Chapter 1: Introduction
Are the events taking place in Israel and the Middle East today a sign of the coming of the Messiah?
Will the Messiah come in our day? —
- As a King, a Rabbi or a General?
- A spiritual prophet like Moses or Samuel, a warrior / king like David, or an anointed military commander like Joshua?
- Or someone completely different?
Will his coming be preceded by unprecedented trouble or by a great improvement in world conditions?—
Or is the whole concept of the Messiah just a myth, which may give hope to people in the midst of their troubles, but has no possibility of fulfilment in the real world?
The Orthodox Jewish hope of the Messiah is that he will be an anointed King who will bring peace and the knowledge of God to Israel and to the world, restoring the Jewish people to Israel and rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem. In his code of Jewish Law, Maimonides wrote that this is what the Messiah should do:
‘If a king arises from the House of David who meditates on the Torah, occupies himself with the commandments as did his ancestor King David, observes the commandments of the Written and Oral Law, prevails upon all Israel to walk in the way of the Torah and to follow its direction, and fights the wars of G-d, it may be assumed that he is the Messiah.If he does these things and is fully successful, rebuilds the Third Temple on its location, and gathers the exiled Jews, he is beyond doubt the Messiah. But if he is not fully successful, or if he is killed, he is not the Messiah’.
The traditional Jewish teaching is that the Messiah must accomplish the following signs to show that he is the Messiah:
- Have the correct genealogy being descended from King David.
- Be anointed King of Israel.
- Return the Jewish people to Israel.
- Rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
- Bring peace to the world and end all war.
- Bring knowledge of God to the world.
Putting this in the context of the modern world, Rabbi Winston of Aish wrote:
‘For millennia, Jews have eagerly anticipated the arrival of Moshiach (Messiah). … Now, more than ever before the Jewish people, and even the world in general, need a saviour. … We need someone who can, once and for all, bring an end to all human conflict, especially in the Middle East. And, if he can do that — a tall order — then perhaps he would also be able to destroy whatever other evil exists in the world. As he engineers this long – dreamed – of world peace, let him make unethical and immoral behaviour a thing of the past, too. In other words, this saviour, if he is truly a saviour, should usher in a permanent Utopian society where virtuous living is the main theme and second – (if not first – ) nature. And, what shall we call this modern – day hero of Biblical proportions? In Judaism, he has always been called ‘Moshiach’ — ‘the anointed one’ — because, as a Jewish king he is to be anointed upon taking office, so – to – speak.’
Rabbi Kaplan, in his book ‘The Real Messiah’, wrote that the coming Messiah would be a ‘mortal human being born normally of human parents’ who will change the course of history:
‘Now imagine a charismatic leader greater than any other in man’s history. Imagine a political genius surpassing all others. With the vastcommunication networks now at our disposal, he could spread his message to the entire world and change the very fabric of society.’
He describes a possible scenario, which brings him to power:
‘One possible scenario could involve the Middle East situation. This is a problem that involves all the world powers. Now imagine a Jew, a Tzadik (literally a ‘righteous one’) solving this thorny problem. It would not be inconceivable that such a demonstration of statesmanship and political genius would place him in a position of world leadership. The major powers would listen to such an individual.’
He goes on to describe how he would re-gather the exiles to Israel, cause the Temple to be rebuilt and teach all mankind to live in peace and follow God’s teachings.
According to Rabbi Richman of the Temple Mount
Faithful, the present establishment of the Jewish state of Israel is itself a sign of the coming Messiah: “Prior to the coming of the Messiah, the Jewish people will begin to return to the Land of Israel and resettle the land. Since Jerusalem is the holiest spot, it is the most important city that must be rebuilt. In fact, there is even a tradition that the ingathering of the exiles and the rebuilding of Jerusalem will together go hand in hand as the two signs of a prelude to the coming of the Messiah.”
On the other hand the Neturei Karta are Orthodox Jews who oppose Zionism and say that the present state of Israel is a violation of a command in the Talmud (Ketubot 110b-110a) that Israel should not ‘rebel against the nations of the world’. They believe that the establishment of the State of Israel is a ‘rebellion against the nations’ and that only the coming of the Messiah can bring about the return of the Jewish people to Israel.
There are writings which indicate that there will be a time of great trouble for Israel at the time of the coming of the Messiah. The Yalkut Shimoni is a piece of rabbinic literature, the oldest copy of which dates back to around 1310, but quotes many rabbis who lived far earlier, during the Talmudic era in the first three centuries CE. It touches on many future scenarios for both the nation of Israel and the world in the days of the coming of the Messiah. It states:
‘In the year the Messiah-King appears, all the nations of the world are provoking each other. The King of Persia provokes an Arab king and the Arab king turns to Aram for advice. The King of Persia goes back and destroys the entire world. And all the nations of the world are in panic and distress and they fall upon their faces and are seized with pains like those of a woman giving birth. And Israel are in panic and distress and asking, ‘Where shall we go?’ and He says to them, ‘My sons do not fear, all that I have done, I have done only for you. Why are you afraid? Do not fear, your time of redemption has come, and the final redemption is not like the first redemption because the first redemption was followed by sorrow and servitude under other kingdoms, but the final red emption is not followed by sorrow and servitude under other kingdoms.’
Writings in the Talmud say that prior to the coming of the Messiah there will be days of spiritual decline and trouble. Rabbi Sokolovsky in his book ‘Prophecy and Providence’ quotes a number of passages from the Talmud speaking of times of distress during the lkveta d’Meshicha (the heels of Messiah, the days before the coming of the Messiah):
‘Tragedy will come upon you at the end of all the days.’ (Targum Yonathan).
‘During the lkveta d’Meshicha insolence will abound. The young will make the faces of the elderly grow ashen with shame ; the elderly will have to rise before the young; sons will disgrace fathers; daughters will rise up against their mothers; the members of one’s family will become his enemies.’ (Sotah 49b)
‘During the lkveta d’Meshicha government will turn atheist and there will be no protest. Truth will vanish.’ (Sanhedrin 97a, Sotah 49b)
Other passages in the Talmud describe a time which will be scientifically and technologically advanced to the extent that it will have the power to destroy the world (Midrash Rabbah on Song of Songs 2:29). The times will be one of spiritual decay that will bring people so low that just as the wicked ways of the people living at the time of Noah brought upon them the flood, so also the generation that will see the Messiah should rightly be destroyed (Mishnah Sotah 0:15).
A time of trouble for the end of days
So will there be a time of trouble in the days before the Messiah comes? The words from the Talmud already quoted say that ‘tragedy will come upon you at the end of days.’ They also speak of a time of wickedness like in the time of Noah. The Yalkut Shimoni warned of a conflict in the Middle East involving the Arab nations and Persia, which causes Israel to be in fear. In the present situation there is great turmoil in the Middle East with conflicts within Arab countries and the rise of radical Islamists whose goal is the destruction of Israel. Iran / Persia is also the main cause of fear for the future of Israel, with fears that it will obtain a nuclear bomb and threaten Israel with destruction. All the nations are in fear of a terrible destruction coming out of the Middle East. In the Yalkut Shimoni prophecy this time of tribulation leads to the final redemption through the coming Messiah King.
Although words like these found in the Yalkut Shimoni and the Talmud are interesting, we should look to the Bible as the final word of God. He knows the end from the beginning and there are many passages which describe conditions on earth in ‘the last days’ of this age. In the Torah we read of Israel seeking the Lord in a time of distress, when ‘all these things come upon you in the latter days.’ (Deuteronomy / D’varim 4.30).
A number of passages in the prophets also speak of a time of trouble in the last days. Concerning these days we read in the Hebrew Prophets:
“For thus says the Lord. ‘We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear and not of peace. Ask now and see whether a man is ever in labour with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labour, and all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. …… In the latter days you will consider it.’ ” (Jeremiah 30:5-7, 31)
‘At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book.’ (Daniel 12:1)
Similar words are also to be found in the בריתחדשה B’rith Hadasha (New Covenant / Testament) concerning the second coming of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah. He also said that these days would be preceded by a time of unique trouble:
‘For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the begin ning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.’ (Matthew 24:21-22).
In the days before Yeshua comes again, there will be a time of moral decline, marked by violence and sexual immorality ‘as in the days of Noah’ and the ‘days of Lot’ (Sodom and Gomorrah). See Luke 17.26 – 30 / Genesis 6 and 19.
Wickedness will increase and most men’s love will grow cold. (Matthew 24.12).
Character and behaviour will be in decline:
‘But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.’ (2 Timothy 3.1 – 5)
There will be wars and conflicts increasing, along with natural disasters and famines (Matthew 24.7). Following worldwide dispersion, the Jewish people will return to the land of Israel. The rebirth of Israel is prophesied in the Hebrew prophets (Ezekiel 36 – 39, Jeremiah 31.10). At the time of the end there will be a great conflict centering on Jerusalem (Zechariah 12; Luke 19.41 – 44; 21.20 – 24). In the New Testament it is seen as a sign of the second coming of the Messiah Yeshua who will return in person as the all-powerful king (King of kings and Lord of lords) to bring an end to war and bring peace to the world, starting from Jerusalem. At that time, according to the Book of Revelation:
‘the kingdoms of this world’ shall become ‘the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Messiah and He shall reign forever and ever!’
These prophecies tie in with current world conditions and are a sign that we are living in the last days of this age. / הימיםאחארית
In Chapter 2 we nlook at some of the major prophecies of the end times….
Chapter 2: Signs of the last days and the coming of Messiah
Sign 1: The rebirth of Israel
One of the tasks of the Messiah, according to the rabbis quoted in this booklet, is to bring peace to Israel and the world. Rabbi Winston acknowledges that bringing an end to human conflict, particularly in the Middle East, is ‘a tall order.’ Some might say it is an impossibility, given the level of hostility against Israel in the Middle East and the conflicts between people living in the countries surrounding Israel. Much of this hostility is fuelled by radical Islam, which is growing in power and is implacably opposed to the existence of a Jewish state in what Muslims regard as the Dar al Islam (house of Islam). For radical Islamists like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, peace with Israel would only come with the destruction of Israel.
However, the Bible does say that there will be a day when peace comes to Israel and to the world through the reign of the Messiah King from Jerusalem:
‘Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; he will teach us his ways, and we shall walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people. They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.’ (Isaiah 2.2- 4)
The question is: “How will Israel and the world reach this state? ”
The rebirth of Israel as a Jewish state is one of the most extraordinary events ofmodern times. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, famously said:
“In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.”
Israel’s establishment and survival against all the odds is a sign of something miraculous taking place. This started with Israel’s survival and victory over 7 Arab armies that attacked the Jewish state at birth in 1948 and has continued with many signs of divine intervention in wars which took place since in 1967, 1973 and up to the present time.
Over the last hundred years, Jewish people have returned to Israel from countries around the world, coming from the north, south, east and west as the prophets had said they would. After the terrible events of the Holocaust, Israel became a nation again on 14th May 1948 after the UN voted in favour of establishing a Jewish State in part of Palestine. Since that time, Jewish people have returned to Israel from all over the world. The Hebrew prophets spoke of such an event:
‘He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.’ (Isaiah 11.11-12; see also Isaiah 43.5-6)
This would be a sign to the nations of the world:
‘Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’ (Jeremiah 31.10)
Ezekiel prophesies a time when the land, which had become desolate, would become fertile again as the people of Israel return to it:
‘But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield fruit to My people Israel for they are about to come.’ (Ezekiel 36.8)
During the time when the Jewish people were out of the land the rainfall decreased to the point where the land did become the barren and unfruitful land described by travellers to Palestine in the 19th century. Mark Twain described the land in 1867 in his book, ‘Innocents Abroad’:
Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince … It is a hopeless , dreary, heartbroken land … Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. … Palestine is desolate and unlovely.
As Jewish people began to return to the land in the late 19th century, the rains began to return with the heaviest rains recorded in 1948, the year of Israel’s rebirth as a nation. Millions of trees were planted on the hills and the desert places began to be irrigated and farmed.
The prophecy of Ezekiel goes on to speak of the return of the Jewish people to the land and the spiritual rebirth which they will experience at the time of the end:
‘For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgements and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.’ (Ezekiel 36.24-28)
The physical rebirth of Israel has happened in our time. The Bible indicates that there will also be a spiritual rebirth as Israel looks to the Messiah.
A time of trouble . . .
In Jeremiah chapter 30, we read that, after the Lord causes ‘My people Israel’ to ‘return to the land that I gave their fathers’ (Jeremiah 30.3), there will be a unique time of trouble:
‘We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear and not of peace. Ask now and see whether a man is ever in labour with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labour and all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great and none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble but he shall be saved out of it.’ (Jeremiah 30.5-7)
At this time people may be looking for a peace settlement, but it will fail andinstead there will be the time of trouble that will take place at the end of days (הימיםאחארית acharit ha yamim) according to Jeremiah 30. If we look at similar passages in the prophets (Ezekiel 38-9; Joel 2-3; Daniel 12; Zechariah 12-14) and passages in the New Testament (Matthew 24.15-31; Revelation 16-19) it is clear that, without the intervention of God, Israel would fall. Nevertheless, all these Bible passages indicate that Israel will be saved out of this time of trouble.
From the beginning of its existence, Israel has faced hostility from those who say the land should be given to the Arabs to rule and that the Zionist claim to the land is null and void. Added to this, the restoration of Israel as a Jewish homeland in our time has taken place in the midst of the Islamic world. From 638CE onwards until modern times (apart from the brief Crusader period in the Middle Ages), Islamic powers have ruled over Jerusalem and the land known as Palestine. In Islamic thinking once an area has been ruled by Muslims, it should remain Islamic until the end of days. Therefore Islam can never accept the creation of a Jewish state called Israel in the region, which they regard as the Dar al Islam (House of Islam). This explains a number of passages in the Bible, which prophesy the hostility to Israel from the surrounding nations in the last days.
In Psalm 83 we read of countries which can be identified as neighbours of Israel today and are also Islamic. These countries make a confederacy seeking to eliminate Israel, saying:
‘Come let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more’ —
words that have been spoken by nations hostile to Israel in recent years, almost literally by Nasser of Egypt in the days leading up to the Six Day War in 1967.
Ezekiel 38-39 describes an attack on Israel by an alliance of countries coming down from the north, led by ‘Gog of the land of Magog.’ There are different interpretations of where ‘Magog’ is. Some identify it with the present territory of Russia, others with the region around eastern Turkey and Syria. Included in the list of nations coming against Israel in this attack are countries which today are Muslim countries hostile to Israel, notably Persia (Iran). Ezekiel describes these armies being defeated by God’s intervention, before the return of the Messiah.
About 2500 years ago, the Hebrew prophet Zechariah prophesied that the status of Jerusalem would be a focal point of attention for Israel, the surrounding nations and even the whole world:
‘Behold I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding people … a very heavy stone for all peoples.’ (Zechariah 12.2-3)
‘I will gather all the nations together to battle against Jerusalem.’ (Zechariah 14.2)
Following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jerusalem was a divided city. The western part was in Israel and the historic Old City (where the Temple stood) was in the eastern part, ruled by Jordan. Since the Six Day War of 1967 Israel has ruled over Jerusalem as a united city.
As far as the Muslims are concerned, they should rule Jerusalem. At the present time there is a proposal agreed by the world powers and the UN to resolve the Arab Israeli conflict through the ‘two state solution’, which means setting up a Palestinian state in the territories occupied by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967. This includes Jerusalem, which has been a central issue in discussions over the division of the territory.
Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that Jerusalem remains the indivisible capital of Israel and should remain a united city under Israeli rule. The Palestinians, backed by the Arab Muslim nations, want a Palestinian state with its capital in the eastern part of Jerusalem. Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has declared:
One day, a young Palestinian will raise the Palestinian flag over Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the state of Palestine!
All of this ties in with the prophecy of Zechariah that Jerusalem will be a ‘burdensome stone’ to all nations (i.e. the status of Jerusalem will be a matter of international concern) in the last days of this age. This will lead to the final conflict, which will draw the hostile nations against Israel and Jerusalem.
Zechariah gives a prophecy of this conflict and the intervention of the Lord:
‘And I will pour on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced and mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son and grieve for him as one grieves for a firstborn.’ (Zechariah 12.10)
Here we have a prophecy of one who has been ‘pierced’ and who comes to save the remnant of Israel both physically and spiritually in the last days of this age. This speaks of Yeshua the Messiah who came once to save us from our sins by His death when He was ‘pierced’ (died by crucifixion). At this time of great crisis the people will look on Yeshua as Saviour and turn to Him for salvation.
Zechariah describes how the Lord will come to Israel’s rescue at the end of this age:
‘Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east … Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You … And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be — “The Lord is one,” and His name one.’ (Zechariah 14.3-9)
The one who is identified as Israel’s deliverer in this passage (as in other passages in the prophets dealing with the reigning king Messiah) is identified as the Lord / YHVH – the covenant name given by the God of Israel to Moses at the Burning Bush (Exodus 3). According to Zechariah, this one is not a great man who brings world peace by his wisdom and piety, but the Lord coming in power and in person to bring an end to war and to reign over the earth in the Messianic Kingdom.
The place where He will come to, according to Zechariah, is the Mount of Olives. Interestingly, the New Testament in Acts 1 records that Yeshua ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives after the forty days in which He appeared to the disciples following His resurrection. As He went up, an angel announced that He would come again in the same manner. He will come again to the same place (the Mount of Olives). At this time He will have power as the reigning King Messiah to rule over the nations from Jerusalem, settling all disputes and bringing peace to Israel and to the world, following the judgement of the nations.
Yeshua also spoke about these events:
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21.20-24)
The scattering of the Jewish people began with the destruction of Jerusalem and the second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. From that time onwards Jerusalem was ruled by different Gentile powers. However, Yeshua implies that this will not be a permanent situation. The day will come when Jerusalem will no longer be ‘trampled’ or ruled by the Gentiles and ‘the fig tree’ of Israel’s national life will blossom again:
‘Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”’ (Luke 21.29-33)
The fig tree is used as a symbol of Israel’s national life in Hosea 9.10 and Jeremiah 24. Forty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection the ‘fig tree’ of Israel’s national life began to wither, but He said that the fig tree would put forth leaves again, symbolising the restoration of the national life of the Jewish people in the land of Israel just before His return. When we look at the miracle of Israel’s rebirth in our time we are looking at the most significant visual aid to people around the world of a greater event which is to follow – the return of the Messiah.
Yeshua make s this clear in Matthew 24.32-3:
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near — at the doors!”
The budding of the fig tree – the rebirth of Israel as a nation along with all the other signs which are taking place in our time – is a wakeup call that we are living in the last days and that the Messiah is coming back. He is the only one who will bring peace to Israel. Today we see the signs of His soon return taking place in Israel and the world.
Sign 2: Increase in wars
‘And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.’ (Matthew 24.6-8)
In the end times there will be an increase in conflicts between nations and within nations (civil wars). This will be the ‘beginning of sorrows.’ The word used for ‘sorrows’ here is ‘odin’, the Greek word which is also used of the travail of a woman in labour. The image of the ‘woman in labour’ or the birth pains is used in many parts of the Bible of the troubles, which come upon the world in the last days (see Isaiah13.6-10; Jeremiah 30.5-7). When a woman goes into labour she experiences a series of shocks / contractions, which become more intense the nearer she gets to the birth of the child. Once the process has begun it cannot be reversed until the birth takes place. This means that once this process has begun it will continue and become more intense until the coming of the Messiah. Also when you see these things begin to happen it will mean that the rest of the end time prophecies are about to take place. Interestingly, the ‘Bereshit Rabbah’, a collection of rabbinic writings on the book of Genesis, states:
‘If you see kingdoms rising against each other in turn, then give heed and note the footsteps of the Messiah.’
Over the last 100 years we have seen an increase in wars. The 20th century saw conflicts claim around 160,000,000 lives. About 8 – 9,000,000 died in the First World War and about 55,000,000 in the Second World War. During this time the most terrible calamity fell on the Jewish people with the Nazi Holocaust in which 6 million died. In addition to these there have been civil wars, massacres of people because of racial or religious origin and purges of opponents of totalitarian regimes. Examples include the Turkish massacre of the Armenians, the civil war, famines and purges following the Communist revolution in Russia, the partition of India and Pakistan, the Chinese Communist revolution and subsequent events — Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forward’ and Cultural Revolution, the Korean War, Pakistan – Bangladesh civil war, Ethiopian civil war, Khmer Rouge massacres in Cambodia, Sudanese civil war, Rwanda civil war, Yugoslavia’s civil war, Afghanistan, Gulf wars and subsequent civil war within Iraq, the ‘Arab Spring’ bringing conflict to Libya, Egypt and Syria, various conflicts in Africa including Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Mali.
In recent years we have seen a vast arc of conflict and violence from the western Sahara through to the Philippines as a result of Islamist insurrections and battles between rival Muslim groups. The latest conflict in Syria has already cost around 170,000 lives and created over two million refugees. It has now spilled over into neighbouring Iraq and is developing into a regional conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and also between radical Islamists and moderate Muslim or secular rulers. The goal of Islamists fighting in Syria and Iraq is to set up an Islamic Caliphate in the region. They also wish to destroy Israel and subjugate or kill Christians. Jihadis are also being encouraged to rise up against Europe and America with an aim of overthrowing ‘Christian’ civilisation and imposing the world-wide rule of Islam.
According to the Bible, in the days before the return of Jesus the world will experience the shocks of global conflicts. In the book of Revelation we read of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:
‘Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.’ (Revelation 6.4)
This will result in famine and the death of a quarter of the world’s population. Finally armies will gather for Armageddon, the last war of this age:
‘For they are spirits of demons performing signs which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world to gather them together to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. … And they gathered them together in the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.’ (Revelation 16.14-16)
Sign 3: Natural disasters
Yeshua said, concerning the days before His second coming:
“There will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. … And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear of what is coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Luke 21.11, 25-6)
Statistics show a steady increase in earthquakes over the past 50 years, with many causing huge devastation and death. When these hit populated areas there is great loss of life, as has happened recently following earthquakes with the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, Haiti (2010), Chile (2010) and Japan (2011). In April 2012 the largest strike-slip earthquakes ever recorded, struck off the coast of Indonesia. Seismologists have warned that the tectonic plates that run under the Pacific may be breaking up with potentially disastrous results for the region. They say that nearly all of the planet’s current 15 tectonic plates, and volcanic arcs are heavily stressed by the recent violent mobility of tectonic plates shaken by earthquakes. This is likely to lead to more earthquakes and volcanic eruptions around the world. 2013 saw the most volcanic eruptions recorded in modern history.
A major danger is an earthquake in a region where there is a nuclear facility. The 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power station. Since then every single day, 300 tons of radio-active water from Fukushima have entered the Pacific Ocean, contaminating the Pacific Ocean’s ecosystem. Experts have found very high levels of radio-active cesium – 137 in plankton living in the waters of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the west coast. Other fish live off plankton, so the cesium will spread into the food chain. A vast field of radioactive debris from Fukushima has crossed the Pacific Ocean and is starting to collide with the west coast of America. Reports of unusual deaths and disease in sea life including polar bears, walruses, sea lions, as well as fish. Cesium has been found in fish being sold from Japan – carp, cod, sardines. Environmental activist, Joe Martino, issued the following warning …
“Your days of eating Pacific Ocean fish are over.”
In fact stories of dead fish arriving on coast lines for no apparent reason have come in from all over the world, another sign of the end times, according to Bible prophecies in Revelation 8.9:
‘And a third of the living creatures in the sea died.’
More than four times the number of natural disasters are occurring now than did twenty years ago according to a report by Oxfam. The report speaks of more frequent and more extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts, heat waves, extreme cold, hurricanes and tornados. The World Meteoro-logical Organisation, in Geneva described 2012 as:
‘a big year in terms of extreme weather calamity.’
There were floods in some parts and extreme heat and droughts in others, causing crop losses in the US, Russia, India, Australia, Brazil and Argentina. The Southern hemisphere summer (2012-3) brought blistering heat waves to Australia and South America while winter brought unusually bitter cold to Russia and China. 2013-14 has brought unusual storms, the most severe of which was the typhoon that battered the Philippines with the highest wind speeds ever recorded, causing damage described as apocalyptic. Britain and the United States have been battered by storms and heavy rain, causing flooding and damage to the coastline.
Many people are blaming man made climate change (global warming) for these events which, they say, will become more frequent and will lead to catastrophic results for the human race unless this process is reversed. Lester Brown, president of the Earth policy research centre in Washington, said that the climate is no longer reliable and the demands for food are growing so fast that the global food supply system could collapse leaving hundreds of millions more people hungry. He said:
“Food shortages undermined earlier civilisations. We are on the same path.”
Parts of the world are also running out of clean water. Some of the largest lakes
and rivers on the globe are being depleted at a very frightening pace, and many
of the most important underground aquifers that we depend on to irrigate our
ll soon be gone. 40% of the children living in Africa and India have had
their growth stunted due to unclean water and malnutrition. In China, 80% of the major rivers have become so horribly polluted that they do not support any aquatic life at all. The Aral Sea in central Asia, once the world’s fourth largest freshwater lake, has almost completely dried up and become desert. The most important underground water source in America, the Ogallala Aquifer, is rapidly running dry, as is the Colorado River and the most important lake in the western United States, Lake Mead, as a catastrophic drought is engulfing California. Egypt loses about 50% of its freshwater through poor maintenance of supplies and distribution problems, and the water is polluted. There are fears that Egypt could run out of water by 2025. Isaiah 19.5 speaks of the river (Nile) being wasted and dried up; and Revelation 8.11 speaks of people dying ‘from the water because it was made bitter.’
The Book of Revelation warns of a time coming when there will be great food shortages across the earth. As a result a day’s wages will be just enough to pay for a tiny amount of food (Revelation 6.5-6). There will be great heat and trees being burned up and waters made undrinkable.
‘And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. … Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven like a torch and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.’ (Revelation 8.7-11)
Revelation 16 speaks of a time when ‘men are scorched with great heat’, when the Euphrates River dries up and there is:
‘a great earthquake such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since there were men on the earth’. (Revelation 16.8,12,18)
Sign 4: Violence everywhere
In the last days of this age the earth will be full of violence and many people will be afraid of what is going to happen. Yeshua said:
“As it was in the days of Noah so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.” (Luke 17.26-27)
The Bible says that in the days of Noah ‘the earth was corrupt before God and the earth was filled with violence.’ (Genesis 6.11). In particular, there was something happening in the thought life of human beings causing them to act in wicked ways:
‘Every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.’ (Genesis 6.5)
Yeshua said that at the end of this age:
“men’s hearts (will be) failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth”. (Luke 21.26)
The world today has many influences to violence. TV and films show images of violence and cruelty which people watch every day. Computer games glorify aggression and killing. Add to this the influence of drink, drugs and the occult and you have a potent cocktail leading to violence and uncleanness in human behaviour. Newspapers are full of stories of violent and lawless behaviour in people’s homes, in schools and on the streets of our towns and cities.
We see violence taking place in different parts of the world for various reasons. There are conflicts in places where people of different races, tribes or religions live close to each other. There are governments, which use violence to suppress the opposition, and terrorist groups, which use violence to terrorise their opponents or try to overthrow governments. The drug trade is another source of violence with gangs fighting over profits from selling drugs. There is violence against women and children. Reports come in from many parts of the world of rape, sexual abuse and women being forced into prostitution. Domestic violence is a growing problem in many western countries. In the UK one incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute. On average, two women a week are killed by a current or former male partner.
The human race has come a long way from Cain, the first son of Adam, who killed his brother out of jealousy. People’s lives are made a misery by violence as human beings ignore God’s command to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ or Yeshua’ words:
“This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15.12)
Now is the time to choose to love God and your neighbour as yourself, to seek peace and reconciliation in place of strife.
Sign 5: Wickedness increasing
Along with violence in the last days the Bible also indicates that there will be a breakdown of moral values, with sexual immorality, adultery and homosexuality flourishing. Yeshua said:
“And because lawlessness (wickedness) will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24.12)
He also said it would be like the days of Lot (Luke 17.28-9). We read about Lot in Genesis 19, where we find him ‘sitting in the gate of Sodom.’ Sodom was a wicked city full of sexual immorality, with homosexuality imposing itself on the city. As a result:
‘Lot was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked.’ (2 Peter 2.7)
Today we see a world-wide rejection of the Bible’s teaching that one man married to one woman is God’s will for human sexuality, for family life and caring for children. All the evidence shows that children brought up in a stable family by their own father and mother have a much better chance in life than those brought up in alternative arrangements. Today we have a breakdown of family life and moral values with easy divorce, multiple sex partners, teenage pregnancies, single parent families and homosexuality. There is a huge rise in abortion and sexually transmitted diseases. Child abuse and prostitution have become a global phenomenon, with people travelling around the world to engage in sordid and degrading acts. Much of our popular entertainment is low-level pornography with hard-core porn easily available on the Internet and on cable TV. Teenagers are now looking at Internet porn to learn ‘how to do sex’ and imitating what they see there. Governments have given the status of marriage to homosexual relationships in defiance of God’s laws on sexual relations.
Beginning in the 1960s the idea has been put forward that sexual permissive-ness brings freedom. Moral values based on chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage are considered old fashioned and repressive. In fact the opposite is true. Sexual promiscuity has caused people to be enslaved by destructive habits and desires, bringing suffering, insecurity and disease. The sexual revolution which has taken place is a part of human rebellion against God and His laws, which is prophesied to take place in the last days of this age. In the book of Revelation we read that when the judgements of God strike the world at the end of this age, the majority of mankind will not:
‘repent of the works of their hands … And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.’ (Revelation 9.20-21)
Perhaps one reason why they do not repent is that people are being conditioned today by the media and the education system to have no shame for immoral behaviour. If you took murder and violence, sorcery (the occult), sexual immorality and theft (crime) out of popular entertainment today there would not be much left!
The result of all this is the kind of behaviour that Paul warned would dominate the last days of this age:
‘But know this that in the last days perilous times will come, for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.’ (2 Timothy 3.1-5)
Sign 6: Increase in knowledge
In the prophecy of Daniel written some 2500 years ago, we find a word about the ‘time of the end’:
‘But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall increase.’ (Daniel 12.4)
This implies that in the last days of this age there will be a huge increase in knowledge and travel. Go to an airport in a major world city and you will see people ‘running to and fro’ as they take journeys around the world. Technology has developed at an incredible rate over the past hundred years. Switch on a computer and open up the Internet and you can tap into an almost infinite source of knowledge on whatever you want to know. We are all witnesses of the fulfilment of these words of Daniel as we see a huge increase in travel and technology shrinking the world to a global village.
Today’s world is full of incredible inventions which our forefathers could not even imagine existing. Television can bring pictures into our homes of events taking place on the other side of the world at the moment they are happening. We can speak to people thousands of miles away instantly by telephone and send messages via email and the Internet. Computers have opened up whole new worlds of information, entertainment and communication. We can make journeys in a matter of hours by car, train or plane, which previously would have taken days, weeks or months. Our lives are made easier by different labour-saving devices around the home – the fridge, the washing machine, central heating etc. Technology has brought enormous advances in transport, medicine, agriculture, entertainment, communication, etc.
However, technology also has its down side. For vast numbers of people technology is not available at all or only in very limited forms. This creates a great gulf between those who have it and those who do not. Another problem is that all technology requires energy. The main sources of energy used today are all finite, and burning coal and oil is blamed for carbon emissions causing climate change. A recent UN report on the environment said the speed at which man-kind has used up the Earth’s resources has put ‘humanity’s very survival at risk.’
The increase in knowledge helps to explain prophecies which previous generations thought to be impossible to be fulfilled literally. In Revelation 6 we read of a quarter of the earth’s population being killed in war, which was inconceivable at the time of writing when wars were fought with swords and spears, but is not at all inconceivable in our time with weapons of mass destruction. In Revelation 13 we are told about how the false prophet creates an image which people are told to worship:
‘He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.’ (Revelation 13.15)
In previous times the idea that an image could speak seemed impossible. Not today. In fact most people spend their time watching a speaking image on TV screens. Now we find scientists working on projects using nanotechnology, robotics and genetics which could create a humanoid robot able to speak and move as in the film ‘Avatar.’
The next verse reads:
‘He causes all both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.’ (Revelation 13.16-18)
When John wrote Revelation, buying and selling was done by coins or barter and it was hard to imagine any kind of system whereby you could use a number or a mark to do this. Today it is not so hard to imagine. The technology now exists to uniquely identify every person on earth and bring in biometric ID systems able to digitally identify their citizens using fingerprints, face, and iris scans. Cash is being replaced by credit cards which have a number unique to the person they belong to.
