Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, November 14, 2021
A Conversation with Yeshua – When Will He Return? (Part 1)
by Dr. Raymond Finney
INTRODUCTION: I begin a series on the last days, centered on a question which has stumped generations of Believers: When will Yeshua return? Since this topic has many “moving parts,” it is difficult to present in an organized format. But, be patient with me, as I careen through the Scriptures.
FUNDAMENTALIST THOUGHTS: Many members of this synagogue may be fundamentalist Believers, although never having thought of themselves in this way. Fundamentalism is basic Biblical thought, not something limited just to evangelical Christians. The five pillars of fundamentalism are:
● ONE. The Holy Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. It is His Truth and His Guide for us. (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:19-21, etc.)
● TWO. Yeshua was born of a virgin as the long-promised Messiah, being part Man while on Earth (Son of Man) but being eternally Divine (Son of God). (See Matthew 1:18, John 8:58, John 10:30, John 16:27-28, etc.)
● THREE. Yeshua was the substitutionary atonement (the vicarious atonement) for our sins. He, being sinless, took upon Himself our sins, and died in our place for those sins. That is, He died the death we should experience. (See Matthew 20:28, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, John 4:25-26, etc.)
● FOUR. Yeshua HaMashiach was resurrected. He rose from the grave (from death), promising that those who faithfully believe in Him and call upon Him as Savior will defeat death in like manner. (See Acts 1:3, Luke 24:2-6, etc.)
● FIVE. Yeshua HaMashiach will return– first in the clouds and, then, to Earth– to call Believers to be evermore with Him. Believers are citizens of New Jerusalem (Heaven). Homes are being built for us there. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Acts 1:9-11, Revelation 19:11-16, etc.)
If you believe in the Bible, the virgin birth of Yeshua, the death of Yeshua for our sins, the resurrection of Yeshua from the grave, and the Second Coming of Yeshua, you share beliefs with your evangelical Christian brothers and sisters. We need to come together in unity of faith, not pulled apart by religion (Psalm 133:1): … Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!
Two of these fundamentalist beliefs are: (1) Yeshua was bodily resurrected after His crucifixion, arose from the grave on the third day, and ascended to be with Father God (accomplished in the past); and (2) there will be a literal return of Yeshua to Earth (a future event).
THE PLAN: There are major logistical hurdles God must overcome to end His experiment with those of us “created in His image,” including:
● The dead must be resurrected in two waves– one ultimately destined for Heaven, the other ultimately destined for Hell. In this RR series, I will concentrate on Believers who have chosen to go to Heaven.
● Living Believers will be raptured (translated or changed from a mortal human body to an immortal eternal body). Critics smugly claim that “rapture” is not in the Bible. There are many English words not in the Bible, because this Book was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, not English. The rapture activity translates ἁρπαγησόμεθα (harpagēsometha) from ἁρπάζω (harpazō) = “to seize, snatch, catch way.” Other words are used, such as ἐγείρω (egeirō = “to arouse, awaken from sleep, awaken from death to life”). The more God’s critics rant, the more foolish they are proven to be.
● The resurrection occurs first, almost instantaneously followed by the rapture. Yeshua has been seated next to the Father in Heaven, but He is about ready to return to Earth. He first will appear in the clouds to meet resurrected/ raptured Believers. [THOUGHT: Scriptures declare Yeshua will return “in the clouds.” Could it be that a huge number of angels, all clad in white robes, will accompany Him? From an earthly vantage point, this robe-clad angelic army could appear as white clouds.]
● After a wonderful time (seven years [or, 7 x 360 days], as I read Scriptures) in Paradise (“the Father’s Kingdom”), which runs concurrently with (parallel with) a horrendous time on Earth, known as the Tribulation, Yeshua will return to Earth with the Heavenly Host (Believers, called “saints,” and angels). (“Saint” translates ἅγιος = hagios = “a most holy one,” which I believe is a person who has had his/ her sins covered by the blood of a crucified Messiah and accepts in faith this debt payment by Yeshua. Will the final stage of sainthood be one of the gifts given by Yeshua at the Bema Judgment?)
