Biblical Prophecy and Christian Culture’s Obsession With Middle-Eastern Geopolitics

Cover Image: Israel and Hamas move closer to war | The Economist

When the biblical prophets prophesied about the city of Jerusalem, some of them no doubt had in mind the geographical city in the region of Palestine, populated by the Jewish people. Yet as the theme of God’s holy city is developed throughout the Old Testament and into the New, we are left with a more fully realized image of the city of Jerusalem as the epicenter of a global kingdom inhabited by all who have found forgiveness and redemption in Jesus Christ (Rev. 21:1-8). Thus, a correct understanding of the biblical theme of the Holy City is one that has the city’s eschatological fulfillment in view: Jerusalem is symbolic of greater things to come. It is the centerpiece of the Kingdom of Heaven and the eternal dwelling place of God’s holy people. Thus, the post-exile Jewish community’s desperate attempt to rebuild their ruined city was a textbook example of misplaced faith. They staked their hope in their own ability to restore and rebuild their physical kingdom, while God’s will was that his eternal Kingdom (righteousness) would be renewed in them. The Jerusalem of Revelation 21 is not a Jerusalem that has been built (or rebuilt) by man; it is a “New Jerusalem” that has been built by God himself and inhabited by all who have freely received his righteousness (Jeremiah 33:16).

The Christian obsession with Middle Eastern geopolitics is therefore an unnecessary occupation. It is true that the the region in which Jerusalem is situated is deeply rooted in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic history and has been a point of international conflict for millennia. Given its religious, strategic, and economic importance, this is not at all surprising. But attempts to ‘Da Vinci-code’ the biblical prophecies to find obscure patterns and encrypted predictions relating to modern international politics is not the purpose of the Bible, nor is it the message God was intending to convey through his prophets.. The New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 does not equate to the modern city. It doesn’t have much to do with the political entity called Israel: the New Jerusalem is not built on this earth, but comes down from heaven after the old heaven and earth have passed away. It is an act of God, not of man. We tend to vastly overestimate our ability to know and even control when God’s eternal promises will come to fruition, but let’s not misplace our faith like the Israelites of the Old Testament. This might be hard to swallow at times, but God is calling us to do nothing more in this life than to seek his righteousness first, and to wait for him in faith.

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