Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, February 27, 2022
A Conversation with Yeshua – When Will He Return? (Part 14)
by Dr. Raymond Finney
PART 1 OF TWO-PART DETOUR: In the RRs for this Sunday and next Sunday, I detour from the text of Yeshua’s Olivet Discourse (as presented in Matthew, chapter 24). I wish to discuss briefly certain major Tribulation events. Since the Tribulation will be an immensely complicated period, I would need to spend the rest of 2022 to discuss just some of its features. I will not even attempt such a marathon endeavor.
INTRODUCTION: The Apostle John was persecuted by the Roman Empire. As a man in his nineties, this Beloved Disciple was imprisoned on the bleak prison island of Patmos, off of the coast of Roman Asia (present-day Turkey).
SIDELIGHT (while it is on my mind): John was the only apostle to escape martyrdom, even though he was cruelly persecuted. Many televangelists claim that a Believer will prosper, or will have special favor, or will receive a miracle, if only he/ she will plant a seed of faith in or buy some product from the televangelist’s ministry. Kaching! This “pay for play” promise is not Scriptural. God cannot be bought or bribed. A Believer should love and serve God and his/ her neighbors because of love, not because of a bribe paid to God (or, persons claiming to speak for Him). Offerings to Shomair should be made only because a Believer loves God and supports its ministry to others.
Scriptures are abundantly clear that rewards for service may not be realized in this life, but will be given in the next life. In fact, Yeshua’s simple invitation to anyone who would follow Him was: (1) deny self, (2) take up your cross, and (3) follow Him. Denying self and being ready to be crucified is not a very “seeker-friendly” approach to build a movement. Yeshua made no claims for special favors in this life. Yeshua lived as a humble, itinerant, homeless Preacher, not as today’s equivalent of multimillionaire televangelists. Clearly, serve and love God and your neighbors, but seek no rewards in this life. You may be rewarded now (a bonus), but, if your service and love are acceptable, your true reward will come at your Bema Judgment.
The warning to us for proper attitude is clear (Matthew 7:21-23): [Yeshua said] “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, and drive out demons in Your name, and perform many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’” END sidelight.
Yeshua visited the aged apostle in a vision, revealing the future to him (and, through his writing, to us). John wrote this vision of Yeshua in The Revelation. The mid-portion of The Revelation (chapters 6 through 18 in our modern text) tells of the most horrible time in mankind’s history. The name of this time– Tribulation– is derived from the Greek θλῖψις (transliterated, thlipsis; translated, “horrible pressure or squeezing”).
Synonyms for this seven-year period include:
● “Jacob’s trouble,” because Jews, Jacob’s descendants, will be especially afflicted during this time;
● “Apocalypse” (transliterated from the Greek word, Apokalypsis, which also is the title of this book in the Catholic Bible);
● “Revelation” (from the English translation of Apokalypsis in the Protestant Bible); and
● “Tribulation” from the English translation of the Greek thlipsis.
God’s enemy, Satan, will head a counterfeit trinity– the Unholy Trinity– to seek mankind’s worship and to replace the Holy Trinity. Satan will attempt to replace God the Father; the Antichrist (anti-messiah) will attempt to replace Yeshua HaMashiach; and the False Prophet will attempt to replace the Ruach ha-Kodesh.
This evil trinity will dominate the Tribulation, especially its last half. The Tribulation will be the most evil period in the history of mankind (Matthew 24:21-22a): [Yeshua said] “For then there will be great trouble, such as has not happened since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. And unless those days were cut short, no one would be delivered….” [“Trouble” in the TLV translates the Greek thlipsis.]
This time will be especially evil because Satan, realizing he only has a short time before he is silenced, will team up with skillful evil partners (the Antichrist and the False Prophet) and other evil men and women to bring about the worst era of all time. Why would God allow such evil? I believe the Tribulation is intended to restore faithful obedience of the Jews and to break sinful mankind of all groups to bring repentance. People often need to sink to the very bottom, before they can rise up. A number of inspirational quotations about sinking to the bottom before being restored may be read at: https://www.therandomvibez.com/hitting-rock-bottom-quotes/ .
GOD’S JUDGMENTS: There will be twenty-one Tribulation judgments from God– seven Seal Judgments (Revelation 6.1-8.1), seven Trumpet Judgments (Revelation 8.2-11:19), and seven Bowl (Vial) Judgments (Revelation 15:1-16:21). In today’s RR, I will discuss the first four Seal Judgments at some length because they will set the stage for events to follow during the Tribulation, and they may soon be unleashed on the world.
God will unleash twenty-one judgments (seven seal, seven trumpet, and seven bowl judgments) during the Tribulation. I will first summarize all judgments, which include:
SEAL JUDGMENTS are unleashed when Yeshua opens a different seal of God’s scroll, closed with seven seals:
● First Seal Judgment (Revelation 6:1-2): The Antichrist is revealed.
