Yesterday was a historic day in modern day Israel. On the 70th anniversary of the United Nations recognition of modern day Israel, the United States moved our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing it as the capital.
While ThePreachersWord does not hold a political position on moving the capital to Jerusalem, it is interesting from a Biblical perceptive. Especially since this decision has been applauded by most evangelicals including the Dallas preacher, Dr. Robert Jeffress, who was invited to offer the dedication prayer.
“Today there are many devout Jews and devout Christians alike who are saying, ‘Thank God we have a president like Donald Trump who is willing to stand on the right side of history and the right side of God on this issue,'” Jeffress said on Fox News.
Political pundits are flummoxed at the inclusion of Jeffress in the ceremony especially given past remarks like, “you cannot be saved and be a Jew.” The Anti-Defamation, Mitt Romney as well as others took to twitter criticizing Jeffress.
In response, Jeffress tweeted, “Historic Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that salvation is through faith in Christ alone. The fact that I, along with tens of millions of evangelical Christians around the world, continue to espouse that belief, is neither bigoted nor newsworthy.”
While Jeffress is correct in affirming that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” and the only “way to the Father (Jn 14;6), his theology and many evangelicals, is entwined in the traditional premillennial dispensationalist theory. They believe that moving the embassy to Jerusalem has spiritual implications that are a step necessary to bring about the so-called apocalypse, Jesus’ literal reign on earth and the conversion of Jews to Christianity.
There are so many things incorrect about this theory that cannot be covered in one post, so let’s just consider the issue of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel.
In Genesis 12:1-3 God promised to make Abraham great. From his descendants would come a great nation, the land of Canaan and a spiritual blessing.
430 years later as the nation of Israel stood on the brink of inheriting the promised land, Moses issued a cautionary warning (Deut. 28-31). The promise was conditioned on their continued faithfulness. 48 times he uses the word “IF” to impress on them to “obey the voice of the Lord.” In fact, Moses predicts they would become unfaithful, go into captivity and their land lost.
The book of Joshua records the conquest of Canaan and how it fulfilled the land and nation promise to Abraham (Josh. 21:45; 23:14). In his farewell address, Joshua exhorted Israel to remain faithful if they wanted to retain the land.
While Jerusalem always had a prominent place in the Old Testament, it was King David who made Jerusalem the capital (1 Kings 2:11). As a result, it became known as the “city of David.” He built his palace there. Solomon erected the temple in Jerusalem. It was a “holy city.”
However, Israel sinned. And God began to bring judgments upon His people. When the Kingdom split into North and South in 922 B.C. that began the gradual downfall of the nation of Israel. The Northen tribes were conquered by Assyria in 721 B.C. And Judah began it’s fall in 606 B.C. as Babylon took captives from the land and finally destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 586 B.C. These accounts are detailed in the Old Testament books of Kings and Chronicles.
God’s spiritual promise to Abraham would be fulfilled in the coming of Christ. And Jesus of Nazareth was the fulfillment of that prophecy (Ax. 2:14-39; Gal. 3:1-25). Jesus was the fulfillment of the law and Messianic prophets (Rom. 10:4). In Jesus words, His “kingdom is not of this world (Jn. 18:36).
Fitting, the gospel of Christ was first preached in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Ax. 1:8 2:5). The first converts were baptized for the remission of sins in Jerusalem (Ax. 2:38-43). And on the day the church has it beginning in Jerusalem (Ax. 2:47).
God’s “Israel” today is spiritual. It is composed of both Jews and Gentiles who will accept Jesus Christ as their Lord, as Paul argues in Romans (9-11). Those who are looking for the physical restoration and worldwide domination of the kingdom of Israel are placing their trust in a false hope, regardless of the location of our U.S. Embassy.
The “New Jerusalem” metaphorically described by John in the book of Revelation is heaven (Rev. 21:2,10). It is not an earthly habitat. It the eternal dwelling place for the faithful who go home to live with the Lord.
One day, I look forward to being in Jerusalem. Not the one on earth. But the heavenly Jerusalem.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman