One particularly fundamentalist sect of Christianity believes that Jerusalem is the staging ground for Armageddon, and that Jews will be “saved” by claiming Jesus Christ as their savior as the world ends.
This prophecy may help explain why President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is so popular with a majority of evangelical Christians (loosely defined as Christians who believe in the absolute authority of the Bible and being “born again” by accepting Jesus Christ as their lord and savior). According to a poll from the Brookings Institution in December of last year, 53 percent of evangelicals supported relocating the embassy to Jerusalem. Trump is beloved by evangelicals, winning 81 percent of the white evangelical vote in the 2016 election.
While the prophecy of a “Great Tribulation” preceding 1,000 years of peace isn’t something all Christians believe in, one sect known as Dispensational Premillennialism strongly believes that when Jesus comes back to Earth to rule for 1,000 years as king, he will do so from Jerusalem after a period of conflict known as the “Great Tribulation.”
As Diana Butler Bass recently wrote for CNN, these fundamentalist Christians believe that Jews committed a grave sin by rejecting Jesus Christ as their lord, and that a series of apocalyptic events — including war — will take place before Jesus’ return, eventually resulting in Jews agreeing to be “saved” and atoning for the “sin” of not adhering to Christianity:
“[I]n the 1990s, [dispensational premillennialism] reached an even larger audience through the “Left Behind” novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. The theology spread via Bible camps and colleges, through theological seminaries and revival meetings, in films and videos, by Sunday school materials, and in daily devotional guides — all teaching that the end of the world was near, and that Jerusalem was the physical place where this apocalyptic drama would unfold.”
Vice President Mike Pence has declared himself to be an evangelical Catholic. Whether or not President Trump personally believes in the prophecy is unknown, but he sent a clear wink and nudge to dispensational premillennialists by asking the Rev. Robert Jeffress — who believes Jews are destined for hell — to pray at the new embassy. Former Massachusetts Governor and Mormon Mitt Romney (R) said as much in a tweet sent Sunday:
Robert Jeffress says “you can’t be saved by being a Jew,“ and “Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.” He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 14, 2018
If the opening of the embassy coinciding with the massacre of dozens of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli forces, and Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal is any indicator, fundamentalist Christians may believe the “Great Tribulation” is finally at hand.
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.