Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, February 7, 2021

Shavuah Tov,

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

Sun 7-Feb-2021 25th of Sh’vat, 5781

Ex 21:1-19 2 Ki 9 Ps 134-135 Jn 10 (2 Ti 1)

The Four Stages to Eternal Life (Part 3 – Third Stage of the Journey)

by Dr. Raymond Finney

INTRODUCTION: In this four-part RR series, I discuss four stages the Believer will encounter in his/ her journey from mortal life on Earth to immortal life in Heaven. For most readers, this will be a review of old knowledge. A review can be useful, however, as previous knowledge can be reinforced or updated and even new knowledge may be acquired. In today’s RR, I discuss the return to Earth from Paradise to assist Yeshua in His Millennial Kingdom, which is a Believer’s next step into eternity. At this stage, a Believer is still not in Heaven.

THE THIRD STAGE OF YOUR JOURNEY TO LIFE IN HEAVEN: In last Sunday’s RR, I discussed the second stage in a Believer’s journey to Heaven, viz., the seven years in Paradise and the return to Earth in the Army of the Lord. Today, I discuss the third stage– a Believer’s time spent on Earth during the thousand-year reign of Yeshua– the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation, chapter 20). [WORD STUDY: Today, I will discuss the Millennium, or Millennial Kingdom. The mille- portion translates to “one-thousand,” and the -ennium portion translates to “years.” Thus, a millennium is a one-thousand year period of time.] 

Do not be confused by my dividing the eternal journey from Earth to Heaven in steps or stages. God has known and loved you from the beginning of creation. Your eternal life began with the creation of the Universe, well before the date of your physical birth on Earth. Your eternal soul will never die. If you go to eternal reward and joy in Heaven, God has planned several stages during your journey: Earth ► Paradise ► Millennial Kingdom ► Heaven. We often break an earthly journey into stops and waiting periods. For example: If you fly from the Knoxville airport to a London, England airport, you will not fly directly between the two cities. Rather, you will fly to Atlanta, deplane, wait, and board another plane. Then, you will fly to Newark, New Jersey, deplane, wait, and board still another plane. Finally, you will arrive hours later in London on a third plane. You will eventually arrive in London, but only after several stops and riding in different planes.

A BELIEVER’S THIRD STAGE TO LIFE IN HEAVEN: God (Elohim) created Adam and Chavvah (Eve) “in Our image” (Genesis  2:7, 18, 21-25). He placed these two beings in a beautiful garden, the Garden of Eden. This garden provided for all of their needs (Genesis 2:8-9a). The idyllic existence enjoyed by Adam and Chavvah and intended for all of their descendants was covered in the Edenic Covenant (Genesis 2:15-17). When Adam and Chavvah (Eve) succumbed to the wiles of Satan and disobeyed– sinned against– God (Genesis 3:18-23), they were  expelled from Eden (Genesis 3:23-24). God cursed mankind and the earth upon which they lived because of this sin. The stipulations under which sinful mankind must live were outlined in the Adamic Covenant (Genesis 3:15-17), which received partial pardon through Yeshua’s sacrificial death (past), but which will not be fully lifted until the Millennial Kingdom (future).

SIDELIGHT: God’s curse against the rebellious sin of Adam and Chavvah and their descendants is written in the Adamic Covenant (Genesis 3:15-17). The Adamic Covenant provided: 

● The serpent (Satan) is forever cursed, and will be ultimately destroyed by “the seed of the woman” (Yeshua HaMashiach, as Son of Man).

● Women would suffer during childbirth, but were promised that the temporary agony of childbirth would be far outweighed by the joy of motherhood. 

● Earth would no longer provide food merely for the taking, as it had been in the Garden of Eden, but the ground would be overgrown with weeds, thorns, and thistles, and food would be harvested only after much labor.

● Man would know that he faced the certainty of death, but there was the promise of God’s grace ultimately manifest as the gift of eternal life.

● There was promised a future Redeemer (Yeshua). END sidelight.

In the beginning of God’s relationship with mankind in the Garden, there was perfect peace and harmony, but man’s sinful disobedience caused this peace to be lost. At the end of time, all lost things will be restored. The Bible clearly teaches that God’s Kingdom will be re-established on Earth, and will be ruled by Yeshua.

SIDELIGHT: If one reads the beginning of the Bible (first chapters in Genesis) along with the conclusion of the Bible (last chapters in Revelation), it should be apparent that these passages form “bookends” of the Bible. That is:

● God created a perfect world (Garden of Eden) in the beginning, which He meant to last forever, as He lived among His creations.

