Petrus Romanus – Historicism Back to the Future

By Cris D. Putnam
Historicism has its roots in the twelfth century when a Catholic mystic named Joachim of Fiore reasoned that because God is a Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), then history itself is also a trinity of three ages. Later, Martin Luther first struggled with the book of Revelation writing in his first German Bible that “Christ is neither taught nor known in it.”[1] Only a few years later in 1530, Luther changed his mind and wrote of it as a map of history. This quickly became the dominant view. Since the reformation, there has been a large body of biblical scholarship which posits the events in the books of Revelation as milestones in Church history. Many think the shift away from this paradigm is a product of the Jesuit Counter Reformation. After all, the destiny of the Church as the bride of Christ is arguably God’s primary focus in the book. Even so, it is important to recognize that although it was written for us, it was not originally to us. It was first meant to encourage the first-century churches that were enduring persecution and discouragement. Now, two thousand years later, we still can be encouraged that Christ will return to make things right. Where the seals, trumpets, and vials have been progressing since the first century in historicism, the futurist approach places the majority of the book of Revelation’s judgments in the seven year Great Tribulation scenario. Traditionally, futurism and historicism are viewed as opposing camps but we think that is a drastic oversimplification. It seems that eschatology is best held with a loose grip.

With exception of the heterodox full preterist view, all interpretations are futurist to one degree or another. Even historicists are necessarily futurists in regard to Christ’s return and the battle of Armageddon. Also many (like Spurgeon) are premillennialists who allow for a future restoration of Israel. On the other side, even staunch dispensationalists like John Walvoord have historicist elements in their hermeneutic. Concerning the letters to the seven churches in chapters two and three of the book of Revelation, he writes:

Many expositors believe that in addition to the obvious implication of these messages the seven churches represent the chronological development of church history viewed spiritually. They note that Ephesus seems to be characteristic of the Apostolic Period in general and that the progression of evil climaxing in Laodicea seems to indicate the final state of apostasy of the church. This point of view is postulated upon a providential arrangement of these churches not only in a geographical order but by divine purpose, presenting also a progress of Christian experience corresponding to church history. As in all scriptural illustrations, however, it is obvious that every detail of the messages addressed to these particular churches is not necessarily fulfilled in succeeding periods of church history. What is claimed is that there does seem to be a remarkable progression in the messages. It would seem almost incredible that such a progression should be a pure accident, and the order of the messages to the churches seems to be divinely selected to give prophetically the main movement of church history.[2]

Whereas Walvoord places the events of the rest of the book into the seventieth week of Daniel (a future seven-year tribulation period), the historicist school sees the seals, trumpets, and bowls as the unraveling of history stretched out until Christ’s return.  As a classic representative example of the historicist approach to the book of Revelation, Irish Protestant preacher, astronomer and author, Henry Grattan Guinness, is good place to begin. He was a popular evangelist in the Evangelical awakening preaching to thousands during events like the Ulster Revival of 1859. He was responsible for training and sending hundreds of missionaries all over the world. He also wrote extensively on the historical interpretation of prophecy. He preferred to call it the presentist interpretation:

The second or PRESENTIST interpretation, is that historic Protestant view of these prophecies, which considers them to predict the great events to happen in the world and in the church, from St John’s time to the coming of the Lord; which sees in the Church of Rome, and in the Papacy, the fulfillment of the prophecies of Babylon and of the Beast, and which interprets the times of the Apocalypse on the year-day system. This view originated about the eleventh century, with those who even then began to protest, against the growing corruptions of the Church of Rome.[3]

So the issue is not really whether one is a futurist or historicist, it is where one draws the dividing line. Because it is not possible to know where this line is with certainty, we suggest there is plenty of room to allow for elements of both views. In the soon to be released book Petrus Romanus we suggest a hybrid approach which reconciles the most coherent elements of both views.

As an example of a modern historicist hybrid approach, I suggest John Piper’s sermon The Prayers of the Saints and the End of the World:

So Jesus begins to open the seals of the scroll of history. And with the opening of each seal, a vision is given to John not of the actual end of the world—that comes when the scroll itself is opened after all the seven seals are taken off its outer edge (the seven trumpets and seven bowls)—but what John sees is, I think, what Jesus called in Mark 13:8, “the beginning of the birth pangs”—the kinds of things in history that lead up to the end and mark this age with increasing intensity. Jesus said, “For nation will arise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/the-prayers-of-the-saints-and-the-end-of-the-world

 

Next week we will examine some of the strengths and weaknesses of both schools in our quest for the most accurate interpretation.

