Monday, December 26, 2011

Israel & Armageddon - Fact & Fiction?

As mentioned before, there’s a tendency for proponents of replacement theology to claim that those who support a prophetic future for Israel have a dangerous influence on politics. This is an all-too-common canard. Israel’s very presence in the land offends its neighbors, regardless of its actions. Moreover, any insinuation that God has further plans for Israel apparently offends some Christians.

Steve Wohlberg writes:

“The belief that God will ultimately defend Middle East Jews at Armageddon is so strongly embedded within the 21st century evangelical psyche that it has spilled over into politics and even influences U.S. foreign policy toward the Jewish State...”

The following is a portion of a rather convoluted article that he’s posted on his website. These “explanations” become convoluted when people attempt to make Scripture say something other than what it means. In this case, Wohlberg wants to excise Israel (the nation) from prophecy:

“What about "Armageddon"? Surprisingly, this exact word is used only once in the Bible, in Revelation 16:16. The Word says, "And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon." Honestly, there is no literal "place" anywhere on Earth bearing this exact name. It's true, there is a valley north of Jerusalem which was called "Megiddo" (Judges 5:19) in Bible days. It was a place where the armies of Israel often met foreign enemies in bloody battles. Because "Megiddo," sounds like, "Armageddon," millions assume this same place will be the location of a final showdown against the Jews. But is this right?”

I wonder how many times something needs to be mentioned in Scripture to make it valid. Wohlberg assumes that it isn’t Megiddo, not because of Scripture but because it doesn’t fit into his Adventist tradition. He then constructs a number of arguments to work his way around the problem of certain biblical texts which happen to be specific about who is involved and the location. He continues:

“A careful study of "the Revelation of Jesus Christ" proves that Christianity's massive "God-Is-Behind-Modern-Israel" theology is just not true. Not that God doesn't love Modern Israel, the Israeli people, and Jewish people. But as we have seen, Revelation's focus is not on "Israel after the flesh" (Israel one), but on "the Israel of God" (Israel Two) composed of both Jews and non-Jews (including Arabs) centered in Jesus Christ.”

To be specific, “Israel Two” would be Sabbath observing Adventist church saints as opposed to the Sunday worshipping earth dwellers of the RC Antichrist system, although Wohlberg leaves those pertinent details out of his narrative. He either writes for Adventists in the know or his readers will “get it” later down the track as they get more involved in Adventist thought.

More importantly, Revelation doesn’t support any of his contentions – not even once. That is what he believes despite the plain references to Israel and the 12 tribes in the following passages - Matt 19:28; Luke 22:30; Acts 1:3-7; Acts 26:6-7; James 1:1; Rev 7:4; Rev 21:12.

Michael Rydelnik once brought up Zechariah 14 in his radio discussion/debate with Gary Burge. Dr Burge suggested that it had an historical context. To which Dr Rydelnik rightly pointed out that the last time he’d visited the region, the Mount of Olives was still intact.

Readers of Wohlberg’s materials should undertake a careful reading and comparison of Zech 14 and Revelation 16. See also Joel 3:2; 11-16 and Zech12:1-3 and the verses cited above. Connect the dots as to whether there is a literal gathering of nations in a specific place (Megiddo) that is near a literal nation called Israel, or whether this is “fiction”.

What does Scripture say sans the circular reasoning?

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