Gentile believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have been brought into covenant relationship with the God of Israel, and with Jewish believers in the Son of God. The Church — the Body of Christ/Messiah, the one new man, the Bride of the Lamb — is comprised of both these redeemed and born-again believers called out from every people group and nation. We all have a significant role to play through to the end of the age towards YHVH God’s salvation of His chosen people Israel, by which the whole world and creation will be blessed. Continue reading “The Church’s Role in The End-Times of The Last Days Towards Israel’s Salvation”
(Presented at PFI-UK conference on June 10, 2017) Rev: Mar 12, 2018
I was saved when I finally realized that my hope for a better world was going to be the Lord Jesus Christ coming back to make this world right, according to the prophetic Word of God that He has given us in the Bible. When I repented and believed the good news, I got much more than I had expected or even thought of: forgiveness of my sins, baptism of the Holy Spirit, eternal life with the Lord in a new creation that will be perfect, far better even than the Millennial Kingdom after Jesus returns!
I remember that when we were first saved, much of the expectation then (1981) was that Jesus could come back in 1988, which meant that the rapture could happen any time very soon in 1981. This was the blessed hope. Randi and I went to a church service not long after in another state, and the pastor that day said that the rapture, our blessed hope, could happen any time very soon, and that the Christians would escape the terrible things that were going to come on the Earth. But every time that I read the Bible about these things, I was not as sure as these pastors and teachers were about the timing or the purpose of the rapture. Also, I thought, Christians had not done any better than the Jews had with respect to living in a manner that honored the name of the LORD. I heard another well-known teacher, who recently spoke at a conference in another country, say that the blessed hope of Christians was not dying; i.e., being raptured when Jesus comes for His bride. This expectation was, and is, believed and taught by both Jewish and Gentile believers.
My thoughts always took me to consider all the thousands, millions, billions of believers who have already died over the last almost 2000 years. According to all of these teachers and teachings, they all missed the blessed hope! They simply were not living at the right time! Yet the Scriptures give this blessed hope to all believers, not only to those who might still be alive when the Lord returns, when He calls, firstly, for those dead in Christ, and also to those alive in Him to gather together unto Him. (Ps 50:4-5; 2Thes 2:1-5) In fact, the catching up of those alive at His coming was a “new thing” that would not have been thought of before the revelation given to the apostle Paul: whether dead or alive, all who have hoped in YHVH’s Messiah for salvation will be in the new body with Him at that moment which the Father has appointed! (Gen 3:15; Mt 24:36; Rom 8:18-25; 1Cor 15:50-58) Have you noticed that after the mark of the beast has been taken to the doom of all who do so, the apostle John is told by a voice from Heaven: “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’ Yes, says the Spirit, that they rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” (Rev 14:13) As much as we might like not to die, God is saying that those who do die in the Lord even during the time of great tribulation are blessed! For they will be resurrected to eternal life in the body. The gates of Sheol/Hades – death — can not prevail against the Church! In any case, it does seem that the Holy Spirit is awakening the Body of Messiah to the coming again of the Lord. Many still seem to be sleeping, or, having awakened, they still seem unprepared or indifferent to it. This is what the parable of the ten virgins teaches us. As often as we fellowship in the Lord’s Supper, we remember the Lord’s death until He comes. (1Cor 11:25-27)
An argument used to support an “imminent” – any time, whether very soon or very distant – rapture are the verses and expectations of the apostles in their letters to believers that the Lord was “at the door”, “at hand”, “approaching”, “coming quickly” (which is not the same as ‘coming soon’). Paul, in his first epistle to the believers in Thessaloniki, wrote to them of the Lord’s coming and the catching up of those believers who would be alive at His coming. Paul even wrote as if he himself might be alive at that time. Yet in his second letter to them, he clarified what had apparently been misunderstood: that this would not happen until the falling away (apostacy) and the revelation of the antichrist. This does not occur until midway through the last seven years of this age (the 70th week of Daniel). It could perhaps be said that from that midway point the Lord’s return will be imminent. But even then, maybe not: remember that those who are alive in Messiah meet in the air those who are being resurrected on the way up, and in these verses from Revelation regarding the opening of the fifth seal, the Lord is letting us know that there are going to be a certain number of martyrs before His vengeance is poured out. (Rev 6:9-11) Both Paul and Peter came to know that they were going to die, and they did not say, ‘unless the Lord should come between now and then’. The return of the Jewish people back to the land of promise was and is a big sign of the last days that needed to occur before these other events can play out. The Holy Spirit gave the early believers an earnest expectation that their blessed hope would truly be in God and the fulfillment of His plan of redemption. But beyond them, the Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age, and so this expectation is being quickened in our generation to a level not known for most of the last 2000 years. (1Cor 10:11)
The Word of God promises to those in Christ that we are delivered from God’s wrath, the Day of YHVH. (Is 61:2b) Jacob’s Trouble/the Great Tribulation is essentially Satan’s wrath being unleashed on especially Jews and Christians, whom he especially hates, since both are connected with Yehovah God and His Son in covenant relationship, even if individuals among them do not believe. God’s wrath is against His enemies, and of His people, both Jews and Christians. Some of His enemies can include individual Jews and Christians who have forsaken the covenants He has “cut” with them. God’s wrath will be seen to be His righteous judgment against those who are clearly opposed to Him. Those who hold to a pre-tribulation rapture as the blessed hope have had to redefine the whole of “Daniel’s 70th Week” — the last seven years before the coming again of the Lord — as God’s wrath/ the Day of the LORD, in order to justify their particular position, but which is also the eschatological view of all believers: we will not suffer the wrath of God. This is good news! And the Holy Spirit will enable us to help others understand what is going on, and purify us to be the spotless and chaste Bride of our glorious Bridegroom! This is also good news! (Mt 3:11-12; Dan 11:31-35; Eph 5:25-27; 1Jn 3:1-3)
Let’s look at some verses that express the promise of God which gives the confident hope that has sustained the faithful throughout the ages of mankind:
Tit 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (12) teaching us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live discreetly, righteously and godly, in this present world, (13) looking for the blessed hope, and the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify to Himself a special people, zealous of good works.
Act 23:6 But when Paul saw that the one part were Sadducees and the other part Pharisees, he cried out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Men! Brothers! I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee! I am being judged because of the hope and resurrection of the dead’.
Act 24:14-16 But I confess this to you, that after the Way which they call heresy, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the Law and in the Prophets. (15) And I have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. (16) And in this I exercise myself, always to have a blameless conscience toward God and men.
Job 19:25-27 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall rise on the Earth at the last; (26) and even after my skin is corrupted, yet this: in my flesh I shall see God, (27) whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not a stranger’s; my heart yearns within me!
Heb 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, being tested, offered up Isaac. And he who had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son, (18) of whom it was said that in Isaac your seed shall be called, (19) concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from where he even received him, in a figure.
Jn 11:23-27 Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again. (24) Martha said to Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. (25) Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection and the Life! He who believes in Me, though he die, yet he shall live. (26) And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? (27) She said to Him, Yes, Lord, I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world.
Dan 12:1-2 And at that time Michael shall stand up, the great ruler who stands for the sons of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation; until that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. (2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Act 26:6-8 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made to our fathers by God, (7) to which promise our twelve tribes hope to attain, serving God fervently night and day. For the sake of this hope, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. (8) Why is it thought a thing incredible with you that God raises the dead?
Rom 8:18-25 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
1Co 15:16-20 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised. (17) And if Christ is not raised, your faith is foolish; you are yet in your sins. (18) Then also those that fell asleep in Christ were lost. (19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (20) But now Christ has risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruit of those who slept.
Php 3:7-12 But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ (9) and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith, (10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death; (11) if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the [righteous] dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I am pressing on, if I may lay hold of that for which I also was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. The second death has no authority over these, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him a thousand years.
