"And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:19-21).
Pascal, one of the greatest scientific minds of all time, and undoubtedly one of the most influential, wrote the following words: "The greatest of the proofs of Jesus Christ are the prophecies. They are also what God has most provided for, for the event which has fulfilled them is a miracle of God." Most Christian believers should be so disposed as Pascal, realizing that Biblical Prophecy presents to the world an immediate proof supportive of our faith and trust in both God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian Faith is unique among all other religious dogmas and tenets as it alone can claim its foundational base upon fulfilled prophecy. The history of Empires, Kings and Emperors, written centuries before their existence, and each account providing minute details of predicted events and the literal fulfillment of those predictions coming to pass and verifiable in the volumes of ancient history, proves beyond all doubt that God is omniscient and His book in which the prophecies are recorded is Supernatural and Divine.
Biblical Prophecy is more than a "good guess" and is neither a scientific prediction or statistical prediction. Vague generalities, newspaper horoscopes, tarot card readings are not prophecies. The Scriptures appeal to fulfilled prophecy as proof beyond any doubt that they are indeed of divine origin, and these same scriptures invite and challenge all men of all the ages to test the claims and contents contained within their pages by consideration of fulfilled prophecy. Biblical Prophecy is clearly not a creation of man, for more often than not what God predicted was not always what men wanted to happen. In fact, many prophecies were given against His own people! Yet God used all the prophecies to accomplish His good purposes. One can find numerous examples of fulfilled prophecy such as the predictions relative to Babylon in Isaiah 13:19-22. The city was to be overthrown and never again inhabited from generation to generation...the shepherds would no longer go there and the area would be inhabited by various wild beasts of the desert. Historical archaeological evidence corroborates this prophecy was indeed fulfilled, even to the most minute detail. Other major fulfilled prophecies include the city of Tyre found in Isaiah 13; Ezekiel 26; Zechariah 9, along with numerous other examples.
But Christians must beware today of numerous false prophets and their "predictions" which in reality bear no relation to Biblical prophecy or fulfillment. There appears to be a near "army" of self-proclaimed prophets, many of whom are "preachers" or "pastors" of organized bodies of believers. These "prophets" tend to make predictions relative to the return of Christ and the establishment of an earthly Kingdom. In numerous seminaries across America professors of "gloom and doom" give forth their own prophecies, relating current events to Biblical prophecy. Our current age is inundated with end-time scenarios of the multiple return of Christ. Vast numbers of believers are taught that the devil has been "unleashed" upon the earth; that a single individual was born "somewhere" in the Middle East and will be "the beast" of Revelation; that Russia must move against Israel and the great battle of "Armageddon" will be fought; that God will intervene in Israel's behalf; Christians will suffer through terrible and bloody times of slaughter; a "rapture" will occur, secret or otherwise; Christ will finally return to set up an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem, where He will reign over the rest of the world.
As a young boy attending a Church of Christ Sunday School class, I can recall being taught that the Jews of the world were special and that all the Jews of the world were "returning to their homeland" by creating the current state of Israel. Somehow, I was told, the creation of an Israel state was "fulfilling prophecy." My teachers made no mention of the exclusionary philosophy of Zionism, and totally overlooked was the small but important fact that the ancient land of "Palestine" was now, as it had always been, inhabited by millions of peaceful, productive, God-loving Palestinian Arabs. No doubt my teachers then, as well as many Christian believers today, knew little or nothing of the political, historical, and even Biblical background of the Middle East.
As one who remained within the "mainstream" of what is known as "New Testament Christianity" usually understood to include Churches of Christ and Independent Christian Churches, and who later taught a few years in a "loyal" Christian College, I soon discovered that most of my fellow believers either embraced a hodgepodge of popular eschatological gibberish, or they simply chose to remain "uncommitted" when it came to the subject of fulfilled prophecy, Christianity and Judaism, the Israeli Zionist state and the Arab world, and even the second advent of Christ. I soon discovered that the majority of those who held a definite "conviction" about the "end times" were adherents of what is known as Premillennialism. Most theological dictionaries define Premillennialism as the belief of premillenearians who "believe in the imminent return of Christ, to be followed by a thousand years of peace during which Christ will reign over the earth."
