By Thomas Williamson
3131 S. Archer Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60608
It appears to me that there is some confusion with regard
to the current teaching on the place of the nation of Iran in
Bible prophecy. Please read this letter that I sent on March 17,
2007 to Dr. Edward Hindson, Contributing Editor, National Liberty
Journal in Lynchburg, Virginia. As of July, 2007, I have not yet
received a reply.
"I have a few brief questions and comments concerning your article "Is War With Iran Inevitable?" in the March, 2007 National Liberty Journal.
"Your article, in common with all dispensationalist prophetic interpretations of Ezekiel 38-39 that I am aware of, sees a future Russian-Iranian invasion of Israel as taking place in close conjunction with the Rapture. This being the case, why is it that various televangelists including Jerry Falwell and John Hagee are lobbying for an American military strike against Iran?
"It seems to me that such an attack, if successful, would destroy Iran's ability to attack Israel for decades or even centuries to come, thus putting the Rapture on hold for decades or centuries. There seems to be a tension or conflict between the belief that Christ will come very soon in conjunction with a Russian/Iranian attack on Israel, and the belief that it is our duty as Christian Americans to attack and destroy Iran. I was hoping that your article would help resolve this contradiction, but it did not do so.
"My second question is, how can belief that Ezekiel 38-39 predicts a future military invasion of Israel be reconciled with the literal if possible' principle of Bible interpretation. Any literal interpretation of Ezekiel 38-39 would inevitably lead to the conclusion that Ezekiel is describing a battle that took place in ancient times, with all the invaders riding on horses (38:15), fighting with bucklers, shields and swords (38:4), with shields and helmets (38:5), with shields, bucklers, bows and arrows handstaves and spears (39:9).
"No armies in the modern world fight with these weapons today or would dare to attack any modern nation such as Israel with such weapons. And why would the modern nation of Israel scavenge these weapons to be used as fuel (39:9-10)? It seems to me that by transferring this ancient battle to future times, we have abandoned the literal principle of interpretation."
Since I did not receive a response from Dr. Hindson, I am reprinting this letter in the hope that some of my readers can respond and explain why it is our Christian duty to attack and destroy Iran, before that nation has had a chance to fulfill "Bible prophecy" by attacking Israel.
It just seems to me that if the big-name prophecy teachers are going to make a big issue over their trendy teachings on the place of Iran in Bible prophecy, making these things a test of faith among Christians, and lobbying our government to base its foreign policy on these prophecy teachings, then first they need to get their act together and come up with stories that do not conflict.
If it is our duty to nuke Iran and wipe out the Iranians in order to fulfill "Bible prophecy," then we should stop teaching that Iran will be invading Israel as a part of the events leading up to Christ's second coming.
If it is necessary for the Iranians to attack Israel in order for "Bible prophecy" to be fulfilled and for Christ to return, then we should stop lobbying our government to nuke and destroy Iran. Come on guys, get your story straight before you drag America into another disastrous, unwinnable war in the Middle East based on fanciful, contradictory notions of fulfilling "Bible prophecy."
The reason I keep putting "Bible prophecy" in quotes is because I do not believe that the Bible predicts either of these events. The Bible does not teach that it is necessary for America to attack and destroy Iran, nor does the Bible teach that Iran, with or without the Russkies, will attack Israel at a time future to us.
Read Ezekiel 38-39 for yourself. Please note what is absent from this passage. There is absolutely no mention of America or any other nation carrying out an attack on Iran.
There is nothing in this passage that mentions the Rapture or Second Coming of Christ, or that in any way ties this invasion of Israel with the time of Christ's return.
There is nothing here that pinpoints these events as taking place in the early 21st Century AD, or in modern times at all.
To spiritualize the descriptions of battle with ancient weapons and modes of transportation in Ezekiel 38-39, making them refer to modern weapons and battle tactics, is to repudiate the literal method of interpretation that is supposedly the main strength and bulwark of dispensational Bible prophecy.
Dispensationalists are fond of saying "We are the only ones who interpret the Bible literally so that makes us right and everyone else is wrong." However, whenever they run into anything in the Bible that does not fit their preconceived theological system, they spiritualize it and make it non-literal. The stars of heaven in Revelation 6:13 are changed to meteors, the locusts of Revelation 9:3 become Cobra helicopters, the 490 years of Daniel 9:24-27 are put on a stretching machine and made to be more than 2500 years, and so on and so forth ad infinitum and ad nauseum.
Creative new interpretations of Bible prophecy are manufactured in order to conform to the latest politically correct fads. When I became a Christian in 1971, no one was teaching that it was necessary to attack Iran to fulfill Bible prophecy. All of the sudden, by an amazing coincidence, just about the same time that a Republican President declared Iran to be part of the "Axis of Evil," certain sensationalistic televangelists discovered a truth that had been missed by all the great preachers and expositors of the last 2000 years, that the Bible teaches that America must attack Iran to fulfill Bible prophecy. We need to exercise some healthy skepticism whenever someone comes up with a brand-new tenet of doctrine that was never heard of until the early 21st Century
I realize that I may be branded a traitor, infidel and cheese-eating surrender monkey for what I am about to say. But I am not going to endorse the proposed attack on Iran, in the name of Christianity, until someone can show me where this is prophesied in the Bible, and where it says that it is our duty to make it happen.
Even if it can be shown that the Bible prophesies that America will attack Iran some day, it does not necessarily follow that we under an obligation to make it happen. The Old Testament prophesied that the Messiah would be crucified, but that did not mean that it was the duty of the 12 apostles to crucify Christ or lobby the Roman government to crucify Him. Christ predicted that Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Romans within one generation (fulfilled in 70 AD) but He did not teach that His followers should lobby their emperor, senators or centurions to send the Roman army to conduct a "pre-emptive first strike" on Jerusalem.