Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, November 21, 2021
A Conversation with Yeshua – When Will He Return? (Part 2)
by Raymond Finney
INTRODUCTION: I continue Yeshua’s important prophetic teaching, known as the Olivet Discourse. This conversation Yeshua had with His disciples on the Mount of Olives prophesies signs of His return and the nearing end of the Age of Grace.
“YOU WILL HEAR OF…:” Yeshua prefaced some parts of the Olivet Discourse with a statement (Matthew 24:6a), “You will hear of….” In a future RR, I will remind you of this phrase. Modern widespread dissemination of knowledge typifies one of Daniel’s end-time prophecies (Daniel 12:4): [The angel said] “But you, Daniel, close up the words and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will run back and forth and knowledge will increase.” Daniel foresaw modern times, when rapid travel (airplanes), live “eyewitness news” (satellite communication), and computerized handling and storage of data (knowledge increase) would be common. Even so, Daniel was told to “close up the words and seal the book,” because God was not ready to reveal His final plans to Daniel’s generation. Many things needs to be completed, first. Over the next few weeks, I will discuss some of these plans that have been completed (many in my lifetime), before God’s final plan will be revealed.
A WORLD IN TURMOIL: As the end nears, the world will be thrown into never-ending wars and terrorism (Matthew 24:6-7a, 8): [Yeshua said] “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must happen but it is not yet the end. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. |…| But all these things are only the beginning of birth pains.”
The world, including America, is on the brink of catastrophic war. In many ways, America is weaker now and more in peril than at any recent time. We have very strong enemies– China, Russia, Iran, and Islamic terrorist groups, among others– which plot America’s death. Surprisingly, even some Washington, D.C. politicians desire America’s death in order that a new socialist nation can arise. Our enemies are building powerful weapons, stockpiling weapons (including nuclear weapons), building navies, developing advanced weapons, amassing armed troops, forging strategic international alliances, and the like. In short, our enemies are preparing for war.
And, how is America countering our enemies’ war preparation? We busy ourselves with such matters as being sure we have the appropriate number of transgender troops and officers, worrying about the proper use of pronouns among personnel so that no one is offended, teaching white personnel that they abuse society’s critical race theory, and so forth. In other words, our enemies are becoming stronger war machines, while America is becoming an ongoing social experiment… a soft laughing stock.
The English translation of the Olivet Discourse does not fully explain Yeshua’s words, which are better captured in the Greek text (from Matthew 24:6-7a, 8):
● ”Wars” comes from the Greek πολέμους (polemous), which represents formal, conventional wars. International wars, civil wars, terrorism, and other hostile acts have occurred every day somewhere is the world since World War II ended (1945). America was attacked by Islamic fundamentalists on 9/11 (September 11, 2001). Even though America has lost massive amounts of national treasure and lives and limbs of our young men and women in uniform, we have not won a war since 1945. After years of war in Afghanistan, America displayed a de facto defeat, rapidly retreated from that country, and left behind billions of dollars worth of equipment and infrastructure (and some troops?).
America is weaker and is surrounded by much stronger and better organized enemies, than she was on 9/11. Multiple authors have written books about America’s decline in strength at a time when our enemies have grown more formidable. For example, Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn– based on Scriptures, beginning with a prophecy in Isaiah 9:10-11– has tried to explain the absence of America in end-time prophecies by drawing a parallel of ancient Israel with modern America. There are political and historical justifications to draw such parallels. Because of Israel’s sins, her enemies defeated her. Because of even more egregious sins of America, will our enemies defeat us? Many Americans, though, foolishly believe God will spare America, because we are “so good,” even though He did not spare Israel.
God’s judgment occurs in three phases: warning ► grace ► judgment. Consider:
□ God’s warning? (Past): Was 9/11 America’s warning from God? To the shout of “Alahu akbar” (“Allah is greater [than all gods]”), Islamic terrorists attacked/ planned to attack three symbols of America’s strength: the Twin Towers, New York City (financial strength); the Pentagon, Washington D.C. (military strength); and the Capitol Building, Washington D.C. (Constitutional law strength). But, airline passengers rose up and forced the last plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field, saving the Capitol Building. I believe this heroic act of passengers (the people) saving the Capitol may have been given to remind us of the role of the people in preserving a nation (2 Chronicles 7:14): [Adonai said] “… when My people, over whom My Name is called, humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
□ God’s grace? (Present): Is the post-9/11 freedom from attack within our borders a period of God’s grace? America has accomplished none of Adonai’s conditions of 2 Chronicles 7:14, and has even worsened. America is fast abandoning Israel and threatening to divide Israel and Jerusalem into two parts, giving the western parts to Israel and the eastern parts to “Palestine.” Such an act is completely opposed to God’s commandment. This political-diplomatic activity of America is surely an affront to God, and He has promised to destroy any nation which tries (read Zechariah 12:2-3, 9): [Adonai declared] “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of reeling to all the surrounding peoples when they besiege Jerusalem as well as Judah. Moreover, in that day I will make Jerusalem a massive stone for all the people. All who try to lift it will be cut to pieces. Nevertheless, all the nations of the earth will be gathered together against her. |…| It will happen in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”
□ God’s judgment? (Future): Why would God not judge America? There is no footnote, no fine print in the Bible granting America immunity from punishment for not following His commandments.
