I ran across an article, written more than a decade ago, in The Jerusalem Post (Christian Edition). Sadly the article is wrong on many things.
I share this article in italicized text below. The subtitles are mine and my comments are bracketed and in red. It’s my hope that by reading this you will understand the error in claiming a Pre-Tribulation Rapture opposes Israel.
Christian Zionism and the Pre-Tribulation Rapture
“I find many Christians who support the restoration of the Jewish people to their homeland in Israel also subscribe to the end-time teaching known as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. This teaching holds that Jesus will return first as a “thief in the night” to snatch away the Church prior to a hellish reign of terror by a false messiah in the last days. Jesus will then come again with his Church to destroy all satanic rule on this planet and establish the long-awaited Messianic Age.”
“But have Christians who hold this [Pre-Tribulation Rapture] view stopped to consider, as I finally did, that this teaching is fundamentally opposed to the heart and soul of Christian Zionism?”
[“Zionism” began in the late 19th century as a movement for Jews to return to their homeland in Palestine. Christian Zionism is mostly an American movement about supporting Israel. The real question is whether Christian Zionism is biblical or unbiblical?
My answer: yes and no. If it concerns Israel’s right to the land, the Bible says “yes.” And we are to support Israel. But there is so much more to consider than just Israel’s land rights. God cares about individual Israelis and their standing with Him. In this time, orthodox, conservative, and reformed Jews are not in God’s family because they do not belong to Jesus (John 14:6, Rom 8:15-17). Christian Zionism should first and foremost be about caring for the souls of individual Jews.]
As a new Christian in the mid ’70s, I too believed the teaching that Jesus would come suddenly to remove his Church before the rule of the anti-Christ. The prophet Daniel called it “a time of distress such as has never occurred since there was a nation” (Daniel 12:1). Jeremiah called it “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:5-7). And Jesus said “if those days had not been cut short, no one would survive” (Matthew 24:22). So who would want to be here for that if you were told you could avoid it? Since the most respected Christian teachers in the land said we’d fly away with Jesus, I was right there.
Awakened to Jewish Roots?
But that was before I awakened to the “Jewish roots” of my faith.
[It’s not only Jews who have Jewish roots of faith. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2) and Jesus was born a Jew, lived a life as a Jews, and died a Jew. Our Jewish roots of faith are in Jesus, and must be understood in the light of the cross and resurrection of Jesus.]
In the process of this awakening I discovered that God had not rejected the Jews, as we had been taught by a doctrine known as Replacement Theology.
[We agree. God did not reject the Jews. Nor has He has forgotten them. God made promises to the Jews as a nation, and He is faithful to fulfill them. In the Tribulation, He will call a remnant back to Himself through His Son, and Jesus will return and set up His kingdom with the Jews as the lead nation.]
Indeed, He is even now reestablishing them in their national homeland, as all the prophets foretold.
[That is partial fulfillment of prophecy, proof of God’s faithfulness. But while the nation is being established, there must be a national repentance before the prophecied kingdom will be established. That will happen in the Tribulation, when a believing (in Jesus) remnant of the Jewish nation will be saved.]
It wasn’t long before my wife and I became “crazy” Christian Zionists praying for Israel and the Jewish people, attending pro-Israel rallies, writing letters to papers that misrepresented the truth about Israel, encouraging the Jewish people, teaching other Christians about God’s plan of restoration for the Jews, and contributing to any ministry that supported Israel.
And in the middle of this Zionist awakening I began to sense a growing tension in my spirit concerning the Rapture.
It didn’t take long to see where the problem lay. At almost every pro-Israel event there would be a time of public repentance for turning our backs – and often our weapons – on the Jews. We’d loudly proclaim, “we will never abandon you again” – either by keeping silent in times of persecution, as so many did during the Holocaust or by distancing ourselves through the acceptance of Replacement Theology.