● But, mankind followed Satan, disobeyed God, and the perfect world was removed and replaced with an imperfect world.

● God, filled with love and grace, devised a way to redeem mankind into perfect harmony with Him through the life and death of Yeshua– a New Covenant for man.

● Yeshua became the sacrifice to atone for mankind’s sins, which could be adopted vicariously through childlike faith (belief).

● In the future, God will restore the “Garden of Eden” – a new earth, new heaven, and New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-2) – which will be eternal; which cannot be corrupted by Satan (Satan is forever removed); and which will provide a home for saints of God, angels who did not follow Satan’s rebellion, and the Holy Trinity.

● In summary, God’s final plan is to make old things, new (example: 2 Corinthians 5:17): Therefore if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. END sidelight.

YESHUA’S TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO EARTH (THE SECOND COMING): Read Revelation 19:11-21 for the events summarized in this section. Yeshua will return to Earth as King of kings and Lord of lords, accompanied by His army of angels and saints of Heaven. The Battle of Armageddon will be set for the Holy Land and throughout other nations of the world at this time. As taught in an earlier RR, Yeshua’s army will conquer the world’s armies opposing Him. He will cast the Antichrist and False Prophet and their armies who oppose Him into the Lake of Fire (Hell). He will bind Satan in the Abyss (Bottomless Pit) for the next one-thousand years (the approximate length of time of the Millennium). The Millennial Kingdom fulfills a promise God made in a covenant with Abraham that He would eventually establish a theocracy (rule by God) and restore to mankind all that had been in the Garden of Eden, but which was lost.


When Yeshua returns to Earth this time, His foot will touch down on the Mount of Olives, opposite Jerusalem’s Eastern Gate (Zechariah 14:4). A great earthquake will split the Mount of Olives and Israel. Yeshua will walk through the Eastern Gate (Golden Gate) to enter the Third Temple, which does not now exist but which will be built during the first half of the seven-year Tribulation. 

SIDELIGHT– PROPHECY: See photographs of the beautiful Eastern Gate at Eastern Gate Jerusalem High Resolution Stock Photography and Images – Alamy .

The beautiful, double-arched gate in Jerusalem’s wall is now blocked by a stone partition, and Muslim graves are planted in front of the gate. Now, read Ezekiel 44:1-2. God told the prophet Ezekiel that this gate would be closed until the LORD of Israel walks through it. The Islamic leader Suleiman heard the prophecy of a Jewish Messiah who would some day walk through this gate. In the sixteenth century, Suleiman blocked the gate with stone and defiled the place for a holy man by burying dead Muslims in front of the gate. Ezekiel wrote this prophecy many centuries before Suleiman’s attempts to block Messiah’s return to Jerusalem. The Messiah will not be deterred by a silly Islamic leader! END sidelight.

THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM: The Millennial Kingdom is mentioned six times in Revelation, chapter 20. The purpose of this kingdom is to provide a gateway to Heaven and to permit those humans who survived the Tribulation to prove their worthiness to be admitted to Heaven (to overcome Satan).

PROPHECY OF THE STATUE AND THE ROCK: This kingdom was foretold in Daniel’s remarkable prophecy of the statue and the Rock (Daniel, chapter 2). This complicated, amazingly accurate prophecy foretold certain empires that would come, each represented by parts of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream statue of metal– gold head (Babylon), silver chest and arms (Medes, Persians), bronze belly, thighs (Greece), iron legs (Rome, eastern and western divisions), mixed iron-clay feet (European Union), and iron-clay toes (Antichrist’s regime). A Stone (Yeshua), cut without human hands (immaculate conception) from the Mountain (God), will hurl toward and crush the feet of the statue (Armageddon). The statue will collapse (no other governments of man will follow). The Rock becomes a Mountain, covering the entire Earth (the Millennial Kingdom of Yeshua). Daniel was privy to the plan of God from the time of the Babylonian Exile (much of the sixth century BC) until the Second Coming of Yeshua (future, unknown date).

THE PARABLE OF THE SHEEP AND THE GOATS: Read Yeshua’s parable in Matthew 25:31-46. Any Follower of / Believer in Yeshua, who has overcome (been forgiven of) sin through faith, and whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, will have been resurrected or raptured before the Millennial Kingdom commences. Many persons will not have had the opportunity to hear the Gospel  (example: indigenous peoples in Amazon rainforest). Paul wrote of this dilemma in Romans, chapter 10, asking several questions, including this verse (Romans 10:14b): … And how shall they trust in the One they have not heard of?…. 

