According to the Christian Zionists, "The modern Ingathering of the Jewish People to Eretz Israel and the rebirth of the nation of Israel are in fulfilment of biblical prophecies, as written in both Old and New Testaments."
Christian Zionists trace the beginnings of their movement back to individuals who opined that Jews may some day return to their land, based on their interpretation of prophecy.
Thomas Newton (1704-1782), Bishop of Bristol, said: "The preservation of the Jews is really one of the most signal and illustrious acts of divine Providence... and what but a supernatural power could have preserved them in such a manner as none other nation upon earth hath been preserved. Nor is the providence of God less remarkable in the destruction of their enemies, than in their preservation..."
Charles Henry Churchill (1828-1877) was a British Diplomat and resident of Damascus, who advocated the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. Others were George Gawler (1796-1869), Edward Cazalet (1827-1883), British industrialist and merchant; Lawrence Oliphant (1829-1888), who was an active restorationist.
William E. Blackstone (1841- 1935), was an American evangelist and author of the Zionist Blackstone Memorial of 1891. "He focused on the Restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land as a prelude to their conversion to Christianity, out of a pious wish to hasten the coming of the Messiah; but he increasingly became concerned with the deadly, Russian, government-instigated pogroms and believed that it was necessary to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine."
In Blackstone's view, the entire world has already
cited Acts 2:5, 8:4, Mark 16:20
William Henry Hechler (1845-1931), an Anglican priest, and Zionist,
born in Benares, India. He was on close terms with Kaiser Wilhelm the
Second. He had a strong interest in the spiritual and mystical worlds.
1884, he published his essay "The
Prophets," in which, drawing on ancient
he predicted that around 1897 the Jews would return to their homeland.
met Herzl while serving as chaplain at the British embassy in Vienna,
the two men developed a special friendship. He attended the First
Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in August 1897.
Theodor Herzl wrote of him on March 10, 1896:
The Rev William H. Hechler, chaplain to the British Embassy in Vienna, called on me. A likable, sensitive man with the long grey beard of a prophet, he waxed enthusiastic over my solution. He, too, regards my movement as a 'prophetic crisis' - one he foretold two years ago. For he had calculated in accordance with a prophecy dating from Omar's reign (637-638) that after 42 prophetical months, that is, 1,260 years, Palestine would be restored to the Jews. This would make it 1897-1898.
Tarek A. Ghanem commented: "This little excerpt sums the prophecy- possessed notion and, based on the calculations, proves the flaws in Christian Zionism since its dawn, for Zionist statehood did not come to the fore until 1948."
In modern times, many Christian Zionists became zealous for the movement after the dramatic Arab-Israel war of 1967. Many were influenced by Hal Lindsey's book, "The late great planet earth" [Hal Lindsey and Carole C. Carlson, Zondervan, 1970].
L. Nelson Bell, editor of Christianity Today, described the Israeli capture of Jerusalem in 1967 as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
Lindsey's books and Tim LaHaye's fictional Left Behind series have made the rapture doctrine of dispensationalism popular.
Jerry Falwell (1933-2007) was pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, a megachurch in Lynchburg, Virginia. He was a televangelist, and founder of Liberty University, and the Moral Majority political lobby prominent in the 1980's. He was supported by the Anti-Defamation League and its leader Abraham Foxman for his pro-Israel views.
John Hagee, pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, founder and National Chairman of the Christian-Zionist organization Christians United for Israel, incorporated on February 7, 2006.
Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and host of The 700 Club TV show. Founder of CBN University. He sought the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 1986-7.
On his website, Robertson says:
Yes, the survival of the Jewish people is a miracle of God. The return
the Jewish people to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is
miracle of God. The remarkable victories of Jewish armies against
overwhelming odds in successive battles in 1948, and 1967, and 1973 are
clearly miracles of God. The technological marvels of Israeli industry,
the military prowess, the bounty of Israeli agriculture, the fruits and
flowers and abundance of the land are a testimony to God's watchful
over this new nation and the genius of this people. Yet what has
was clearly foretold by the ancient prophet Ezekiel, who, writing at
time of the Babylonian captivity, declared this message for the Jewish
people concerning latter days. "For I will take you out of the nation;
will gather you from all the countries and bring you back to your own
land... I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you... to
follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the
land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people and I will be your
God. I will save you from all your uncleanness." ...
