In December of last year, President Donald Trump made a verbal proclamation to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Not only has this caused much turmoil throughout the Islamic nations surrounding Israel, but it has also caused much debate in the Church. The tension is not just with scholars, but with lay people as well because it may or may not have huge eschatological implications. Simply put, depending upon how you view the book of Revelation will determine how you will react to this change in Israel.
The Two Theological Camps
Basically, there are two major camps of eschatology [study of end times] in the Church. There are the Dispensationalists which believe that the Church has not replaced Israel. As such, we believe that there is coming a day when God will remove His Church from this world and continue with His plan in reviving and rescuing the literal nation of Israel and its inhabitants (Romans 11).
Then there are the Covenant Theologians who believe that the Church is God’s next step in the program, not Israel. Therefore, they claim that the Church has replaced Israel and that there is nothing left for them as a nation in God’s redemptive plan. They would cite verses like Galatians 3:29 which claims that the Church is Abraham’s offspring.
There is a lot more information I could give but, for the sake of brevity and the fact that I want you to actually read this blog, I have simply stated that the basic difference is whether or not one differentiates between Israel and the Church. The question is, “What happens when the Church is taken away?”
On a personal level, I am super excited that this is happening with Israel because it supports the Dispensationalist’s viewpoint regarding the last days [not to mention my blogs]. However, this has sparked much controversy among Christians due to the two theological camps.
I have heard it said several times now that it is blasphemous and idolatrous for us, as the people of God, to support this recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because it will likely lead to the Israelites attempting to rebuild the temple in place of the Dome of the Rock. The reason for the pushback is because a temple would imply that God is singularly located. With this, I could not agree more. In fact, Solomon himself agreed with this statement three thousand years ago when he had the first temple constructed (1 Kings 8:27).
God is omnipresent—meaning that He is everywhere present simultaneously. However, there is a sense in which He is singularly located now that He has a body which is Jesus (Acts 7:55). Nevertheless, even before Jesus took on flesh, God did not, nor does He now, manifest His visibility everywhere at all times. If He did, then we would be able to see Him right now. The point is that God, in terms of physical manifestation, chooses to singularly locate Himself.
Also, this should not actually be a reason for any Christian to refuse supporting Israel as a nation because, either way, by the time the temple is rebuilt [assuming it does get rebuilt] the Church will be gone. It is one thing if one chooses to reject this decision to recognize Jerusalem based upon more political reasons. However, since neither New Covenant Theologians nor Dispensationalists believe the Church will be here in the latter days, it does not make as much sense for either camp to be opposed since the Church will not be here to see the close.
Covenant Theologians believe that the Church has replaced Israel. Therefore, this decision of recognizing Jerusalem should not have any impact on them theologically. They believe that when Christ comes back He will take His bride and create the new heavens and the new earth. Again, I am simply generalizing. I understand there are varying spectrums of belief. Nevertheless, in their end times chronology, there is no room for another temple. Thus, there is nothing to worry about because, if they’re correct, it will never happen.
Dispensationalists, likewise, believe that when the Lord comes back He will receive His bride. We just believe that He is going to do a few extra things before He remakes the universe. Thus, both of us believe that we as the Church will not be here to see it come to pass. I do not mean to pull a Hezekiah on you, but both groups believe that it would be wrong for them to establish the temple now because of the way God is working. I just believe that there is coming a day when it will not be wrong for them. And, at that time, the Church will be forever with the Lord. Do you see how similar we are and how much we really do agree? Jesus is coming back. The aftertaste is up for debate but that first gulp should overwhelm us with excitement to see our coming Lord.