Peace in the Middle East Is the Will of the Anti-Christ,
Not Jesus Christ
(so think dispensationalists)
by Bill Barnwell
While most people would consider the prospect of peace in the Middle East to be a good thing, there are many who find the idea of earthly peace between Jews and Arabs to be of evil origins.
Who are the people that get immediately worried or suspicious upon hearing of peace treaties or proposals between Jews and Arabs? Are they members of a hate group of some sort? Violent organizations who promote international chaos? No, ironically enough, it is a large segment of Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians known as "dispensationalists."
Dispensationalists will cry foul regarding the above statement. They will say that they regularly "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6). They’ll respond that they abhor unnecessary violence and that they desire for all people to follow the "Prince of Peace" Jesus Christ. And on those points they are sincere. However, these sentiments aside, whether they know it or not, their theology makes it a Biblical mandate for there to be continuing bloodshed and violence in the Middle East until the time of the "anti-Christ." The only earthly peace that will be brought to the Middle East this side of the Second Coming will be a false peace from the Antichrist, who will later torture Jews and converted Christians during the "Great Tribulation." Thus, "Bible prophecy" calls for this horrific scenario. There is no way around it. Any lasting or meaningful peace in the Middle East generally, and between Jews and Palestinians particularly, is folly and unbiblical. The only future Biblical peace between modern Israel and her enemies will be a false peace that is brought by the antichrist at the start of the supposed seven year "Tribulation" period that will precede Christ’s Second Coming.
During the first 3.5 years, the antichrist will honor his treaty with Israel. But in the second 3.5-year period, he will break the covenant and desecrate the rebuilt Temple of the Jews and exalt himself as God. (Dispensationalists further believe that for end-time events to accelerate, modern Jews must rebuild a Temple to perform animal sacrifices for the people’s sins. It is these sacrifices that the "Antichrist" will supposedly put an end to when he takes over the Temple. Furthermore, the Temple must be rebuilt on or near the location of Islam’s third holiest site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This alone would ignite a regional if not world war. And can you imagine the howling from animal rights activists if religious Jews began sacrificing animals again in mass numbers?)
The idea of a seven-year tribulation, brought on by an "Antichrist" who makes and breaks a covenant with the modern nation of Israel is supported by only one verse in the entire Bible: Daniel 9:27 (the book of Revelation never mentions a 7-year period. It mentions a 3.5-year period multiple times that if added up would yield a much longer period of duration). There is no other passage in Scripture that dispensationalists can point to that indicates the "Antichrist" is going to make or break a covenant with modern Israel. It all comes down to Daniel 9:27. Unfortunately for dispensationalism, Daniel 9:27 is likely referencing events that have long since been fulfilled. According to dispensationalists this verse is totally disconnected from the verses that precede it. But to make this work, you have to insert a 2000+ year imaginary gap between verses 26 and 27.
But there are plenty of problems with the "Left Behind" view of Dan. 9:27. Let's take a look at some of them. According to the Dispensational View: a. Verses 24–26 describe the coming of Jesus (The "Anointed One") 483 years after the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Jesus is the one "cut off" in verse 26, referring to his crucifixion. b. The "people of the ruler" in vs. 26 are referring to those who came and destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70AD. However, the Ruler (Antichrist) himself did not make an appearance then and doesn’t until the indefinite future, whenever verse 27 begins. c. There is a massive gap of time between verses 26 and 27. God’s "prophetic time clock" has stopped now that we are in the "church age." d. Verse 27 describes a future antichrist who will come on the world stage (soon!). The covenant is a covenant of the antichrist. The "many" whom he makes the covenant with are the Jewish people of modern Israel, which he will later break. e. By the time verse 27 happens there will be a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem with resumed animal sacrifices. In the middle of the last "week" (seven-year period) the antichrist will desecrate the Temple, break his covenant with the Jewish people, and thus will begin the "Great Tribulation" which they correspond with Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, 2 Thessalonians 2, and Revelation 6–19. There are so many problems with this interpretation that you almost need a small book to deal with each of them. I have, however, highlighted some of the major faults in the dispensational view of Daniel 9:27 here.
