Jerusalem Betrayed: Ancient Prophecy and Modern Conspiracy Collide in the Holy City
Reviewed by Joe Lockard
Monday, June 7 1999, 10:51 PM
My five-year old daughter and I were walking up Bezalel Street in Jerusalem when the Messiah came down the steps out of the Zichronot neighborhood. He was properly dressed in a white robe and sandals, with chestnut hair falling down to his shoulders and a tall wooden staff. This particular Messiah stood over six feet tall and had a Home Counties accent. He stopped next to my daughter, placed his hand on her head, and intoned "Bless you, my child." Then he walked straight into Bezalel Street traffic, clearly expecting the morning rush hour drivers to recognize The Messenger. With that attitude, he wasn't likely to survive the day before achieving holy communion with the zebra stripes.
"Who was that, Abba?!" asked my sweet one. "Oh, just another Messiah" I shrugged. Usually these guys arrive in the springtime, catching the cheap Easter vacation charter fares. You get used to seeing Messiahs in Jerusalem. One of my favorites was busted by the police for riding an ass into town: not that donkey-riding is illegal, but this Messiah had stolen his donkey from a village just outside town. A wee bit of providential provision, as it were.
Every other year or so a journalist with a sense of humor goes out to the Givat Shaul mental hospital, where they run the Messiahs Ward. The police have standing instructions to send all street messiahs, minor prophets and the occasional iron-pumping reborn Samson for psychiatric observation. They end up awaiting deportation and debating over who is the real Messiah. The journalist files a cute story, readers giggle, and the escapee saviors are shipped back to their social workers.
There are likely more nuts per city block in Jerusalem than in any other municipality on earth --- including Manhattan, where extreme rudeness is easily confused with insanity. The dangerous cases, though, wear coats and ties, not white robes. Journalists interview these sober gentlemen with respect even though they spout ideas proximate to those who announce the Millenial Advent while dressed for a toga party. Ultra-nationalists and ultra-religious, whatever the congregational flavor of the day, are the worst: purisms produce killers. The terrestrial Jerusalem assembles men with their own visions of the celestial Jerusalem.
Mike Evans is one of these prophets who wear socially suitable attire, sufficient to gain personal and organizational credibility. He has a fully schematized vision of history and God's plans, revealed to him personally, and the old-new Israel makes this vision move forward towards the end of all history. Minister Evans is just the sort that former Likud prime ministers Begin, Shamir and Netanyahu, for so many years determined to mine every ounce of available support in US evangelical circles for Israel's occupation, referred to as "our Christian friends."
Evans is the sort of pro-Israel drum beater who demonstrates the truth of the observation that philo-Semitism is only barely less despicable than anti-Semitism. As with Luther's slide from one to the other, when the object of affection refuses to fulfill the dream desired for its future, then love changes to hatred. The love of the Christian evangelical right for Israel is love with a purpose, and that purpose lies in providing a hospitable locus for millenialism. Israel's right wing and settler movement, despite profound and justifiable cultural mistrust of Christian pietism, have come to rely to evangelical political support: colonial projects need powerful friends.
In Jerusalem Betrayed Mike Evans uses language understandable as orthodox political advocacy together with ideas which identify him as one with the hospitalized prophets. It is his ability to know which speech to use on specific occasions for certain kinds of audiences that keeps him out of the hospital. The canned summaries of the Arab-Israel conflict that begin the book end with wild visions of apocalyptic chaos spreading out from Megiddo, complete with predictions of battle lines along the Jordan where Western Civilization will face invading heathen Chinese hordes in their collectivist billions. "The Clash of the Titans" passage (pages 278-281) foresees the event as a wild ride that mixes Revelation and NATO.
Evans distinguishes himself among evangelists fin his fixation on Jerusalem as the global center from which the coming Rapture --- the immediate absorption of souls into God's eternal bliss --- may be seen to arrive. The following is typical language for Evans and his vision of Christ's own endtime:
"That day is coming very soon! As it approaches, keep your eyes on Jerusalem! The City of David is your prophetic timepiece, your periscope into the future to discern just how close we are to that blessed event when we rise in victory over death!
As events unfold in that city -- the apple of God's eye -- can ever more be assured that the Lamb of God who was slain will return, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and He will do it soon! "...so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
On February 17, 1993 in the city of Jerusalem, God gave me a vision. In that vision, the Lord said, 'There will be one final outpouring of My spirit. It will be a river of repentance. It will sweep throughout the globe and usher millions of souls into the Kingdom of God. This move will prepare the world for My return.'"
History threads itself through the life of this instrument of the Lord. His narrative begins with a recounting of how, while attending a UN session in Geneva, he overhears a conspiratorial conversation to transfer Jerusalem to Arab control. The task of the faithful --- and the task of the author --- is to understand and reveal these conspiracies and threats. Not surprisingly, Evans has a severe case of name-dropping and chest inflation. Americans who feel drawn to participate in shaping the fate of the Holy Land often appear to seek greater importance for their own lives than ordinary domestic circumstances might create. When Mike Evans tells us about his intimate chats with former Israeli leaders Begin on the Bible, or with Netanyahu "long before he became prime minister," he performs the role of a political intimate to national elites, a role that would be unavailable in the United States. Similarly, when he modestly assumes credit for defeating the AWACS sale to Saudi Arabia --- together with a miraculous assist from the Lord --- he positions himself at critical junctures of Middle Eastern history.
The fictions of the Middle East that Evans creates in Jerusalem Betrayed rely on a bifurcation of the world into discrete domains of good and evil. Perhaps even more disturbing than the maniacal apocalyptic nonsense that Evans peddles is the demonization of Palestinians that such a religious manicheanism requires. The intensely human conflict between Jewish and Palestinian nationalisms translates as a struggle between an angel and a demon. Terrorism is not part of the violence of this conflict; rather, terrorism is a manifestation of Satan's aggressive presence in world events, one that signals "the last of the last of days." For Evans, political processes aimed towards peace are innately suspicious inasmuch as they threaten to betray the righteous.
You won't need to pick up Jerusalem Betrayed from your local bookshop: Evans gives this book away via his own Texas-based website. Reverse publishing economics like these say that practicing eschatologists can make a damn good living in Dallas. Or is this the Pre-Rapture stock clearance? (Getcha copy now! While you still gotta body!) It will cost actual money to buy Amira Hass's new book, Drinking the Sea at Gaza, but the contrast with Mike Evans could not be more profound.
For Hass and those whose political values are humanitarian, Palestinians wear sympathetic human faces. For Evans, the faces of Palestinians are but masks for Satan. In this, Jerusalem Betrayed participates in one of the classic religious rationalizations for racism.
Jerusalem Betrayed is available for free from Word Publishing and Mike Evans Ministries.