Our blessed hope as believers in Yeshua/Jesus is the same as that given to the Fathers and the Children of Israel, and which was believed by men and women of faith in the Word and promise of God before them: it is the resurrection of the dead in Messiah/Christ, and the rapture of the living in Christ/Messiah at His revelation, at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in great power and glory, and sin will trouble us no more: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the Earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
1Pe 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in Heaven for you (5) by the power of God, having been kept through faith to a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time; (6) in which you greatly rejoice, yet a little while, if need be, grieving in manifold temptations; (7) so that the trial of your faith (being much more precious than that of gold that perishes, but being proven through fire) might be found to praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, (8) whom having not seen, you love; in whom not yet seeing, but believing in Him you exult with unspeakable joy, and having been glorified, (9) obtaining the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Eph 1:18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints
Last week we heard an excellent teaching on the expectation we have of a new, eternal, heavenly body to replace our present, temporary, earthly bodies which are incapable of living the fullness of the life which is our inheritance in Christ. Our congregation is called Yeshua’s Inheritance, and it is the inheritance which gives meaning to every human life: whether that person will, or will not, inherit eternal life. The God who has created the heavens and the Earth has given two options: eternal existence separated from Him, in a place called hell; or eternal life with Him, in a perfect New Heavens and New Earth where love is perfect in all its aspects. The way to either place is determined by one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of God, by whom alone anyone can come to the Father.
The name, Yeshua’s Inheritance, for our congregation gives us an identity: we belong to Yeshua – both now and forever! This is the hope that we have along with all other believers – past, present, and future! The Hebrew word for inheritance (nachala נחלה) has the same root as for a stream or river (nachal נחל): the inheritance flows from its source like a river stream from generation to generation until it reaches its destination into the big, wide, deep ocean with all the other streams. YHVH God is our source, and His promises flow until they are fulfilled, to be inherited by all His holy ones. We are the inheritance of our God and Savior! What a treasure He has given us and promised us to inherit.
As was said last week, this inheritance comes into fullness only in the resurrection, when we receive our new bodies suited to the eternal life that we have also received as a free gift from God through our living faith in Yeshua as our Savior and Lord. This inheritance is not for one people or ethnic group alone, but for all who are born-again by the Holy Spirit from Above. It is for the corporate one new man in Messiah, a new creation: new bodies, new heavens, new Earth, new names. Jesus makes all things new, perfect, eternal in the Kingdom of of God. (Rev 21:5) We have the promise and the down-payment now; we receive the fullness of it when God finishes His plan of redemption in this world. (Rom 8:23-25; Jn 17:3)
For now, what does it mean for us in this congregation? First of all, we have a common hope and calling. Our vision and hope is the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection and rapture of the righteous – of the saints – that are connected with that. Our bodies will be transformed into heavenly bodies and we will forever be with the Lord, and will begin that ‘new life’ ruling and reigning with Him over redeemed Israel and the nations. This is Yeshua’s inheritance in the world to come, and ours with Him! (Is 19:25; Ps 2:8; Dan 7:13-14,18,27; Rev 2:26-27; 3:21; 11:15; 20:6) We will be ministers in His government, and priests as we rule and reign with Him as a kingdom of priests.
But brothers and sisters, if we do not love one another now, we risk inheriting nothing! As we heard last week, if our acts are not motivated by love for the Lord and towards others, our deeds or ministry or participation profit us nothing. They lack eternal value. Without unity bound by love, we have a weak testimony of the truth of who Yeshua is. We become a dysfunctional family that lacks order and peace. Love is not just a feeling; it is a commitment by choice because we love. God has chosen to love us, especially those who love His beloved Son, Yeshua, and all that He does for us springs from His love, even though we clearly do not ‘deserve’ such attention and kindness (among other good things that is love). God suffers long in demonstrating His love for us, and we are called to do the same. Long-suffering is an attribute of the fruit of the Spirit. These things should weigh heavily upon us as we examine ourselves in relation to the reality of our faith and hope, and how it affects our part in this local congregation, and any other.
Under the Law of Moses, all of the tribes of Israel, except one, received an inheritance of a portion of land in Canaan, which YHVH promised to the Children of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt, according to His covenant promise. This promise of an everlasting possession and inheritance still awaits fulfillment for the salvation of Israel as a nation. But the one tribe which did not receive any inheritance of land was the tribe of Levi, the priestly family. God determined that they would be scattered throughout the land to serve Him and the Temple and the people, and that their inheritance would be HIM. (Dt 10:8-9) All of the promised land to be inherited by the Children of Israel belongs to YHVH. Therefore, by having YHVH as their inheritance the priests inherited the whole land, although possessing none of it in their own right.
Our inheritance in Yeshua is greater than a particular land or country. This is our inheritance in Jesus: the whole Kingdom of God – the whole universe, which includes everything – because the Father has given it all to Him. (Heb 1:1-4; Rom 8:16-17) We have become God’s children in Christ, and co-heirs with Him. And Jesus says that all that is His is the Father’s, and all that is the Father’s is His. (Jn 17:9-10) And that especially means US, all who believe in God through Jesus, for whom He died to forgive us of our sin. All who believe in Jesus inherit eternal life! (Jn 3:16-17) But those who refuse to honor Jesus condemn themselves to eternal spiritual darkness apart from the Light of Life. (Jn 3:18-21)
The inheritance: Yeshua/Jesus! And the whole Kingdom of God and eternal life with the Lord
The heirs: the righteous saints – all who put their trust and hope in Jesus for their salvation from sin and sins
Our present knowledge of our future hope: By the Word of God in the Scriptures and the indwelling Holy Spirit in believers. Take hope, young and old! We have a glorious future after the suffering and tribulations of this life: we will inherit the everlasting life that is really life that God has planned for those who love Him. (Eph 1:18; 1Tim 6:19; 1Jn 2:25; 1Cor 2:9-10; Is 64:4; Rev 21:1-8)
Lk 12:22-34 And He said to His disciples, Therefore I say to you, Be not anxious as to your life, what you shall eat; nor for the body, what you shall put on. (23) Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. (24) Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap, having neither storehouse nor barn, and God feeds them. How much more are you better than the birds? (25) And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature? (26) If then you are not able to do even the least, why are you anxious about the rest? (27) Consider the lilies, how they grow; they do not toil, they do not spin. And yet I say to you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (28) If then God so clothes the grass (which today is in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven) how much more will He clothe you, O little-faiths? (29) And do not seek what you shall eat, nor what you shall drink, and stop being in anxiety. (30) For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you have need of these things. (31) But rather seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. (32) Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (33) Sell what you have and give alms. Make for yourselves purses which do not become old, an unfailing treasure in Heaven, where no thief comes nor moth corrupts. (34) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Before I was saved, I was like most Jewish people: I did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, or that He was God’s Son in any special way, or that He died on the cross for my sins; maybe He did for the Gentiles! I also did not believe in Him as the Messiah which Jewish people speak of and hope for: we say that if the Messiah comes, everyone will know, and there will be peace. Clearly, not everyone knows that Jesus is the Messiah, and there is not peace in the world, not even in Israel! Simple!
Thank God for His mercy and grace to me that He saved me, and opened up the Bible as His Word! When I began to read the Bible, it was living and all true and relevant for me living now. It is not just history; and the stories that I had heard about, but was now reading from the source, were more true than the stories about them I had heard! They are not fables, but truth; they are not legends, but real: God is letting His people know the truth of things that other people just know as fables and stories! The Everlasting God reveals things to us that only He could know, but also wants that we know – especially His chosen and elect people whom He has created and redeemed for His glory. That is how we can be His witnesses to tell others the truth of things, and not just rely on logic or human philosophy or religious tradition. (1Cor 2:14) But we have to not only believe in God, but also we must believe God. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. For this is the witness of God which He has testified about His Son. He who believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself. He who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he does not believe the record that God gave of His Son. (1Jn5:9-10)
There are two places in the Tanach (O.T.) that particularly spoke to me about the fact that there is not yet peace, even though the Messiah has already come: Dan 9:26-27, and Ps 110:1.
