Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, March 13, 2022

Shavuah Tov,

A Conversation with Yeshua – When Will He Return? (Part 16) by Dr. Raymond Finney
ADDENDUM: Will Putin Resort to Nuclear Warfare in Ukraine (Opinion)?

THIRD OF THREE-PART DETOUR: I have detoured from the text of Yeshua’s Olivet Discourse (as presented in Matthew, chapter 24) to discuss certain major Tribulation events– namely, certain personalities of this complicated time.

THE TWO WITNESSES AND THE BRIDEGROOM: “Two Witnesses” seemingly will appear from nowhere to become prominent Tribulation beings. Adonai established that most important matters must be settled by two witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15). The Revelation reveals that two witnesses will prophesy for 1,260 days, or 3.5 prophetic years (prophetic year = 360 days || 3.5 prophetic years x 360 days per year = 1,260 days). These two prophets will tremendously vex the Unholy Trinity.

They will serve as Adonai’s messengers at the same time 144,000 Jewish evangelists will spread the Gospel in all nations of the world (Revelation 7:1-8). Jews are now widely dispersed throughout the world, as a consequence of the Diaspora. If converted to faith in Yeshua, they can begin their evangelical work without moving or learning a new language and local customs. God thinks many centuries ahead. God can always use remnants of people effectively. He will use Jews, whose ancestors were displaced from Jerusalem in AD 70, to spread the Gospel throughout the world during the last days.

At the mid-point of the Tribulation (after 1,260 days), the Unholy Trinity will assassinate the Two Witnesses. Their bodies will lie contemptuously on a Jerusalem street for three and one-half days and will be scornfully viewed by the world (Revelation 11:7-12): When they [the Two Witnesses] have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the abyss will make war on them, and overcome them and kill them. And their corpses will lie in the open street of the great city that figuratively is called Sodom and Egypt– where also their Lord was crucified. Some from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their corpses for three and a half days, not allowing them to be placed into a grave. Those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them. They will celebrate and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet; and great fear fell on those who were watching them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies watched them. [NOTE: Do not be confused by the “Sodom and Egypt” reference. John wrote this city is “figuratively” so named, but is actually Jerusalem. I wrote a couple of pages to explain John’s writing, but had to delete it (space limitation). A person must read The Revelation carefully, not casually.]

This passage provides additional proof that John saw the future. In John’s first-century lifetime, “the world” could not come to Jerusalem in three days to see the slain prophets. In our twenty-first century lifetime, we understand that satellite television, the coverage of which blankets the Earth, will carry visual images of these prophets into nearly every home.

Television coverage will show the prophets coming back to life; may even carry the voice of a loud heavenly voice, commanding, “Come up here!” and will show the prophets rising into the clouds. But yet, the world will still refuse to believe!

Who are these Two Witnesses? The correct answer is: No one knows. But, speculators have advanced three suggestions for their identity:

● Moses and Elijah: These two prophets are candidates for these reasons:

□ The Witnesses will be able to turn water into blood (Revelation 11:6), which duplicates Moses’ same feat (Exodus, chapter 7).

□ The Witnesses will be able to destroy their enemies with fire (Revelation 11:5), which corresponds to an event in Elijah’s life (2 Kings, chapter 1).

□ Moses and Elijah appeared with Yeshua at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:3-4), indicating their special status.

□ Jewish tradition predicts Elijah will return to Earth (Malachi 4:5).

□ At a Passover Seder, a devout family may reserve a cup (and, rarely, a seat) for Elijah, symbolically hoping the prophet will return that year and honor the family with his presence; a child is sent to the door to see if Elijah has come.

□ God promised to raise up a “prophet like Moses” (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18). Depending on a person’s belief system, “a prophet like Moses” may be interpreted as all of Adonai’s prophets who followed Moses, a second appearance of Moses, or Yeshua HaMashiach.