[This clearly focuses on Israel as a nation, not the individual souls of the people. It does not address their need to be in relationship with God through Jesus. But the writer’s problem is not with the spiritual condition of the people, but with the doctrine of the Rapture and Jews being left behind.]
Yet by embracing a Rapture theology, aren’t we already planning to abandon them at a time when Israel and the Jews will need us most?
[The writer does not understand God’s prophetic message in Hosea 5:15 – I [Jesus] will return again to My place [Heaven] Till they [Israel] acknowledge their offense [rejecting Jesus]. Then they [Israel] will seek My face [God’s face, which is Jesus]; In their affliction [the 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation], they [Israel] will earnestly seek Me [Jesus].]
Worse, we crow about our “saving event” without a word of apology to our Jewish friends.
[Why would we apologize? The Rapture is not our “saving event.” It is God’s. The Bride of Christ will be taken home to Heaven before the wrath of God is poured out upon the earth (1 Th 5:9). ]
What must the Jews think? No doubt they are grateful for our present support, but I’m sure they won’t be holding their breath waiting for us once the feathers hit the fan.
What is wrong with us? Have we learned nothing from our past betrayals of our brothers? Are we just going to be happy-clappy cheerleaders for Israel as long as the skies are sunny, but when dark clouds come will we start looking for the Rapture bus to get us out of here, fast?
[It appears this man does not understand the promises made to the Bride of Christ, the Church. The Tribulation will be seven years of God’s wrath upon the earth in judgment of sin. Jesus paid for our sins. We will never experience God’s wrath. Therefore, Jesus will come for us before the seventieth week of Dainel, the Tribulation, begins (Read: What is the Seventieth Week of Daniel?) ]
And if our love is that conditional, what does it say about our message of God’s eternal love for Israel? For years we have been quoting Isaiah 40:1,2: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, and that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”
[In contrast to the dark judgment of the preceding chapters, chapter 40 begins a prophecy of the promised kingdom age. Chapters 40-48 tell of Israel’s restoration to the land. Chapters 49-57 tell of the coming of Messiah. And chapters 58-66 tell of themillennial blessings for Israel. Isaiah saw the future blessings and the fulfillment of God’s promises to the nation.]
Do we believe that or not [the Isaiah 40:1-2 prophecy]? If we do, then we should stop telling the Jews they are going to face the ultimate holocaust alone.
Rather, we should be saying over and over that God will be with His chosen people, both Jew and Christian, protecting and providing for us throughout this coming Tribulation.
“Chosen People, Both Jew and Christian?”
[Again, this writer seems to think the Jews have the same standing and blessings as Christians. Not true. Christians are in Christ and Jews are not. Christians are in covenantal relationship with God through Jesus. Jews are not. John 14:6]
And that eventually, He will deliver us out of it and destroy our enemies in the Day of His wrath, as surely as He drowned the army of Pharaoh. This is what Jesus and all the prophets and apostles prophesied (see Daniel 12:1; Jeremiah 30: 1-11; Isaiah 52: 7-12; Joel 3: 14-17;1 Peter 1:5; Matthew 24:22, 29-31; Revelation 12:14).
[True. God will deliver Israel in the Day of His Wrath. But it will be believing Israel (those who believe in Jesus). He speaks of “us” as Christians and Jews being one. It is Gentiles and Jews that are one in the body of Christ. Christians and Jews are two separate religions. One is in Christ the other is not.]
But still, how could Christians who have confessed undying love for Israel be so ready to abandon Israel in the “twinkling of an eye” via a pre-trib Rapture?
[Because we believe what God says in the Bible. Our undying love is to God first. And we trust Him to work His plan of final redemption and restoration.]
I believe the problem lies in a deeply held Christian misperception that God has two separate sheepfolds, namely the Church and Israel.
[The Bible teaches one sheepfold, the Church, with two flocks – Gentiles and Jews. The Church is a spiritual body of those who belong to Jesus. Isreal is a national body. Some in Israel belong to Jesus and are part of the Church; others who do not know Jesus.]
