THE PRAYING PREMILLENNIALISTS
A study of history gives evidence of the accuracy of the Premillennial view. Observation of history shows that there is an obvious correlation between Christians’ literal interpretation of prophetic scripture, their prayers regarding those prophecies, and the fulfilment of those scriptures. God requires the Church to pray before He will act (Matthew 7:7), so one of the purposes of the prophecies is to be a guide to direct the prayers of the Church. History gives strong evidence that God has used the praying Premillennial Church in nearly every step of the development and defence of the nation of Israel. The Church and the nation of Israel are intertwined in a mutually beneficial relationship. God blesses Israel through the intercessory prayers of the Church, and God blesses the Church for its obedience and for blessing Israel in honour of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3.
Prophecy reveals the purpose of God, which allows the Church to pray in line with God’s divine will for the future. God requires that through intercession the Church stands in the gap for Israel (Ezekiel 22:30 and Psalm 106:23). We are also required to watch and wait for the return of Jesus (Matthew 24:42). An important part of that watching and waiting is the understanding of prophecy and following God’s plan for the future, so that we are able to stay awake, to draw alongside God, so as to be a part of His progressive, unfolding plan for man’s complete restoration to Him. Let us look at the evidence in history and observe the progress of the relationship between God, the Church, the Jews and the nation of Israel.
At the start of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, the English Christians rejected allegorical interpretation of scripture and saw prophecy as being literal. The belief by the Puritans in a future return of the Jews to their homeland and their prayers to that end resulted in Oliver Cromwell, a Puritan, leading the “Roundheads” to victory over the Royalists and his inviting the Jews back into England in 1655 – the Jews having been forced to leave Britain by Edward I in 1290. The logical progression of thought for the Puritans was that the Jews needed to return to England before they could fulfil the many prophecies predicting their return from all nations to their homeland. By 1739 the Church in Britain was blessed with the First Great Awakening, which was marked by the rise of men like George Whitefield and the brothers John and Charles Wesley, who started the Evangelical revival which extended into the late 18th century, an era which became known as the Golden Age of preaching. All three of these men believed in the literal restoration of the nation of Israel.
In 1790 the evangelical Christians in Britain were influenced by the writings of the Puritan theologians on the restoration of the nation of Israel. One of them is Edward May who wrote Accomplishment of the Scripture Prophecies. Kelvin Crombie in his book Anzacs, Empires and Israel’s Restoration 1798 – 1948 notes that May “drew a number of far-reaching conclusions, among them that the fall of the French Monarchy, to be quickly followed by the fall of the Pope, would usher in the countdown to the fulfilment of the prophecies.” The zeal of the evangelicals that inspired the formation of numerous missionary societies extended from the prophecy in Matthew 24:14, where Jesus says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end shall come.” Examples of these societies are The Baptist missionary society (1792); the non-denominational London missionary society (1795); The Anglican Church missionary society (1795) and the non-denominational Bible Society (1804). The missionary zeal resulted in the formation of a non-denominational missionary society in 1809, named The London Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews. The society was made up of men who believed in a future prophetic fulfilment of a future homeland for the Jews.
In 1826 leading prophetic expositors met to discuss the literal fulfilment of prophecy. There was a realisation that for there to be a British missionary presence in Jerusalem to aid the Jews in establishing a homeland in fulfilment of prophecy, there would have to be a British consulate in Jerusalem and there would have to be a change in government in Jerusalem. Within a decade their prayers were answered when Egypt invaded Turkey and captured Jerusalem. Egypt allowed British subjects to settle in Jerusalem. The British missionary organisation, Church Ministry among the Jews (CMJ), established a base in Jerusalem. The importance of these events must not be underestimated. Godly men were guided by a literal interpretation of scripture to seek God’s plan and purpose for bringing the prophecy to fulfilment and in faith to pray into that area. These men received a miraculous answer to their prayers.
By 1838, due to pressure from evangelicals, an English Consular agent was established in Jerusalem, which was a stepping stone closer to identifying the need for the Jews to have a homeland in Israel. Then in 1839, because of the consulate in Jerusalem, Britain slowly drew into an active involvement in the affairs of Jerusalem and Eretz Israel. 1841 saw the arrival in Jerusalem of the first Protestant bishop, a former rabbi named Michael Solomon Alexander. Alexander conducted services in Hebrew, Arabic and English in the building of Christ Church in Jerusalem, the construction of which had started the year before his arrival and was completed in January 1849.
