Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, January 9, 2022
A Conversation with Yeshua – When Will He Return? (Part 8) by Dr. Raymond Finney
INTRODUCTION: I continue Yeshua’s Olivet Discourse. In the December 12 RR, I discussed Yeshua’s warning that many of His followers would fall from true faith (apostasy and apathy). So important are these issues that I continue discussing them:
RECAP: I briefly mention from the earlier RR the two features Yeshua warned that would characterize the Community of Believers (Church) in the last days– apostasy and apathy. I combine the two related conditions, apostasy and apathy, by the abbreviation A&A.
● Apostasy: “Apostasy” comes from the B’rit Chadashah Greek ἀποστασία (apostasia). Apostasy combines apo- (away from) and -stasia (to stand). Literally translated, apostasy is “a standing away [from faith],” “a movement away [from faith],” or “deception, revolt, renunciation, neglect, abandonment [of faith].”
● Apathy: Apathy is a closely related term. “Apathy” comes from the Greek ἀπαθεια (apatheia). Apathy combines a- (no) and -pathy (feeling). Apathy is literally translated “without suffering, feeling, or sensation.” END recap.
THE TRIBULATION PROPHESIED: We must understand the prophesied Tribulation to appreciate The Revelation of Yeshua. This horrible time (the Tribulation) is in the world’s future. “Tribulation” translates the B’rit Chadashah Greek θλῖψις (thlipsis = “pressure, pressing together, oppression, affliction, distress”).
Yeshua told us (Matthew 24:15-22): “So when you see ‘the abomination of desolation,’ which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the Holy Place (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. The one on the roof must not go down to take what is in his house, and the one in the field must not turn back to get his coat. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! Pray that your escape will not happen in winter, or on Shabbat. For then there will be great trouble, such as has not happened since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. And unless those days were cut short, no one would be delivered. But for the sake of the chosen, those days will be cut short.”
What did Yeshua tell us in this portion of the Olivet Discourse?
● The Tribulation is in our future. There must first appear the Antichrist, who will be revealed to the world in the future (First Seal Judgment– Revelation 6:1-2). The Antichrist will be on the order of the first evil type of the Antichrist. (In prophecy, “type” is a forerunner of, a prophecy of, a rehearsal for something or someone.) This forerunner was Antiochus IV Epiphanes (born 215 BC, died 164 BC).
Alexander the Great of Greece conquered much of the known world, including present-day Israel. He died at a young age, and had no heirs. His four generals– Lysimachus, Cassander, Ptolemy, and Seleucus– divided the Grecian Empire among themselves. Seleucus took the southern portion– Babylon, Persia, India and Syria, which included present-day Israel. From him came the Seleucid Dynasty. After several generations, Seleucus’ kingdom was ruled by Antiochus IV. Antiochus IV took for himself the title Epiphanes (Epiphanes = “god made manifest”). In other words, Antiochus IV elevated himself to the status of a god.
Read Daniel, chapter 8, for a prophecy of these events, which I summarize: A male goat (symbolic of Greece) charged from the west (toward Israel). Alexander was noted for his bold, lightning-fast military actions. This goat had one large horn. A horn in prophecy symbolizes a king, and this horn– this king– was Alexander the Great, who, being single, had no smaller horns (heirs, future kings) to follow him. The horn broke (prophesying Alexander’s early, unexpected death).
From the broken horn (the dead Alexander, with no heirs) arose four horns (four kings), each pointing toward different parts of the world (a prophecy of the four generals who divided the Grecian Empire among themselves). From one of the four horns (Seleucus) arose a little horn (Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a king and a prophesied forerunner of the Antichrist).
This little horn pressed toward the Beautiful Land (Israel). Daniel’s prophecy continued with a prophecy of a distant king (the Antichrist), who will arrogantly oppose God’s people (Jews and Believers/ Christians) and will oppose the Prince of princes (Yeshua; remember the Anti- prefix in Antichrist means “opposed to” or “in place of”).
What an amazing Word from God we have! A humble Jewish slave (Daniel) in Babylon wrote this prophecy in 536 – 530 BC, centuries before the life of Alexander the Great (Alexander: born 356 BC, died 323 BC), before the Seleucid Dynasty, before Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and before the Antichrist (who is still in our future).
● Antiochus IV Epiphanes hated the Jews. He mocked and sought to destroy Judaism. Antiochus’ actions in 167 BC (prophesied in Daniel 11:21-35) foretold the Antichrist’s actions in our future (prophesied in Daniel 11:36-45). (This is the king against whom the Macabees revolted which is the basis of Chanukah.) Both enemies of God did/ will again do actions which resulted/ will result in an “abomination that causes desolation.” These activities were/ will be so sinful (so sacrilegious– such an abomination) in God’s eyes that they rendered/ will render His holy place (His Temple) unacceptable for worship (“abomination that causes desolation”). “Abomination” translates the Hebrew שִׁקּוּץ (pronounced, skik-KOOTS), which indicates a “filthy, detestable, idolatrous thing.”
