The Problem with Mixing Prophecy with Politics.
I come from a long line of Dispensationalists (those who believe the Bible contains a secret code for predicting the events of the end of the world, the Second Coming of Jesus) and I was theologically trained at the mecca of dispensationalism and yet all that exposure didn’t ultimately take for me.
I truly have no idea when or how the world will end from my study of the Bible. Dispensationalism, a huge part of conservative evangelicalism, teaches that in Jerusalem at the historic site of the Jewish Temple (which is in Muslim hands right now) the events of the end of the world will begin when the Jewish Temple is rebuilt on that sacred site. Therefore, any and all political positions that favor Israel and Jerusalem over the Palestinians is a huge deal for most evangelicals who are closely watching and waiting for the ultimate Jewish unification of Jerusalem as a sign of the beginning of the end.
Therefore, our current president, has demagogued his way into the hearts and hopes of evangelicals by tapping into this unholy marriage of prophecy and politics. Hence, his recent announcement proclaiming Jerusalem the capital of Israel has cemented his position with evangelicals as a president who really understands the Bible (I know it is hard to even type those words without cringing).
The problem with dispensationalism is that it can be reasonably argued that most prophetic literature in the Bible does not necessarily provide predictions about the future but historical archetypes that are repeated throughout history with not one individual fulfillment but many. If you understand prophecy in this way it drastically changes how you view our current president and his policies regardless of his stance concerning Israel, abortion or anything that sounds remotely biblical.
In the biblical book of Revelation, it can be argued that the great beast who opposes God and his church is not one particular nation or world ruler but any and every nation who views its economic and military power as reason for prideful nationalism placing itself above other nations, exploiting the poor and weak, and vilifying the immigrant—and we are told that every nation no matter how noble its beginnings ends up falling into this trap of self-worship.
Ultimately, we are told that the nations will repent not from the judgment of Jesus and his followers but because of their self-giving love and service even to their enemies. In the final battle depicted in Revelation Jesus triumphs over the beast not by shedding the blood of his enemies but by being clothed in a gown soaked in his own blood from his crucifixion. As I understand Revelation, the ultimate healing of the injustices of this world do not come from political, economic or military victory but from the self-giving love of Jesus and his followers.
Lastly, the book of Revelation tells us that each of us throughout history must choose to place our ultimate hope for the reconciliation of God and humanity in the military, political and economic power of the beast or in the self-giving love of Jesus.
In conclusion, I am arguing that just like 2000 years ago when most people, especially the religious, failed to recognize Jesus as the Son of God because they were expecting a military and political leader to overthrow Rome, evangelicals are missing the opportunity to join Jesus in healing the world with self-giving love for a false prophet promising military, economic and political power.