Another momentous event occurred in 1891 when William E. Blackstone became the leader of a movement in America to promote the need for a Jewish homeland. He also wrote the Blackstone Memorial titled What Shall Be Done for the Russian Jews? after the severe Russian pogrom that had occurred in 1881. This document spearheaded the Zionist movement. Many religious leaders from different denominations signed the Memorial, including D. L. Moody and T. De Witt Talmage, along with leading American politicians and businessmen. Millions of Christians in Britain and America were awakened to pray for a Jewish homeland.
If it were not for men of faith like William Blackstone and William Hecheler who so strongly supported Theodor Herzl, the first Zionist conference of 1897 probably would never have taken place. The very interesting point in all of this is that there were Christian Zionists long before there were Jewish Zionists, because the Christians saw in their Bibles a literal promise from God to restore the land of Israel to the Jews.
After a concerted effort on the part of the Church for Israel in the late 1800s, the early 1900s saw the Church being blessed with revivals: the Bethel Bible School revival in Topeka, Kansas (Charles E Parham, 1901); The Welsh revival (Evan Roberts, 1904-1905); the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles (headed by William Seymor, 1906); and the Lowestoft street revival in England (headed by Douglas Brown, 1921). These revivals were the genesis for the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement which now numbers over 550 million adherents worldwide.
The signing of the Balfour Declaration eventually brought the nation of Israel into existence; this was achieved by God who brought together the right men into positions of power within the British government. Of the ten men involved with drawing up the Balfour Declaration seven had strong evangelical Christian backgrounds with Premillennial views. The British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, was a strong Christian who was moved by an underlying tradition of British Zionism dating back to the Puritans in the 1600s. Lord Balfour, the Foreign Secretary at that time, made a public statement on the defence of the decision to establish a national homeland for the Jews, stating, “Surely it is in order that we may send a message to every land where the Jewish race has been scattered, a message that will tell them that Christendom is not oblivious of their faith, is not unmindful of the service they have rendered to the religions of the great world.” Balfour felt that the Christian religion and civilisation owed to Judaism an immense debt, which had largely been ignored. General Jan Smuts of South Africa, a lifelong friend to the Jews, played a major part in the formation of the Balfour declaration. He echoed the statement made by Balfour when he said, “Christians who have received the leadership of the Prince of Peace from the Jewish nation are now in a position to make some small return for those priceless blessings and to restore Israel to the ancient glorious homeland.” In an apparent ‘coincidence’ the American President, Woodrow Wilson, was also an evangelical Christian and he gave the vital support of America, the new world power, to the Balfour Declaration.
The miracle that Christians had been praying for so long happened on 14 May 1948: David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the new state of Israel. Isaiah had prophesied this moment approximately 2 700 years previously when he wrote, “Who has ever heard such a thing? Who has ever seen such a thing? Can a country be born in a day, or a nation be brought forth in a moment?” (Isaiah 66:8). The Arab nations opposed the formation of the state of Israel and sought to annihilate the young nation, forcing Israel to go to war. Miraculously, Israel survived the onslaught and won the war. Around the same time rejuvenation was taking place in America in the now 50-year-old Pentecostal-Charismatic movement with the power of the Holy Spirit manifesting in meetings held in tents and auditoriums around the country.
Premillennial Christians studied and interpreted prophecy literally, then in obedience to God prayed for Israel and in turn, the Church has been blessed. But it does not stop with the signing of the Balfour Declaration in 1917. History reveals the wonderful provisions and deliverances Israel continually experiences because Christian Churches were praying beforehand. Examples would be when Israel was on the brink of collapse and Jerusalem without food during the 1948 war. Christians throughout the world were praying for the fledgling nation when suddenly a UN ceasefire was declared, giving Israel 28 days to rearm, resupply and train more troops, so they returned to the conflict a more dominant force than the Arab armies that did not benefit from the ceasefire. This miraculous ceasefire changed the course of the war and put Israel on the path to victory. Christians continually prayed for the prophesied return of Jerusalem to the people of Israel, then in the 1967 war there was victory over the belligerent Arab nations and the restoration of Jerusalem to Israel. 1967 also marked the start of the Jesus Movement which continued into the 70s and brought revival, especially among the youth, to the declining denominational churches in America and Europe. The Jesus Movement was characterised by a life of total commitment – being “on fire for God”, faith, prayer, gifts of the Holy Spirit, evangelism and a Premillennialist ideology.