● Second Seal Judgment (Revelation 6:3-4): Great wars engulf the world.
● Third Seal Judgment (Revelation 6:5-6): Devastating famine plagues the world’s inhabitants.
● Fourth Seal Judgment (Revelation 6:7-8): Death from multiple causes, including infections, decimate the world’s inhabitants.
● Fifth Seal Judgment (Revelation 6:9-11): The saints suffer massive persecution and martyrdom.
● Sixth Seal Judgment (Revelation 6:12-17): The Earth experiences massive natural disasters, including earthquakes and asteroid/ meteorite strikes.
● Seventh Seal Judgment (Revelation 8:1): Silence in Heaven occurs for a period of time; this silence is the “lull before the storm” of the soon-to-be-unleashed Trumpet Judgments.
TRUMPET JUDGMENTS are announced by Heaven’s trumpets sounding alarms throughout the world, announcing different judgments of God:
● First Trumpet Judgment (Revelation 8:7): “Hail and fire” (asteroids?) rain down on Earth, causing massive, widespread fires and many deaths.
● Second Trumpet Judgment (Revelation 8:8-9): A blazing “mountain” from space (asteroid?) crashes into the sea, resulting in many deaths and tremendous property destruction.
● Third Trumpet Judgment (Revelation 8:10-11): An asteroid, named Wormwood, strikes Earth, polluting water sources and resulting in many deaths.
● Fourth Trumpet Judgment (Revelation 8:12-13): Darkness affects the world as light from heavenly bodies is reduced.
● Fifth Trumpet Judgment (Revelation 9;1-6): The First Woe begins. Demonic “locusts” are released from the Abyss to torment for five months by non-lethal, extremely painful stings those who do not bear God’s seal. The 144,000 Jewish evangelists are spared.
● Sixth Trumpet Judgment (Revelation 9:16): The Second Woe begins. Two-hundred million (200,000,000) soldiers from the Far East march to Israel to engage the Antichrist’s army (which would be the Battle of Armageddon). Only an army this large could be raised from the highly populated Asian nations (“Kings of the East”). Infrastructure improvements in recent years have made it possible for such troop movement across the Himalayan Mountains and the Euphrates River.
● Seventh Trumpet Judgment (Revelation 11:15-19): The Third Woe begins. Heaven rejoices that Yeshua’s return to and God’s plan for the Earth will soon be fulfilled.
BOWL, OR VIAL, JUDGMENTS are implemented when angels, who carry bowls filled with God’s judgments, throw the judgments on Earth.
● First Bowl Judgment (Revelation 16:2): Persons who have received the Mark of the Beast and worship this Beast will be afflicted with terrible boils and skin lesions.
● Second Bowl Judgment (Revelation 16:3): The ocean waters are turned to ”blood,” and all marine animals and fish die, creating a noxious waste calamity and worsening the food crisis.
● Third Bowl Judgment (Revelation 16:4-6): The Earth’s fresh waters are turned to “blood,” creating a crisis in procurement of potable water.
● Fourth Bowl Judgment (Revelation 16:8-9): The sun’s rays will be intensified, and the people will be scorched by the sun. Yet, unrepentant mankind continues to blaspheme God.
● Fifth Bowl Judgment (Revelation 16:10-11): The Antichrist’s kingdom is plunged into supernatural darkness. Men and women refuse to repent, but curse God for their miserable lives.
● Sixth Bowl Judgment (Revelation 16:12): The Euphrates River, a historical barrier to east-west army movement, is dried up to permit the passage of the vast army from Asia to Israel (Armageddon). The Ataturk Dam system in Turkey will facilitate this control of the Euphrates.
● Seventh Bowl Judgment (Revelation 16:18): The greatest ever earthquake will afflict the Earth, toppling cities and dividing Jerusalem into three parts. Huge hailstones fall to Earth. Men and women will remain unrepentant and curse God.
THE FIRST FOUR SEAL JUDGMENTS: I backtrack to discuss in a little more detail the first four judgments, because these judgments may begin in the near future and the first judgment– the announcement of the Antichrist– is the necessary first step for the beginning of the Tribulation.
● THE ONLY ONE WORTHY: John pictured God, seated on His throne, holding a scroll held closed with seven seals. (A common first-century method of securing a scroll was to seal the parchment closed with a wax seal.) Until the seals could be broken, no one could read the words in the rolled scroll. In our Shomair Torah service, no one can read from the Torah scroll until it is unrolled to reveal the words written on the otherwise hidden parchment. John does not elaborate on what is written in this all-important scroll, but much speculation exists.
