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The Zion Chronicles and Israel

I’ve been enjoying a read through Bodie Thoene’s “Zion Chronicles” series.  It’s a little bit of a re-read, actually, since I read at least the first two books several years ago.  The stories definitely mean much more to me now, as I understand the premillennial, dispensational perspective of Israel within world history, and the significance of the nation being re-gathered today, since 1948, within God’s future plans with the nation Israel.

Thoene’s series was published in the mid 1980s, and very possibly at the time the author thought — like many did — that the Lord would soon return, within a generation of the 1948 events.  The Lord still tarries, and while Jews continually regather to their homeland, ancient Babylon is only now being rebuilt, and as I read the end-times events, more must yet occur before Jesus returns to deal with that future generation of Jews.

Thoene brings up one interesting point during the fourth book:  God’s timing is not ours, and God is not obligated to return just because the Zionists re-built Jerusalem and brought Jews back there.  Yet the author mis-states history to prove her point:  an American Catholic character claims that Justinian tried to rebuild Jerusalem for the Jews in the third century, but it failed because it was not God’s time.  As I noted while reading it, Justinian was in the 6th century, not the 3rd.  I later learned that Justinian built a Christian church (in the 6th century) in Jerusalem that survived for two hundred years — but he never attempted to bring the Jews back to their homeland: not surprising, since by then the Christian church had fully imbibed Replacement Theology, that the Church is now Israel.

While the overall “Zion Chronicles” story is entertaining, and the basic facts are there, the author definitely takes liberty with the facts.  Yet the true events give a general picture, one that includes the British indifference and anti-Jewish / pro-Arab stance, the Arabs blowing up the Palestine Post and the Jewish Agency, the problems associated with the siege of Jerusalem and the Bab el Wad pass, the Jewish Irgun wreaking havoc in their terrible attack of Deir Yassin, and the Arabs’ attack on Mount Scopus and Hadassah Hospital. Real historical figures include David Ben Gurion, as well as Chaim Weizmann and one of Roosevelt’s influential American Jewish friends.

Missing is the history and influence of Replacement Theology among Catholics.  An American Catholic priest willingly enough joins in with the Zionists and apparently understands Israel’s future significance.  Another major departure from the truth is in the portrayal of Jewish versus Jewish Christian characters.  Today’s Orthodox Jews despise  Messianic Jews as traitors, and so Messianic Jews do not casually associate with Orthodox Jews in their synagogues and communities.  Yet Moshe and Rachel, who believe in Yeshua, are associating with non-saved Jews, and Rachel’s grandfather, an Orthodox Rabbi, easily accepts Rachel’s belief.  These inaccuracies come from the very genre chosen to tell the story: Christian historical fiction.  In this genre, the characters have to be Christians and the story has to carry some basic Christian message to its readers.  When the characters of a historical story clearly were not Protestant, Evangelical Christians, the facts tend to get distorted — as also the case with the Thoene’s Ireland series (Catholic peasants) and Judith Pella’s 13th Century Medieval Europe “Mark of the Cross.”

Yet this series is a fun way to learn some of the basics of the Zionist movement and the founding of the nation Israel.  As I consider the incredible obstacles against them, it truly is miraculous that Israel actually became a nation in 1948 and successfully defeated its well-equipped enemies who vastly outnumbered them.  Even though the founding of Israel began, from the human perspective, with Zionists’ political influence and desire, their efforts to bring about God’s plan (the regathering of Jews in unbelief) could not have occurred without God’s providential control and purpose.

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