By Richard Edmondson
In the photo above we see Israeli Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is reported that Alsheikh is anticipating the coming of the Jewish messiah in the not-terribly-distant future and that he and his police forces are preparing for large crowds expected to converge upon the Jewish state when the glorious arrival takes place.
“When the Messiah comes, everyone will want to [approach] him so it will get very crowded,” he said. “That will be a time when we will have to be very strong in respecting our fellow.”
The police commissioner added: “Soon, God willing, we will need to start preparing for the security operation necessary upon the arrival of the Messiah.”
The story was initially reported January 2 by the Jewish website Breaking Israel News, (H/T Ariadna) and has since been picked up on a number of Christian Zionist sites, including the obnoxious World Net Daily (the WND is not exclusively Christian Zionist, but it does take that slant in a number of its articles).
“No one knows the day or the hour, but the Israeli police seem to believe the Messiah is coming soon,” the WND titillates in an article published January 8.
So are the Israelis planning to stage an “event” of some sort? Will the top rabbis in Israel hold a press conference at some point and designate a hired actor as the “messiah”?
Or alternately–and let your imagination wander here–is a “messiah” of one description or another on the horizon? Will it be a real messiah, a false messiah, or, possibly, an “antichrist”…or maybe even the antichrist?
Perhaps worth mentioning is that a long-standing tradition in Church history holds that the antichrist will be a Jew. This was discussed in a treatise entitled “Against Heresies,” written by one of the early Church fathers, Irenaeus, who served as bishop of Lyons in the latter part of the second century. And in Irenaeus’ view, not only would the antichrist be a Jew, but he would be a Jew specifically from the tribe of Dan:
[Let them learn] to acknowledge that he who shall come claiming the kingdom for himself, and shall terrify those men of whom we have been speaking, having a name containing the aforesaid number , is truly the abomination of desolation. This, too, the apostle [Paul] affirms: “When they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction shall come upon them.” And Jeremiah does not merely point out his sudden coming, but he even indicates the tribe from which he shall come, where he says, “We shall hear the voice of his swift horses from Dan; the whole earth shall be moved by the voice of the neighing of his galloping horses: he shall also come and devour the earth, and the fulness thereof, the city also, and they that dwell therein.” This, too, is the reason that this tribe is not reckoned in the Apocalypse along with those which are saved.
In the above, Irenaeus mentions three scriptural passages—I Thessalonians 5:3, Jeremiah 8:16, and Revelation 7:5-8. The first passage, from Thessalonians, does not specifically point to Dan, however, the latter two do. The passage from Revelation lists the tribes of Israel which would have the “seal of God” on their foreheads at the end of days. Curiously, Dan is omitted from the list.
The passage from Jeremiah 8, though singling out Dan in particular, also discusses the sins of the Israelite nation as a whole. For instance, verses 9-12 read as follows:
The wise shall be put to shame, they shall be dismayed and taken; since they have rejected the word of the Lord, what wisdom is in them? Therefore I will give their wives to others and their fields to conquerors, because from the least to the greatest everyone is greedy for unjust gain; from prophet to priest everyone deals falsely. They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. They acted shamefully, they committed abomination; yet they were not at all ashamed, they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time when I punish them, they shall be overthrown, says the Lord.
Dan is fingered in other biblical passages as well. Let’s have a look at Genesis 49:1, 16-17:
And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, ‘Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days…Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
I often wonder why Christian Zionists don’t take biblical passages like these into consideration. In their blind support for Israel, Christian Zionists seem to have utterly cast aside the entire body of Jesus’ teachings. What happened to love? Where is compassion for “the least of these”? How is it possible, if you’re a Christian, to declare your allegiance to a country like Israel and to those “greedy for unjust gain” who so lavishly support it?
How also is it possible the human mind cannot reflect upon the sacking and burning of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 AD…and wonder if it might not have been God’s punishment, God’s retribution, for the event which occurred in that very same city a mere 40 years earlier, an event which is observed today on the Christian calendar as “Good Friday”? But of course we live in a world of strictly-enforced political correctness, wherein pointing out things like this can get you branded an “anti-Semite” with significant repercussions. The early Church fathers were under no such constraints.
Another such father, though one who came along some 200 years after Irenaeus, was John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople. In a homily entitled “Adversus Judaeos,” John referred to Jews as “the enemies of the truth,” and he warned especially against “Judaizers” within the Christian Church, i.e. those Christians with a predilection for observing Jewish festivals, attending synagogue services, etc. The views of such people were “an illness which has become implanted in the body of the Church,” he said, and he urged the members of his diocese, “When you observe someone Judaizing, take hold of him, show him what he is doing, so that you may not yourself be an accessory to the risk he runs.”
John Chrysostom would today be viewed as an “anti-Semite,” though as we look around at the current state of Christianity in the West, one might surmise it’s a pity the Church did not pay closer heed to some of his warnings.
