Old Testament prophecy and history are interconnected because the ancient prophecies were fulfilled while the books that eventually became the Bible were still being written: fulfillment became history. However, Christian Zionists believe Old Testament prophets foretold the establishment of modern-day Israel and the rebuilding of a Third Jewish Temple, discarding all semblance of historical context.
It may be argued that Zionism, as a political and secular movement, never relied on scriptural land grants as the basis for a Jewish homeland. However, the symbiotic relationship between Christian and political Zionism has already been explored and proven beginning with William Hechler’s unholy alliance with Theodor Herzl. http://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16204
Israel’s wars of expansion illustrate a sense of divine entitlement rather than a mere desire to create a refuge for the world’s Jewry: the annexation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, seizure of Syria’s Golan Heights, Lebanon’s Chebaa Farms and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula (later returned under duress) and for the past two decades, the United States serving as a proxy to destroy and occupy Iraq. In all the madness, one can sense a certain religious fanaticism reminiscent of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny that led early settlers in the United States to perpetuate atrocities against Native Americans in order to fulfill an imaginary divine decree that the fledgling nation would stretch from sea to sea.
While the Bible outlined boundaries for the ancient Israelites, found in Joshua 1:4: “From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun (Mediterranean), shall be your coast,” Zionists use these parameters as a present-day ordinance for the creation of a “Greater Israel,” including not only Palestine, but parts of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. This was evidenced in a 1952 speech by then Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan:
“…our task consists of preparing the Israeli army for the new war approaching in order to achieve our ultimate goal, the creation of an Israeli empire.”
To Christian Zionists, the establishment and expansion of such an Israeli empire is imperative in order to precipitate the return of Jesus Christ to earth, or the Second Coming. They believe that all Jews must be gathered in Palestine in order to fulfill prophecy; furthermore that a “Third Temple” must be constructed where Al-Aqsa Mosque—Islam’s third holiest shrine—now stands.
Chronologically, Joel’s writings are the oldest, dating back to the 9th Century BC. The book bearing his name foretells the manifestation of the Holy Spirit at the Jewish feast of Pentecost in Acts 2. The next set of prophecies was written in the 8th century BC: the Books of Isaiah, Hosea, Amos and Micah all contain warnings of Israel’s destruction, which occurred when the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom in 722 BC. Babylonians defeated the Southern Kingdom (Judah) in 597 BC, marking the beginning of the exile. Amos 9:11 states:
“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up thee breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.”
At the time Amos prophesied, Babylonian captivity was well over 100 years away, as well as Jerusalem’s subsequent restoration. Amos 9:11 is quoted by James in Acts 15:16-17 when he addresses the church council, indicating the fulfillment of Amos’ prophecy in the person of Jesus Christ, not a literal “Third Temple.”
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Zephaniah all wrote during the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BC. When they foretell the return to Jerusalem, they are referring to the end of the Babylonian captivity, not the eventual creation of a modern political Israel.
In his essay, “Zionists and the Bible,” Christian theologian Alfred Guillaume sums it up:
“These prophecies were fulfilled. The Jews returned to Judea, rebuilt Jerusalem’s walls and rebuilt the Temple. After fluctuating fortunes, they secured a brief period of political independence and expansion under the Maccabees. Thus, the prophecies of the Return have been fulfilled already and cannot be fulfilled again. The Old Testament’s canonical literature contains no prophecy of a second return after the return from the Babylonian Exile, because after the Exile, all Jews who wished to do so returned to the Holy Land, though a great many more preferred to remain where they were….”
Those still insisting that there will be another Temple need only read John 2:19: “Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’” Here Christ is clearly referring to himself as the temple which will be “raised up,” or resurrected. During his ministry, Christ also points to various stories found in the Old Testament in order to refute the “Chosen Race” doctrine:
“And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias (Elijah), when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus (Elisha) the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4: 24-27)
Jesus gives us many more such teachings and parables throughout the New Testament, which will be examined in an upcoming article.