Dan 9:26-27 And after sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself. And the people of the ruler who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. And the end of it shall be with the flood, and ruins are determined, until the end shall be war. And he will confirm a covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.
Psa 110:1 A Psalm of David. Yehovah said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand until I place Your enemies as Your footstool.
The Daniel passage says that after Messiah dies, there would be wars until the end: not peace yet! The passage in Psalm 110, written by David (Mt 22:41-46) says that until Yeshua comes again, He is sitting at the right hand of the Father, and will do so until His enemies are made His footstool: not peace yet! Right there in our own “Jewish” Bible, in front of our eyes, and under our noses! God has spoken, and He has told us. . . at least twice. The main reason, of course, for there not yet being peace is because neither Israel nor the world has yet accepted and believed that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah of YHVH and the Son of God. (Ps 2) As we see developments around the world in ‘peace’ negotiations – in Israel, in Syria, among believers on different important issues – none of these has produced the true peace that we all long for: peace of mind; cessation of wars, hatred, envy; good health; righteousness; joy in the Holy Spirit. There is even war with mosquitoes! Anything that is called “peace” that is less than all of this together is not really the peace that God has planned for His people, and for the world-at-large that He created and made for His glory.
What are some other examples from the Old and the New Testaments that conflict and war are spoken of in the world – or a false peace — after the Messiah has come [His first time, and until He comes again]? This warfare and lack of peace – or a false security — can be physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual.
In the first passage that we will read, YHVH God is speaking directly to Gog, the ‘legendary’ ultimate enemy of the Jewish people. God tells him to prepare for war against a people who, at the least, think and feel that they are at peace:
—Eze 38:7-12 Be prepared; yea, prepare for yourself, you and all your assembly that are assembled to you, and be a guard to them. (8) After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you shall come into the land turned back from the sword, gathered out of many peoples, on the mountains of Israel, which have always been waste. (But he has been brought out of the peoples, and they shall dwell securely, all of them.) (9) And you shall go up, coming like a storm. You shall be like a cloud to cover the land, you and all your bands, and many peoples with you. (10) So says the Lord Yehovah: And it shall be in that day that things shall come into your heart, and you shall devise an evil plan. (11) And you shall say, I will go up to the land of open spaces. I will go to those at ease, who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and there are no bars nor gates to them, (12) in order to take a spoil, and to steal a prize; to turn your hand on the inhabited waste places, and on the people gathered out of the nations, who have gotten cattle and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land.
In this next passage from Daniel, it is written about one who we call now the Antichrist. (If you trace out this person described in v. 21 through the rest of the chapter, it is the same one.) He comes in and takes over deceitfully in order to destroy the people. Sadly, there are covenant-breakers among the Israelis who join him against their own people, land, and God. Although some of the details given in this chapter can be understood from the history of Alexander the Great and of Antiochus Epiphanes, the vision of Daniel is clearly said to be concerning the time of the end; that is, of the end-time of the last days leading up to and during the “70th week of Daniel.”
—Dan 11:21-24 And a despised one shall stand up in his place, and they shall not give to him the honor of the king; but he will enter while at ease and seize the kingdom by intrigues. (22) And the forces of the overflow will be swept from before him, and they will be broken, and also the ruler of a covenant. (23) And after they join him, he will practice deceit. For he will come and be strong with a few people. (24) He shall enter safely, even into the rich places of the province. And he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers. He shall plunder, and spoil, and scatter goods among them. And he shall devise his plots against the strongholds, even for a time.
The passage in Jeremiah about Jacob’s Trouble corresponds to what Daniel and Yeshua refer to as “a time of trouble/great tribulation”. This has not yet occurred, for Israel is not yet serving YHVH their God and David (Yeshua, the son of David) their King, whom YHVH raises up for them, both of which are the results of the time of unparalleled trouble. But Jeremiah explicitly prophesies concerning the whole House of Israel: Israel and Judah.
—Jer 30:1-9 The Word that came to Jeremiah from Yehovah, saying, (2) So speaks Yehovah, the God of Israel, saying, Write all the words that I have spoken to you in a book. (3) For, lo, the days come, says Yehovah, that I will bring again the captivity of My people Israel and Judah, says Yehovah. And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave their fathers, and they shall possess it. (4) And these are the words that Yehovah spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah. (5) For so says Yehovah, We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. (6) Ask now, and see whether a man is giving birth? Why do I see every man with his hands on his loins, like a woman in labor, and all faces are turned into paleness? (7) Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. (8) For it shall be in that day, says Yehovah of Hosts, I will break his yoke from your neck and will burst your bonds. And strangers shall no longer enslave him, (9) but they shall serve Yehovah their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up to them.
Let’s look at the New Testament. There are those who say that God is finished with the Jews, with Israel, with the land, this Earth now that Messiah has come. Then why should people (especially Jews and believers) still pray for the peace of Jerusalem? Of course, as we are seeing here, the peace that God is concerned with is not a ‘peace’ that the world would accomplish. His peace requires full acceptance of His beloved Son. The New Testament carries the same stream of prophecy as the Hebrew Scriptures, and gives us to know that their fulfillment comes with the coming again of Messiah the Lord. There is not peace yet!
—Mt 10:34-39 (Lk 2:34-35) Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword. (35) For I have come to set a man against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. (36) And a man’s foes shall be those of his own household. (37) He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. (38) And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. (39) He who finds his life shall lose it. And he who loses his life for My sake shall find it.
—1Th 5:1-11 But of the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write to you. (2) For you yourselves know accurately that the day of the LORD comes like a thief in the night. (3) For when they shall say, Peace and safety! Then sudden destruction comes on them, as travail upon a woman with child. And they shall not escape. (4) But you, brothers, are not in darkness, that the Day should overtake you like a thief. (5) You are all the sons of light and the sons of the day. We are not of the night, or of darkness. (6) Therefore let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us watch and be calm. (7) For those sleeping sleep in the night, and those being drunken are drunken in the night. (8) But let us, who are of the day, be calm, having put on the breastplate of faith and love and the hope of salvation for a helmet. (9) For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, (10) who died for us, so that whether we watch or sleep we should live together with Him. (11) Therefore comfort one another, and edify one another, even as you also do.
Our security is found through our faith in Yeshua/Jesus. But that faith which assures us a peace that surpasses all understanding is grounded in us believing what He says, keeping His word.
—Jn 14:23-29 Jesus answered and said to him, If a man loves Me, he will keep My Word. And My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. (24) He who does not love Me does not keep My Words, and the Word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. (25) I have spoken these things to you, being present with you. (26) But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you. (27) Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (28) You have heard how I said to you, I go away and I am coming to you again. If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, I go to the Father, for My Father is greater than I. (29) And now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens you might believe.
—Jn 16:33 I have spoken these things to you so that you might have peace in Me. In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.
Jesus promises peace with God and in the heart now to those who believe in Him, but a sword – war – to the “world” and to unbelievers. We may know a sword in our own families and among those who have been our friends. This peace with God now is a pledge of the peace that is to come in the world to come, and of the perfect righteousness and peace beyond that in the New Heavens and New Earth.
What am I saying in all this, and also in last week’s message from Ps 2? The Scriptures are relevant in our everyday life, and speak into all situations. They shape our world-view and inform our hopes and expectations. They give us answers for those asking good questions, and give us truth when science or culture and worldly wisdom contradict what God has said. This is the temptation that the serpent deceived Eve with: “Did God really say?!” We are salt and light in the world, which also means that we give true testimony according to the Word of God of His covenant loyalty: there is no lasting genuine peace possible as long as Satan is the prince of this world, and there is unbelief and rebellion among the people and nations, until the Lord Yeshua returns to imprison the devil and to judge the nations in righteousness.
