Dispensational Delusionsby Steve Wohlberg
You may be unaware of this, but the vast majority of Christian authors, radio hosts and television producers who talk about "the end times" have accepted a unique system of prophetic interpretation called "Dispensationalism." Whether these teachers themselves even recognize this not-so-small detail or not, one thing is obvious: they usually place the Jewish people at the epicenter of events predicted to strike planet Earth before the end of the world. Unfortunately, the system of Dispensationalism itself has major flaws. Not only that, but it also includes some surprisingly anti-Jewish elements, as you are about to see.
Generally speaking, Dispensationalism teaches that God has worked throughout fallen human history in distinct phases, epochs, or "dispensations." In Old Testament times, He worked through "Israel" and required Jews to keep "the law," whereas in these New Testament times He operates through "the Church" and proclaims "salvation by grace"—that is, until an event called "the Rapture" whisks "the Church" up to heaven.
Then all hell will break loose on earth.
Then "the seven years of tribulation" will begin.
Then an infamous Antichrist will gain control of the world.
Then Antichrist will marshal his forces against the Jews.
This scenario is now being taught around the world, on TV, radio, in books and articles, and on the Internet; yet that one not-so-small detail mentioned above should be made plain: these teachings are all part of the system of Dispensationalism. It's true that Dispensationalists themselves are mostly pro-Israel, and that yes, one of their cardinal teachings is that God will defend Jews at Armageddon. But when we delve deeper, we discover that only a small portion will be protected. Shockingly, two thirds of Israelis will be slaughtered first in a Holocaust II.
Obviously, this isn't Good News for Jewish people at all.
The Internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia, defines Dispensationalism this way:
Dispensationalism is a Protestant evangelical tradition and theologybased on a biblical hermeneutic that sees a series of chronologically successive "dispensations" or periods in history in which God relates to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants. As a system dispensationalism is rooted in the writings of John Nelson Darby and the Brethren Movement.The theology of dispensationalism consists of a distinctive eschatological "end times" perspective, as all dispensationalists hold to premillennialism and most hold to a pretribulation rapture. Dispensationalists believe that the nation of Israel is distinct from the Church…" (1)
Wikipedia is 100% correct in reporting that "Dispensationalism" views "the nation of Israel" as "distinct from the Church" and that its prophetic system includes "a distinctive eschatological 'end times' perspective" usually accompanied by belief in "a pretribulation rapture." Yet one sticky problem rarely mentioned is that (as noted above), most dispensationalists also believe that after the "rapture" occurs, sinister forces will target millions of non-raptured Jews during the Tribulation, that most Jews will suffer horribly, and that millions will be annihilated in a nightmarish Jewish bloodbath before the Second Coming of Christ. Prominent Dispensationalist John Walvoord frankly confessed that during the Tribulation, "two thirds of the children of Israel in the land will perish" (2).
Indeed, this is a Dispensationalist doctrine.
Though rarely stressed publicly, such a horrendous Jewish forecast might appropriately be called, "Dispensationism's dirty secret."
Personally, I don't buy it, and it is the purpose of this article to dismantle some of Dispensationalism's deceptive errors.
First of all, the notion that God saved Old Testament Jews by law, but now saves New Testament Christians by grace, is not only subtly anti-Jewish itself, but it's entirely unbiblical. Grace began with the fall of Adam and the first entrance of sin (see Romans 5:20b), or humanity would have been wiped out immediately. Before the flood, "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 6:8, emphasis added). Throughout Israel's checkered history, her people found grace too. Even before God wrote the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, the Israelites left Egypt safely because of the blood of slain lambs sprinkled on their doors (see Exodus 12) typifying their Messiah's grace. The warm blood of slain animals sprinkled by Jewish High Priests above the Ten Commandments inside the Sanctuary on the Day of Atonement also proclaimed salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone, rather than through the law. Indeed, even before Israel existed as a nation, God Almighty "preached before the gospel unto Abraham" (Galatians 3:8, emphasis added) centered in Calvary.
