Day of the Dead. Or “All Souls Day,” for traditionalists.

by K.W. Leslie, 02 November 2023

Once you become Christian you receive the Holy Spirit: He comes to live within you, to confirm your salvation, and lead and teach you, and hopefully grow good fruit in you. Many Christians confuse this with being baptized in the Spirit, but that’s a different thing. Regardless, he lives in you, and makes you holy. You’re a saint now.

Yes, you are.

Yes, an actual saint, same as all the other famous Christian saints. Same as the first apostles and Jesus’s parents. Same as St. Augustine, St. Francis, St. Nicholas, St. Joan of Arc, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. John Paul; same as those non-Orthodox and non-Catholic saints who don’t always go by the title, like Jonathan Edwards and D.L. Moody and C.S. Lewis and Billy Graham. The only difference between your sainthood and theirs, is degree. They did more for Jesus, or at least had better publicists. That’s not to say you can’t do just as much for Jesus—because you too have the very same Holy Spirit in you as they did.

I know; not every Christian believes this. Many believe you’re not a saint till you’re definitely in heaven. Till then, you’re on earth, or dead and in purgatory. You may yet become a saint, but not yet.

For those people there’s All Souls Day, which in the west is observed on 2 November. In the United States it’s usually called the Day of the Dead—or if you speak Spanish, Dia de los Muertos.

Day of the Dead is huge in Mexico, where Roman Catholic customs have largely been ditched, ’cause Mexicans way prefer partying to mourning. A lot of Aztec and indigenous customs got mixed in, much like Halloween swiped British and German folklore, and evolved in the United States into something which doesn’t look at all like All Saints Day. But no, Day of the Dead isn’t Mexican Halloween; the holidays don’t practice the very same things. Fr’instance if you’re dressing up, or eating candy, you’re always gonna go with a skull motif. Skulls everywhere. (Hey, everybody has one.)

The reason you don’t see Evangelicals bother with All Souls Day, is because Evangelicals generally believe the same as I do: Every Christian is a saint. If we’re gonna remember our fellow Christians, it’s gonna be on their particular memorial day, or All Saints Day. We don’t need a second holiday to remember the Christian who aren’t saints; there is no such creature.

Still, if you wanna remember departed loved ones, and All Saints Day is a little too solemn for what you have in mind, the Day of the Dead is way less formal. And has tamales and candy! Every holiday should have tamales and candy.

All Saints Day.

by K.W. Leslie, 01 November 2023

Sometimes, but rarely, you’ll see Halloween spelled Hallowe’en. It’s a reminder the word is actually a contraction. The e’en part of it means evening or eve—the day before, like Christmas Eve. ’Cause Halloween is the day before Hallowmas, or All Hallows… and hallow is the Saxon word for saint.

As you probably remember, the earliest Christians regularly faced persecution in the Roman Empire, ’cause the Romans wanted its occupants to prove their loyalty to Rome by either worshiping the emperor’s guardian dæmon, or in some cases straight-up worship the emperor himself. Some Christians capitulated ’cause they wanted to live; others refused, and were executed. Usually their fellow Christians would honor them on the day of their martyrdom, and these days of remembrance turned into all the saints’ days in the Christian calendar.

But there are so many martyrs. Plus popular saints who got their own day even thought they weren’t killed for Jesus; they definitely lived for Jesus, so to be fair they probably merit a day just as much as certain martyrs who happened to be killed because they were swept up in some anti-Christian purge, and not because they confessed anything.

There’s also the fact there are many people who lived and died for Jesus, and we know nothing about them. God does, but we don’t. People who did a whole lot of charity, but unlike philanthropists who want to make a name for themselves, they wanted to keep their benevolence secret. People who lived very devout lives, but went unseen… or went unappreciated and ignored. People who matter to God.

So if they don’t have their own holiday, they have All Saints Day.

Which likewise tends to go unappreciated and ignored by many Evangelicals. Sometimes because they consider it “a Catholic thing,” a religious custom which they feel contributes nothing to their Christian lives; sometimes because they’re anti-Halloween, and their distaste for that holiday spills over into the holiday which started it.

But properly, we oughta think of it as a Christian version of Memorial Day. It remembers all the people who gave their lives for Jesus. It appreciates them. Some churches, like the liturgical churches, go all out for it. Other churches don’t have to do likewise, nor even celebrate it on 1 November. But it’d be nice if we did something to honor our forebears.

