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CHRISTIAN ZIONISM:

CHRISTIAN SUPPORT FOR THE STATE OF ISRAEL:

THE POLITICS AND THEOLOGY OF ARMAGEDDON

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Sponsored link.

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Overview:

At various times in history, many Christians viciously discriminated against and committed genocide against Jews. But some Christians have also supported Zionism: the concept of a Jewish homeland in the state of Israel to which all Jews can return. This essay deals with:

bulletThe positive support of Zionism by many conservative Christians in the U.S.,
bulletIts basis in biblical prophecy concerning the "end-times," and
bulletImplications for the status of Jews at that future time.

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The Christian Zionist movement:

Conservative Christians who support Zionism are sometimes called "Christian Zionist fundamentalists." 1 However, the term is not particularly accurate because there are many conservative Evangelical Christians who support Zionism, but who are not fundamentalists. Some members of mainline Christian denominations and even of liberal faith groups support the Zionist cause.

According to author Grace Halsell, Christian Zionists believe that "Every act taken by Israel is orchestrated by God, and should be condoned, supported, and even praised by the rest of us." 2,3

Some major developments in what we will call the Christian Zionist movement were:

bullet1891: Rev. William E. Blackstone "presented a petition to US President Benjamin Harrison calling for reinstatement of the Jews to Israel; among the signatories were Cardinal Gibbons, John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan and more than 400 other leading Americans." The petition did not cause the American government to take any action. 4
bullet1909: C.I. Schofield, a conservative Protestant, edited the King James Version of the Bible. He added extensive footnotes which, among other things, emphasized the present and future role of Israel in world history. Grace Halsell writes: "Scofield said that Christ cannot return to earth until certain events occur: The Jews must return to Palestine, gain control of Jerusalem and rebuild a temple, and then we all must engage in the final, great battle called Armageddon. Estimates vary, but most students of Armageddon theology agree that as a result of these relatively recent interpretations of Biblical scripture, 10 to 40 million Americans believe Palestine is God's chosen land for the Jews." 5 The Schofield Bible is the most popular reference Bible in the U.S.
bullet1917: The government of Britain under David Lloyd George issued the Balfour Declaration which gave the support of his government for the "...establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."
bullet1948: The state of Israel came into existence on MAY-14. Many fundamentalist and other Evangelical leaders concluded that this was an imminent sign of the "last days" and of Jesus' second coming.
bullet1967: During the Six Day War, Jerusalem came under Jewish control on 2967-JUN-07. It had previously been held by Jordan.
bullet1978: "...a Likud plan to encourage fundamentalist churches to give their support to Israel" was published. The Likud is a conservative party in Israel; as of 2002-JUL, they are the leading party in a coalition government. The guide was written by Yona Malachy, and was titled "American Fundamentalism and Israel: The Relation of Fundamentalist Churches to Zionism and the State of Israel." It was published by the Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 6
bullet1980: The International Christian Embassy (ICEJ) was founded in Jerusalem on 1980-SEP-20. It has strongly promoted the Christian Zionist movement both in Israel and in Washington. 6
bullet1985: At a "National Prayer Breakfast for Israel," on FEB-6, Benjamin Netanyahu discussed how "A sense of history, poetry and morality imbued the Christian Zionists who, more than a century ago, began to write, plan and organize for Israel's restoration." 1
bullet1985: The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem hosted the first International Christian Zionist Congress, in Basel, Switzerland.
bullet19??: The National Unity Coalition for Israel (NUCI) was founded. It is a lobby group "with contacts in Congress and neo-conservative think-tanks in Washington."  It has grown to be a coalition of over 200 Jewish and Christian organizations. 7
bullet1988: The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem hosted its second International Christian Zionist Congress, in Jerusalem.
bullet1996: The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem sponsored the Third International Christian Zionist Congress, convened in Jerusalem from 1996-FEB-25 to 29. Delegates unanimously adopted a proclamation was which proclaimed that:
bulletJesus is the Messiah and will return to Jerusalem.
bulletGod gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people. This includes Gaza, the Golan Heights, Judea, and Samaria.
bulletJerusalem is to remain undivided. The Palestinian people are to be denied a state to live in.
bulletGod will eventually reveal to Jews the "true nature of the faith of Abraham. They will abandon Islam and convert to Christianity. 8
bullet2002-MAY: The Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, organized a prayer breakfast for Christian Zionists. "Present were Alonzo Short, a member of the board of 'Promise Keepers'... Michael Little who is president of the 'Christian Broadcasting Network'... Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson."
bullet2002-JUL: A contingent of 371 Jewish Americans emigrated on JUL-9 to Israel. Many had been bankrolled by grants from U.S. Evangelical Christians. They "regard the return of Jews to the Holy Land as part of an apocalyptic prophecy foretold in the Bible."