We are now seeing developments in the area of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, which transmit identifying information using radio signal waves by using a microchip assembly. It is possible to put data into this microchip and insert it under the skin. A chip as small as a grain of sand can be injected into the right arm between the elbow and the shoulder. Experts working in this field foresee a day when ATM cards and credit cards will be replaced by these new devices and are actively seeking partnerships with banking and credit companies to team up and develop commercial applications using the chip. No longer would a person need to swipe a card to buy or sell goods, but would rather simply agree to the business deal and let the RFID technology complete the transaction.
Sign 7:Antichrist / Anti-Messiah / Armilus
The advances in science and technology have brought great benefits to many, but also new problems. As international travel, commerce and modern means of communication have shrunk the world into a ‘global village’, the problems of humanity have also become international ones – drugs, terrorism, spread of weapons of mass destruction, economic crises affecting the whole global economic system, environmental pollution, new diseases, international crime, gulf between rich and poor nations, refugees and asylum and so on.
To try to bring order to all this, we have global institutions being set up, like the IMF, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation, UNESCO, the International Labour Organisation, the G20, as well as the coming together of nations like the EU, the BRICS countries, ASEAN (East Asia), MERCOSUR (South America). Above all there is the UN, which states that its purpose is ‘to maintain inter-national peace and security … to develop friendly relations among nations … and to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural and humanitarian character and to encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.’ (Charter of the UN, Chapter 1, Article 1).
The Bible indicates that at the end of this age there will be a kind of world government out of which one known as the Antichrist or the Beast will arise. There are commentaries on this in both Jewish and Christian writings. Jewish writings refer to this ‘anti-Messiah’ as Armilus. In the Jewish Encyclopedia , we read:
‘Anti-Messiah, legendary opponent of the Messiah and leader of the heathen forces in the battle again st the latter which will take place at the end of time. Such a figure, under the name of Armilus, becomes a definite part of Jewish eschatology….[who] will overcome and destroy the Messiah of the house of Joseph and rule over the entire world, but will ultimately be defeated and slain by the Messiah of the line of David.’ (The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. I. New York: Universal Jewish Encyclopedia Co., © 1948, p. 337).
Revelation 13 tells us about the Antichrist / Anti-Messiah:
‘He was given great authority for 42 months … And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue and nation … It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. (Revelation 13.5, 7-10)
Revelation also describes one who works alongside the ‘beast,’ known as the False Prophet, who will cause people to worship ‘the image of the beast.’
The prophetic scriptures indicate that at the time of the end the Antichrist will come to power. The book of Daniel contains an overview of history from Daniel’s time down to the Second Coming of the Messiah. According to this prophecy, there would be four empires which would have power over Israel down to the time of the Messiah. This starts with the Babylonian Empire which was in power at the time of Daniel, followed by the Persian Empire, the Greek Empire and the Roman Empire (Daniel 2 and Daniel 7). During the time of the fourth Empire (the Roman Empire) the Messiah would come and be ‘cut off’ (die a violent death) ‘but not for himself’ (not for his own sins but for the sins of others) before the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70CE (Daniel 9.26).
Daniel prophesied that there would arise from ‘this kingdom’ (i.e. the Roman Empire), an entity which would be connected to it, but different from it (Daniel 7.24). Daniel prophesies that out of this kingdom would come the end time leader who is described as :
- ‘a little horn … speaking pompous words’ (Daniel 7.8);
- ‘a stern faced king who understands sinister schemes’ (Daniel 8.23);
- and ‘the prince who is to come’ (Daniel 9.26).
This one will persecute ‘the saints of the Most High’ (Daniel 7.25) and will also make some kind of covenant / treaty with many in Israel for ‘one week’ (7 years), a covenant which he will break half way through (Daniel 9.27).
His identity is further revealed in the New Testament book of Revelation, wheree is called the Beast who persecutes the saints and brings in the ‘abomination of desolation’ (Daniel 11.31, Matthew 24.15-31, Revelation 13). The Book of Revelation, written in the days of the persecution of Christianity by the Roman Empire (Daniel’s fourth beast), describes a future beast, whose leader will be given power by ‘ten kings’ (Revelation 17.10-13). Revelation implies that the Beast or Antichrist will arise out of some kind of revived Roman Empire (Revelation 17.9-11). His rule will be shattered by the Second Coming of Yeshua in power and glory at the end of this age.
There have been many attempts to identify the Antichrist throughout history. At the time of the Reformation the Protestant reformers said the Pope is the Antichrist, a belief still held by some Protestant Christians. Others believe that he will be a political leader who will arise out of the European Union, which is seen as the ‘revived Roman Empire’. Significantly, the European Union was set in motion by the ‘Treaty of Rome’ and is situated in much of the area of the Roman Empire. A sculpture of Europa (a woman riding a bull) stands outside the European Commission building in Brussels. In Revelation 17, we read of the ‘woman riding the beast’ in reference to the Antichrist.
Another interpretation is that the Antichrist is an Islamic leader who will arise in the Middle East and bring together the Muslim nations in the Caliphate under Sharia law. This is actually the goal of Islamist terrorists who have taken over parts of Syria and Iraq. Significantly the eastern part of the Roman Empire had its capital in Constantinople (modern Istanbul) and this region is now Islamic (apart from Israel which, as we have seen, is the eye of the storm in the Islamic Jihad and the scene for the final battle of this age).
A further interpretation is that the Antichrist is a truly global leader who is given power through the UN as a result of a global crisis, which calls for a global government to manage the planet. Today we see many signs of globalisation bringing the nations together. There are many people saying the world needs some kind of global government to resolve all these problems. In order to deal with global problems, we already see the growth of global institutions –the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Interpol, International bodies for refugees, human rights, the environment etc. We also see blocs of nations emerging, the most advanced of which is the European Union. World leaders come together in the G20 which describes itself as the ‘global for um for forging global economic cooperation.’ We also have the United Nations, which brings all nations together in a world forum. We also have the development of technology, bringing in the possibility of the kind of control of people described in Revelation 13 and which we looked at in Sign 6.
We do not yet see the Antichrist in his position of power. However, at the moment the world on a knife – edge with all kinds of calamities threatening, especially in the Middle East. At some stage in the future some thing will happen to tip us over the edge and unleash the events of the Great Tribulation on the earth. When this happens, the Antichrist will ride onto the world stage and take up his position of power and bring in the final catastrophe of this age.
According to the Book of Revelation, the final conflict which the Antichrist and the False Prophet will bring about will take place in Israel:
‘And they gathered them together to the placebcalled in Hebrew, Armageddon.’ (Revelation 16.16)
This corresponds to amnumber of passages in the Hebrew prophets, notably Joel 3, Zechariah 12-14.
At that time, the Lord will come with all the power of God at His disposal to bring an end to the conflict:
‘Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS
… And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.’ (Revelation 19.11-21)
Th is will be the end of the war and the beginning of the time of peace on earth, when the Messiah Yeshua will reign from Jerusalem, as prophesied in Isaiah 2, and when nations will destroy their weapons and not learn war any more. In Chapter 4 we will look a t what the Bible says will happen in the time of Messiah’s reign on earth.
Chapter 3: Has Messiah come before?
Part 1: When should Messiah have come?
If these are signs of the second coming of Messiah in today’s events, does that mean Messiah has come before?
According to the Jewish statement of faith, the coming of the Messiah is a future event:
‘I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and though he may tarry, still I await him every day.’
If we are still waiting for a coming Messiah then by definition he has not already come.
However, there is a passage in the Talmud which says that the Messiah should have come about 2000 years ago!
The eleventh century rabbi, Rashi, gives an explanation for the non-appearance of Messiah by saying:
‘After 2000 years of Torah it was God’s decree that the Messiah would come and the wicked generation would come to an end and the subjugation of Israel would be destroyed. But because our iniquities were many, all this has been lost.’
So, according to Rashi, Messiah should have come, but did not because of Israel’s sins.
The 2000 years of Torah are held to date from Abraham, not Moses, so according to this Midrash, the Messianic era was supposed to begin around 2000 years ago. Michael Brown makes this date a bit more specific:
‘Most traditional Jews follow Rashi’s dating, putting the expected date of Messiah’s arrival at roughly 240CE. However, Rashi based his figure on a significant chronological error in the Talmudic tradition, probably the most famous error of its kind in rabbinic literature. It is a miscalculation of almost two hundred years! ’ (‘Answering Jewish objections to Jesus’ Volume 1, by Michael Brown).
This brings us back to roughly the time of Jesus.
The prophecy of Daniel 9.25-26 also says that the Messiah should have come around the time of Jesus:
‘Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after 62 weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.’
The ‘week’ here is the Hebrew word ‘shavua’ which can mean a period of 7 days or 7 years. In this case it is 7 years. So we are talking about a period of 7 + 62 sevens, which equals 483 years. At the end of this period of time יכרתמשיחואיןלו
Messiah shall be cut off but not for Himself’. The Hebrew uses the word for Messiah and says that He will be cut off. The word used for ‘cut off’ (Hebrew כרת) is used quite frequently in the Torah with the idea of being cut off from the people because of sin (as a judgement). For example:
‘But the person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on the Lord, and he shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord, and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be upon him.’ (Numbers 15.30-31)
When Yeshua was on the cross He was ‘cut off’ from the people as the sin of the world was placed upon Him. But He was without sin Himself so the prophecy adds the phrase which is hard to translate ואיולו (v’ein lo). Literally this means ‘there is nothing to him’. This is translated in the Authorised Version ‘but not for himself’ implying that the Messiah dies not for His own sins, but for the sins of others. This ties in with the prophecy of Isaiah 53.6: ‘The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all’.
Therefore, according to the prophecy of Daniel, Messiah should have come ‘seven weeks and sixty two weeks’ after the command to restore and build Jerusalem and before the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. Rashi claimed that the prophecy was referring to King Agrippa, the last Jewish king at the end of the Second Temple period. The reasoning for this is that Jewish kings were anointed and the Hebrew term ‘mashiach’ means anointed. However, the ‘anointing’ implied in the word ‘mashiach’ was for legitimate kings in the line of David, and could not be applied to Agrippa who was a carnal wicked king and a descendant of Herod, the Edomite, not of the line of David. Moreover, the subject of the prophecy given to Daniel by Gabriel was the redemption of the Jewish people, the status of Jerusalem and the Temple. Agrippa had nothing to do with this redemption and his life or death would have been completely irrelevant to this prophecy. The historians Josephus and Photius put the death of King Agrippa II many years after the destruction of the Second Temple, somewhere between 93 and 100 CE. So Daniel 9.26 has to be about someone else.
The event of Daniel 9.26 was to happen between the command to rebuild Jerusalem and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. There are two possibilities for the start point (the command to rebuild Jerusalem): either the decree of Cyrus (Ezra 1.1-4) or the decree of Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2). In his book, ‘The Coming Prince’, Sir Robert Anderson uses the latter date. He fixed this date as March 14, 445 BC and calculated the date from there to ‘Messiah the Prince’ as 7+62 x7 x360 = 173,880 days. He worked out the date of the birth of Jesus as the autumn of 4BC. Based on Luke 3, which tells us that Jesus began His ministry in 15th year of Tiberius Caesar when He was ‘about 30 years old’, he calculates the beginning of Jesus’ ministry to be August in 28 CE, and fixes 32 CE as the year of the crucifixion.
