Inside View Nov/Dec 2018
As I travel and speak, people often tell me they no longer hear teaching about Israel and Bible prophecy in their churches. Their comments reveal two distinct realities: (1) There once was a time when they did hear such teaching in church, and (2) preaching what God says about Israel and prophecy has fallen out of favor.
As a pastor’s son, I realize many topics need to be addressed from the pulpit, and pastors have less time than ever to communicate God’s truth. In many churches, the pastor has merely 30 to 45 minutes on the weekend to speak to his flock. Without the Sunday evening services and midweek Bible studies that were the norm in many churches in bygone years, Sunday morning has become the pastor’s only time to teach the Word to his congregation.
Given such limitations—and with the ever-growing emphasis on Reformed Theology in many circles—the value of studying Israel and prophecy has diminished.
But there is a cost to neglecting the study and teaching of this significant part of God’s counsel. A consequence is that fewer people in the pews stand behind Israel and the Jewish people.
A LifeWay Research survey of evangelical Christians has revealed that millennial evangelicals, those ages 18 to 34, are less supportive of Israel than any other generation. According to LifeWay, only 58 percent favor Israel compared to 76 percent of evangelicals who are over 65. Millennials are the ones who did not grow up being taught prophecy. This is a troubling trend because Israel’s strongest Gentile supporters are evangelical Christians; but that may not be the case in the future.
I hear some people say studying prophecy is a waste of time because it divides people. They believe preaching Christ is what is necessary to save and unite people. When I visited the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky, earlier this year, I was struck by the fact that Noah, whom God calls “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5), warned the world of God’s impending judgment and the only way to escape it. When Noah preached, he was teaching prophecy—a message of future judgment given to him by God. The judgment had not yet occurred, but it was certain to come because God said so.
When we preach prophecy today, we, too, are warning people that a judgment of God will someday fall on this world for its rebellion against Him; and the only way to escape it is through faith in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. When the church fails to teach prophecy, Christians fail to obtain a fully developed world-view and are unable to see all that God is doing to redeem the world.
They lose the vital connection with Israel and fail to warn others of their need to avoid God’s judgment through faith in Jesus. This consequence is the greatest cost of not teaching what God says about Israel and prophecy. For you see, God’s redemptive plan goes through Israel. Israel is the conduit of our blessings—past, present, and future.
A few days before Jesus went to the cross, He said the days leading to His return will be like the days of Noah. People will be focused on enjoying life and ignoring God’s warning of judgment until it is too late (Mt. 24:38–39). It may just be that we are living in days like Noah’s, as Jesus’ return is drawing very near.