Dispensationalism Strikes Out Again: Three More Verses They Get Wrong
Copyright © Robert E. Cruickshank, Jr (October 29, 2023)
All Rights Reserved
“And He will lift up a flag for the nations, and assemble the banished ones of Israel,
and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12).
“I will also plant them on their land, and they will not be uprooted again from their land
which I have given them, says the Lord your God” (Amos 9:15).
“For the Lord of armies says this: ‘After glory He has sent me against the nations that plunder you, for the one who touches you, touches the apple of His eye’” (Zechariah 2:8).
Dispensationalism has a long history of striking out. With failed prediction after failed prediction, the entire Dispensational team should be benched by now. Yet, their fans still cheer in the stands every time the next batter steps up to the plate. Despite the hype, Dispensationalism has yet to score its first homerun. In fact, none of its team members have ever even crossed home plate. Nonetheless, the loyal bystanders keep hoping the next hitter in the lineup will finally connect the bat to the ball. Time and again, current events are analyzed in light of Bible prophecy. Time and again, the big event they hope for turns out to be a nonevent. Time and again, they are disappointed.
As this article is being written, Greg Laurie is the latest player to step into the batter’s box. His video, “Israel, End of Days, And What’s Next On the Prophetic Calendar,” instantly generated 90K views in one day. It seems the stadium is still jam-packed with eager fans despite their team’s long losing streak. As the vendors make their way through the crowd with their hawking trays full of concessions, the enthusiasts will once again be treated to nothingburgers. While Lauire says in no uncertain terms that the rapture is up next, it would be unwise to wager in his favor. There is much buildup for the new players, but Team Dispies’ winless record will continue, and today’s heroes will join the ranks of yesterday’s zeroes.
Past Players with Poor Records
The most popular trading cards of the past failed prophets would of course be those of Hal Lindsey and Edgar Whisenant. They both thought that 1988 was going to be their team’s big year. Lindsey famously said, “I didn’t ask to be a hero, but I guess I have become one in the Christian community. So, I accept it. But if I’m wrong about this, I guess I’ll become a bum.” As history would have it, the would-be-all-star did in fact become a bleacher bum. Of course, he’s an incredibly wealthy bleacher bum, who drives a Mercedes. This is all thanks to the gullible fans who bought tickets. Actually, they bought books – lots of them.
Amazingly, many are still buying what he’s selling. “Every 3 years,” says one reviewer, “Hal Lindsey writes a new book denoting how the world will end in 5 years. Each subsequent book explains how he WASN’T wrong in the previous book and the world will really end in 5 years…He has followed this pattern for decades and is now acknowledged as ‘the fore-most authority on Biblical prophecy in the world today.” Another person comments, “I’m an electrician. If I had been doing my job POORLY and WRONG for 30 years, I doubt I would be ‘the foremost authority.’ In fact, I dare say I would have ceased to make a living in my chosen profession in the first 10 years.”
Much the same could be said about Whisenant. Undaunted by the rain delay in Dispensationalism’s game, Whisenant kept rescheduling: 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, etc. To the bitter end, Whisenant insisted: “There’s evidence all around…My job is done. The end is near, and I had to get the message out. Like Paul Revere, I did the job I was supposed to do…Now I can stand in front of the Lord and say I gave it my best shot.”
Back in 1988, Dean C. Halverson wrote an article that appeared in the fall edition of the Christian Research Journal entitled, “88 Reasons: What Went Wrong?” Not only did Whisenant swing and miss 88 times, but he wasn’t even in the game – much less the ballpark. If you give a pop-prophecy pundit 88 Scriptures, he’ll get 88 Scriptures wrong. Of course, it doesn’t take 88 pitches to strike out – it only takes three. With that in mind, there are three specific passages that pass today’s Dispie batters by as they take their swing at analyzing world events.
At Bat: John Hagee
Zechariah 2:8 is John Hagee’s lead off passage in an article giving “several biblical reasons why Christians should stand with Israel, her people and their claim to the land.” According to Hagge, “The prophet Zechariah is declaring in these verses that if you come against Israel and her people it is as if you have thrust your finger in the pupil of God’s eye. You have not only offended the Almighty you have also received His full attention.” Echoing Hagee’s rhetoric, amid echoing shouts of “amen,” Pastor Jared Wellman tells his congregation that “neutrality isn’t an option” when it comes to unwavering support of Israel.
While supporting Israel is an individual’s personal choice to which they have every right, the real question boils down to exactly what they mean by “support.” An October 9, 2023 posting by Hagee is very revealing in this regard:
“Our nation must stand with Israel in their absolute right to defend the Jewish homeland until the threat is no more. Stand with us as we demand that the Biden administration and Congress ensure, at minimum, that every available avenue of additional support for our Israeli allies is given without delay…To our Jewish friends, know that you have an army of Christians supporting you, praying over you and your homeland, and ready to fight on your behalf. If there is a circle to be drawn, draw it around us both. Israel lives!”
Sympathetic support? Sure. Pray? Definitely. Let’s also pray for the Palestinians, as well as the Jews, that they all come to embrace the Prince of Peace – who alone can bring peace in the region. And let’s not forget prayer and sympathy for our brothers and sisters in Christ on both sides of this conflict. So far so good. The problem comes with the word “fight.”
While it’s fun to poke fun at the purveyors of prophetic misfortune, there is nothing fun or funny about war games. Baseball is a fun game to play and a good analogy to use in an article such as this, but the games these teachers play with the Scriptures could lead to playing games with our soldiers’ lives. It has in the past, and we need to ensure that never happens again.
Hagee says an army of Christians is ready to “fight” on Israel’s behalf. Really? What army, and who makes up this army? Is Hagee going to go and “fight” to defend Israel’s homeland. Certainly not. He’s 83 years old. Is Pastor Jared Wellman, who works his congregation in to a frenzy, going to enlist so he can go and risk his life for the Israeli people? Doubtful. It’s easy to get all jacked up for war when you’re not the one going to war. More to the point, it’s easy when it’s not your own sons and daughters going to war. That’s where the rub comes in. And all of this is based on the idea that national Israel is “still the apple of God’s eye” (Zech. 2:8) as Richard Emmons, another batter in the lineup, puts it.
If the United States gets involved in this war with boots on the ground, is that “apple” of which the prophecy pundits speak going to be worth the price? Remember, back in the garden, Adam and Eve sold out for a piece of fruit. If you have children in the military, many powerful people would love to sell them out on a “foreign shore” playing their “games of war.” As the CCR song says, “And when the band plays ‘Hail to the Chief,’ They point the cannon at you.”
War is big money for the politicians, the speculators, and those tied to the military industrial complex. It’s also big money for those who produce pop-prophecy paperbacks. Today’s “prophets” love to rake in the “profits” every time there is a major crisis in the world, and the warmongers cash in every time our soldiers’ blood is shed. For those who watch their sons and daughters going off to play someone else’s war games, the reward of the elitists isn’t worth the price the parents pay. It never is.
In the end, the three-volley solute is the prophecy pundits’ bitter fruit. For an informative book, showing how presidents and politicians are highly influenced and manipulated by Dispensationalism, see Michael Sullivan’s Armageddon Deception: The Eschatology of Islam & Zionism, A Biblical Response. The sad reality is that games can be played with our soldiers’ lives as a result of the games that today’s “prophecy experts” are playing with the Scriptures.
Playing Games with the Scriptures
Bob Russell’s recent at bat is a good example of how the game is played. The technique is fairly simple. Take some passages, lift them from their context, and use them to advance your narrative. All of this is done in the name of helping Christians to “fully understanding everything the Bible says about the Jews and the predicted Middle East conflict.” While most lead with Zechariah 2:8, Russell closes with it.
Like the previous players, he misses the ball each time. Russell writes: “When the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Jewish people were scattered around the world. However, the Old Testament prophets predicted a day when God would regather the exiles of Israel ‘from the four corners of the earth’ (Isaiah 11:12), ‘never again to be uprooted from the land’ (Amos 9:15).” Then, Russell cites Zechariah 2:8-9, and says, “Zechariah prophesied that after the ‘Glorious One’ (Messiah) was sent, God would still consider Israel ‘the apple of his eye.’”
None of these passages refer to the modern State of Israel or the current conflict in the Middle East. Having watched Russell swing the bat, here’s the instant replay:
Regarding Isaiah 11:12, the passage is indeed about the Jewish exiles being gathered back to their land, but the context has to do with the Babylonian exile and the restoration that followed. Isaiah’s prophesied regathering finds its fulfillment in the pages of the Old Testament. Russell and the rest of his team are interpreting already-fulfilled prophecy as unfulfilled.
Amazingly, one doesn’t even have to acquaint himself/herself with historical writings outside of the Bible to in order to see this. One doesn’t even have to look to the New Testament in this particular case. It’s right there in the pages of the Old Testament. Russell’s swing and a miss isn’t with a curve ball thrown passed him at lightning speed. This is an underhanded softball pitch, and he still can’t make the bat line up with the ball.
Isaiah prophesied in 760 BC. The Assyrians carried to the Northern Kingdom of Israel into captivity in 722 BC, and the Babylonians carried the Southern Kingdom of Judah away in 586 BC. Isaiah himself specifies that their “return” (Isa. 44:22) would come about through the hand of the Persian King, Cyrus (Isa. 44:28). This happened in 536 BC. Cyrus himself self-consciously understood that he was fulfilling God’s will by calling the Israelites back home to rebuild their temple (2 Chr. 36:22-23).
