A Haaretz (Israel daily newspaper) article today. It is interesting to read of Messianic prophecy from the point of view of a person who does not believe the New Testament, but should have a better grasp of eschatology than is evidenced in this article. It is rife with errors but also contains some truth.
Why do many Christians believe Jesus will appear after Jews rebuild the temple?
"These are the same Zionist evangelicals who oppose any peace agreement in which Israel will cede parts of the homeland, and who customarily make donations to various right-wing associations in Israel. For them, Israeli sovereignty over the Holy Land is fraught with redemptive meaning. Only the continuing and eternal covenant between the Jewish people and its God in heaven can lend a messianic significance to its deeds on earth."
"It was such a frame of mind that prompted the well-known evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell to assert, back in 1988, that “the most important date we should remember [since the Ascension] is May 14, 1948.” The reason is because, in his view, the creation of the State of Israel “is the greatest single sign indicating the imminent return of Jesus Christ.”
"But there’s a snag. Two months ago we celebrated the 65th anniversary of Israel’s creation, and for some reason Jesus has not yet appeared."
Oh, but He will. They should know better than anyone about the Lord's plans mean nothing in man's scale of time. He sent the Jews into a 70 year exile. They wandered 40 years in the desert. A Jubilee Year comes around once every 50. They spent 400 years waiting for a prophet to speak (Malachi to John the Baptist). The Egyptian captivity was 400 years. And they scoff at 65?
Yes, they scoff.
The article calls the 15-million seller book The Late great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey (an eschatological view of the run up to the Tribulation and the last 7 years of punishment upon the Jews) as a "mythical best seller." The article repeats the old chestnut that John Darby started the notion of the rapture, even though Paul taught it and the earliest church fathers believed it.
The article goes on,
"The relationship between Christian evangelicals and Temple activists is warmer today than ever. It is a strange alliance, in which each side is using the other to further its own redemptive goals, knowing full well that the other has a completely alternative, indeed opposite, picture of the way redemption will look."
Why can't they see the clear and plain truth in the bible? That the rapture will sweep the church from the earth and that those who remain will be left to deal with God's anger on His unbelieving people, the Jews? Because they can't. Paul explained it all in Romans 11. Opening that wonderful chapter, Paul said,
"I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew." (Romans 11:1-2)
That should silence the replacement theologians who said that the Jews are done and the church is all that God cares about now. Paul goes on to explain the program and plan of God in the Age of Grace that we are in now:
"What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that would not see
and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.”" (Romans 11:7-8).
The Jews rejected Jesus when He appeared. Originally the Jews were supposed to be the Light to the world and instruct the Gentiles about God. But they clung to the law, turned insular, and then used the law for their own gain, coasting on the covenant promise and failing to share the Light with the pagans.
Jesus charged them: "You that make your boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonor you God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you." (Romans 2:23-24).
"But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and
spoke against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and
Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word
of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing you put it from
you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, see, we turn to
the Gentiles. For
so has the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set you to be a light of
the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth." (Acts 13:45-47)
Paul explains that the Gentiles are grafted in so as to make Israel jealous.
"So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous." (Romans 11:11).
Paul says it again, explaining the 'mystery of Israel's salvation'.
"Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers:d a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in" Romans 11:25).
They have been partially hardened. The most difficult mission group to reach is the Jew, because they have been made hard of heart and blind so that they cannot see. That is why we wind up with articles that state the redemption plan between the Jew and the Christian are opposite. They aren't , but the hardened Jew see it that way.
All Israel will be saved. Jesus preserves a remnant throughout the Tribulation. He uses the Jew once again as His light to bring salvation, supernaturally sealing 144,000 Jews to witness for Him, 12,000 from each tribe. (Revelation 7:6-8).
He will punish His people, that is what the Tribulation is all about. It is called the Time of Jacob's Trouble. Yet in the end, all Israel will be saved! (Isaiah 53)
"I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the people of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD." (Ezekiel 39:29)
"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of
Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look
on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one
mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a
firstborn" (Zechariah 12:10)
The LORD is grace and mercy. He loves His people. Punishes for idolatry, yes. He does this because He is holy. Even though punishment tough, He will not break His promise to His covenant people the Israelites. He will be as overjoyed as anyone on earth or in heaven when His people cry out to Him as Messiah.
"And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one." (Zechariah 14:9)