The end point of this part of Daniel’s prophecy has to be the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple to the Romans in 70CE. Whatever conclusion we come to about the start point, this prophecy in Daniel indicates that Messiah should have come before the destruction of the Second Temple.
This conclusion does create a problem for the Jewish interpretation of the coming of the Messiah, as this quotation from Maimonides indicates:
‘Daniel has made known to us the knowledge of the end times. However, since they are secret, the wise rabbis have barred the calculation of the days of Messiah’s coming so that the untutored populace will not be led astray when they see that the End Times have already come but there is no sign of the Messiah.’ (Igeret Teiman, Chapter 3 p.24)
From this statement, it appears that Maimonides believed that Daniel had knowledge of the time of the coming of the Messiah and that that time has now passed. Because of this, rabbis should not teach about this subject in case people are troubled by the fact that these events have happened and the Messiah did not appear.
This is what Rachmiel Frydland discovered as a yeshiva student in pre-war Poland:
‘I knew that the secrets of Israel’s redemption and the Messianic Days lay hidden in the book of Daniel. I also knew that some of the great Talmudic and post-Talmudic Rabbis had plunged into the study of this book and even plummeted the hidden secrets of its symbolic signs and ciphers. The Talmud and Midrash, discussing Israel’s redemption, often refer to the book of Daniel as the revealer of the secret time of Messiah’s coming. However at the yeshiva I was ominously reminded of a warning and a curse pronounced against those who try to figure out the end. The Talmud says:
‘May they drop who try to figure out the end; for they say, ‘Since the time of his (Messiah’s) coming has already arrived, yet he did not come. Therefore he will not come at all’. (Sanhedrin 97b)
The study of our greatest sages brought them to the conclusion that if the dates in the Scriptures are correct, the Messiah should have come in the first century of our era, or thereabouts. In a Talmudic portion it is written concerning the timing of the Messianic Age:
‘The school of Elijah taught: The world is to be for six thousand years; two thousand years without Torah; two thousand years with Torah and two thousand years Messianic times (Midrash Rabba Gen.98.3).’ (What the Rabbis know about the Messiah by Rachmiel Frydland).
While all other attempts to make sense of the prophecy of Daniel 9.26 fail to identify who this ‘Moshiach’ is, it makes perfect sense when applied to Yeshua.
Genesis 49.10. Another indication that the Messiah should have come is found in the ancient prophecy in Genesis in which Jacob blesses his sons and gives the most significant word not to his oldest son, Reuben, nor to his favourite son, Joseph, but to his fourth son, Judah:
‘The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.’ (Genesis 49.10)
In this prophecy Jacob is saying that Judah would have rulership as happened through the line of kings descended from his descendant, David. He also prophesied that through his line ‘Shiloh’ would come. There are Jewish writings, which teach that ‘Shiloh’שיהל is the Messiah, for example this one from ‘Yalkut’, a collection of rabbinic explanations of the Bible:
The Targum of Palestine translates Genesis 49.10 as ‘Kings shall not cease, nor rulers from the house of Judah nor sopherim (scribes) teaching the Law from his seed, till the time that the King the Messiah shall come who will arise from Judah. How beauteous is the King the Messiah who will arise from Judah.’
The sceptre in this verse is the Hebrew word ‘shebet’, שבט the tribal staff which belonged to each tribe as an ensign of their authority. Thus the tribal identity of Judah would not pass away, as happened to other tribes, until Shiloh or Messiah comes. It was from the tribe of Judah that the line of kings that descended from King David came. Even after the Babylonian captivity, Judah continued to havelawgivers (see Ezra 1.5-8).
In the early years of the Roman occupation of Judea, the Jewish people still had a king in their own land. Moreover, they were to a large extent governed by their own laws, and the Sanhedrin exercised its authority. But in the span of a few years in around 11 CE, Archelaus, the king of the Jews was dethroned and banished. Coponius was appointed Roman Procurator, and the kingdom of Judea, the last remnant of the former nation of Israel, was formally debased intoa province of Syria (see Josephus’ Antiquities 17, chapter 13.1-5).
At this time the Sanhedrin lost its power of passing the death sentence. According to the Talmud, this was considered an ominous development because the ‘sceptre had departed from Judah’ and the Messiah had not come:
‘When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their right over life and death, a general consternation took hold of them; they covered their heads and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming, “Woe unto us, for the sceptre has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come .’’ (Talmud, Bab., Sanhedrim, Chapter 4, fol. 37, recto)
This would have been about the time that Jesus appeared in the Temple as a 12 year old boy (Luke 2.41-50). The Messiah had come!
For another half century the Jewish people retained the semblance of a provincial government structure, but in 70 CE all semblance of Jewish national sovereignty disappeared when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the armies of the Roman General Titus.
If Jesus is the Messiah, then the prophecy of Jacob way back in Genesis was fulfilled in a remarkable way. The Messiah came before Judah lost its national identity, just as Jacob foretold. He completed his mission as the Suffering Servant Messiah 40 years before the destruction of the Second Temple, even giving a prophetic warning of that coming event in Luke 19.43-44:
“For the days will come upon you (Jerusalem / the Temple) when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you and your children within you to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
There are other passages in the Hebrew prophets believed to be about the Messiah, which say He should come during the days of the Second Temple. These include Malachi 3.1:
‘Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.’
Also Haggai 2.7-9:
“… ‘I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. … ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
In conclusion, according to the Jewish writings quoted above, the Messiah should have already come. If Jesus is not the Messiah this raises a problem. If He is the Messiah , then He came at the right time, around 2000 years ago. He came before the destruction of the Second Temple, to be cut off (die a violent death), not for Himself (not for his own sins), but for the sins of others. In doing this He fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel 9.26 as well as other prophecies of Messiah suffering as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
For all this to happen He had to come at the right time. Earlier we quoted Rashi, who said the Messianic Age had not come ‘because our iniquities were many ’. Shaul (Paul) tells us that was precisely why Messiah did come! To save us from our sins and make the way for God to forgive us and give us eternal life:
‘You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Messiah died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Messiah died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah, through whom we have now received reconciliation.’ (Romans 5.6-11)
Part 2: The Suffering Servant
The mostwell-known prophecy connecting Yeshua to the Hebrew scriptures is Isaiah 52.13-53.12. This shows that His purpose in coming the first time was to fulfil the prophecy of the Suffering Servant Messiah to pay the price for the sins of the world:
‘Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’ (Isaiah 53.4-6)
‘For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken.’ (Isaiah 53.8)
Today most Jewish teachers follow the teaching of Rashi, who wrote in about 1050 that Isaiah 53 is about Israel suffering for the Gentiles. This is now considered to be the Jewish interpretation of this passage. However, before Rashi put forward this view, the majority rabbinic view was that Isaiah 52.13— 53.12 describes the Messiah. Rashi’s view provoked a fierce debate among his contemporaries and was rejected by Rambam (Maimonides), who said that Rashi was completely wrong and going against the traditional Jewish viewpoint. The Targum of Isaiah 52.13, written by Jonathan ben Uzziel in the first century, clearly connects this passage to the Messiah. His Targums were often quoted by early Rabbis, and he was considered an authority on the Jewish view of the Bible. He wrote:
‘Behold my Servant Messiah shall prosper …’
(Note the word ‘Messiah’ is not in the text of Isaiah, but is supplied in the Targum to show that this was considered to be a passage about the Messiah).
Alshech the Chief Rabbi of Safed, Upper Galilee, in the 16th century said of Isaiah 53:
prophet is speaking of the king Messiah, and we shall ourselves also adhere to the same view.”
Rabbi Eliyyah de Vidas wrote in about 1575 that not only is Isaiah 53 about the Messiah, but those who refuse to believe this must suffer for their sins themselves:
‘But He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the meaning of which is that since the Messiah bears our iniquities which produce the effect of his being bruised, it follows that whoso will not admit that the Messiah thus suffers for our iniquities must endure and suffer for them himself.’
These rabbis are not saying that this Messiah is Jesus but they are acknowledging that Isaiah 53 is about the Messiah, a suffering Messiah, who is know n as ‘Moshiach ben Yosef’ (Messiah son of Joseph) in some writings. According to this view, there are two Messiahs. One is Messiah ben Joseph, who suffers and dies before being exalted, as Joseph suffered at the hands of his brothers and was made a slave and imprisoned, before being exalted in the court of Pharaoh. The other is Messiah ben David, who reigns as a triumphant king, as David reigned.
Concerning Messiah ben Joseph, Rabbi Alshech wrote: ‘For they shall lift up their eyes unto me in perfect repentance when they see him whom they have pierced, that is Messiah, the Son of Joseph. For our rabbis of blessed memory have said that he will take upon himself all the guilt of Israel, and then shall be slain in the war to make an atonement, in such a manner, that it shall be accounted as if Israel had pierced him, for on account of their sin he has died , and therefore in order that it may be reckoned to them as a perfect atonement, they will repent, and look to the Blessed One, saying that there is none beside him to forgive those that mourn on account of him who died for their sin; this is the meaning of “They shall look upon me.’’ ’
The alternative view is to see these two roles of Messiah fulfilled in two appearings of one Messiah Yeshua, who has already come once and who is coming a second time to fulfil the prophecies of the reigning king Messiah.
Firstly, He came as the Suffering Servant who died as a sacrifice for the sin of the world, rose again and ascended to heaven. Secondly, He will return in power and glory from heaven, judge the world in righteousness and reign as the King Messiah after His Second Coming. More on how the prophecy of the reigning King Messiah will be fulfilled can be found in Chapter 4.
In the New Testament Yeshua is portrayed as the one who fulfilled this prophecy of Isaiah 53 (Matthew 8.17; John 12.38; 1 Peter 2.21-25). He explained to His disciples that He would go to Jerusalem and suffer and die as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, then rise again from the dead:
‘From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.’
He said on many occasions that He would come again, this time in the power and glory of heaven to judge the world in righteousness:
“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24.30)
Jesus’ sufferings on the cross are the fulfilment of Isaiah 53. Does this interpretation make sense of the text? We invite you to study this text and look up the references given in the New Testament.
“Behold, My Servant shall prosper; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men; so shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; for what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider.”
These verses introduce the Servant who is described in detail in the verses thatfollow. The servant will be exalted very high. Prior to His exaltation He was to be humiliated and physically abused to the point where He became almost unrecognisable. As a result He would ‘sprinkle many nations’ and kings would be silent before Him.
The crucifixion account describes Jesus’ physical suffering at the hands of the Romans. He was scourged, had a crown of thorns placed upon Him before being taken away to be crucified. Anyone going through this level of physical abuse and humiliation would become almost unrecognisable as Isaiah prophesied. Yet despite this humiliation He was to be raised to life again and ascend to the highest place, just as Isaiah said He would be.