It seems that this ancient Persian King had a better grasp of Bible prophecy than today’s Bible prophecy experts. If Cyrus were a modern Bible college student, he would have failed his Eschatology class. The book of Ezra records Cyrus’ decree inviting God’s ancient people back to their homeland (Ezra 1:1-4), and the Israelites’ return in answer to that invitation (Ezra 2:70; 3:1).
When those like Lauire, Russell, Wellman and Hagge pull passages out of context and piece them together like patchwork, their cheering fans in the crowd think they are hitting homeruns. Just as these teachers don’t understand the difference between a fulfilled prophecy and an unfulfilled prophecy, the spectators can’t seem tell the difference between a hit and a strike. Any Old Testament prophecy, regarding the Jews returning to the land and rebuilding their temple, was written prior to the Jews returning to the land and rebuilding temple. These are historical events that already happened, and these were the events about which Isaiah was prophesying.
The following is a chronology of the prophets as they coincide with these pivotal, prophesied events:
837 BC Joel
787-746 BC Jonah
760 BC Isaiah, Amos
750 BC Hosea
724 BC Micah
722 BC Captivity of Israel
640 BC Zephaniah
630 BC Nahum
612 BC Habakuk
604 BC Jeremiah
586 BC Captivity of Judah
586 BC Obadiah
592 – 570 BC Ezekiel
580 – 570 BC Daniel
536 BC The Return from Exile (Ezra 1:1-3; 3:1ff)
520 BC Zechariah, Haggai
516 BC Temple Rebuilt (Ezra 6:15)
510 BC Battle in Esther
458 BC Ezra Leads Second Return (Ezra 7-8; cf. Isa. 11:11)
445 BC Nehemiah Rebuilds Wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 1:1 – 7:73)
430 BC Malachi
As one can see, all of the critical predictions and fulfillments, regarding the return to the land and the rebuilding of the temple, have been historically fulfilled. The only Old Testament prophet in the lineup after these events was Malachi, and one will search Malachi in vain for any mention of a return or a rebuilding. Why? Because these prophecies had been fulfilled by the time Malachi wrote. As William Cox noted, “When a vessel has been filled full (the literal meaning of fulfill) it is impossible to add more in that vessel.” For Biblically coherent treatments of Isaiah’s 11th chapter, the following articles are helpful:
“Isaiah 11 and the Recovery of Israel ‘The Second Time,” by Gary DeMar.
“The Meaning of the Wolf and the Lamb,” by Michael Bull.
Russell’s next swing and a miss comes with his citation of Amos 9:15, ‘I will also plant them on their land, and they will not be uprooted again from their land Which I have given them,’ says the Lord your God.” According to John Schmitt, of Open Bible Summary: “Israel was declared an independent nation in 1948 at a site that is preserved as a museum, known as Independence Hall. This passage is engraved on the wall indicating a belief by the present Israel, that this is a prophecy fulfilled. Evidence shows that this is correct.” It is a “prophecy fulfilled,” true enough, but it wasn’t fulfilled in 1948.
We must allow the progressive revelation of the New Testament to inform our thinking regarding a passage such as this. Israel is planted in their land (Amos 9:15) in conjunction with God restoring the fallen tabernacle of David (Amos 9:11). According to James, this happened when God took a people for Himself from among the Gentiles (Acts 15:13-18). This means that the fulfillment of Amos 9 was in the first century AD. Scripture interprets Scripture, and the New Testament sheds light on the Old.
After the fallen tabernacle of David was restored (Gentile inclusion), physical Israel in fact was uprooted from their physical land in AD 70. So, either the prophecy failed, or this isn’t about physical Israel. In fact, Moses and Hosea had both foretold that the eventual fate of rebellious Israel would be a return to Egypt, not a return to their homeland (Deut. 28:68; Hos. 8:13). Uncoincidentally, this is exactly what happened. Josephus informs us that the survivors of the siege were taken to Egypt for free slave labor (Wars, 6.8.2; 6.9.2). On the other hand, those Jews who embraced Christ were part of the New Israel, and the land we inherit is now the entire earth (Matt. 5:5).
Our final passage is Hagee’s lead passage and Russell’s closing passage, Zechariah 2:8. Zechariah throws the pitch that strikes all these batters out. To compare Zechariah’s statement about “the apple of His eye” to the modern nation of Israel, is to compare apples to oranges.
In this passage, Zechariah is told of a deliver who will rise up at a time when “Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls” (Zechariah 2:4). This means Zechariah’s prophecy in chapter 2 is about a time after the return from exile and prior to the rebuilding of the wall in Nehemiah (cf. Neh. 2:13; 4:6). It also means that the Dispensationalists have once again failed to hit the ball over the wall. Modern-day Israel is protected by a 500-mile-long wall called the “West Bank Barrier.”