——————————————————————————————————————-

[1] Craig R. Koester, “The Apocalypse: Controversies and Meaning in Western History” The Great Courses, (Chantilly, Virginia: The Teaching Company 2011), 102.

[2] John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Galaxie Software, 2008), 52.

[3] Henry Grattan Guinness, The Approaching End of the Age, 8th edition (London: Hodder and Stoughten, 1882), 94.

 

Petrus Romanus and the Jerusalem Connection Part 3

By Cris D. Putnam
The Vatican’s establishment of full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1993 has been credited as an overdue political consequence to the theological changes reflected in Nostra Aetate. However, in truth, there is much more going on than meets the eye. As early as April 15th, 1992, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger visited Israel and met exclusively with Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek. The Jerusalem mayor was quoted previously as saying, “The Israeli government should meet the Vatican’s demand to apply special status for Jerusalem.”[i] An Israeli journalist, Barry Chamish, has been working fearlessly for over two decades to expose a conspiracy which includes the current President of Israel, Shimon Peres, and his aid, Yossi Beilin. In his 2000 book, Save Israel, Chamish wrote:

In March 1994, the newspaper Shishi revealed a most remarkable secret of the Middle East “peace” process. A friend of Shimon Peres, the French intellectual Marek Halter, claimed in an interview that in May 1993, he delivered a letter from Peres to the pope. Within, Peres promised to internationalize Jerusalem, granting the UN political control of the Old City of Jerusalem, and the Vatican hegemony of the holy sites within. The UN would give the PLO a capital within its new territory and East Jerusalem would become a kind of free trade zone of world diplomacy.

Halter’s claim was backed by the Italian newspaper La Stampa, which added that Arafat was apprised of the agreement and it was included in the secret clauses of the Declaration of Principles signed in Washington in September 1993.[ii]

We took pains to fact-check Chamish’s claims, and to the extent that we were able, they checked out. Below is the original article which ran in the Italian paper La Stampa:

The headline reads “‘Now Jerusalem’ Secret Plan: to entrust it to the Pope”; the text below and to left of John Paul II’s photo reads, “The old town, under the auspices of the Vatican would be administered by the Palestinians Arafat told me: ‘I’m going to Jericho.’” The small print below that reads, “Mark Halter, French Israeli writer who, like other Jewish intellectuals played a mediating role in the difficult question, said here, the Pope would have the ‘spiritual sovereignty’ of the old town.” (translation Putnam)

It seems that the timing of the Vatican’s long overdue recognition of the state of Israel was motivated more by ambition than repentance. The major players on the Israeli side are the current President Shimon Peres (the Israeli representative at Oslo) and his aid, left-wing politician Yossi Beilin, a former Knesset member, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, and Justice Minister. The secret deal was allegedly meant to sweeten the pot as a clandestine portion of the Oslo Accords. According to another Israeli journalist, Joel Bainerman, New World Order think-tank, the Council on Foreign Relations was behind the deal all along and was encouraging a turnover of Jerusalem to the Vatican:

Pope Benedict XVI embraces Israel's President Shimon Peres

The plan was originally discussed in November 1992 (the same time the first meetings in London took place to discuss an agreement between Israel and the PLO which was probably arranged by Council on Foreign Relations executive, Edgar Bronfman) when then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met with Vatican officials in Rome. Under the plan, Jerusalem will stay the capital of Israel but the Old City will be administered by the Vatican. Arafat agreed not to oppose the plan. The plan also calls for Jerusalem to become the second Vatican of the world with all three major religions represented but under the authority of the Vatican. [iii] (emphasis added)

It seems the plan is underway. On February 4, 2012, an op-ed piece ran on the Israeli news site Ynet News titled, “Don’t Bow to the Vatican.” The editorial by Italian journalist Giulio Meotti opposes the Vatican’s designs on Jerusalem, and speaks in the past tense referencing the sovereignty over the Cenacle (which houses the Hall of the Last Supper and King David’s tomb):

Don’t Bow to the Vatican

Israel reached an historical agreement with the Vatican to give up some sort of sovereignty over the “Hall of the Last Supper” on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The Vatican will now have a foothold at the site: Israel agreed to give the Vatican first priority in leasing opportunities and access to it. [iv]

It appears that Rome’s Jerusalem ambitions are being implemented just in time for the arrival of Petrus Romanus.


