The Great Apostasy
Jul 06, 2010
Some find it incomprehensible that Jerusalem would ever be destroyed, given all the prophecies about the restoration of "Jerusalem." The key is to know that there are two Jerusalems, reflected in the name itself. The Hebrew name is Yerushalayim, which is plural.
The Old Testament prophets make no distinction between the Old and New Jerusalem. We have to read the New Testament to find a clear distinction (Gal. 4:25, 26; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 21:2). And so, when Isaiah speaks of "Jerusalem" being restored, John quotes Isaiah in Revelation 21 but applies those prophecies to the New Jerusalem. (See chapter 8 of The Struggle for the Birthright.)
We learn from this that "Jerusalem" in the Old Testament can refer to either city. The prophets are not necessarilyi talking about the Old Jerusalem. As a general rule, when the prophets speak of Jerusalem being destroyed and judged, it is speaking of the Old Jerusalem. When the prophets speak of Jerusalem being restored and "married," it is speaking of the New Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is the Bride (Isaiah 62:4; Rev. 21:1). But there are two brides, even as Abraham had two wives. These two brides are Hagar and Sarah, and Paul says in Gal. 4:21-26 that they are historical allegories of the two Covenants which relate to the two Jerusalems.
Only one of those brides will bring forth the promises. One cannot claim Hagar as one's "mother" and still expect to bring forth "Isaac." Christian Zionism tries to do this, thinking that if they support the Jewish state with enough gusto that somehow Hagar-Jerusalem will become the center of the Kingdom of God in the Age to come.
Most people are confused, however, because the Old Testament prophets are quoted to support the idea that "Jerusalem" is the city that God loves above all other cities, and that God will restore Jerusalem. They read Psalm 122:6, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem," and assume that they are to pray for the old city.
When David wrote those words, there is no doubt that the people should have been praying for the Old Jerusalem. But three centuries later, something happened that changed everything. Jeremiah 7:11 says that the people and priests had made that temple and city into a den of robbers. God then rendered the verdict that He would FORSAKE Jerusalem "as I have done to Shiloh" (Jer. 7:14).
God placed the name Ichabod over Shiloh when the glory departed and never returned (1 Sam. 4:21). What He did to Shiloh is what He said He would do to the Old Jerusalem. God then told Jeremiah in 7:16,
"As for you, do not pray for this people, and do not lift up cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you."
This appears to directly contradict David's earlier command to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem." What changed? Though it was not clearly understood at the time, God was soon to reveal that they should pray for a different Jerusalem. Jeremiah says that the old city would be destroyed "even as one breaks a potter's vessel that cannot again be repaired" (Jer. 19:11). Shall we then pray that this prophecy would fall to the ground? Shall we contradict the divine judgment? Shall we say, "Surely, God, your judgments are wrong!"?
Most people are taught to choose between one set of Scriptures and another, instead of finding the point of reconciliation in Scripture. Some focus on the prophecies of restoration and then apply them all to the old Jerusalem. Others focus on the New Testament's teaching about the New Jerusalem, thinking that they somehow "put away" the Old Testament statements.
The truth is that the entire Bible is inspired and true, but "Jerusalem" is two cities, not one. We must understand which Jerusalem the prophets and apostles are referencing. This reconciles the seemingly contradictory statements in Scripture.
Just as the law must be interpreted as Jesus would, and applied by the New Covenant, so also must we interpret the prophets in the light of the New Covenant. This principle is often resisted by Christian Zionists and "messianics," who prefer to think that Christ will soon come as a Jew to live in a Jewish temple in the old Jerusalem, having animal sacrifices prepared by Levites. Though they give lip service to the New Covenant, they believe that the New Covenant was a temporary convenience, designed to bring in a few "gentiles" until Christ returns to re-establish the Old Testament system of worship.
Most of them simply do not understand the book of Hebrews, but there are some at the top who know exactly what they are doing. Those people hate the book of Hebrews and are seeking to undermine its authority and remove it from Scripture altogether. Likewise, they hate Paul's teachings and intend to remove them as well. In the end, it is their intent to remove the entire New Testament from Scripture. At that point, Judaism will be fully reinstated, and Jesus will be discredited.
This is the plan, but their plans will fail in the end. Meanwhile, however, those plans of men are proceeding quite well in the Church, gaining much ground by capitalizing on the misunderstanding of the prophecies regarding the Jewish state. They teach that the Jewish state is the regathering of the House of Israel, and the people are fooled because they have forgotten that Israel was not Judah, nor were the Israelites ever called "Jews."
In fact, the first time the word "Jew" is mentioned in Scripture is in 2 Kings 16:6, where we read that the Israelites had formed an alliance with Syria and drove the Jews out of Elath. The term is better translated "Judeans" or "Judahites." Those being driven out were citizens of the House of Judah, not the House of Israel.
This is why I refer to the modern nation as the Jewish state. I do not like calling it Israel, because this merely perpetuates the myth that has blinded the people for so long to the truth of Scripture. To understand Scripture properly, one must learn the difference between Israel and Judah and the prophetic callings that were unique to each.
Very few actually teach this, however, and so most Christians accept the untruth simply because there seems to be no alternative. I was 21 before I learned this distinction, though I was raised in the Church and had studied the Bible far more than my peers. When I showed this distinction to my dad, he was very surprised to see it. He said, "I knew that Israel and Judah were two different nations, but I still didn't know it." He had been to Bible College and had been a preacher and missionary for many years, but never saw this simple truth until I pointed it out to him one day in 1971. It changed his life, even as it had changed mine.
The great Apostasy that Christians believe will come during the Tribulation is already upon us. It is Christian Zionism. It is the same apostasy that Paul wrote against so often in his writings. It is the Judaization of the Church. This is being accomplished, not by a direct attack upon Paul, but through a false view of Bible prophecy that used to be known as Dispensationalism, but now is mainstream prophecy teaching.
I have now completed a new 86-page book called Daniel's Seventy Weeks. I can send you a copy, if you wish. It is $5 each for those of you who are able to pay for it. My books are always free to those who are genuinely interested but cannot afford to pay. This book shows how the Church's misunderstanding of Daniel's Seventy Weeks is at the root of the problem. Upon this faulty foundation, an entire scenario of wrong prophecy is built, and this has Judaized the Church in spite of Paul's warnings.
Dr. Stephen Jones