In Gary DeMar’s third chapter of 10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed, he spends a lot of time attempting to refute statements by John MacArthur, and other dispensationalists, to the effect that “only Dispensationalists have a redemptive future for Israel”.
DeMar spends a lot of time quoting from the Church fathers, and early reformation leaders to show that many of them believed that the End Times would be fulfilled when “the fullness of the Gentiles come in”, and then “Israel will become a Christian nation”.
DeMar gives us this challenge on page 63;
‘What MacArthur and his fellow dispensationalists have yet to explain is how their future hope for Israel is more favorable toward Jews than the redemptive expectations of the purportedly Anti-Semitic “Replacement Theologists,” since the dispensationalist future for the Jews is that two-thirds of them will be slaughtered before the promises are fulfilled (Zech. 13:8) in what Charles Ryrie has described as “the worst bloodbath in Jewish history.” ‘
I am glad that he referenced Zechariah 13:8, but I wish he had examined the whole chapter, in context. Such an examination could only conclude that Dispensationalists are correct; that there will be a Hebrew bloodbath before the nation turns to Jesus Christ! His eschatology amounts to a denial of the inspiration of this chapter of Zechariah!
DeMar pretends that the only issue is that many Postmillennialists, Preterists, and Amillennialists, have taught that God has a place for national Israel, contrary to assertions by Dispensationalists like MacArthur. He is correct that Dispensationalists should not make that claim, but I think that a more important subject is the nature of their “redemptive future for Israel” and the biblical accuracy of their claims.
My first impression while reading DeMar’s third chapter was “it sounds good, but what if they are wrong”? Is a wrong view of Israel’s place in prophecy harmful to the cause of the gospel, or to Israel itself? I think we will find that the answer to both questions is “yes!”
The truth is that I see error in every paragraph of this book, and want to argue every point, but I will attempt to focus my comments on the more egregious errors.
One thing I found absolutely shocking was that some of the quotes attributed action to Jesus Christ that were actually intended to apply to the Antichrist!
As it is the undoubted duty of all to pray for the coming of Christ’s kingdom, so all that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and know what it is to bow a knee in good earnest, will long and pray for the out-making of the gospel-promises to his Church in the latter days, that King Christ would go out upon the white horse of the gospel, conquering and to conquer, and make a conquest of the travail of his soul, that it may be sounded that the kingdoms of the world are become his, and his name called upon from the rising of the sun to its going down. (1) That the old offcasten Israel for unbelief would never be forgotten, especially in these meetings, that the promised day of their ingrafting again by faith may be hastened; and that the dead weight of blood removed off them, that their fathers took upon them and upon their children, that have sunk them down to hell upwards of seventeen hundred years. (17th century Scottish minister Walter Smith , quoted on pages 58-59)
The statement that “King Christ would go out upon the white horse of the gospel, conquering and to conquer” is a reference to Revelation 6:8. The rider on the white horse in this passage cannot be Christ, for he has a bow, but no weapon. (Christ has a two-edged sword) This is a reference to the Antichrist conquering the earth, and creating a false peace by use of threats. This is not the peace of Jesus Christ, who gives a peace that is eternal. The next verse has this peace taken away, and war plagues the earth!
A pastor who confuses the rider on the white horse, of Revelation 6:8, with Jesus Christ, is a pastor who cannot be counted on to rightly divide the word of truth, regardless of which era he lives in! Ultimately confusing the Antichrist with Jesus Christ will be a problem that plagues the “Church” in the last days. “Church” is in parentheses because the true Church will have been raptured to Heaven by this time, but there will still be people on earth who will call themselves “the Church”.
The fact that this man also thinks that God holds the Jews responsible for the death of Christ, shows that he has no understanding of the principle that a man is responsible for his own sin (Ezekiel 18:20). And anyway, Jesus prayed that His Father would forgive them! Does Smith think that the Father said “No” to the last request of His Son while on the Cross? Does DeMar?
DeMar also favorably quotes postmillennialist Johnathan Edwards. Edwards’ comments show a real lack of understanding of the literal biblical hermeneutic;
“The degree of their punishment, is the uttermost degree. This may respect both a national and personal punishment. If we take it as a national punishment, a little after the time when the epistle was written, wrath came upon the nation of the Jews to the uttermost, in their terrible destruction by the Romans; when, as Christ said, “was great tribulation, such as never was since the beginning of the world to that time,” Mat. 24:21. That nation had before suffered many of the fruits of divine wrath for their sins; but this was beyond all, this was their highest degree of punishment as a nation. ”
Edwards, as a postmillennialist, believed that the fall of Jerusalem, in 70AD, was the fulfilment of Jesus’ End Times prophecies in Matthew 24. While the fall of Jerusalem was a terrible tragedy, there were six times more Jews killed in World War 2! How could it be said that 70AD was Israel’s highest degree of punishment as a nation in light of the events of the twentieth century? Many End Times prophecies were not fulfilled in Nero’s destruction of Jerusalem, such as the “abomination of desolation” in the Temple, and the mark of the beast. One has to be willingly ignorant to say that the End Times prophecies were fulfilled in 70 AD.
