Knesset Inaugurates Jerusalem Jubilee Celebration – JewishPress.com

bfb161229-timelineThe Bible contains so many comforting words of assurance that everything will be all right in the end.  It contains a number of frightening words as well, but our preference is to avoid those, thinking that they must apply to someone else.  Consider, for example, this familiar passage by the Apostle Paul:

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.  For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.  For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.  And they shall not escape.  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.  You are all sons of light and sons of the day.  We are not of the night nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.  (I Thessalonians 5:1-6 NKJV)

We like to think of ourselves as those who will not be caught off guard.  After all, what would it mean if we are among those caught unaware when sudden destruction comes?

But what if the apostle’s words are intended to warn those among God’s people who are not paying attention?  Paul seems satisfied that his correspondents in Thessalonica are sufficiently alert, but can he say the same about their brethren elsewhere – or perhaps us today, two thousand years removed from his personal instruction?  His friends in Thessalonica probably understood that his words about those who say, “Peace and safety!” referred to prophecies Jeremiah and Ezekiel had spoken about the people of God who paid no attention to the signs of the times and refused to repent when YHVH sent them warning (see Jeremiah 6:9-15, 8:8-12, and Ezekiel 13:15-16). 

Surely the apostle was also aware of Messiah Yeshua’s parable about the Ten Virgins – all of whom went to sleep while waiting on their Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13).  The difference between the wise and the foolish was not their degree of vigilance, but their degree of preparation.  That, too, is something we should heed.

Consider what happened on December 23, 2016 (23 Kislev 5777 in the Hebrew calendar).  That was the day United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 declared illegal anything Israeli that exists beyond the 1967 borders of Israel.  That means not just the communities that have grown up on unoccupied and unowned land in Judea and Samaria (commonly called the West Bank), but neighborhoods in the neighborhoods of East Jerusalem where friends of mine live.  It means as well the Temple Mount and the Kotel (Western Wall), the holiest sites in Judaism and the places God Himself has established as His own.

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End Times Reality Check: A Review of The Rapture Verdict, by Michael Snyder

BFB160418 The Rapture VerdictWhat do Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the pre-Tribulation rapture have in common? There is probably a joke in there somewhere, but the punch line escapes me. The answer, though, is that all of them are part of mainstream Christian practice (at least in the West), but none of them have much basis in Scripture. When held up to the light of Scripture, the Jolly Elf, the Whimsical Rabbit, and the Get-Out-of-Persecution-Free Card actually belong more in the realm of legend, myth, and wishful thinking.

There is no need to explain to Christians that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny do not exist. Everyone knows that – and it would be better if our children understood it from the start rather than having to face their first crisis of faith when their kindergarten friends expose the truth. What everyone does not know, or does not want to admit, is that the doctrine of Jesus coming back to snatch His people away from the earth before the trials of the Last Days is not consistent with Scripture. The problem up to now is that there has been no comprehensive reference book written to examine this question from a critical point of view.

Until now, that is. Author Michael Snyder has at last filled the void with his latest book, The Rapture Verdict. It is 268 pages of systematic investigation of the subject from a man who simply wants to sort out the truth. His stark conclusion is stated in the first chapter:

Unfortunately, there isn’t going to be a pre-Tribulation rapture. In fact, millions of Christians are going to die waiting for a pre-Tribulation rapture that is never going to happen.

Depending on the reader’s disposition, such a statement will make him or her angry, fearful, or vindicated. Those with the latter reaction would be the ones who grew up learning about the rapture in church, but who could never shake the nagging doubt that the few dozen verses pulled out of context to justify the doctrine leave far too many unanswered questions.

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“Will Tribulation Begin A Year From Now?” Thoughts on the Shemitah and the End of the Age

The Harlot of Babylon 19th Century Russian Engraving
The Harlot of Babylon, a major player in the Great Tribulation, as depicted in a 19th Century Russian Engraving.