 
Next week we will begin to examine how this potentially fits into biblical prophecy.


[i] As cited by Joel Bainerman, “The Vatican Agenda: How Does the Vatican View the Legitimacy of Israel’s Claims to Jerusalem?” last accessed February 13, 2012, http://www.joelbainerman.com/pages/vatican.html.

[ii] Barry Chamish, Save Israel (Israel: Modlin House, 2001), 117.

[iii] Joel Bainerman, “Secrets of Oslo,” last accessed January 10, 2012, http://www.joelbainerman.com/articles/chronology.asp.

[iv] Giulio Meotti, “Don’t bow to the Vatican Op-ed: State of Israel Should Not be Giving Up its Sovereignty Over Holy Sites in Jerusalem,” February 4, 2012, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4185027,00.html.

 

Petrus Romanus and the Jerusalem Connection Part 2

By Cris D. Putnam

Serving as bookends for all of redemptive history, “Jerusalem” is first mentioned when Melchizedek, a prophetic type of Jesus Christ, is called the “king of Salem” (Gen 14:18), and then finally, the book of Revelation closes with the “New Jerusalem” coming down from heaven (Rev 21). It is undoubtedly holy ground. God was once present in Jerusalem in a special way above and beyond His usual omnipresence. The Hebrew Bible records that God’s presence manifested physically as the “Shekinah” described as a radiant cloud (1 Kgs 8:10–11). During Ezekiel’s ministry, when God became fed up with His people’s sin, His glory departed Jerusalem (Eze 10:18-19). Shortly thereafter, just as the prophets predicted, the Babylonians captured and destroyed Jerusalem (2 Kgs 25; Jer. 52). This marked the inauspicious end of the first temple period.

The Jews rebuilt the second temple in Jerusalem but things did not happen as they expected. They might have known because the prophet Daniel not only predicted the second temple’s destruction, he told them the Messiah would come prior (Dan 9:24–26). This should lead all Jews to the inescapable conclusion that because only Jesus meets that requirement, their Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) demands that Jesus was the Messiah. Isaiah had even written that the Messiah would be rejected and suffer for the sins of the people (Isa 53:5). Jesus marked the return of God to the temple in the first century and just as before, when He was rejected it was again destroyed. Although it has taken centuries, some Jews have begun to acknowledge this. Even the late Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri (a popular kabbalist, who died in 2006 prompting three hundred thousand people to march in his funeral procession) came to this truth. In what can only be described as a bizarre twist of fate, he left a sealed message with strict orders for it to be opened one year after his funeral. That message named Yeshua as the Messiah in an acrostic and Kaduri had said previously the Messiah  would return shortly after Ariel Sharon dies.[i] Sharon is alive but has been preserved in a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke in January of 2006. Whether this comes to pass or not, as we saw in the last post, more and more Jews are beginning to acknowledge that Jesus must be the Messiah for the Torah to hold true.

The Torah promised the nation blessings under obedience (Dt 28:1–14) and it promised they would be cursed and uprooted from the land if they were not (Dt 28:15ff). The Torah was not broken because, as we examined in the last chapter, the latter condition is exactly what has happened from AD 70 onward. God’s permissive will toward the centuries of satanic persecution and even the holocaust only make sense in light of Deuteronomy 28:15 onward. But the prophets also spoke of a time beyond those two temples to a glorious future and their descriptions feature Jerusalem prominently. A representative example is, “Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain” (Zec 8:3). Indeed, this is the ultimate destiny of Jerusalem and it also explains why the leaders of Judaism, Islam, and Romanism want to claim it as their own. Christians are, for the most part, unconcerned because they expect Jesus to claim it for Himself upon His return.

On December 15, 2011, this story ran on the Israeli Arutz Sheva 7 website:

 

Exposé: The Vatican Wants to Lay its Hands on Jerusalem

Peace negotiations in the Middle East must tackle the issue of the status of the holy sites of Jerusalem”, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Vatican’s Council for Interreligious Dialogue, declared several days ago in Rome.