Reformation Day.

by K.W. Leslie, 31 October 2023

31 October isn’t just Halloween. For Protestants, many of us observe the day as Reformation Day.

On 31 October 1517, bible professor Dr. Martin Luther of the University of Wittenberg, Saxony, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany), nailed to the chapel door, which served as his school’s bulletin board, 95 propositions he planned to discuss with his students. Specifically, about certain church practices to which he objected.

Technically Luther’s 31 October doesn’t line up with our 31 October. Y’see, in 1517 Europeans were still using the Julian calendar, and it was out of sync with the vernal equinox by 11 days. That’s why the Catholics updated it with the Gregorian calendar in 1582. Once we correct for that, this really took place on 10 November. But whatever. Reformation Day!

Luther didn’t realize what he’d done was a big deal. Certainly not the huge deal it later became. It’s dramatically described as if Dr. Luther, enraged as if he just found out about these problems in his church, nailed a defiant manifesto on the Castle Church door. Really this was just a class he was teaching, and he may not have personally thumbtacked ’em to the door at all; he could’ve had a teaching assistant do it.

Joseph Fiennes playing Martin Luther, tacking up the theses. From the 2004 film Luther—not to be confused with the Idris Elba cop show Luther, which is… actually much better. Okay, I’m gonna watch that now.

Luther posted his propositions (or theses, as we tend to call ’em), then sent a copy to his bishop and archbishop, ’cause he still did answer to them you know. But in January 1518, Luther’s friends translated them from Latin to German and printed copies for the general public. Now they got controversial. Because instead of a controlled classroom discussion about whether Luther had a point, now you had people in pubs throughout the Holy Roman Empire (which I’m just gonna shorten to HRE) raging about how the Roman Catholic Church had no biblical basis for what they were up to. Now it wasn’t just an internal debate among clergy-in-training. It was everywhere. It was a firestorm.

Miracles and the laws of nature.

by K.W. Leslie, 30 October 2023

Lemme start by pointing out the “laws of nature,” as scientists call them, aren’t actually laws. That’s just what we call them. Because, all things being equal, they’re how nature works.

  • Newton’s first law of motion is that a body remains at rest, or at a constant speed in a straight line, unless acted upon by some force.
  • The second law of thermodynamics is that heat spontaneously flows from hotter to colder regions of matter.
  • The law of conservation of energy, is that matter can neither be created nor destroyed; only turned into a different form, like energy.

There are dozens more. They describe how scientists observe the universe working; they’re how it’s always worked, and there’s no reason to assume they’ll stop working this way in future. They don’t work this way because they must, but because they just do. Laws of nature are very important to the way our daily life functions. Imagine how chaotic things would be if the gravity switched off!

Thing is, in the bible we have miracles which appear to ignore these laws. God creates something out of nothing. God makes things which shouldn’t float, float. God stops the earth from turning and moon from orbiting. Stuff which, by the laws of nature, doesn’t happen. Can’t happen.

Theologians simply have to ask the question: How attached is God to these laws? Since he created the universe—and the laws of nature appear to be the rules he’s built into his universe—are they there because they’re how he insists things must be? When he performs a miracle, does he respect the laws of nature, because they’re his laws? Or does he violate them because he only created them for our convenience?

Since God’s almighty, just how obligated is he to follow the laws of nature? Or does his almightiness mean he just plows right through them?

Happy Halloween. Bought your candy yet?

by K.W. Leslie, 25 October 2023

For more than a decade I’ve ranted about the ridiculous Evangelical practice of shunning Halloween. I call it ridiculous ’cause it really is: It’s a fear-based, irrational, misinformed, slander-filled rejection of a holiday which is actually a legitimate part of the Christian calendar.

No I’m not kidding. It’s our holiday. Christians invented Halloween.

A perfect opportunity to show Christlike generosity—and give the best candy ever. But too many of us make a serious point of being grouchy, fear-addled spoilsports. Image swiped from a mommy blog.

I know; you’ve likely read an article which claims Halloween got its origin in pagan harvest festivals. That’s utter bunk. Some neo-Pagan, one of the capital-P Pagans who worship nature and its gods (whose religions date from the 1960s, even though they claim they’re revivals of ancient pre-Christian religions), started to claim we Christians swiped it from them, and Christianized it. There’s no historical evidence whatsoever for this claim, but they keep claiming it. And every year, gullible reporters repeat it whenever they write about the history of Halloween.

