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The Second Millennium: Will They Harass The Jews

by Gad Nahshon

The Rev. Jerry Falwell stated recently at a conference on evangelism, that the Antichrist is alive today and he must be a male adult Jew: "If he's going to be the counterfeit of Christ, he has to be Jewish." Rev. Falwell defined himself as a friend of the Jew and a zealous Zionist and supporter of Israel. Of course he had to express a view because of the coming of the second millennium.

In Israel, the Israeli police suddenly informed the public that 14 members of an American apocalyptic cult were arrested in Jerusalem. A police spokesman told the media at the beginning of January: "They planned to carry out violent and extreme acts in the street of Jerusalem at the end of 1999 to start the process of bringing Jesus back to life." The cult members live in Denver, Colorado and their leader is Monte Kim Miller.

Israel is waiting for approximately 4.5 millions of pilgrims. No one knows how many of them are evangelists who come in order to witness the miracle. Many will visit Megido and the Temple Mount. But some experts said that squatters might 'conquer' the Mount Olives and there they will wait for the return of Jesus. Israel is dying to have waves of tourists but not waves of trouble.

The media has already paid attention to the new millennium. Time Magazine's cover pointed out: "The end of the world!? Yzk, Apocalypse now!. A guide to millennium madness." Of course, the 'madness' is going to be on a very small scale. But one should not ignore the issue. Recently, a group of scholars was established at Boston University, a 'center for millennium studies.' Prof. Richard Landes is the director of this new center. Among its scholars are Stephen D. O'Leary, Albert Baumgarten, and Michael Barkun. The center has branches in Australis and Israel. The center gathers the millennium literature and studies and analyzes it. It is also a monitor organization. Prof. Richard Landes is an expert on the first millennium (The Apocalyptic Year 1000).

Jews were the victims of the first millennium. They were murdered by the crusaders who went to redeem the Holy Land from the Muslims. Jews have a collective memory. They were victims of all kinds of messian Christian movements. Should Jews be alerted? Should Jews monitor the development of a new evangelist revival? Armageddon? Of course, we live in a different world, but Jews can be singled out or be pushed into an ideological defense. It is a matter of status of News inside the American society, for many a 'Christian Nation.'

There is another aspect of this revival in America: a new attack on the Jews by the many Hebrew Christian organizations such as 'Jesus For Jesus.' These organizations, or movements, have been financed by evangelist churches in America. From the new 'TFMC Update' (Fall 1998), one can learn about their assault on the Jews by using sophisticated campaign of advertisement all over NYC and its subway system.

Furthermore, the Christian radio network has begun, since Aug. 1998, to air a daily 30 minute Hebrew language missionary program which reaches the entire state of Israel! Hebrew Christians or Messianic Hebrew groups used even the New York times to promote their concept: "Is it reasonable to be Jewish and believe in Jesus?" Of course, in 1999, expect the assault on the Jews by these Hebrew Christian groups to reach a climax. Their 'target population' is the campos. They try to influence the young Jewish students, many of them do not have a real background in Judaism. It is very hard to combat the assault on the Jews. America is the land of freedom: freedom of religion, freedom of speech.

In the past, the Jewish Community Relations Council of NY or JCRC, established a task force on missionaries and cult in order to combat with these enemies of the Jewish people. Also, a 'cult hotline' (212-632-4640) was established together with the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services (U.J.A. Federation's Agency). Dr. Philip Abramowitz is the director of the task force and Samuel S. Perelson is its chairman. For many years the task force has defended the Jews from the threats and assaults of 3000 cults, 400 missionary groups with a total budget of 150 million dollars! Sad to say, according to this task force, in the last 30 years we lost 150,000 Jews! They were converted by these dangerous groups.

The task force is an educational tool. Its moral obligation is, first of all, to alert the Jewish community to the danger, to the attack of these wolves on our camp. It uses the media and audio-visual material. Many volunteers are active in this task force but, sad to say, Jews do not pay much attention to this issue. Perhaps because they think that we must, first of all, combat the process of assimilation and mixed marriages.

But the task force is improving its struggle against the Hebrew Christianity. One can get their new documentary which exposes the tactics used by these groups. It was natural for the task force to organize a special symposium on the new urgent issue: "The Second Millennium: It's impact on world Jewry and the state of Israel." Many leaders came to find answers to burning questions such as: What is the role of Jews in the doctrine of millennium Christianity? What will be the impact in Israel when the pilgrims visit the country? Among the speakers were: Dr. Richard Landes, Arnold Mark-owitz, Dr. Herbert Nieburg, Dr. Laurance Schiffman, and other experts. The event took place at the Joint offices in Manhattan on Jan. 21, 1999.

The leader expert and speaker was Dr. Richard Landes, the director of the Center for Millennium Studies at Boston U. His remarks were the key of the understanding of this issue:

  1. The Catholic church and the Pope tend to stay away from this messianic concept.

  2. The issue in an American evangelist issue. Other groups, for example, in Korea, are being influenced by the American evangelism.

  3. Most of the evangelists, or the fundamentalists, are pro-Zionists. They helped Israel. They even sent money to Israel. The Likud loves them, but they have another goal: to like the Jews to espouse a messianic belief. They do not look to convert the Jews or the Israelis. Of course, there are evangelists who are looking for the last battle before Jesus comes. Jews might suffer from the Armageddon.

  4. As to the pilgrim: there is a possibility that tens of thousands of extremists will visit Israel, indeed, waiting for Jesus to return, but the majority of pilgrims will be the 'soft core.' They will look for revival. They will try to influence their brothers, not the Jews! Dr. Landes said that he prefers that the issue will not be in the hands of the Israeli police. He suggested that Israel, together with a special board, will allow Christians to deal with the problems.

  5. The evangelists can not influence the Arabs or the Palestinians because they are pro-Zionists.

  6. The Jews should monitor the revival of the second millennium. Many Christians do not like what Rev. Falwell said. Most of them keep stating that they do not want to convert the Jews. Indeed some of them do dream to convert us.

The second millennium is a good litmus test as to their real goals. It should be noted that the Reformation and the Protestantism were always apocalyptic in their conviction. The story with Rome is different. Of course there are apocalyptic elements in the Catholicism, as well, but Rome , as we know from the year 1000, objected to the millennium approach and stayed away from it. So there is no danger from Rome to our well being or the safety of Israel in the year 2000.

At the end of his lecture, Dr. Landes said: "We, the Jews, must speak on these issues to other Jews. We must study the issues of Christianity. We should ignore them. We must educate our children. This is a challenge. We should not cop our from it."

It is hard to predict which terms, such as 'millennium', 'apocalyptic', or 'eschatological', will be important because we will face mass movements. But Jews should be alerted, although we should never let ourselves be victimized by a 'paranoia' or 'persecution' complex. From this vantage point there is a 'Jewish power'. For ideas, help and study, one can always call on the JCRC's Task Force: (212) 983-4800.

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