What identifies a premillennialist — classical and dispensational — is that the Jews that survive the Great Tribulation will reign with Jesus from Jerusalem during the thousand years of Revelation 20. This is the definition, and yet, Revelation 20 does not say anything about the Jews reigning on earth with Jesus from Jerusalem in what is described as a millennial paradise. Once again, we have a doctrine without a text to support it similar to not having texts for another rebuilt temple and the “rapture of the church” before, during, or after a seven-year period that includes (but no verse to support it) the rise of the antichrist who makes and breaks a covenant with the Jews.
“[T]he period of great tribulation between the two phases of Jesus’ Second Coming is portrayed by dispensationalists as a time of horrific suffering and destruction of the Jewish people.” Sometime after the so-called rapture, we are told there will be another Jewish holocaust based on Zechariah 13:8–9:
“It will come about in all the land,” declares the LORD, “that two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘the LORD is my God.’”
While premillennialist Dr. Michael Brown quotes several passages from Zechariah (1:14–15; 8:23; 12:10; 13:1; 14:4–9, 16) in his book Our Hands are Stained with Blood, he does not mention 13:8–9. When I brought up this passage in our debate, he did not have an answer to this question I asked: “Why would God wait nearly 2000 years to redeem His people and then let the antichrist slaughter two-thirds of them? What horrendous crime did this end-time generation of Jews commit that God would judge them so harshly?”
Is Modern Israel a Fulfillment of Prophecy?
Many Christians believe that the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948 fulfilled Old Testament prophecy and heralded the imminent return of Christ. But what does the Bible mean when it talks about the restoration of Israel? And what happens to the identity of God's people and the entire fabric of Bible prophecy when modern Israel becomes the subject of the Old Testament prophets?Buy Now
Hal Lindsey describes the judgment against Israel in AD 70 as a “picnic” compared to a super-holocaust that will lead to the slaughter of two-thirds of the Jews living in Israel. That first-century generation was guilty of a particular great sin, but as we’ll see, God mingled grace with judgment.
Kay Arthur, another dispensational author, has stated publicly that what lies ahead for Israel will make Hitler’s Holocaust look like “a Sunday school picnic.” In her novel, Israel My Beloved, the heroine is standing before a future scene where the Valley of Jehoshaphat is littered with the dead based on her understanding of Zechariah 13:8–9 that only a third of Israel will survive “the fire just as Zechariah promised” during the future Great Tribulation where Israel is the target of God’s wrath:
“Auschwitz was nothing compared to this.. . . I’ve watched as men, women, and children writhe in agony — an agony beyond the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the pogroms. Beyond the horrors of Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz — all the death camps combined…. We have experienced an agony beyond any horror the human mind can envision … beyond even Hitler.”
Let’s not forget Jack Van Impe’s Israel’s Final Holocaust in which he writes that when the prophecy clock starts ticking again after the “rapture,” it “will be traumatic days for Israel. Just when peace seems to have come, it will be taken from her and she will be plunged into another bloody persecution, … a devastating explosion of persecution and misery for Israel….”
Consider what Thomas Ice writes in his article “What do you do with a future National Israel in the Bible?” Like Dr. Brown, Ice believes “that Old Testament promises made to national Israel will literally be fulfilled in the future. This means the Bible teaches that God will return the Jews to their land before the tribulation begins (Isa. 11:11–12:6; Ezek. 20:33–44; 22:17–22; Zeph. 2:1–3). [Notice that there is no New Testament verse supporting this claim.] This has been accomplished and the stage is set as a result of the current existence of the modern state of Israel.” Then he goes on to write the following:
The Bible also indicates that before Israel enters into her time of national blessing she must first pass through the fire of the tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Jer. 30:5–9; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:14–18). Even though the horrors of the Holocaust under Hitler were of an unimaginable magnitude, the Bible teaches that a time of even greater trial awaits Israel during the tribulation. Anti-Semitism will reach new heights, this time global in scope, in which two-thirds of world Jewry will be killed (Zech. 13:7–9; Rev. 12). Through this time God will protect His remnant so that before His second advent “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:36).
In reality, it’s “all that’s left of Israel [that] will be saved.” The book of Acts is a perfect description of what the prophecy of Zechariah describes. Believing Jews were pitted against Jews who attacked the church in the lead up to the destruction of Jerusalem — a two-thirds/one-third split. Many of them mocked Jesus’ prophecy (2 Pet. 3:3) about the temple’s destruction (Matt. 24:1–34) before their generation passed away.
In his book Blow the Trumpet in Zion, published by the same company that published Dr. Brown’s book, Richard Booker writes:
What is this terrible tribulation that awaits the Jews? Moses said it would take place in the “latter days.” It is the last seven years of this age just prior to the coming of Messiah Jesus to earth. The Bible says this will be a time of suffering such as the world has never known.
The Antichrist will march his troops into Israel and for a short period of time will occupy Jerusalem. Every nation will support his retaliation against Israel for their disturbing world peace. The Antichrist will kill two-thirds of all the Jews. This could mean that up to ten million Jews could be killed. The Antichrist will plunder the beloved city of Jerusalem, and one-half of the citizens will be forced into exile.
