Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, June 7, 2020 

Shavuah Tov,

Will You Ever March in “Stephen’s Army?” 

TRIBULATION Martyrdom (Part 4) by Dr. and Senator Raymond Finney

INTRODUCTION: Over the past month of Sundays, I have discussed the tens of millions of Believers who have marched, or are marching now, or will march in the future in an “army” (“Stephen’s army”). This army has marched in honor and glory in the footsteps of Stephen, the first recorded martyr murdered for faith in Yeshua.

Although tens of millions of Believers have already been martyred, the greatest period of martyrdom will occur during the Tribulation. This seven-year period will be ruled by the Unholy Trinity. We Believers hold sacred the mysterious Holy Trinity, composed of God the Father, God the Son (Yeshua), and God’s Holy Spirit (the Ruach ha-Kodesh). Why do I call the Holy Trinity “mysterious?” Try to explain the Trinity to an atheist, and the “mystery” soon becomes apparent. The Trinity is more a matter of faith (a mystery), rather than being a logical, provable entity. 

Another trinity, the Unholy Trinity, is coming and will be the opposite in all aspects of the Holy Trinity. Satan will attempt to replace God the Father; the Antichrist (anti-messiah) will attempt to replace God’s Son, Yeshua; and the False Prophet will attempt to replace the Ruach ha-Kodesh (the Holy Spirit).

WHAT IS THE TRIBULATION? The Tribulation is a span of seven prophetic years. A prophetic year is 360 days, rather than our calendar (solar) year of 365.25 days. This time, said by Yeshua to be the worst time in all history (Matthew 24:21), was prophesied in ca 536-530 BC in the Prophecy of the Seventy Shavuot (Daniel 9:20-27). The seventieth shabua corresponds to the period we call the Tribulation (Daniel 9:26b-27): [Gabriel told Daniel] “’… But his [the Antichrist’s] end will come like a flood. Until the end of the war that is decreed [Battle of Gog and Magog?], there will be destruction. Then he will make a firm covenant [peace accord ending Gog-Magog?] with many [the United Nations?] for one week [one “week” = one shabua = 2,520 days], but in the middle of the week he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of abominations will come one who destroys, until the decreed annihilation is poured out on the one who destroys.’” In the future Third Temple, the Antichrist will mimic earlier obscenities of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who defiled the ancient Second Temple.

WHEN WILL THE TRIBULATION OCCUR? Although we know the number of days the Tribulation lasts, no one knows when it begins. There are clues, however:

** Clue 1: In last Sunday’s RR, I quoted Yeshua that no one– except God the Father– knows when Yeshua will return (Mark 13:32): [Yeshua said] “But of that day or hour [of My return] no one knows, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son, except the Father.” As discussed last Sunday, Yeshua gave us a clue to the general date (the season) of His return in the Parable of the Fig Tree (Matthew 24:32-35). We probably know the day the fig tree leafed out– the day Jews returned to “Palestine” (soon re-named Israel) from the Diaspora in May, 1948.  Yeshua’s use of “generation” is ambiguous. Biblical examples of a “generation” may be forty, seventy, or one-hundred years, or other lengths of time. There surely are persons now living who will see Yeshua in the clouds and hear God’s trumpet and the Archangel’s command to join the Savior in the sky!

** Clue 2: The timing of the Tribulation is intimately involved with the timing of the Rapture/ Resurrection. This event is the appearance of Yeshua in the clouds to bring dead Believers back to life (resurrection) and to call both resurrected and living Believers, with immortal bodies, to join Him in Paradise. It is not Yeshua’s Second Coming as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation, chapter 19). A Believer’s journey into eternal life begins at this moment. I believe Scriptures are clear, but many people disagree on the timing of this event. Basing the timing of the Tribulation on the Resurrection-Rapture, several theories are possible, including: (1) No Tribulation (Yeshua is dead; He will not return; the Bible is all mythology); (2) a Believer’s soul immediately passes into Paradise to be with Yeshua; (3) pre-Tribulation Rapture (Yeshua returns before the Tribulation); (4) mid-Tribulation Rapture (Yeshua returns in the middle of the Tribulation); and (5) post-Tribulation Rapture (Yeshua returns after the Tribulation) These theories are discussed in: http://joelgraves.com/Rapture/ .