Edwards also forgot that when the Israelites came back from captivity after 70 years in Babylon, there was only a small fraction representative of the ten tribes of the Northern kingdom. Even the majority of Jews stayed away! The vast majority stayed in captivity, and today are still in the nations they were living in when Jerusalem fell. It cannot be said that 70AD was a tragedy that befell the entire nation. Many of them didn’t even learn of it until centuries later.
No, not only was the fall of Jerusalem not the greatest tragedy ever to befall the Hebrew nation, World War 2 was not either! That day is yet to come! We are given the context of the tragedy that Zechariah 13:8 speaks of in the next verse;
8 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. 9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
Verse 9 has never happened in all of history. While Israel and the Jews have had many hard times, they have never come to Christ en-mass as is described here in verse 9. In fact it is the tragedy of verse 8 that will bring them to faith. We have to come to the end of ourselves before we turn to Christ. For the nation of Israel, the Tribulation will be the event that brings them to the end of themselves!
I am greatly disturbed by DeMar’s implication that it is anti-Semitism that drives Dispensationalists to the conclusion that 2/3 of Israel will die during the Tribulation period. Throughout history it has been Amillennialists, Preterists, and Postmillennialists who persecuted the Jewish people, over and over again, NOT Dispensationalists! So why does DeMar speak respectfully of all of these groups, except Dispensationalists!
The day is coming, real soon, when the Christian world, believing Postmillennialism, Preterism, Amillennialism, or a variation of Dominionism, will tell the Jews and other Israelites “Go back to the land! Your dispersion is done! God will bless you if you go back now!” They will go back, and shortly thereafter the Tribulation will begin, and these groups will find that they are partly responsible for the greatest tragedy in Israel’s history! Why? Precisely because their eschatology is faulty!
Paul told us to love the people of Israel, that they are beloved for the sake of the fathers, but he didn’t tell us to tell them that their philosophy is OK without Christ. I have long ago concluded that professing Christians will be largely responsible for the tragedies of the Tribulation. I now believe that there can be only one true eschatology, and it isn’t Preterism, Amillennialism, or Postmillennialism, but a variation of Dispensationalism.
DeMar is correct that a large number of professing Christians are abandoning Dispensational theology, in favour of these older philosophies, but this does not mean that they are correct to do so. Rather than abandon Dispensationalism, we need to move forward, discard the errors and hang on to that which is biblical. This is the only way we can progress into a greater understanding of God’s End Times time-line!
On page 59 DeMar quotes Charles Hodge;
“The great Princeton theologian Charles Hodge found in Romans 11 a prophecy that “the Gentiles, as a body, the mass of the Gentile world, will be converted before the restoration of the Jews, as a nation. ..”
Taking the phrase “the fullness of the gentiles” these theologians teach that this means the majority of the gentiles at some point will be saved, and will take over the world. Nothing could be further from the truth! “The fullness of the gentiles” simply means that the last of the gentiles will be saved. It is a great twisting of Scripture to say that all of the gentiles will be saved. The gospel will go into all the world, and some of every tribe, nation, kindred, and tongue will be saved, but there is no Scriptural warrant to say that at some point the whole world will be converted to Christianity.
This Dominionist philosophy goes against statements like;
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8
God always has a remnant, so He is not saying that there will be no faith at all, but He is saying that true faith will be rare. This does not fit with the Dominionist philosophy that Christianity will take over the world. Something that calls itself “Christianity” will indeed take over the world, for a time, but it will be a false form, an apostate form that has fallen away from true faith;
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; II Thessalonians 2:3
The rapture, the gathering together unto Him, shall not happen until there is a falling-away from faith, and the revealing of the Antichrist. This does not mean that the Church will be on the earth for the Tribulation, but that;
Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. Amos 3:7
Today the true Christian Church is in the place of the prophets. The Lord will reveal to true believers the events that are about to unfold upon the earth, but he doesn’t make the same promise to those who just pay lip-service to Christianity.
At a time when deception is rampant, God promised that He would reveal more truth at the same time. It is virtually impossible for us to discover the truth unless we are tuned in to the Holy Spirit. DeMar’s reliance on tradition is a dead-giveaway that something is wrong!
And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Daniel 12:9
This is why traditionalists, like Gary DeMar, cannot be trusted. They rely on their traditions rather than the Holy Spirit. Instead of harmonizing the whole bible, they hang on to small sections taken out of context, and ignore large amounts of relevant Scripture!