For almost 20 years I have been traveling to the Land of the Bible with our Day of Discovery television team. One of our goals has been to use the historical and geographical backdrop of Israel to talk about the real people, places, and events of the Bible . Another purpose has been to call attention to what the Bible says about the future of this land– in relation to Jesus’ promised return (John 14:1-3; Acts 1:1-11).
During the last two decades, my confidence has only deepened that Jerusalem is ground zero not only for the most important events in the history of the world, but also for the future.
But something else has been happening that I find very troubling. During the years that we have been visiting and working in Israel, we have seen a growing trend among fellow evangelicals that I believe has crossed the line between anticipating Armageddon and actually applauding it. Solidarity between many evangelicals and Israel has been at the expense of Palestinians and the Arab world even though the present Israeli government is largely secular and even atheistic. The result is that a watching world has suspected that many followers of Christ feel so validated by what is happening that we are willing to encourage Israel into a conflict that will trigger the Bible’s end time scenario.
Trying to figure out how and when God is going to fulfill prophecy could be a great distraction if it causes us to give misleading signals to both Jewish and Palestinian communities. Prophets like Isaiah and Ezekiel didn’t close their eyes to the wrongs of Israel any more than they did to the wrongs of their enemies. Neither can we afford to forget the counselors of ancient Israel who gave false assurances to their leaders with disastrous consequences.
More importantly, as followers of Christ we have been called to rise above nationalistic alignments and possible prophetic scenarios for which we have no time table.
If we really believe Christ died for the world, then we believe he died as much for the sins of Palestinians, and Arabs as he did for the sins of his own countrymen and us.
I believe with all of my heart that followers of Christ need to reach out to all people with the most important news the world has ever heard. Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of his coming, died for our sins, rose from the dead to prove it, and now offers forgiveness and peace with God to those of any nation who are willing to confess and trust him.
Yes, Jesus promised to return. But we don’t know when. It could be in our life time, or 500 years from now. We’ve been called to be peacemakers, not warmongers, to work hard for the good of all, and to recognize that, like every other nation, or individual, Israel’s hope has to be in a spiritual change of heart and in a real turning to her God (Zechariah 12-13; 1Thess 4:9-18).
That’s where I am. Please let me know if you think I’m missing something.