** Clue 3: The Antichrist is probably alive now, but silently lies in wait before appearing on the world stage. Paul tells us why (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8b): And you know what now holds back, for him [the Antichrist] to be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already operating; only there is one [the Ruach ha-Kodesh] who holds back just now, until he is taken out of the way. Then the lawless one will be revealed…. 

There are seven (7) spirits of God incorporated into the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Isaiah 11:2): The Ruach of Adonai will rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and insight, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Adonai. A list of seventy (70) functions of the Ruach ha-Kodesh may be found at: https://revtrev.com/live-light/70-functions-of-the-holy-spirit/ . One important function is the restraint of evil, and the Ruach ha-Kodesh is often called “the Restrainer.” Think how evil the world would be if there were no Judeo-Christian morality in operation today. In the 2 Thessalonians passage just quoted, Paul seemingly tells us that the Ruach will depart (“is taken out of the way”) with resurrected-raptured Believers– only there is one [Ruach ha-Kodesh] who holds back just now, until he is taken out of the way. With removal of the Ruach, the Unholy Trinity will be able to work its evil unopposed. Other Bible students believe the Ruach stays the entire time of the Tribulation. See also: John 16:7-11; 1 John. 4:4; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 12:12-13; Ephesians 1:13, 4:30. 

In last Sunday’s RR, I mentioned that some televangelists and pastors are teaching that we have already entered the Tribulation. I disagree. We are in tough times now, but times have been worse in the past and the Tribulation will be far, far worse than we can even imagine. As an American, you should fear that your beloved homeland is in danger of falling. 

Last Sunday, I began listing some things that must occur before the Tribulation. Consider other things that must happen:

WARS: Although the Second Seal Judgment (Revelation 6:3-4) is global war, our present wars and terrorist activities are not the global (“take peace from the earth”), nuclear (“great sword”) warfare of the final wars. We will continue to have wars even before the Tribulation, as Yeshua warned (Matthew 24:6, Mark 13:7, Luke 21:9). In the Tanakh, Scriptures foretold end-time wars (for example, Joel, chapter 3; Zechariah, chapter 12; etc.). Consider some of these wars:

■ Psalm 83 War (“Inner Circle War”): Some believe that Israel’s neighbors (her “inner circle” or neighboring nations) will wage war against Israel. Has this war not been repeatedly waged since Israel’s independence in 1948? See a list of some of these wars at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab%E2%80%93Israeli_conflict . Of course, Israel would prefer shalom, but God’s nation cannot be defeated:

..□.. God promised to give possession of Canaan (then), Israel (now) to Abraham and his descendants forever. See Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-15; 15:18-21; 22:16-18; 24:60; 28:13-14; 35:11-12; and 36:33. Even more Scriptures reiterate or amplify God’s gift to Abraham and his progeny. As a Believer in Yeshua, you are co-heir of the Promised Land. When Muslims attack Israel, they attack your homeland!

..□.. The Bible promises that God will protect Israel. Although I lack space in this RR to copy all verses, read some at: https://www.openbible.info/topics/protecting_jerusalem . I will suggest some long-standing promises: 2 Kings 19:34; Daniel 9:26; Zechariah 9:15, 12:8; Psalm 20:1; Isaiah 38:6; Jeremiah 50:34; and others.

■ The Battle of Gog and Magog (“Outer Circle War”): This important war needs more discussion than I can now give it (topic for future RR?). This war is in our future. All of the major combatants are now politically, economically, and militaristically aligned, exactly as God told Ezekiel in ca 571 BC. Read Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39, in conjunction with Daniel, chapter 11, knowing how to translate ancient place names in the Tanakh into modern place names: Gog = leader of Magog, which is Russia (could this be Vladimir Putin?) // Magog = Russia // King of the North = Russia // Kings of  the South = African-Arab coalition // Persia = Iran // Cush = Ethiopia, Central Africa // Gomer = Germany // Put and Libya = northern Africa // Beth Togarmah = Asia Minor, Turkey. 

Interestingly, some nations will hold back from this battle, instead inquiring why Magog and others have attacked Israel (Ezekiel 38:13). Is this questioning a United Nations’ debate? These countries are Sheba (southern Arabia), Dedan (Saudi Arabia), and “the merchants of Tarshish with all its young lions.” Tarshish was the far western part of Europe (Spain? Great Britain?). These Spanish and British nations became sea-going merchants and their “young lions” settled New World colonies. Is this verse a reference to the United States? Note that eastern nations are not involved until the impending Battle of Armageddon (Revelation).

■ The Oracle Against Damascus: Other wars are discussed in Scriptures, but their relationship to the end is uncertain. One example, The Oracle Against Damascus, is discussed in Isaiah, chapter 17. Damascus, capital of Syria, is an ancient city (dating from the third millennium B.C.). Since Damascus has never been destroyed, any prophecy about its destruction would necessarily be a future prophecy. This Isaiah passage clearly prophesies sudden, total destruction of this city. Syria is now an important ally of Russia. Think about the Battle of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39). Something will cause Gog, leader of Magog (Vladimir Putin?), to invade Israel suddenly, even hastily, along with his primarily Muslim allies. Ezekiel 38:4a records a symbolic conversation: “I [Adonai] will turn you [Gog] about and put hooks into your jaws. I will bring you out, with all your army, horses and horsemen … [to invade Israel].” “Hooks in Gog’s jaws” implies Gog may wish nothing to do with this war, but he must reluctantly turn in that direction, as a horse turns because of a bit in his mouth. What would cause such a sudden turn of events that leads to war? Israel and Syria are now enemies (dispute over Golan Heights, terrorist attacks of Israel from Syria, etc.). Could Israel intentionally or accidentally launch a nuclear strike against Damascus? If so, Syria’s ally, Russia, must attack Israel (or, all other Russian military pacts would become meaningless).

■ Tribulation Wars, Including Armageddon: I have discussed these wars in previous RRs – including the final war, Armageddon. These wars will rock the Tribulation for years preceding the Tribulation, as the Antichrist and his allies and enemies fight each other. I will not repeat this information except to underscore the horrible nature of a world gone mad, with the Restrainer (the Ruach ha-Kodesh) removed from the world, with Satan in a major leadership position, and with all weapons of mass destruction in play. 

MOMENTOUS CHANGES THAT MAY RESULT FROM GOG-MAGOG: Since Scriptures are silent about a world following the Battle of Gog and Magog, we are left to imagine what might happen. I suspect these things could happen:

■ The world will be primed to turn away from God. Yeshua lamented (Luke 18:8b): [The Lord said] “…. But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Yeshua also taught that when He returns, the world will be filled with sin as it was in “the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37, Luke 17:26). The Apostle Paul taught (2 Thessalonians 2:3): Let no one deceive you in any way, for the Day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the one destined to be destroyed. 

SIDELIGHT: Concerning 2 Thessalonians 2:3– “The Day” is the day Yeshua returns. “The man of lawlessness” is the Antichrist. The TLV, favored in this congregation, clumsily translates some words (at least to me, but I am not a linguist). “Rebellion” in this verse, although technically not incorrect, is an example. Paul probably did not have “rebellion” on his mind. The word he used was the Greek word apostasia. Apostasia is usually understood in this manner: the apo- prefix means “away from” and the -stasia root comes from a verb, “I stand.” Apostasia, then, means to “stand away from.” If a person stands with God, but, then, moves away from Him, his “standing away from Him” is apostasy. Our English “apostasy” is a better translation of the Greek “apostasia,” than is “rebellion.” Paul could have used other Greek words (stasis, antilogia), if he wished to designate rebellion. END sidelight.

Back to the subject: Organized religion failed God in Yeshua’s lifetime (first century). His harshest condemnations were leveled at Jewish religious leaders,  rather than “ordinary sinners” (murderers, thieves, rapists, etc.). Should this surprise us? “Ordinary sinners” can be convicted of sin by the Ruach ha-Kodesh, repent, and receive God’s full forgiveness and pardon. Religious leaders, however, may be so smug and convinced that only they are correct that they tune out any instructive messages from the Ruach. 