We must read the Bible prayerfully as the living Word of the God of Truth, and meditate on it, thinking critically about how it applies to what “the world” says and thinks and acts, and how we are to understand and to live in the truth: we belong to God, and Jesus has come to die for our sins because of our rebellion against Him and His Word, and the Holy Spirit is going to fulfill the truth of all that YHVH has spoken regarding all things. Let us read the Scriptures for what they are, and give glory to the Lord for this treasure He has given us in His love! We are His witnesses; let us be found faithful and true, walking in the truth with faith and hope and love! Amen!
Do you read or listen to the news? Every day in Israel politicians and commentators are vying for power and influence, telling us who should be the Prime Minister, or what the PM should do. In the United States, there is an election process taking place, with each candidate saying that the other one is unfit to be President, the leader of the Free World. In Turkey and Iran, their leaders are threatening each other, and the rest of the world with terror, or support for terrorists. In Russia, their President is reasserting his country’s place as a serious threat to Western Powers. In the nearing future, the antichrist will arise, who will require all to submit to him as if he is above all gods and God. (Dan 11:36; 2 Thes 2:3-4; Rev 13:1-8)
What is also interesting in all this, is that each of these countries represents a different religious worldview, and how that affects their policies and geo-political decisions. They are peoples and nations who seem to agree on one thing: they want to determine and to rule their own destiny, and also the world’s.
What’s going on behind the scenes? What do the Scriptures say? What do they teach us? Let us look at a psalm of David (Acts 4:25), a psalm referenced several times in the New Testament:
Ps 2 Why do the nations rage, and the peoples meditate on a vain thing? (2) The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers plot together, against Yehovah and against His Anointed: (3) Let us break their bands in two and cast away their cords from us. (4) He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; Yehovah shall mock at them. (5) Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His fierce anger. (6) Yea, I have set My king on My holy mountain, on Zion. (7) I will declare the decree: Yehovah has said to Me, You are My Son; today I have begotten You. (8) Ask of Me, and I shall give the nations for Your inheritance; and the ends of the earth for Your possession. (9) You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. (10) And now be wise, O kings; be instructed, O judges of the earth. (11) Serve Yehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling. (12) Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled in but a little while. Blessed are all who put their trust in Him.
The Holy Spirit through David tells us that the Gentiles and the Jews, with their leaders, are in a conspiracy against the one true God – against the Father and His Son, the Messiah Yeshua/Jesus. It is a vain thing that they do; it is destined to fail! You have probably all heard the saying that there is a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world. Well, it is actually God’s plan that a Jew will rule the world! Jesus is the King of the Jews and of the nations, and God has declared that His Son is the heir to the Throne of David to rule over Israel and the whole world. The conspiracy is actually by the devil and those of the world against the sovereign Creator and Redeemer.
What is it that the “world” wants? They want to be “free” from any accountability to a holy God, who is the righteous Judge of all the Earth. This conspiracy began in the heavenlies, when Lucifer rebelled against YHVH, and led other angels to follow him in the rebellion. Israel openly rebelled when she asked for a king like the Gentiles have, and then said that they did not want “this Man” Yeshua to rule over them. (1Sam 8:1-9; Lk 19:11-27) And the world Gentile powers have rebelled against the God of Israel, who gave them their authority, but they have all eventually caused distress for Jews and for Christians, the people of the true God.
What does it mean when they want to break the bands in two and cast away their cords from us? You remember that Isaac told Esau, when he spoke to him after giving the blessing to Jacob, that the day would come when Esau would break the yoke of Jacob his brother from off him. (Gen 27:40) We see this taking place today in the intifada, which is the Palestinian uprising against the rule of the children of Jacob over them here in Israel. But it represents something much bigger: it is the spiritual rebellion against the sovereignty of YHVH God, led by the spirit of a religious faith in another god. It is the world today rising up against the morality of YHVH, whose name is holy, saying, in effect: “Who is YHVH that we should serve Him?!” “Who says that He is God Most High?!” “Why should we submit to His authority and morality?!” “All religions are okay, and lead to something good. In fact, better in our own eyes than what the God of Israel wants!” So, in the end, it is more than seeking equality among the different religions and cultures and life-styles. It is a rebellion against YHVH even more than simply seeking “equality with Him”, which is itself rebellion. Tolerance is for anything other than truth. “What is truth?!”, Pilate asked Jesus. To the “world”, all is subjective relativism.
Some current examples that we see of trying to break God’s and His Son’s yoke, and their restrictions that make for civil society:
–requiring governments and people to accept homosexuality as normal and as a choice for each person to make regarding their own gender identity; in other words, not only to choose what sex to do, but what sex to be!;
–sex outside of marriage is accepted as normal and not sinful;
–not allowing in Israel and in Christianized countries, like the U.S., to use the Bible for explaining or instruction in righteousness in public institutions; or, to pray in the name of Jesus;
–being sued and denied a license for a bakery because of being owned and operated by believers in Yeshua;
–not allowing any Jews to enter some Muslim countries; not allowing any evangelism either;
–Israel makes it difficult for evangelical Christians to receive visas, or for Messianic Jews to immigrate;
–Russia just passed a law forbidding any evangelism outside of a recognized church building;
–no spanking of children in some ‘enlightened’ countries, as an overreaction to child abuse;
–not being able to teach Creation in schools, only Evolution: no sovereign, holy, uncreated God; no special uniqueness about this solar system or the Earth; no chosen land or people or city or unique and beloved Son of God;
–humanism, that man is basically good, is the dominant philosophy opposed to the Word of God saying that all are born in sin, and need to be given restrictions and boundaries to live socially, and that people need to be born-again by the Holy Spirit in order to have life.
These are just a few examples out of many, many more. The results and consequences of throwing off the yoke of the true God is to lack the fear of God, to be ignorant, to lack wisdom, to be not only immoral, but amoral, to lack purpose and goals, to be unable to think critically, and to lack discernment between good and evil. By all this, the devil deceives the people much more easily to side with him and his rebellion. If we are deceived, we do not know it, and it requires an intervention by God to bring us to our right senses! Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who crucified Him, because they did not know what they were doing.
This Psalm 2 also tells us that God is actively working so that the people will know what they are doing, and that they must repent while there is time, if they want to be saved from His wrath. (2Cor 6:2; Is 61:1-2)
Though it is written that God laughs at this vain thing being planned, He is not amused: He holds them in derision. (Is 40:15-17) Since the death and resurrection of God’s anointed King, His Son, He is making it known everywhere, and calling all persons to repentance, because He has declared that His Son is going to be King in Zion, and He is the Judge of His people Israel, and of the Gentiles, and will rule over all. (Dan 2:44; Jn 3:14-21; Acts 17:30-31)
Although Jesus is already chosen and anointed to be the King of Israel and of the Nations, He is not yet reigning on David’s throne: He has not yet been accepted by His own people or by the Gentile nations. This is like when God chose David to be King instead of Saul, but David did not actually become the king until after Saul died, and after the people accepted him to be king. Yeshua is now reigning — at the right hand of the Father — over Heaven and Earth, but He is not yet accepted by the whole House of Israel to be their King as Heir to David, according to God’s covenantal promise. (Lk 1:26-33,67-75; 2Sam 7; Mt 23:37-39) Born-again believers already possess eternal life, but it is evident that we have not yet inherited it: it remains a living hope upon a sure promise. (Rom 8:23-25)
The Psalm also informs us that Yeshua/Jesus is the Son of God. The New Testament quotes this verse 7 in the psalm in the context of Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead (Acts 13:33; Rom 1:4): the proof that He is God’s Son, and by that He inherits not only Israel, but all the nations are His, and become accountable to Him. (Is 49:5-6) For this, the gospel is to go out to all peoples and nations, not only for individual salvation, but also for nations to be saved, like Israel and Egypt and Assyria. (Is 19:23-25; Dan 7:13-14) Part of our joy is knowing that we, too, will rule and reign with Messiah when He returns. He promises those in the church that those who overcome will rule the nations with a rod of iron to break the stubbornness of rebellion in the people. (Rev 2:26-27; 3:21; 20:6) This is the inheritance of the saints, in fulfillment of the covenant made with Abraham! (Dan 7:18,25-27; Gen 22:17; Rom 4:13)
David finishes his psalm by warning those who are in rebellion: they need to fear YHVH and to acknowledge His majesty and righteousness. And they must respect and honor God’s Son, for His favor is their salvation. (Rev 6:12-17; 19:15) Even believers in Jesus are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Phlp 2:12-13) We should be concerned with offending God, and to recognize our weakness – our “trembling” — that we are wholly dependent upon Him for grace and mercies in our need for help in serving and living for His glory. His faithfulness and strength are our confidence and joy! “Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”
In this psalm we see already the suffering yet triumphant Messiah, Son of God, over His enemies. And we who follow the Lord will also suffer yet be triumphant by our living faith in Him. YHVH is sovereign over all and against all! The schemes of man and devil can not and will not succeed! Repent, and believe the gospel, and be saved from this perverse generation! (Acts 2:40; Rev 3:19-22)
—Pray for those in authority to repent and believe actively, that they be saved. (1Tim 2:1-6)
Daniel was burdened for the glory of his God, and the God of his people. In our lives there are times when we are greatly burdened but do not really understand what to do about the matter that weighs on us so heavily. The apostle Paul writes that as believers serving the Lord, there are times and situations when we are “hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair”. (2Cor 4:8) This is what Daniel was going through in his life serving YHVH his God in a foreign land, rising to power and influence with Gentile kings and their kingdoms. Daniel’s response to this was to humble himself with faith believing in the Most High God. (2Chr 7:14; Ja 1:5-8) Daniel is one of the great men of faith and wisdom in the Bible (Ezek 14:14,20; 28:3), and he set himself from his youth to be faithful to the God of Israel and to His covenants.
