- May 22, 2011
- Reaction score
- Evangelical by default
- Spiritually homeless
I feel like this could all be a thread in and of itself... and one that I don't feel like I have enough specialist knowledge to help with, sorry.rakovsky said:In the Decoding the Past episode "The Anti-Christ", the narrator says that some Evangelicals see the creation of the Israeli state and mass immigration of Jews to Zion as a sign of the End Times and apocalyptic events of the Bible, such as Revelation.
1. Is this really the case, and if not, why?
Specifically rabbinical Jewish governments held power over Jerusalem in c. 70 AD (when the temple was destroyed), in c.135 AD (under Bar Kokhba who declared himself Messiah), in the 6th century AD when the Persians and their Jewish allies conquered Jerusalem, and now since 1948/1967 for the last 50 years. Yet we did not see the End of the World and Second Coming as the Evangelicals would expect it. Further, there were Christian states holding power over Jerusalem in Byzantine and Crusader times, and sometimes then there were sizable Jewish populations in Palestine, yet the End and the Second Coming didn't occur then either. So I think that having an Israeli State or aliyah doesn't mean that the End is happening.
Further, the interpretation that such prophecies that those Evangelicals take to be about Jewish rule would have in mind a nonChristian rabbinical state is also in question. Christian theology sees the Church as carrying on ancient Israel's spiritual legacy.
2. If the creation of the State and Aliyah are real End Times events, does this mean that we should support and advance those events as those Evangelicals do?
In the Evangelical scheme according to the movie, the antiChrist may be Jewish and the End Times and Second Coming will include Tribulations and destruction for the nonChristians. Wouldn't this kind of "support" for the SOI be in effect a setup knowingly directed at the state's and community's destruction?
3. How does Orthodoxy interpret the passages that Evangelicals use to see the creation of a specifically Jewish state to be apocalyptic?
Zechariah 12 says:
I take this passage to be Messianic and apocalyptic, in part because the inhabitants of Jerusalem are looking at God, whom they pierced. The passage could mean that the inhabitants of Jerusalem at this point are Christians because they are mourning for the pierced one. Could this passage be speaking of the world's Christian nation, those with the spiritual legacy of ancient Israel, as being defended in Jerusalem from the foreign "nations", the pagans who are not Christian?6 In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.
7 The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.
8 In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.
9 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
10 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.
Otherwise, what does the passage refer to when it talks about Jerusalem's rulers consuming its neighbors and God destroying those nations who attack Jerusalem? Is this some event in the pre-Christian era, or is this a reference to God attacking a Jewish state's political opponents and military invaders?
St Cyril of Alexandria says that the rulers of Jerusalem in the passage are the holy apostles and rulers of the church. Their consuming of the neighbors is their spreading of the sacred word to them and warming them spiritually with divine fire. He gives as an analogy Jeremiah 1, which he sees as God's word consuming the prophet's audience:
St Cyril points to Matthew 3 and Romans 12 as speaking of spiritual fire. He also cites Isaiah 6 and 47 as speaking of the firey coal on the prophet's mouth that helps spread God's word through the prophet Isaiah.9 Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.
St Cyril sees this metaphorical interpretation as explaining how the rulers are "like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf".
SOURCE: Commentaries on the Holy Scriptures, http://bible.optina.ru/old:zah:12:06
St Jerome also equates Jerusalem in the passage with the church and finds in Numbers 20 where those who go by the left and right instead of the middle are those who sin by either indulgence in riches or else excessive restraint. He sees those on the right being those of whom it says in Ecclesiastes 7:
I take this to mean people who are judgmental and self-righteous.15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.
16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself ?
The usual rabbinical reading of this passage sees this in terms of Jewish rulers in Jerusalem fighting their adversaries, although I suppose that even nonChristian Jewish thinkers could give this a metaphorical interpretation:
A marginal note of one ms. of the rabbinical targum to Zechariah 12 says:Jewish Eschatology
The house of David shall be as God (Zechariah 12:8)
God will seek to destroy all the nations that go against Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:9, Isaiah 60:12)
In the book "Why the End of the World is Not in Your Future", Gary DeMar relates Zechariah 6 and 9 to the Jewish attack on their Persian enemies in the time of Esther, and finds it as describing events that have happened in the past....the Messiah son of Ephraim will go out to do battle with Gog, and Gog will slay him in front of Jerusalem. And they shall look to Me and inquire of Me why the nations pierced the Messiah son of Ephraim.
Verses in the Bible matching the combative ones in Zechariah 12:6 and 12:9 include:
The documentary also interviews Dispensationalists who see Matthew 24 as using the image of the fig tree to describe the Jewish political community beginning to flourish and serve as a sign of the End Times:like a firepot among pieces of wood: Isa 10:16,17 Ob 1:18 Rev 20:9
so they will consume: Zec 9:15 Ps 149:6-9 Isa 41:15,16 Da 2:34,35,44,45 Mic 4:13 5:5-8 Rev 19:19,20
on the right hand and on the left : Isa 9:20 54:3 2Co 6:7
I will set about to destroy: Zec 12:2 Isa 54:17 Hag 2:22
I checked a few church commentaries on the Optina monastery website and they didn't equate the fig tree in this passage with the Jewish nation. They just saw the tree in the verse as a metaphor of how one knows that summer is coming, although one writer saw it as a metaphor for the Church and its successes.32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Isn't the image of the fig tree in the gospels a reference to the Jewish political community, which did not accept Jesus as the Messiah when he came and hence was not found fruitful in the gospel stories in Matthew 21, Mark 11 and Luke 13?
The "Fig-tree" is a fit emblem of Israel. Its peculiarity is that the blossoms of the fruit appear before the leaves. Naturally, therefore, we should look for fruit on a tree in full leaf. This accounts for why Jesus cursed the Fig-tree that had on it nothing but leaves. Matt. 21:18-20. The presence of the leaves led Him to expect fruit, and when He found none He cursed the tree for its fruitlessness. Mark gives us another version of the incident. Mark 11:12-14.
In the Parable of the "Barren Fig-tree" (Luke 13:6-9) we have another picture of Israel. The "Fig-tree" is the Jewish nation. The "Fig-tree" was planted in a "Vineyard," which we have seen stands for the land of Palestine. The owner of the Vineyard and of the Fig-tree was God. He came in the person of His Son Jesus, and for three years of Jesus' ministry He had sought for fruit from the Jewish nation and found none.
Do Orthodox writers see the fig tree itself in Matthew 24:32 as having any meaning?
Luke 21 is another apocalyptic passage that some Dispensationalists take as referring to the times when the Jewish nation will have political rule over Jerusalem. Do you agree?:
Seeing this verse as making Jewish political rule to be apocalyptic seems to run into the same problems that I listed at the beginning of this post: Such rule has existed several times already since Jesus made this prediction. Further, in Orthodox Christian theology, the Byzantines were not "trampling" Jerusalem as hostile forces. The "time of the gentiles" could be "fulfilled" once the Romans accepted the Christian and Israelite God.23. How miserable those days will be for pregnant and nursing mothers. For there will be great distress upon the land and wrath against this people.
24. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations. And Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.