Organized religion is failing Yeshua now (twenty-first century). In a few weeks, I hope to write about Yeshua’s churches in Philadelphia and Laodicea (Revelation, chapter 3) and Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth (Revelation, chapter 17). In these future RRs, I will write more about present-day apostasy and sins within the Body of Messiah. As painful as these are to witness, many Believers will turn against and reject Yeshua. Members of Yeshua’s body are primed to follow the Antichrist and any false prophet who comes along. Some of these “slick talkers” can be seen on television every day.

■ Let us return to the future revealing of the Antichrist. When he is revealed, the world will have just experienced a terrifying war– the Battle of Gog and Magog. Only one-sixth of Magog’s (Russia’s) armies have survived (Ezekiel 39:2). The Russia-Islamic confederacy is demolished. Little Israel has again beaten her enemies, without relying on the United States or other nations. Some Israelis claim that the victory belongs to Adonai. And, Jewish prophets foretold all of this centuries ago. How will the “talking heads” in the media twist this? Can this “nonsense” be true?

■ At that time, people throughout the world fear that another war may come again. Nuclear weaponry makes the prospect of war untenable. What can people do? But wait, a peace plan is making its way through halls of government. This plan just might bring peace to the world and stop the fighting in the Middle East tinderbox. And, a charismatic leader has suddenly appeared on the world stage. He exudes confidence. The world marvels at his wisdom and the peace plan he promotes.

This man is commonly called the Antichrist (anti-messiah, in the TLV:). He is only called by this title– a transliteration of the Greek Antichristos– in an epistle of John. Best described in Revelation, chapter 13,  this demonic man is given other titles:

… Satan’s seed, Satan’s offspring (Genesis 3:15, John 8:44);

… King of Babylon (Isaiah 14:4);

… Prince of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:2); 

… A small horn, who uproots other horns (Daniel 7:8); 

… A stern-faced king, a master of intrigue (Daniel 8:23); 

… A prince who is to come (Daniel 9:26); 

… King who does as he pleases, exalting and magnifying himself (Daniel 11:36); 

… The Assyrian (Isaiah 10:24);

… The worthless shepherd (Zechariah 11:17); 

… The destroyer, the oppressor (Isaiah 16:4);

… One who comes in his own name (John 5:43);

… Man of lawlessness, man doomed to destruction (2 Thessalonians 2:3);

… The lawless one (2 Thessalonians 2:8);

… The anti-messiah, TLV (Antichrist) (1 John 2:18);

… Beast rising out of the abyss (Revelation 11:7); and

… Beast rising out of the sea, the first beast (Revelation 13:1-10).

TO BE CONTINUED: This topic summarizes the New Covenant message of God. During this special time, evil will finally be defeated and good will finally triumph.

My high school English teacher, Mrs. Reynolds, if she were alive today, would sternly remind me after reading parts of this RR: “Ray, you did not make an outline of this RR before you started, did you?” I would admit I did not, although I would not provoke her by admitting I never make an outline. Why mention a high school teacher from the 1950s? It is my way of apologizing to you for a rambling (nearly incoherent?) RR. It would take many, many RRs to even begin to cover such a broad topic as the Tribulation.

It is now painfully clear that I chose a topic that does not lend itself to simple explanations. I now wish I had not even started. I probably have spread more confusion than enlightenment. Sorry.

I will conclude this series next Sunday, discussing some of the evils imposed by the Unholy Trinity. Believers who are fortunate will have died and gone to be with the Lord before the Tribulation. If still alive, though, God will want you to be in the remnant which tries to preserve and spread faith. 

God’s Kingdom is always at its best when a small remnant of persecuted servants works for Him. Make “remnant” a key word for your future. All of my life I have heard pastors pray for THE great revival of the future that will sweep millions of souls into the Kingdom. That revival IS coming, but it will come during the Tribulation, when 144,000 Jewish evangelists spread the Gospel throughout the world (Revelation, chapter 7). Shalom and Maranatha.