US President Donald Trump said Monday that his 2017 decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as the capital of Israel was done for evangelical Christians.
“And we moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem,” Trump said at a rally held at an airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, apparently referring to his decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv. “That’s for the evangelicals.”
At the time, Trump said that the decision was made to advance US interests and peace in the region, and out of respect for Israel’s sovereignty.
“I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement,” he said in a video message played at the 2018 inauguration of the embassy.
“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace,” he added.
However, it was clear from the start that the move was also aimed at the evangelical community, who have been some of Trump’s staunchest supporters.
Large number of evangelical Christians in the US believe that God has chosen Trump to advance the kingdom of God on Earth. Several high-profile religious leaders have made similar claims, often comparing Trump to King Cyrus, who was asked by God to rescue the nation of Israel from exile in Babylon.
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Indeed, one of the reasons conservative evangelicals were ecstatic about this move is that many of them believe that biblical prophecy teaches that the return of the Jews to Israel is a prerequisite for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Christ will one day return to earth with his raptured saints and descend on a rebuilt temple located inside Jerusalem.
Robert Jeffress, a court evangelical who needs no introduction for readers of this blog, was one of the most outspoken defenders of Trump’s decision to move the capital to the holy city. He has written several books on biblical prophecy and is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, the center of Dispensational theology in America.
Dispensationalism–and the approach to interpreting the prophetic passages of the Bible that undergird it–teaches that history is best explained as a spiritual battle between the forces of God and the forces of evil. At its core, Dispensationalism divides human history into periods or “dispensations” that correspond with what the Bible reveals about God’s design for the ages. Dispensationalists believe God has a plan for both Old Testament Israel and the Christian church (established in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit descended on the followers of Jesus). Though God is not yet done with Israel, his plan favors Christians–those believers born a gain through a conversation experience–over Jews. At the end of human history, God’s agenda for these two groups would come together in the glorious return of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem, the place where he would initiate his millennial kingdom. Jeffress once told Fox News that by moving the embassy to Jerusalem, Trump is now “on the right side of history” and on the “right side of God.”
Trump’s decision to move the embassy, which we now know came after much lobbying from the court evangelicals, is not only a triumph for the Dispensationalists like Jeffress; it also fits well with the views of Lance Wallnau, the Independent Network Charismatic (INC) prophet who believes Donald Trump is a new King Cyrus. (Yes, this is the same guy who just referred to Kamala Harris as a “Jezebel spirit“).
This merger of Dispensational theology and INC prophecy appears in court evangelical Mike Evans‘s response to Trump’s move. One of America’s leading Christian Zionists, Evans recently founded the Friends of Zion Heritage Center and the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem to celebrate the “everlasting bond between the Jewish and Christian peoples.” When Trump announced that he was moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, Evans enthusiastically told the Christian Broadcasting Network that when he next saw Trump in the Oval Office he would say to him: “Cyrus, you’re Cyrus. Because you’ve done something historic and prophetic.”
There is a slight difference between Wallnau and Evans. Wallnau envisioned Trump as a Cyrus who would save American Christians; Evans believed that Trump was a modern-day Cyrus who would make possible the restoration of Jerusalem and the further confirmation of Israel’s future role in biblical prophecy. Because of Trump’s actions, Evans declared, the blessing of God would come upon America. Indeed, this decision would make America great in the eyes of God. Of course it also made Trump great in the eyes of the court evangelicals.
We now know that Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem was more of a political move than a diplomatic or religious one.