The term Zechariah uses, “without walls” (perazah), is only found in two other places in the Old Testament, i.e, Ezekiel 38:11 and Esther 9:19. Consequently, the historical context is the time of Esther, when Haman the Agagite/Gogite sought to exterminate the Jewish people.
At this time, Zechariah is told that God will raise up a protector of His People who, with a wave of the hand, will plunder their enemies (Zech. 2:8-8-9) and say: “his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye” (Zech. 2:8). The phrase, “apple of His eye,” is an ancient Hebrew idiom which speaks of the reflection of an infant in the pupil of his/her father’s eye – as he gazes intently at the baby he’s holding in his arms. Israel was that infant in God’s arms, and He’s sending a deliverer to rescue them in their time of trouble.
The entire prophetic episode opens with a heavenly messenger coming to Zechariah at night, “who is standing among the myrtle trees” (Zech. 1:8). This is significant because Esther’s original Hebrew name was Hadassah (Esther 2:7), and Hadassah means “myrtle tree.” The opening sequence in Zechariah telegraphs the fact that the deliverance would come through Hadassah, God’s myrtle tree. This is precisely what happens in the Esther narrative.
Once she had uncovered and revealed Haman’s entire plot to annihilate the Jews, Esther points to him and declares: “A foe and an enemy, is this wicked Haman!’” And Haman became terrified before the king and the queen” (Esth. 7:6). And then, on the gallows at his own house which Haman had constructed to hang Mordecai, the king declares: “Hang him on it” (Esth. 7:9).
After this, the king grants the Jews the right to assemble and defend themselves, and to annihilate the entire army of those who set out to annihilate them (Esth. 9:11). And annihilate them, they did. This includes five hundred men, along with the ten sons of Haman, in the capital city of Susa alone (Esth. 9:12) and 75,000 more throughout the empire (Esth. 9:16). Esther (God’s Myrtle Tree) was the protector of God’s apple, and the myrtle tree becomes a memorial before the Lord forever (Isa. 55:13). Zechariah 2:8 has nothing to do with 1948, modern-day Israel, or the recent Hamas attack.
Getting Back in the Game
While the Dispensational leaders continue to miss the ball and strike out, time and again, God’s People need to start getting back in the game. We’re long past due for holding our leaders accountable for their mishandling of the bat, as well as their mishandling of God’s word. Since the Dispensational team took the field in the mid to late 1800s, we’ve been unable to score any runs. The long, losing season continues with their bungling of Isaiah 11:12, Amos 9:15 and Zechariah 2:8. Everytime something goes wrong in the world, they shout, “TGID (Thank God it’s Domesday)!”
The answer to the Middle East crisis isn’t for believers to pick sides but for those on all sides to become believers. Peace will only come through the Prince of Peace, and Jesus is the answer to the world’s problems. After His death and resurrection, He became the Ruler of the Kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5), and the nations should be playing by His rules (Rev. 21:24). It doesn’t help that His own people don’t understand those rules, i.e, the Scriptures. It’s time to stop playing games and get back into the game. It’s time to stop striking out and start hitting homeruns. It’s time to send the Dispensational team to the bench.
 Ibid., 2:00ff
 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2009/aug/10/religion-george-bush; see also: Stephen Spector, “Gog and Magog in the White House: Did Biblical Prophecy Inspire the Invasion of Iraq?” (Journal of Church and State, Volume 56, Issue 3, Summer 2014, Pages 534–552).
 From “Military Man,” by the Resurrection Band https://www.bing.com/search?q=militray+man+resurrection+band+lyrics+&qs=n&form=QBRE&sp=-1&ghc=1&lq=0&pq=militray+man+resurrection+band+lyrics+&sc=10-38&sk=&cvid=065A05E0BD7E416EB59E127ECFF191B1&ghsh=0&ghacc=0&ghpl=
 See: William Cox, Biblical Studies in Final Things (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1966, pp. 61-62.
Jordan, James B.. Darius, Artaxerxes, and Ahasuerus in the Bible (p. 73). Athansius Press. Kindle Edition.
 Cox, Ibid., p. 63.
 See: Francesca Stavakopoulou, God: An Anatomy (Picador, 2021), ePub p. 388; see also: Ludwig
Koehler, Walter Baumgartner and Johann J. Stamm (trans. Mervyn E. J. Richardson), The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament: Study Edition, vol. 1 (Leiden: Brill, 2001), p. 107.
 Levy, Steve; Evie Levy; Weiner, Ellis. How to Profit From the Coming Rapture: Getting Ahead When You’re Left Behind . Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition. Location 219 0f 2688.