Israel is the key to all end-time prophecy.

Keep your eye on Jerusalem  



Dec 24

Dateline Jerusalem - Jim Fletcher

The Greatest Story Ever Told

One of the things I enjoy at the Christmas season is reading the account of the tiny village of Bethlehem — from the tiny book of Micah. This remarkable prophecy promises that the place where David was born would also be the birthplace of the Messiah.

I was in Bethlehem not long ago. It was my second visit (the first being with my late friend and mentor, David Lewis, one of the great Bible prophecy teachers). Of course, the town itself, while full of old buildings, doesn’t look like it did on the night Joseph was looking for shelter for his pregnant wife.

But I was struck by the hills and countryside that surround Bethlehem. Even today, one can see shepherds tending their flocks and it is rather jarring. Zipping down the highway, visitors can look over and see men tending sheep as was done thousands of years ago. It reminds me that our faith is rooted in real history, from real people. Visiting the Holy Land would have been virtually an impossible dream for generations of my own family, but the miracle of modern travel has enabled me to see these places for myself.

Just today, I read an Associated Press article about the increased tourism to Bethlehem this year, due to a downturn in violence. Sadly, but predictably, the AP writer felt it necessary to describe Bethlehem as “the hilly town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.”

As a journalism major myself, I recognize editorializing in alleged news stories. When it comes to Israel, the bias is especially relentless. Readers of Rapture Ready would do well to check out and consider supporting media watchdog groups like CAMERA and Honest Reporting. There, you’ll find a wealth of information about the outrageous bias confronting Israel every single day.

Bible-believing Christians are well aware that the Bible knows nothing of the “West Bank” (a term coined by the late King Hussein of Jordan, about the time he lost the region to Israel in the Six Day War). And to say “Israeli-occupied” is deceptive, at least. When one visits a town like Bethlehem, no Israeli soldiers are seen. Rather, Palestinian police are everywhere, as are buildings labeled “Palestinian Authority Finance Ministry” and the like.

But I digress!

We live in momentous times, and it is a great privilege. We live in a time when the Messiah is closer than ever. And he is Jewish! At a time when that fact is lost on those who lament the poor Palestinian economy in Bethlehem, all of us who believe and love the Bible should take the opportunity at this time of year to explain the whole Gospel to anyone we come in contact with.

By the way, I know from talking with Palestinians that they often reject the Old Testament, or much of it, because they say it puts the Jews on a pedestal. As if they are the apple of God’s eye.

This is why much of the OT is allegorized by not only Arab Christians, but Western scholars. If one doesn’t like Jews, one can twist Scripture into any pretzel-shape one wishes. David Reagan of Lamb & Lion Ministries, and Zola Levitt Ministries are two of the best sources for exploring this interesting style of biblical interpretation.

But I would like to encourage readers to do something a bit different this year. Pray for the Arabs, for the Palestinians who scratch out a life under the heel of dictators. Pray that they will not only read and accept the Bible, but that the Lord will also place His peace and love into individual hearts.

It is easy for me to say, living in safety in the middle of America, that I would stand for righteousness if I lived in Bethlehem today. But I honestly don’t know if I could. It is for that reason that I feel compassion for the Palestinians living in the Holy Land today.

Many of them sit in mostly empty shops, hoping some Western Christians will come in and buy olive wood crosses and nativity sets. They are people, too, and they too are precious to God.

Jesus also came for them.

It is truly the Greatest Story Ever Told.