Ladies and Gentleman, evangelical Christians support Israel because we
believe that the words of Moses and the ancient prophets of Israel were
inspired by God. We believe that the emergence of a Jewish state in the
land promised by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was ordained by God.
Those political leaders who only understand the secular dimension of Israel's existence and who cavalierly dismiss the spiritual dimension will find that they receive the mess of pottage of Esau rather than the inheritance of Jacob.
Robertson's comment about those who "dismiss the spiritual dimension" of the prophecies is ironic. The "spiritual dimension" spoken of in those prophecies is entirely absent in the modern Jewish state in Palestine. To say that the Jewish state fulfils the prophecies is therefore a lie and a fraud!
Tom DeLay, US Republican Party (GOP) House Majority Leader from
has actively promoted Christian Zionism. According to a Wikipedia article,
DeLay promised to
every tool at my disposal to ensure that the Republican Conference, and
the House of Representatives, continues to preserve and strengthen
America's alliance with the State of Israel." DeLay was the "driving
behind the rejection of direct aid" to the Palestinian Authority in
by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In the wake of the
legislation, some Jewish leaders expressed concern "about the degree to
which the Texas Republican, an evangelical Christian who opposes the
creation of a Palestinian state, will go to undercut American and
attempts to achieve a two-state solution."
Speaking on the recent 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz in Poland, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed the prophet Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones has been fulfilled by the Jewish state in Palestine. Netanyahu said, "Armed with the Jewish spirit, the justice of man, and the vision of the prophets, we sprouted new branches and grew deep roots. Dry bones became covered with flesh, a spirit filled them, and they lived and stood on their own feet."
Netanyahu referred to Ezekiel 37:1-10.
Other examples of prophecies about a return to the land by Israel are: Deuteronomy 30:3-6; Jeremiah 30-32; Ezekiel 11:17-20; Ezekiel 36:24-28.
A Wikipedia article on Christian Zionism says:
Christian Zionism is a belief among some Christians that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, is in accordance with Biblical prophecy. It overlaps with, but is distinct from, the nineteenth century movement for the Restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land, which had both religiously and politically motivated supporters. The term Christian Zionism was popularized in the mid-twentieth century. Prior to that time the common term was Restorationism.
Some Christian Zionists believe that the "ingathering"
of Jews in
is a prerequisite for the Second Coming of Jesus. This belief is
primarily, though not exclusively, associated with Christian
Dispensationalism. The idea that Christians should actively support a
Jewish return to the Land of Israel, along with the parallel idea that
Jews ought to be encouraged to become Christian, as a means fulfilling
Biblical prophecy has been common in Protestant circles since the
Examples of Christian leaders combining political conservatism with Christian Zionism are Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, leading figures of the Christian Right in the 1980s and 1990s. Falwell said in 1981: "To stand against Israel is to stand against God. We believe that history and scripture prove that God deals with nations in relation to how they deal with Israel."
Efforts by Christian Zionists to "help God fulfil prophecy" are similar to Abraham having sexual relations with Hagar, the bondmaid in the hope of having a son, in a misguided attempt to fulfil the divine promises given to him.
A recent summit of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) in Jerusalem, was addressed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In his welcome speech on Monday March 8, 2010, Netanyahu said:
Welcome to Jerusalem, the undivided, eternal capital of the Jewish state and the Jewish people. Your presence here today represents a profound transformation in the relationship between Christians and Jews. This transformation has its roots in the 19th century when the early Christian Zionists came to the Land Israel and when they began exploring the land of the Bible, when they began to yearn for the Jewish restoration in this land, the restoration of our numbers, the restoration of our sovereignty. In fact, Christian Zionism preceded modern Jewish Zionism, and I think enabled it. But it received a tremendous impetus several decades ago when leading American clergymen, among them most notably, Pastor John Hagee, a dynamic pastor and leader from Texas, began to say to their congregations and to anyone who listened, it's time to take a stand with Israel. It was time to take a stand with the sole democracy in the Middle East. It was time to take a stand against the lies and the slander and the vilifications. It was time to defend the Jewish state's right to defend itself. Today, Christians by the thousands, by the tens of thousands, by the hundreds of thousands, by the millions, by the tens of millions - today they have heard this call, and they stand with Israel. I salute you, the people of Israel salute you, the Jewish people salute you. Time after time, through thick and thin, you have stood shoulder to shoulder with our state, and I have come here tonight to thank you for your unwavering friendship. And today that friendship is more important than ever because Israel faces unprecedented challenges to its security and its legitimacy.