Daniel tells us the events of this chapter occur during the “first year of Darius.” This means that the Babylonian king Belshazzar has died in his punishment from God, the Babylonian empire has ended — both these events a time-marker by the Word of God to Jeremiah — and the Medo-Persian empire has now taken its place. (Dan 5:30; Jer 25:12-13; 29:10-14) Daniel was praying perhaps during the time of his prayers when his peers and rivals in the kingdom of Darius were scheming to catch him praying to any God other than to the King Darius, and so throw him into the lions’ den. His burden was both personal and national. This prayer follows chronologically the vision that Daniel had in chapter 8.
In this prayer of confession and petition by Daniel the prophet recorded for us in ch 9, we learn that at least part of the Bible (Tanach/O.T.) was already available to the Jewish people, and that Daniel read what he had. From the Law of Moses, YHVH had given His covenant with its commandments, its promises, its blessings and its curses, its judgments; and based upon the covenant, the people were in captivity in Babylon as a chastising punishment, and that the desolation of Jerusalem and of the Temple were all in accord with the Law of Moses and the words of the Prophets whom the LORD sent to His people. (Lev 25:3-5; 26:27-35; Num 14:20-24; Pr 3:11-12; Jer 44:4; also Mt 22:18; Lk 13:34-35) From the Word of the LORD through the prophet Jeremiah, Daniel read and understood that God had sent His people into exile for a period of 70 years, and that now those years were completed. Daniel believed the Word of God, and sought God’s face and His righteousness. Daniel discerned the signs of his generation in which God was planning a great redemption.
God has always declares His historical actions and intentions before carrying them out. He knows the end from the beginning, and He includes His elect in His thinking and plans. What an amazing Father in Heaven we have! (Gen 18:17-19; Is 46:9-10; 62:6-7; Amos 3:7; Mt 16:1-3; Mt 24; Mk 13:23; Lk 19:44)
The beginning of Daniel’s prayer was to ascribe glory to God, and to praise God’s righteousness and covenant faithfulness. Daniel confessed both his and his people’s sins. This shows the genuine humility of Daniel’s heart and mind towards God and towards his own Jewish people: we read nothing of any sins in Daniel’s life, yet he identified with his sinful people before the Holy God. This is the same that the High Priest was to do on the Day of Atonements, and that Yeshua did for us in His baptism by John, and especially on the cross to bear the penalty for our sins in our place of guilt and shame.
While God acknowledged Daniel’s own righteousness before Him, yet God is still waiting upon Israel as a nation to confess her unfaithfulness and sins against Him and the covenant which He cut with them alone among all the nations of the Earth, in order that He can restore her and do for her all that He has purposed to do for the glory of His own name, and for the blessing to the in punishing the people for their sins, and that He alone is holy and righteous, but he and the people and the leaders of the people were shame-faced for all their sins and refusal to heed the Law and the words of the prophets whom God had sent them continually to call them to repentance. (Jer 44:4)
Notice here (vv 7,9) that Daniel is not only saying that the Lord is righteous, merciful, and forgiving, but these character attributes belong to Him. For us who believe in Yeshua and have received the Holy Spirit, these qualities become ours in Christ as we are conformed to the image of the Son of God, which is God’s will for us, often using persecution and tribulation to transform our character into more of His character for a testimony that we belong to Him.
Also notice (v 14) that Daniel knows that God’s Word stands, and even though hundreds or thousands of years may have passed, God would keep His Word to bring the disaster upon His people that the covenant demands. This is of great importance to us today, as God has spoken of the end-times and great tribulation that will come upon Israel and the nations, and upon the saints. (Dan 7:23-27; 8:18-26; Mt 5:17-18; Rev 12:13-17; 13:1-10) Time does not nullify God’s Word or His standard or His ways to accomplish His goal.
Having confessed his and his peoples sins, Daniel then goes on in his prayer to plead (supplicate) the Lord to turn away from His anger and fury from His city Jerusalem and His people and to act for the sake of His holy name to restore His people to their land which He promised to give them when He brought them out of Egypt. Daniel is asking God to extend mercy now, since the 70 years have ended, not because they deserve it for any righteous deeds they have done, but because of His great mercies. (Rom 11:28-36) Daniel is energized by the need for the Jews to get out of a foreign land and back to the land of their fathers, all for the sake of the holy name of YHVH, God of Israel, because His people and city are called by His name. Daniel knew that God’s Kingdom was connected with Israel back in the Land, with the Temple rebuilt, and that the honor of the Name of the one true God was at stake among the nations round-about.
What is striking about this Holy Spirit-led prayer (Jude 20-21) is that Daniel says not one word in his prayer against the people or the government where he is living and serving. He prays as a man of God concerning the righteousness of YHVH for the present suffering which he and the [chosen] people of God have been experiencing, and for God to act for His own holy name’s sake in mercy for His people and city and land.
As Daniel was still speaking, praying, petitioning the Lord, the ‘man’ Gabriel was sent to him to give him understanding about something beyond what Daniel had realized. It is written here that Daniel was greatly beloved. Gabriel revealed that God’s plan of redemption would span the rest of “this world’s” history, and that the present return to Judah and Jerusalem would not be the restoration of the Kingdom of God to Israel, but that it would be at a set future time, and would be connected with the death of the Messiah, with wars to come until the end, the antichrist, the suffering of God’s people, and a final set of years. For those reading and studying Daniel, the vision of ch 8 that Daniel did not fully understand regarding the antichrist kingdom (Dan 8:22-27), Gabriel is now giving Daniel the ability to comprehend it better by telling Daniel that those events of the time of the end are connected with this prophecy in Dan 9:24-27. Daniel was blessed by God to hear the decree by Cyrus the King of Persia, which set in motion the first week of seven years.
While Daniel was primarily concerned with God keeping His promise to return the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel, despite all her sins, but in accord with God’s righteousness and mercies, the answer he received went way beyond that “small matter” and heavy burden he was carrying. The prosperity connected with the return to the land would not mean that further chastising and judgments would not come. The whole issue of putting away sin, transgression, and iniquity is God’s purpose, not merely that we should confess that we do sin.