Will there be no one worthy to break the seals and reveal the words in the scroll? (Read Revelation 5:1-4.) In all of Heaven, only Yeshua will be found worthy to break the seals. (Read Revelation 5:5-7.) As Yeshua breaks a different seal, another part of God’s final plan will be revealed, accompanied by one of God’s judgments. For these reasons, these judgments are called the “Seal Judgments.” I will discuss the first four Seal Judgments in today’s RR because the world is being prepared even now for them to be unleashed in the future.
John depicted the first four judgments as riders on different-colored horses. “Apocalypse” is the same as our “Revelation.” For this reason, the first four Seal Judgments are often called “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
● FIRST SEAL JUDGMENT (rider on the white horse): Read this judgment in Revelation 6:1-2: Then I [John] saw when the Lamb [Yeshua] opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked, and behold, there was a white horse. The one [the Antichrist] riding on it had a bow, and a crown was given to him. He went out as a conqueror so he might conquer.
Since being expelled from Heaven, Satan has been and is now God’s enemy. The angels who fell with him (demons) have tried to defeat God’s plans and God’s people. The battle between the good of God and the evil of Satan will intensify, as Satan’s time grows short. Satan’s evil will become especially intense and wicked during the Tribulation.
There will arise a man, the Antichrist, who will promote and lead Satan’s Tribulation kingdom. (This man will not be called “the Antichrist,” but will have a regular “John Doe” name.) He will be aided by the False Prophet, who will create a new religion to worship the Antichrist and Satan. Scholars differ whether the Antichrist will arise from the European Union (the revived Roman Empire) or the Islamic bloc of nations. And, they also differ whether the Antichrist will be an apostate Christian, an apostate Jew, or an apostate Muslim. In reality, he will be a Satanist.
The Antichrist will do Satan’s bidding, as Satan temporarily establishes an earthly kingdom to fight and attempt to replace God. Every plan of Satan, through the Antichrist, will be an evil counterfeit of God’s plan. The Antichrist’s earthly kingdom will be a counterfeit imitation of God’s Kingdom in Heaven. Satan will establish the Unholy Trinity (Satan, Antichrist, False Prophet) as a blasphemous imitation of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). The Anti– prefix in Antichrist (or, anti-messiah) means “against” or “in place of” the Christ/ the Messiah. Thus, the title of this man implies he will both be opposed to and will attempt to be a substitute for Yeshua.
John depicted the Antichrist as riding a white horse, mimicking Yeshua’s appearance at His Second Coming. (Concerning Yeshua’s second coming, read Revelation 19:11.) The Antichrist is the subject of the First Seal Judgment (Revelation 6:2). John envisioned this rider as carrying a weapon of war (a bow), but no arrows. (The implication is that the Antichrist will be a man of false peace– conquering the nations of the earth by force and guile, while seeming to want only peace.) He will wear a crown, which befits him as a leader of many nations.
The Antichrist will come to world prominence when he affirms a false peace pact between Israel and her Middle Eastern enemies. I believe this event will follow the War of Gog and Magog– Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39. At heart, he will be a man of war, and this false peace pact will be short-lived. The Antichrist will march into Israel and defile the yet-to-be-built Third Jewish Temple, as his prototype, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, defiled the Second Jewish Temple in 167 BC.
The Antichrist will have worldwide influence, as he works to establish a one-world (global) government, one-world cashless financial system, and one-world sham religion. Beware of “global” organizations. I am personally most suspicious of any global or worldwide organization. Such lofty global organizations seem to me to promote socialism/ communism and are not friends of the United States or belief in Yehovah and Yeshua.
SECOND SEAL JUDGMENT (rider on the fiery red horse): Read this judgment in Revelation 6:3-4: When the Lamb [Yeshua] opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come!” Then another horse came out, fiery red. The one riding on it was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another. He was given a great sword.
In an earlier discussion of the Olivet Discourse, we read that Yeshua warned the world will be (must be) filled with “wars and rumors of war” prior to His return. The Greek text of the Olivet Discourse describes terrorism unrelated to sovereign nations. Rabbi Jonathan Cahn has made an excellent case (in The Harbinger) that Isaiah 9:10 is a dual prophecy, affecting ancient Israel and modern America, and that the attack on America on September 11, 2001 (9/11) was God’s warning to America.
When God judges a people, He acts in three phases: warning ►grace (a quiet period, giving people a chance to repent) ►judgment (if people do not repent). If 9/11 was a warning for America, neither the leaders nor the people of America have repented of our sins. Only “God’s people called by His name” can repent for a nation (read 2 Chronicles 7:14). Sadly, “God’s people” are often as sinful as “Satan’s people.” Why should we Americans believe that judgment will not come? Since World War II, there has not been a single day without war, war rumors, or terrorism some place in the world. Our news is filled with present and future wars. Israel and Western (Christian) nations are in the crosshairs of Islamic fundamentalists. Very strong, dangerous, and greedy enemies (such as, China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea) stand by ready to destroy us and other Western nations. Our leaders seem helpless, not nearly as worried about our avowed enemies as they are worried about “woke” social issues.