● Enoch and Elijah: These two prophets are candidates because of the unique circumstances in which they were removed from Earth:

□ These two men apparently were removed from Earth, without first dying, even though the Bible teaches that all persons are appointed to die (Hebrews 9:27). Read Genesis 5:23 (concerning Enoch) and 2 Kings 2:11 (concerning Elijah). If such men have not yet tasted death– but have been sheltered in Paradise– their death would have been delayed until being assassinated by the Antichrist in the mid-point of the Tribulation.

□ Both men pronounced God’s judgment during their periods of ministry (1 Kings 17:1 and Jude 1:14-15), and would be expected to do the same, given an opportunity during the Tribulation.

● Two others: The Witnesses may be two others, whom we do not now consider. If Adonai wanted us to know who these men will be, perhaps we could point to a verse, which reads: “Adonai said, ‘These are My Witnesses, xxx and yyy.’” Read Revelation, chapter 11 to confirm that no clues are given to identify these men.

Why are these men called “witnesses?” “Witnesses” translates the Greek μάρτυσίν (martusin), plural of μάρτυς (martus). This word was commonly used– a martus was a witness in a legal case. Martus is the base for our English “martyr” – one who witnesses faith for God through his/ her persecuted death.

Anyone speaking in favor of God is a witness for God. If you testify about Yeshua to a neighbor, you are a witness (a martyr) for Yeshua.

It seems that this title could be translated “Two Martyrs,” as correctly as “Two Witnesses.” After all, they testify about God and are assassinated (martyred). For reasons stated in the following paragraphs, “Witnesses” is the better choice.

Why might these men be called “Witnesses?”

My wife and I have taken our marriage vows seriously, having celebrated our sixtieth wedding anniversary in December of 2021. Many people are very casual about marriage, however, getting married and divorced with about the same thought and dedication as buying a loaf of bread.

Adonai is most serious about marriage. Adonai is the Husband of Israel (examples: Isaiah 54:5, Hosea 2:16, Jeremiah 31:32). Yeshua is the Bridegroom of Believers/ Christians (examples: Revelation 19:7-10, Revelation 21:9).

Yeshua’s first miracle– the changing of water, symbolizing Old Covenant cleansing of sin through water, to wine, symbolizing New Covenant forgiveness of sin by acceptance of Yeshua’s death on the cross– occurred at a wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11). Here, He changed water (in Jewish purification ceremonial jars) to wine (the best ever tasted). Yeshua brought a better covenant (the New Covenant) to amplify (improve) the older covenants.

So important is a marriage in God’s eyes, Yeshua’s ministry was patterned after the first-century Jewish wedding.

We are scheduled to attend our wedding, which I interpret as taking place in Paradise during the last half of the period called “the Tribulation” on Earth (Revelation 19:6-10): Then I [John] heard something like the voice of a great multitude– like the roar of rushing waters or like the rumbling of powerful thunder– saying, “Halleluyah! For Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot reigns! Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.  She was given fine linen to wear, bright and clean! For the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the kedoshim.” Then the angel tells me, “Write: How fortunate are those who have been invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb!” He also tells me, “These are the true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that– for I am only a fellow servant with you and your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Yeshua. Worship God! For the testimony of Yeshua is the Spirit of Prophecy.” [Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot = “Lord, our God, Lord of Hosts” || kedoshim = “holy ones”]

At a Jewish wedding in the first century, as well as a twenty-first century Jewish  wedding, five people stand under the wedding chuppah (marriage canopy) – the priest, minister, or rabbi(who officiates the ceremony), the bride and bridegroom (obviously), and two witnesses. Even if the wedding is large and a thousand guests are present, there are still only witnesses (two official witnesses).

