The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD —
a painting by David Roberts (1796-1849).
In our first post on Zionism, we briefly defined what Zionism is, and gave a broad sketch of history. Here we dig deeper and look at what happened between the early Christian and Jewish communities after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
The early Christian church was primarily Jewish and mainly worshipped in the synagogues. However, Christians mostly did not support Jewish efforts to rebel against the Roman authorities during the conflict leading up to and after 70 A.D., as the Temple was no longer central to the life of the Christians. Instead of fighting alongside their other Jewish brethren to repel the Romans, the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and the surrounding area fled the city to escape the coming bloodbath, when the Romans began to take seige of the ancient, holy city. This, along with the rejection of many Jewish practices, created resentment by traditional Jews against their Jewish Christian brethren.
The increasingly predominant Gentile Christian movement eventually overwhelmed Judaism in terms of numerical growth, and then Christianity became the official religion of the old Roman empire, further marginalizing Judaism. Over time, Jewish and Christian communities had parted ways from each other.
Is the secular nation state of Israel a fulfillment of Bible prophecy? Veracity tackles a “hot potato.”
On May 15, 1948, the modern nation state of Israel was created. Ever since then, students of the Bible have taken a great interest in the Jewish return to the Holy Land. Is this a fulfillment of biblical prophecy?
Many people are interested in events surrounding the End Times. A number of Christians say that the establishment of the Israel in 1948 is proof that God has fulfilled biblical prophecy. Other Christians are not so sure. Some even question the idea that the Scriptures teach about a literal return of Jews to the Holy Land as a modern nation state. How do we sort these difficult and complicated issues out?
Here we begin a multi-part series1 of blog postings that examines the question of the founding of the modern nation of Israel and its relationship to Bible prophecy. We will look at the history of why there was a felt need to create a Jewish state in the modern Middle East. We will address some of the events that led to the creation of this Jewish state and the conflict that resulted. We will then consider the relationship between modern Israel, Judaism, and the Christian community in the Holy Land. After that, we will survey different Christian approaches to Bible prophecy that address the role of modern Israel. Towards the end of the series, I hope to share some of my personal reflections as I have studied this issue in the Bible.
Many Christians have strong views on “Israel,” and this has forced me to dig into both Scripture and history to work this out. As you will see, I mainly offer some food for thought, as I seek to submit to the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, that this might become a blessing to others as they struggle in this area. I invite your feedback in the comments section, as we think together through this.
Ralph Stanley, bluegrass musician, died yesterday at 89. He was probably most known for singing, “O Death,” a traditional American folk song:
Won’t you spare me over til another year
Well what is this that I can’t see
With ice cold hands takin’ hold of me
Well I am death, none can excel
I’ll open the door to heaven or hell
Whoa, death someone would pray
Could you wait to call me another day
The children prayed, the preacher preached
Time and mercy is out of your reach
I’ll fix your feet til you cant walk
I’ll lock your jaw til you cant talk
I’ll close your eyes so you can’t see
This very hour, come and go with me
I’m death I come to take the soul
Leave the body and leave it cold
To draw up the flesh off of the frame
Dirt and worm both have a claim
Won’t you spare me over til another year
My mother came to my bed
Placed a cold towel upon my head
My head is warm my feet are cold
Stanley, interestingly, came from a Primitive Baptist Universalist background. This tiny Appalachian denomination is distinctive in that they do not believe in any type of parachurch ministry (the “primitive” part), they practice “believers’ baptism” by adults, and …. they deny the existence of an eternal hell.
But it is worth also considering the testimony of Scripture, for those who are in Christ Jesus: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55 ESV)
If you have been wrestling with, as a Christian, how you can love people who identify as transgender in some way, you owe it to yourself to view the following sermon video by Andrew Wilson, pastor of Kings Church in Eastbourne in the United Kingdom1. On the one hand, there is tremendous pressure from the wider culture today to minimize gender differentiation, and it has an impact on how the church understands issues involving men and women in church ministry, same-sex marriage, and just what it means to be a male or female person. On the other hand, there are clues in Scripture where Jesus recognizes that there are eunuchs, those who do not fit certain biological gender expectations at birth.
What does Christian love look like, when we reach out to people whose biological sex does not match their experience of gender? Justin Taylor, of The Gospel Coalition, has a great summary of Andrew Wilson’s talk:
1. Veracity featured another, short video by Andrew Wilson last week, for you “End Times” people. ↩
From across the pond….
Next week, the UK will hold a referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union. In this discussion, what fascinates me is that some Christians across the pond are concerned that the European Union is fulfilling the role of a “revived Roman empire,” as a sign of the End Times. For example, some prophecy people look upon the Euro currency as displaying a woman riding upon a wild beast, just as it is taught in Revelation 17:3.
Just a word of caution: It might be helpful to be a little bit cautious about prophecy claims that look to the newspapers for signs of fulfillment. Below is a three and a half minute video from British pastor and author Andrew Wilson, making his case for why the European Union (EU) does not line up with what you find in Revelation.1
Interestingly, this may not be much of a surprise to some people! It is important to note that there is a growing, new movement among some Christians, that Europe is not to play such a role in God’s prophetic timetable. Instead, folks like Joel Richardson are teaching that the Islamic Middle East will play that role instead.2
1. I blogged about this topic before when the last Left Behind movie came out. ↩
2. Joel Richardson is interviewed extensively in Covenant and Controversy, a film about Israel and Christian Zionism that I highlighted in a recent blog post.↩