- Jim Fletcher
A recent consumer report noted that Americans are more
concerned with heated seats and cup holders in their vehicles, while fuel
efficiency remains lower on the list of priorities.
I mention this seemingly unrelated information, because it
is evidence of a larger reason many in our culture “don’t get it” when the
subject comes around to Israel
and the end-times.
A wholly self-absorbed culture eventually collapses in on
itself. It is almost comical that we prefer absurd comforts over important
things like fuel efficiency (or even safety). Almost comical, but not quite.
This is all directly related to a question I hear all the
time: why is prophecy important?
How is it relevant to me?
Well, upfront, therein lies the problem.
“We” have become so self-indulgent that everything must
revolve around our desires and perceived needs. This is a major reason the
Emergent/mystical/self-help gurus have infiltrated the once-vigilant American
church. It’s all about us.
Asking the question about the relevance of Israel,
the Jews, and Bible prophecy presupposes the questioner will not get it. Must I
be obsessed with how God will bless me for blessing Israel?
Have we come to that?
Well-meaning pro Israel Christians even ask this. Sometimes
it’s made a lynchpin of support for Israel,
as Genesis 12:3 is repeated endlessly. Don’t get me wrong; I believe the verse
It’s just that as an American in the 21st
century, I am blessed to the point of being embarrassed. I have the greatest
wife, kids, job, and friends a person could hope for. I have health. Most of
all, God was merciful in revealing Himself to me long ago.
What possible extra blessing could I want? Again, I’m
embarrassed with what I have.
It reminds me of a newsmagazine article from the ‘90s,
around the time of the ethnic cleansing in eastern Europe. An article’s
accompanying photograph was of a man lying in a field, with an umbrella over
him. The sky was full of dark clouds and rain. The man was trying to sleep
and this was his home. He was a
refugee and had nowhere else to go.
I am haunted to this day by that photograph. I’ve never
truly been hungry. My closet is literally bulging with clothes. I have more
material possessions than my parents could have dreamed of. I can fly to
virtually any vacation spot I want. Et cetera.
Perhaps the greatest blessing I’ve ever had has been the
Word of God to light my path. I would be in darkness without it, with the rain
and hopelessness beating down on me.
I remember the first time I saw the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.
It was at night and the floodlights had come on. I pressed my face to the window
of the cab, like some kid at Christmas. I repeated Isaiah 49:16: “Thy walls are
continually before me.”
Tell me, please, what greater blessing could I hope to
You and I stand on the edge of history, illuminated by the
Return of the Jews to their ancient homeland. All this is the most sensational
confirmation that we know the true God.
Right now, three lame-duck leaders — George Bush, Ehud
Olmert, Abu Mazen — are trying to force the establishment of a Palestinian
state. The Prophet Joel knew something about this, about parting God’s land.
This thing speaks also to Ezekiel 36, the boasting of Israel’s
Palestinian negotiators like Saeb Erekat and Nabil Shaath
still predict that nothing can stop the advancement of Palestinian goals and in
this, their prediction is not much different than the genocide predicted by the
Christianity Today, always an old standby in the subtle
bashing of Israel, recently carried an
online article that weirdly attributed possible new waves of anti-Semitism in France
to Holocaust studies! Let’s not inflame Islam or Neo-Nazis by reminding them of
the ovens and labor camps. To me, this speaks to a turning toward abandoning Israel
as an ally, as Jeremiah predicted.
knows who her friends are, and they aren’t in the majority.
Still, we hear Christian leaders asking the question: “How
can we really know when the ‘end-times’ will arrive?”
Are they serious? It’s all around us, the evidence.
In Psalm 83, the confederation against Israel
is breathtaking in its scope and detail. We see the very thing coming together
today. How can we really know when the end-times will arrive? Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, even Jordan…they are no friends
The slightest provocation (or perceived weakness on the part of the Jewish
state) will awaken them to once again strike against Israel.
What is this if not the daily news soaked in Bible prophecy?
Another glaring evidence of the times in which we live is
the very “dominionism” theology of so many American Christian leaders today. Iran is threatening Israel
with nukes. Russia
is standing on every street corner, selling nuke technology out of an old
satchel, wickedly counting the cash. Man stands at the threshold, for the very
first time, of exterminating himself. What is this if not Zechariah?
As Al Qaida creeps into the Sinai, is the world getting
Democratic strategist Bob Beckel said recently on FOXNews
that people don’t care what Barack Obama is selling; they only care that he is
charismatic. The Israelis are desperate for someone to solve their problems. The
Europeans will accept any leader who promises to turn swords into plowshares and
keep the bread coming.
Yet on a History Channel documentary about the Antichrist,
Christian theologians actually pooh-pooh the idea of a literal Antichrist
figure. How can they be so blind?
My “blessing” is that I’m allowed to live in a momentous
time in history. I’m revealing my old-fashioned side here, but I’m also blessed
because God has shown me mercy rather than vaporize me like I deserve.
Why is He good to us? That might be the better question.