In our Marriage to the Lamb, Yeshua will be the Bridegroom and we Believers will be the Bride. Then, there will be the Two Witnesses. I believe the pre-Tribulation Rapture/ Resurrection theory is correct. (Different persons believe different theories, but I am not smart enough to understand these theories. I cannot reconcile the math and the Scriptures.) If the Two witnesses arise into the clouds in the mid-point of the seven-year period of the Tribulation on Earth  and if the Marriage to the Lamb occurs in the mid-point of our seven years in Paradise, the Two Witnesses appear exactly at the time they will be needed.

WHEN, YESHUA? I subtitled this series, “When Will [Yeshua] Return?” The proper answer is: no one knows. When Yeshua’s disciples asked Him when He would return, His answer was simply, “I don’t know,” but He gave us clues and cautioned us to always be ready:

● No one knows, except the Father: Read Mark 13: 32 and Luke 12:40.

● His return will be preceded by signs. In this series, I have discussed at length last-day signs. I will not repeat them. Prophecy scholars note two features of these signs– convergence and acceleration. By convergence, widely varying signs are focusing on a future point in time, when they all come together at His return. By acceleration, the signs are becoming more closely spaced. Yeshua gave the example of these signs as labor pains. At the beginning of labor, a pregnant mom may be uncertain whether she is going into labor. But as the pains intensify and come closer together, she knows she truly is in labor and will soon deliver her child.

● Believers should pray for strength to escape what is happening in the world around them: Read Luke 21:36.

● The world will be operating “business as usual,” concentrating on earthly (not heavenly) matters, when He suddenly appears: Read Luke 17:26-30.

● When He returns, He will bring our rewards with Him (it is too late to add more to your crown): Read Revelation 22:12. Yeshua’s Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-33) also applies.

● Many who think they will go to Heaven will be left behind: Read Matthew 7:21-23.

● Persecution will cause many Believers to become apostate (fall from faith): Read Matthew 24:9-10.

● Lawlessness will cause the love for Yeshua to grow cold: Read Matthew 24:12). Yeshua warned Believers to stay awake, watch their lives, and be ready. Matthew contains four of Yeshua’s parables to explain how and why Believers must stay vigilant. While waiting, Believers are commanded to work to complete the tasks left behind for us.

● He is coming “soon” (suddenly): As typically translated, Yeshua said, “I am coming soon” (Revelation 16:15; 22:7, 12, 20). After nearly 2,000 years, He has not returned “soon,” as we consider time. He characterized His return by the Greek adverb ταχύ (transliterated, tachy || pronounced, tackh-OO). This adverb is related to the adjective ταχύς (tachus – “quick, speedy”). The adverb may be translated as “soon, without delay.” It seems more accurate to me, though, to translate the adverb, “quickly.” We will be caught unaware, but suddenly, when we hear God’s trumpet and the command, “Come up here!” All Believers meet the Lord suddenly, whether by death or by rapture.

I will take a rest from the Olivet Discourse, admitting I should have done a better job with Yeshua’s magnificent conversation. Please read and re-read this Discourse. I will use the rest of this RR to opine on an issue that should concern all of us.

OPINION– MY THOUGHTS, BASED ON BIBLE PROPHECY, ABOUT RUSSIA’S NUCLEAR THREAT: I digress from today’s topic to discuss an issue of importance to all of us. As I write this RR (which will be a week or so before you receive it by email), Russia has invaded Ukraine. Although Ukranian patriots are mounting a brave fight for their homeland and freedom, you will know more current information on the status of the invasion, when you read this RR, than was available to me, when I wrote it.

Ukraine versus Russia is a true David and Goliath matchup. On paper, Ukraine should not logically be able to defeat Russia, but Russia has performed poorly.

Most Americans are:

● Deeply concerned about and saddened by Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

● Embarrassed by the West’s (including America’s) somewhat tepid, slow-to-develop response to this aggression, especially following on the heels of America’s disastrous retreat from Afghanistan.

● Grieved we cannot do more to help. Our government will not even stop importing Russian petroleum (which finances the Russian military) or open up North American petroleum reserves (pipelines and drilling sites). But, American bars symbolically flush Russian vodka down the sink. That will show Vladimir!

● Convinced, though, that Vladimir Putin, who has dictatorial control of Russia, is totally evil, psychotic, and unpredictable. Human life seemingly means nothing to Putin.

● Cognizant that sanctions and adverse public opinion may mean little to this man, who is consumed with cobbling together the former U.S.S.R.

Are we seeing the beginning of World War III? Please consider these questions:

● After the defeat of Ukraine (which should be a distinct possibility, I fear), what countries will next be on Putin’s conquest list? Adolf Hitler started out wanting just a “little space” for the German people (the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia), but ended up wanting Europe and the world.

SIDELIGHT: The outcome of the Russian invasion is uncertain, as I write this RR more than a week before you are reading it. A British newspaper (The Daily Mail) lists five possible outcomes for the Russian invasion of Ukraine: (1) a military quagmire, as Russian forces get bogged down and are plagued with Ukranian hit-and-run strikes; (2) Putin is toppled from power, as anti-war sentiment grows in Russia and Russian oligarchs turn on their leader; (3) Russian victory, as Putin’s generals succeed in crushing the Ukranian resistance with overwhelming air power and artillery; (4) spreading conflict, as Ukranian success fuels nostalgia for the former Soviet Union and Russia invades Moldova and other countries; and (5) nuclear war, as conflict between Russia and NATO escalates to World War III. END sidelight.

● Does America have strong leadership? How well does Joe Biden match up against Vladimir Putin? Is Biden a wartime commander in chief? Biden’s greatest fight may have occurred in the 1960s, when he confronted Delaware gang leader “Corn Pop.” Have we spent too much time “training” our military forces in Critical Race Theory? Or, worrying about what restrooms our transgender soldiers will use? Or, checking off boxes to make certain our military leaders fill the right gender/ race quotas? And so forth. Our enemies, understanding that military units must be tough men and women who are formed to kill and break things, must roll in the floor, laughing at our increasingly sissified units.

SIDELIGHT: Are you confused about the Russia-Ukraine conflict? This conflict was recently explained (end of February), as follows: “So, Ukraine is a country in Europe. It exists next to another country called Russia. Russia is a bigger country. Russia is a powerful country. Russia decided to invade a smaller country called Ukraine. So, basically, that’s wrong, and it goes against everything that we stand for.”

Was this a resurrected Mr. Rogers explaining this conflict to some of his neighborhood preschoolers? No. It was U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, who is “one heartbeat away from the Oval Office.” I am reassured that our leaders have a firm grasp on world events. How about you? END sidelight.

● Are our enemies watching the American, NATO, and European Union responses to Putin, and concluding that the will to fight for liberty no longer exists? If (when?) Putin defeats Ukraine, will he continue driving westward through other European countries? Will Xi Jinping and China invade Taiwan (and Australia)? Will Kim Jong-un and North Korea attack Japan? Will Ali Khamenei and Iran attack Israel? Does America (and the West) have the will and might to fight major military forces on multiple fronts? Coordinated, simultaneous attacks by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran (a four-front war) would overwhelm Western allies. The Third Reich was defeated because Hitler foolishly tried to fight World War II on two fronts. But, four fronts? Oy vey!

Ronald Reagan enunciated (1964) a significant peace-through-strength principle: “Should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world?’ You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, ‘There is a price we will not pay…..’ ‘There is a point beyond which they must not advance.’ And this– this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s ‘peace through strength.’ Winston Churchill said, ‘The destiny of man is not measured by material computations.’ When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits– not animals.”

In his State of the Union message (1983), Reagan again emphasized peace through strength: “But our strategy for peace with freedom must also be based on strength– economic strength and military strength. A strong American economy is essential to the well-being and security of our friends and allies. The restoration of a strong, healthy American economy has been and remains one of the central pillars of our foreign policy. The progress I’ve been able to report to you tonight will, I know, be as warmly welcomed by the rest of the world as it is by the American people.”

