Claude DuvernoyThe Eschatological Significance of Israel

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory” (Matthew 25:31).

Zionism when seen from a Biblical angle is obviously a theology of history. The first promises of the Lord to His “friend” Abraham, linking the Jewish people forever to the Promised Land, derived their profound significance from a universalistic perspective in which all nations recognize that their own salvation is connected with this people and this land.

History is not the succession of wars and civilizations in a continuous, monotonous and pessimistic cycle. Nor is it the tragic and inexorable process of estrangement from the Golden Age that was lost forever. The Biblical vision is the only one that offers a satisfactory response to the enigma of human destiny. It offers us a concept of human history which pursues its course through a succession of horrible crimes, conflicts and cataclysms.

But this history is a process of ripening towards a point of such decay that it must be abruptly interrupted in order to prevent the total destruction of our planet.

The first Hebrew prophets already developed in their own terminology this concept of decay, and in their writings the last phase of this process will invariably take place within the walls of Jerusalem. Not a celestial, but an entirely terrestrial Jerusalem with its stains and its sins, but heavy with Messianic hope and ripe for repentance and the Return to its God.

As a reminder and illustration of the “atmosphere” of this vision of the last days, some of these prophetic texts follow here:

Joel: “For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations and divided my land….” (3:1-2).

Micah: “Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. BUT THEY KNOW NOT THE THOUGHTS OF THE LORD, neither understand they his counsel….” (4:11-12).

Zephaniah: “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation….” (3:8).

Isaiah: “They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols. But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation….” (45:16-17).

Jeremiah: “At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and ALL THE NATIONS SHALL BE GATHERED UNTO IT, to the name of the LORD” (3:17).

Ezekiel: “Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and in my fury, because you have borne the shame of the nations: Therefore, thus saith the Lord GOD; I have lifted up mine hand, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame” (36:6).

Zechariah: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it” (12:2,3).

It follows from these texts from the prophetic books that “in that day” a particularly explosive situation will prevail in the Middle East (all the exegetes agree that the expression, “in that day”, invariably refers to the end of days and the Parousia [coming of the Lord in glory]), On the one hand the land promised to the children of Abraham forever will be divided and Jerusalem will be in mortal danger. On the other hand and it is Micah to whom we owe this Biblical truth the nations will not understand at all the prophetic implications of this explosive situation. They cannot recognize in this ingathering of the Jews from all the countries of the world and in the division of the holy land, the hand and judgment of God.

The best example of this blindness of the nations apart from the confusion prevailing in the United Nations is the leading contemporary historian, Arnold Toynbee, who dares to compare Zionism with Nazism. How insulting can one get in one’s blindness?

Zechariah casts an amazingly bright light on the efforts of the United Nations to find a solution of what they call in not very Biblical terms, “the Palestinian question”. Because the nations are motivated by their own interests, because they are pawns in the hands of powers which will eventually crush them, and above all, because they do not want to accept the Biblical vision of History, they cannot admit that they are powerless and confused in face of the Zionist venture which itself is the key to the divine mystery of history. To the nations, Jerusalem is merely a capital city like many others (but they refuse, nevertheless, to recognize it as the capital of Israel, a strange attitude which needs no commentary if we confront it with these texts from the prophets!).

But it is incredible that the Christian theologians themselves have fallen victim to this same blindness. What a cruel demonstration of their alienation from both the letter and the spirit of the Hebrew Bible, that they don’t know anymore how to read the prophets, that they assign to these words of Life a place in the remote past and condemn Israel to eternal exile, hypnotized as they are by the very return from Babylon in long past centuries!

They are there for them to see, these texts by which Christ himself was so deeply inspired, of which He was the very incarnation, texts which announce the division of the Holy Land, the agony of Jerusalem, the ingathering of all the children of Israel…

They could come and witness the drama unfold itself on the spot, but they do not leave their academic chairs, at least not often enough…

They hear the stones of Judea cry out, they see Jerusalem being revived, but they remain doubtful and silent…

Let us therefore leave these dissectors of the Bible to their “scientific” task, and return to our Hebrew Gospels and to the “Eschatological discourse” of the Jew Jesus, as the Jerusalem Bible calls it. -

From the book “Controversy of Zion” by Claude Duvernoy with forwards by Dr. David Flusser and Dr. David Allen Lewis. The book is available through Bible Light for $17 Postage Paid.

Ready for the Press: The Prince and the Prophet, the story of the first Jew and Christian working together to establish the modern State of Israel, awaits funds to print.