Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, February 13, 2022
A Conversation with Yeshua – When Will He Return? (Part 12)
by Dr. Raymond Finney
INTRODUCTION: Today, I detour from Yeshua’s Olivet Discourse series to discuss a prerequisite for end-time events. Many scholars conclude that Jews must be living in the Covenant Land of Israel before any prophecies of the last days can take place.
A BRIEF HISTORY REVIEW: Abram, a descendant of Noah’s son Shem, lived in Ur of the Chaldees (ancient Mesopotamia,modern Iraq). Abram and his wife, Sarai, were commanded to leave Ur (Genesis 12:1-2): Then Adonai said to Abram, “Get going out from your land, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. My heart’s desire is to make you into a great nation, to bless you, to make your name great so that you may be a blessing.”
“The land that I will show you” was to the west of Ur– ancient Canaan, modern Israel. Abram (later, renamed Abraham) and Sarai (later, renamed Sarah) obediently moved to Canaan, but they disobediently did not leave their relatives behind (taking nephew Lot and his daughters with them). Sarai, with its -ai ending, may be difficult for many Americans to pronounce. The correct pronunciation is: saw-RAH-ee. [Translations of names: Abram = “Exalted Father.” || Abraham = “Father of a Multitude (… of Many).” || Sarai = “Princess.” || Sarah = “Noblewoman.”]
The Bible frankly discusses people we euphemistically call “heroes of the Bible,” showing “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of such “heroes.” I will not go into the shortcomings of Abraham (they are recorded in Genesis), but this “hero” did things I, even in my flawed state, would never do. Yet, Adonai loved Abraham and used him greatly for His purposes. There is hope, there is promise for all of us!
Abraham had two sons– a Covenant son, Isaac (from whom came Jews and Believers), and a non-Covenant son, Ishmael (from whom came Muslims).
Isaac had two sons, Jacob (from whom came Jews) and Esau (from whom came more Muslims). After Sarah’s death, Abraham married Keturah (whose sons produced even more Muslims). Any reference to Muslims, of course, followed Muhammad’s introduction of Islam into the Middle East many centuries after Abraham died.
SIDELIGHT: Take notice of the proliferation of Muslims in far greater number than Jews. I have mentioned in several RRs God’s use of remnants. God does not need a large number to accomplish His purposes. He only needs a small, faithful number– a remnant– to work with and for Him. When Adonai is into something, we always have “One more than we need.” END sidelight.
REMOVAL FROM, RETURN TO THE PROMISED LAND (THRICE): After Abram and Sarai established a home in Canaan, their descendants left for or were removed to foreign lands three times. These three absences from the Promised Land equal approximately 2,378 years (430 + 70 + 1,878 = 2,378 years). But, Adonai faithfully brought the Jews back to Canaan (Israel) three times. These three exiles are:
● First time– to and back from Egypt: Jacob (renamed Israel) had twelve sons (Israel’s Patriarchs). Sibling jealousy against one son, Joseph, led to Joseph being sold to Arab traders. Joseph was, then, sold to an Egyptian. Through a complicated turn-of events, Joseph became a trusted advisor to the Pharaoh. Adonai gave dreams to Joseph, warning him of a severe drought. Joseph convinced the Pharaoh to build granaries to store grain during the time of plenty for use during the drought.
As Joseph predicted, a devastating drought came. Joseph’s family, still in Canaan, suffered from the drought and journeyed to Egypt to obtain food for themselves and their flocks. Joseph was reunited with his family. A grateful Pharaoh gave rich pastureland in Goshen (in the Nile River delta) to Joseph’s family. They lived in Egypt for a little more than 430 years– first as prosperous farmers, then as slaves. The original Pharaonic succession died out, and the new Pharaoh had forgotten about Joseph’s contributions to Egypt. Fearing a large number of Israelite “foreigners” who worshiped a God unknown to the Egyptians, he became a cruel taskmaster.
Adonai raised up Moses, who led the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage back to Canaan. This event marked the most-important Passover, which is still observed today. Because of idolatrous worship during the exodus from Egypt, Adonai ordained that the Israelites must wander aimlessly in the wilderness for forty years (the time necessary for the generation that worshiped the golden calf idol to all die). In God’s time, the Israelites reached the Jordan River, crossed it into the land promised to them, and established their nation. The Patriarchs moved from Canaan to join Joseph in Egypt in 1880 BC; the Israelites left Egypt with Moses to return to Canaan in 1450 BC.
