With war raging in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas, the temptation is irresistible for prophetic pundits to make merchandise out of God’s people. Once more religious merchants of death are predicting the beginning of Armageddon. “Never let a crisis go to waste,” is not just a political slogan, it is a rallying cry for sensational Bible teachers who think four blood moons or renewed conflict in the Middle East will bring the end of the world.

The Christian community will see a rash of books and videos mushroom as Dispensationalist and sensational seeking ministries exploit the situation in the Middle East and predict Armageddon. Some of the presentations will be more persuasive than others, but all will have an overarching theme: the world is coming to an end.

In order to get that message out, a donation to support the work of the ministry is appreciated. And so it is that fear and money are united by modern prophetic con artists who know people in America love to look for “the signs of the times.” Jesus calls such people wicked in Matthew 16:4, but that does not stop their interest or their exploitation.

One way modern prophetic teachers conjure up a sense of credibility for what they have to say is by taking a passage out of context and interpreting it as ancient prophecy being fulfilled. The words of the prophet Zechariah illustrate how this is done:

“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” (Zech. 12:2–3).

By ignoring the historical, grammatical, and contextual setting of Zechariah, it is possible to think the prophet is reporting current events.

It is important for the church to be careful about misusing Scripture and coming to hasty conclusions. Therefore, let the following be noted.

First, the conflicts in modern Israel are not the fulfillment of any specific Biblical prophecy. The last military prophecies relating to Israel were given in AD 30 by Jesus. They are recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. The predictions of the Olivet Discourse related to the destruction of the Herodian Temple and the Roman destruction of the city of Jerusalem. By AD 70, what Jesus had predicted was fulfilled.

Second, the conflicts in Israel demand a realistic understanding of whom the nation is fighting. Israel is not facing a rational enemy that will come to a peace conference and negotiate on honorable terms. Hamas, like other expressions of radical Islam reflected in ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham), is beyond mental reach. Hamas has to be totally annihilated and destroyed as thoroughly as Adolph Hitler had to die in order for the Nazi nightmare to end. There will be no peace until this enemy of Israel is extinct.

Politicians and pundits alike—people such as former congressman Dennis Kucinich who believes Israel can and should negotiate with Hamas and Megan Kelly of FoxNews who laments the destruction of schools and hospitals where children and civilians become collateral damage—do not seem to understand the nature of the enemy Israel faces, an enemy that is beyond reason and an enemy that seeks war.

Former Prime Minister of Israel Goldie Meir once observed that peace will never come to the Middle East until the Palestinians begin to love their children more than they hate Israel. The reality is that  neither the Palestinians nor Hamas love their children more than they hate Israel, and so they will continue to exploit them by putting the children and civilians in harm’s way because they embrace a religion which is also beyond reason. Hamas is merely a reflection of the teachings of the Koran. Because of this, the blood bath will continue—and should continue—until Hamas is no more, by their own choice.

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