The migration of Jews to Palestine has not been associated with the spiritual change-of-heart that is associated with the restoration of Israel to the land in prophecies such as Deuteronomy 30:3-6; Jeremiah 30-32; Ezekiel 11:17-20; Ezekiel 36:24-28.
According to these prophecies a return to the land is coupled with a spiritual change. It is a return to a true relationship with God: "And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart ... And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God ... And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you ... And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."
Ezekiel's prophecies especially speak of a return of Israel to their land. He says men will be multiplied on the mountains [Ezek. 36:10]; the entire house of Israel will dwell on the mountains of Israel [Ezek. 36:10]; wastes will be built [Ezek. 36:10]; it will be better than at the beginning [Ezek. 36:11]; the people of Israel will possess the mountains [Ezek. 36:12]; God will put them in their own land [Ezek. 37:14, 21]; they will be gathered from among the heathen [Ezek. 37:21]; they will become one nation [Ezek. 37:22]; they will dwell in the land forever [Ezek. 37:25]; they will dwell in the land God gave to their fathers [Ezek. 36:28]; God will gather them from the land of their enemies [Ezek. 39:27]; God will gather them to their own land [Ezek. 39:28].
Together with a restoration to the land, these prophecies show that God will make a new covenant with his people [Jer. 31:31]; God will write his laws on their hearts [Jer. 31:33]; God's people will get a new heart [Ezek. 36:26]; God will make an everlasting covenant with them [Ezek. 37:26]. They will get a new spirit [Ezek. 36:26]; God will put his spirit in his people [Ezek. 36:27; 37:14]; God will pour out his spirit on Israel [Ezek. 39:28]; God will pour upon the house of David... the spirit of grace and of supplications [Zech. 12:10].
Furthermore, the prophecies indicate David will be a prince among them [Ezek. 34:24]; they will know God as Lord [Ezek. 36:11]; God will sanctify his great name [Ezek. 36:23]; David will become king over them [Ezek. 37:24-25]; God will be jealous for his holy name [Ezek. 39:25]; the LORD shall be king over all the earth [Zech. 14:9]; His name will be one. [Zech. 14:9]
The duration of this restoration is forever. Ezekiel said the mountains won't bereave the people any more [Ezek. 36:14]; the shame of the heathen won't be heard any more [Ezek. 36:15]; Israel will dwell in the land forever [Ezek. 37:25]; God will make an everlasting covenant with them [Ezek. 37:26]; Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward [Ezek. 39:22].
In the New Testament, the promise of the Spirit and a new covenant, and forgiveness of sins, are applied to the church, in Hebrews 8:8-13, and Hebrews 10:16-17. This indicates that, contrary to what the Christian Zionists say, these promises are primarily spiritual in nature, and they were not intended for ethnic Jews at all. The restoration to the land spoken of in prophey must therefore be understood as metaphorical. It refers to the Christian's submission to the reign of Christ in his life. Mountains mentioned in Ezekiel's prophecies are symbolic of the revelations of God, and the promises given to the saints. I suggest that if those prophecies are to be fulfilled, they will be fulfilled by Christians returning to the teachings of Christ and the apostles.
The spiritual renewal of unbelieving Jews anticipated by early Christian Zionists has not happened, in the 60 years since the formation of the Jewish state, and so the much touted establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 does not fulfil the biblical prophecies of Israel's "return to the land."
Copyright © 2010, 2012, 2013 by Douglas E. Cox
All Rights Reserved.