Last month, the United States moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. What are we to make of this move? While members of the Trump administration, in their nice clothes and bright smiles, stood with Israeli officials, just across the way over fifty Palestinians, including children, were killed.
But what are their lives worth, when “biblical prophecy” is being fulfilled? Yes, you read correctly. I know, crazy, but this is where we are as a nation. This is what happens when fundamentalism with its dispensationalism helps elect this type of president and then has his ear.
Remember, Vice President Pence is a dispensationalist along with a majority of rank-and-file fundamentalists/evangelicals. Of course, Trump could care less and has no idea what these people are even talking about. He’s just shoring up their support — doing something they wanted.
Where this links to current events is the dispensational view of Israel and physical geography, the land. Kim Riddlebarger in his book about amillennialism writes:
“We have seen how dispensationalists are committed to a literal interpretation of Bible prophecy. They insist that Old Testament prophesies regarding national Israel will be fulfilled by the modern state of Israel…”
And he quotes Hal Lindsey:
“I believe God’s purpose for Israel and His purpose for the church are so distinct and mutually exclusive that they cannot be on the earth at the same time during the seven-year tribulation.”
These notions of there being two different people of God and that modern Israel is the continuation of God’s promises regarding the land are completely rejected by Reformed, Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox theologians and scholars, not to mention every church father or Protestant reformer (at least as to the two different people of God notion, as a modern Israel was obviously after their time).
Dispensationalism is a new teaching (starting in the 1800s) and only really caught on here in America. That many fundamentalists and evangelicals think it a biblical or traditional teaching of the church is an embarrassment. Of course, since they have heard it taught from the pulpit for their entire lives, they believe it is what the church has always taught and believed. I know I did. But, I was wrong.
As Greg Boyd notes:
“The Gospels present Jesus and the Kingdom he inaugurated as the fulfillment of Israel’s story. For example, Jesus’ birth fulfills Israel’s longing for a Messiah; his return from Egypt as a child mirrors their Exodus out of Egypt; his temptations in the desert allude to Israel’s temptations in the desert; his twelve disciples recall the 12 tribes of Israel; Jesus’ five sets of teachings in Matthew are a parallel of Moses’ Pentateuch; his sufferings fulfill the call of Israel to be a suffering servant, and his resurrection completes the hoped for resurrection of Israel. In sum, the Gospel authors see Jesus as ‘the appropriate ending’ of the story of Israel, as NT Wright notes. Remembering that ‘Son of God’ was a title for Israel as well as of the Messiah, the life, death and resurrection of God’s Son in the Gospels must be understood as ‘the climax of [Israel’s] election as well as the fullest self-revelation-in-action of the sovereign God.’”
The culmination of Israel’s story, the one told in the Old Testament, is fulfilled in Christ — the true Israel. Whatever happened in 1948 as to Israel becoming a modern nation has nothing to do with Biblical prophecy, nor does it mean anything regarding geography and physical land.
The Holy Land is holy, by grace, because of its history. Specific events happened there that happened nowhere else. For those reasons, it is certainly a special place. Like a holy relic or material thing blessed by God or holy events, we can see that area of the world in a way we do not see other areas of the world.
However, the whole point is this: What that specific geography gifted to the whole cosmos was to make the entire earth the Holy Land.
And in Christ:
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” — Galatians 3
There are not two peoples of God, Israel and the Church, running on parallel tracks of redemption. There is the one people of God — a seamless tapestry running from Adam to Jesus, that subsumes all people in any final accounting — including Palestinians.
But here we are. Because dispensationalists believe in a modern, scientific, literal, surface, wooden, and simplistic hermeneutic and because they finally have a president ignorant enough to listen to them, we have the current violence playing out in Palestine.
God help us.
Photo via Pixabay.
About Darrell Lackey
Darrell Lackey has served as a lead pastor and currently works in the private sector. He is a graduate of the University of San Francisco and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (Now Gateway). You can follow him or read more of his writings at Divergence (A journey out of funda-gelicalism). He and his wife reside in Northern California.