YESHUA’S EARTHLY ASSIGNMENTS: In His First Coming, Yeshua came to Earth in three offices (that is, to fulfill three assignments). These assignments all start with “P,” making memorization easier. These assignments are:
● Prince. Yeshua came as Prince of Peace. After His return (Second Coming), He will be promoted eternally to King of kings and Lord of lords.
● Priest. Yeshua came as Priest of our New Covenant faith. After His return (Second Coming), He will eternally serve as High Priest of all inhabitants of Heaven (even though there is no Temple in Heaven, as Yeshua is the Temple [Revelation 21:22]).
● Prophet. Yeshua prophesied about the future (including the Olivet Discourse, which we are beginning to study). After His return (Second Coming), He will no longer be a prophet because He is the fulfillment of all prophecies and no further prophecies of wondrous things to come can be made. (Since we will live in a perfect Heaven and no future rewards can be given, nothing else can be prophesied or given to us.)
THE OLIVET DISCOURSE: An important end-time prophecy, taught by Yeshua, helps define when He will return. This teaching is called “the Olivet Discourse,” because Yeshua sat on the Mount of Olives to teach His disciples. [Olivet = “on the Mount of Olives” and Discourse = “conversation, teaching conversation.”] The Olivet Discourse is found in Matthew, chapter 24; Mark, chapter 13; and Luke, chapter 21. These accounts are similar. In this RR, I will quote mainly from Matthew’s Gospel.
THE DISCIPLES’ THREE QUESTIONS: Yeshua and His disciples likely had been worshiping in the Temple (the Second Jewish Temple aka Herod’s Temple). After leaving the Temple, they walked onto the Mount of Olives. From that elevated point, they could look back at their beloved Temple and admire its beauty.
The Temple was indeed a most beautiful and beloved building, far grander than any other in the Jewish nation. The disciples asked Yeshua three questions. These questions show that they knew something of Yeshua’s future death, resurrection, and return. Yeshua clearly knew that the magnificent Temple would be destroyed in the future (Matthew 24:1-2): Now when Yeshua went out and was going away from the Temple, His disciples came up to point out to Him the Temple buildings. “Don’t you see all these?” He responded to them. “Amen, I tell you, not one stone will be left here on top of another– every one will be torn down!”
Yeshua’s prophecy came to pass nearly forty years later. Forty years span the common Biblical length of a generation. The generation which rejected Yeshua as the Messiah at the beginning of His ministry [ca AD 30] would be severely punished. In AD 70, a forty-year generation later, Roman legions under the command of Titus besieged and destroyed Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple by fire, stole the national treasury, and enslaved able-bodied Jews. Jews were carried first to Rome and, then, scattered throughout the world. This defeat was the beginning of the Diaspora. [Diaspora = forced dispersal of Jews outside of Israel into Gentile nations.]
The Jews’ treasury was used to build the Colosseum in Rome, and Jews provided slave labor for this and other Roman projects. I have mentioned this in previous RRs, but look at the Arch of Titus, (accessed through a search engine, to see photographs of bas relief sculpture in this arch in Rome of the Romans’ victory procession), commemorating Rome’s victory. The menorah, Temple treasure, and Jewish slaves are sculpted into the Arch, as they are carried to Rome by the Roman legions.
The Temple was the most secure building in the nation. Since there were no banks, the treasure of Judaism was stored there, as well as the treasure of rich and ordinary Jews alike. When the Temple was burned (probably accidentally? intentionally?), gold and silver stored in the Temple melted. Molten metal flowed between the stone joints. Roman soldiers used pry bars to separate the building stones and retrieve the cooled precious metal. No stone was left standing upon another, as Yeshua prophesied.
The three questions the disciples asked Yeshua were:
● “Tell us, when will these things happen?” (Matthew 24:3b);
● “What will be the sign of Your coming…?” (Matthew 24:3c); and
● “What will be the sign of… the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3c).
SIDELIGHT: This third question is correctly translated in the Tree of Life Version. The translators of the King James Version (KJV) made a “freshman mistake” in translating this question. The KJV reads: “… and what shall be the sign of… the end of the world?” The disciples knew better than to ask when the world would end. (For example, Isaiah 45:17 states the world is without end.)
The mistranslated word is αἰῶνος (aiōnos = “age”). If the disciples believed the world would end, they would have used another word in their question, such as κόσμος (kosmos). There may not be a perfect Bible translation, and we need to do the best we can with what we have to study. The KJV is the most beautiful English-language translation (the KJV was published in 1611, and William Shakespeare died in 1616), but it has numerous obsolete (outdated) and mistranslated words. Study the KJV with caution and have a concordance handy. END sidelight.
Not irritated by these questions, Yeshua answered part of their questions. Yeshua’s answers apply more to our generation than to the disciples’ generation. His prophecies were not meant to be fulfilled in the disciples’ generation, but they may well be fulfilled in ours. In following RRs, I will take Yeshua’s Olivet Discourse teachings one-by-one, as we try to learn from Him about our future. The Olivet Discourse should warn every Believer to prepare and watch for His return.
FALSE MESSIAHS TODAY: Yeshua’s first sign of the last days was persons who would come in Messiah-like manner to deceive Believers (Matthew 24:4-5): Yeshua answered them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray! For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will lead many astray.”
History records many impostors, charlatans, or delusional fanatics, who have claimed to be the Messiah. Even today, people claim to be the Messiah, either by asserting to be Him or by falsely speaking “revelations made by the Messiah” to further their own selfish desires.
SIDELIGHT: Although irrelevant to this RR, I am reminded of an experience in the early 1960s. I was a medical student, then. We students were assigned patients to examine and draw conclusions (proposed treatment plans). In my psychiatry rotation, I was assigned a sweet, intelligent, fifteen year-old girl, admitted to the psychiatric hospital for schizophrenia. She and I discussed at length what I considered a delusion, but what she considered reality. “Jesus” would visit her in her bedroom at home daily to discuss her school day with her, as well as any problems she might have. This “Jesus” was completely real to her, and she was almost convincing in her faith in these visits. Who knows? Did Yeshua visit this sweet girl? Her faith would make anyone think twice. Some self-proclaimed “prophets” can be very convincing. END sidelight.
Some people discuss false teachers as having the spirit of the Antichrist, rather than being the one-and-only Antichrist. Many “prophets” deliver conflicting “revelations from God,” most of which obviously are false. God will not tell “Prophet A” one thing, while telling “Prophet B” the opposite. All “revelations from God” must be tested against the Holy Bible. God will not contradict His Holy Word. Paul warned of false teachers in the last days (2 Timothy 4:3-4): For the time will come when they will not put up with sound instruction, but they will pile up for themselves teachers in keeping with their own desires, to have their ears tickled. And they will turn away from hearing the truth and wander off to myths.
False teachers lead us to the Unholy Trinity. The seven-year Tribulation will be dominated by the Unholy Trinity– Satan (attempting to replace Father God), the Antichrist (attempting to replace Yeshua), and the False Prophet (attempting to replace the Holy Spirit).
The Antichrist will rule over a Satan-driven kingdom, composed of ten divisions. These divisions correspond to the ten mixed iron-clay toes of Nebudchadnezzar’s dream statue (read Daniel 2:41-42). These toes represent the final ten “kingdoms” appearing prior to Yeshua’s Second Coming. Interestingly (and possibly unrelated), the Club of Rome divided the world into ten divisions in 1968. The Club of Rome was created for the purpose of leading the world into a New World Order.
The Bible gives characteristics of the Antichrist, who is called by different titles, in at least seventeen passages:
● Satan’s seed (Genesis 3:15);
● The king of Babylon (Isaiah 14:4);
● The ruler of Tyrus (Ezekiel 28:2-19);
● The little horn– “another horn, a little one” (Daniel 7:8);
● A stern-faced king, a master of intrigue (Daniel 8:23-25);
● The prince who shall come (Daniel 9:26);
● The willful king (Daniel 11:36);
● The Assyrian (Isaiah 10:24);
● The destroyer, the oppressor, the aggressor (Isaiah 16;4);
● The worthless shepherd (Zechariah 11:16-17);
● The one who comes in his own name (John 5:43);
● The man of lawlessness, the lawless one (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 8-10);
● The man doomed to destruction (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 8-10);
● The Antichrist (1 John 2:18);
● The rider on the white horse (Revelation 6:1-2);
● The beast (Revelation 11:7); and
● The first beast that comes out of the sea (Revelation 13:1-10).
All of the titles and their descriptions are prophetically significant, but I do not have space in this RR for detailed explanations. Read these passages to get a better understanding of this future, evil world leader, who is the enemy of the Messiah. The prefix “anti-” can mean “opposed to” or “in the place of.” This title, Antichrist, used only in 1 John 2:18, is a good name for this evil man because he will be opposed to and will seek to replace the Christ (the Messiah).
The Antichrist is probably alive today. He is likely biding his time, waiting to join Satan and the False Prophet (who probably is also alive now) to rule the world in hatred, death, and destruction during the Tribulation.
SIDELIGHT: The Tree of Life Version (TLV), commonly used in this congregation, is translated with a Hebraic (Jewish) flavor. This verse (1 John 2:18) is translated as a warning about the coming “anti-messiah” in the TLV. “Antichrist” is a more literal translation of the Greek text– ὁ ἀντίχριστος (ho antichristos). As you likely know, “the Messiah” translates the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (HaMashiach); “the Christ” translates the Greek ὁ χριστος (Ho Christos). Both Messiah and Christ are identical titles, just reflecting different languages. Both titles mean “the Anointed One” or “the Consecrated One” (of God). Neither is a surname. (Jesus Christ is incorrect; Jesus the Christ is correct.) Both are preceded by articles (Ha in Hebrew, Ho in Greek), translated “The.” Thus, Yeshua’s title is “the Messiah” or “the Christ.” I usually use “the Antichrist,” rather than “the anti-messiah,” because the former title is more widely known. END sidelight.
WATCH: Watch for these possible future events, as we rush toward the Tribulation and the unveiling of the Antichrist. You will continue to be confronted by false Christs (false Messiahs) and false teachers. Stay strongly rooted in the faith that has been preserved for you by many generations of Believers (kedoshim) who preceded you (Jude 1:3): Loved ones, though very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I felt it necessary to write to you urging you to continue to contend for the faith that was once for all handed down to the kedoshim.
Contend (fight) for your faith, even as the world tries to destroy it. Remember, Yeshua made it clear in The Revelation that only those who overcome may enter Heaven. What must be overcome is not stated. Sin? Enemies of God? What? Might different Believers face different enemies that must be overcome in our journeys to God?
As the time nears for Yeshua’s return, watch for signs that the Antichrist’s appearance on the world stage is imminent:
●-The Antichrist, Satan’s “right-hand man,” will eventually be revealed to the world. The world will continue to spiral out of control to make way for the evil Unholy Trinity. The world will become progressively more wicked, rather than holier.
●-The strength of sovereign nations will continue to be weakened. A sovereign nation (such as the republic originally established as the United States) is incompatible with the global (one-world) government of the Antichrist. Sovereign nations must weaken and even collapse. Power and authority will be taken over from individual world governments (including the United States) – possibly first transferred to the United Nations, but given ultimately to a federation of nations representing all continents. The one-world government must abolish national sovereignty and individual freedom. Economies will collapse to make way for a cashless world-wide economy (prophesied as the mark of the Beast in Revelation 13:16-18). A sham religion will be established by the False Prophet, not for the purpose of worshiping God but for worshiping Satan/ Antichrist as gods. Competing religions– especially Judaism and Christianity– will be unmercifully persecuted. Worship of Yeshua will be forbidden (Revelation 6:9-11 and other Scriptures). Persecution of Christianity has been present for centuries and is now intensifying. Rejoice that you are hated by the world because of your faith. Such hatred means that Satan is threatened by your faith. Your faith is real. If no one persecutes the Judeo-Christian faith, it would mean it represents a false religious faith of no threat to Satan.
●-Be wary of anything which promotes one-world (global) government, economy, religion… one-world anything. This one-world (global, universal) tactic is likely an attempt to ease the path of the Antichrist’s government.
●-Be especially wary of accepting anything which might be the mark of the Beast (read Revelation 13:16-17). No one knows exactly what this “mark” may be. “Mark” translates the Greek charagma. Charagma usually implies a brand or stamp.
