The Politics of Prophecy
Biblical Prophecy Studies: An Examination of Dispensationalist Christian Zionism
A Closer Look At A Popular Prophetic System
What is Dispensationalism?” A good working definition of Dispensational-Futurism was given by author Stephen Sizer in his book, “Christian Zionism,” published in 2003. “Modern fundamentalism is largely defined by a notion of dispensationalism, the idea that humanity will go through seven [or twelve in Ultra-Dispensationalism] periods of Divine testing, culminating in Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. In this eschatology, the Jews and the modern state of Israel play such a key role that fundamentalism, dispensationalism and Christian Zionism are virtually interchangeable…Christian Zionism claims not only that every act taken by Israel is orchestrated by God and should be condoned, supported, and even praised by everyone else, but that the Jews will lead the process since, in the fundamentalist view, this will lead to blessing for the entire world as nations recognize and respond to what God is seen to be doing in and through Israel.”
As you can readily understand, this system of belief is centered almost totally on the Jewish people, who are unyieldingly claimed to be the sole inheritors of the biblical covenants in the world today. In my own experience with so-called Christian Zionists, most of these individuals seem to have little Biblical interest in anything other than the Jews, the “Anti-Christ” and predicting the date of Messiah’s return. Explaining the Hebrew roots message to them often collides with their preconceived notion that the modern Jews are the sole people that Elohim is working with in the world today. There is a reluctance to accept our teaching because it would undermine and completely demolish their entire Dispensational scheme. This is why they oppose us so fervently.
It is a great irony that Christian Fundamentalists are considered to be the best friends of the Jews and the Israeli state, yet it has been pointed out that their theology actually constitutes a forecast of foreordained mass death for the Jewish people and a predestined end to Judaism itself. Jewish Israeli author, Jeff Harper, made this point clearly: “While Christians enjoy the Second Coming and the salvation of the Millennium, Jews, their supposed allies, suffer a much different fate: at Armageddon two-thirds of the Jews die and the final third convert to Christianity, a precondition of the Second Coming. Dispensationalism is hardly a Jewish-friendly theology.” (“Israel As An Extension of American Empire,” p.89)
However, the focus of most people is on short-term goals. Author Harper went on to say, “It is a case of strange bedfellows of great use to each other: Elon and other xenophobic orthodox rabbis who hold Christianity in contempt embracing dispensationalists who look forward to the End of Days and the end of the Jews. Yet each has its own interest in using Israel as a vehicle for its political program…” (ibid. pp. 94-95)
What use do the Israelis have for Christian Fundamentalists? Author Goran Gunnar explained, “The Christian Zionist authors are prisoners of their own preconceived notions…A politicized interpretation does not object to adjusting geographical borders in favor of Israel or to Israeli land grabbing and occupation. It is about legitimizing an Israeli military expansionist policy in the name of Christian theology.” (“Keys For Understanding the Christian Zionists’ Interpretation of the Bible,” p. 85).
In an article by Timothy P. Weber in Christianity Today (5 Oct. 1998), entitled, “How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend,” we read: “Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu noted that ‘We have no greater friends and allies’ than right-wing American Christians.” This Dispensationalist influence in Jewish issues here in America was outlined in an article entitled, “Born-Again Zionists,” in Mother Jones, 28 Oct. 2002. Authors Silverstein and Scherer reported, “As one leading Republican put it, ‘They are very vocal and have shifted the center of gravity toward Israel and against concessions. It colors the environment in which decisions are being made.” The article reveals that any attempt at concessions by the President or Congress will often result in over 100,000 letters of protest from Christian Zionist followers.
Although these fervent letter-writers emotionally claim to be interceding for the Jews, author Stephen Zunes says, “Ironically this theology also assumes that upon Christ’s return, ‘unrepentant’ Jews would be subjected to eternal damnation…” (“The Influence of the Christian Right in U.S. Middle East Policy,” p. 112)
Will all unbelieving Jews be subject to eternal hellfire? This has been a theological sore-spot and source of embarrassment for Christian Fundamentalists who have long taught that all unbelievers will suffer eternally, including (when pressed for an answer) the Jewish people. Jewish organizations have complained about this politically-incorrect theology, so apparently it had to go. Within the last two or three decades a newly revised Fundamentalist teaching on hell now discounts all talk of hellfire and damnation in favor of the view that unbelievers are simply “separated” from God eternally in a far distant place in the universe. Yet is this an improvement? Would our Heavenly Father separate Himself eternally from His chosen people, Israel, who were to inherit His wonderful covenants? The Prophet Ezekiel clearly stated that Israel will reign forever with David’s greater Son, the Messiah, and God promises to “set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.” (37:24-28)
The apparent attempt at a Biblical basis for this misguided theory is a statement in the Old Testament that, “your iniquities have separated between you and your Elohim.” (Isaiah 59:2) This verse, of course, has nothing to do with the eternal state, but their new theology of sinners being marooned in a far-distant place shares an interesting parallel with pagan Greek mythology. In Homer’s Odyssey (4, 561-570) Menelaos, fearing death, is told, “the immortals will send you to the Elysian Plain at the ends of the earth.” The new Dispensationalist teaching on the final state of sinners finds a closer relationship to pagan mythology than to Scripture.
In addition to being nearly wholly unbiblical, much of Christian-Zionist teaching is a mass of contradictions within itself. Author Goran Gunnar points out that “Christian Zionist authors disagree among themselves as to how to interpret the time of fulfillment of the prophecies. Authors of every decade reflect this disagreement.” (ibid. pp.77-78) Their theology has also been in a constant state of flux, being revised regularly as world events dictate. A good example is their teaching on the “man of sin” of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, which they call “the Anti-Christ.”
Over the decades, the Dispensationalist Anti-Christ has gone from Mussolini in Christian Europe, to a Jewish individual of the tribe of Dan, and is now found in newly published books proclaiming him an Arabic Muslim follower of the Koran! That is quite a change of clothes for the Dispensationalist Anti-Christ, from Christian to Jew to Muslim, depending upon the politically-correct emotional taste of the times. Their followers, of course, continue to religiously hold firmly on board with this nonsense and eagerly accept and espouse all of the latest changes in doctrine as they come down from the pulpit.
For a number of years, Christian Zionists have liked to quote Ezekiel 38:11 as an end-time picture of Palestine, “all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.” This was given as proof that events were in place for Messiah’s return, which they insist is “immanent.” However, after the Israelis constructed a long, high security wall for miles along the West Bank, this verse was quickly forgotten. Only the few verses that can be made to say what they need or want are included in Christian Zionist rhetoric. Author Goran Gunnar says, “It is obvious that the Christian Zionist authors do not read the Bible in totality…They often tell their readers there is a fulfillment of prophecies according to the Bible…but only to a small degree do they use the Bible itself.” (ibid. p.78)
Most recently, Dispensationalists were proclaiming that the return of Messiah (or more coyly, some great world-changing event) would occur during the period of four blood moons that just ended this past autumn without incident. Some time ago, I asked a visitor to our church, who was steeped in that nonsense, which would he lose—his faith in Elohim or in Dispensationalism—when nothing took place? He glared at me disapprovingly and never came back again, but it is a fair question. Why do people so enjoy following false prophets and false prophetic systems? I believe that it is a Spiritual problem that pervades Christianity. Let us realize that the opposition we encounter to biblical Messianic truth is not due to our lack of Scriptural and historic support, but is a Spiritual battle. Stay strong in the faith, for with Yah’s help we will prevail!