Isaiah 52.15 also speaks about the Servant ‘sprinkling’ many nations. The Hebrew word used for sprinkling is ‘nazah’ (הנז) which is used of the High Priest sprinkling of blood of the sin offering on the mercy seat in the tabernacle to cleanse and consecrate it from ‘the uncleanness of the children of Israel’ (Leviticus 16.14-22). The New Testament writers show how the blood of Jesus replaces the blood of the animal sacrifices as the atoning sacrifice whereby God can forgive our sins:
‘But Messiah came as High Priest of the good things to come … For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.’ (Hebrews 9.11-15)
‘The blood of Jesus the Messiah, His Son cleanses us from all sin.’ (1 John 1.5-7)
Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from him; He was despised, and we did not esteem him.
These verses speak of the rejection which would accompany the ministry of this Servant. His message would not be believed. His origin and appearance would not meet the expectations of the people and therefore they would reject Him. This rejection would cause Him grief. The New Testament records the rejection of Jesus throughout the time of His public ministry, for precisely these reasons. He was rejected by His own family and the people He had grown up with who said of Him, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” (See Matthew 13.55, Luke 4.16-30). He was rejected by the religious leaders who objected to the miracles He did on the Sabbath (John9.16), His association with people they considered to be sinners (Matthew 9.11,Luke 15), and above all because of His claim to be equal with God (Matthew 26.65; Mark 2.7; John 8.58; John 10.30). He was even rejected at His hour of need by the disciples who could not stay awake to pray with Him at the time of His arrest (Matthew 26.36-46), who ran away and left Him and denied even knowing Him (Mark 14.27-72).
In all of this, Jesus experienced grief, just as Isaiah said the Servant would:
‘And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is extremely sorrowful even unto death.’’ ’ (Matthew 26.37-8)
‘Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’
These verses take the sufferings of the Servant further and describe the purpose of His suffering. His death would be misinterpreted by those who said He was stricken by God and afflicted (in other words He was suffering for His own sins). In fact the whole meaning of His sufferings was to atone for the sins of others. Because He experienced the worst sorrows life can throw at any one, He can sympathise and carry the griefs of those who are going through suffering now.
The universal condition of the human race, Jewish and Gentile, is to ‘go astray’ or to sin. The Lord has placed on Him the iniquity of us all so that we can be forgiven. In 2 Corinthians 5.21, Paul writes of the Messiah:
‘We implore you on Messiah’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.’
Jesus, who was without sin, became the sin offering for us all, in order that we might be made righteous with God. This is exactly what Isaiah prophesies when he says that all of us have gone astray (sinned), but the Lord has laid on Him, the Messiah, the iniquity of us all.
Every person who turns to Jesus in sincerity discovers that He is able to forgive their sins and give them eternal life.
‘He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgement, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked, but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.’
These verses tell us about the sufferings of the Messiah from a human point of view. He would be brought to trial and willingly accept the death sentence handed down to Him, despite its injustice. He would be literally put to death (cut off from the land of the living) and once again it is stated that His death would be for the sins of ‘my people’. His death would be an atoning death for sin. As far as His body was concerned He would be expected to be put in a grave with the executed criminals (they made His grave with the wicked). However, there would be an intervention of ‘the rich’ at the point of His death.
Jesus’ trials before Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate were both unfair and contrary to both Jewish and Roman law
‘Now the chief priests, the elders and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none.’ (Matthew 26.59)
Jesus did no t try to defend Himself, knowing that it was necessary for Him to go to the cross in order to redeem the world.‘
And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marvelled greatly.’ (Matthew 27.12–14)
The Roman soldiers who had witnessed countless similar executions were in no doubt that Jesus was dead before He was taken down from the cross (John19.32-35). What happened next is very interesting in the light of Isaiah’s prophecy. The usual practice was for crucifixion victims to stay on the cross as a warning to others not to go against the power of the occupying Romans, or for their bodies to be taken down and thrown into a common grave in the Valley of Hinnom outside Jerusalem. If either had happened to Jesus the next event, the resurrection, would have lost its force.
Isaiah says He would be with the rich at His death. In the Gospel we read how Joseph of Arimathea, who was a rich man and a member of the Sanhedrin, intervened and asked Pontius Pilate for the body of Jesus so he could bury Him in His own tomb (Matthew 27.57-60). Pilate agreed to this and the body of Jesus was placed in a sealed tomb with a stone rolled across it. As a result, when the resurrection happened, it was much easier to verify or discredit the story than it would have been if the body had been thrown into a common grave. This intervention was vital to what was to happen next – the resurrection. It meant that the body of Jesus was placed in a special tomb, not a common pit. A stone was rolled across it, so that it would clearly be a miracle when Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, as the Gospels record.
The reason given for this in Isaiah -‘because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth’ – again testifies to the fact that Jesus was without sin, and therefore able to be the sin offering for the world at the crucifixion.
‘Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When you make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labour of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge my righteous servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.’
For the third time in Isaiah 53 we read of the Servant’s death, which would be a literal death, and also an offering for sin. In the same way the goat for the sin offering on Yom Kippur was literally put to death, shedding its blood in order to atone for the sin of Israel (Leviticus 16-17). These verses tell us the purpose of the Servant’s death and speak of His resurrection from the dead. He would be satisfied by seeing His ‘seed’ and bring justification to many by bearing their iniquities. God would highly exalt Him because He was willing to be considered a transgressor and die. He would make intercession for transgressors.
The ultimate responsibility for the death of Jesus is with God. Isaiah 53.10 tells us that ‘it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief’. The New Testament agrees entirely with this and places responsibility for Jesus’ death on the sins of the world and the will of God (Acts 4.25-28). His death was to be literal, as Jesus’ death was, and yet He would ‘see His seed and be satisfied.’ How can it be possible for someone who has died to see anything? What does Isaiah mean by ‘His seed’?
The only answer to this is to be found in one who rises from the dead and, as a result of His death and resurrection, He will justify many by bearing their iniquities as Isaiah says. Those who experience this will be the ‘seed’, those who believe in Jesus and are reborn to eternal life through faith in Him. Because of this He would be satisfied, as Isaiah prophesies, seeing that all the pain of the cross was worthwhile because it would bring multitudes of people all over the world into the kingdom of God:
‘Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning me. “ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.’
‘Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.’’ ’ (Luke 24.44-49)
The Book of Acts records the spread of the Gospel beginning in Jerusalem and then going out to ‘Judea and Samaria’ and to the ends of the earth. In this way multitudes of people would be justified, put right with God:
‘But now in Messiah Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Messiah. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.’ (Ephesians 2.13-18)
Finally, to remind us that the idea that He wanted His followers to avenge His death was the very furthest thing from His mind, we read in Isaiah that He ‘made intercession for sinners’ . Jesus’ words from the cross were
‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’ (Luke 23.34).
Let us now look at some other prophecies which Yeshua fulfilled at His first coming . . .
Part 3: Birth of Messiah
Bethlehem’s claim to fame in the Hebrew Bible is that it was the location for the story of Ruth, the ancestress of King David. It was also the place where David was born and lived as a youth. According to the prophecy of Micah 5.2 (5.1 in the Jewish Bible) something special was to happen at a future time in Bethlehem.
‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.’
This prophecy is linked to the Messiah in the ancient Targum of Micah 5.1-3(the Targum is an ancient paraphrase of the scripture). This reads:
‘And you, O Bethlehem Ephrath, you who were too small to be numbered among the thousands of the house of Judah, from you shall come forth before Me the Messiah , to exercise dominion over Israel, he whose name was mentioned from before, from the days of creation.’
This is significant because it means that ancient rabbis considered this verse to be about the birth of the Messiah.
Rashi agreed that Micah 5 is about the origin of the Messiah. In his commentary on this verse he wrote:
‘And you Bethlehem Ephrathah whence David emanated … You should have been the lowest of the clans of Judah because of the stigma of Ruth the Moabitess. From you shall emerge for Me the Messiah, son of David and so Scripture says (Ps. 118:22): ‘The stone the builders had rejected became a cornerstone’ and his origin is of old.’
The verse uses an unusual phrase for the origins of this one prophesied here. The Hebrew phrase for this is עולם ימימ ‘me yemei olam’ which means ‘from ancient times’ or ‘from eternity’. In Psalm 90.2 God’s existence is described as being ‘me olam ve ad olam’ עולם ועד מעולם — from eternity to eternity. The prophecy of Micah implies that the one to be born in Bethlehem would have his origins in eternity. Only God has His origins in eternity so this prophecy points to the divine nature of the Messiah.
The opening words of the Gospel of John say:
‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.’ (John 1.1-3, 14)
Here John is identifying Yeshua / Jesus with the ‘Word’ who is made flesh and pointing to His origins ‘from eternity ’ and His divine nature.
Matthew and Luke locate the place of His birth as Bethlehem. Matthew records the visit of the Magi from the east, who came seeking the ‘King of the Jews.’ Arriving in Jerusalem, they enquire where such an event should take place. Herod interprets this as a sign of the coming Messiah (which troubles him!) and gathers together the chief priests and scribes to ‘inquire of them where the Messiah was to be born.’ (Matthew 2.3-4). The response is :
‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet, ‘But you Bethlehem in the land of Judah are not the least among the rulers of Judah for out of you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ (Matthew 2.6)
Matthew goes on to say that the one to be born will be ‘Immanuel’, Hebrew for ‘God with us’. So He will be more than just a mortal human baby, He will be God with us. Matthew quotes Isaiah 7.14 to justify this claim:
‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold the almah / virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call his name Immanuel.’
The usual objection to this interpretation is to say that the word almah עלמה means young woman, not virgin, and if Isaiah had meant this to be understood ‘betullah’ בתולה. However, the word almah does mean a sexually mature woman (capable of bearing a child), but unmarried. It would be expected that such a woman would be a virgin, particularly if God was choosing to give a sign (miracle) through her.
The word ‘betullah’ is the usual word for virgin, although there are places in the Bible where it is used where it is questionable that it means exclusively a virgin. For example Joel 1.8 where the ‘betullah’ is mourning for the ‘husband of her youth’ (so presumably already married and no longer a virgin). It is also used of pagan nations known for their immorality – ‘O virgin (‘bethulah’) daughter of Babylon’ (Isaiah 47.1). Interestingly, when the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (Septuagint) was made the Jewish translators chose a Greek word παρθενος , parthenos to translate the Hebrew ‘almah.’ This is significant because parthenos only means virgin in Greek and this translation was made at least 160 years before the birth of Jesus.
Isaiah 7.13 shows that this prophecy was given to the whole house of David, not just to the present King Ahaz, as a sign (miracle). This means that its fulfilment could be in events taking place many hundreds of years later, not during the life-time of Ahaz.
According to his human ancestry, the Messiah will also be born of the line of David, to fulfil the promise to David of a descendant who will set up an eternal kingdom:
‘And it shall be when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be one of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me a house and I will establish his throne for ever. I will be his father and he shall be my son; and I will not take away my mercy from him, as I took it from him who was before you. And I will establish him in my house and in my kingdom for ever; and his throne shall be established for ever.’ (1 Chronicles 17.11-14)
The New Testament makes the connection of Yeshua / Jesus to the line of David (Luke 1.27) when the angel Gabriel says to Miriam (Mary):
‘Behold you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call his name Yeshua (Jesus / salvation). He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord will give him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever and of his kingdom there shall be no end.’ ( Luke 1.31-33)
All of this is fulfilled in the miraculous birth of the Messiah Yeshua. It can be no accident that the three eternal things promised to David of his ‘seed’ in 1 Chronicles 17.11-14 –an eternal throne, an eternal house and an eternal kingdom -are prophesied here of the ‘seed’ of Miriam. Luke goes on to show that the one who would fulfil this prophecy would be conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will over-shadow you; therefore that holy one who is to be born shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1.35)
It is nothing for God to overrule the laws of nature in order to bring his purposes to fulfilment. —
‘For with God nothing will be impossible.’ (Luke 1.37)
The first verse of the New Covenant reads ‘The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Yeshua the Messiah), the Son of David, the Son of Abraham’ (Matthew 1.1). Both Matthew and Luke give genealogies of Jesus putting him in the line of Abraham and David, Matthew’s genealogy giving the royal line going down to Joseph (adopted father of Jesus), Luke’s giving the line from David going down to Miriam (mother of Jesus).
Luke’s Gospel chapter 2.1-7 shows us how God overruled events through the Roman census to bring Joseph and Miriam down from Nazareth to Bethlehem in order for Yeshua to be born in Bethlehem in fulfilment of the prophecy of Micah 5. Matthew records that He was to be given the name Yeshua ישוע which means ‘salvation’. The Angel announced:
“You shall call his name Yeshua עישו for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1.21). The Hebrew name ‘Yeshua’ became ‘Jesus’ in Greek, the language in which the New Testament was written. This is why He is known by this name.
Part 4: Seed of the woman
The earliest Messianic prophecy in the Bible is found in Genesis 3. The first three chapters of Genesis tell us about the creation of the universe and the earth, the first disobedience of humankind to God’s commandments (the Fall), resulting in the curse of sin and death coming into the world.
The prophecy in Genesis 3.14-15 reads:
‘So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go; and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” ’
This prophecy of redemption was given after Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The cause of this disobedience was the Tempter who promised them ‘You shall be like God’ if they ate of this fruit. The Tempter appears as the Serpent in Genesis 3 and is identified with Satan who misled humanity and caused separation from God, sin and death to enter the world. The ‘seed of the woman’ would ‘bruise the head of the serpent’ which is identified with the Messiah inflicting a fatal wound on the serpent / Satan.
There are Jewish sources which give this scripture a Messianic significance. The Aramaic paraphrase of the Hebrew Scriptures, Targum Jonathan, relates Genesis 3.15 to the Messiah:
‘But they will be healed in the footsteps in the days of King Messiah.’
Rabbi David Kimchi gave support to this scripture as a prophecy of Messiah’s redemption of mankind. His commentary on this verse recognises that salvation is by the hand of the Messiah:
‘As you went forth for the salvation of your people by the hands of Messiah, the Son of David, who would wound Satan, the head, the king and prince of the house of the wicked.’
‘The Seed of the Woman’ here is seen as one who will bruise the head of the Serpent and in the process the Serpent will ‘bruise His heel.’ This means that the promised Seed will inflict a fatal wound on the Serpent / Satan (bruise his head), while receiving a non-fatal wound himself. Yeshua was wounded for our transgressions when He died on the cross, but it was not a fatal wound as He rose from the dead on the third day. Satan was mortally wounded through Jesus’ death and resurrection, as the way is now open for those who accept salvation through Yeshua the Messiah to be delivered from his power and receive eternal life. Because of this victory which Yeshua won over Satan, his ultimate doom is sealed, when he will be thrown into the lake of fire at the final day of judgement.
There is evidence in Genesis that Eve understood this prophecy to be about a child who would be born to a woman who would bring deliverance, when she said, concerning her first son, Cain, ‘I have acquired a man from the Lord.’ (Genesis 4.1). In fact the Hebrew here does not contain the word ‘from’, so it literally reads:
“I have acquired a man, the Lord.” ייאתאישקניתי
The Targum of Palestine elaborates on this verse:
‘And Adam knew his wife and she conceived and brought forth Cain, and she said; ‘I have obtained the man, the Angel of the Lord.’
Commenting on this, the Talmud (Ber. Rab. 23, ed Warsh p. 45b.) says:
‘R. Tanchuma said in the name of R Samuel: ‘Eve had respect to the seed which is coming from another place. And who is this? This is Messiah the King.’
Eve was to be disappointed in Cain because he turned out to be of the Evil One and killed his brother Abel. However, when she then gave birth to Seth, she said:
‘God has appointed another seed to me’ (Genesis 4.25)
Midrash Rabba Genesis 23.5 comment s on this:
‘She (Eve) hinted at that seed which would arise from another source … the king Messiah.’
From this point onwards the line of the Seed is traced through the Tenach. It goes from the godly line of Seth through to Noah and his son Shem, then on to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, through Judah to David and his descendants.
Through this ‘Seed of the Woman’ God would bring blessing and redemption to all who receive the salvation He is offering. In Genesis 22.18, we read of God’s promise to Abraham concerning his seed:
‘In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.’ Clearly this ‘seed’ goes beyond Abraham’s son Isaac to a descendant of Abraham who would bring blessing to the whole world, the Messiah. As we have already seen, the prophet Nathan spoke to King David giving him the promise of his seed: “And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. … And I will establish him in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his throne shall be established forever.’’ (1 Chronicles 17.11-14)
Again this promise has to go beyond David’s son Solomon and the line of kings that descend ed from him to a promised seed who would have an eternal house, kingdom and throne. To have an eternal house, kingdom and throne he would have to be an eternal person. This points to the eternal nature of the Messiah.
In normal sexual reproduction, it is the man who provides the seed for the child to be conceived in the womb of the woman. There is a possible hint at some-thing out of the ordinary in the reference to the seed of the woman in Genesis 3.15. This ties in with the prophecy of Isaiah 7.14 and the virgin birth, which we mentioned above. The one to be born will be ‘Immanuel’ –God with us. He will come by a miracle (a sign) which will be the conception of the son to a woman who is still a virgin.
Just a little later in his prophecy, Isaiah gives more information about this one to be born:
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9.6-7)
Part 5: Signs and wonders
The Gospels record great multitudes coming to Jesus to be healed as a result of which His fame spread throughout the whole region. Matthew 4.23-25:
‘And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him —from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.’
(See also Matthew 8.16-17; 9.35-38; 15.29-31; Mark 1.32-45; 3.7-11; Luke 7.)
The news of the miracles caused great crowds of people to come to Jesus to be healed. The miracles are seen as a fulfilment of the prophecies of the Bible. In Matthew 8.16 the miracles of Jesus are seen as a fulfilment of Isaiah 53.4:
‘When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.’’
In Luke 4.16-21 Jesus quotes Isaiah 61.1-2:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’
He then applies this prophecy to Himself and to His miracles.
In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees attributed His miracles to the power of evil.
In Matthew 12.4 we read:
‘This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of demons.’
It is interesting that this concept has remained in Jewish writings opposing Yeshua as the Messiah. For example, in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 43a) we read:
‘It was taught On the Eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is ongoing forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.’
In the Middle Ages ‘Toledoth Yeshu’ was written. This is a mixture of all kinds of hostile material to Jesus. What is interesting is that it does contain the same accusation that Jesus did miracles by sorcery, claiming that ‘Yeshu’ caused a lame man to walk after pronouncing over him ‘the ineffable name’ which he had stolen from the foundation stone of the temple. These miracles caused people to ‘worship him as the Messiah, Son of the Highest. Then the Sanhedrin was desirous of Yeshu’s apprehension.’
These hostile sources in a reverse way actually testify to the fact that Jesus did perform miracles. They were not done by any evil power, but by the power of God to testify to the fact that Jesus is more than a man, but is the Messiah, God with us, who demonstrated His power over sickness, death, demons and over the world which He had created, by His miracles.
The Biblical prophecies indicate that Messiah will come again, not as a Suffering Servant, but as a reigning King with all the power of His divine nature manifested. At His return He will rule the earth from Jerusalem and His miracle working power will be manifested in the restoration of the earth and the healing of the sick as described in a number of biblical prophecies, in particular Isaiah 35.1-6:
‘The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the excellency of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.’ Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.’
The miracles of the Messiah at His first coming will be repeated on a world-wide scale at His second coming as the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea!
(For more on this subject go to our article: Did Jesus perform signs and wonders? https://messiahfactor.com/did-jesus-perform-signs-and-wonders/)
Part 6: Rise from the dead
In John’s account of the resurrection of Jesus, he says that the disciples ‘did not know the Scripture, that He must rise from the dead (John 20.9).
Asher Norman, in his critique of Christianity, casts doubt on this verse, when he writes: ‘They did not know the scripture, because it does not exist.’ There may be no direct prophecy in the Tenach which says ‘He must rise from the dead’, but the concept of the resurrection of the Messiah is there to be found.
Actually there is not a great deal in the whole of the Jewish Bible about the subject of resurrection, with nothing directly to be found in the Torah. There are some verses in the prophets. For example:
‘Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.’ (Isaiah 26.19)
‘And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.’ (Daniel 12.2)
Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones coming to life is also seen as a prophecy of the resurrection of the dead:
‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: ‘Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.’ (Ezekiel 37.4-6)
So are there verses in the Tenach, which point to the resurrection of the Messiah?
The Gospels emphasise the ‘third day’ as the day of Jesus’ resurrection. Hosea 6.2 also refers to the third day and says:
‘After two days he will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.’
Bereshit Rabbah says of this verse:
‘This passage is applied to the resurrection and to the Messiah by R.Moses Haddarshan in Genesis 22.4’.
In the prophecy of Isaiah 53, there are three references to the Servant being put to death. Verse 8 tells us he is to be ‘cut off from the land of the living’ (i.e. dead). In Verse 10 we read:
‘Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand’.
Jesus was put to death on the cross and placed in a tomb. The Gospels explain that He was then raised from the dead. Isaiah says He shall see His seed (here it means those who would believe on Him) and prolong His days. The only way this can happen is if He is resurrected from the dead.
On the road to Jerusalem, Jesus told His disciples a bout His coming crucifixion and resurrection:
‘From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.’ (Matthew 16.21)
He had previously spoken of the ‘sign of Jonah’ in a dispute with the scribes and Pharisees:
‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’
The story of Jonah can be seen as a type of death and resurrection. In Jonah 2 the prophet cries to the Lord ‘Out of the belly of Sheol’ (the place of the dead). He says:
‘The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.’ (Jonah 2.6)
He then says:
have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.’ (Jonah 2.9)
The only way Jonah can sacrifice to the Lord with the voice of thanksgiving after he has been in ‘the belly of Sheol’ is if he is miraculously delivered from that place. This is what happens in the next verse.—
‘So the Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.’ (Jonah 2.10)
Therefore the ‘sign of Jonah’ can be seen as the sign of death and resurrection.
Job speaks of his hope of resurrection, referring to ‘My Redeemer’, whom he says will at last stand on the earth:
‘For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!’ (Job 19.25-27)
This verse speaks about the resurrection of the righteous and of the Redeemer / Messiah who will ‘stand on the earth.’ When Jesus comes again He will stand on the earth, after He has completed the task of bringing salvation through His death and resurrection.