On the other hand, there are plenty of statements about obeying they law in the New Testament (read Romans 2:25,26; 3:31; 7:12; 8:4; Ephesians 6:1-3; James 2:10-12). The truth is that throughout fallen human history God has used "the law" to show sinners their sins (both Jews and Gentiles) to create a need for faith and grace (see Romans 5:19-20; Galatians 3:24). Thus it is not "Old Testament Law Replaced by New Testament Grace," but rather "Law Creating the Need for Grace" throughout. In Galatians 3:11, Paul clarified plainly that "no man is justified by the law in the sight of God," and he quotes the Old Testament to prove it. Ultimately, all grace is centered in Jesus Christ, and whether people lived in Old Testament times when His sacrifice was foreshadowed by slain lambs, or in New Testament times after His sacrifice was realized at Calvary, as the Master Himself stated, "No man comes to the Father but by Me" (John 14:6, emphasis added).
"No man" means none, either Jew or Greek.
In other words, everyone who reaches heaven will arrive there solely because of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice-that is, by His grace. Thus when Dispensationalists teach that Old Testament Jews achieved salvation in any way through the law, or that they were denied the gospel, whether they realize it or not, they are teaching a subtly anti-Jewish false doctrine. The truth is that God loved Old Testament Jews just as much as He loves New Testament Christians, and both groups have always been offered one hope through one Savior.
And this one Savior still loves both groups today.
Second, Dispensationalism's distinctive separation between Israel and the Church is fictitious. On the Jewish Day of Pentecost, 3,000 Jews were baptized through the preaching of Peter and "added to the church" (Acts 2:41,47). If you asked Peter and the disciples if they were part of "Israel" or "the Church," what would they say? The answer is obvious. They were both! The earliest Christian "church" itself was almost entirely a Jewish Church. Then Gentiles joined the ranks.
Third: the Rapture. Dispensationalism's end-time scenario begins with Christians being "caught up" (1 Thessalonians 4:17) to meet Jesus is the air, which Dispensationalists interpret as a silent, secretive event occurring seven years before the end. Wrong again. A careful reading of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 17 together reveals that true believers will be "caught up" (verse 17) when Jesus Christ literally descends from heaven with a mighty "shout," a loud "voice," and with "the trumpet of God"—in other words, at His cataclysmic second coming. There's nothing silent or secret about it! As the Wikipedia article correctly stated, the pre-tribulation Rapture doctrine is actually "rooted" in the teachings of 19th-century theologian "John Nelson Darby"; yet prior to Darby, it was virtually unknown for 1800 years.
Fourth: the seven-year tribulation myth. Amazingly, there is no verse in the entire Bible that specifically teaches a "seven year tribulation" at all. Check any concordance. It's just not there. Daniel 9:27 is most often quoted to support the "Seven-Year Trib Theory," yet the verse itself says nothing of the sort. In fact, the vast majority of older Christian commentaries—such as Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke, and Jamieson, Faucett & Brown—placed Daniel 9:27 during the time of Jesus Himself who "confirm[ed] the [New] covenant" and "caused the [Jewish] sacrifice[s] to cease" by His death on the cross.
Fifth: a bloody end-time slaughter of two thirds of the Jewish people living in Israel. Such a horrendous teaching is based almost entirely on one verse—Zechariah 13:8—yet the New Testament places the previous verse (verse 7) squarely in the time of Christ (compare with Matthew 26:31). There is no prediction in the book of Revelation about theannihilation of two thirds of all Jews living in Israel by Antichrist before our Lord's visible return, nor does it specifically target Israelis for slaughter in the least.
In conclusion, we must pay greater attention to the Master's warning, "take heed that no man deceive you" (Matthew 24:4)— especially when it comes to our Jewish friends, and to interpretations of prophecy. In these turbulent days of Dispensationalist Delusions—assigning "the law" to Old Testament Jews alone and not to Christians, the distinction between Israel and the Church, the Rapture, 7-year Tribulation, and a supposed end-time slaughter of two thirds of all Israelis—let's do all we can to share "the everlasting gospel" (Revelation 14:6) with everyone, both Jew and Gentile, before the Second Coming.
Don't be fooled by false prophecies.
Let's stick to solid Bible truth.
2. Israel in Prophecy, by John Walvoord, p. 108. Zondervan (1988).