The Vatican’s former foreign minister asked to place some Israeli holy places under Vatican authority, alluding to the Cenacle on Mount Zion and the garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

The first site also houses what is referred to as King David’s tomb.[ii]

In Petrus Romanus you will learn how the Roman Catholic Church has had designs on owning Jerusalem since the time of the crusades. While those bloody expeditions were largely in defense of the dubious theology behind pilgrimage, the Vatican’s ambitions today seem more concrete. They want political control over the Old City of Jerusalem in the same manner as the old Papal States and Vatican City today. So, we come full-circle and ask, “What does the Vatican have in mind for Jerusalem?” This seems to be pointing to ecumenical end-time faith being headquartered in Jerusalem. The Bible not only predicts that a great apostasy will occur there just prior to Christ’s return, it predicts that God’s two witnesses will be killed there. “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (Re 11:8). That characterization symbolically describes the nature of the coming third-temple faith. We promise more startling details are forthcoming upon the book’s release in April. Sign up to be notified here.

 

More on the Jerusalem Agenda next week.

 


[i] See: “Rabbi Kaduri Reveals Name of the Messiah,” last accessed February 10, 2012, http://www.cyber-synagogue.com/rabbi_kaduri_reveals_name_of_Messiah.htm.

[ii] Giulio Meotti, “Expose: The Vatican Wants to Lay its Hands on Jerusalem,” Israel National News, December 15, 2011, http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/150757#.TzV9aORnDmd.

Freemasonry and the Altar of Pluralism

My wife and I visited our nation’s capital last week.  Along with perusing Smithsonian museums, the Capital building and various monuments we did something off the beaten path and visited The Hall of the Temple which is the headquarters of Scottish Rite freemasonry. Mammoth sphinxes guard the massive building styled after classical Greek temples. This YouTube clip will give you an idea of the size of the building. Completed in 1915, it was designed by John Russell Pope, architect of other notable Washington buildings, including the National Gallery of Art and the Jefferson Memorial. Many of our nation’s leaders like George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Gerald Ford and 13 other presidents as well as Senators Charles Schumer and Robert Dole; Chief Justice Earl Warren and other Supreme Court justices have been and are Masons and Masonry is a major influence American policy. The Scottish Rite is for those who progress beyond the initial degrees of the blue lodge to more advanced involvement.

We happened to arrive at a time when there were no other tourists so we were able to get a private tour. Our tour guide was an American University intern who said he was not a Mason although I got the distinct impression that it was his ambition to become one.  Once inside, Egyptian hieroglyphics and numerous esoteric symbols adorn a vast atrium. As you ascend the central staircase you discover the building’s nine-foot-thick walls hold the remains of Albert Pike and John Henry Cowles.

In a second-floor inner sanctum called the Temple Room, coiling snakes of bronze flank a large wooden throne, canopied in purple velvet, referred to as the seat of the sovereign grand commander. Our tour guide generously offered that we take a seat. The room is impressive and has all of the trappings one would expect of a mystical ritual room. What I found most interesting was the central altar which featured religious texts from Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Our guide was quick to inform us that one can be a monotheist or a polytheist, as along as one believes in a creator god, one can be a mason. He also said, “…any religion other than Satanism is acceptable for obvious reasons.”

Accordingly, the details of a Mason’s religious faith are irrelevant as it pertains to membership in the Lodge. It is only necessary that he affirm a deity. So the Lodge includes Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and followers of other religions. The problem with this is obvious because most all of those religions make exclusive truth claims. It seems to me that if you are a consistent follower of any of those religions (except Hinduism) that you cannot embrace the pluralism of Masonry.  As we moved through the building, we entered another smaller meeting room and it also featured a central altar with the holy books of Islam, Judaism and Christianity (see smaller altar pictured below). Is this compatible with Christianity?

Most denominations say no but the Southern Baptist Convention offered a statement concluding that membership in the Lodge is “a matter of individual conscience.”[i] This anemic evaluation by the SBC has effectively served as an endorsement of the Lodge in the eyes of Masons. In The Scottish Rite Journal one Mason has concluded:

Because of your support, the vote of the Southern Baptist Convention is a historic and positive turning point for Freemasonry. Basically, it is a vitalization of our Fraternity by America’s largest Protestant denomination after nearly a year of thorough, scholarly study. At the same time, it is a call to renewed effort on the part of all Freemasons today to re-energize our Fraternity and move forward to fulfilling its mission as the world’s foremost proponent of the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God.[ii]

I think the SBC has made a grave error with such a weak statement. An overwhelming majority of denominations denounce Freemasonry as incompatible with Christianity and sources have reported that 1993 convention was overrun with masons.  As a Bible believing Christian, I want to offer and argument as to why the Masonic view of the God of the Bible is inconsistent with the Bible’s claims.