America is weakened and growing weaker, as our enemies grow stronger. Bible scholars have searched for convincing Scriptural evidence for a nation resembling America in the last days. Such a nation is hinted, but not conclusively found. Think about it. A strong America in full support of freedom to worship God and in strong support of a free Israel would be contrary to the goals of the Unholy Trinity (Satan, Antichrist, False Prophet). A God-fearing America must be destroyed to make way for the Antichrist. Are we seeing this change now? There are many ways in which America can be destroyed– from within; or, from without; or, from natural calamities; or, from internal decay; or, from enemy attack. In a future RR, I will discuss ways America may be destroyed or weakened to the point of irrelevancy. Consider Yeshua’s warnings:
● ”Rumors of wars” translates the Greek ἀκοὰς πολέμων (akoas polemōn), which literally is “hearing of wars.” News reports are filled with rumors of impending or planned hostilities, involving China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Islamic terrorist groups, and so forth. Our rapid communication makes us virtual eyewitnesses to actual and threatened wars.
● ”Nation” translates the Greek ἔθνος (ethnos), which may be considered people groups not organized into sovereign nations (sovereign nation = land with well-defined borders and government). This designation fits well the many Islamic terrorist groups plaguing the Middle East, Europe, and, soon, America. These groups function as cells, weaving in and out of nations and having ill-defined organization or leadership.
● ”Kingdom” translates the Greek βασιλεία (basileia), which may be considered a traditional kingdom (a sovereign nation). This geographical division of people has traditional borders and government, and is recognized by other nations as a sovereign nation.
● Interestingly, Yeshua compared this time as the beginning of the pain of childbirth (ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων = archē ōdinōn). I recall my wife’s delivery of our four children. Approximately nine months of morning sickness, tummy enlargement, and various discomforts led up to the births of our children. As she went into labor, she began feeling vague pains, widely spaced apart in time. We wondered whether she was experiencing true labor or false labor (Braxton Hicks contractions). As time passed, the pains became more intense and closer together. By the time of delivery, there was no doubt in her mind– she was in labor, ready to deliver our baby! Wars will progress in like manner– false alarms leading up to final catastrophic wars. The Bible lists a number of end-time wars, which must occur before Yeshua’s return.
Remember that Yeshua said: “See that you are not alarmed, for this must happen but it is not yet the end…. But all these things are only the beginning….” The Believer will win, even if our nation is destroyed. America is not the Believer’s home. Russia’s or China’s nuclear missiles may destroy America. But, Hallelujah, Heaven is the Believer’s home, and neither man nor Satan can destroy Heaven.
End-time prophecy did not start our “labor pains” in earnest until 1948, when Jews from all parts of the world began their prophesied Aliyah. (Aliyah = “rising up to go somewhere;” here, rising up from Gentile nations– beginning the end of the Diaspora– to return to Israel.) I will say more about this Aliyah in a future RR, when I discuss the Parable of the Fig Tree and Ezekiel’s remarkable visions of the valley of the dry bones and the uniting of northern and southern Jewish tribes into the single nation of Israel.
SIDELIGHT: It is easy to read over a small, but important, sentence in this passage (Matthew 24:6b): [Yeshua said] “… See that you are not alarmed, for this [wars and rumors of wars] must happen but it is not yet the end.” We all long for peace, and we fear war in an age of nuclear weaponry and advanced weapons delivery systems. Yeshua told us, though, that we must expect wars. Adonai has foreseen these wars. Man cannot override the future. In folly, man tries to forge treaties and alliances and engages in useless debate in the United Nations. Yeshua implies such activities are meaningless. We will have wars. You and I may die in a nuclear attack. But, He said, “See that you are not alarmed,….” If we die in a nuclear attack tomorrow, we will instantly meet Yeshua and our friends and relatives who have died before us in Paradise. We will trade a good life on Earth with a perfect life in God’s Kingdom.
We will, then, understand what the Apostle Paul, who glimpsed Heaven in a near-death experience, meant (1 Corinthians 15:50-58): Now I say this, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and what decays cannot inherit what does not decay. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed– in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last shofar. For the shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruptibility, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this corruptible will have put on incorruptibility and this mortal will have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” [See Isaiah 25:8.] “Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” [See Hosea 13:14.] Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Torah. But thanks be to God, who keeps giving us the victory through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah! Therefore, my dearly loved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord– because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Why be alarmed at the world’s problems? A Believer wins, even when he/ she might seem to “lose.” END sidelight.
WATCH: Watch for these possible future events, as we rush toward the end of the age:
● As the time approaches for Yeshua’s return, the world will be filled with violence. In another passage, Yeshua told us that the last days would be “just as the days of Noah were” (read Matthew 24:37-39). How was it in Noah’s day? Read Genesis, chapter 6. The world was filled with violence. Most people had forgotten God. When God judged mankind with a flood, almost everyone was unprepared, and they perished. “Enlightened” theologians and ministers may mock the account of Noah, his ark, and the flood. They say this little story, “obviously” meant for children and the simple-minded, is nothing more than an amusing little myth concocted by superstitious, uneducated, desert-dwelling people. For a theologian to make make such an assertion is to call Yeshua a liar and a fraud. Yeshua believed in Noah and the flood. Should we not agree with Yeshua, rather than liberal theologians?
● Wars, terrorist acts, and threats are reported on a daily basis in television, Internet, newspapers, and the like. (Remember Yeshua’s opening phrase: “You will hear of….”)
● I repeat, Yeshua told us not to be troubled. He added that these things MUST come to pass. All of the diplomatic negotiations of various world governments and the United Nations are meaningless. The world is on a fast track for the return of Yeshua. God has known about our present time from the time of creation. For reasons known only to God, He will allow violence and wars to continue until the end. Yeshua will return (His Second Coming) as the Battle of Armageddon begins, in order to stop the greatest world war of all time. You need to do what God has called you to do, and not become fixated on war. Eternal peace awaits each child of God some day (but not now).
THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE: “Apocalypse” comes directly from the Greek title of the last book of the B’rit Chadashah (Ἀποκάλυψις = Apokalupsis = “Revelation, Unraveling, Disclosure,” etc.). In the Catholic Bible, this book is not translated and is called “The Apocalypse.” In the Protestant Bible, this book is translated and is called “The Revelation.” This book records a single message to John (and, in written form, a message for us). This one-time message from Yeshua and other heavenly beings should be called “The Revelation” (singular), never “Revelations” (plural).
In Revelation, chapters 6 through18, the Apostle John received a vision of the Tribulation. The Tribulation is the worst time in the history of the world. Man’s evil nature will be revealed at its worst. God will unleash twenty-one judgments against rebellious, unrepentant man. These judgments occur in three sets of seven (seven Seal Judgments, seven Trumpet Judgments, and seven Bowl Judgments).
The first four of God’s judgments– that is, the first four Seal Judgments– are depicted by John as riders on four different-colored horses. When these mounted horses “ride” through the world, war and the effects of war are unleashed, with the Antichrist being heavily involved:
● First Seal Judgment (read Revelation 6:1-2) will be the horseman on the white horse– The Antichrist is revealed. This rider prophesies the coming of the Antichrist. He is seated on a white horse to mimic Yeshua at His Second Coming (read Revelation 19:11). The Antichrist will come to power in deceit, claiming to be a man of peace (no arrows in his quiver), but he will prove to be a ruthless conqueror (a crowned man, riding as a conqueror bent on conquest).
● Second Seal Judgment (read Revelation 6:3-4) will be the horseman on the fiery red horse– War sweeps the world. This horseman, representing war, will take peace from the world. His “large sword” undoubtedly represents nuclear weaponry.
● Third Seal Judgment (read Revelation 6:5-6) will be the horseman on the black horse– Famine grips the world. This horseman represents famine. Yeshua’s example is a man who earns a denarius for a full day’s labor. (A common laborer’s wage in the first century was one denarius per day.) This denarius will purchase only a quart of wheat (equal to a loaf of bread), which would barely sustain a laborer, but would leave nothing to feed his family and provide for other family needs. Note Yeshua’s statement, “… but do no harm to the oil and wine!” Wheat and barley are cheap foods– foods for the working man. Oil and wine are luxury foods– foods for the rich. In war, the poor suffer disproportionately more than the rich.
● Fourth Seal Judgment (read Revelation 6:7-8) will be the horseman on the “pale greenish gray” horse– Pestilences and other forms of death sweep the world. Some Bible versions, e.g., King James Version, poorly render this color as “pale.” The word in question comes from the Greek χλωρός (chlōros). Chloros is properly translated “green.” (The green pigment of plants, chlorophyl, is named from this word.) This rider brings death to a fourth of the world’s population by sword (war), famine, plague, and the wild beasts of the earth. “Wild beasts” probably imply that infections come from animal vectors, rather than animal attacks. We are now in a COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by a virus of bat origin.
All of these judgments are interrelated. Wars commonly cause starvation and infections. In many wars, more people die from the incidental effects of wars than from weapons of war.
WARS IN THE FUTURE: The future of the world and its citizens will be filled with wars, including terrorism. No diplomatic initiative can prevent these wars. Some of the things you can expect, as you await Yeshua’s return to call you to your eternal home– a home in which there will be no wars, death, or sadness– include:
● Unsolvable wars, rumors of wars, revolutions, and civil disobediences will increase and will dominate concerns of the world.
● Terrorism will increase. In addition to death, effects of terrorism can include fear, change in life routines, and loss of personal freedoms.
● Warfare of the past– massed armies confronting each other on battlefields and war theaters– will be at least partially replaced by a different type of warfare– missiles, drones, cyberwarfare, terrorism (including “lone wolf” and isolated cell terrorism), unconventional weapons, and the like.
● Cyberwarfare (Internet warfare) can be conducted at little expense to a hostile nation, but can inflict major damage on an attacked nation. For example, a nation’s electrical grid can be shut down by terrorists sitting at a keyboard on the other side of the world. Islamic fanatics will increase war against Jews, Christians, Americans, Europeans, and others. America’s abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan has undoubtedly strengthened and emboldened Islamic terrorists.
THE GOOD NEWS IN THE BAD NEWS: Even though the news is filled with what should be depressing, frightening events, a Believer should be overjoyed. Current news overlaps Bible prophecy, without error. Gain confidence that our Bible and faith are real. God, who saw into our present and future thousands of years ago, is real. The Judeo-Christian faith is real. The Holy Bible is real. If you are saved, the worse the news becomes, the better it is for you. Your Savior, Yeshua HaMashiach, is coming soon to take you eventually to your eternal home in Heaven. If you are a Believer, this is the best of times. If you do not have assurance that you will spend eternity in Heaven, read the Bible, pray, and talk with Rabbi Weiner.
ROOSEVELT’S PRAYER: This part has only a little to do with this RR topic, but I want to mention it. The early 1940s were very dark times for America. Satan’s attack dogs from Hell– Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Hirohito (Japan), and Stalin (USSR, briefly America’s ally), all totally evil men– were unleashed upon the world. America sustained an unprovoked attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. A poorly prepared America entered World War II, as grinding economic problems (the Great Depression) existed at home.
World War II was fought with great loss of life. By June of 1944, the ultimate fight needed to be taken to the enemy (Nazi Germany). America and other allies must attack the Nazis from the west, as the USSR fought simultaneously from the east. Many thousands of “America’s greatest generation,” in concert with the Allies, invaded Europe at Normandy, France. Success was very much in doubt. There was no “Plan B,” if the Normandy invasion failed. Even the Allies’ Supreme Commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower, prepared a “just-in-case” letter of resignation and acceptance of responsibility for the Allies’ defeat before the Normandy invasion.
Eisenhower’s handwritten letter of resignation read: “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
By God’s grace, Eisenhower never submitted this letter, as the Allies’ inched across the Normandy beachhead and hedgerows, and, then, steadily advanced through France and Germany toward Berlin. In less than one year, victory had been realized!
Before the invasion began (June 6, 1944), President Franklin D. Roosevelt offered a prayer to God for America (by radio), asking for God’s blessings and protection. America has need for God’s guidance, now. America needs leaders who will pray publicly. (How many of America’s leaders would now pray to God in a public venue?) Following is Roosevelt’s prayer, a prayer that could be offered for America today:
“My Fellow Americans:
“Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.
“And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
“Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
“They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
“They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest– until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
“For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
“Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
“And for us at home– fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them– help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.
“Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.
“Give us strength, too– strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.
“And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
“And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment– let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.
“With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace– a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
“Thy will be done, Almighty God.
I add only my Amen… and, Shalom and Maranatha.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 21-Nov-2021 17th of Kislev, 5782
Ge 37:1-11 1 Sa 6-7 Ps 47 Mk 5:21-43 (1 Co 7:1-24)