The question needs to be posed because most people think he’s not doing anything but sloshing around happily in the mud obliviously and impetuously destroying everything holy.
So, let me back up.
I have been watching the situation in Israel my entire life. That might sound like an exaggeration, but seriously do many 2nd graders watch eight hours of the 1978 “Holocaust” miniseries starring Meryl Streep and James Wood over the course of a weekend…more than once? Do most 10 year olds read hundreds of pages of fictionalized accounts of the Jewish Resistance during WWII and the subsequent settlement of Israel in its wake (The Zion Chronicles and Zion Covenant series)? Yeah…no.
I was raised to be a Christian Zionist. Following Israeli politics and interests was natural to me. It was like water for fish. It wasn’t until I was in college that I found out that not all Christians support Israel’s claim to the land they hold, let alone an undivided Jerusalem. I guess it wasn’t until like two years ago that I knew that not all Christians are premillenial dispensationalists. Who knew?!
My parents, neither of whom are academics or higher degree holders, educated me from a young age on the international relations between the United States, Israel, and the Middle East rooted in the context of both modern and ancient history. They taught me to view world events theologically and prophetically. They didn’t learn how to do that in school. Rather my mom, during her quiet times, has read the Bible cover to cover 30 times in her 30 years of being saved— And that’s outside of the weekly Sunday service, Sunday night service, Shabbat meetings, and midweek Bible studies that were the rhythm of my childhood.
In the age of evangelical elites, children’s pastors with seminary degrees, and Christian authors who praise atheistic communist theory (Tim Keller), I’ve become a fish out of water.
I mean really, in such a tense moment in our nation and in the church, what do you do when the grandmother in the back rows of church with her arms up in praise and singing off key knows more about the Bible’s content than 99.9% of seminary graduates who are the “influencers,” authors, and leaders of Christian evangelicalism? Devoid of backwater revival meetings and Billy Graham’s more polished big tent revivalism now parted from us, how do we digest the animosity growing between the Christian “educated” only in the average reader’s understanding of scripture and those “educated” in theology sparsely peppered with exegesis and shaped by higher education’s love for higher criticism?
Oh how that animosity grows, when little old mama can quote the Book of Isaiah while watching Fox News and Yo, Preach over in “the pub” couldn’t spell eschatology with a dictionary open, for Jesus’ name sake. Sidenote: As if America has real pubs like Lewis and Tolkien would have debated in. Come on seminarian, it’s a pick-up bar. Yet, it’s the Christian ignoramus who votes for Trump.
Am I saying vote for Trump? Nope. Do what you want– No, do what your prayer closet tells you to. If Biden wins, nothing in America will change that much. If Trump wins, he will continue to shake the earth in a way that brings both judgement and grace to America. God’s outpouring will come to America in Trump’s second term– not because he is a good or bad person or good or bad at his job– but because of the following three reasons:
- The approach he is taking to the Middle East will cause both eery peace and sudden war. Like final battle? Gog and Magog? I don’t know. But definitely a foreshadow of exactly that– same players, same scenarios. If you’re amillenialist or a replacement theologist, you might want to consider that it’s not just random that a modern nation of Israel even exists and that both Turkey and Iran, countries previously amiable to the outside world, have become bellicose, anti-Western Islamists.
- Trump is perpetuating division rather than promoting unity. This is not only at home and abroad but within communities and families as well. Trump’s solution to Iran is not to unfreeze their assets and give them nuclear capacity like Obama. He is brokering peace deals that purposefully cause conflict. Serbia and Kosovo allying with Israel– at peace to promote war with Turkey. United Arab Emirates and Bahrain allying with Israel– normalizing relations to draw Saudi Arabia into an axis against Iran. Trump’s solution to Iran’s threat to America and Turkey’s increasingly anti-Western aggression is to isolate them not to befriend them. This happens to be his strategy for just about everything by the way.
- Pompeo. That name has been heard before in Israel’s history. That man did the same thing as this Pompeo. I think this Pompeo will create the same historical moment again through his actions. It is bizarre how Trump has brought Pompeo from a three-term small district congressman to CIA director to Secretary of State in less than three years. Um, hi? Why? Because it matters. And I’m very uncomfortable with it.
So, yeah, Pompeo’s name. Everyone who is charismatic/prophecy-oriented/conspiratorial talks about the significance of Trump’s name. “Trumps” are extremely important in the Bible. “Unless the trump plays a clear signal, how will the people know when to go to battle?” (paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:8). Trumpets in the Bible are signals. Signs.
But biblical prophecy is pattern not just a one time sign. There are cycles that repeat until they culminate in the Second Coming. Theologians anemically refer to this as “now and later” fulfillments. Here’s my push back to the phrase “now and later”: It connotes that a prophecy is fulfilled once in the past and once in the future. There is nothing about biblical prophecy that works that way. The model for biblical prophecy is the sabbatical calendar or “convocations of the Lord” or “the Lord’s appointed times.” They happen every year, on new moons, on weekly sabbaths.
Jesus did not abolish the sabbath– He abolished time, namely, Saturday. He made the urgency of the sabbath and the culmination of prophecy a reality by faith to be remembered, celebrated, and lived every single day. He made what repeats throughout history ad nauseam complete in a single eternal moment though it is realized progressively over linear time.
Did the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD fulfill Jesus’ eschatological prophecies? Sure. Is it the last time that prophecy will be fulfilled? Nope. Is it the first time it was fulfilled? Eh, no. Just like Daniel’s prophecies about the abomination of desolation desecrating the Temple was fulfilled in Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 175BCE but will be seen again. Was Judah Maccabee a lion of the tribe of Judah? Yep. Was he the Lion of the Tribe of Judah? No.
Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed once in the Old Testament by Nebuchadnezzar per Isaiah’s prophecies. The Temple was desecrated once in the Intertestamental Period. And the Temple and City were destroyed in 70AD. The kingdom of heaven– I believe that the church is the Third Temple– suffers violence and the violent take it by force, an abomination that desolates. However, that doesn’t mean that the actual nation of David’s throne will not become the very ground that Jesus takes possession of “in that day” where the Lamb and the Ancient of Days serve as the Temple (Revelation). It also doesn’t mean that an anti-Christ’s sham temple that reminds us of the false Edomite king, Herod’s attempts to build up the Temple, won’t happen again before Jesus comes again. There are theories that the Anti-Christ, will be an Edomite. Go figure.
You might ask, isn’t that “now and later” fulfillment? No there is only one prophecy– one promise from God– about Jerusalem and national Israel; and it is repeated and foreshadowed, and the labor pains build becoming more intense and closer together over time.
So what is Trump doing and does it matter? Trump is both repeating history and foreshadowing the future.
It only matters if his loud, cranky, divisive trumpet blast continues for a second term; and possibly if that makes way for Pompeo to become president (possibly). I say that because back to back “Trump” presidents– not his personal presidential terms, but “Trump presidents” being those including the administrations of Trump and Pompeo– would solidify Trump’s international policies and it would cement the divisions he has created in America.
If Biden wins, we will have peace and unity. Nice bathwater peace and a scaffolded unity. The country will continue to smoke philosophical opium. The church will be gleefully ecumenical. Christmas will come every day. And the apostles, whose spirits have been stirred up, who feel the mantle and movement that God is demanding of them, will continue to be frustrated, to cry out to a rainless sky for revival, and ask for death rather than to have to continue dragging around the shackles of an obstinate, disinterested church.
*WATCH my recent Bible teaching: Swords into Plowshares: A Word Study on the Letter 7