Many scholars believe the “mark” could be a microchip implanted under the skin of the right hand or forehead. Such an implanted microchip would uniquely identify the person in whom it is implanted. The chip could be read electronically as easily as a credit/ debit card is swiped today. Information on the chip could be transmitted to overhead global-positioning satellites and, then, to high-speed computers on Earth. All financial transactions could be immediately recorded (read Revelation 13:17), without any danger of fraud and without use of money, checks, or credit/ debit cards. More importantly, the Antichrist could immediately know the whereabouts of each citizen.
These microchips are not scientific fiction. Veterinarians commonly implant such chips in pets and livestock to identify these animals. Any human who accepts this mark is forever cursed and assigned to Hell (among other Scriptures, Revelation 14:9-11): And another angel, a third one, followed them, saying in a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he shall also drink the wine of God’s fury, poured full strength into the cup of His wrath. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb. The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. Those who worship the beast and its image and those who receive the mark of his name have no rest day or night.” [Lamb =Yeshua]
There must be more to this mark than an “implantable credit card” microchip. To receive this mark, perhaps the person must acknowledge that the Antichrist and Satan are gods. Then, it may be that the worship of the Antichrist/ Satan causes damnation to Hell, and not just the implantation of a microchip itself.
The microchip, satellites, and computers are functional now. The mark of the Beast could be implanted today, if there is the political will to do so.
DEFINITIONS: In these RRs, I will use certain terms that you should know:
● Resurrection: Yeshua returns in the clouds to call (literally, snatch away) His dead Believers (Followers) to join Him in eternal life.
● Rapture: Yeshua returns in the clouds to call (literally, snatch away, translated as “rapture”) His living Believers (Followers) to join Him in eternal life.
● Pre-tribulation resurrection/ rapture: Yeshua returns in the clouds before the seven-year Tribulation.
● Mid-tribulation resurrection/ rapture: Yeshua returns in the clouds at the midpoint of the seven-year Tribulation.
SIDELIGHT: Yeshua’s return is often called “imminent return.” (God knows the time; we do not. The time could be at any moment– in “the twinkling of an eye.”) Other theories exist about the timing of Yeshua’s return (post-tribulation rapture, preterism, etc.), but some of these theories take liberties in and twisting of Scriptures. I will not discuss them. (I am comfortable, though, in dismissing the preterism theory as hogwash.) I do not argue different theories. I just hope I am going, and I leave the timing to God. I find that God does pretty well running things without my kibitzing. END sidelight.
WATCH: World conditions and fulfilled prophecies are primed for the Antichrist to be revealed. ALL end-time prophecies necessary to precede Yeshua’s return have been fulfilled. Yeshua could return today, or He may tarry for years.) Yeshua intended for us to be ready at any moment for His return, even though we will not know when our Savior returns until that very moment (imminent return). The Apostle John’s prayer should be the prayer of every Believer (Revelation 22:20b): … Amen! Come, Lord Yeshua! Prepare daily for Yeshua’s return in the clouds to call you home. His return may be much closer than you think.
SIDELIGHT: I end each of my RRs with, “Shalom and Maranatha.” Every Shomair congregant is familiar with the Hebrew Shalom, but may be less familiar with the Aramaic Maranatha. This compound word (two words fused into one word) is used only once in Scriptures (1 Corinthians 16:22).
Early (first century) Believers faced a dangerous, hard life in the Roman Empire. The Romans required all persons to recognize the Roman emperor as god, but Believers, knowing there was only one God, refused to accept the Roman emperor as god. Believers greeted each other in their coming and going with the Aramaic phrase “Maranatha.” Maranatha became a watchword, password, greeting for early Believers. Roman soldiers were unlikely to pick up nuances of pronunciation of Aramaic words to understand the significance of this phrase.
Pronunciation differences in the two fused elements of the compound word changes the meaning.
● If pronounced Marana-tha, the word may be translated, “Our Lord, come.”
● If pronounced Maran-atha, the word may be translated, “Our Lord has come.”
To Aramaic-speaking Believers, Maranatha could, depending on subtle pronunciations, be a plea for Yeshua’s Second Coming (“Our Lord, come”) or a statement of faith in Yeshua’s First Coming (“Our Lord has come”). END sidelight. Shalom and Maranatha.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 14-Nov-2021 10th of Kislev, 5782
Ge 32:4-13 Jdg 20 Ps 41 Mk 1:21-45 (1 Co 1)