Also, not all persons mistreated Believers and Jews during the Tribulation, just as not all residents of the Third Reich persecuted Jews and others in the Holocaust (1930-1940s). Yeshua taught this parable to explain what will happen to humans left on Earth who have never had the privilege of hearing the Gospel or who did not persecute God’s people in obedience to the diabolical plans of the Antichrist. 

All nations (all people) will gather before Yeshua to be judged. As a shepherd separates sheep from goats, the Good Shepherd Yeshua will separate human “sheep” from human “goats.” The “sheep” (virtuous people who did no harm to Jews and Believers or who never had the Gospel explained to them) will be admitted into the Millennial Kingdom. The “goats” (living, evil people who tried to harm Jews and Believers) will be dispatched to Hell.

YESHUA’S GOVERNMENT ON EARTH: At this point, the Earth will be populated with angels, immortal followers of Yeshua (saints), mortal humans who survived the Tribulation, and the separation of “sheep from goats.” Yeshua will rule this Kingdom. For the next one-thousand years, humans will live in a nearly perfect world and will bear children. Saints will have glorified (immortal, incorruptible) bodies, will experience no illness or death, and will not bear children. Saints will busy themselves with the administration of Yeshua’s worldwide kingdom and serving as mentors (teachers of and examples for) the humans. In the Parable of the Talents, I believe Yeshua hinted of future service in the Millennial Kingdom, when He told of the faithful servant who gained much for his Master, teaching (Matthew 25;21): [Yeshua said] “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful with a little, so I’ll put you in charge of much….’” Charge of “much?” “Much,” as in duties in the Millennial Kingdom?

There will be world shalom and lack of temptation to sin. (Remember: Satan and his demonic followers will be chained in the Bottomless Pit, or Abyss.) A just society will be created by Yeshua and the saints. Yeshua’s reign will be perfect. Humans will not need a government of man, filled with its greed and corruption. The deserts will blossom and bear abundantly (Isaiah 35:1). Illness will not exist (Isaiah 33:24). Infirmities– such as deafness and blindness– will be cured (Isaiah 29:18). Yeshua’s Model Prayer (the Lord’s Prayer) will finally be realized (Matthew 6:10): [Yeshua prayed] “[Our Father] Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

SATAN’S BRIEF RELEASE FOR FINAL TEMPTATION OF MAN, THEN, THROWN INTO HELL: The Millennial Kingdom will be a wondrous place to live because Satan and his demonic angels have been chained in the Abyss (Bottomless Pit) for one-thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3). Read Revelation 20:7-10 to understand the following discussion. Satan will be released for a short time to tempt and deceive humans. Millions (like grains of sand on the seashore) will succumb to Satan. These people are called “Gog and Magog,” but this is not the same Gog and Magog of Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39. The rebels will march against Jerusalem, presumably to overtake the Lord Yeshua. God will send fire from above to consume them. Satan and the rebels will be thrown into Hell, where the Antichrist and the False Prophet are already being tormented. From this point forward, Satan and the sin he causes will be forever removed from Earth.

WHY THIS FINAL TEMPTATION? Why would God permit (require) Satan to tempt man at this point? Eight times in the Book of Revelation, Yeshua had the Apostle John write that only overcomers will be permitted to enter Heaven. John did not record what we must overcome, but presumably we must overcome Satan’s temptations and the sin he promotes. You can overcome Satan’s temptations only by belief in and following Yeshua. Humans living in the Millennial Kingdom have not been tempted by Satan. They have not overcome sin (Satan). This brief temptation by Satan, the Gog-Magog Rebellion, will be their “final exam.” They will be tempted to sin. If they do not sin, they pass this “exam” and they can enter Heaven. If they sin, they fail this “exam” and they assign themselves to Hell.

SIDELIGHT: John briefly described his vision of Heaven (Revelation, chapters 21 and 22, the subject of next week’s RR). Heaven has twelve gates of pearl (Revelation 21:21). Why pearl? A pearl is formed when a foreign object, such as sand, enters an oyster’s shell. The oyster overcomes the irritating object by secreting hard, smooth layers of crystalline calcium carbonate around the foreign object, creating a pearl and isolating its tender parts from the irritant. Sin should be foreign to a person who is created in God’s image, and should cause pain in a person’s life. Belief in Yeshua will cover Satan’s sin to form a “pearl,” protecting the Believer. A Believer can enter Heaven’s pearly gates because he/ she has  overcome sins through Yeshua’s sacrificial death. END sidelight.                                                                     

FINAL JUDGMENT: Redeemed Believers were judged approximately one-thousand years earlier, when they received or failed to receive “crowns” (rewards for faithful service). Another judgment for the unredeemed, those who will spend eternity in Hell, at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15): Then I [John] saw a great white throne, and the One seated on it. The earth and heaven fled from His presence, but no place was found for them. And I saw the dead– the great and the small– standing before the throne. The books were opened, and another book was opened– the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what was written in the books, according to their deeds. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Sheol gave up the dead in them. Then they were each judged, each one of them, according to their deeds. Then death and Sheol were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death– the lake of fire. And if anyone was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

GOD’S PLAN IS COMPLETE: Now, all humans have died, been resurrected, have immortal bodies and spirits, have been judged for their deeds or misdeeds, and have their life choices honored (whether to be admitted to Heaven or Hell). 

