Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jerusalem Under Muslim Rule Within a Generation

Could Jerusalem become dominated by Muslims - without even one bullet being fired - within a generation?

The average fertility rate amongst Israeli-Jews is 2.2, compared with 5.5 for Israeli-Arabs and Palestinians. And Jerusalem is already 30% Muslim. And only 31% percent of children under age fifteen are Jewish, according to sources. Within one generation, Muslims could have the numbers to govern the city - simply through the democratic process.

Thus the Jews' own worst enemy (in a democratic system) may not be terrorism, suicide bombers, Iranian rockets, Hamas, Hezbollah, nor Jihad, not even pressure from the international community or the US Secretary of State - but their own low fertility rate.

We all want to see Jerusalem free. So what solution could ensure Jerusalem's freedom?

An obvious solution could be for Jews to lift their fertility rate. After all, God did promise greater fertility to the Jews (His covenant people) than the surrounding nations (Deuteronomy 28).

But even if Jewish women accept having larger families, you have to think: How free would a Jewish-dominated Jerusalem really be? After all, modern Israel has legislated against Christianity quite strongly in a number of ways.

So perhaps a safer strategy for ensuring Jerusalem's freedom could be to encourage Israeli-Christians (whether Jew or Arab) to lift their own fertility rate. After all, above-average fertility is listed as a 'blessing' in many of the very same Bible passages that Christian supporters of Israel and prosperity preachers love to quote. Through population growth, Jerusalem could eventually democratically end-up in the safe hands of its Christian citizens.

But unfortunately we seldom hear many of these supporters of Israel or prosperity preachers claiming the particular 'blessing' of fertility. Judging by the size of their families, many faith preachers' wives apparently must be taking the contraceptive pill even though in other matters they prefer not to take substances that could potentially harm the 'temple', preferring instead to use their faith to avoid using drugs or doctors. Some of them won't even borrow from a bank, quoting a verse from the very same passage that also calls fertility a 'blessing' (Deuteronomy 28). Many of them are only two- or three-child families, despite their love of the [other] promises in the same passage. And the Arab-Christian sector of Israel had the country's lowest fertility rate in 2006. So unfortunately, fertility amongst Israel's Christians isn't looking very likely either, as a strategy for ensuring Jerusalem's freedom.

Another possible solution could be for believers around the world to begin applying to immigrate to Jerusalem, to make-up the numbers. After all, many Christian supporters of Israel believe that the Old Testament's promise of restoring repentant Jews back to their homeland still applies today. Plus, (and this may come as a shock to many): Ezekiel's vision foresaw a day when even Gentiles would be granted land inheritance, along with Jews, inside the holy land (Ezek.47:22)!

But unfortunately, Christian immigration to Israel isn't looking very likely as a strategy for Jerusalem's freedom either because - except for an increasing number of 'amillenialists' - many Christians would be too fearful to move to Israel, even if it was approved. On the one hand they seem to be believing great things for modern Israel and yet, on the other hand, their eschatology gives them too bad an outlook on Jerusalem's future to want to invest in real estate let alone live there.

So what else can be done in the event that Jerusalem's Arab population exceeds her Jewish population? Maybe Israel could cease being a democracy - then the demographics of the city wouldn't matter.

But that wouldn't be freedom. And anyway, democracy is the all-important-thing in the minds of many American Christian lobbyists for Israel. So that's probably not an option they'd want to be known for.

Consequently what is actually happening is that many Christian lobbyists who are vocally 'supportive' of Israel on the one hand, are on the other hand unwilling to do what would help Jerusalem most in a practical way. It's like they have one foot on the accelerator while at the same time having their other foot on the brakes, in their support if not their theology about Israel. They unknowingly nurture a series of practical if not theological contradictions. They don't give Israel the practical support she really needs, but at the same time keep lobbying for a no-compromise approach in her international relations.

For secular nations like Israel and America, this leaves them with only one other possible option: war. It seems many Christian 'supporters' of Israel would unknowingly prefer to see Israel or America bomb Iran, than go all the way and apply their own theology practically. (For example, they could apply to immigrate to Jerusalem if they're eligible, like they believe the Bible enjoins. Or, if they already live in Jerusalem, they could accept the Bible's definition of fertility as a 'blessing' and have larger families. But that doesn't seem to be happening, and many Jews are preferring instead to move out of Jerusalem.

So we see that even the staunchest supporters of Israel amongst us can sometimes have a bit of inconsistency with their theology and their practice. It's the same with 'prosperity'. Many delight to quote Deuteronomy 28, but neglect to accept fertility as an indicator of God's blessing.

So how can we avoid such inconsistencies? and what really is a Christian's role in regard to Israel?

Maybe it's high time we get back to what Jesus asked us to do. Get back to the great commission. Preach the Gospel.

Let's get back to preaching the same Gospel that John, Christ, the Twelve, and Paul preached - whether it is to Jew or Gentile. Focusing on the Gospel removes all the contradictions and automatically puts everything else in proper perspective. Therefore if we stick to preaching the Gospel, we can't go wrong. This Gospel - that's our task. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

Think about it: if we were all like Jesus, there'd be no problems in the world, would there? So let's preach Jesus. And what cannot or does not get achieved through doing that - He'll fix up when He comes.

The heading of this post could have been, "Let's Get Back to Preaching the Gospel." But would that title have attracted you as much as the current heading? And yet, that's what we need to do. Preach the Gospel.

The main objective of this post is not really about Jerusalem, because 'Israel' is just one of many objectives that Christians today tend to focus on (along with other attractive subjects like 'end-times', acquiring 'wealth', 'politics' or 'social justice'). And experience shows that when a Christian becomes focused on one of these objectives, he or she usually becomes slightly inconsistent with Gospel values, somewhere along the line. Or at least, their practice doesn't go all the way with reflecting their own theology. But the Gospel, on the other hand, is the only message that brings every topic together with proper balance.

So let's focus again on the Gospel. Let's make the Gospel's values our objective once again. By doing so, anything else we may be meant to be doing shall find it's proper place automatically. Jesus doesn't just give us answers - He is the answer.

"I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" - Paul.

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