If we have a real interest in God’s interests, in our Father’s business, and how that is connected with Israel, and also for every individual person, and for the churches and the nations, we will actively read the Scriptures as being what they are – the Word of the Living God – and pray in accordance with what is written, and with the sanctification of the Name of our Father in Heaven a top priority as to why He should fulfill His promises and intentions.
As Daniel also understood the character of God that He had not forgotten the necessary judgments for breaking the covenant, so that is still true today. We can learn from Daniel the relevance and importance of praying and supplicating with understanding what God’s plan and will are, and that there is an appointed time, and that all is to be in accord with God’s righteousness, His mercies, and His holy Name. God is looking for individual persons to accept responsibility, as Daniel did, to show His favor upon, even while a nation remains under judgment and wrath of the holy God. There is a holy remnant within every nation and people group of those who serve the only true God and Savior.
Are we as awake to God’s Word as Daniel was? Do we recognize the signs of the times that we are living in, and knowing what the Body of Messiah should do? Are our prayers and affairs consistent with God’s revealed plan and purpose? Are we humbling ourselves and seeking God’s face, identifying with our brethren and our fathers in the sins against our great and awesome God, so that our Father in Heaven will hear our prayers in Yeshua’s name?
Following the celebrations of the Passover and the Firstfruits – the death and the resurrection of the Messiah and Lord — believers all around the world are rejoicing in the risen Savior, having begun the 50-day (7-week) count till Shavuot/Pentecost. For many people then – 1985 years ago – and now, such a thing as the resurrection is only a rumor, or a myth, idle chatter, or impossible. Even for the closest disciples of Yeshua, the 11 apostles, it was “too good to be true”!
Jesus had told them that He would be crucified, put to death, and that He would rise again and meet them in Galilee. Yet when the event actually took place, their hearts were hardened and would not even believe the testimony of their own friends who had seen Him alive again, talked with Him, touched Him, eaten with Him! Even though He had told them all what was going to happen; even though it was written in the Tanach (Bible)!
Acts 1:1-11 Truly, O Theophilus, I made the first report as to all things that Jesus began both to do and teach (2) until the day He was taken up, having given directions to the apostles whom He chose, through the Holy Spirit; (3) to whom He also presented Himself living after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them through forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. (4) And having met with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to await the promise of the Father which you heard from Me. (5) For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now. (6) Then, indeed, these coming together, they asked Him, saying, Lord, do You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? (7) And He said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in His own authority. (8) But you shall receive power, the Holy Spirit coming upon you. And you shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (9) And saying these things, as they watched, He was taken up. And a cloud received Him out of their sight. (10) And while they were looking intently into the heaven, He having gone, even behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them, (11) who also said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into the heaven? This same Jesus who is taken up from you into Heaven, will come in the way you have seen Him going into Heaven.
Jesus showed Himself alive to the 11 men whom He especially chose and sent (and afterward Saul/Paul) to be His witnesses to the Jewish people first, and also to the Gentiles. By proving day-by-day for 40 days that it was He Himself who had died and risen from the dead, then it was no longer just a rumor hard to believe. Just as the sheaves of wheat are counted each day from the day of Firstfruits until Shavuot/Pentecost as a “confidence builder” for the harvest, so Yeshua, until the day of His ascension, built in the certainty of the truth of His resurrection for the hope in God’s promise of life after death for believers in His Son. (Read the passages at the top of the page.) The good news brought unspeakable joy to their sad and hardened hearts, and prepared them to live and to die for the truth of the gospel in the face of fierce opposition, ridicule, and persecution. (Remember the Samaritan men who came out to see Jesus after the Samaritan woman at the well had gone back to tell them that she had met the Messiah: they went to Him, and heard and saw for themselves, saying, “Now we believe not only because you told us, but we have heard for ourselves.”)
Paul writes later that Jesus showed Himself alive to more than 500 people at one time together. In many ways the gospel writers wrote how the Lord clearly showed that He was indeed alive after having been dead and buried for three days. He had defeated the devil, sin, and death, and was indeed the Son of God who had come into the world to save His people from their sins. He is the King of Israel, Messiah, Son of David.
Do you believe? Do you know without doubt that Yeshua Messiah is alive – risen from the dead and now seated at the right hand of the Father – and that He is the Savior of the world, including being your own Savior from sin and death?
Have you believed what is written in the Scriptures, both the Tanach and the New Testament? Have you believed when your friends or family members told you that it is true?! At least one of Yeshua’s apostles doubted that the truth was true: Thomas was not with the other apostles when the Lord first appeared to them all, and he said that unless he actually saw Him and the nail prints in His hands, and put his finger into the print and into His side, then he would not believe. A week later, Jesus appeared again to all of the apostles, this time including Thomas. Jesus told him to do what he had said, and said to him, “Do not be unbelieving, but believing”. Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (Jn 20:24-29)
For those of you who still are not certain and still unbelieving, is it because your heart is hardened to the Holy One of Israel to whom all must give an account on the day of judgment? Is it because He is holy, and requires that His people be holy? Is it because you have too much love for this world? Is God’s plan interfering with your own plans or ambitions?
For those of you who say you believe, can you testify of having seen God working in your life and in the life of others: answering prayers, healing sickness, giving hope and comfort through suffering and loss, protecting you from harm, blessing you beyond all expectation and “worthiness”, forgiving you your sins and giving you power and faith to forgive others their sins?
Do you have living faith and hope that Jesus is coming again to put away evil from the world that He created and made? Do you love Him enough that you want Him to come again?
Why is this hope and expectation important for believers? In the passage we read in Acts, before Jesus was about to ascend to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God, and before the disciples would receive the Holy Spirit, the seal of the New Covenant relationship, their first question to Him was concerning the restoration of the Kingdom of God to Israel, the very thing that the Lord taught them (and us) regarding how to pray. It was also a very logical question by Israeli Jews, who were taught to expect that when the Messiah, Son of David, would come, He would bring YHVH God’s peace and righteous rule again to Israel. When Jesus did go up in their sight into Heaven, the two men dressed in white standing by them said, “This same Jesus/Yeshua, who was taken up from you into Heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into Heaven.” (v. 6,11)
The return of the Lord Jesus Christ and our resurrection or rapture (whichever applies personally at the time of the First Resurrection) is the hope and expectation of all true believers. The Lord’s Supper reminds us, as often as we take it, that Yeshua is coming again. The whole life of Messiah and the gospel is summed up in the Communion: for Yeshua to have died, He had to be born a human being; for Him to come again, He has to be alive by being raised from the dead; by coming again, He has to be ‘somewhere else’ now — in Heaven, the place from where He first came: God appeared in flesh and blood. The last prayer of the Bible is, “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!”
Do you believe the Word of God concerning the things to come? Will you be ready to endure to the end by faith that overcomes the world in the blood of the Lamb and our confession of Jesus as LORD/YHVH?
God has a plan for restoring His kingdom over Israel, and the whole Earth, even the universe. Yeshua is alive, and He is coming back in great power and glory! For this we are here: Yeshua’s witnesses to bring more people into His Kingdom; God’s sons and daughters to grow to full maturity in preparation for our Bridegroom’s return.
Mk 13:28-37 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors! 30 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
What time is it? (Does anybody really care?) This is a question many in Israel ask! What time is it? If we are speaking the answer to the one asking, we might say, for example, 11:30. And he/she would understand whether it was morning or night. But if, for another example, we sent out an invitation and said, ‘Let’s get together at 9:00’, someone might ask: ‘Do you mean in the morning, or in the evening?’ Had the invitation been for 21:00, it would have been understood here that it was for the evening. Or had it said, 9pm, it would also have been understood by those who received the invitation.
What day is it? I know that when we first immigrated to Israel, it took some time before Randi and I got used to Monday not being the first day of the week, i.e., Sonday! We often would think that Monday was Tuesday! We were confused for a while until we finally adjusted to Sonday being Sonday, the first day of the week, and also a work day. So, if we would say to someone in the U.S. that our services here are on the Sabbath, unless we explained, they thought we meant on Sonday, because in the West they made Sunday the Sabbath, moving back the proper seventh day Sabbath to being the sixth day of the week. The weekend was Saturday-Sunday. If someone writes a date like this: 7/12/15; does it mean July 12, 2015; or, Dec 7, 2015?
