Hadrian tried to crush the Jews once and for all.
The nation of Israel — and the name of Jerusalem — vanished for 2000 years
Hadrian built his new city called Aelia Capitolina upon the ruins of Jerusalem in 135 AD, but even then the Jews would not give up.
Roman historian Cassius Dio wrote: At Jerusalem Hadrian founded a city in place of the one which had been razed to the ground, naming it Aelia Capitolina, and on the site of the temple of the god he raised a new temple to Jupiter. This brought on a war of no slight importance nor of brief duration, for the Jews deemed it intolerable that foreign races should be settled in their city and foreign religious rites planted there.(Cassius Dio, Roman History, 69.12.)
For centuries after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, a remnant of the Jewish people survived and fought in the desert where Israel had once flourished.
The Christian population lived with them and under the Emperor Constantine (318 AD) became stewards of relics and places considered holy like Golgotha, and the inn where Jesus was said to have been born, and His tomb. In 333 AD a French pilgrim wrote about the Temple area:
There are two statues of Hadrian, and not far from the statues there is a perforated stone, to which the Jews come every year and anoint it, bewail themselves with groans, rend their garments, and so depart. (The Bordeaux Pilgrim, Itinerary 7a)
Islam Occupied Israel
The birth of Muhammad about 570 AD saw the rise of Islam and its brutal determination to claim the world for Allah. Muhammad’s Night Journey tells how he ascended to heaven, leaving a footprint in the stone beneath the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem — opening the door to jihad.
In another redefinition by the father of lies, the Temple Mount became one of Islam’s holiest places.
Today, many would have us believe that Israel is the aggressor and Christians their hypocritical ally.
But history proves the Jews have been in Israel since Jerusalem fell, and it is their right to defend it against ISIS and any other Muslim terrorist group.
History proves that Christians — in the biblical sense of the word — live by the teachings of Jesus, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:27-28
The Enemy Loves to Re-Write the Facts
But history tells us the Crusades were, in fact, political and theological self-defense; true Christians were not guilty of the gory details.
No amount of spin or double talk will ever be able to erase the heritage of Israel and the truth of what Jesus accomplished through His Church. From the time He walked this earth up until this very moment, the sick are healed, the poor fed, hospitals and orphanages built for the outcasts, widows and orphans cared for by Christians.
The passion, the self-sacrifice, the love of Jesus — this is the complete history of the Church and it is the one that will be remembered.
Learn more about today’s columnist, Jill Martin Rische, at http://www.waltermartin.com.