At the opening ceremony for the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, as Israeli soldiers shot at Palestinian protesters, killing 60 and wounding 2,400, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed to widespread cheers, “The Temple Mount is in our hands!” President Trump’s actions are being hailed as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy and he is being likened to the biblical King Cyrus who ended the Babylonian captivity and invited Jews to return to Israel to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
The opening of the embassy was consecrated, as it were, by two pastors who exemplify the concerns, complexities and controversies of moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Robert Jeffress is pastor of a Dallas-area Southern Baptist megachurch, a radio host and an author. John Hagee is pastor of a San Antonio Pentecostal megachurch, TV host and author, as well as the founder of Christians United for Israel. Baptists and Pentecostals have some deep disagreements, but Jeffress and Hagee share two convictions that are important for understanding the significance of this development for Trump’s supporters.
The first of these shared convictions is end-times theology. A broad swath of American Christians hold to an interpretation of the Bible that anticipates the world getting worse and worse until Jesus returns to rescue born-again believers. This leaves the rest of us to suffer through a period they call The Great Tribulation, which is followed by the destruction of Satan and the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth.