Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, October 13, 2019
Shavuah Tov *|FNAME|*,
Thank you Raymond Finney for another excellent RR submission.
Yeshua Prophesied We WILL Have Wars – But, When? (Part 1)
INTRODUCTION: I was writing an RR series on churches/ synagogues, but drumbeats of war from the Middle East and elsewhere cause me to insert this RR series. Watch world news carefully. It may be later than you think.
LENGTHY, BUT STILL INCOMPLETE: Much has been written about end-time wars. Bible students have differing opinions. I would prefer not to write this RR, because the subject is so complex. This series is incomplete. It covers many nations, both friend and foe, and centuries of history. I am inadequate for the task, but we need to discuss wars. Please start thinking about this important subject and fill in the blanks I leave. As the LORD told Hosea (Hosea 4:6a): “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
In trying to assemble this RR series, I probably will make errors. Report any error to me: firstname.lastname@example.org . If you convince me of my error, I will issue a correction in a future RR.
EXAMPLE OF PROBLEM– IRANIAN THREAT CONTINUES: President Obama sent billions of dollars to Iran at the end of his presidency. Some say this payment was as much as 150-billion dollars; others say less. Some say this payment was owed to Iran; others say it was an inducement to sign a nuclear weapons reduction treaty. Truth is an elusive commodity.
Did this impressive influx of money into Iran alter behavior? Not really. Iran continues to work on nuclear weapons and fuel enrichment; develop and purchase ballistic missiles; sponsor terrorists; and continue leaders’ threats of “Death to Israel” and “Death to U.S.A.” Nice friends!
President Trump pulled the United States out of the Obama-Kerry Iranian deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) in May, 2018, and imposed crippling sanctions against Iran. The sanctions seem to be working, with even Trump’s media enemies agreeing.
Iran, the world’s third largest petroleum exporter, borders the Strait of Hormuz, through which a significant portion (20 percent) of the world’s petroleum is shipped. Blockage of the Strait would be a crippling blow to the world’s energy supply.
Iran is a strong ally of Russia. Russia is America’s enemy and an important petroleum exporter. European (EU) countries– America’s “allies” – depend greatly on petroleum from the Middle East and Russia. These EU countries, needing petroleum more than America’s friendship (which they assume will always be given in a crisis), are highly critical of Trump’s actions and offer little support. Surprise, surprise.
On September 14, 2019, drone attacks on Saudi Arabian petroleum fields and processing facilities caused significant damage. Iran blamed Yemen Houthi rebels, but America is certain Iran was directly or indirectly responsible. President Trump announced America was “locked and loaded” to retaliate against Iran. Iran promised a horrific war against America, Israel, and others, if attacked. Iran (ancient Persia) will figure prominently in next week’s RR.
MODERN-DAY THREATS: The world stands poised for major wars. One mistaken move could trigger war. Wars are coming, if the Bible is true, because they were long ago foretold by God’s prophets.
Before 1945, war was inefficient. Large armies proceeded slowly to meet other large armies. Hand-to-hand combat was frequent. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear attacks in 1945, warfare was forever changed. Now, entire cities can be destroyed in an instant. Bible authors (Isaiah and the Apostle John, for example) prophesied nuclear attacks. An electromagnetic pulse (EMP, super EMP) device is an anti-technology weapon. One burst over America can destroy virtually all electrical and electronic devices. Cyberwarfare can do the same, but less dramatically. And, so forth. Our government is busy working to protect Americans from modern-day threats, right? Absolutely not! But, we are working hard to impeach the president.
Rabbi’s note: Don’t miss Raymond’s sardonic tone throughout. End RN.
THE MIDDLE EAST IS KEY: In Bible prophecy and in world news outlets, one area of the world jumps to the front– the Middle East, especially tiny Israel. With all of the land and resources owned by her neighbors, Islamic nations desire to conquer, occupy, and even destroy Israel with totally irrational lust. This situation is analogous to Texas expending all of its efforts plotting to defeat Rhode Island.
Several wars have been waged by these neighbors since Israel was re-established in May, 1948. Israel still stands and has captured enemies’ land, but her enemies continue to plan more wars. A widely known quotation, attributed to Albert Einstein and others, applies here: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
A partial list of conflicts and wars waged against Israel since 1948 include:
** War of Independence (1947-1949): against Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Holy War Army, Arab Liberation Army
** Sinai War (1956): against Egypt
** Six-Day War (1967): against Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq
** War of Attrition (1967-1970): against Egypt, Soviet Union, Jordan, Palestine Liberation Organization
** Yom Kippur War (1973): against Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, North Korea
** Operation Litani (1978): against Palestine Liberation Organization
** First Lebanon War (1982-1985): against Palestine Liberation Organization, Syria, Jammoul, Amal
** Security Zone Conflict (1985-2000): against Hezbolah, Jammoul, Amal
** First Intifada (1987-1993): against Unified National Leadership of the Uprising, Hamas
** Second Intifada (2000-2005): against Palestinian National Authority, Hamas
** Second Lebanon War (2006): against Hezbollah
** Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009): against Hamas
** Operation Pillar of Defense (2012): against Hamas
** Operation Protective Edge (2014): against Hamas
** Operation Chess (2012 – present): against Iran, Hezbollah, Syria.
In the sixth century BC, God told His prophet Zechariah to write about Israel’s trouble to the world and destruction of Israel’s enemies (Zechariah 12:2-3, 9): “Behold. I [the LORD] will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it…. It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”
God explained why He protects Israel in Ezekiel 36:22-25, which I summarize for brevity: God will protect Israel not for her sake, but His. In reality, Israel is unworthy of God’s assistance because the Jews have profaned God’s name throughout the world. God promised to take Jews from among the nations and bring them to their own land. [This promise was accomplished with the Aliyah from the Diaspora– return to Israel after worldwide dispersal. Israel has enacted the Law of Return to guarantee bringing Jews home to Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel).] Finally, God promised through Zechariah to cleanse Israel from all filthiness.
An entire RR could be written about this Zechariah passage. Simply stated, God foretold a time when peoples neighboring Israel and throughout the world (the United Nations) will seek to destroy Jerusalem (Israel)
God promised He will never allow the Jewish nation (Abraham’s descendants) to be destroyed permanently. As part of this promise (the Abrahamic Covenant), God promised to curse any nation which rises against Abraham’s descendants. See Genesis 12:1a, 2 -3: Now the LORD had said to Abram [Abraham]:…. “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Understand these things from the Abrahamic Covenant:
** A biblical covenant is God’s sovereign promise in His dealing with mankind. Once announced, He will not act other than stated in the covenant. If He broke His covenant, would He remain holy? I expect my neighbor may break his word; I expect my God to be faithful.
** A covenant is usually unconditional. God obligates Himself to accomplish certain things. Man may be invited to join the covenant, but man’s participation is conditional (man may break the covenant, while God’s participation remains unchanged). When God promises, “I will…,” it is an eternal promise.
** For your information, most scholars recognize eight covenants (name plus beginning Scripture reference): Edenic (Genesis 2:16); Adamic (Genesis 3:15); Noahic (Genesis 9:16); Abrahamic (Genesis 12:2); Mosaic (Exodus 19:5); Palestinian (Deuteronomy 30:3); Davidic (2 Samuel 7:16); and New (Hebrews 8:8).
** The Abrahamic Covenant is stated in Genesis 12:1-4 and confirmed in Genesis 13:14-17; 15:1-7, 18-21; and 17:1-8. The Covenant promises three things:
(First promise– A great nation): Israel, Jacob’s descendants, would be created, with a special relationship with God. Israel today prospers. Some day, Israel will inherit all of the land promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 17:8).
(Second promises– Personal promises to Abraham): (a) Abraham would have many descendants, although wife Sarai (Sarah) was infertile at the time. (b) Abraham received God’s blessing. (c) Abraham received honor, and his name would be made great. (d) Abraham would be a channel of blessing, through the faiths of Judaism and Christianity.
(Third promises– Promises to Gentiles): (a) God will bless Gentiles, if they bless Abraham’s descendants. (b) Conversely, God will curse Gentiles, if they curse Abraham’s descendants. (c) Through Abraham’s descendants, all families of the earth will be blessed. This blessing has come through the Messiah Yeshua.
WAR IN THE OLIVET DISCOURSE: Skip ahead many centuries from Abraham to Yeshua, and we are privileged to read the words of Yeshua. Yeshua’s disciples asked Him what would be the signs of His return and the end of the Age. Sitting on the Mount of Olives, He taught them a key end-time prophecy. This prophecy, the Olivet Discourse (literally, the conversation on the Mount of Olives), is contained mainly in Matthew, chapter 24; Mark, chapter 13; and Luke, chapter 21. I will quote mainly from Matthew’s Gospel to reduce citation redundancy.
There is a significant King James Version (KJV) translation error. The KJV mistranslates one of the questions about the signs of the end of the “world” (see Matthew 24:3). The original text uses the Greek aion (pronounced eye-OWN). The correctly translated question is: What will be signs of the end of the “age” (that is, the end of the Age of Grace). The Bible teaches the world is without end. Since Heaven will descend to earth for eternity, the earth can never end. If the disciples thought the world would end, they would have used a word other than aion, such as, kosmos. The learned KJV translators, scholars all, surely knew better.
In the Olivet Discourse, Yeshua told one of the end-time signs (Matthew 24:6-7a): “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must pass, but the end is not yet. For nation <FN-1> will rise against nation, and kingdom <FN-2> against kingdom….”
<FN-1> In verse 7a, “nation” translates the Greek ethnos, implying a people group or tribe. I believe terrorists are included in these people groups. They belong to certain religious groups (for example: Islamic groups), but do not form a sovereign nation.
<FN-2> In verse 7a, “kingdom” translates the Greek basileia, implying a nation (for example: Iran).
A PERSPECTIVE OF TIME: Yeshua said that no one, other than God the Father, will know the precise timing (day and hour) of the end (see Matthew 24:36). But, He told us to know the season of His return and to keep watch. End-time wars will follow a sequence of events. These events were all foretold by God’s prophets many centuries ago. An abbreviated summary of some of these events is:
>> Daniel’s magnificent prophecy: Daniel gave us a general outline of the end times (see Daniel, chapter 9). Jews were punished for seventy years for their disobedience. As the seventy-year banishment to Babylon neared its end, Daniel prayed to ask what would become of his people. A remarkable prophecy was given to him from God through Gabriel (Daniel 9:20-27). Read this prophecy carefully, because God laid out future history for Daniel.
Translators have difficulty with this passage. The Hebrew text writes of shabua (plural: shavuot). A shabua is a collection of seven. Our week is a shabua (collection of seven days). A shabua is also called a heptad (period of seven), as the English decade is a period of ten (ten years). Translators confuse the issue by translating shavuot into “sevens” or “weeks.”
Gabriel outlined a period of seventy shavuot (70 x 7 years = 490 years). A “year” is a prophetic year of 360 days, not our solar year of 365.25 days. This period began “when a decree was given.” The Bible documents the decree’s date (Nehemiah 2:1-8), when cupbearer Nehemiah was granted leave from King Artaxerxes to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the destroyed walls and build the Second Temple. There is enough detail in this passage for scholars to place the date of this decree at March 14, 445 BC.
Of the seventy shavuot foretold to Daniel, seven shavuot would be spent rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls. Then, sixty-two shavuot would be spent with Jews living in their land. Then, the Messiah would be “cut off” (His ministry terminated)
Bible students begin at the decree (March 14, 445 BC); progress through sixty-nine seven-year shavuot; remember there is no year zero (1 BC passes directly to AD 1); and come to a date that Yeshua’s ministry “ended.” We call this date Palm Sunday. On this day, Yeshua rode a donkey into Jerusalem to the shouts of “Hosanna;” then, prepared for a Passover Seder (“Last Supper,” when He taught Communion as a sign of the New Covenant); and readied Himself to surrender to Roman authorities for His Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.
The foregoing schedule does not account for the seventieth shabua. After a pause of time, between the 69th and 70th shavuot, (called a “parenthesis” in prophecy interpretation), there will arise the horrible, seventieth shabua. This seven-year period is the Tribulation, when the Unholy Trinity will rule an evil world and persecute and martyr Jews and Christians.
>> Roman destruction of Jerusalem: Able-bodied Jews were taken to Rome as slaves, after Roman army occupation of Jerusalem and destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in AD 70. It was Jewish wealth and Jewish slave labor that built the Colosseum in Rome. Roman emperors built monuments to their victories, such as, arches. Look at the Arch of Titus posted on the Internet (https://www.google.com/search?q=arch+of+titus&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=2ahUKEwizv_vr-Y3lAhVOwqYKHT4EC2UQsAR6BAgEEAE&biw=1680&bih=939 ). Images in relief show Roman soldiers carrying the spoils of war from Jerusalem to Rome. Among the spoils, you will readily recognize the Temple’s menorah.
>> Days of Noah: Was this defeat caused because Yeshua was rejected as the Jews’ Messiah? If so, what fate will befall America because we are rejecting Yeshua more and more every day? Yeshua’s timeline for His return coincides with the state of the world today (Matthew 24:37-39): [Yeshua said concerning the time of His return] “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
Caution: It is popular to disbelieve (mock) the story of Noah and the flood. If a person disbelieves Noah and the flood, he/ she calls Yeshua a liar and a fraud. Why? Because Yeshua spoke of the “days of Noah” and gave this teaching. I surely will have things to be sorrowful for at my judgment, but I do not want one of them to be that I mocked and disputed Yeshua’s teachings in the Bible. In sports, this would be called an “unforced error.”
