The US officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Monday, May 14, and opened there the US Embassy.
On hand were two preachers: Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, and John Hagee, pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, both asked by President Trump to offer prayers at the Embassy’s dedication.
The preachers were bookends to the event – Jeffress doing the invocation and Hagee the benediction.
A political event? A church event? Which one was it?
Confused? The flash-back in my mind upon hearing the news may clear it up. It was a conference room at Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin, MO. Wednesday night – Church night. Youth Bible Study. Our Youth Minister, as they were called then, was George Jones.
The book we were studying? The Late Great Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsey. The book had just been released (1970) and it was hot. It remained hot, selling more copies in the 1970s than any other work of nonfiction in the United States. It’s still in print.
The youth group, of which I was a part, was really into it. There’s nothing like end times, mayhem, judgment, escape, to grab your attention; to build a crowd; to get people “saved” as the only way to escape the coming Tribulation.
We saw the “end times” in terms of 5 events:
First, Jesus will “rapture” the church – His true followers (which was basically defined as members of our church and churches like it) will be “caught up” with Jesus and swooshed off somewhere to be with Jesus where, from that vantage point, we will watch the:
“Tribulation,” the second event. The Great Tribulation is 7 years of global chaos where all those who were “Left Behind” because they did not accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior will go through unimaginable horror. The Tribulation ends with:
the third event: The Second Coming of Jesus. At this event, Jesus bursts through the clouds on a white horse ready to give Satan, and everyone who didn’t become a Christian during the Tribulation, what’s coming to them in the epic Battle of Armageddon. At the conclusion of the battle, Satan is put in chains, thrown into a bottomless pit for 1000 years, ushering in the 4th event:
The Millennium. With Satan locked up, and Jesus ruling from a Throne in Jerusalem, kids fly kites all day, lions play with lambs, Republicans hang out with Democrats, Cardinal fans sit next to Cub fans. There is peace. After the 1000 years of peace, God cuts Satan loose for one last hurrah to see who will follow him and who will follow God. Finally, there is:
The Great White Throne Judgment. “Here comes the Judge.” After a big courtroom scene, Satan and all the non-Christians will be thrown into a lake of fire where they will be tormented night and day, forever, for eternity, no ending.
That was the view we were taught. That is the view many if not most Evangelical Christians still hold. Not me…but that’s for another time. What does the U.S. Embassy moving to Jerusalem and Jerusalem being recognized as Israel’s capital have anything to do with this view of the “end times”?
Back to Hal Lindsey. In Lindsey’s drama, Israel played the leading role. He believed that as the world moved toward the end, three events would occur:
1. Jews would retake Palestine. That happened 70 years ago this week – May 15, 1948.
2. They would repossess old Jerusalem and its sacred sites.
3. They would rebuild King Solomon’s temple on its original historical site, where the Dome of the Rock stands presently.
The role of Israel in making the “end times” happen is expressed by John Hagee – the guy who said one of the prayers at the Embassy Dedication, “I believe at this point in time, Israel is God’s stopwatch for everything that happens to every nation, including America, from now until the Rapture of the Church and beyond.”
The other pray-er, Jim Jeffress, said this about Jerusalem: “It is the place where Jesus, a Jew himself, was crucified and where he was resurrected, and the place where he will set foot again on earth at his second coming.”
The thinking is: the more established and recognized the government of Israel is and the more closely its borders resemble the borders of biblical Israel, the closer we get to the Rapture.
The motivation of many Christians is not a desire to bring peace to a turbulent region, but a belief that moving the capital to Jerusalem will hasten the end of the world.
It’s not about politics. It’s not about peace. It’s about prophecy.
Judge Jeanine, a commentator on Fox News, said on her broadcast last Saturday that by moving the Embassy to Jerusalem, President Trump “fulfilled Biblical prophecy.”
At a rally on December 7, 2017, Florida State Senator Doug Broxson introduced President Trump to the crowd and spoke of the President’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as a win for people of faith, declaring,
“Now I don’t know about you, but when I heard about Jerusalem – where the King of Kings, our soon coming King is coming back to Jerusalem, it is because President Trump declared Jerusalem to be capital of Israel.”
How much influence did the “praying preachers” have on the decision of the United States government to move the embassy to Jerusalem?
How much influence does a certain “end times” view have on the policy of the United States?
What should be our concern? Peace or Prophecy?
Where is God’s temple today? It’s not on a rock. Not in a building. Not in a city. It’s in us: Acts 7:48, Acts 17:24, 1 Corinthians 6:19, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Luke 17:21.
The two preachers are living out their beliefs. I guess I need to be careful what I believe.