The story has always been hearsay, but it’s been passed around so long, people actually try to debunk me by quoting 20-year-old articles which claim Halloween was originally Samhain or some other pagan festival. But those old articles were poorly sourced. Incorrect then; incorrect now.

Samhain (pronounced 'saʊ.ən) is a contraction of sam fuin/“summer’s end.” It’s a Celtic harvest festival which dates back to pre-Christian times. It happens at the autumnal equinox, which took place last month, at 22 September. It’s totally unrelated to Halloween. It’s as if you claimed the Fourth of July was originally a celebration of the summer solstice… and the fact you barbecue and drink beer on that day, same as the ancients used to cook meat outdoors in the summer and likewise drink beer, proves it.

Oh, and neither neo-Pagan nor Christian holidays involve a celebration of creepy horror movie themes. That got added in the 20th century.

Thoughts and prayers… and hypocrites.

by K.W. Leslie, 24 October 2023

Whenever disaster strikes—whether natural or manmade; usually manmade—one of the most common platitudes we hear thereafter is, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims.”

Over the past 20 years, this expression has seen a backlash. Mainly because the people who regularly say it, tend to be politicians. Particularly politicians who are in a position to do something about the disaster: Send rescuers. Provide disaster relief. Provide shelter and food and water. Provide healthcare. Ban the sort of lax workplace practices which result in disaster, and jail the owners and executives of those workplaces for their oversight, especially if they knew disaster might be coming, but looked the other way. Ban the sort of dangerous weapons which, in the hands of a dangerous person, would cause calamity, and prohibit such people from ever touching such a weapon. In short, stop enabling evildoers.

But they don’t. They do nothing, or do something empty and meaningless. And by their actions, they demonstrate they’re not really thinking of disaster victims… and more than likely, not praying either. If they are praying, it’s something more like, “Lord, why should I be on the hook for this? Could you please confound my enemies?”

To be fair, some of the backlash comes from nontheists who are pretty sure prayer is bunk. It might make the petitioner feel good, ’cause now the buck’s been passed to God, so they need do nothing more. Or ’cause the petitioner thinks the prayer is the work, which is why they pray so fervently, and imagine themselves prayer warriors. But, figure the nontheists, they’re praying to no one; the invisible man in the sky isn’t real; it’s wasted time and effort.

Give you an example. Thanks to climate change, the United States is getting more and more extreme weather. Hotter days. Longer heat waves. Tornadoes and hurricanes in places where they previously didn’t happen; we had a hurricane pass over California, of all places, this summer. Crazy rainfall and floods where they previously didn’t happen. Rising oceans. Dying species.

But for various stupid reasons, many conservative Christians don’t believe in science, and refuse to believe the data about climate change. They have various harebrained theories about why extreme weather really happens, but in general, they think it’s a passing fluke; it’s nothing politicians intend to make longterm plans about. And nothing they can mitigate, or stop, or reverse, by fighting pollution; plus polluters are their biggest donors. But for the most part they deny it’s happening at all. And certainly won’t pass laws to help those who are suffering from it; namely the poor, who can’t afford to recover from it.

So what good are those politicians’ thoughts and prayers? Functionally they’re the very same as when the apostle James objected to “faith” which lacked works:

James 2.14-17 NRSVue
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Surely that faith cannot save, can it? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

Regularly, our “thoughts and prayers” are no different from wishing the needy well, but doing absolutely nothing to make ’em less needy. Sometimes it’s out of our own laziness and apathy; sometimes our own ill will.

And the needy aren’t dense. They see the godlessness of it. They’re calling us on it. Rightly so. If our thoughts and prayers do nothing, our faith is dead, our religion is hypocrisy, and our God is a joke.

You do realize making our God out to be a joke is blasphemy, right? So don’t do that!

Zechariah’s prophecy “about the Israel-Hamas War.”

by K.W. Leslie, 23 October 2023

Zechariah 12.

After the Israel-Hamas War began on 7 October 2023, this highlighted bit of Zechariah started making the rounds on social media, usually captioned, “This is going to happen very soon. Watch.”

Zechariah 12.2-5, Living Bible.
From the 1971 edition of The Living Bible.

Memes like this are very popular with people who worry about the End Times, who want to know when it’s time to start buying the food buckets and guns for their bunkers.