Millions of believers embrace this man-made dogma, not as a result of intensive Bible study, utilizing the important tools of hermeneutical principles, but primarily from reading and believing such unscholarly but popular "prophetic soothsayers" as Hal Lindsay and his "The Late Great Planet Earth" or "Satan is Alive and Well." Still others become adherents of millenarianism out of ignorance of the Scriptures and the belief that it must be true for so many people believe it, including such high profile Christian "leaders" such as Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell, etc.
The importance of false teaching concerning Biblical prophecy became readily apparent to me during my first visit to Israel as an undergraduate student working at various archaeological sites such as the Temple Mount and ancient Tekoa in 1968. I was quite disappointed to discover that many Israeli citizens are not only non-religious, but atheistic. It was during that summer and many years to follow that I was to observe one of the most brutal and inhumane governmental policies in existence. I saw young Palestinian children beaten, interrogated and arrested for singing songs about Palestine and their longing to be free; families evicted from their homes, lands seized under the guise of "National Security;" all of this done by "God's Chosen People" or so I had been led to believe. Upon returning to the United States I found most Christians supportive of such ungodly activities since the "Jews are returning to their homeland to prepare for Christ's return." Indeed, the prevailing eschatology of our time teaches that the Arab people (Palestinians) are "demons of Satan" and any who oppose Israel oppose the Lord Himself! Suffice it to say there exists a great need to expose and correct some of the more unscriptural, patently false teachings so popular today. It is impossible, of course, to deal with all of them in one article, so perhaps we can complete the subject in a second installment.
Perhaps the most dishonest and deliberate propaganda fed to naive and ignorant believers is the assumption that the Jews now living or returning to Israel are "Biblical Jews." The Israelites were descendants of the early Hebrews who were but one of nine semitical people to inhabit the Mesopatamia valley and the middle east. Other descendants of Shem included: Assyrians, Chaldeans, Babylonians, Amorites, Arameans, Caananites, Abbyssinians, and the Arabians. The Bible clearly teaches that the Israelites were descendants of Abraham and the rest of the patriarchs and that they entered the "promised land" and found it occupied by, among others, the Phillistines who were descendants of the ancient Caananites. One of the oldest names for the land they occupied is "Peleshith" and "Phillistia" both of which are derived from Phillistine. The Palestinians of today are descendants of these ancient Phillistines and can be truly called "Semites." The Kingdom of Israel has come and gone in the annals of history. The promise God made to Abraham and "his seed" was completely kept and fulfilled. (See Joshua 21:43-45; 23:14.) The citizens of Biblical Israel were carried off in various captivities including the Assyrian campaign of Shalameneser and Sargon in 722 B.C. and the Babylonian captivity under Nebuchadnezzar in 550 B.C. Other conquests and captivities occurred under the Egyptians, Romans, Moslems, Ottomans, etc. The only two remaining tribes of Israel to occupy the land at the time of Christ were fully dispersed throughout the world with the destruction of the Jerusalem by Rome in 70 A.D. According to the Jewish philosopher Philo, by 250 B.C. more Jews lived in Alexandria, Egypt than anywhere else in the world, including Jerusalem. With the captivity came dispersio and assimilation of the Israelites among other countries and cultures of the world. Current "Israeli" citizens are primarily traceable to various Germanic tribes and areas of Rome, Poland, Russia. As late as 1229 A.D. whole people of varying strains became Jews. The real homeland the majority of Israeli citizens including their leaders is southern Russia. In 74 A.D. Khagan Bulan, ruler of this area then known as Khazaria, was converted to Judaism and the masses of the Khazarr tribe followed his example. Khazaria fell to the Mongols in the 13th century, and the Khazars fled and were later taken by Genghis Kahn northwest to become progenitors of "Ashkenazim Jewry"...(Russian, German, Baltic, Polish). Thus, the vast majority of worldwide Jews and Israelis have no corpuscular (blood) links to Moses, Solomon, or the original Israelites.