It seems as if the confusion of languages at Babel has also included the confusion of time!
Let us take this further: Israel changes its clock to ‘Summer Time’ (Daylight Saving Time) each year; but “the territories” do not. So Jerusalem has one time, and Bethlehem another, during the same time of year. In the United States, the country changes its clock for the Summer, but the state of Arizona does not. Yet within Arizona, an area for Indians does!
The Universal Coordinated Time (UCT) (which used to be called Greenwich Mean Time) is the Prime Meridian running through Greenwich, England, from which all other time zones on the globe are calculated. Israel is two hours in advance (UTC+2) of the UCT; the East Coast of the U.S. is five hours behind (UTC-5). South Africa, south of Israel, is in the same Time Zone as Israel. So Israel is 7 hours ahead in the day from the eastern U.S. However, depending on when each country changes its clock for the Summer, and then back again to Standard Time (which is based upon the position of the Sun relative to the Earth), Israel could be 8 hours ahead, or maybe 6 hours ahead. Australia’s western province is normally five hours ahead of Israel, and seven hours ahead of the UCT (UTC+7). All through the 24-hour day/night cycle, part of the Earth is in the evening, at midnight, at dawn, in the morning, or in the afternoon. Afternoon to me means after 12:00 noon. In Israel most veteran Israelis think that afternoon is from 4:00pm.
What if YHVH God has set His Prime Meridian to run through Israel as the standard for calculations? Does anybody know? Or do you think He is beholden to man’s arbitrary manipulations of the clock? Are you confused yet?!
What time is it!? Most countries set their clocks by the hour within which they fall in the Time Zones. But India, for example, changes her clock by ½ hour; Nepal changes theirs by ¼ hour! (Interesting and Confusing Facts about Time and Time Zones: http://www.worldtimezone.com/faq.html )
And you know that there is an International Date Line (IDL) that has been arbitrarily set which divides the calendar date between that which is east of this imaginary line from that which is west of the line. Even this legally recognized line has been altered by some governments and islands, so that their whole country remains on the same day together! Every day while some sleep and some are at work, there are two hours during which there are three different calendar days at the same time! Praise the Lord!
Here is an explanation of the IDL and the UTC from Wikipedia:
“The International Date Line (IDL) is an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth that runs from the north to the south pole and demarcates the change of one calendar day to the next. It passes through the middle of the Pacific Ocean, roughly following the 180° longitude but deviating to pass around some territories and island groups.
The IDL zigzags around the antimeridian, which is on the opposite side of the Earth to the Prime Meridian. The Prime Meridian is used to define Universal Time and is the meridian from which all other time zones are calculated. Time zones to the east of the Prime Meridian are in advance of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) (up to UTC+14); time zones to the west are behind UTC (to UTC-12). The IDL is the line between those highest (up to UTC+14) and those lowest (down to UTC−12) time zones.
The IDL and the moving point of midnight separate the two calendar days that are current somewhere on Earth. However, during a two-hour period between 10:00 (2200) and 11:59 (23:59) (UTC) each day, three different calendar days are in use. This is because of daylight saving in the UTC+12 zone and the use of additional date-shifted time zones in areas east of the 180th meridian. These additional time zones result in the standard time and date in some communities being 24 or 25 hours different from the standard time and date in others.
A traveler crossing the IDL eastbound subtracts one day, or 24 hours, so that the calendar date to the west of the line is repeated after the following midnight. Crossing the IDL westbound results in 24 hours being added, advancing the calendar date by one day. The IDL is necessary to have a fixed, albeit arbitrary, boundary on the globe where the calendar date advances in the westbound direction.”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Date_Line) [bold emphases mine]
To add to the lack of clarity, I remember rooming with a man from Ethiopia who told me a story of how he missed his flight one time. The time on the ticket said 01:00, which to most of us means 1:00 at night on the next calendar day, even though the time would be 1:00am (“before noon”, “in the morning”).
Well, for this brother, he thought of 7:00 in the morning, according to his own nation’s custom and law. Of course he missed his flight!
When does a day begin? In the beginning, there was evening and the morning. Does the day begin at 6:00pm? In the beginning, and before there were the sun and moon, the light was called Day, and the darkness was called Night. (Gen 1:1-4) In the New Testament, the wrath of God was upon Jesus on the cross from the sixth hour until the ninth hour, meaning, from 12:00 noon until 15:00 (3pm). Does the day begin at 6:00am? Yeshua did say that there are twelve hours in a day for man to work, and that the night is coming when no one can work. (Jn 9:4; 11:9) Has the day-time changed in the light of the coming of Messiah, the Light of the world? Today, with the IDL, the new day and date begins from 12:00 midnight, depending on which side of the “line” one is. When the antichrist has his power and authority, the Scriptures say that he will think to change times and laws. (Dan 7:25) Will he decree a new universal time and dating system?? The Word of God marks the beginning of each lunar month by the New Moon (darkened); Islam marks their months by the sighted ‘birth’ of the moon at the first sliver of light.
To add another dimension to this: the Jewish people use a calendar giving the number of years since the Creation, but their reckoning is 240 years less than the Biblical chronology!
Does anybody know what hour it is, and what day it is? And does it really matter? It mostly does, I would say. We have seen how not knowing the time can cause confusion in schedules and in orientation and for documentation. On the other hand, the Lord lets us know in no uncertain terms that not only is it unnecessary, but it is impossible for any created thing to know exactly when He will come again. (Mk 13:32)
We have seen how that can be! The Lord did not say that we could not discern the time — the season — of His coming, but rather the precise day and hour. There are many Scriptures giving us signs and indications of His coming – such as the fig tree analogy in the passage we read from Mark 13 — but the precise set time is something that only the Father knows. Jesus has told us all things that He heard from His Father to make known to us; and the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth of all that has been revealed. (Jn 15:15; 16:12-15) The Holy Spirit is not going to reveal what the Father did not even tell His Son (in the wondrous mystery that is the triune God)!
This is no small matter: Jesus rebuked the Jewish people during His first coming for not knowing the time of their visitation, with its subsequent severe judgment. (Lk 19:41-44) And terrible consequences have resulted from listening to those who have claimed to know precisely when the Lord will return, discrediting both the faith in the truth of His coming, and in preparing ourselves for His return.
Why is it important to God that we do not know precisely? Because if the Father would make it known at all, then Satan could also know – even quicker than we! Yeshua is coming as a thief into the master’s house. (Mt 24:42-46; 25:13; 1Thes 5:1-11) If it could be known when that would be, including a particular holy-day, then the devil would prepare for that time and day in a manner that it is not possible for him to do so now. If a military commander were to let his enemy know his plan of attack and the time of it, he would face fiercer opposition and greater possibility of defeat. Surely the LORD of Hosts (Armies) has carefully planned His surprise attack! And if we, the believers, were to know, then we would live our lives not by faith in God and His covenantal promises and in the absolute victory of Jesus by His death on the cross for us, but, rather, as is common to the sin still in us, we would only wait until just before that moment to “make ourselves ready”; or, else, we would wait and see if it really comes true. Neither of “our ways” submits to the “way of the LORD”.
Yet the Lord warns us not to let any one deceive us, and for us to be watchful and prayerful. This day will not come until sometime after the revelation of the antichrist. (2Thes 2:1-4) We will not watch and pray if we are not anticipating with expectation. In our love and hopeful expectation of the Lord’s return, the Holy Spirit will see to it that those who are faithful will not be like the five foolish virgins, but will be prepared like the five wise virgins.
As we learn to obey God with faith, walking in the Spirit, we will be transformed, and conformed more and more into the image of God’s Son. The Lord knows who His own are, and those who call on His name will depart from iniquity! As the blessed hope of His coming again to establish forever the Kingdom of God grows within us, we will purify ourselves, even as He is pure.