The way Darbyist “prophecy scholars” interpret the End Times, every time they come across a passage of scripture which appears to be about anything in their End Times Timeline, they immediately declare that’s precisely what it is. God said it, and his prophets recorded it, not for the people of their day; not for the ancient Israelis of millennia ago. Oh they might’ve thought it was for them, but they were just illiterate foreigners who lived in mud huts without electricity and science, and didn’t even speak English—it’s for us, for the people of our day, for God’s actual chosen people.

The actual context of the scripture doesn’t matter. It only means what we want it to mean. It shall accomplish that which we please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto we sent it. As for what God meant by it?… well surely he thinks like we do.

Yeah, it’s pretty darned arrogant of these interpreters. But they’re so desperate to find End Times puzzle pieces in the bible which fit into their timelines—however awkwardly—they’re often not even aware what they’re doing. It’s like a child who’s so intent on drawing the perfect picture of a unicorn… she doesn’t realize she’s using permanent markers on the penboard. Or, really, care. Rebuke her for it, and she’ll wonder what all the fuss is about—it’s such a good picture! Why should you want to erase it?

So, Zechariah 12. What’s it historically about? Glad you asked. Let’s take a look at it.

Those accused of heresy for their End Times views.

by K.W. Leslie, 19 October 2023

That’d include me.

My view of the End Times is preterist—meaning most of the prophecies in Daniel, Revelation, and the Olivet Discourse were fulfilled by the second century of the Christian Era. Obviously Jesus has yet to return, the millennium hasn’t yet started, and New Heaven and New Earth have not yet replaced the current heavens and earth. So not everything has been fulfilled; duh. But just about everything else has.

And when I tell certain Christians this, they’re horrified. Horrified. It’s like I sprouted horns and a tail right in front of ’em, and suddenly I have a pitchfork in my hand, and the flames of hell burst forth behind me as I laugh evilly.

’Cause somehow it got in their heads that if you believe any differently than they about the End Times—or believe any variant other than “premillennial dispensationalism”—generally meaning the various Darbyist End Times timelines proposed by Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, John Hagee, or your favorite prognosticating TV and internet preachers—you don’t believe the bible. Because all their beliefs come from bible. True, they had to massage, finesse, tweak, ditch the historical context, overlay a whole new context, bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate it till it finally means what their favorite “prophecy scholars” insist it means.

Interpreting it in its actual interpretive context, like I do… well their “prophecy scholars” have regularly told them any systems of interpretation other than theirs, are flat-out wrong. They’ve never even heard of “apocalyptic literature,” or think “apocalypse” only means “the very End.” And if they haven’t heard of it, surely it must be wrong. Surely I must be wrong.

And if I’m teaching people wrongly about the End Times… well that’s just extra wrong, in their minds. Why, I might convince people to not watch out for evil. To ignore all the signs of the times. To dismiss the Beast when he finally appears; maybe even convince people to follow him! To not look for Jesus’s second coming, like we’re supposed to.

In short, they think I’m heretic. Worse—that I’m deliberately interpreting bible wrong, deliberately leading people astray, deliberately working for the devil. They think I’m going to hell. When I tell ’em I’m preterist, some of them physically back away, as if at any second the fire and sulfur will fall from heaven to consume me, and maybe scorch them a little if they’re too close.

Their favorite “prophecy scholars” don’t discourage this attitude and behavior at all. They kinda share it. They’re entirely sure they’re right and every non-Darbyist is wrong; they’re helping lead people to Jesus, and every non-Darbyist is hindering, and that’s as good as following Satan.

Okay. Lemme first of all remind you heretic is simply the opposite of “orthodox.” There are certain non-negotiable things every Christian oughta believe. We oughta believe in God; we oughta follow Jesus; we oughta believe he’s alive not dead; we oughta believe he’s returning. These basics are spelled out in the creeds. Some churches add to the creeds, but no churches should be taking doctrines away from them. And the creeds expect us to only believe the following five things about the End:

  • Jesus is coming again in glory.
  • There’s a bodily resurrection of the dead.
  • Jesus will judge the living and the dead.
  • There’s eternal life in the world to come.
  • Jesus’s kingdom will have no end.

Those are non-negotiable. Everything else is negotiable.

But, like I said, plenty of Darbyists are entirely sure their beliefs are just as non-negotiable as the creedal, orthodox stuff. And if you don’t believe as they do, you’re not Christian, and going to hell.