In a December 2, 1984, sermon, the late Jerry Falwell said the following: “Millions of Jews will be slaughtered at this time but a remnant will escape and God will supernaturally hide them for Himself for the last three and a half years of the Tribulation, some feel in the rose-red city of Petra.”
Charles Ryrie writes in his book The Best is Yet to Come that during this post-rapture period Israel will undergo “the worst bloodbath in Jewish history.” The book’s title doesn’t seem appropriate considering that during this time most (two-thirds) of the Jews will die!
John Walvoord follows a similar line of argument: “Israel is destined to have a particular time of suffering which will eclipse anything that it has known in the past…. [T]he people of Israel … are placing themselves within the vortex of this future whirlwind which will destroy the majority of those living in the land of Palestine.”
Arnold Fruchtenbaum states that during the Great Tribulation “Israel will suffer tremendous persecution (Matthew 24:15–28; Revelation 12:1–17). As a result of this persecution of the Jewish people, two-thirds are going to be killed.”
Barry Horner claims that “quite a few [non-premillennialists], by their derogatory manner have inferred that they would be delighted if the Arabs would push Israel into the Mediterranean Sea, repossess Palestine, and thus vindicate their Eschatology!” He doesn’t identify these people or offer supporting documentation, but I’ll assume that he can produce the documentation if asked to do so. I can produce the following from Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a dispensational premillennialist:
The present state of Israel is not the final form. The present state of Israel will be lost, eventually, and Israel will be run out of the land again, only to return when they accept the Messiah as Savior.
Should we oppose this since this will be God’s doing? A similar question was asked during attacks on Jews by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. See Dwight Wilson’s book Armageddon Now! See my book Identifying the Real Last Days Scoffers.
The latest example of how a future holocaust awaits the Jews living in Israel is Joel Richardson’s book When a Jew Rules the World: What the Bible Really Says About Israel in the Plan of God. According to Richardson, Jesus Himself “spoke of a time of unparalleled tribulation just before the return of Jesus” that “would indicate that what was to come in Israel could even be worse than the Holocaust. While this certainly seems to be the case, I would suggest that we should not try to quantify the suffering to come or calculate the lives that will be lost.” He describes this time to be “of such magnitude and horror” that it’s “a pit too deep and terrifying. I cannot bring myself to peer over the edge,” Richardson writes. “The point is that something terrible is coming and we need to get ready.”
If the Jews living in Israel are going to suffer under this unimaginable horror, shouldn’t premillennialists be warning them and telling them to get out of Israel? There is no such warning. God is sovereign, someone explained to me, and if this is God’s will, then so be it.
True enough, except there’s a missing element, actually two missing elements. The first is the time of the fulfillment of Zechariah 13:8–9. I believe the prophecy refers to the nation of Israel in the lead up to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. It was a covenantal judgment. The church’s greatest enemies in the first century were those of the “synagogue of Satan” (Rev. 2:9; 3:9). They were John’s definition of the “many antichrists” who were alive when he wrote his letters (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:1–4; 2 John 7). Jesus prophesied about the coming judgment. He said it would take place before their generation passed away (Matt. 24:34).
Second, He gave them a generation’s worth of time to repent and a series of tangible warnings to look for to avoid the coming judgment. Jesus told them that the temple would be destroyed and their generation would experience it (Matt. 24:1–3, 33–34). Any Jew, believer or not, living in Jerusalem at that time had to do was head for the hills to avoid being caught up in the conflagration (24:16–20; Luke 21:21–24). In Luke’s version of Jesus’ prophecy about Jerusalem’s destruction, He gave them a specific sign that would have been observable by anyone in the vicinity: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that her desolation is at hand” (21:20).
In His mercy, God issued a warning for 40 years, a way to escape what was coming, and a reality check on the divine nature of Jesus who ascended to the Father’s right hand and rules and reigns from His heavenly throne (Matt, 24:30). Zechariah 13:8–9 had its fulfillment in the lead up to the judgment on Jerusalem as depicted in the book of Acts, the destruction of the temple, and those who refused to heed Jesus’ warning and engaged the Romans in battle.
Wars and Rumors or Wars
Jesus predicted that He would return within the time period of His generation alone. Unfortunately, too many Christians are giving the wrong answer when skeptics claim Jesus was mistaken. Everything Jesus said would happen before that generation passed away did happen.Buy Now
Stephen R. Haynes, Reluctant Witnesses: Jews and the Christian Imagination (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), 162.
Hal Lindsey, The Road to Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 1989), 220.
Kay Arthur, Israel, My Beloved: A Novel (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1996), 433
Arthur, Israel, My Beloved, 431.
Arthur, Israel, My Beloved, 434.
Jack Van Impe with Roger F. Campbell, Israel’s Final Holocaust (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1979), 37.
Richard Booker, Blow the Trumpet in Zion (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 1985), 112, 118.
Charles C. Ryrie, The Best is Yet to Come (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1981), 86.
John F. Walvoord, Israel in Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1962), 107, 113. Emphasis added.
Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, “The Little Apocalypse of Zechariah,” The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming Under Attack, eds. Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2003), 262.
Barry Horner, Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must be Challenged (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2007), xviii.
Stated on Dallas, Texas, radio program (KCBI) in a debate with me on May 15, 1991.
Joel Richardson, When a Jew Rules the World: What the Bible Really Says About Israel in the Plan of God (Washington, DC: WND Books, 2015), 234.