SUMMARY– THIRD STEP TO LIFE IN HEAVEN: In this RR, I have discussed a Believer’s third step to eternal life in Heaven. In the next RR, I will discuss the fourth and final step. Praise God, Believers can, then, enter Heaven! Today, you can secure your eternal life in Heaven by accepting Yeshua as Savior.

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DON’T BE SCAMMED: You probably know all of this, but someone else may be helped. This section has nothing to do with this RR topic or Shomair Yisrael worship or service. However, people work hard to earn and save money. Email and telephone scams, now very popular, are modern-day versions of theft. Rather than be a victim of theft, use your money in more useful ways (spread the Gospel, support ministries, save for future needs, help family, etc.). My household receives multiple telemarketing calls (typically, robocalls) each week, with spiels that may or may not be lies (if I even bother to listen to more than a few words). Use your money wisely. Do not finance the work of telephone or Internet thieves or even unsolicited, annoying telemarketers. Consider two sites:

● List of common scams in 2021:

https://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/current_top_10_scam_list.php .

● How to report fraud or scam:

https://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/reporting.php .

Consider other “bad guys:” 

● Worst charities in America (dated 2018): The 50 Worst Charities in America- How to Keep from Being Scammed | SmartAsset .

● America’s worst charities (dated 2020): What Are The Worst Charities to Donate To in America 2020 (halunenlaw.com) .

There are many charities which seem to be legitimate (“good guys”), such as:

● America”s Top Charities 2020; America’s Top Charities 2020 (forbes.com) . You can look at competing charities to decide how best to spend your money. For example, I donate to organizations not ashamed of the Gospel (examples; Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse), rather than secular organizations providing the same services without mentioning the Gospel (example: United Way).

And, of course, Shomair Yisrael needs to keep the lights on and provide missions in Yeshua’s name. As you know, Shomair supports missions here and abroad.

As a senior citizen, I speak to fellow seniors. We are especially targeted by scammers. As a group, we tend to have more settled finances (less debt, possibly more disposable income); we are trusting; we are not very tech-savvy; we wish to avoid trouble; and we often depend on others to do certain jobs for us. Scammers love to target seniors. I have personally received two calls from a “grandson,” needing money for an “emergency.” One “grandson” had a Hispanic accent and did not know the names of his brother or mother. My sister-in-law received an emergency plea from her “grandson,” explaining he was stranded in Jamaica and needed funds to return home. She asked, “How did you get to Jamaica?” “Oh, I drove,” the “grandson” answered. Drive to Jamaica? I want one of those cars! Consider also:

** The federal government (IRS, for example) will not call you asking for you to identify yourself through your birth date, Social Security number, etc. The goal, here, is to steal your personal information and use your good credit rating to obtain credit cards or other purchases in your name. If the Feds want to speak to you, I understand you will receive a letter by U.S. Mail. Several years ago, I received a call from “the IRS,” informing me they were going to close my bank account because I owed a small sum of back taxes. However, my debt could be promptly cleared, if I mailed them a Wal-Mart gift card. Nothing fishy there, it would seem.

** Nigerian pastors’ widows are not waiting to deposit millions of dollars in your bank account so that you can spread the Gospel to your fellow Americans.

** It is unlikely that your bank is going to ask you to confirm personal information, even if you have an account at the bank. If concerned, you call the bank and ask about this request. A few times each month, I receive an urgent email message that I must update information on an account at some bank, or the account will be closed. The only problem is: I probably do not have an account in this particular bank. So, I am okay with “my bank” closing a nonexistent account.

** We should all support our local police and sheriff departments and firefighters, but donate to your municipality or county, designating its use, not to a “cold call” solicitor from a benevolence group, which may send nothing to those you might like to help.

** Of course, there may be legitimate local merchants and charities soliciting your assistance, but you can usually winnow the “wheat from the chaff,” as Yeshua commanded us to separate good wheat from bad chaff.

Until next Sunday, when I discuss the fourth and final stage in a Believer’s journey to Heaven, Shalom and Maranatha.