East Meets West
By Pete Garcia
21st century Americans don’t give much thought to Columbus Day anymore. For many, it’s just another federal holiday. Others as of late are highly offended by something that happened 525 years ago and yet, are only here to complain about it because of being direct beneficiaries of it.
On March 31st of 1492, the Catholic monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain issued the now infamous Alhambra Decree. This decree (also called the decree of expulsion) set July of 1492 as the no-later-than date for Jews to be gone from Spain. Angered by false (albeit forced) conversions and centuries of Muslim domination of their Iberian Peninsula, the monarchs sought to solidify their control by ridding their empire of any non-Roman Catholics. Any Jews remaining after July, or anyone found sheltering them, risked having all their possessions and wealth confiscated by the state. Of note, the Spanish Inquisition was still in its infancy but would be remembered for its unjust imprisonments, unbelievably brutal torture methods, and being burnt at the stake.
But as July 1492 loomed, Sephardic Jews would once again find themselves being uprooted from their homes and moved away. The Old Testament prophets such as Moses, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel recorded how their descendants would be a people scattered about the earth and on the move as a continuation of the divine chastisement for their disobedience. Thus, the entirety of the 1,878 years of Jewish Diaspora would be one marked by expulsion and exile.
“Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known—wood and stone. And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul. Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life.” – Deuteronomy 28:64-65
Yet, as if by divine providence, August 3rd of 1492 would be a day that would change the world forever. This was the day that an Italian (some say even Jewish) explorer named Christopher Columbus set sail to find a new western trade route to India. Christopher Columbus has since been largely hailed as opening up the New World to European colonization. It would seem, that the notoriously violent pagan empires of the Aztecs and Mayans, finally got their own version of a comeuppance. Many disagree as to whether this was beneficial or not to the then-current inhabitants of the new continents, but regardless, we are here and that is history.
But as Spain, England, and other European and Middle Eastern nations were in varying stages of turning against their Jewish citizens, God was busy preparing another way. The Americas would become a safe haven for the Jewish people for the next four centuries. Granted, it wasn’t perfect, but we developed a Constitution based on Judeo-Christian ideals that offered Jews about the best opportunity to thrive when the rest of the world was becoming overly Anti-Semitic.
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” – Galatians 4:4-5
Reading through the New Testament, we often get the picture that even though Rome was the overarching power structure of the day, it wasn’t “that bad.” The Romans brought in roads, aqueducts, a common language and currency, and relative stability. What we fail to see, is that for the previous three centuries, Rome was a steamroller busy conquering anyone and everyone they turned their iron-fisted gaze towards. At about the same time, there were more Jews living outside of Judah/Israel (according to Roman historian Theodor Mommsen) then there were inside its traditional, geographic boundaries.
Jewish populations still existed in Babylon, Asia-Minor, Alexandria, and other places that were under the Roman thumb. This is why during the major religious holidays such as Passover, Jerusalem would be filled to the brim with Jews from within the Empire. After Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, it was here that the disciples would take this message of the Gospel back with them to their homes once the feast date was over. This allowed the gospel to spread rapidly across the Roman Empire. Hence, ‘at the fullness of times’ means that this was the most advantageous time for God to share the message of salvation to the most amount of people.
So from 33AD until 70AD, Jerusalem was the theological center of Christianity. It was here also that the Christian faith was the most attacked. The tension for those subsequent decades after the Resurrection was increasingly palpable. It would eventually come to a head (not with Christians) but with Rome in which the reality would change. Rome began dealing with the revolt in 67AD and concluded with the siege of Jerusalem in 70AD. Flavius Josephus records that around a million Jews died as well as the Second Temple being destroyed in the siege by Roman General Titus. Another rebellion in 135AD cemented the Diaspora when then Emperor Hadrian forbade the Jews from returning to the land.
“And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” – Luke 21:24
The miraculous happened in June 1967 when “Six Day War” resulted in the Jews reuniting their capital city for the first time in almost 2,000 years. Having returned to the land in 1947, established as a nation in 1948, the Jews were reclaiming more and more of their ancient homeland with each subsequent war. We are again at a point in time when the Jews are the most militarily and economically powerful nations in the world. The United States, having been a safe haven for the Jews for the first four centuries of American history, and now Israel’s greatest benefactor, seems to have run its course.
This author firmly believes that the rash of both natural and man-made disasters that have seemingly plagued the Trump Administration thus far is largely due to an un-kept promise that was made during the campaign trail of moving our embassy to the capital of Israel. Aside from an Isaiah 17 or Ezekiel 38 scenario, the next logical step in cementing Israel’s bonafides is having the most powerful nation in the world put her embassy in Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem. This would seemingly squash any attempt to further divide the nation’s capital once and for all.
“Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate.” – Daniel 9:27
However, we know that according to Scripture, there is a man coming who will ultimately enter into some kind of treaty not just with Israel, but with the ‘many’ (nations?) that presumably surrounds Israel. Whether the new temple is already standing at this point is up for much debate, but seeing as the nation of Israel (thanks to the Temple Mount Faithful and other groups) has everything pretty much ready to go. It would seem that all that needs to happen is the right crisis.
That crisis could come in the form of war or something that removes the benefactor status away from the United States. That could be the Rapture of the Church, or we could suffer some major calamity that removes us from any significant role for the time being. Ultimately, the third Temple will stand again, and it will be here that this man Antichrist uses as a bargaining chip to put the Jews back in his crosshairs.
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” – Zechariah 12:10
The last seven years of Daniel’s 70 Weeks prophecy, concludes as the seventieth. It is this week that God pours out His judgments on a Christ-rejecting world. 21-plus hellish judgments are unleashed upon the world, wiping out most of its seven billion inhabitants. Although most of the world is destroyed, God uses this as the chastisement to bring Israel back to the point that they finally realize that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ after all. As to the nations…
“I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.” – Joel 3:2
But for all the travail and troubles the world has poured out on the Hebrews/Israelites/Jews over the course of man’s history going back to Abraham, God will finally avenge in a single battle all the egregious crimes ever committed against her, particularly the hopeless times spent in exile, diaspora, and the holocaust. The Jew has survived because God is merciful and He keeps His word. And although God used Columbus to provide a safe-haven to His chosen people, the Jew, the ultimate ‘east meets west’ will come at Christ’s Second Coming…
“For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” – Matthew 24:27
Even So, Maranatha!