by Al Benson Jr.
Once I had someone ask me if Jesus had ever “officially” abandoned Israel. This was someone who sincerely believed in the Dispensationalist viewpoint regarding that country and he honestly believed that no Christian should ever speak a word against national Israel, no matter what. I don’t note this to impugn that person, but merely to point out that this is the view of many sincere Christians. Without realizing it, what they are doing is subtly substituting national Israel for Jesus Christ.
To answser him I noted Matthew 23:37-38 which says: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house if left unto you desolate.” To me that sounded pretty final. And it was their choice. What Jesus offered they were not interested in, at least at the spiritual leadership levels of the country. Jesus’ words to them were true–and ye would not! Their rejection of Him was their choice, not His.
And even with Israel’s adamant refusal, God was merciful and gave them one more generation to repent. However, they were not about to take advantage of that and so in 70 AD He visited judgment on Jerusalem and the end of their spiritual world came.
In Matthew chapter 27, after Pilate had sought to release Jesus to the crowd, he washed his hands symbolically in front of them and said “I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.” To which the Jews answered “His blood be on us and our children.” They did not realize what they were asking for, but they got it, and national Israel has been complaining about it for almost 2,000 years now! Just goes to show you that you need to be careful about what you pray for because you might just get it!
The theological leadership in Israel in Jesus’ day were not nice people anymore than most politicians in any given age are. There is always a small handful that want to do the right thing and a majority that will do whatever it takes to make sure they retain their power and prestige, even to the killing off of their opposition. Welcome to the real world. Israel was no better than the Gentile nations around them. They had had more spiritual light but had refused to use it properly, had turned in on themselves and looked down their noses at everyone else.
When Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom He was letting everyone know that His salvation was open to all people, not just Jews, and the Jewish religious leadership really hated that because if people listened to Jesus and followed Him, their positions of influence and leadership would be gone and they were not about to let that happen. The solution–kill off the opposition! And so they set about to do just that. The Gospels are clear on this.
Mark 10:33 notes Jesus’ own words: “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles.” They had to do that because, under Roman law, they could not take His life. Had they been able to they would have. Mark 11:18 notes: “And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him:…” Mark 12:12 shows the same thing–“And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew he has spoken the parable against them:…” If you want to know what parable read Mark 12:1-11. I have long thought that the key verse here was verse 7, where the husbandmen seek to kill the son so they can keep the vinyard for themselves. It is the perfect encapsulation of the Pharisees’ plan for Israel–keep it for themselves and to blazes with everyone else!
Then, Jesus made a statement that should make all Dispensationalists really stop and think. He says, in Mark 13:30 that “this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.” So many think that so much of what Jesus said is supposed to happen in our day–at least that’s what Hal Lindsey and others that make big bucks selling “end times” books have told them. Sorry, but I can’t buy it, and not just because I can’t afford to buy the books. I think the books are a waste of your money. Although many will disagree with me. Jesus was telling the people of His day that all the future things regarding Him, except His Second Coming at the end of history, were going to happen in the lifetimes of His Apostles.
So many Christians spend so much time anticipating “the rapture” that they feel must surely occur any day now, that they have lost the ability to deal with the world they live, move, and have their being in. All they want to do is get out so they won’t have to deal with this mess. I don’t think the Lord is going to let them off the hook that easily. I think He wants us to deal with the world and its problems as Christians rather than to be consumed by a retreatist, escapist mentality.
If Christians cannot learn to deal with some of the world’s problems in a constructive way, then you can bet no one else can either. So think about it.