Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, November 28, 2021 (1 candle at sunset)

Shavuah Tov,

A Conversation with Yeshua – When Will He Return? (Part 3) by Dr. 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 of the end of the Age of Grace.

WHY STUDY PROPHECY? Fulfilling one of His three assignments from the Father, Yeshua came as Prophet. When He prophesies, we should listen. A prophet of God can never make an erroneous prophecy. If a “prophet of God” prophesies in God’s name and the prophecy fails, there are three conclusions: (1) God is a liar; or, (2) God is not omniscient (all-knowing); or, (3) the person “speaking for God” is a false prophet. 

The Apostle Paul warned us to avoid false prophets. Yeshua Himself cautioned that the last days would be filled with false prophets and false Messiahs. Some “prophets” come reciting nonsensical mumbo jumbo like Nostradamus. Other “prophets” make wild– but false– predictions for monetary or publicity gains, like Al Gore who assured us the North Polar Cap would be ice-free by 2016. (The ice is still there as of today, November 28, 2021.) I include astrologers and fortune tellers in a list of “prophets” to be completely ignored.

The Apostle Peter informed us of the importance of prophecy (2 Peter 1:16-21): For we did not follow cleverly concocted tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, a voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory: “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased!” And we ourselves heard this voice come out of heaven, when we were with Him on the holy mountain. Furthermore, we have the reliable prophetic word. You do well by paying attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all understand this: no prophecy of Scripture comes about from a person’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever brought forth by human will; rather, people spoke from God as they were moved by the Ruach ha-Kodesh. 

The Apostle Paul taught us that there are several gifts from the Ruach ha-Kodesh, culminating in “a far better gift” – the gift of love (1 Corinthians, chapters 12 and 13). One of these gifts of the Spirit is the gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:10b).

Adonai told us that He will reveal from the past things that will occur in the future:

● (Isaiah 46:9-10): [Adonai said] “Remember the former things of old: For I am God– there is no other. I am God, and there is none like Me– declaring the end from the beginning, from ancient time, what is yet to come, saying, “My purpose will stand, and I will accomplish all that I please.” 

● (Isaiah 42:9): [Adonai said] “Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things. Before they spring forth, I announce them to you.”

We are told (Ecclesiastes 1:9): [Kohelet = the Preacher = probably Solomon wrote] What has been is what will be, and what has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun. 

We ignore prophecy– which accounts for 28 percent of the entire Bible– at our own peril (Hosea 4:6): [Adonai said] “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Since you rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being My kohen. Since you forgot the Torah of your God, just so I will forget your children.” [kohen = priest]

Many Believers and congregation leaders ignore prophecy in their study or preaching. Why? Excuses include: prophecy is too difficult to understand… or, requires too much study… or, frightens me or congregants… or, I prefer to think of Yeshua only as playing with sweet little lambs and children… or, my gentle Yeshua would never carry a sword or wear blood-splattered clothing… or, Yeshua’s return from death and calling the dead to life is ludicrous… or, this resurrection-rapture scenario does not fit what my college/ seminary professors taught me… and other excuses. 

In other words, belief in end-time events, foretold in Bible prophecy, requires rock-solid faith. “Believers” who are weak in faith probably will reject end-time prophecy as mythological tales. In so doing, they also reject Yeshua because many end-time teachings are attributed to Him. A person rejects Yeshua at great personal risk (Matthew 10:33): [Yeshua said] “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” 

To have any hope of entering Heaven (being an “overcomer”), a person must be “all in” or must be “all out.” Partial or lukewarm faith may be as bad or worse than no faith at all. Consider the lukewarm Believers’ community in Laodicea, Revelation 3:14-22. These neither hot, neither cold congregants were so offensive to Yeshua that He wished to vomit them from His mouth. “Vomit” is the correct translation (from ἐμέσαι [emesai]) – not the more genteel translations of some Bible versions.  

Strong faith requires believing what Yeshua and the prophets explained to us about the end of the Age of Grace, even though such explanations may be at odds with logic or the teachings of “intellectuals.” (Be careful following “intellectuals” just because the world labels them such. Hell will be populated with an abundance of intellectuals.)