● Second time– to and back from Babylon: Babylon defeated the two Jewish kingdoms, the second time being the Southern Kingdom in 587 BC. As pointed out in this series, Adonai commanded that fields must lie fallow (free from being planted) every seventh year to conserve soil fertility. This Shabbat of rest was called a Shemitah. For seventy Shemitahs (70 x 7 = 490 years), Adonai was disobeyed. Adonai required that He be repaid one year in captivity for every ignored Shemitah. Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar marched his troops into Jerusalem, destroyed the city walls and the First (Solomon’s) Temple, and enslaved able-bodied Judeans. They lived in Babylonian captivity for seventy years. Then, some were allowed to return to Jerusalem in 538 BC to rebuild the destroyed city and build a Second (Zerubbabel’s) Temple.
● Third time– to and back from Rome and all the nations of the world: The Roman army, under command of General Titus, laid siege to Jerusalem, destroyed the city walls and the Second (Zerubbabel’s, Herod’s) Temple, stole the national and personal treasury, and enslaved able-bodied Jews. The captured Jews and the nation’s wealth were taken to Rome. See a commemoration of his event carved in stone (the Arch of Titus), with slaves, stolen treasury, and the Temple menorah at: arch of titus in rome with menorrah at DuckDuckGo . I believe this defeat of the Jews occurred because the Jews refused to accept Yeshua as Savior. A generation (approximately forty years) later, the nation was destroyed. The first project of the enslaved Jews was to build the Colosseum.
Jews lived in the Western Roman Empire for a few centuries. Why and when Rome fell is debated, but some say Rome fell in AD 476. After the barbarians ended the Roman Empire’s rule, Jews were dispersed throughout the world, eventually even reaching the New World (North and South America). Some Jews have returned to the Promised Land, but others remain throughout the world. I believe it is God’s plan that many Jews will remain scattered in the world. In the Tribulation, God will have need for 144,000 Jewish evangelists (Matthew 24:14; Revelation, chapter 7). These future evangelists are already in place. No recruitment and no instruction in language or customs is necessary. They are here, needing only recruitment by the Ruach ha-Kodesh!
Thus, God’s Chosen People were exiled three times from their Covenant Land– to Egypt, to Babylon, and to Rome and the world. Three times, though, God did not forget them, and He brought them back to Israel. The following quoted passage is lengthy, but I want to again emphasize Adonai’s promise to B’nei Yisrael, when He reunited them a final time (Ezekiel 37:21-28): “Then say to them, thus says Adonai Elohim: ‘Behold, I will take Bnei-Yisrael from among the nations, where they have gone. I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will be king to them all. They will no longer be two nations and never again be divided into two kingdoms. They will never again be defiled with their idols, their detestable things or with any of their transgressions. I will save them out of all their dwellings in which they sinned. I will purify them. Then they will be My people and I will be their God. My servant David will be king over them. They will all have One Shepherd. They will walk in My ordinances and observe My rulings and do them. They will live in the land that I gave to My servant Jacob, where your ancestors lived. They will live there– they, their children and their children’s children, forever, and My servant David will be their prince forever. I will cut a covenant of shalom with them– it will be an everlasting covenant with them. I will give to them and multiply them. I will set up My Sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling-place will be over them. I will be their God and they will be My people. Then the nations will know that I am Adonai who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever.’”
PROPHECIES FULFILLED WITH RETURN OF JEWS TO ISRAEL IN 1948: End-time prophecies cannot be fulfilled until the Jews have returned “from the four corners of the world” to Israel. This return (aliyah) officially occurred in May, 1948. Following are some of these remarkable ancient prophecies of the return of Jews to Israel:
● Jacob’s descendants will regain control of Israel: The prophet wrote there would come a time when the Israelite exiles would again inhabit and own Israel. Written ca 760-750 BC, see Amos 9:14-15: Yes, I will restore the captivity of My people Israel. They will rebuild desolated cities and dwell in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine. They will also make gardens and eat their fruit. Yes, I will plant them on their land, and they will never again be plucked up out of their land that I have given to them.” Adonai, your God, has said it.
