Israel and Prophecy Writers are in the News Again

Prominent dispensationalist and end-time advocate Jan Markell had this to say about the latest conflict in the Middle East:

“God hasn’t abandoned Israel. He does have an end-times plan for her. It involves some harshness, but it also involves salvation as a nation — though that comes later, during the time of the tribulation.”

Every time there’s a dust up in the Middle East prophecy pundits tell us that the rapture is right around the corner. Everything is in place for the “big snatch,” as Hal Lindsey calls it. Markell hints at what’s in Israel’s dispensational future: another holocaust. Markell’s “some harshness” is a literal “bloodbath.”

Some people are catching on to what dispensationalism’s relationship is with the Jews. At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Mark Alan Siegel, then chairman of Florida’s Palm Beach County Democratic Party, told an interviewer the following about what he thinks of Christian and Jewish relationships:

The Christians just want us to be there so we can be slaughtered and converted and bring on the second coming of Jesus Christ. The worst possible allies for the Jewish state are the fundamentalist Christians who want Jews to die and convert so they can bring on the second coming of their Lord. It is a false friendship. They are seeking their own ends and not ours. I don’t believe the fundamentalists urging a greater Israel are friends of the Jewish state.

It wasn’t too long before the video of the interview went viral and Mr. Siegel was forced out of his position. Where did Mr. Siegel get such crazy ideas?

Preterists believe that Jesus prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, an event that took place before that first-century generation passed away. Jesus made it clear that the temple would be destroyed (Matt. 24:1–2) and a great tribulation would befall that generation (24:21). In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus warns His disciples and the larger Jewish community to flee the city when they saw certain events take place (24:15–20). For forty years, the Jews were warned about the wrath that was about to come on that first-century generation (Matt. 3:7). Peter called on them to “be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40). For forty years the gospel was preached and the warnings were issued. [product id=”1162″ align=”right” size=”small”]

Now let’s take a look at the dispensational view of what some of its stalwarts argue will happen to the Jews in the future that Mr. Siegel was referencing in his comments to the reporter. Dispesnationalists believe that the events of Zechariah 13:7–9, Matthew 24, and the book of Revelation were not fulfilled in the events leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem that occurred in A.D. 70 when God unleashed the furry of the Roman armies on the once holy city. They believe that these prophecies await a future fulfillment during a period of great tribulation that follows a pre-tribulational rapture.

According to dispensational eschatology, there will be another holocaust out of which a “remnant” of Jews will be saved. Here’s what Tim LaHaye’s Prophecy Study Bible, of which Dr. Hindson is an editor, says on this issue:

“Prior to Israel’s conversion, Zechariah predicts that two-thirds (‘two parts’) of the Jewish people in the land will perish during the tribulation period. Only one third of the Jewish population will survive until Christ comes to establish His kingdom on earth.”(1)

This means that two of every three Jews who decide to make Israel their home will be killed during dispensationalism’s version of the great tribulation. Only the “survivors of the Tribulation period will go up to Jerusalem annually to worship.”(2)

To make this point, dispensational author Charles Ryrie writes in The Living End that the Bible predicts a future holocaust for Israel.

“Jacob’s trouble is that coming period of distress described by Jesus as He spoke to His disciples on the Mount of Olives. Jeremiah labeled it ‘Jacob’s trouble’ and said it would be unique in all history (Jeremiah 30:7). Jesus called it a period of unprecedented tribulation (Matthew 24:21) this will be the time of Israel’s greatest bloodbath.”(3)

“A Bloodbath for Israel” is the title of chapter 8 in The Living End. The book was later revised and given the new title The Best is Yet to Come, but apparently not for millions of Jews living in Israel during the Great Tribulation.

Like Ryrie, John F. Walvoord follows a similar line of interpretation:

The purge of Israel in their time of trouble is described by Zechariah in these words: “And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith Jehovah, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part into the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried” (Zechariah 13:8, 9). According to Zechariah’s prophecy, two thirds of the children of Israel in the land will perish, but the one third that are left will be refined and be awaiting the deliverance of God at the second coming of Christ which is described in the next chapter of Zechariah.(4)

LaHaye writes that the number of Jews living in Israel “now number over six million.”(5) If the interpretation offered by LaHaye, Ryrie, Walvoord, and others is true, then two-thirds of the Jews living in Israel at the time of a soon future great tribulation will die. This will mean the death of four million Jews!

In his 1994 book Planet Earth 2000 AD, Hal Lindsey offered this forecast for Israel: “only a tiny fraction of the world’s population will be left. Only a remnant will have survived. Many of the Jews would have been killed.”(6) In The Final Battle, first published in 1995, Lindsey claimed that the Bible teaches that “Israel is in for a very rough time. The Jewish State will be brought to the brink of destruction.”(7)

[product id=”1249″ align=”left” size=”small”]Here’s how Lindsey describes what will happen to Jews living in Israel during the dispensational version of the coming great tribulation: “their flesh will be consumed from their bodies, their eyes from their sockets, and their tongues from their mouths while they stand on their feet (Zechariah 14:12).”(8) Death will be so pervasive in Israel that there will be a valley that “will literally become a sea of blood five feet deep.”(9) In an article entitled “Haman, Hitler, and Now Hussein — Another Holocaust?,” Louis Goldberg, the scholar-in-residence of Jews for Jesus, describes a similar future for his fellow Jews.

What horror! What destruction! How can we even talk about it? It should make every human being weep. With the ovens of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen still warm in the minds of the Holocaust survivors, how can we even begin to imagine another carnage?(10)

 Contrary to dispensationalism’s future holocaust, preterists believe that Jesus predicted that a great tribulation would take place within a generation of the prophetic discourse He gave on the Mount of Olives. For forty years, Jesus’ disciple preached the gospel throughout the Roman Empire warning Jews everywhere of the coming judgment. Those living in Judea at the time were warned to flee before the judgment. Just like Jesus predicted, the judgment of Jerusalem came by way of the Roman armies led by Titus. Those who heeded Jesus’ warning survived.

If Jan Markell and other dispensationalists believe that Israel is going to suffer a future post-rapture holocaust, then why aren’t they warning them? It’s unfortunate that the dispensational view has been so popular. The Middle East problem is a problem of the heart. The Jews and the Muslims need the gospel. We shouldn’t forget that there are a lot of Christians caught in the crossfire.

It’s one thing to discuss the conflict in the Middle East and what Israel’s neighbors want to do to Israel, but it’s another thing to attempt to attach prophetic significance to the conflict.Endnotes:

  1. Tim LaHaye, gen. ed., Prophecy Study Bible (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000), 991, note on Zechariah 13:7–9.()
  2. LaHaye, Prophecy Study Bible, 991, note on Zechariah 14:9–21.()
  3. Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Living End (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1976), 81.()
  4. John F. Walvoord, Israel in Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/Academie, [1962] 1988), 108.()
  5. Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, Charting the End Times: A Visual Guide to Understanding Bible Prophecy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2001), 91.()
  6. Hal Lindsey, Planet Earth 2000 AD (Palos Verdes, CA: Western Front, 1994), 26.()
  7. Hal Lindsey, The Final Battle (Palos Verdes, CA: Western Front, 1995), 184.()
  8. Hal Lindsey, The Final Battle, 257.()
  9. Hal Lindsey, Apocalypse Code (Palos Verdes, CA: Western Front, 1997), 237.()
  10. “Louis Goldberg, Haman, Hitler, and Now Hussein — Another Holocaust? (January 1, 1992), www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/8_1/hussein()

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