Yep, they think I’m going to hell. And if I convince you Darbyism is all wet, they think I’m dragging you to hell with me.

Other English-language bibles in the 1600s and 1700s.

by K.W. Leslie, 18 October 2023

No doubt you’ve heard of the King James Version. But KJV fans and worshipers tend to be oblivious to the fact there were other English-language translations of the bible in that day. The KJV was one of many.

The KJV came out ahead of the pack, not because it was better than the rest—it was just as good as the rest—but because James Stuart, king of Scotland and England, suppressed the other existing translations… for political reasons. Y’see the Geneva Bible—the most popular translation of the day, the bible of William Shakespeare and the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock—flat-out said in its notes Christians should resist tyrants. Unwelcome words to Stuart, who grew up in France and kinda coveted the French kings’ absolute dictatorships. Stuart’s son Charles was later overthrown and beheaded by Parliament for trying to create that kind of monarchy.

The KJV is debatably an improvement on its predecessors—the Tyndale Bible, Matthew’s Bible, the Bishops Bible, and the Geneva Bible among them. But KJV fans take it as a given these were inferior bibles, and haven’t a clue how good and valuable a bible the Geneva Bible was in its day. Usually because they’ve never even heard of it. Many KJV fans like Jack T. Chick like to pretend it never existed. The KJV fans never looked into its history, never took a peek at the previous English translations, and just assumed newer must mean better… until we start talking about present-day translations, and then suddenly newer isn’t better.

Naturally KJV fans know nothing about the KJV’s English-language successors. At least not till the 1881 Revised Version (adapted for the United States as the 1901 American Standard Version), which again, fans dismiss as irrelevant because it doesn’t base the New Testament on the Textus Receptus; as if the KJV translators bothered to look at the Textus most of the time; and as if they actually know why the Textus would be better than current Greek bibles. (It’s not, though.)

Usually they also don’t know about the KJV’s own revisions. They all know it was published in 1611; they don’t know the translators made more than 300 corrections to the text before its second printing in 1613. And that doesn’t even count the spelling. Spelling wasn’t standardized yet, so anyone could spell anything any which way, so long that people understood what they meant. So silent letters got dropped (“owne” became “own,” or “diddest” became “didst,” or “goe” became “go”) and minor grammatical and verbal changes were made (“you” became “ye” 82 times, “lift” became “lifted” 51 times, and so forth; “cheweth cud” became “cheweth the cud,” Lv 11.3 or “reign therefore” became “therefore reign.” Ro 6.12).

Minor changes, but lots of people felt free to make minor changes thereafter. Noah Webster produced an edition of the KJV in 1833 which Americanized the spelling. C.I. Scofield’s 1909 reference bible replaces hundreds of words from the KJV with what Scofield felt were much better translations.

These changes kinda let us in on the biggest problem with the KJV: It’s written in old-timey English. Not just old-timey English from our point of view; it was old-timey for 1611. The KJV’s translators—as they say in their preface!—didn’t actually want to create a whole new translation; they only wanted to fix existing ones. They considered themselves part of the translation tradition which extended all the way back to William Tyndale in 1522. But they hadn’t adjusted for the way language evolved over that century. Only poets and Quakers were referring to one another as “thee” and “thou” anymore, yet the KJV is full of these out-of-date pronouns. Vocabulary and styles were changing. Bibles always need to be translated to fit the way people currently speak—not demand people first learn how people used to speak. That may be fine for literature classes, but sucks in evangelism.

The other issue back then was the discovery of new ancient manuscripts. The Textus Receptus, the Greek New Testament the early English translations were based on, is full of errors. (That’s on purpose. Its editors wanted to include every word found in every available Greek manuscript. So of course that’d include any errors which crept into any bibles over the past 15 centuries.) But in 1627, King Charles Stuart 1 was given the Codex Alexandrinus by St. Cyril Lucaris, patriarch of Alexandria—a near-complete parchment copy of the Septuagint and New Testament, dating from the 400s, although some traditions claim it was copied earlier. It went to the British Museum; it’s been there ever since; English and Scottish scholars had full access to it. Totally could fix all the errors the Textus had put in the KJV.

So when the Puritans under Oliver Cromwell took over England in 1649, Parliament eventually created a commission to work on updating the bible. Unfortunately nothing ever came of it. Why not? Cromwell expelled them in 1653 for not holding new elections. New bibles had to wait.