● Israel will be revived (brought back to life): Written ca 571 BC, see Ezekiel 37:10-14: So I prophesied just as [Adonai Elohim] commanded me. The Ruach came into them and they lived. They stood up on their feet, a vast army. Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say: ‘Our bones are dried up; our hope is lost; we are cut off– by ourselves.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, thus says Adonai Elohim: ‘Behold, I will open your graves. I will bring you up out of your graves, My people. I will bring you back to the land of Israel. You will know that I am Adonai, when I have opened your graves and brought you up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Ruach in you and you will live. I will place you in your own land. Then you will know that I, Adonai, have spoken and that I have done it.” It is a declaration of Adonai. This declaration from Adonai is as prophetic as it is poetic. The prophet saw a valley of disconnected, dried bones. Adonai told Ezekiel these bones, representing scattered Israel during the Diaspora, would be brought back to life to create modern Israel. Ezekiel watched as these dead bones came together to form living persons, just as “our generation” watched scattered Jews come together miraculously out of the Diaspora to form the nation of Israel in 1948.
● Revived Israel will be born in a single day: Written ca 700-680 BC, see Isaiah 66:7-8: Before she was in labor, she gave birth. Before her pain came, she delivered a male child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children. As a woman gives birth in a single day, so the nation of Israel (Zion) was astonishingly born in a single day. The day of Israel’s birth was May 14, 1948. On this day, B’nei Yisrael declared independence as a united, sovereign nation for the first time in nearly 3,000 years. On the same day, the United States recognized Israel’s sovereignty, only hours after the United Nations’ mandate expired (removing British control of “Palestine”). During this “one day” of Isaiah’s prophecy, “Palestine” under British rule ceased to exist, Israel was reborn following the movement of Zionism and the horrors of the Holocaust, and this new nation was recognized by “all nations” (the United Nations) as a sovereign entity. The formation of Israel was clearly God’s doing. I wish I had space in this RR to demonstrate that only Adonai could have orchestrated the events that led to Israel’s rebirth. Israel’s rebirth was nothing short of a miracle from Adonai.
● Israel will be re-established as one nation (a finally united nation): Written in ca 571 BC, see Ezekiel 37:21-22: “Then say to [Bnei-Yisrael] , thus says Adonai Elohim, ‘Behold, I will take Bnei-Yisrael from among the nations, where they have gone. I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will be king to them all. They will no longer be two nations and never again be divided into two kingdoms.” The Jewish Nation for many centuries had been divided into two parts– the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). Both kingdoms had been defeated at different times by the Babylonians. Adonai promised that He would not only re-establish the Jewish Nation, but He would also bind it together as one nation, never to be divided again. Today, there are not northern and southern kingdoms of Israel, but there is a united nation.
● The second Israel will be greater than the first Israel: Written in ca 585-580 BC, see Jeremiah 16:14-15: “Therefore, the days are quickly coming,” declares Adonai, “when it will no longer be said. ‘As Adonai lives, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.’ Rather, ‘As Adonai lives, who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had banished them.’ So I will bring them back into their land that I gave to their fathers.” The prophet stated that the reborn (modern) Israel would be far greater (more impressive, stronger) than the ancient Israel. Israel is a marvel of scientific, technical, medical, agricultural, economic, and military progress and prosperity. Israel outshines her neighbors in virtually every way possible.
● The date of Israel’s rebirth was recorded (prophesied) in the Tanakh: Written in ca 571 BC, among other Scriptures, see Ezekiel 4:1-6: “Now you, son of man, take a brick and lay it before you. Engrave on it a city, Jerusalem. Lay siege against it, build earthworks against it, raise an assault ramp against it; pitch camps against it and place battering rams all around it. Then take an iron plate and set it up as an iron wall between you and the city. Set your face toward it so that it is under siege. So you will lay siege against it. This will be a sign to the house of Israel. Then you are to lie on your left side, and set on it the punishment of the house of Israel; according to the number of days that you lie on it, you will bear their iniquity. I have appointed the years of their punishment to you as a number of days– 390 days. So you will bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. When you have completed these, you will lie on your right side and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah– 40 days– a day for each year, I have appointed to you.” This prophecy seems to be one of the most bizarre passages in the Bible. Sounding more like a mattress commercial than prophecy, what could Adonai possibly have meant? The late Bible scholar, Grant Jeffrey, advanced the theory that this passage in the Tanakh predicts to the very year the date of the rebirth of Israel (1948). Jeffrey’s explanation and computation are too involved for this RR, but may be reviewed at: https://friendofthefamily.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/prophecy-of-israels-return-in-1948-2/ .
