Should Christians support war in Israel to bring about the return of the Messiah?

Should Christians support war in Israel to bring about the return of the Messiah?

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Is Dispensationalism Radical?

As I write this, Iran has just launched missiles upon Israel. Shia Muslims, particularly those in power in Iran, eagerly await the return of the 12th Imam, believed to herald the end times after a period of intense conflict.

In the United States, among most Evangelical circles, there exists a fervent belief in dispensationalism, a theological framework that interprets biblical prophecy into current events. Many adherents of this belief system are deeply invested in the idea of rebuilding the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, viewing it as a necessary precursor for the return of Jesus Christ. The convergence of these disparate ideologies creates a volatile mix, with each group harboring its own agenda and motivations.

Dispensationalism has been a prominent theological framework within modern segments of Christian belief, particularly in the United States for the last 200 years. However, a closer examination of the doctrine, reveals significant theological and biblical inconsistencies within this perspective. One of the central tenets of dispensationalism is the belief in the necessity of rebuilding the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. The problem is, Muslims control the temple land. If building the temple anew is truly necessary, how do we reclaim the land? War? Many American Christians seem to think so and are easily persuaded by politicians into supporting policies that promote conflict in that part of the world.

In Dispensationalism, rebuilding the temple is tied to the idea of resuming animal sacrifices, which were a central feature of worship in the Old Testament era. Thus creating a need to rebuild the temple.  However, the New Testament presents a different perspective on these matters, emphasizing the fulfillment of these rituals in Christ. In the book of Hebrews, the writer extensively discusses the superiority of Christ's sacrifice over the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament: "For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." (Hebrews 10:4)

The idea of a future land promise for Israel is often central to dispensationalist theology. However, biblical evidence teaches that the land promise was fulfilled in the Old Testament era. First, let's examine what was promised:

Genesis 15:18, when God made a covenant with Abraham: "On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, 'To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates."

The land promise was completely fulfilled during the reign of Solomon: In 1 Kings 4:20-21, we read: "The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy. And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. These countries brought tribute and were Solomon’s subjects all his life."  

Thirdly, the temple has already been rebuilt and doesn't need to be rebuilt again! The first one was destroyed during the Babylonian invasion of Judah: 2 Kings 25:8-9: "In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—that was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. And he burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down."

After the Jews returned from the captivity, Ezra's generation rebuilt the temple. 400 years before the coming of Jesus! Dispensationalists are looking to rebuild a temple that was already rebuilt! Ezra 6:14-15: "They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia. The temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius."

Finally, the destruction of the second temple was for a reason. In Matthew 24:1-2, Jesus foretells the second temple's destruction: "Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 'Do you see all these things?' he asked. 'Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.'"

"This prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70 when the Roman armies, under Titus, destroyed the temple in Jerusalem as a judgment upon the Jewish people for rejecting the Messiah." Now notice what Jesus said about himself in the gospel of John: "Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' The Jews then said, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?' But he was speaking about the temple of his body." (John 2:19-21)

Why is all this significant? Because Jesus is our temple, our sacrifice, and our savior. We have ZERO need for a war in the Middle East for the return of Jesus. We don't need a temple, and we certainly don't need to reinstitute animal sacrifices that cannot save! The Iranians believe the 12th Imam cannot come back unless they start a world war by attacking Israel. Let's reject Dispensationalism, as it encourages Middle East intervention to bring about the second coming of Jesus. 

If we must go to war,  let our reasons for war hinge on what is best for America and not a flawed Bible doctrine. I like Israel, but no more than Canada or England. Let's use our heads  and not be driven by self-righteous emotion into a conflict that the Bible does not teach that we have to be apart of!

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