by Jim Fletcher – May 25, 2015
Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. (Zechariah 14:1-3)
(Note: please avail yourself of the excellent reporting by Israel correspondent Brian Schrauger at http://www.bridgesforpeace.com/us)
Zechariah On Deck
For 67 years, the state of Israel has been a burr under many saddles. The Jewish state, the modern dream of the ancients (and men like Theodor Herzl and David Ben Gurion), is an astonishing miracle, in myriad ways.
I have been gripped by this fact since my first trip in 1998.
Before that, since birth really, I was privileged to grow up in a home where Bible prophecy was taught and believed. Not only do I look back on that fondly, contrary to much opinion among evangelical leadership elites today, I consider that heritage to be vital to my worldview. Especially as we face the future.
The soon future.
I am often struck by how quickly Israel is being marginalized and encircled by her enemies. Those enemies are not only the obvious ones: jihadists, Middle East despots, and political foes.
They also very much include diplomatic elites, media figures, entertainment figures, and religious “leaders.” It is the latter category that I find the most odious. Many Christians in the pews, and even many pro Israel folks, simply do not grasp the enormity of this problem.
Writing in the newsletter for the UMC’s General Board of Church and Society, Janet Lahr Lewis (“Advocacy Coordinator for the Middle East”) presented this profoundly immoral statement:
“Don’t participate in Holocaust Remembrance Day without participating in Al Nakba Remembrance Day. Don’t visit a Holocaust museum until there is one built to remember the other holocausts in the world: the on-going Palestinian holocaust, the Rwandan, the Native American, the Cambodian, the Armenian… You could be waiting a long time!”
One hardly knows where to start, and that is another telltale sign that we are living in the last days, which call to mind 2 Timothy 3. Presumably, Lewis is not stupid, and knows that there is no such Palestinian genocide going on, nor was there ever one. The Holocaust, perpetrated by the Nazis, but acquiesced to by many others, is unique in history.
It was the campaign to murder every single Jew.
The fiendish statement by Lewis is symptomatic of what ails the American Church: a misunderstanding (in many cases, willful misunderstanding) of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Decades of leftist thought have now reached full-flower in the American Church. The United Methodist Church is officially one of the most anti-Israel denominations in history, but far from alone. The President’s own United Church of Christ is also front-and-center.
As I’ve documented, too, even the Southern Baptist Convention and the Assemblies of God are now slowly emerging as supportive of the Palestinian narrative, or at least softening their stance on Israel.
When Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government was seated earlier this week, President Reuven Rivlin had some interesting remarks (as reported by Brian Schrauger at http://www.bridgesforpeace.com):
“Before they were positioned for Israel’s de facto yearbook photo, President Reuven Rivlin admonished the new administration. And to vicarious observers on the other side of press corps lenses and computers, he also exhorted the country, its enemies and a watching world.
“Most new governments have the benefit of a honeymoon or grace period for one hundred days. This one, he implied, probably does not.
“’There are great challenges that this government must deal with from the outset, without a 100-day grace period,’ he said. ‘Previous [Israeli] governments did not face such challenges in the same way or with the same intensity.’ This government, he noted, has unusually intense matters at hand in both foreign affairs and domestic. ‘With regard to foreign affairs,’ he said, ‘you are required to deal with international pressure in a manner that demands endurance and the ability to make considered decisions which will not lead the State of Israel to isolation, but will preserve the red lines of Israeli diplomacy. On the domestic front, you face the urgent and crucial mission to present a budget which will provide an answer to the social and economic needs of the citizens of Israel – from housing and employment to welfare.’
Quite interestingly, Netanyahu departed from a purely political line by invoking the founding document of Zionists for all time:
“…Alluding to the Bible, as, it seems, he does with increasing regularity, Netanyahu made a direct link to his vision for Jerusalem and the ethos by which Israel sets its governmental compass.
“’The People of Israel returned to its land, and established here the State of Israel, a Jewish and democratic state,’ he said. It is ‘a state which preserves the rule of law and respects every human being. Here in our eternal capital of Jerusalem, the Prophets of Israel embedded the eternal values of humanity, but also embedded the eternal values of our people—to which we are committed in each generation. I am proud to be the Prime Minister of Israel, and I will do all in my power, together with my ministers, to honor the mandate we have been given by the citizens of Israel. There is nothing more valuable than that.’”
When Rivlin says that Israel must preserve the red lines of its diplomacy, he is certainly calling to mind the challenges Israel faces. The international political climate for Israel at present is nasty and vicious. However, as I constantly repeat, the epic fail on the part of American Evangelical leadership, with regard to Israel and the Palestinians, is bordering on catastrophic.
I think that language is not over-the-top.
Not only are celebrities like Rick Warren and Bill Hybels negligent in supporting Israel, in important ways they are complicit in the drive to marginalize and defame the Jewish state. In a blog post published by Lynne Hybels’, the Willow Creek Association co-founder had this to say:
“So . . . it was October 2008. I had been invited by Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian—Bill’s mentor and mine—to attend a conference in Amman, Jordan, taught entirely by Arab Christians from Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and the West Bank. To a person, these ministry leaders said they felt abandoned by Western Christians. And, of course, they are; to most Western Christians the phrase ‘Arab Christian’ is an oxymoron. We experience a severe case of cognitive dissonance when hear about indigenous Iraqi Christians or the ancient Egyptian Coptic Church or—even more surprising—Palestinian Christians whose ancestors have been ‘on the land’ from the time of Christ. What? Why didn’t we realize this? What should we do about it?”
Bilezikian, of Armenian descent, and a teacher in Beirut, Lebanon for many years, the concept of pro Israel support is unacceptable. He has mentored Bill and Lynne Hybels since at least 1975. Here is a statement from his book, “Christianity 101,” published by the left-leaning publisher Zondervan:
“Since the link between current events and ‘prophetic truth’ is sometimes made in connection with the biblical concept of Israel, it is appropriate to sketch a brief outline for the discussion of such teachings. The view that Israel, defined as an ethnic people, has an eschatological role to play is especially prominent in an approach called Dispensationalism. The foundations of this system of biblical interpretation was laid in the writings of a nineteenth century Plymouth Brethren leader from Britain named J.N. Darby. Those views have been ardently received and propagated by certain groups in North America, primarily the fundamentalist groups.”
Here, of course, Bilezikian, trots out the propaganda that biblical support for Israel started with a 19th century Irish preacher.
If it seems like I’m digressing and meandering, I hope you’ll see the vast network of anti-Israel conspirators (who really operate in the open), all of whom have helped push Israel into the place she now finds herself: having “unusually intense matters at hand in both foreign affairs and domestic.”
All this causes Zechariah’s later prophecies to loom large, for as I also often say, the single greatest sign we are living in the last days is the increasing international pressure on Israel, which, I would argue, borders on psychotic.
What else can you call a comparison between the Palestinians’ lack of statehood and the…Holocaust?
Truly, we are on the edge of something epic. Far from fearful or even worried, I am in fact thrilled that Someone is in charge, loves all of us (including the Palestinians), and wants the best for us. Since we cannot accomplish that ourselves, He is preparing to usher in glory. Thank you, Father, for your mercies, which are everlasting.
That remnant of us that prays intensely for our Jewish friends, let us resolve more than ever to stand with Israel right through to the end, when the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will intervene, to fight for her in the day of battle.