The central altar contains many divergent holy books

The Masonic view is that although the Bible is an important book it is not the exclusive Word of God. It is a good guide for morality and works righteousness. In Masonry, the Bible is one of many divine revelations of the Great Architect of the Universe to mankind, it is only one among many.  The Scottish Rite’s principle text, Morals and Dogma by Albert Pike, illustrates the position that other texts (even secular philosophy) are as inspired as the Bible:

The Apocalypse is, to those who receive the nineteenth Degree, the Apotheosis of that Sublime Faith which aspires to God alone, and despises all the pomps and works of Lucifer. LUCIFER, the Light-bearer! Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness! Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it he who bears the Light, and with its splendors intolerable blinds feeble, sensual, or selfish Souls? Doubt it not! for traditions are full of Divine Revelations and Inspirations: and Inspiration is not of one Age nor of one Creed. Plato and Philo, also, were inspired.[iii]

In this paragraph, Pike is speaking of the book of Revelation (Apocalypse) and offers some disturbingly vague thoughts about Lucifer (from the Vulgate rendering of Isaiah 14). Many argue this is a cryptic endorsement of Luciferianism. Although it seems to be in the form of rhetorical question, the words “Doubt it not!” are not too ambiguous. Even so, what is not at all cryptic is the view that all traditions are divine revelations. Thus, we see that pluralism is inherent in and foundational to masonic philosophy.  At a minimum, Freemasonry is Universalist and deistic at its core.

The Christian faith requires its adherents to give exclusive deference to the Bible. It follows necessarily that to deny the Bible’s exclusive authority is to deny its purpose to declare that Jesus Christ alone has provided the means of salvation through his sacrificial substitutionary atonement for the sins of the world.  Christians regard the Bible as the exclusive and authoritative Word of God and Jesus affirmed:

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”(Lk 24:44)

The Bible claims inspiration of the Old Testament (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:19-21) and the New Testament (1 Thes 2:13; 1 Cor 2:13; 2 Pet 3:16) and it claims that salvation is exclusively through Christ (Jn 14:6; Acts 4:12). The Bible claims that this is for all people everywhere (Jn 3:16) and pertains to the whole world (Gen 17:5-9; Acts 2:39. 3:25). Because the Bible’s message is universal in scope and exclusive in efficacy, it cannot possibly be just one inspired book among many and no other religion can be correct if it is true. It’s either exclusively true or its false, the law of excluded middle applies. Thus, Freemasonry’s view of the Bible is contradictory and the altar of pluralism is an affront to its claims.

Can a Christian be consistent and bow down at the altar of pluralism?


More of our personal photos available here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1963307737733.57066.1694068579&type=3&l=d4fec5bee1

[i] A Report on Freemasonry (Atlanta: Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1993), 6.

[ii] The Scottish Rite Journal (August 1993), cited by John Weldon, “The Masonic Lodge and the Christian Conscience,” Christian Research Journal 16/3 (Winter 1994):21.

[iii] Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, http://www.sacred-texts.com/mas/md/md20.htm page 321.

Petrus Romanus The Jerusalem Connection Part 1


By Cris D. Putnam

In Vatican City, on October 10, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI opened the Synod of Bishops’ Special Assembly for the Middle East at St. Peter’s Basilica. The synod took place at the Vatican from Oct. 10–24 under the theme: “The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness.” Speaking as the alleged Vicar of Christ, the pontifex maximus said the Promised Land is “not of this world” and that Israel is not an earthly kingdom. His words are not surprising as the Roman Catholic Church has historically led the way in promoting supercessionism (replacement theology) by denying ethnic Israel’s place in God’s plan. According to the pope’s biblical eisegesis, “He reveals Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (cf. Ex 3:6), who wants to lead his people to the ‘land’ of freedom and peace. This ‘land’ is not of this world; the whole of the divine plan goes beyond history, but the Lord wants to build it with men, for men and in men, beginning with the coordinates of space and time in which they live and which He Himself gave them.”[1]

While it is true that God’s plan ultimately transcends time and space, it simply cannot be denied that the Lord meant a literal land in His promises to the patriarchs. However, the pope is not so naïve; rather, he is promoting an agenda by painting the Promised Land as a metaphysical abstraction. His political and theological overtones reflect the Vatican’s consistent position that “Jerusalem cannot belong to one state.”[2] Rome ostensibly pleads the case of Palestinians and Catholics who want to make pilgrimage but in truth, there is a wealth of evidence that the Vatican wants to possess Jerusalem as its own

Furthermore, the pope’s homily is harbinger of the coming tribulation or “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7). Like Paul in Romans 11:25, Jesus also said that Jerusalem would be occupied by gentiles until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled, just prior to His Second Coming.