Most people have no desire to discuss the return of Messiah at the end of this age.  Many of them lump it into the category of “too weird”, or “myth and legend”.  Others suspect it may be true, but hope that it doesn’t happen in their lifetime.  That response comes from fear that they might not end up on the right side of the balance sheet, as well as a hefty dose of distraction due to the worldly interests that have ensnared their attention.

But then there are the believers, both Christian and Jewish, who anticipate that this age will end at some point with the great Day of the Lord.  What observant Jews think of that subject is something I am even now beginning to learn.  What Christians believe is something I have encountered all of my life.  Usually their attitudes fall into one of two categories:  either they believe God will take every person on earth by surprise because “no one can know the day or the hour”; or they affirm that we can know exactly when Jesus will return because we have the clues in the Bible.  As in all things, the truth exists somewhere between these two extremes.

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Trumpets For All Israelites: Why the High Holy Days Are More than Just “Jewish” Feasts

Blowing the Shofar is the central observance of the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) is the "Jewish New Year" (Rosh HaShanah).  (Blowing the Shofar - The Nahmias Cipher Report.)
Blowing the Shofar is the central observance of the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) is the “Jewish New Year” (Rosh HaShanah). (Blowing the Shofar – The Nahmias Cipher Report.)

The “Jewish” High Holy Days begin at sundown on September 24, 2014[1], with Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets.  It is also called Rosh HaShanah, the Head of the Year.  Many people call it the “Jewish New Year”.  But what exactly is this festive day?  And should Christians even care about this “Jewish” holiday?

According to Hebrew understanding, Yom Teruah is the day God completed His work of creation by making human beings, the crowning achievement of His work.  In the agricultural cycle of the Ancient Near East, where the Bible was written, this day points toward completion of the growing season when the long-expected “latter rains” come.  It is the completion of the civil year, a tradition even the United States government has adopted.  These are all good reasons for God to command His people to set this day apart by blowing trumpets and observing a special Sabbath day of rest.

Yet there are some confusing things about Yom Teruah.  This “Head of the Year” happens on the first day of the seventh month in the Hebrew calendar.  One would expect that the New Year would be in the first month, but God Himself directed that the first month would be in the spring (Exodus 12:1-2).  That month, called Nisan or Abib in Hebrew, is the month of three great feasts of the Lord:  Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits.  In that time long ago God delivered His people Israel from bondage in Egypt.  Yet the First Month is not the same as the Head of the Year in the Seventh Month, Tishrei.  Both months have prophetic significance according to God’s plan for the redemption and restoration of His creation.  Through the Feasts celebrated in these months the Lord tells a prophetic story.  In the First Month He redeems and delivers His people, and in the Seventh He restores them.  One might say He is pressing the reset button to get things back to the way they were before sin caused all this trouble.  But why is this “Jewish” feast of Yom Teruah, or any of these “Jewish” feasts, important to Christians?

The answer to that is quite simple:  These are not Jewish feasts.

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“When Troubles Come”: A Tribute to Dr. Edgar M. Arendall

"Jesus Discourses with His Disciples" James Tissot Brooklyn Museum
Jesus Discourses with His Disciples
James Tissot
Brooklyn Museum

How do children learn to be adults?  More importantly, how do they learn to be real men and real women?  More importantly still, how do they learn to be godly men and godly women?  Two men of God, Moses and the Apostle Paul, give us the answer:

Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  (Deuteronomy 6:4-8 NKJV, emphasis added)

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  (II Timothy 2:1-2 NKJV)

Molding godly people out of irresponsible children is a task for mature, godly men and women who determine purposefully to pass on what they know.  It is a conscious decision which carries weighty responsibility and a lifetime commitment.  The heartaches can be many and wearisome, but the rewards are far greater, not only for the individual, but for all humanity, and for the Kingdom of God.  Few answer the call of godly mentorship and discipleship.  That is a tragedy played out before our eyes in broken lives and broken nations.  And yet it only takes a few to reverse that trend.  One man may speak volumes into the lives of many young people.  Our Messiah Yeshua showed us the model; the 12 men He discipled changed the entire world.

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