In 1998, Christianity Today magazine ran a cover story about evangelical support for Israel. It was the usual hatchet job from a center-left publication that many evangelicals still believe is the flagship periodical for the American church.
The cover image was a montage of Bible prophecy teachers – in caricature – led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Behind him were the usual suspects CT likes to round up when mocking Bible prophecy/dispensationalism: Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye and … Hal Lindsey.
It is doubtful that CT’s editors would consider a similar cover story on, say, Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo. To CT, those are “careful thinkers” who struggle to lead the ignorant masses to enlightenment.
In any event, I thought at the time that Lindsey’s presence on the cover was quite interesting, since he has been a lightning rod of late for mockery of prophecy teaching.
And yet, the guy is perhaps the father of the modern prophecy movement, and his teachings have led millions to truth. Even better for us, he’s still very active and seems to shake off criticism with a rare combination of good humor and Matthau-esque disdain.
A new book by Lindsey – cause for celebration – has been released: “The Everlasting Hatred,” in which the prophecy warhorse traces the origins of enmity between the sons of Ishmael and the sons of Israel. The book is both a primer for understanding the modern war on terror and a riveting read that is a glass of cold water in the face of indifference towards the reality of radical Islam.
Early on in “The Everlasting Hatred,” Lindsey wades into controversy – a hallmark of his work over the years, and thank God for it. In Chapter 3 (“Who is Abraham’s True Son?”), the author tackles a question many won’t like, including liberal Christians who despise Bible prophecy teaching.
But as Lindsey points out: “For some readers, this chapter’s title may sound like an irrelevant question. However, Bible prophets predict that this issue will eventually become a major factor in causing the world’s final conflict. So significant is this matter to Muslims that they have sought for centuries to rewrite Biblical history. They say the covenants made with Abraham were not given to his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob and then to his descendants, but rather to Ishmael and his descendants.”
There you have it. The conflict raging today in the Middle East – boiling since Israel’s founding in 1948 – is really about the intransigence of the Arabs. It is often portrayed in the media, and in the United Nations, that it is Israel that refuses to deal. Not only does Lindsey offer a terrific, relevant answer; he provides us the root of the conflict. Once again, what we see in the Bible is what we see in reality, and this is a courageous and important point that Lindsey brings up. Genesis is the key to understanding that the “child of the promise” in Abraham’s household was Isaac, not Ishmael (although God promised to provide for this illegitimate son and his mother, Hagar).
Not only do the Arabs today reject this biblical view (and, by the way, Palestinian Christians by and large also reject much of the Old Testament, due to its promises to the Jews), they aggressively claim the right to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.
The biblical description of Ishmael as a “wild donkey of a man” is something that Lindsey explores, and I have to say, his research and writing style pack a lot of information into a small space, making “The Everlasting Hatred” perfect for rank-and-file evangelicals who are wondering what in the world is going on today. Lindsey goes into great detail about the centuries-old Arab “blood feuds” and provides a backdrop for understanding why they react they way they do today, as for example in the negotiations with the Israelis (no compromise, ever).
It seems that every chapter in “The Everlasting Hatred” is quite relevant to what we are enduring today. In Chapter 10 (“The Other Palestinian Refugees”), Lindsey reminds some of us – and informs most for the first time – that while the United Nations talks quite a lot about the Palestinian refugees, allegedly displaced by the Jews, no one talks about the violent uprooting of ancient Jewish communities in Arab lands.
As Lindsey skillfully notes: “The world seldom if ever hears about the more than 800,000 Jewish refugees who fled Arab terror and hatred and settled in Israel as a result of the Muslim fury at the 1948 establishment of the state of Israel. Perhaps it is because every single one of those refugees was accepted, resettled and provided for by the young struggling Jewish state without question or hesitation. There never has been a Jewish refugee camp in Israel or anywhere else. On the other hand, Palestinians have never been accepted and settled in Muslim countries.”
No one talks about reparations for the Jews. No one talks about what happened to their property. This is the kind of inconvenient truth Hal Lindsey brings up again and again. The book is a bold witness for truth.
Lindsey also shows a certain facility for being able to handle both esoteric subjects, and those that impact us on the ground, now. For example, his tracing of the history of British support for Israel – and subsequent betrayal (White Paper, etc.) – is juxtaposed with the somewhat mysterious “end times” events, such as Armageddon.
It is here that Lindsey is in his element, and kudos to him for presenting classic Bible prophecy themes in the face of withering attacks from liberals and rank unbelievers. Why does he do this? Because at heart, Lindsey is a witness to biblical truth. He has built a career out of standing for the Bible. He is a wily old warrior, and “The Everlasting Hatred” puts him in the company of watchmen like Oriana Fallaci and Steve Emerson, but from a solid biblical stance.
Given the fact that we are in the season of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and the Palestinians are arrogantly threatening to seek statehood by breaking signed agreements, Lindsey’s clarity is needed desperately.
As he states: “Israeli concerns are especially understandable since the Palestinians cannot stop their vicious terrorist attacks for even a week.”
Why does Brian Williams not bring this to the attention of his audience? Chris Matthews? The New York Times? Brian McLaren?
I’m going to talk about “The Everlasting Hatred,” and Hal Lindsey’s important work in the circles I run in, and I urge you to do the same thing. His book is that important.