COMPARISONS OF ABOMINATIONS: Compare Antiochus’ abomination in the past (Book of Daniel) with the Antichrist’s abomination in the future (The Revelation):
□ Place of blasphemy:
….. Antiochus: Second Jewish Temple (now destroyed)
….. Antichrist: Third Jewish Temple (not yet built)
□ Abominable thing:
….. Antiochus: Statue of Zeus (Greek mythology’s chief god) was erected in the Temple
….. Antichrist: Antichrist’s image, to be worshiped as a god, will be erected in the Temple
….. Antiochus: Jewish worship was halted
….. Antichrist: Judeo-Christian worship will be halted
….. Antiochus: Jews were persecuted
….. Antichrist: Jews and Believers/ Christians will be persecuted
□ Defilement of God’s holy place:
….. Antiochus: Second Temple was defiled; sow sacrificed on altar built for the Lord
….. Antichrist: Third Temple will be defiled; true worship stopped, replaced by Satan/ Antichrist worship and other abominations
● Old Testament prophets (especially Daniel) prophesied the Tribulation. Yeshua affirmed the Tribulation. Probably the most complete description of the Tribulation is recorded in The Revelation, chapters 6 through 18. A brief summary of the Tribulation, as prophesied in The Revelation, follows:
□ The Antichrist will be revealed. In this RR series, I will discuss features of this evil man, who will seek to replace Yeshua. I believe the Antichrist may be alive today, waiting in anonymity until he is revealed to the world as its savior. The worldwide chaos now engulfing the nations fits into the background necessary for this charismatic leader with “the plan” to arise. Bad things are not happening now without reason. They are leading up a horrible time, when frightened people will cry out, “Save us!” The savior will be a charismatic man with a plan, now code named “the Antichrist.”
□ The Tribulation begins with or shortly after the Antichrist affirms a seven-year peace treaty with Israel (read Daniel 9:27). This verse is poorly translated in some Bible versions. “One week” poorly translates the Hebrew shabua (plural shavuot), which is a span of seven years. In the middle of this seven-year shabua (that is, after 3.5 years, or 42 months), he shall cause the “abomination that causes desolation.” Persecution of God’s people will accelerate and Satan’s fury will surpass any evil thing that has ever been seen before (read Revelation 12:12).
□ The Tribulation will combine the evil inhumanity of the Unholy Trinity and twenty-one judgments of God. These judgments are divided into three sets of seven judgments– seven Seal Judgments (read Revelation 6:1-17; 8:1-5); seven Trumpet Judgments (read Revelation 8:6-13; 9:1-21; 11:15-19); and seven Bowl (Vial) Judgments (read Revelation 16:1-21).
□ Adding the Tribulation death tolls foretold in The Revelation, billions of persons will die. Deaths will occur from wars (including those from the “large sword” of Revelation– nuclear weapons), pandemics, famines, martyrdom, and so forth.
□ The Antichrist will kill Jews and Believers/ Christians wherever they are found (read Matthew 24:9; Revelation 6:9-11; Revelation 20:4; and so forth). He likely will use the mark of the Beast (read Revelation 13:16-17), which will be mandated that every person receive. This “mark” may be a system of implanted microchips, global positioning satellites, and high-speed computers. Such a system can be instituted, whenever the political will exists– even at this moment. The technology is here! With this system, the Antichrist can eliminate money, credit/ debit cards, and checks. More importantly, he can locate any of his subjects anywhere in the world within a one-yard radius. Rounding up Jews and Believers/ Christians will be a simple exercise of genocide.
□ God does not wish anyone to perish but all to receive salvation (read 2 Peter 3:9). He will send forth great evangelistic efforts during the early part of the Tribulation, through the 144,000 Jewish evangelists (read Revelation, chapter 7) and the Two Witnesses (read Revelation 11:3). The greatest evangelistic (revival) results of all time will occur, as “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, peoples, tribes, and tongues” are swept into the Kingdom of God (read Revelation 7:9-10).
□ The Tribulation will end with the Battle of Armageddon (read Revelation 16:16 and following passages). Yeshua will return to Earth (His Second Coming), as King of kings and Lord of lords (read Revelation 19:11-16). Yeshua will lead invincible armies from Heaven– angels and resurrected and raptured followers of Yeshua, called saints (read Revelation 19:14). If you are saved, you will be in that army! Shalom will follow, as the Antichrist and False Prophet are cast alive into the Lake of Fire, or Hell (read Revelation 19:20), and Satan is bound for one-thousand years in the Abyss, or Bottomless Pit, for one-thousand years (read Revelation 20:1-3). Yeshua, then, establishes His one-thousand year reign (Millennial Kingdom), assisted by His faithful followers (read Revelation 20:4-6).