John Nelson Darby
This belief of two separate chosen people, also known as “spiritual Israel and physical Israel,” can be traced back to the teaching of John Nelson Darby, the man most responsible for developing the Rapture teaching.
[Darby did not develop the Rapture teaching, he simply taught it. Read Romans and other epistles. The Rapture is clearly taught in the Bible.]
Darby developed his theology in the 1830s, but it didn’t go viral until the early twentieth century, when the Scofield Reference Bible included it in its commentary.
[There have always been people who understood the Rapture. The Bible teaches it. Darby simply clarified it as a doctrine, known as pre-millennialism in the 1830s. Consider that even the doctrine of the Trinity didn’t exist until it was defined in the 4th century. Yet both doctrines, pre-millennialism and the Trinity, are taught in the Bible. However, there remain today people who do not believe in either]
Darby, known as the “father of dispensationalism,” believed God has dealt with mankind in different ways in different ages or “dispensations.” Christians belong to the latest dispensation, an age of grace, and are considered God’s “heavenly people.” But the descendants of Abraham – at least those who came before Jesus, plus those who don’t accept Him as Messiah – belong to the dispensation of Law and are God’s “earthly people.”
[God has dealt with in different ways with different people, but not in different ways. He has dealt with all mankind with grace. But He has made different covenants with different people in different times. The “latest dispensation” is not the “age of grace.” All dispensations are of grace. Yet, this age should be differentiated and it should be called the age of the indwelling Holy Spirit.]
The Church and Israel
Although he [Darby] taught that the Church and Israel would always remain separate, he believed both groups play parallel roles in God’s plan of salvation, and will receive parallel inheritances. That is, he didn’t teach that the Jews had been disenfranchised by the Church, as Replacement Theology taught. But he didn’t see the Church as a continuation or enhancement of Israel, either.
[Israel and the Church are different bodies of people. Israel, the nation of today, is not under the New Covenant. The Church, the family of God adopted through Jesus, is under the New Covenant. Understand that the New Covenant is 1. individual, not national and 2. obtained by coming to God through Jesus only. Israel and the Church are corporate identities. There is also individual identity under the New Covenant — those who are in Christ. And, in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile (ethnic identity). The relationship is individual, personal, and spiritual.]
Regarding the last days, Darby saw in the Scriptures that Israel would indeed be brought back to the Land (making him a Christian Zionist in that respect). And that anti-Christ would halt the daily sacrifice and defile the Temple by setting up “an abomination of desolation” in the holy of holies (Daniel 12:11). But since neither Israel nor the Temple with its sacrifices were then in existence, he concluded that after the Jews reestablished their state, God would have to bring back the dispensation of the Mosaic Law.
[Dispensationalism believes that after the Rapture of the Church (true believers), and the rise of the Antichrist, the Jews will rebuild their Temple and re-institute animal sacrifice. They will put themselves back under Levitical Law (the moral law has never ceased)]
Dispensation of Grace?
But that created a problem, since the world now lived under the dispensation of grace.
[[Herein lies error in his thinking. Again, every dispensation is a dispensation of the grace of God. Before the cross there were two kinds of people in God’s eyes: Israel and pagan nations (believers in Yahweh and non-believers). After the cross there are still only two kinds of people in God’s eyes: those who are in Christ and He in them (by the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit) and those who are not in Christ. In other words, the forgiven and the unforgiven; the regenerated and the unregenerate, the born again (living soul) and the dead. Anyone who has not confessed Jesus as Lord and believed in their heart that God raised Him from death unto everlasting life is not in Christ, not forgiven of sins, not regenerated, not born again.
His [Darby’s] solution then was to teach that God would remove the Christians before He reintroduced the Law prior to the Tribulation. Hence, the Rapture.