“And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Lk 21:24).

Several important points can be derived from this statement by Jesus. First, it is a prophecy of the diaspora, which occurred in AD 70. The Romans spread the Jews all over the known world, selling many as slaves. Jesus’ prophecy could have been easily falsified but its fulfillment is verifiable. Second, the text uses the Greek term achri, rendered “until,” that clearly implies one day Jerusalem will be back in Jewish hands.[3] Thus, it is also an inferred prophecy about the reclamation of Jerusalem which began in 1967 and is still being contested by the Vatican. Jerusalem certainly was under Gentile control until 1967, and today it is the most fiercely contested piece of real estate on the planet. This should give skeptics pause because there are existing copies of Luke’s Gospel dated to the second century.[4] The fact that Jerusalem is ostensibly in Jewish hands speaks to the lateness of the hour in God’s prophetic plan. Recognizing the end-time markers “the fullness of the gentiles” (Ro 11:25) and “times of the Gentiles” (Lk 21:24) which were qualified by “until,” we now examine the current state of affairs to if they are lining up with the predicted arrival of Petrus Romanus.

One way to examine that “until” is in reference to Romans 11:25 and the spread of the Gospel and there are many competent sites like the The Joshua Project doing that.[5] One rather astonishing indicator is the success of the Gospel in China where it is reported that there are currently sixteen thousand, five hundred new converts per day![6] Africa reports similar numbers where sixteen thousand Muslims leave Islam per day for Christianity.[7] (While these numbers are exciting, there are still many unreached people-groups and languages with no Bible translation. To that end, we strongly encourage Christians to support missions.)

Still yet, another way to quantify that “until” might be to look at Israel and see if there is any movement in that sector. There were no more than a dozen or so Messianic believers in the Jewish homeland when they declared statehood in 1948 and only around 250 when they retook Jerusalem in 1967. Writing in the year 2000, Brent Kinman reported that, “Now there are in the neighborhood of six thousand believers in more than fifty congregations.”[8] Has this trend continued? As of May 26, 2011 The Baptist Press reported:

“Now there are an estimated 150 Jewish congregations around Israel meeting in different languages. The number of believers is estimated to be around 20,000, growing exponentially from 1948 when 12 Jews who believed in Jesus could be counted, to 1987 when there were 3,000 and 1997 where there were 5,000.”[9]

If you know anything about exponential growth then this strongly implies an event horizon when the line goes vertical, meaning that the time of national repentance and recognition is close-at-hand. The Old Testament contains a vivid prophecy of that eventuality, “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” (Zec 12:10). The Hebrew term, dāqar, which is rendered “pierced,” is derivative of madqārâ which appears ten times in various forms and always denotes a puncture wound. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states, “The weapon associated with dāqar is usually the sword, though a spear is the instrument in Num 25:8.”[10] So according to the Hebrew prophet Zechariah, God was pierced and only Jesus Christ meets that characteristic. Tensions in the Middle East seem to forecast this prophesied national repentance sooner rather than later.

 

Next week: The Vatican’s Designs on Jerusalem

 

 


[1] Robert Moynihan, “The Vatican Synod on the Middle East Begins,” Spero News, October 10, 2010, http://www.speroforum.com/a/41366/The-Vatican-Synod-on-the-Middle-East-begins.

[2] Chiara Santomiero, “Prelate: Jerusalem Can’t Belong to Just One State,” Zenit: The World Seen from Rome, October 12, 2012, http://www.zenit.org/article-30628?l=english.

[3] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 948 ἄχρι.

[4] P4 is likely the earliest existing copy of Luke’s Gospel but his silence on the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 leads most to conclude it was written prior: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papyrus_4.

[6]Fastest-Growing Christian Population,” Worldmag, last accessed February 10, 2012, http://www.worldmag.com/articles/13748 .

[7] Ali Sina,“Islam in Fast Demise: In Africa Alone Everyday, 16,000 Muslims Leave Islam,” last accessed February 10, 2012, http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/sina31103.htm.

[8] Brent Kinman, History, Design, and the End of Time: God’s Plan for the World (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Pub, 2000), 71.

[9] Ava Thomas, “Among Israeli Jews, 20,000 Embrace Christ,” Baptist Press, May 26, 2011, http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/BPnews.asp?ID=35389 .

[10] Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999, c1980), 195.