Billboard Heckler – You’ve got to be kidding

This one really gets up my nose. From the Castle Hill Christadelphian Church:

Middle East crisis will only be solved by Christ's return. Zech 14

The first thing that got me about this billboard was the sheer arrogance of it. It seems to say to people walking past, “our solution to the world’s problems is better than anything you’ll ever come up with.” I realise that this is hardly news, because the core message of Christianity is basically the same.

It’s also an attitude that says “don’t even bother trying to fix it – the only thing that will solve this problem is a man coming out of the sky, so it would be futile to try to do anything about it ourselves.” It’s disappointing to think that people would get the idea into their heads that God will settle all their problems, so they don’t need to make any effort themselves. This is especially true of people who abandon long-term thinking altogether with the idea that Christ will be returning soon. (An early example of this is probably Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, e.g. 2:1-2 and 3:6-12. A more recent one is the Great Disappointment of 1844.)

But there’s something much more sinister and ironic behind this billboard. Now, my understanding of modern history is a bit hazy, but there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that the United States’ ongoing support of Israel is one of the big reasons that the US has such a bad name in the area, at least from the point of view of their opponents. And there’s at least a suggestion that one reason behind this support, and the reason that Britain and the US pushed for the 1948 creation of the state of Israel in the first place, is the dispensationalist belief that the Jewish people would have to be established as a nation before the Second Coming. (See, for example, articles by Gary North and Mark Wingfield.)

In other words, the Middle East crisis is partially caused by belief in Christ’s return.

Now, I’m not saying that Israel don’t have a right to be there or that the United States’ involvement is necessarily wrong. But under the circumstances, I think appealing to Jesus’ return as the only possible solution is a bit back to front. Sure, God showing obvious alignment with one religion in the Middle East would settle a lot of arguments; but I think it should be clear from the events of the last three or so thousand years that he is not going to do that.
If the Middle East ever sees anything even remotely resembling stability, it’ll be in spite of religion, not because of it. Constantly appealing to religion is quite clearly making things worse.

On the positive side, Zechariah 14 is at least a verifiable prophecy. If I notice a day anytime soon when there’s no daytime or nighttime and the Mount of Olives splits in two, then I’ll be willing to reconsider my position on a few things.

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