In a nutshell, for all the talk from dispensationalists about how they interpret the Bible "literally," there is nothing literal about the above interpretation. For one, there’s nothing in the text implicitly or explicitly referring to a halting of "God’s prophetic time clock." There’s nothing that suggests a gap of over 2000 years between verses 26 and 27. There’s no reason to assume that the word "many" equals the modern nation state of Israel (though the New Testament does talk about Christ making a covenant with "many" and Christ putting an end to sacrifice and offerings). There’s nothing here or anywhere in the New Testament about "rebuilding the Temple." Where the apostle Paul talks about the "man of sin" exalting himself in "God’s Temple" (2 Thess. 2:4) we have other issues to consider. First of all, in every other instance where Paul uses the word "temple" in his writings it’s never in reference to the literal brick and stone Temple where ancient Jews performed sacrifices and which was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD. Paul always uses the word "temple" metaphorically referring to such things as the body of individual Christians and the Church on a whole (and always uses the Greek word naos which allows for a figurative rendering of Temple. Jesus Himself uses it when He calls Himself the Temple in John 2:19). Traditionally, Christians from various traditions simply saw this verse referring to a heretical leader who tries to usurp God’s proper place and authority in the Church and society. It’s for this reason that many earlier Protestants believed that the Catholic Pope was the antichrist, since they saw him as trying to take the place of God inside the "temple" of Christendom. However, this view has also mostly and rightfully gone out of favor as it has many exegetical problems of its own. Either way, it wasn’t until relatively recently in theological history that Christians believed that a new brick and mortar Temple needed to be built to satisfy 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and that this verse was cut and pasted next to Daniel 9:27. Dispensationalists are unaware of the fact that traditionally Daniel 9:27 was seen as being historically exhausted either during the intertestamental era or at 70AD when the Temple was profaned and Jerusalem destroyed. Likewise, Jesus’ reference to the "abomination of desolation" in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, where he harkens back to Daniel 9:27, was also seen as being historically fulfilled in 70AD when the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed. These events were fulfilled within a generation of the lifetime of His disciples (Matthew 24:34). Note: in every other instance in the gospels where Jesus uses the phrase "this generation," He is always referring to his contemporaries. This view also best fits the context of Matthew 24:15 and its cognate verses in Mark and Luke. Today this view of prophetic events is making a comeback. It is called "partial preterism." Preterism basically means "fulfilled in the past." Partial preterists believe there are still future prophetic events that must transpire. But they also believe many prophetic events that dispensationalists believe are unfulfilled have in fact been fulfilled. This is not a "new teaching" as many dispensationalists are led to believe. They only think this because they’ve never been exposed to another view. It’s actually a much, much older teaching than anything they’ve been taught on subjects like Daniel 9:27. The reality is that throughout church history, the vast majority of Church Fathers and commentators and expositors – from all branches of Christianity (including Protestantism) – were to varying degrees what we would anachronistically call "partial-preterists." The view of "full preterism" that all prophecy has been fulfilled (including the Second Coming and the resurrection!) has its adherents, but it, like dispensationalism is only a recent invention historically speaking. Dispensationalism, with its pre-tribulational rapture, rebuilt temple, two people’s of God, etc., only dates back to the 19th century.
As you read this, you have to ask yourself why dispensationalists have made complicated and isolated verses like Daniel 9:27 the interpretive framework for the entire book of Revelation and their end-time scenarios and charts! Therefore, much rests on these interpretive discussions since people’s very theology and political opinions are formed based upon them. Hence the most important point to take home from this article: People’s beliefs about the future impact the way they live and think in the present. While many get frustrated with these discussions and just throw up their hands and say, "Look, all I know is that Jesus is coming again, that’s good enough for me!" such sentiments ignore what is at stake in the here and now because of these debates about the future. Because if dispensationalism is correct: 1. The only meaningful peace in the near-future for Jews and Arabs will be brought about by the "Antichrist," and this peace itself will turn out to be a sham peace. Any other peace not brought forth by the "Antichrist" is utterly doomed to fail since God has already decreed that the region must be marred by violence and that the "Antichrist" must bring his false peace. Therefore, if events transpired that did bring about an improvement in relations between Jews and Arabs that was not prompted by the "Antichrist" then that throws the entire prophetic system off and discredits dispensationalism. Thus, chaos must be the norm in Israel and the Middle East until the rise of the "Antichrist." 2. A literal brick and stone sacrificial Temple must be rebuilt. And it must be built where Islam’s third holiest site currently stands. It may be unfortunate that tearing down the Al-Aqsa mosque would cause mass bloodshed in the Middle East and result in global instability. Bible prophecy demands it. 3. Jews must go back to sacrificing animals in large numbers, even though this idea is completely foreign and contradictory to the entire New Testament, including all NT sections that address or mention those of ethnic Jewish descent. 4. Two thirds of Jews must perish in the "Great Tribulation" at the hands of the "Antichrist" (this view is wrongly supported from Zechariah 13:8–9. These verses also were traditionally seen as being fulfilled when 1,000,000 Jews actually did die when Jerusalem was destroyed in the first century. When you also take into account the 20th century holocaust, one must ask why so many fundamentalists and Evangelicals can say they "support" Israel when they believe most Jews will be exterminated in the future in an even worse and bloodier holocaust – supposedly ordained by God). 5. God (and by implication us) must desire the Middle East and world on a whole to deteriorate until He steps in to do anything about it. Thus, Christians are fighting a losing battle when they promote any kind of lasting peace between Jews and Palestinians.
Dispensationalists will rightly object that the world will never be perfect as long as man is in charge. That is correct. But just because that is the case it does not mean that we should actively promote the world falling into further disarray and chaos. Just because humanity on its own cannot bring a perfect and final peace does not mean it should promote perpetual war and bloodshed. Sadly, whether they know it or not, many well-meaning fundamentalists and evangelical are doing just that. All in the name of "Bible prophecy." Thankfully Christians do not have to let this self-fulfilling prophecy become a reality. Peace need not be viewed as an antichristic notion. It is indeed a Godly notion.
August 1, 2007
Bill Barnwell [send him mail] is a pastor and writer from Michigan. He holds both a Master of Ministry degree and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree from Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana. Visit his blog. Bill is also a Mortgage Consultant and Loan Originator who can serve clients throughout the country.
It's been very sad to me to observe what dispensationalists/christianZionists have supported the last 4-5 years.
If only there were someone on earth today with the absolute authority and courage to drive the merchandisers out of 'the temple'(s). It's time to clear the extraneous and the patched together jumble of doctrine that makes it okay for anyone to claim to be more 'chosen' and use that as a 'free pass' to accomplish whatever ends they wish to use it to accomplish.
May the light of truth shine through the fog and darkness of bad doctrine before millions more are ruined by it.
moralsurgeon - provided no writing here- just the red highlights-&exasperated URL title-