I was talking with a friend recently, and we were discussing questions we get while speaking.
One of the most popular is, “How do we know we are in the last days?” A perhaps more popular version of this question is, “How do we know Jesus is coming back soon?”
Ninety-nine percent of the time, I hear this question answered with a New Testament verse or verses. That of course is legitimate. However, there is a fascinating reference in the Old Testament, and it has become my favorite answer.
In Psalm 102:16, we read:
“When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.”
Preterists and others hostile to Israel and predictive prophecy answer that this must refer to Christ’s first coming. Yet…was the Lord building Zion on that electric night in Bethlehem? An emphatic “no.”
The Romans were pressing the inhabitants of the Holy Land under a dictatorial heel at that precise moment, and for a few centuries after that. In fact, after several decades of Jewish sovereignty under the leadership and aftermath of the Maccabees, who had taken control of Judea from the Seleucid Empire, that sovereignty came to an end.
In the first century, B.C., this Jewish rebel army gave way to the powerful Romans.
So at that stage of history, the Lord was not building Zion.
He has, however, been building Zion since the late 19th century, and now millions of Jews live in their ancestral land.
Logic—the great hallmark of Bible-believing Christians, and the Achilles’ Heel of the liberals—tells us that since Zion is being built-up right now, we can confidently expect the Lord to return at any time.
One of my favorite books is an obscure title from Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, entitled: Don Isaac Abravanel —Statesman and Philosopher. The 15th century financier-turned-biblical scholar was a fascinating character, a Jew who saw much of the turmoil of Jewish life in Europe at a seminal moment in history.
At one point, upon seeing the brutal and callous treatment of Jews in Spain and elsewhere, Abravanel—in order to make sense out of circumstances—turned to Scripture in order to understand what was happening. It was there he developed a thrilling and significant worldview that had as its bedrock the truth that the Bible is supernaturally inspired.
This reality of course is hateful to liberals, among them certain Christian leaders who have crept in unawares, as they say. For them, predictive prophecy is a formidable weapon that can be used against their diabolical attacks on the faith. That’s why they hate it, and why they hate the Jews.
Netanyahu, the historian, went to the heart of the matter in discussing Abravanel’s epiphany:
“The spearhead of the drive against the Jews in Spain, as against those of any other medieval country in the west, was the clergy.
Isn’t that chilling?
Do you see?
The expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 was one of those highlighted historical markers, in which human history is traced by how men have treated the Jews. And Abravanel observed up-close just who in fact led the efforts to persecute Jews: the Church.
Of course, in those days it was the Catholic Church. Although it’s a topic for another time, the Catholic involvement in this area is somewhat of a mixed bag since World War II (on the one hand, a virulent stream of anti-semitism still infects Catholicism; on the other hand, significant inroads have been made to bring Catholics and Jews together).
Today, the problem area for Jew hatred is center-left Christian leadership, and what are still legitimately evangelical leaders. I promise you, they completely loathe Psalm 102:16. This represents one side in a massive war going on today between biblical truth and paganism. Let’s look at a critical aspect of Abravanel’s emerging worldview, as told by Netanyahu:
“The position of Abravanel was thus simple and direct. It was based on his triple axiom: the Bible is the word of God; the Bible represents truth; the Bible must be taken literally before it can be interpreted symbolically.”
More on Abravanel’s epiphany:
“If the Bible is to be believed, miracles must be believed as well, and they can be explained only by God’s omnipotence, by His complete independence of nature and of matter. How can we establish the veracity of the Bible, which is threatened by the doubts placed in the miracle stories, and make it unchallengeable by the skeptics? Only by accepting creation ex nihilo, the greatest of all miracles.”
Wow, and wow. Leave it to a Middle Ages Jewish philosopher and a modern Jewish historian to hit the nail on the head. Ironically, they are giving us the principle reason young people (and people of all ages) are leaving our churches in droves.
The relationship-and-self-driven, narcissistic, lights-and-laser-show programs of the modern American church are the antithesis of a New Testament church, and therefore, of reality itself. Modern Christian leadership in America has, by and large, either capitulated to liberal scholarship, or has turned to smarmy and ultimately pointless programs that have nothing to do with teaching the Bible as the guide for life. They have let the attacks on the miracle stories of Scripture cut the guts out of faith for millions.
Zionist patriarch Benzion Netanyahu
You might think I’ve digressed in this column, but I argue that I have not. For what is the return of the Lord if not the ultimate modern miracle? That cosmic return will tear open the fabric of time and space and provide a way of rescue for a planet that is coming apart at the seams.
He said a long time ago that when he builds up His people in their ancient land, He will come. That’s it. He will come. Again, Netanyahu, writing about Abravanel:
“His position is that the universe has been endowed by its Creator with the power to endure a limited time, at the end of which it must cease to exist.”
I’m not saying that the long-dead Abravanel, or the now 100-year-old Benzion Netanyahu believe exactly as modern, Bible-believing Christians do regarding present-day and future history. But I am saying that these ideas are shedding light on what is really going on in our world right now.
As the great prophecy teacher Tommy Ice likes to say, “Maranatha!”