THIRD SEAL JUDGMENT (rider on the black horse): Read this judgment in Revelation 6:5-6: When the Lamb [Yeshua] opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come!” And behold, I saw a black horse. The one riding on it held a balance scale in his hand. Then I heard something like a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius– but do no harm to the oil and wine!”
Famines and droughts are major problems now. During the Tribulation, the Earth will be gripped by unprecedented famines and droughts, and these conditions– which represent judgments of God (the Third and Fourth Seal Judgments) – will be intensified by worldwide wars and plagues (epidemics) of a magnitude never before experienced on earth. Deadly famines of worldwide proportions are prophesied for our future.
For drought, see: https://www.drought.gov/international . For famine, see: https://www.embracerelief.org/world-hunger-facts-world-food-shortage-2021/ and other sites.
Yeshua characterized this time as disproportionately affecting poorer families. The working man (the denarius per day laborer) will be unable to feed his family with basic grains (inflation, supply chain issues), but the rich man will be unharmed and can afford luxury items (oil and wine).
FOURTH SEAL JUDGMENT (rider on the “pale” green horse): Read this judgment in Revelation 6:7-8: When He [Yeshua] opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.
“Pale” is not a good translation. This horse is described by the color χλωρός (transliterated, chloros). Chloros is the color green. Arising from this Greek word is the pigment of plants, the English chlorophyll, which causes plants to be green. Many versions, including the TLV, use “pale” to describe this horse. If “pale” is in this verse’s text, I am overlooking it.
This rider is named Death (Θάνατος– Thanatos), and Hades (ᾋδης– Hadēs) followed. Hades is the ancient name for the underworld or the abode of the dead (which we may erroneously refer to as “Hell”).
Evil and unrepentant mankind will endure epidemics and plagues during the Tribulation. The stage for these judgments is now set. Infectious agent pandemics can sweep the earth with amazing speed, facilitated by worldwide airplane travel. I personally am amazed at how fast the COVID-19 pandemic swept much of the Earth.
Although hundreds of thousands of persons are said to have died from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a relatively weak virus. I did not contract COVID (although I had a slightly stuffy nose for a couple of days during the height of the omicron variant surge), but most of my family did. They reported relatively mild symptoms. What if this had been a very lethal virus (something like the Ebola virus or rabies virus), altered to spread by the respiratory route? One infected terrorist passenger could infect an entire plane of passengers, who would carry the infectious agent to dozens of communities.
Even now, evil governments are working to weaponize viruses (working on gain of function). Does anyone doubt that the Chinese Communists were working on the bat coronavirus in Wuhan, when it escaped? What else is Xi Jinping working on?
Scientists are capable of synthesizing and hybridizing viruses, creating viruses for which no natural immunity exists. Russia, although unable to weaponize the Ebola virus to date, has successfully weaponized a related virus, the Marburg virus (Marburg hemorrhagic fever). Even though smallpox is officially a nonexistent threat and smallpox vaccination is discontinued, the smallpox virus is known to be stored by the Russians in the Vector Institute, Siberia, Russia, and by the Americans at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia. The Internet guides terrorists on ways to weaponize the anthrax bacillus from dead animal carcasses, and weaponized anthrax is presumably available to many hostile governments.
Airport security is more illusion than fact. For example, an infected terrorist (infectious for, say, Ebola fever) could board a plane for America, lie about symptoms/ exposure, and take aspirin to mask the fever. This terrorist could travel from Africa, to Europe, and, then, to America, exposing hundreds of passengers en route. These passengers, then, would continue their journeys throughout Europe and America, infecting many unsuspecting persons.
Many bacteria, once easily treated with antibiotics, are now resistant to virtually all antibiotics. When antibiotics fail, people will succumb to infections now considered fairly minor. With famines and wars occurring during the Tribulation, people will be even more susceptible to epidemics due to malnutrition and impaired immunity.
The environment is always at risk for invasion by hordes of insects and other destructive pests, further worsening famines caused by the wars, droughts, and infections of the Tribulation. [Word study: Epidemic = a disease which affects a greater number of people than is usual for a given region or which spreads to regions in which the disease is usually not found. Pandemic = an epidemic of worldwide proportions.]
TO BE CONTINUED: I will continue the rest of this detour next Sunday. Shalom and Maranatha.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 27-Feb-2022 26th of Adar I, 5782
Ex 38:21-39:1 2 Ki 18 Ps 132 Ac 1 (Heb 10:19-39)