He continued: “With firmness and dedication, we’ll continue to negotiate. Deep down, the Soviets must know it’s in their interest as well as ours to prevent a wasteful arms race. And once they recognize our unshakable resolve to maintain adequate deterrence, they will have every reason to join us in the search for greater security and major arms reductions. When that moment comes– and I’m confident that it will– we will have taken an important step toward a more peaceful future for all the world’s people.”

I submit to you that America enjoys neither peace nor strength in 2022.

The United States is gingerly, cautiously supporting Ukraine– rather than the full-blown, robust response that would be appropriate and effective– for one or more  reasons:

● The White House is incompetent and out-maneuvered by Putin at every turn.

● And /or, the White House fears AOC and “The Squad” (the Progressive Left), and wishes to respect the “green” of Mother Earth more than the “red” blood of dying Ukranians.

● And /or, the White House fears Russia’s claim of 6,000 nuclear weapons and believes Russia’s boast they will use these weapons, if necessary.

A nuclear exchange between Russia (and China?) and the United States (and allies?) would be catastrophic and would essentially end life on Earth, as we know it.

Let us stop listening to Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and other pundits and consider what we think the Bible tells us:

● If we interpret Yeshua’s Olivet Discourse correctly, we are nearing the end of the Age of Grace. “Wars and rumors of wars” are to be expected (Matthew 24:6-8): [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.” Expect “wars and rumors of wars,” but, on the word of Yeshua, we have not yet come to the end of time.

● The Tribulation may not be that far away. The Fig Tree has leafed out (Matthew 24:32-34). The Diaspora has ended and Israel is re-established; summer (harvest time for Believers) is “at the door;” and the generation seeing these things will not die until Yeshua returns.

● One of the last wars before the Tribulation is the War of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39). “Magog” is Russia. “Gog” is the leader of Magog. Could Gog be the code name for Putin? We must wait for history to unfold before we can answer that question.

● Nuclear weapons will surely be used in the last-day wars. Consider, for example: The oracle against Damascus, Syria, which will be completely destroyed in one evening (Isaiah, chapter 17); the War of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39), which will cause great casualties and require months to decontaminate Israeli land; the Rider on the Red Horse, Second Seal Judgment, who will have “a great sword” (Revelation 6:4); Babylon the Great, which will be destroyed by death and fire in one hour (Revelation, chapter 18); and so forth. I believe these passages clearly point to nuclear attacks, but were written by God’s servants at a time no one could imagine thermonuclear devices and ballistic missiles.

Before we climb into our bomb shelters, let us take a step back and think. If Bible prophecy is true (and if I interpret it correctly), it seems unlikely that Putin will use nuclear weaponry at this time. If he bombed America, Ukraine, or a NATO country, Western nuclear powers would likely retaliate (at least in theory, unless the Green movements in Europe and America object to the disruption of Mother Earth caused by nuclear weapons). The Russian Fatherland might glow in the dark for a thousand years. How, then, could a deeply damaged Russia mount a Gog-Magog War against Israel? I suspect that Ezekiel inadvertently suggested to us that Russia (Magog) will not initiate a nuclear war before the invasion of Israel.

These are my thoughts. What is the value of my thoughts? My thoughts PLUS a dollar bill will buy you a cup of coffee at McDonald’s– assuming inflation has not hit the Golden Arches.

I will take a temporary breather from the Olivet Discourse. This topic is too complex to consider writing fully in a once-weekly newsletter. Read again this   Discourse for yourself. Yeshua told us things we need to know at “a time such as this.” God’s plan will always be on schedule. We need to know what His plan is. Shalom and Maranatha.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 13-Mar-2022 10th of Adar II, 5782
Le 6:1-11 Isa 6-7 Ps 145 Ac 12 (Rev 6)