The son of the late famed evangelist Billy Graham, Franklin Graham has opened up about his belief in Biblical prophecy regarding the State of Israel. In light of the United States officially moving its embassy to Jerusalem Monday, many leading evangelical figures have been keen to point out the eschatological significance of such a move.
“70 years ago today, the State of Israel was established. In fulfillment of prophecy, God brought the nation into being, and He is sustaining them for the day when the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will return and establish His throne in Jerusalem as Scripture tells us,” Graham wrote on Facebook May 15.
“I believe it is significant that the United States has formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and is moving our embassy there. This has been promised by past U.S. presidents and administrations, but it had never become a reality, until now.”
Graham is not the only one to assert his views regarding Israel’s role in the “End Times.” At the opening ceremony itself, Texan pastor John Hagee gave the benediction in which he declared: “Jerusalem is the city of God. Jerusalem is the heartbeat of Israel. Jerusalem is where Abraham placed his son on the altar on the Temple Mount and became the father of many nations.”
“Jerusalem is where Jeremiah and Isaiah penned principles of righteousness that became the moral foundations of Western Civilization. Jerusalem is where Messiah will come and establish a kingdom that will never end,” Hagee added. “We thank you, O Lord, for President Donald Trump’s courage in acknowledging to the world a truth established 3,000 years ago that Jerusalem is and always shall be the eternal capital of the Jewish people.”
Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Church in Orange County, California, also supported the move.
“Jerusalem always has been, and always will be, the capital of this great nation (Israel). The Lord gave it to King David, and now it’s about time we (the U.S.) moved our embassy there,” he said in a video Monday. The literal certain Biblically-mandated things must happen before the second coming of Christ is called “dispensational pre-millennialism” and many evangelicals subscribe to this perspective.
Indeed, when President Trump took the bold decision last year to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and subsequently relocate the embassy, his evangelical adviser, Dr. Robert Jeffress declared to CNN: “Jerusalem has been the object of the affection of both Jews and Christians down through history and the touchstone of prophecy.”
But why is Israel itself so important to all of this, and how is this piece of Middle Eastern land seen as so crucial to Biblical prophecy?
As Billy Hallowell explained in a previous article at Faithwire, “futurists who see many Bible prophecies as being currently unfulfilled believe that the Old and New Testament scriptures consistently predicted that a state of Israel would once again emerge at some point in the future.” Indeed, with the establishment of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, Israel is becoming ever more prominent and visible on the world stage.
Hallowell explained further:
“Consider that Ezekiel 36:24, which was written 2,500 years ago, includes the following words that are attributed to God: “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.”
Futurists believe that the Old Testament verses clearly reference a future restoration of Israel that was unlike anything that unfolded prior to the end of the Holocaust and World War II. Modern-day Israel is seen by these theologians and pastors as a “super sign” of the end of days events to come.”
Geography is everything in Israel, and it has been for centuries. The expansion of its borders has been seen by many evangelicals as God firmly establishing the state and, as Jews have flocked to the land over years, it could be argued that he is repatriating his people to this “chosen land.”
“When we talk about the Holy Land, God’s promise of the Holy Land, we’re talking about real estate on both sides of the Jordan River. So the sense of a greater Israel and expansionism is really important to this community,” University of North Texas professor Elizabeth Oldmixon told Vox last year. “Jerusalem is just central to that. It’s viewed as a historical and biblical capital.”
“What kick-starts the end times into motion is Israel’s political boundaries being reestablished to what God promised the Israelites according to the Bible,” Pastor Nate Pyle told Newsweek in January.
So, it is all about land, it is all about territory, and it is all about Biblical interpretations of God’s promises. In addition, it is important to note that this is no strange idea to millions of American evangelicals. A recent LifeWay poll found that some 80 percent of evangelicals believed that the creation of Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy that usher forth the return of Christ.