A final example of the effectiveness of prayer for Israel is the surprise attacks by Egypt and Syria in 1973. Israel was being overrun by the unexpected attack from those two powerful Arab nations and all seemed lost for Israel. The Church was not aware of the Arabs’ planning an attack on Israel until it happened. Serious and fervent prayer was offered on behalf of the young nation and suddenly Egypt and Syria both made tactical blunders which allowed Israel to crush the Arab armies, which also resulted in the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights becoming part of Israel.
The evidence is overwhelming that there is a God-ordained relationship between the Church and Israel. The Church needs to face the facts: Satan wants to destroy Israel and continues to plan to do so; the latest threat is the nuclear aspirations of Iran and the growing number of rockets being positioned around Israel in the neighbouring Arab nations. Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria and Iran all have thousands of rockets pointed at Israel. These acts of aggression aimed against Israel require the Church to focus in prayer; God requires it. Satan knows that Israel is an important part of God’s plan for the future return of Jesus, and his consequent judgement. If Satan can eliminate Israel, he prevents the return of Jesus to rule and he stays his own judgement. The conflict against Israel by the Arab nations is not a social conflict, moral conflict, or a cultural conflict; it a spiritual conflict with Allah directing his attack on the God of Israel, Yahweh. The God of Israel requires that the Church step up in the spiritual battle by praying. The evangelical Christians of the past have influenced history while on their knees; the Christians of today need to copy their example and recognise that prayer in obedience to God’s will influences world events. Those Churches that are being disobedient to God’s requirements through their inaction are placed on the side of the enemy, which is made clear in Obadiah 1:11.
Israel is an integral and vital part of End Time scripture. A belief that takes Israel out of the picture denies God’s plan for the End Times, and works in antagonism to God. The followers of these beliefs become blind to the signs of the time and convince others to follow their path of ignorance. The Lord’s plan for the future, which is on page after page of the Bible, is being ignored. Old Testament prophets whose prophesies were fulfilled literally regarding the arrival of Jesus as the Messiah and that He would die for our sins, suddenly become “spiritualised” when their prophecies warn of the return of Jesus as King. This is illogical and contradictory. One of the most powerful revelations of the existence of God is prophecy; only God is not limited by the constraints of time. God uses His foreknowledge of future events as evidence that he is the true God. He says, “I am God there is no other; I am God and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is to come” (Isaiah 46:9-10). God in His wisdom has chosen to focus the End Times around the nation of Israel, using His guiding hand on that nation and the Jews to reveal Himself as the One True God to the world. As His children, we are required to support God’s End Time plan with fervent prayer as it gives glory to our Lord. The Church cannot forget that Christians are in a spiritual battle against an enemy who will do everything in its power to thwart God’s plans. Through the prayers of the saints we are able to change the curse on the Jewish people recorded in Deuteronomy 28:15-68 into the blessing we see being fulfilled in modern Israel, blessings which God ordained from the beginning of time but require the Church to pray into reality. The fulfilment of prophecy regarding Israel not only shows the power of God over the events of man and his destiny, but also demonstrates the forgiving, redemptive nature of God and His great Love for His covenant people. David Brog is an American lawyer and Jew who was suspicious of Christians’ motives for their enthusiastic support of Israel, so he did an in-depth study of their reasons, the findings of which he put in his book, Standing with Israel. His book shows the orderly, logical progression of evidence and arguments of a legal mind at work, with his conclusion best summed up in this following statement: “As the Jews confront the latest threats to their existence, they will find standing alongside them Christian soldiers who passionately share their concerns – not despite their Christian faith but because of it.” This is a glowing testament to the Christians who support Israel and has two major effects: it reveals the agape, unconditional love of Jesus to the Jew, and the salvation that came to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous, as Paul tells us in Romans 11:11. These Christians are fulfilling that purpose; Jews become envious of the great Love these Gentiles have for their Messiah, and they see that Love when those Christians stand in faith to support them.