WHY WOULD GOD PERMIT THE TRIBULATION? Why would a loving God permit such suffering and persecution? There may be several reasons, including: (1) to end transgressions (sins) of Israel and the Body of Christ (Church); (2) to provide atonement for man’s wickedness; (3) to establish everlasting righteousness; (4) to seal and fulfill all prophecies, as prophecies will never again be needed; and (5) to anoint God’s Most Holy things (such as, Yeshua HaMashiach, the New Covenant with mankind, and, possibly, His Holy Mountain).
SIDELIGHT: God will use this time to fulfill the Apostle Paul’s beautiful teaching about God’s holy tree. Read Romans 11:11-36, which I liberally summarize, following:
Understand that God uses two trees– olive and fig– to describe heavenly things. Paul taught that God’s Kingdom can be compared to an olive tree. The roots are God, which anchor and sustain the tree. The trunk is Yeshua, whereby nourishment of God’s Truth flows from the root to the leaves. The tree’s natural branches and leaves (the Jews) became unproductive (bore little fruit). As a good Husbandman, God pruned out the unproductive limbs. This pruning occurred in AD 70, when the Jews were forcibly removed from Israel to be dispersed throughout the world, a time known as “the Diaspora.”
A sprout (wild branch) sprang from the tree’s roots. (Olive trees tend to have many sprouts, called “suckers” in eastern Tennessee.) God used this wild (Gentile Believer) branch to graft into the tree of Israel for a season (the Age of Grace) to bear fruit (save souls). God did not forget the pruned natural branches (Jews). He will remove the wild Believer/ Christian branches (at the Rapture), and graft the natural branches (Jews) during the Tribulation into the tree for one reason– that Israel will be saved (read Romans 11:26-27). Concerning the salvation of the Jews, another name for the Tribulation is “the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble” (read Jeremiah 30:7). END sidelight.
WHEN WILL THE TRIBULATION OCCUR? Prophecy scholars debate the timing of this event with respect to the return of Yeshua. Yeshua will return twice– first, in the clouds to call Believers to Him; then, with the saints (persons in Heaven) and angels to set foot on the Mount of Olives, to defeat evil, and to establish His thousand-year reign (Millennial Kingdom). Be careful not to confuse the two events. They occur years apart. Calling Believers home is the Rapture (snatching away Yeshua’s followers who are alive) and the Resurrection (restoring life to Yeshua’s dead followers).
Several theories exist, including these three:
● The Rapture/ Resurrection occurs before the seven-year Tribulation (pre-Tribulation rapture), and the Body of Messiah (the Church) is entirely saved from the Tribulation.
● The Rapture/ Resurrection occurs in the midpoint of the seven-year Tribulation (mid-Tribulation rapture), and the Body of Messiah (the Church) only endures part of the Tribulation.
● The Rapture/ Resurrection occurs after the seven-year Tribulation (post-Tribulation rapture), and the Church must endure all of the Tribulation.
● Other theories exist. There is the No-Rapture Theory– rapture and resurrection of Believers do not occur. There is Preterism– all end-time events have already been fulfilled. I am trying to determine whether I am too stupid or too smart to understand these theories, because the explanations are incomprehensible to me.
The seven-year Tribulation begins with the Antichrist signing a peace treaty with Israel (read Daniel 9:27) and will continue until Yeshua’s Second Coming at the Battle of Armageddon (read Revelation 19:11-21). In an earlier RR, I shared the view that the Antichrist will be revealed shortly after the Battle of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39). The Antichrist’s plan will probably, among other things, provide for peace between Muslims and Jews/ Believers, will open the Temple Mount to all faiths (that God’s Holy Mountain may be “trampled upon” by nonbelievers), and will permit construction of the Third Temple.
I can see these developments occurring in my lifetime, and I reached my eightieth birthday last March. In a future RR, I will try to narrow the possible date of Yeshua’s return. I base my optimism about the soon return of Yeshua on one of His Olivet Discourse statements (Matthew 24:34): “Amen, I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things happen.” I am in “this generation” which has witnessed Yeshua’s words come true. I can say with the Apostle John (Revelation 22:20b): … Amen! Come, Lord Yeshua! Shalom and Maranatha.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 09-Jan-2022 7th of Sh’vat, 5782
Ex 13:17-14:8 2 Sa 22 Ps 89 Lk 14 (Php 3)