(JTA) -- A meeting of Mideast bishops declared that Israel cannot use the Bible to justify territorial claims to land in Israel.
The final statement of the two-week Synod of Bishops of the Middle East in Rome that ended Saturday blamed Israel for the conflict between the Jewish state and the Palestinians.
It rejected the use of the biblical position of the Promised Land to justify Jewish settlement of the West Bank.
"Recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable," the bishops said.
The statement called for a two-state solution to the conflict and to create a peaceful atmosphere that will prevent an exodus of Christians from the region.
The document also criticized Jewish settlement of Jerusalem, saying that "We have meditated on the situation of the holy city of Jerusalem. We are anxious about the unilateral initiatives that threaten its composition and risk to change its demographic balance."
Participants included more than 170 Catholic bishops from Muslim countries, as well as other Church figures and non-Catholic representatives and experts.
Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon rejected the statement.
"We express our disappointment that this important Synod has become a forum for political attacks on Israel in the best history of Arab propaganda," Ayalon said. "The Synod was hijacked by an anti-Israel majority."
In his Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI called on countries in the Middle East to guarantee religious freedom to non-Muslims. He said Middle East peace and a two-state solution were vital to solving the problems of the region.
"Peace is possible. Peace is urgent. Peace is an indispensable condition for a life worthy of the human person and of society," the pope said. "Peace is also the best remedy to avoid immigration from the Middle East."
Millions expect Israel to play a major role in God’s future plan for earth. Could they all be wrong? Is there a conspiracy to deceive God’s people? What is the Biblical evidence concerning modern day Israel?
Many people today consider the restoration of the Jewish nation in Palestine to be a direct and dramatic fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth, a phenomenal best seller of the last few decades, and Jerry Jenkins and Tim Lahaye’s Lift Behind, along with Bishop T.D. Jakes declares that the end of the world will come within the lifetime of the generation that saw the founding of the Israeli state in 1948, hereby applying the words of Jesus: “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:34)
Coupled with this fascination with Israel is a novel teaching regarding the return of Jesus, called the “secret rapture.” These books and many other speaks for many today who expect God secretly to take the “church” to heaven prior to the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple on its old site where the sacred Muslim shrine, the Dome of the Rock, now stands. According to this position, after the “church” is “raptured” to heaven, there will be seven years of the worst period of famine, bloodshed, and pestilence ever experienced by man. During this great tribulation the focus will be on God’s dealings with the Jews, who are again given the responsibility for the evangelization of the world.
According to secret-rapture preachers, the battle of Armageddon will climax the end of the seven-year tribulation as the nations of the earth take sides over the future of Israel. When mankind teeters on the brink of incinerating the world, Jesus will return gloriously and save man from self-extinction. At that time Jesus will set up a literal one-thousand-year reign on earth with Jerusalem functioning as the spiritual capital of the world.
Most evangelical periodicals and pulpits teach this view today, and to those who do not know better, it might appear that this prophetic scenario, known as pretribulationism, has been the traditional teaching of the Christian church since New Testament days. Nothing is further from the truth. Be not deceived.. Did the architects of the creation of modern day Israel have any thing to do with the development of the rapture theory? Where did the Rapture theology originate? Is the crisis in the Middle East and the war in the Iraq have anything to do with the erroneous rapture theory?
Is there a master conspiracy at work
According to dispensationalists John Hagee, Jack van Impe, Ken Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, John Walvoord, Grant Jefferies, Tim Lahaye, Benny Hinn, Clarence Larkin, H. Caldwell, TD Jakes and others who teach and preach about the Rapture, Israel has two dispensations, or time periods, in which they functions as God’s special instrument of salvation. Between these two periods of time comes the dispensation of the “church”. The church received a heavenly reward at the time of the rapture, while Israel received an earthly reward at the end of the tribulation.
There is no support in the New Testament for such an erroneous view.
The chief reason why the modern state of Israel has no prophetic significance is that after the Jews as a body rejected Jesus as the Messiah, God gave to the Christian church the special privileges, responsibilities, and prerogatives once assigned to the ancient Jews. No longer were the Jews to be His special people with a prophetic destiny.
Rom.2:28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; vs.29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
All the promises of a glorious kingdom on earth once given through the Jewish prophets to the Jewish people became void because the Jewish people as a nation did not fulfill the conditions of these prophecies. Failing to receive the glory that could have been Israel’s is probably the saddest story in literature. Placed at the crossroads of the ancient world, God furnished them with every facility for becoming the greatest nation on the earth. God wanted to reward Israel with every physical and spiritual blessing as they put into practice the clear-cut principles that He had graciously taught them through His prophets (Deuteronomy 7, 8, 28).
The Old Testament records the sad story of how the vineyard of Israel produced, not the mature fruit of a Christ-like character, but “wild grapes,” a misinterpretation and perversion of what the God of Israel was really like. “What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?” (Isaiah 5:4 RSV).
Even when the Jewish nation was suffering the bitter consequences of disobedience during the Babylonian captivity, God mercifully promised that a restored Israel was possible and that there was yet time to recover its special role as His representative on earth – if it would honor His law and submit to His principles. Even then the Jews could have become, if faithful, the head and not the tail, in matters physical and spiritual; all nations would have looked upon Jerusalem as not only the center of wisdom but also the spiritual capital of the world (see Isaiah 45:14; 60:1 – 11).
When the Jews returned to Palestine after the Babylonian captivity, the promises given to Abraham and expanded through the writings of Moses and other prophets would have been fulfilled; the whole earth would have been alerted for the first advent of Christ, even as the way is being prepared for His second coming today.
Missed Their Last Opportunity.
These Old Testament prophecies that picture Israel dwelling in peace and prosperity, with all nations beating a path to her doors, could have been fulfilled 2000 years ago if they had indeed prepared the world for the first coming of Jesus (see Zechariah 8:14). But instead of fulfilling their greatest assignment they missed their last opportunity, and Jesus their Lord finally had to pronounce with irrevocable judgement: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not Behold your house is forsaken and desolate” (Matthew 23:37, 38 RSV).
Those who regard the establishment of the modern state of Israel as a fulfillment of those Old Testament prophecies overlook the fact that these promises were made either prior to their release from Babylonian captivity or during the rebuilding days soon after their return. God would have fulfilled these promises if Israel had been faithful and obedient to the conditions on which the promises were made.
Although God promised a “second chance” to Israel after their failure leading up to the Babylonian captivity, He promised no “third chance” to them after their final rejection when their Lord Himself “came to his own home, and his own people received him not” (John 1:11 RSV)
But God did not give up, even though Israel as a nation had failed Him. Although corporate Israel no longer was to function as God’s special agent, the individual Jews who received and obeyed Jesus Christ would constitute the new organization through which He would now work.
Paul describes this remarkable transition in Romans 9 to 11, where he appeals to individual Jews (such as himself) to respond to God through Jesus, join those Gentiles who have found in Him the solution to their anxious, sinful condition, and together arouse the world to the simple fact that God wants to make an end to sin and its misery by setting up His eternal kingdom composed of those who have found in Jesus the promised Saviour.
Those who preach and teach this erroneous Rapture doctrine are purposely misleading multitudes. This doctrine was created by the Jesuits as an anti-reformation and anti-protestant tool to divert attention away from the Catholic and the Pope whom the reformers had identify as the anti-Christ in Revelation. Those who teach and preach the rapture theory are proxies and agents for the Kabbalists and those who want to establish a New World Order (NWO). The Rapture theory has more to do with politics than theology, more to do with mans involvement in world affairs than Gods involvement, more about Zionism than the people of Zion.
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