The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

When All Else Fails, Use the Word - Anti-Semitism! - Part 3

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If you ever find yourself in trouble when you’re in a debate, there is a sure-fire way of diverting attention from the inadequacies of your arguments and the strengths of your opponent’s arguments. If the debate is political, call your opponent a Nazi or a fascist. If the debate deals with anything where race might be a factor even though it isn’t, call your opponent a “racist.” It works every time. When you want to win a debate on eschatology when you don’t have either the Bible or history on your side, calling someone “antisemitic” often does the trick. This is what Ed Hindson does in his article “The New Last Days Scoffers”[1]: “While most preterists would insist they are not anti-Semitic, their theology certainly leans in that direction. One of the symbols of the current preterist movement is an artist's rendering of the smoldering ashes of Jerusalem in AD 70, as though they are rejoicing in the destruction of the Holy City.” There you have it. There’s no real need to discuss individual biblical texts because it all comes down to anti-Semitism, the Jews, and present-day Israel.

Hal Lindsey used a similar tactic in 1989 with the publication of The Road to Holocaust, one of the most poorly reasoned, historically inaccurate, and biblically flawed books ever to be written by a dispensationalist, and that’s saying a lot. As soon as this book appeared, Peter J. Leithart and I read it and responded to it in The Legacy of Hatred Continues. Anyone who reads The Legacy of Hatred Continues soon learns that it’s dispensationalism that has a theological problem with the future of Israel. As we’ll see, it’s dispensational theology that has it in for Israel.

Dr. Hindson refers to the painting “The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem Under the Command of Titus, AD 70” by David Roberts. Roberts traveled to Jerusalem in 1839 to paint the story of one of the greatest calamities in all history—the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans under Titus.[2] Hindson claims that selling this painting is tantamount to “rejoicing in the destruction of the Holy City.” The painting shows that the destruction of Jerusalem is a past (preterist) event; it’s an apologetic for the preterist position. Jesus predicted that the temple would be destroyed within a generation. The painting by Roberts depicts the horror of Jerusalem’s judgment. It’s a reminder that God’s Word is true and His judgments are sure. Dr. Hindson wants to read “anti-Semitism” into making prints of this masterpiece available. Should we cut out all the judgment sequences from the Bible? What should we do with the Left Behind series? Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins have written twelve volumes describing the horrors of what they believe will be years of tribulation that will result in the death of billions of people. And as we’ll see, it’s the Jews that get the worst of it. LaHaye has made millions of dollars from detailing what he believes is going to be a bloodbath for Israel.[3]

What should we do with a movie like Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ? Jewish groups accused Gibson of anti-Semitism for depicting what the NT describes.[4] I didn’t hear Dr. Hindson agreeing with Gibson’s critics. Here’s what Jerry Falwell had to say about the movie:

 “Mr. Gibson has attempted to painstakingly recreate the crucifixion of Christ, not to assail Jews, but to arouse in people a desire to understand the price paid for their salvation. I am praying that Mel Gibson's movie will have a powerful impact on our culture and that it will appeal to millions of movie lovers who are starving for a glimmer of honesty regarding the miraculous and life-changing story of the One who died for everyone, no matter their religious heritage, station in life, sexual preference or skin color.”[5]

Like Dr. Hindson’s charges of antisemitism leveled against preterists for depicting the judgment of Jerusalem in a single painting, Mel Gibson was charged with antisemitism for depicting the crucifixion in a full-length movie that millions of Christians went to see. Since Falwell supports Gibson, then I guess Falwell is equally antisemitic in the eyes of his critics. The charge of antisemitism by Dr. Hindson is a cheap debater’s trick unworthy of a man who has a reputation as a scholar.

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 transpire (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. Please tell me how this view of Bible prophecy is antisemitic?

Now let’s take a look at the dispensational view. Dispesnationalists believe that the events of Zechariah 13:7–9. Matthew 24, and Revelation were not fulfilled in the events leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. They believe that these prophecies await a future fulfillment during a period of great tribulation that follows a pre-tribulational rapture. There will be another holocaust out of which a “remnant” of Jews will be saved. Here’s what Tim LaHaye’s Prophecy Study Bible[6]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.”[7]

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.”[8] 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.”[9] Preterists aren’t looking for a future Jewish holocaust, but dispensationalists are! 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.[10]

According to LaHaye, Jews living in Israel “now number over six million.”[11] If two-thirds of the Jews living in Israel at the time of a future great tribulation are to die, this will mean the death of four million Jews! In his 1994 book Planet Earth 2000 AD, Hal Lindsey offers 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.”[12] In The Final Battle, first published in 1995, Lindsey claims that the Bible teaches that “Israel is in for a very rough time. The Jewish State will be brought to the brink of destruction.”[13]

Summary

Preterists believe that Jesus predicted that a great tribulation would take place within a generation of His prophetic discourse on the Mount of Olives. For forty years, Jesus’ disciple preached the gospel throughout the Roman Empire warning Jews everywhere of the coming conflagration. 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. Dr. Hindson, please tell me how the preterist view is antisemitic and the dispensational view is not?

Then there’s the dispensational view that mandates another holocaust for the Jews. Here’s how Hal Lindsey describes what will happen to Jews living in Israel during the dispensationalist’s 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).”[14] Death will be so pervasive in Israel that there will be a valley that “will literally become a sea of blood five feet deep.”[15] 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?[16]

Only dispensationalists can imagine it because their interpretive system requires it. Like Dr. Hindson, after looking at dispensational views on the future of Israel, I could write: “While most dispensationalists would insist they are not anti-Semitic, their theology certainly leans in that direction.”

Endnotes:

[1] www.nljonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=33&Itemid=37
[2] David Roberts, The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70 (Ovilla, TX: The Browning Press, Ltd., 1998). This “Descriptive Catalogue” was written by Rev. Croly and first published in 1850.
[3] Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, The Remnant: On the Brink of Armageddon (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 2002). The “remnant” refers to those Jews who survive dispensationalism’s version of the great tribulation.
[4] Gary North, The War on Mel Gibson: The Media Versus the Passion (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2004).
[5] “Falwell Confidential” (September 24, 2003).
[6] Dr. Hindson is one of the editors.
[7] Tim LaHaye, gen. ed., Prophecy Study Bible (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000), 991, note on Zechariah 13:7–9.
[8] LaHaye, Prophecy Study Bible, 991, note on Zechariah 14:9–21.
[9] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Living End (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1976), 81. “A Bloodbath for Israel” is the title of chapter 8. The book was 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 (90).
[10] John F. Walvoord, Israel in Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/Academie, [1962] 1988), 108.
[11] Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, Charting the End Times: A Visual Guide to Understanding Bible Prophecy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2001), 91.
[12] Hal Lindsey, Planet Earth 2000 AD (Palos Verdes, CA: Western Front, 1994), 264.
[13] Hal Lindsey, The Final Battle (Palos Verdes, CA: Western Front, 1995), 184.
[14] Hal Lindsey, The Final Battle, 257.
[15] Hal Lindsey, Apocalypse Code (Palos Verdes, CA: Western Front, 1997), 237.
[16] Louis Goldberg, Haman, Hitler, and Now Hussein—Another Holocaust? (January  1, 1992), www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/8_1/hussein

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