Now, I return to Yeshua’s Olivet Discourse, discussing these events and how present world conditions are preparing for their full manifestation during the Tribulation:

FAMINES: Yeshua taught that the Tribulation will be marked by great famines (Matthew 24:7b): [Yeshua said] “… And there will be famines…. ” In last Sunday’s RR, I mentioned the Third Seal Judgment (Revelation 6:5-6), in which a full day’s labor will not be sufficient to sustain a laborer and his family. The world has long had famines and droughts, but these problems are becoming more severe now due to natural failures coupled with rapidly expanding population (world population is approximately 7.9-billion persons) and foreseeable threats of wars and natural calamities. 

Widespread wars during the Tribulation will make these problems even more severe. Even America, long blessed with abundant food, is experiencing extreme drought in some of our richest farmlands. See current U.S. drought monitor at: https://droughtmonitor/unl.edu . Agricultural productivity is always vulnerable to changing growing conditions and emergencies (drought, flooding, freezing, insect infestation, and so forth). If these occur because of a catastrophic emergency (such as, a massive eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano) or a catastrophic disruption of logistical lines in the country (such as, destruction of communication/ transportation lines from an earthquake along the New Madrid Fault; or, loss of communication in the country due to electromagnetic pulse [EMP] radiation from the sun or a nuclear weapon; or, Internet hacking), distribution of food from one region to another could grind to a halt. 

To minimize warehousing costs, many grocery stores utilize a “just in time inventory strategy.” If a company hopes to sell an item on Wednesday, why have that item in place earlier than Tuesday? Many of America’s grocery stores have a food supply of one day (New York City) to three days or so (eastern Tennessee). I see your skeptical expression. Have you ever tried to purchase food a few days after a major snow or ice storm? There. You look much better, after erasing your skeptical facial expression. 

This just-in-time strategy worked until recently, when the supply chain began collapsing. It is said that we are now seeing less-than-full grocery shelves across the nation because of supply chain failures. (Grocery stores in Maryville, where my wife and I shop, now seem only minimally affected. We can now purchase almost anything we want. Shelves are mostly filled. We notice mild inflation, but numerous items are on sale. We dread what is coming, though.) Once grocery shelves are stripped bare during an emergency and cannot be re-stocked, the food supply is gone, and rioting will follow. People will revert to “the law of the jungle,” if they become hungry enough and, especially, if their children cry pitifully because their little bellies are empty.

Hunger is the body’s natural urge to replenish its food stores over the course of a day or two. Most of us have probably experienced hunger. Starvation causes numerous physical and mental side effects due to a prolonged lack of nutrition. Some starvation effects may be permanent, even if the person is able to eat regularly again. Starvation will eventually kill the victim. Probably few of us have ever experienced starvation. 

Presently, 957-million people in 93 countries do not have enough to eat. (The world population is approximately 7.9-billion people.) Somalia is the nation with the greatest percentage of people suffering severe hunger. The three “C’s” of worldwide hunger are said to be conflict, COVID-19, and the ever-popular climate change. As Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn wrote (One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich): “The belly is an ungrateful wretch, it never remembers past favors, it always wants more tomorrow.”

Hunger harms family members of all ages. Hunger stunts physical and mental development of children. Hunger interferes with education of the youth, and a poorly educated person has low income in adulthood with impaired ability to feed the family. A hungry pregnant woman delivers a poorly nourished infant, perhaps with permanent disabilities. 

Somewhere in the world, a child dies every ten (10) seconds from malnutrition. Nearly half of all deaths in children are caused by malnutrition. Forty-five (45)-million children die from malnutrition every year. Children in conflict zones and young girls are at greatest risk. More than 350-million children live in conditions of extreme poverty (defined as living under $1.90 per day). The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed millions more into poverty and deprivation of food. If a family cannot afford minimal food supplies, all other necessities of life (clean water, housing, healthcare, clothing, and so forth) are also in poor supply.

Watch for these possible future events, as we rush toward the Tribulation:

● Such conditions as war, droughts, and plagues (the riding of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) may drastically reduce the food supply at a time when the world population is rapidly increasing.

● Poorer nations may be unequally and more severely affected than richer nations. In the Third Seal Judgment discussed in last Sunday’s RR (read Revelation 6:5-6), Yeshua described a time when a laborer’s wage would not feed him, much less his family also. He added one statement (Revelation 6:6b): “… but do no harm to the oil and wine!” To a starving world, oil and wine would be luxury items. Was Yeshua telling us that poorer people will starve, but the richer elite will be unaffected (“the poor get poorer, the rich get richer”)? You may starve, but will Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates starve?

● Severe food shortage may lead to riots locally or revolutions nationally or regionally. People will tolerate hunger only for a few days before they become violent and resort to looting, pillaging, riots, and revolution. When a person’s young child cries through the night because his/ her little belly is empty, that person will resort to whatever is necessary to seize food wherever possible. Your very nice neighbor, whom you like a great deal, may someday rob you at gunpoint for your food and other supplies.

PESTILENCES: In some Bible versions (such as, King James Version and New King James Version), Yeshua prophesied there will be “pestilences.” This occurs in the text of the Olivet Discourse between famines and earthquakes. “Pestilences” translates the Greek λοιμοί (loimoi). I cannot find anything resembling “pestilences” in this verse in the Tree of Life Version. I do not know why it has been omitted. I do not know which translation is more correct.

[Word Study: pestilences = widespread infections, with high death rates. An epidemic is a disease which affects a greater number of people than is usual for a certain region or which spreads to regions in which the disease is not usually found. A pandemic is an epidemic of worldwide magnitude. The infection may be due to bacteria or viruses. We are all far too familiar with the COVID-19 pandemic.]

Whenever there are wars and famines, population immunity drops (weakened resistance to infections rises) and sanitation measures are compromised. A pandemic would not be unexpected.

As people crowd together for security and have diminished immunity, plagues could rapidly sweep through nations. Medical personnel, drugs, and hospitals would be overwhelmed or eliminated. (Medical personnel will be as ill and incapacitated as their patients.) We already have natural infections which can rapidly kill millions. Many nations are working on biological weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), and have successfully weaponized such diseases as anthrax, smallpox, and Marburg virus (a virus similar to Ebola virus). Nations are working to splice together different pathogens (viruses, for example) to produce hybrids never before seen in the world and against which there is no natural immunity. Besides the COVID virus, what else is the Chinese Communists’ Wuhan Laboratory “researching?” In a future world at war, biological WMDs will surely be unleashed, adding to the burden of pestilences.

Watch for these possible future events, as we rush toward the Tribulation:

● Epidemics/ pandemics may increase in the future due to some or all of these factors:

□ International travel may spread pathogens (infectious organisms) throughout the world in a few days;

□ Bacteria will become more resistant to antibiotics (that is, modern tools to fight infections will become less and less effective or even worthless, and we are now witnessing the beginning of this trend); 

□ Medical facilities and healthcare workers may become overwhelmed, especially in severe pandemics or epidemics in third-world countries; and

□ Terrorists and hostile nations will continue to weaponize bacteria and viruses– even hybridizing forms never before seen– to attack with biological WMDs populations having no immunity. Such weapons now exist, and some nations are known to be creating more biological WMDs. The COVID virus probably escaped from a biological weapons research laboratory in Wuhan, China.

EARTHQUAKES: Yeshua taught that the Tribulation will be marked by knowledge of earthquakes throughout the world (Matthew 24:7c): [Yeshua said] “And there will be… earthquakes in various places.”

Earthquakes have long accompanied God’s judgments and announcements. Yeshua foretold that knowledge of earthquakes throughout the world will be a sign of His return. Several million earthquakes affect the earth each year, but many of these are too weak to be felt. When did you last feel an earthquake? Others from far-distant places can be identified with seismographs. 

Some people claim that earthquakes have increased during the last century, but others argue that the recent “increase” in earthquake activity reflects better detection (more seismographs around the world) and better reporting (global satellite communication). Yeshua’s prophecy is fulfilled either way, and it is pointless to argue this issue. Yeshua did not say earthquakes would increase in number or severity. He did say (Matthew 24:6a): “You will hear of….” 

When Yeshua taught His disciples in the first century, they could be aware only of earthquakes that they personally felt or learned about from passing caravans. None of them could possibly know of earthquakes in the Ring of Fire, the Americas, or much of Europe and Asia. With modern communications, we know about earthquakes throughout the world within minutes of their occurrence. Websites, such as those maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey (https://www.usgs.gov), provide abundant information about earthquakes, large and small throughout the world. We easily “hear” about earthquakes in various places today. Understand that volcanoes and earthquakes are produced by somewhat similar disturbances of the earth’s crust.

Watch for these possible future events, as we rush toward the Tribulation:

● When you hear of earthquakes or volcanoes, be reminded that God may be speaking to you. Because of at least better detection and reporting, earthquakes and volcanoes will be or will seem to be increasing and will occur in different, perhaps unusual, parts of the world.

● Areas of most concern for seismic activity on American soil include the Yellowstone Supervolcano, the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and the New Madrid Fault. 

Yellowstone (Wyoming) is the largest volcano in the world, with an immense magma chamber which pushes magma (magma = extremely hot, molten rock) closer to the surface each year. Eruption of Yellowstone would devastate much of America’s farmland and cause a condition like a “nuclear winter” (blockage of a major portion of sunlight by volcanic ash particles in the atmosphere). The last major Yellowstone eruption occurred approximately 640,000 years ago, and we are “past due” for another major event.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone is a convergent plate boundary that stretches from northern Vancouver Island in Canada to northern California in the United States. The long fault in this zone is capable of producing very large earthquakes. Widespread damage to property and loss of life would be expected.

The New Madrid Fault runs parallel to the Mississippi River, affecting two major cities (Memphis and St. Louis). The last New Madrid earthquake created Reelfoot Lake in northwestern Tennessee. A massive New Madrid earthquake would severely disrupt road and railway bridges and pipelines across the Mississippi River and destroy many barge facilities along the same river. I have previously discussed a stern warning of God in Zechariah 12:2-3, 9. God warned of destruction of any nation which would seek to divide Judah and Jerusalem in the last days. The United States, as a partner of the Quartet of Nations (United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia), demands that Judah and Jerusalem be divided as part of the Two-State Solution. God promised to destroy “any nation” which tries to divide Jerusalem. Some scholars suggest that God may divide America, as America seeks to divide Israel. A strong earthquake along the New Madrid Fault would divide the United States into western and eastern parts by toppling bridges and pipelines, just as the United States seeks to divide Israel into western and eastern parts. 

Another area of concern– the Canary Islands– lies off the western coast of Africa. A fault in one of the islands (La Palma Island) is of concern for America and countries rimming the Atlantic Ocean. Seismologists have warned that seismic activity could shear off the western rim of the island. If this massive portion of the island’s mountain crashes into the Atlantic Ocean, it could produce a megatsunami. Massive destruction of seaside property and loss of life would follow. Volcanic activity and earthquakes began on La Palma Island in late September, 2021. Did you see this activity? No, but you heard about it from news reports. This is why Yeshua said, “You will hear of….”

TO BE CONTINUED: In His Olivet Discourse, Yeshua laid out worldwide conditions that would exist just before His return. These conditions must have seemed like “science fiction” to first-century disciples. To twenty-first century Believers like us, though, we can easily understand how all of Yeshua’s prophecies can come to pass. We are eyewitnesses to the end of the Age of Grace. 

SAVE YOUR FORK– THE BEST IS YET TO COME: Since this RR is shorter than most of mine, I will add an anecdote. I do not know when and where I first heard it, but it goes something like this (I paraphrase some from the abbreviated version I heard):

A young woman, dying of a terminal illness, called her pastor to arrange her funeral. The pastor dreaded the meeting, because he and the community greatly loved this woman. They discussed Scriptures she wanted to be read, music to be sung, and other details.

As the pastor started to leave, she said: “One more thing, and this is very important to me. I want to lie in the casket holding a fork across my chest.”

The pastor had never heard this request. “Why?” he asked.

“Well, my favorite part of a meal is dessert. In every picnic or community meal I have attended, one of the serving ladies announces, ‘Save your fork for dessert.’ Then, I know my favorite part of the meal is coming. After my life on this earth ends, the fork will be my testimony that I believe the best part of my life is yet to come.”

She died a few weeks later. The funeral was conducted exactly as she wished. As mourners passed her body, all wondered why she clutched a fork. The pastor concluded his eulogy by saying, “All of you probably wonder about the fork. Mary’s favorite part of a meal was dessert. By ‘saving her fork,’ she wants all of us who survive her to know that she expects the favorite part of her life– the ‘dessert’ of her eternal life– awaits her in glory.”

Be ready for the next stage in God’s plan. Save your fork! The best part of His plan (your “dessert” in your life) is truly yet to come! Shalom and Maranatha.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Sun 28-Nov-2021 24th of Kislev, 5782

Ge 41:1-14 1 Sa 13 Ps 53 Mk 9:30-50 (1 Co 12)