All of this is not to say that what may be (or may not be) about to show up in Israel will be the antichrist or anything other than a hired actor. Certainly we should not dismiss the Zionist state’s proclivities for “waging war by way of deception.” Worth noting also is that there is very strong support in Israel now, including from Knessett members, to build a new Jewish Temple, and you can imagine how the two issues–the arrival of the “messiah” and the rebuilding of the Temple–would tie in and lend a synergistic effect to each other. Also, it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out as well what the impact upon, say, the BDS movement might be if millions of Christians around the world were to become convinced that their messiah had arrived.
“Religious Jews are more excited about Messiah’s return than Christians are,” says Jan Markell, a Christian Zionist author quoted in the WND story.
“Muslims are more anticipatory about their Mahdi’s return than are Christians about Jesus’s return,” she adds. “This shows the deplorable state of the church today that is ‘majoring in minors.’ They have their finance seminars and marriage conferences but have shoved the idea of the Lord’s imminent return not just to the back burner, perhaps to the back yard.”
That of course could change were the mass media to start hinting that something “strange” was happening in Israel, with thousands of people, including Christian Zionists like Markell, crowding excitedly around a new religious figure on the scene. Imagine CNN covering the story, or the treatment it might get from news anchors like Jake Tapper. Lots of grist for the fake news mill.
A bit more here from the WND story:
As a “pre-Tribulation” believer, Markell believes the rapture could occur at any moment. She calls for both increased attention by Christians to the subject of the end times and dedication to the Jewish state of Israel.
“In my lifetime, the biggest change in the church is the switch of church loyalty from Israel to the Palestinians,” Markell said. “This is called ‘Christian Palestinianism.’ Before the state of Israel was born in 1948, most evangelical churches embraced ‘Christian Zionism.’ They were loyal to the state of Israel even before it was formed.
“Today the religious left and others have swung support away from Israel to an ‘invented people,’ the Palestinians. Yasser Arafat was a superb salesman and sold the world on the idea that the Palestinians had their land stolen. Arafat was an Egyptian and there was no Palestinian people. Yet today much of the world believes the Jews live in ‘occupied territory’ rather than God-given land. This is the biggest change in my lifetime. I cannot believe what I am seeing.
“If the church were functioning properly, this confusion would never have happened, but the church shredded maps of Israel 25 years ago when it decided to be politically correct rather than biblically correct.”
I’m not sure what maps Markell is referring to, but I doubt she means these:
It would be enormously helpful to modern day Christians if they understood that Jewish antipathy to Christianity did not arise as a result of the “anti-Semitism” of church fathers like John Chrysostom, and that it was present in Christianity’s earliest, most formative years, before the gospels were even written. A few passages from the Book of Acts help to underscore this. One of them is Acts 18:12:
While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him into court. “This man,” they charged, “is persuading people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”
Another is Acts 20:18-19:
When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.”
The whole city was aroused, and people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commanders and soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
Then the Lord said to me, “Go, I will send you far away to the Gentiles.
The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”
The next morning the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. More than forty men were involved in this plot. They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul.”
In the passages above, the one in Acts 18 takes place in Corinth; Acts 20 is a reference to events in the province of Asia Minor (the conversation specifically takes place in the coastal town of Miletus); the final three passages, in Acts 21-23, take place in Jerusalem. Thus it would appear that just about everywhere Paul went he encountered Jews who were hostile to him and his message. Perhaps not surprisingly then do we hear Jesus say, in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” And yet Christians today blame themselves for the rift that occurred between Christianity and Judaism and hold themselves responsible for “Christian anti-Semitism.”
Hatred for Christ–it does seem to peer “through a glass darkly” from time to time as we look about at the world these days–which brings us in a roundabout manner back to the topic of an antichrist/messiah/hired actor. Whatever it is the Israeli police commissioner may be anticipating, clearly there exists at least the potential for deception. Recently I published an article entitled Reality Reversal wherein I discussed the mainstream media’s tendency to invert reality into its mirror opposite. This it does in reporting on the Palestine-Israel conflict, as well as in a number of other areas–the war on Syria, for instance, or the mendacious inventions of “Russian aggression” churned out to no end. The article discusses in particular the comments of Caroline Glick, an editor at the Jerusalem post, who in a speech portrayed Palestinians as racists while casting Talmudic Jewish settlers as the embodiment of liberal tolerance. It also talks about the book, The Jewish Century, by Yuri Slezkine, who describes Jews as “Mercurian,” a reference to the Roman god Mercury who was thought of as the god of financial gain and whose attributes included trickery and eloquence. Mercury was also deemed the patron of thieves and travelers, and it’s interesting that Slezkine would advance a theory endowing Jews with the “Mercurian” denominator, for in doing so he seems to be at least tacitly admitting that anti-Semitism is given rise to by certain behaviors and practices of Jews–something we don’t commonly see from Jewish writers.
Maybe at some point the Palestine-Israel conflict will be resolved. But the world has been trying to do that for close onto 70 years–and with people now relentlessly devoting themselves to standing reality on its head, the prospects for the future don’t look too good. In any event, we must become “watchers” and be alert, and in so doing dedicate ourselves to following Christ–at all times and to the best of our ability. Only by following Him do we gradually learn to see through all of the deceptions.