Destroy or Judge the World
Once the evil in this world had been destroyed by God, Christians would receive a glorious inheritance in the heavenly city of Jerusalem in transformed bodies. And the Jews would enjoy a time of supernatural peace and prosperity in the physical city of Jerusalem.
[This person does not understand the purpose of the Tribulation. In addition to fulfilling prophecy (Read: What is the Seventieth Week of Daniel?) it is a time when God will judge the sins of the world. God’s purpose is not to destroy the world, but to call to Himself a remnant of people (primarily Jews) by faith in Jesus. At the end of the Tribulation, Jesus will return and set up His kingdom of righteousness. He will reign as King, with His Bride, and redeemed Israel will be the lead nation.]
It is obvious that Darby’s theology is a huge stumbling block for Christians who sincerely want to promise undying support for Israel.
[No, it is not. It is a huge motivation to share the gospel of saving grace in Christ with Jews who do not know Him. That is the undying support that Israel needs from Christians.]
For if Christian Zionism is anything, it is a deep emotional and spiritual identification with Israel and the Jewish people, an identification that surpasses theology or rationalization.
[Christians are not to have “emotional and spiritual identification with Israel and the Jewish people.” Our emotional and spiritual identification is to be with Christ alone. We are called to love Jews. And we are to be Jesus’ feet, hands, and words to go to the Jews, touch their hearts, and to tell them about Jesus. And, not only the Jesus, but all non-believers.]
The Family of Abraham and The Body of Christ
It understands at the heart level that through our faith in the Jew Jesus, even if we are not Jewish, we are somehow included in this unique family of Abraham. So that when we read, “If you belong to Messiah, you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise,” (Galatians 3:29), our heart shouts, “Amen!” Not, “see you later, alligator!”
[True, we are included in the family of Abraham, that is those who believe in God. But again, Abraham was not “in Christ.” We are. And the promise spoken of here that unites us as heirs is the promise of justification by faith: Gal 3:8-9 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.]]
Therefore, if we are going to be solidly in Israel’s corner [We are to be in God’s “corner.”] as we promised, we can’t also be planning an early exit. [We didn’t plan it, God did.] Their fight is our fight. [not true] We must come alongside them, not just as fans, but as family. [We are not in the same family, but we should come alongside and stand with Israel. We should also love them enough to tell them about Jesus who loves them and desires to save their souls.] It doesn’t matter that the majority of Jews don’t recognize us or accept us yet as mishpochah.
[I had to look up “mishpochah.” It’s a Yiddish term for the entire family network of relatives by blood or marriage (and sometimes close friends). They shouldn’t accept us as such. We are not part of their family. And we cannot be. But they can be part of our family.]
We know it’s true! [No it’s not.] Therefore we have to act in faith and believe we have a stake in this game. [Yes, that’s true. We are Christ’s ambassadors and the eternal destiny of Jews is at stake.] The blessings of Israel are something we will share if we faint not.[As Christians, we will share in the blessings of Israel in the Kingdom Age. But the Jews of today will not unless they come to Jesus in faith. John 14:6]
We must be in this for the long haul. We must be one with the Jews, come what may, and trust we will rejoice with them at the glorious deliverance our God has promised.
[We, as Christians, are “in this” but only until Jesus comes for His Bride. We love the Jews, but we are not “one with the Jews.” Our faiths divide us. We are one with Christ. They are not. But “we will rejoice with them [Jews who come to Christ] at the glorious deliverance our God has promised” (the return of Jesus and the kingdom age) ]
The writer is the author of Valley of the Steeples: How Jesus saved us from Christianity. He lives in southeastern Pennsylvania.
[There is poor theology in the title of this book. Jesus did not save us from Christianity. In fact, He did not save us from ourselves or from Hell. He saved us TO Himself. And in Him we are Christians (Acts 11:26). It is God’s desire that none perish but that all people (Jews and Gentiles) should come to Him in faith and be saved and be given eternal life.]
Rom 10:9-10 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
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