Read about the “days of Noah” (parts of Genesis, chapters 5 through 10). We modern earth residents are not much different than Noah’s neighbors, who perished in the flood. We busy ourselves with unimportant activities, while neglecting spiritual issues. Nations of the world sin grievously in God’s eyes. Will we be destroyed in a war or other disaster, that we may be removed from the earth?
>> Yeshua’s timeline: Yeshua gave us a valuable clue of the timing of the Rapture. Read the Parable of the Fig Tree (Matthew 24:32-35). A synopsis of this parable is:
** Olive and fig trees and the vine are plants God has chosen to symbolizes Israel.
** In the Spring, the fig tree branches out, preparing for Summer.
** Yeshua referred to the fig tree (Israel) branching out with new leaves (return of Jews from the Diaspora). This event began in May, 1948, which was probably the most remarkable day in history. Only Israel has ever accomplished rebirth in a single day. Isaiah set the stage for this event (Isaiah 66:8b): … Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children.
** Yeshua said when you see the fig tree (Israel) budding (Jews returning), know that summer is near. Summer is the season of fig harvest, just as the Rapture is the time of soul harvest for God’s Kingdom. It is no coincidence that the Feast of Shavuot, symbolic of Yeshua’s gathering of souls for the Kingdom, is a Summer feast.
** Yeshua said in this parable (Matthew 24:34): “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” The Bible uses different lengths for a generation, but we are nearing the end of a “generation” which started in 1948. I was alive in 1948, as are other members of Shomair. How long will Yeshua delay, until He appears in the clouds to call future occupants of Heaven home to be evermore with Him?
>> Paul’s timeline: The Apostle Paul helped establish the timeline of Yeshua’s appearance in the clouds and the introduction of the Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4): Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. [Explanation: “That Day” = day of Yeshua’s returm. || “Falling away” = from the Greek apostasia = apostasy (falling away from faith) || “Man of sin” = Antichrist || “Sits as God in the temple of God” = Revelation, chapter 13 tells of the Antichrist’s defilement of the Third Temple, which will be newly built at that time. The Antichrist follows the example of the defilement of the Second Temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
>> The Diaspora (Dispersal): The Roman Empire deteriorated and was finally overthrown by the barbarians in AD 476 (historian Edward Gibbon). Jews living in Rome were dispersed throughout the known world, a continuation of Jews’ history known as “the Diaspora.” Jewish persecution and martyrdom began early through the Roman Empire and continued for centuries through the Roman Catholic Church (examples: Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, and other anti-Semitic activities) and various nations (example: Nazi Germany’s Holocaust).
>> The Aliyah (Return): Jews returned from their worldwide exile, as prophesied in multiple Scriptures, primarily Ezekiel, chapters 36 and 37. This Aliyah started in May, 1948. Read the beautiful prophecies of the restoration of Jews to Israel in Ezekiel, chapters 36 and 37:
… Ezekiel 36:1-25: The people of Israel will be restored to the land of Israel
… Ezekiel 36:26-38: A restored people will be given a new covenant from God
… Ezekiel 37:1-14: God will take the Jews during the Diaspora (envisioned as dry bones) and create flesh upon the bones, forming a nation of living persons
… Ezekiel 37:15-28: God will cause the two divisions of the Jewish nation– Judah and Joseph (Ephraim) – and join them into one nation– Israel. On May 14, 1948, Israel’s new prime minister, David ben-Gurion, signed the Israeli Declaration of Independence. The newly created United Nations had begrudgingly granted Jews a tiny sliver of land on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea (guilt for the Holocaust?). Several names for the new nation were suggested (Eretz Yisrael, Judea, Zion, Ziona, Ivriya, and Herzliya). Ben-Gurion confidently chose “Israel” as the nation’s name. Why confident? God had already spoken that name through Ezekiel’s writings centuries earlier. (Hebrew Yisrael = English Israel = “God prevails”)
With restoration of Jewish people to their land of inheritance, the world stage is now set for end-time wars. Maranatha and Shalom!
TO BE CONTINUED….
Father: Thank you for Your loving care, that you have warned us about future wars. We are grateful that we have been given time to prepare ourselves, our families, and our neighbors for Satan’s evils that will befall our beautiful planet. We pray the Ruach HaKodesh will awaken people, that we will stop trivializing our lives and prepare for the importance of Your Kingdom. May we always watch the sky, awaiting that blessed Day, when we will hear Your trumpet and the Archangel’s shout to come up to Yeshua. When that glorious Day arrives, may we be found agreeing with King David, that we are blessing You at all times, and may our praise for You be always on our lips. Amen.