In the meanwhile, Puritans created paraphrases—bibles and New Testaments where they translated the KJV into present-day English. (With big long book titles, which is what people did back then.) Like John Dale’s Bible Explained in 1652. Or Henry Hammond’s A Paraphrase and Annotations upon All the Books of the New Testament, Briefly Explaining All the Difficult Places Thereof in 1675. Or Richard Baxter’s New Testament with Paraphrase and Notes in 1685. Or Daniel Whitby’s A Paraphrase and Commentary upon All the Epistles of the New Testament in 1700. Or the volumes of John Guyse’s The Practical Expositor, or an Exposition of the New Testament, in the Form of a Paraphrase, with Occasional Notes in 1739-52—which John Wesley later used for his 1755 Explanatory Notes on the New Testament.

I should point out these paraphrases aren’t like the Living Bible or The Voice, in which the writers take creative license with the text; nor like the 2015 Amplified Bible, in which they try to shoehorn popular Evangelical doctrines and beliefs into it. They weren’t really trying to create new bible versions. They were trying to interpret it for their readers. Like when an expositor is analyzing a new bible verse, and briefly puts it in her own words: She’s just trying to make it more understandable.

Standing with Israel?

by K.W. Leslie, 17 October 2023

My views on Israel are not conventional. So, of course, they’re controversial.

For the average American Evangelical, the Jews are God’s chosen people. Ek 20.5 There might be more than a few antisemites among us, but for the most part we believe God established a relationship with Abraham ben Terah, and God chose Abraham’s and Israel’s descendants as his particular people. God graciously freed Israel’s descendants from Egyptian slavery. God set up a king over them whom they called Messiah (or as gentiles usually call him, Christ). Jesus of Nazareth is the final and greatest and eternal Messiah. Our religion is a descendant of the Hebrew religion. We even swiped their holidays.

Likewise the average American Evangelical also believes God promised the descendants of Israel a land on the Mediterranean Sea’s west coast, known as the Levant, or Canaan, or Palestine. The promise was conditional: If the Israelis kept covenant with the LORD and upheld his Law, they could live there and prosper. God encouraged the nations round about Israel to support it and ally themselves with it, if they knew what was good for them. Of course this is based on the presumption Israel followed God: When Israel followed God, it and its allies prospered. When it didn’t, not so much.

And because it didn’t, ancient Israel was destroyed by the Assyrian and neo-Babylonian empires. It was made a client state of them, and later of the subsequent Persian, Greek, Seleucid, and Roman empires. (With a tiny bout of independence between the Seleucid and Roman periods.) Then, in the year 70, the Romans destroyed Israel again. And it stayed destroyed.

Stayed destroyed, most Evangelicals say, until the 20th century, when the Jews reestablished the modern state of Israel in 1948. And here’s where they and I part company. The modern state of Israel is an entirely new state. It’s not the same state as ancient Israel.

It contains God’s chosen people, in that many Israelis are Jews. It consists of a lot of land which ancient Israel occupied. It’s ancient Israel’s successor state. But it’s not the same state. No more than Italy is the Roman Empire, Turkey is the Ottoman Empire, or Russia is the Soviet Union. It’s a new country, younger than the United States.

It doesn’t even resemble ancient Israel. The ancient country consisted of 13 tribes occupying 12 territories, ruled by patriarchies connected by a common ancestry, common God, and common covenant with that God. Later it had a king, whose personal loyalties to God tended to sway the whole country’s devotion, and affected their peace and stability. The current country has a Knesset/“congress,” an elected parliament, led by a prime minister. It has a military-industrial complex which keeps the country always ready to defend itself against its neighbors, fight its dissidents, and suppress a large ethnic minority of Palestinians. None of this current system is spelled out in the Law of Moses; today’s Israel is a secular state which permits freedom of religion, so they don’t follow it. Not that Jewish nationalists don’t try with all their might to make ’em follow it.

So despite what both Jews and Evangelicals claim, it’s a whole different country than the one founded by the LORD through Moses ben Amram in the 1400s BC. Therefore none of the bible’s prophecies and promises which have to do with the country of Israel, apply to present-day Israel. They were fulfilled by ancient Israel. They might look like they repeat themselves with present-day Israel… but that’s only because history repeats itself. That, and Evangelicals really like to stretch those bible passages to suit their ideas, but they’re not what God meant by them.