The word "Zionism" was coined in the 19th century as a result of persecution of European Jews, and intended to convey the desire of many Jews to "reestablish" Palestine as the old state of Israel. This is known as Political Zionism. Primarily, those desiring a "Jewish state" did so from political motives, although a minority envisioned a restoration of the old ethical life as recorded in Psalm 15. Their philosophy was known as spiritual or cultural Zionism. Zionism is a man-made philosophy, finding no basis in the Bible other than the word Zion which was used as the name of the Jebusite stronghold on the southern part of the eastern hill of Jerusalem. Later, the term was used figuratively for the whole of Jerusalem and the whole people of Israel. (See Isaiah 1:8, 27.)
The current Israeli state does not practice ancient Judaism, nor do even the Orthodox Jews (who are a minority) observe the teachings of the Law and the Prophets found in the Torah. The Temple and Levitical Priesthood have long ago passed away. Israel is a divided state in nearly every respect, as the Ashkenazim comprise the leadership and consider themselves "secular Jews" or Zionists, and do not profess to any faith whatsoever, let alone adhering to the tenets of Judaism. Zionism is by its very definition, exclusionary and racist, as evidenced by these statements made by contemporary Israeli intellectuals:
"You cannot have humane Zionism, it is a contradiction in terms. It is my considered opinion that the State of Israel is a racist state in the full meaning of the term" (Dr. Israel Shahak, in Pi-Ha'aton, weekly newspaper of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Nov. 5, 1975.)
"Israel has gradually become a more and more openly racist country. Anyone not Jewish is at best second-class in Israel" (Maxim Ghilan, "How Israel Lost Its Soul" 1974).
"Do we sin only against the refugees? Do we not treat the Arabs who remain as second-class citizens? Did a single Jewish farmer raise his hand in the Parliament in opposition to a law that deprived Arab peasants of their land? (Moshe Smilansky, Zionism Reconsidered, Macmillan, 1970).
In point of fact, the term "Judaism" was first used by Flavius Josephus a Jewish apologist, historian, and onetime governor of Galilee in 94 A.D. By then there was no longer a Hebrew/Israelite state. Josephus coined the term to connote a totality of beliefs, moral commandments, and religious practices. Not only is Zionism not Judaism, but the Old Testament prophets spoke against Zionism. Jeremiah spoke to the Judaeans in the midst of Babylonian captivity in 586 B.C.
"Build houses and dwell in them and plant gardens and eat the fruit; take wives, have sons and daughters, seek the peace of the city I have caused you to be taken to as captives and pray to the Lord for that city, for in the peace of that city you shall have peace" (Jere. 29:5-7).
Amos, Micah, Hosea, Elijah, all were NOT INTERESTED IN RESTORATION OF POLITICAL POWER! Their message called for Justice, Faith, Obedience in the Universal God of Mercy. They demanded above all, righteousness and an undeviating code of moral values. Even the so-called "second Isaiah" phrase "next year in Jerusalem" referred to a Kingdom of God in the hearts of the people and never the "Rebirth" of a Jewish Nation!
The great need of the hour is for true believers to truly believe what is written and recorded in God's Word, rather than the pitiful, mildewed prophecy books and charts of men. Our planet is neither "late" as it is still whirling along, nor is it now or has it ever been from the time of Adam, "great." God has not changed His mind or attitude contained in His Word. And His Word, when read and accepted as the final authority in all matters of faith and practice including fulfilled prophecy and the State of Israel, will once and for all clarify exactly what a Christian is to accept, believe and support. Ours is an age of "itching ears," of "clergymen" examining fig trees in their back yards; an age of so-called Christians obsessed with trying to identify "the Beast" while men display bestial hate and inhumanity towards one another; of men "seeking signs" of the end of time rather than preparing the souls of men to live where time has no end. An hour given that could have been utilized in reading from that book which shall never age nor grow obsolete or irrelevant for the duration of time and eternity, the precious Word of God.