● The people of Israel would return to their own land: Written in ca 571 BC, see Ezekiel 34:13: [Adonai Elohim said] “I will bring them out from the peoples. I will gather them from the countries. I will bring them back to their own land. I will shepherd them upon the mountains of Israel, by the streams and in all the habitable places of the land.” After Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman army, under the command of General Titus, able-bodied Jews were frog-marched to Rome for slave labor. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Jews living in Rome scattered throughout the world. This worldwide dispersal of Jews outside of Israel to live in Gentile lands is known as “the Diaspora.” Beginning in the late 1800s, Jews began returning to their ancient homeland of Zion (then called “Palestine”). Through nothing short of a miracle, the United Nations granted a small sliver of land along the Mediterranean Sea coast for Jewish occupation. This land was designated “Israel.” Jews were allowed to occupy this land officially on May 14, 1948. Jews came from all corners of the world to create a Jewish homeland and claim part of their birthright, a birthright given by Adonai to Father Abraham and his descendants many centuries earlier. Even Jews from such seemingly unlikely nations as Cush (Ethiopia) came home. (Return of Ethiopian Jews could comprise an entire RR.)
● God will watch over the people of Israel, after their return: Written in ca 585-580 BC, see Jeremiah 31:9-10: [Adonai said] “Hear the word of Adonai, O nations, and declare it in the distant islands, and say: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather and watch over him, as a shepherd does his flock.’ For Adonai has ransomed Jacob. He redeemed him from the hand of one stronger than he.” [Jacob’s name was changed to Israel.] God told the prophet Jeremiah that He would gather Jews to the Promised Land many years in Jeremiah’s future. He would watch over them, as a shepherd watches over and protects his sheep. Israel has been repeatedly attacked since May of 1948, often seeming to be overwhelmed by their Muslim neighbors, but the tiny Jewish homeland has always prevailed. God is Israel’s Protector, and will remain so until the end of time. NOTE: Israel will again need God’s protection when she is attacked in the future by Russia and other nations in the War of Gog and Magog– Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39. In the Tanakh, a name for God is Elohim Shomri (“The LORD is my Protector” – שֹׁמְרֶךָ יְהוָה – Psalm 121:5).
● The armed forces of the reunited Israel will be disproportionately powerful: Written in ca 1440-1406 BC, see Leviticus 26:3, 7-8: [Adonai said]: “If you walk in My statutes, keep My mitzvot and carry them out,…. |…| You will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword. Five of you will chase 100 and 100 of you will chase 10,000, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.”
Adonai promised that Israel’s armed forces, when Jews return the final time, will have His protection. Within hours of the return to Israel in May of 1948, a massive bloc of Islamic armed forces, heavily armed and well trained, attacked a small number of Jewish immigrants, unarmed and having little military training and who were trapped on a small sliver of land with their backs to the sea. The Jews won. The Muslims keep attacking Israel because it is their belief that any land that once belonged to Allah is his forever. Israel was part of the Ottoman Empire, an Islamic federation, for four centuries. It is a matter of Islamic pride that “Allah’s land” be reclaimed for him. Every time Israel is attacked, Islamic forces lose (just as Adonai promised). Israel has at least one major attack still in the future– the War of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel, chapter 38 and 39). Adonai has foretold the outcome of this war. (Plot spoiler: Israel will win.)
● Israel’s prosperity will be restored: Written in ca 1406-1400 BC, see Deuteronomy 30:3-5: [Adonai said]: “[After you– B’nei Yisrael– take to heart your blessing and curse in all the nations I have banished you and you return to Adonai and listen to His voice with all your heart and soul], then Adonai your God will bring you back from captivity and have compassion on you, and He will return and gather you from all the peoples where Adonai your God has scattered you. Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the heavens, from there Adonai your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Adonai your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, and you will possess it; and He will do you good and multiply you more than your fathers.”
Adonai gave present-day Eretz Yisrael– and even more land– to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants forever in various covenants recorded in Genesis. All of this inheritance seemed to be lost in AD 70, when the Roman army destroyed Jerusalem and the Second Temple and enslaved Jerusalem’s able-bodied citizens. Rome was having financial problems at the time, and the Jews’ wealth was plundered and carried to Rome to meet the budget shortfall. Jewish slaves labored in public works to mollify the agitated Roman citizens. (For example, the Jews involuntarily financed and built the Colosseum, and the free sporting events, executions, and other spectacles in this arena occupied the Roman citizens’ minds.)
American author Mark Twain toured Israel in the nineteenth century, when Israel, known as Palestine, was part of the Ottoman Empire. He wrote a book, The Innocents Abroad (1869), in which he described in detail the poverty and desolation of the Holy Land. The Ottoman Empire, an Islamic empire, possessed Palestine. Palestine might have been beloved by Jews and Christians, but it was disregarded by Muslims. The Ottoman Empire did nothing to improve or support Palestine.
In the late 1800s, the Zionist movement gained traction and Jews started returning to the former Israel. In1948, the United Nations granted national status to Israel, although some diplomats wanted to move the Jewish homeland to other parts of the world. On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion and other notables signed the Israeli Declaration of Independence (formally, the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel), and Israel officially became a state.
Since 1948, Adonai has been true to His promise. The many accomplishments of Israel in such a short time is truly amazing. Scrub desert land, so offensive to Mark Twain’s eyes, is now rich, highly productive farm land, fulfilling another prophecy (Isaiah 35:1-2): The wilderness and dry land will be glad. The desert will rejoice and blossom like a lily. It will blossom profusely, will rejoice with joy and singing, will be given the glory of Lebanon, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of Adonai, the splendor of our God. [The Tree of Life Version translates Isaiah 35:1 as the desert will bloom like a “lily.” Many versions render this verse as the desert will bloom like a “rose.” The Hebrew word in question is חֲבַצֶּלֶת (transliterated, ḥăḇaṣṣeleṯ || pronounced, khab-ats-tseh’-leth || of uncertain, probably Syriac origin, translated– Strong, Brown-Driver-Briggs, Gesenius, “meadow saffron, autumn crocus, rose, lily”). It sounds like this wildflower grows in rampant fashion, carpeting the meadow floor with white and violet flowers.]
● Other similar prophecies are presented in the Bible, but I will not provide them in this RR (space limitation). Be assured that Adonai has had present events in mind forever.
ANOTHER PIECE OF THE PUZZLE: I titled this RR series, “When Will He [Yeshua] Return?” The short answer is, of course, only God knows. Although we do not know the day and hour of His return, we can know the season. In Yeshua’s Olivet Discourse, He gave hints to the season. One hint seems to be that God’s people must be secured in the land promised by covenants to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants. The Jews are secured in Israel, which is another piece of the puzzle locked in place. When all puzzle pieces fit together, Yeshua will part the eastern sky and the archangel will shout, “Come up here!” Be ready to heed that glorious command!
FINALLY: It seems appropriate to reproduce the lyrics (English translation) of Israel’s national anthem, written in 1886. This anthem is titled, Haktiva (“The Hope”):
As long as within our hearts || The Jewish soul sings, || As long as forward to the East || To Zion, looks the eye– || Our hope is not yet lost, || It is two thousand years old, || To be a free people in our land || The land of Zion and Jerusalem.
Every Believer should feel that he or she is a citizen of Zion and Jerusalem. More importantly, though, he or she should feel he or she is part of the Body of Yeshua and an eternal citizen of New Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12, 21:2).
Shalom and Maranatha.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 13-Feb-2022 12th of Adar I, 5782
Ex 30:11-31:17 2 Ki 6 Ps 119:25-48 Jn 11:28-57 (Heb 1)