What time is it? What day is it? I don’t know; but even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Times and seasons have a way of stirring the memories, both personal and collective. Depending on what they may signify, the reactions and anticipations may vary among individuals or nations, or among those joined together through religion or faith. Below are some historical markers that are beginning to converge to draw attention to a watershed, perhaps. Both friend and foe are taking notice.
Oct 31, 1517 – Reformation Day, which gave the Bible back to the people that they may be saved by faith alone in God and His Word
1517 – Turkish Ottoman Muslim Empire begins rule in the Holy Land, the land of the God of the Bible
1882-1903 — First Aliyah (Immigration wave), following pogroms (riots) in Russia in 1881-1882
Aug 29, 1897 – First Zionist Congress in Basle, led by Theodor Herzl, who prophetically understood the times that the Jewish people needed to seek “a publicly recognized legally secured homeland”
June 28, 1914 – the assasination of Austrian arch-duke in Serbia, the catalyst for the declaration a month later of what became WW1, ending on Nov 11, 1918; “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…”
Oct 31, 1917 – ANZAC/Lighthorse Beer Sheva Charge victory over Ottomans in break-through victory towards return of Jewish people back to Land of Israel, and of ending 400 years of Ottoman rule in Holy Land, and 400 years to the day of the Reformation; British War Cabinet approves text of Balfour Declaration
Nov 2, 1917 – Balfour Declaration of intent of British government to establish a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine; “It shall come to pass in that day that [YHVH God] shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left . . . . He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the Earth.”
(here is a site devoted to regretting the Balfour Declaration: http://www.balfourproject.org/ )
Dec 11, 1917 – Jerusalem surrendered to British General Edmund Allenby and the Allies from Turkish Ottoman control
Apr 25, 1920 – San Remo Resolution ratified by post-WW1 Allied Powers, legally sanctioning the establishment of the Jewish people back in the land of their fathers
Aug 12, 1922 – League of Nations establishes British Mandate in Palestine, authorized to carry out San Remo Resolution (which legally sanctioned the intent of the Balfour Declaration)
Sept 1, 1939 – Sept 2, 1945 – World War II
Nov 29, 1947 – UN Partition Plan for Palestine, offering both Jewish people and Arab Palestinians states. Israel accepted what for them constituted “a publicly recognized legally secured homeland”; the Arabs rejected, and prepared for war (Israel’s Independence War, 1948-49); 430 yrs since the restored promise of salvation and righteousness by faith in YHVH God and His Word, and of the Ottoman Islamic control of the Land of Israel
May 14, 1948 – State of Israel as the re-established homeland for the Jewish people proclaimed by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, in accord with the legal status conferred by both the League of Nations and the United Nations; the British Mandate ended day before
Jun 7, 1967 – Capture of Jerusalem in Six-Day War, unifying the city in Israeli Jewish hands (70 years after 1st Zionist Cong; 50 yrs Jubilee since Balfour Declaration)
Dec 9, 1987 – First Intifada (Arab uprising) begins, lasting seven years, leading to Oslo Accords between the State of Israel and the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), signed on Sept 13, 1993
Sept 29, 2000 – Second Intifada begins, inconclusively ending in a truce on Feb 8, 2005, and leading to the Gaza disengagement on Sept 12, 2005
2014 — 100 years since start of WW1
2015 – 70 yrs since end of WW2
2017 — 500 yrs since the Reformation; 120 yrs since 1st Zionist Cong; 100 yrs (double Jubilee) since Beer Sheva Charge, the Balfour Declaration, and the capture of Jerusalem by Gentile Christians; 70 yrs since UN Partition Plan; 50 yrs Jubilee since capture of Jerusalem by Israeli Jews; 30 yrs since beginning of 1st Palestinian Intifada (“breaking the yoke; horse shaking off the rider”)
2018 – 100 yrs from end of WW1; 70 yrs of Israel’s re-established nation-state
2028 – 80 yrs since Israel’s re-establishment as homeland for the Jewish people
20?? – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!
In God’s prophetic and redemptive calendar given to Israel, the appointed times of the Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets, of the Day of Atonements, and of the Feast of Booths speak of the Ingathering of God’s people/harvest at the end of the age. God knows His own, and those who call upon the name of the Lord will depart from iniquity.
One thing that God will not have in His people — whether Israel or the Church — is self-righteouness. The cross slays all our own righteousness, and to be disciples of Jesus, we are to deny ourselves, pick up our own cross daily, and follow Him. He is our righteousness.
One prayer that is sure to be answered by God is the one which His Son, the Lord Himself, prayed, which we read in John 17. He prays for our love and unity within and among His own followers that is the same as the love and unity “within and among” the one, true, triune God. The answer to His prayer will be supernatural, as none of us have any clue really to the utter reality of that sort of union and love. Yet it is this Holy Spirit-produced life of Messiah formed in us that is at the heart of God’s dealings with us, constantly bringing us to recognize our dependence on Him, lest we exalt ourselves. It will be this revelation of the sons of God — even if only momentarily this side of the resurrection — that will bear witness to the world that Yeshua was sent from the Father, and that the Father loves us as He loves Him.
It is to this that I want to give this word in this season. The Lord Jesus told us that there would be wheat and tares until the end within God’s Kingdom at large, within Israel, within the Church. He says in connection with this not to separate the two until the harvest, and then He would have angels do that work of separation — not us. The apostle James warns us of being judges of the Law rather than doers of the Law. As in all things of God, the devil attacks Him and those things. Our usual initial response to something of God is to question it or reject it, only afterwards to see and obey in accordance with God’s will, and even then not always discerning God’s purpose. This should be proof enough for us to see that we are not “little Christs” or “little Gods”!
As the time of Yeshua’s crucifixion neared, despite having instructed His apostles (those closest to Him) of what was coming, they did not understand in their hearts or minds, and when the actual deed was accomplished they all thought their hope had been misplaced and was gone. So, too, as the end of the age draws nearer, and the necessity of this spiritual unity and love to be manifested, the devil is attacking and doing his best to deceive the elect. The result is not more unity and love being evident, but more judgmentalism and division in our own assessment of who is really a true believer and who not — before the time. Some things are clear, and require righteous judgment within the household of God; other things require patience for the living Word of God to bring the hidden things to light.
Those who engage in self-righteous separation from the corporate whole place themselves in danger of sowing disunity rather than promoting the unity which is in Messiah/Christ. And, of course, when we do such a ‘separation’, we always place ourselves ‘in’. For those of us who support Israel in God’s purposes for the sake of His holy Name, we do not normally distinguish the true Israel from the false at this time; we simply refer to Israel, knowing that within this people and nation there are those who believe in Yeshua already; there are those who fear God and do righteousness, but do not yet know the Lord personally; and there are those who are simply uninterested in the covenantal relationship and destiny which YHVH God has established with and for them. Not all Israel is Israel.
So, too, is it for that collective and corporate entity historically called the Church (in English): we must not quibble over terminology, but simply acknowledge the same truth as it applies presently to Israel: that there are true believers in Yeshua/Jesus; there are those who fear the Lord and do righteousness, but do not know Him personally/are not born-again; and there are those who have no interest in His covenantal ways in saving individuals and nations alike by His grace through repentance and faith in the gospel. It is all based on HIS righteousness, not at all on any of ours, which are to Him, in any case, as filthy rags in comparison.
As this season of individual and national soul-searching and forgiveness for sins is again brought before God’s chosen people and nation, we pray for more to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. As the Holy Spirit is generating God’s move on a world-wide scale for more than a century already to bring the Bride of the Lamb to feel the need for the Lord’s personal return in great power and glory, when the Lord does break through to put all things in order, we may be surprised at the results. Our hope and trust must be in the name of Jesus/Yeshua, and not on our own understanding, however much we may think we know. It does not need to be said that we do not know anything as we ought to know, which helps keep pride covered and for us to boast only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, giving glory to YHVH God.