We decided to post this one under the Culture heading since religion is part of culture.
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By Vahan Bogdasarian
The mainstay of the Christian Cult of Israel (known as Christian Zionism in its more explicit form), which has existed for over 60 years and largely dominates American Christianity, is the description in Ezekiel 37: 1-14 of the prophet’s dream of a valley of dry bones that come together to form a living body, which the prophet says represent Israel, whose people God had banished from their land for disobedience. The challenge with this and most other prophecies for scholars is the absence of a time frame for its fulfillment and a lack of further details as to the nature of the Israel resurrected -- ´perhaps just after the prolonged captivity in Babylonia. The majority of churches now believe that this resurrected Israel of prophecy is in fact that one with its capital in Tel Aviv. And because Christians are arguably the largest voting bloc, their will translates into national policy, particularly foreign policy, the one that keeps the US constantly embroiled in war after war that the nation loses consistently.
US policies are regularly blamed on a putative “Deep State,” but the backbone of the nation is the people -- which I call the Shallow State for the purpose of this article, which in fact controls the U.S. government to a vast extent not understood by most.
The dry bones prophecy was reportedly recorded in the year 587 BC, 10 years after the start of the first diaspora, ie, the Babylonian captivity. Anyone reading this prophecy around the time it was written would have been convinced that the dry bones were the now-ancient Israel that had just then ceased to exist in the land given the Hebrews by God. In fact, the diaspora ended starting in the year 538 when Persian King Cyrus released all the Israelite captives and allowed them to return to their ancestral land. Was this return of the captives to Israel not analogous to the re-assembling of dry bones?
Indeed this first diaspora ended in 538 BC, when Jewish captives began to return to their homeland. What would that have been but a resurrection of the once-dry bones? However, subsequent Bible scholars prior to the Zionist movement had their own take on this and their words were often spoken with clarity and zeal as well as with what seemed like air tight Biblical logic at the time.
For instance, in 1864, the renowned preacher Charles Spurgeon preached a different slant on the dry bones prophecy than that of today’s “Christian Zionists.” He firmly believed that there would indeed be a resurrected Israel but one that accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Thus, compared to today’s Christian Zionism, Spurgeon’s vision of the future Israel was a frankly Christian one. In that sermon he said:
“There shall not be two, nor ten, nor twelve, but one—one Israel praising one God, serving one king, and that one King the Son of David, the descended Messiah.”
By contrast, the modern Christian supporters of Zionism include Pastor John Hagee, whose theology is centered squarely on Israel and who once preached that Jews could be a kind of honorary “Christians” if they were faithful to their Abrahamic God and His commandments. A far cry from Christ’s words “no man cometh unto the Father but through Me.” Mainstream Christians could not stomach this perversion of their scriptures, and Hagee was eventually pressured into recanting this heresy. Even so, there are well-known Christian leaders like Texas Senator and ex-presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who hold to the proposition that Christians are called upon to wholeheartedly support the modern state of Israel and all its policies, despite its high percentage of atheists and scarcity of true believers in the Old Testament—and despite the fact that this contemporary Israel is, for example, wholeheartedly in favor of same-sex marriage, which the senator rejects on Christian grounds.
This is a far cry from Spurgeon’s view of Ezekiel’s Israel prophecy, a Christ-centered view that has almost completely died out, along with a lot of other articles of the faith, and along with a firm grasp of family values and a sense of family security. And along with the loss of family security, we have lost a feeling of national and economic security as well. Spurgeon would have told us that the material and the spiritual go hand in hand and when one fails, so does the other.
But he would not have been allowed to speak in today’s churches.
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