Biblical Israel and the Israelites are no more. Palestinian Arabs are not demons of Satan, and Christians are in no way obligated to support the secular, Zionist state of Israel. God kept every word of every promise to the true Israel, and it is finished and complete! In Joshua 21:43, 45 we read:
"So the Lord gave Israel ail the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.''
"See, I have placed the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their descendants after them" (Deuteronomy 1:8).
All believers must reject a faulty exegesis of Biblical text which forces our God to be a supporter of murder, injustice, and deceit. Reading and reflecting upon all the books of the Bible it becomes clear that God is not a respector of persons, or nations, and that "God's Chosen People" are those whom they have always been, namely, those who choose God!
To those who will attempt to retain their "faith" in the myriad of Premillennial dogmas I can only plead with you to read, comprehend and accept the New Testament and the numerous passages which so clearly conflict with such false teaching.
"...pay no attention to myths and endless geneologies which gave rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith" (I Tim. 1:4).
The various forms of millenarianism split Christian believers, and alienate the precious body of Christ by giving unfounded preference to one person above another. Such teaching ignores the better Way, the better Covenant ushered in with the coming of Christ. Scripture upon scripture makes plain the fact that God will not save one person or nation by proclamation of the Gospel and another through "personal house calls" or persuasion. Such teaching corrupts the True Israel of God, for New Testament Israel is the Spiritual Israel, as in Galatians 6:15, 16:
"For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God."
"You are all sons of God through faith in Chris Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise'' (Gal. 3:26-29).
Believers should utilize fulfilled prophecy to challenge the world of unbelievers that God is still in control! He is in control of the history of not only our world but the universe! Let the world know what men deem as "history" is more than a series of accidental events occuring in a chaotic, purposeless vacuum; and that mankind is not left alone to face despair and bewilderment. God is carrying out a plan, His plan, and we are all included in that plan. Perhaps a fitting conclusion to this brief discussion of Biblical Prophecy can be found in the true story of a man named Justin, who lived from 100-165 A.D. He was a Greek, a learned rhetorician, and a converted philosopher who lived in Samaria. Because he laid down his life for his new found faith in Jesus Christ, history knows him as Justin Martyr. What miracle, what great learned person was able to convince this intellectual giant to accept Christ as Lord? He gives us his own answer when he said:
"To declare a thing shall come to pass long before it is in being, and then to bring it to pass, this or nothing is the work of God"
Justin Martyr became a believer in Christ Jesus by reading and studying the Old Testament Scriptures and finding their fulfillment in Jesus Christ! May we go and do likewise.
Editor's Note: Mr. Baker is the author of the 1984 book "Theft of a Nation" which traces the background of the Palestinian people and describes the injustices they have suffered in their historic homeland. The book takes issue with leading television "evangelists" such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and others, who teach the current Israeli state is an act of "fulfilled prophecy."
Mr. Baker has made many trips to all parts of the Middle East and has met with notable leaders including: Hafez Assad, President of Syria; Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the PLO; the late Anwar Sadat, and many others. He is the only known private U.S. citizen to be invited to Beirut Lebanon to meet with the leaders of the Hizbollah Party, holding some of the U.S. hostages. He has met them in 1986 and 1987.
Closer to home, Baker's franck and trenchant speaking style has made him a popular guest on radio and TV talk shows. Among his national broadcasting credits, Baker has debated Tom Braden and Pat Buchanan on "Crossfire," guest on the Brian Lamb's C-Span, call-in forum from Washington, repeated guest on ABC radio's number one talk show, the Bob Grant show in New York City. He has publicly debated political leaders, Ministers, Jewish Rabbis and others.
Baker is involved with the Christian Coalition/Defenders Publications. On January 19, 1988, he was scheduled to speak in the House of Commons in London.