Bishop Huey Harris, of the First Pentecostal Tabernacle Church in Elkton, MD, raised $2,500 to help them relocate. He said: "What I'm seeing is the Scriptures being fulfilled right before our very eyes....What's next? I'm looking for the church to be raptured, Jesus returning for the church...and the Jews would receive him as their Messiah..." 9

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Sponsored link:

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Theological basis for Christian support for Israel in end-times:

Conservative Christian support for Israel is based largely on various prophecies about the Jewish people during the "end-times" which they believe are found throughout the Bible. They are viewed as playing a major role in TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it). Some are:

 

bullet

Zechariah's war prophecy:

bullet

Zechariah 12:3: "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it." (KJV) The implication is that the Jewish people would return to Israel; this happened in 1948 with the creation of the State of Israel. Later, all the nations of the earth will gather against her. Some believe that we are near that point today. But God will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. This came to pass when the Camp David peace talks found that the future status of Jerusalem became a major stumbling block.

bullet

Zechariah 12:4-5: "In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the LORD of hosts their God." God is seen as protecting the Jews. He will wipe out the military capacity of the nations that are against Israel.

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Zechariah 12:9-10: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."  Many conservative Christians interpret this as saying that Jews will be humbled, will accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and become Christians. They believe that "Whom they have pierced" refers to the piercing of Jesus' side by a Roman soldier. They will "morn for him as the firstborn Son of God — grieve deeply in recognizing their ancient complicity in his death and the fact that they could have entered the promised land long ago, had they entered by faith, not force." 10

bullet

The 24 elders:

bulletRevelation 4:4: "And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold." Conservative Christians view the 24 as being composed of the patriarchs of each of the twelve ancient tribes of Israel, along with the twelve apostles. To emphasize their unity, they are gathered in a circle around the throne of God. All are believed to be Christians at that time. The number presents a problem. One of the original disciples, Judas, died and was replaced with Matthias. But Paul also considered himself an apostle. That would make a total of thirteen apostles.
bullet

The 144,000 sealed virgins:

bulletRevelation 7:3-4 "Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel."
bulletRevelation 14:1-4: "And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads....These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb."

These passages seem to imply that 144,000 Jewish virgins -- their gender is not mentioned -- will convert to Christianity and be "sealed." They will have God's name written on their forehead, and will be followers of the Lamb -- i.e. of Christ. Some Christians interpret these phrases as implying that 144,000 Jews will convert to Christianity and then attempt to convert the remaining Jews in Israel.

The selection of these 144,000 Jews also presents a problem. The passage says that they will come from "all the tribes of the children of Israel" -- that is, from all 12 tribes. The implication is that there would be 12,000 representatives sealed from each of the ancient Hebrew tribes. 

However, the Hebrew Scriptures discuss:

bulletThe invasion of the Assyrians into the Northern Kingdom (Israel) in 722 BCE. Some Jews escaped to the Southern Kingdom, Judah. Most appear to have scattered, or have stayed in the former Israel and assimilated into the new Pagan culture.
bulletThe invasion by the Babylonians into the Southern Kingdom, (Judah) in 605 BCE. Most of the Jews escaped to Egypt; others were taken in to exile in Babylon.

During history, ten of the twelve tribes became "lost" and apparently were assimilated into nearby Pagan cultures. 11 Only a remnant of the combined tribes of Judah and Benjamin survived. A sizeable percentage of the lost tribes probably remained in and near modern-day Israel, and are now Palestinians. Their genetic heritage is indistinguishable from that of Jews. So, if 12,000 representatives are selected from each of the original twelve tribes, then the group might consist mostly of Palestinians. 

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The fate of the Jews:

Uri Avnery, is the leader of Gush Shalom, an Israeli peace group. He was discussing the theology of many Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christians in a 2002-JUN essay, and wrote: "According to its theological beliefs, the Jews must congregate in Palestine and establish a Jewish state on all its territory so as to make the Second Coming of Jesus Christ possible...the evangelists don't like to dwell openly on what comes next: before the coming [of the Messiah], the Jews must convert to Christianity. Those who don't will perish in a gigantic holocaust in the battle of Armageddon. This is basically an anti-Semitic teaching..." 1 This teaching implies that Jews who remain true to God's covenants in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) will be all exterminated in a massive genocide that may be more numerous than the Nazi Holocaust.

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References used in the above essay:

  1. Robert Fisk, "A strange kind of freedom," information essay, 2002-JUL-10, The Independent's, at: http://news.independent.co.uk/
  2. Rev. C.I. Schofield, Ed., "The Schofield Reference Bible," 1909, Oxford University Press.
  3. Grace Halsell, "Prophecy and Politics. The Secret Alliance Between Israel and the US Christian Right," Lawrence Hill & Co., (1989). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
  4. "Christian Zionism," at:  http://icej.org.il/
  5. Grace Halsell, "Special Report: Israeli Extremists and Christian Fundamentalists: The Alliance," Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, at: http://www.washington-report.org/
  6. Clifford Kiracofe, "President Bush and the Christian Zionist lobby," Opinion piece, The Daily Star Online, 2002-MAY-9, at: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/
  7. The National Unity Coalition for Israel has a web site at: http://www.israelunitycoalition.com/
  8. "International Christian Zionist Congress Proclamation," 1996-FEB-29, at: http://www.netvision.net.il
  9. Danielle Haas, "U.S. Christians find cause to aid Israel Evangelicals financing immigrants, settlements," San Francisco Chronicle, 2002-JUL-10.
  10. David Haggith, "Reclaiming the promised land #1: Prophetic destiny or overzealous Zionism?," MillenniumHope.info, at: http://www.millenniumhope.info/
  11. David Haggith. "144,000 crippled Jews hit the headlines in Jerusalem," 2002-JAN-14, at: http://www.millenniumhope.info/

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Other information sources:

  1. Some lists of Christian Zionist Web Sites is at:
    bulletChrist Church, Virginia Water, England http://www.virginiawater.co.uk/
    bullet121 Zone: http://www.121zone.com/
    bulletDmoz: http://dmoz.org/
    bulletGoogle: http://directory.google.com/
  2. Some books on Christian Zionism:
    bulletGrace Halsell, "Prophecy and Politics. The Secret Alliance Between Israel and the US Christian Right," Lawrence Hill & Co., (1989). Read reviews or order this book
    bulletLawrence Epstein, "Zion's Call," University Press of America, (1984). Read reviews or order this book
    bulletMichael Pragai, "Faith and Fulfillment, Christians and the Return to the Promised land,"  Vallentine, Mitchell, (1985) Read reviews or order this book
    bulletCharles Merkley, "The Politics of Christian Zionism 1891-1948," Frank Cass, (1998). Read reviews or order this book
    bulletRuth Mouly, "The religious right and Israel: the politics of Aramageddon," Political Research Assoc. Out of print. You may be able to purchase this book used
    bulletDavid Rausch, "Zionism Within Early American Fundamentalism, 1878-1918: A Convergence of Two Traditions," Edwin Mellen, (1978). Read reviews or order this book

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Copyright © 2001 to 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-JUL-10
Latest update: 2004-OCT-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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