Psalm 16 also speaks of resurrection and is quoted by Peter when he is speaking in the Temple about the resurrection of Jesus on the day of Shavuoth (Pentecost):
‘God raised Him up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him:
‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades (Greek form of the Hebrew Sheol, the place of the dead), nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’
‘Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Messiah to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.’ (Acts 2.24-32)
Peter quotes from Psalm 16.10-11 concerning the Holy One, the Messiah who will not remain in Sheol, the place of the dead. He says it is not possible that death could hold Him (verse 24). It is not possible because He is the Holy One, the Son of God, who has come to earth to redeem us. Therefore He cannot remain dead. In fact the last words of Jesus from the cross are:
‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit.’ (Luke 23.46)
His body was placed in the grave, while He committed His spirit to the Father.
On the third day, as He had foretold, His spirit returned into His body. He rose from the dead, and He appeared to the disciples, convincing them that He was alive and had conquered sin and death.
It is a generally accepted view of Judaism that, in the days of the Messiah, the dead will be resurrected. The Gospels all describe the resurrection of Jesus from the dead as an event which has already taken place and which also points forward to the general day of the resurrection of the dead and the day of judgement. Jesus claims:
‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.’ (John 11.25-6)
He asks us to believe in Him as the Messiah who has died for our sins and risen from the dead. According to the New Testament, the disciples witnessed Him risen from the dead, appearing to them over a period of forty days before being taken up into heaven:
‘He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.’ (Acts 1.3)
The resurrection of Jesus became the central message of the disciples to be taken into all the world as a witness to the risen Messiah.
‘For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Messiah / Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, (Peter) then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.’ (1 Corinthians 15.3-7)
In Luke’s account of the resurrection, Jesus explained to them what had happened according to Luke 24.44-47:
‘”These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”’
(For more on this subject go to our article on the resurrection accounts. Reason 22: ‘The Resurrection accounts are deeply conflicted)
Part 7: A light to the nations
Today there are people all over the world who believe that the Jewish Bible is the Word of God and that it speaks of the Messiah who would suffer and die for our sins and rise again from the dead. In the name of the Messiah Yeshua, Jesus, they receive pardon for sins and eternal life. He will enlighten them by the Holy Spirit to know the blessing of God as they enter into the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah:
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah — not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31.31-4)
This is a fulfilment of many passages in the Tenach. The Lord told Abraham:
“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22.18)
A descendant of Abraham would bring blessing to all nations.
In Isaiah 49.5-6, one of the Servant songs of Isaiah, we read:
“And now the Lord says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, … It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”
In this passage the Hebrew for ‘My salvation’ is my Yeshua, the Hebrew name of Jesus, which means salvation. This passage shows that the work of the Messiah is to reach to the ends of the earth with the message of salvation.
Isaiah 45 also speaks of the universal mission of the Lord to bring the message of God as Creator and Saviour to all nations.
‘Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. … To Him men shall come, and all shall be ashamed who are incensed against Him. In the Lord all the descendants of Israel shall be justified, and shall glory.’’ (Isaiah 45.18-25)
According to this passage, God is offering justification to Israel and the way of salvation to all nations. This is what God is offering in the New Testament, through Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah. The last words of the Lord Jesus to His disciples before He ascended into heaven were:
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28.18-20)
In Acts 1.8 , He says:
“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Here He tells them that their mission is a worldwide one, to teach all nations about His kingdom. He promises them that they will receive the Holy Spirit in order to accomplish this mission and that He will be with them always, even to the end of the age.
Rachmiel Frydland, a Messianic Jewish writer, draws attention to a rabbinic story which also contains an idea of the Messiah going into all the world:
‘The study of our greatest sages brought them to the conclusion that if the dates in the Scriptures are correct, then Messiah should have come in the first century of our era, or thereabouts.
The many Messiahs who flourished during that period claiming to be redeemers, were all great disappointments. Finally, Simon Bar Kozibah, whom R. Akiba called ‘Bar Kokhba’ (The Star), came. Though he was active in the first half of the second century, R. Akiba adjusted him to the Messianic claim by making reference to Haggai 2:6. For the majority of the Jewish people Bar Kozibah was a tragedy and a disappointment. Apart from the loss of tens of thousands of Jews at his defeat in Betar A.D. 135, his activities resulted in untold sufferings for the surviving Jews.
In an 11th century rabbinic portion we read, ‘Woe for the salvation of Israel has perished! But a voice came from heaven saying, ‘Elijah, it is not as you think, but He will be 400 years in the Great Sea (Mediterranean), and eighty years with the Sons of Korah where the smoke ascends, and eighty years at Rome’s gate, and the rest of the years He will travel about the great Cities until the end.’ (Bereshit Rabbati p 130-131).
In another rabbinic portion, based in part upon a scripture in the book of Lamentations, ‘she has none to comfort (which connects to the name ‘Menachem’) of all her friends, the name of the Messiah is identified as Menachem Ben Amiel. (Messiah Texts at 26-27, 122-123). Messiah then is clearly ‘alive and well’ for the last nineteen hundred years, according to these rabbinic writings. His name is Menachem (the Comforter) ben Amiel (God is with his people). He started to work around the great Mediterranean Sea, went to Samaria (Korah), then Rome and the ends of the world.’ (‘What the Rabbis know about the Messiah’ Rachmiel Frydland, p 74-5)
There is no historical person who can be identified as ‘Menachem,’ but this does indicate that the Messiah should go to the ‘great cities’ of the world (i.e. the ends of the earth). In reality the message of the Messiah has gone to the ends of the earth. Where the message of the Gospel has gone, Jesus has gone, for He says:
“Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst.” (Matthew 18.20)
And: “Lo I am with you even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28.20)
The fact that the message of the Gospel was to go to all nations did not mean that Yeshua meant His followers to turn away from or against the Jewish people. Interestingly the passage in Jeremiah speaking of the coming new covenant is followed by the Lord promising that as long as the sun, moon and stars are shining in the sky, so long will Israel be a ‘nation before Me.’ (Jeremiah 31.35-36)
In Acts 1 He told the disciples:
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Their mission was to begin in Jerusalem amongst the Jewish people and spread out through Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth. Paul wrote that the Gospel / good news is the power of God unto salvation ‘to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Gentile) (Romans .1.16). God’s purpose was to bring Jew and Gentile together in worship of His name, through Yeshua the Messiah and to bring the light of His truth to the ends of the earth. Paul writes how those Gentiles who come to faith in the Messiah should pray for the salvation of Israel and love the Jewish people from whom the Messiah came (Romans 9-11).
Sadly many Jewish people have experienced the opposite of love and salvation at the hands of so called Christians. A corrupted church arose in the form of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which became a curse, not a blessing to Israel. Jews were accused of killing Jesus and persecuted in His name, the very opposite of the will of God in the Messiah. (For more on this go to our article: ‘Who killed Jesus?’).
The false church was also prophesied in the New Testament, seen as the ‘Whore of Babylon’ in Revelation 17. This church oppressed the people and suppressed the true message of the Gospel. In the Middle Ages when the Roman Catholic Church had power over much of Europe, those who sought to teach people the true message of salvation faced persecution and those who sought to translate the Bible into the common language of the people were often put to death by the Roman Catholic Church (as was William Tyndale).
Through the Reformation and following events much of the original message of the Gospel was recovered and the Gospel was preached to the ends of the earth. Now there are those who have received salvation and have come to know God and to read His Word all over the world. Much of the professing church may have misrepresented their Saviour, but true believers in Jesus have gone into all the world to bring blessing to the nations.
The whole of the Bible has been translated into 405 languages, all the major languages of the world. The New Testament has been translated into 1034 languages, and portions of the Bible into a further 864 languages. As a result there are people all over the world who look to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for salvation, which they have received through the Messiah to whom the Prophets bore witness before He came in the flesh. This has happened because of the faithful witness of the first Jewish disciples in Jesus who obeyed His command to-
‘Go into the world and preach the Gospel.’ (Matthew 28:18-20)
The Messiah came the first time to bear the sins of the world and offer Himself as the atoning sacrifice for all mankind. Through Him both Jews and Gentiles may partake of the promises given by God to Israel and be reconciled to God (Ephesians 2:11-18) and join the believing church. In the original Greek of the New Testament the word for church, ‘ekklesia’, means ‘the called out ones’, in other words people who have been called out of the world to believe in Jesus as Messiah. It never means a building or a religious organisation. It always means a group of people. The purpose of the true church in this age is to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth as Jesus told them to.
This does not mean that all will receive it. Jesus taught that this message will bring division between those who accept it and those who reject it:
”And this is the judgement that light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light that it may clearly be seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21)
Those who do accept the Lord through coming to the point of genuine repentance and faith in Him experience the ‘new birth’ which Jesus spoke about to Nicodemus:
“Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
In this present age the message of the ‘good news’ is to go out into all the world before the coming again of the Messiah. In the days before His return, as we have already seen, there will be a time of great trouble on the earth. When Jesus comes again He will judge the world in righteousness according to our response to His message. That is why we need to repent and believe the Gospel now so that we may be ready for His return.
Chapter 4: What will happen at the Second Coming of Messiah?
Part 1: After time of trouble
After the time of trouble prophesied for the last days of this age, the Messiah Yeshua will return. There will then be the time of great blessing and renewal on the earth which the Hebrew prophets spoke about. This time will be the worldwide reign of the Messiah from restored Jerusalem, which will follow His second coming.
One common reaction to the idea of a ‘second coming’ is to say, ‘Was it because Jesus did not succeed the first time that he’s got to have another go? It doesn’t say anything in the Bible about the Messiah coming twice.’
Rabbi Kaplan states:
‘The main task of the Messiah was to bring the world back to God and to abolish all war, suffering and injustice from the world. Clearly, Jesus did not accomplish this. In order to get around this failure on the part of Jesus, Christians invented the doctrine of the ‘Second Coming’. All the prophecies that Jesus did not fulfil the first time are supposed to be taken care of the second time around. However the Jewish Bible offers absolutely no evidence to support the Christian doctrine of a ‘Second Coming.’ (‘The Real Messiah’).
Actually there is evidence in the Jewish Bible to support the idea of two comings of the Messiah. The Hebrew Prophets and some rabbinic interpretations point to two different portraits of the Messiah. Some Jewish writings speak of Messiah ben (son of) Joseph, who suffers and is humiliated as Joseph was at the hands of his brothers (Genesis 37-45), and Messiah ben David who reigns and is exalted as King David was.
The prophecies in the Tenach on this subject appear to be saying things which are contradictory. For example, the Prophet Isaiah alone presents the following difficulties. Chapter 2 speaks of one who reigns with power from Jerusalem, all nations going to hear the word of the Lord and as a result living in peace together. Chapter 53 speaks of one who is despised and rejected of men, having our iniquities laid on him, when he is cut off from the land of the living, executed with transgressors, buried and yet living to see the ‘travail of his soul.’
Chapter 11 speaks of the future condition on the earth associated with the end of days when the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, returning to conditions of Eden with even the animals being vegetarian and not devouring each other. Chapter 24 speaks of the future condition also associated with the end of days in which the earth is devastated, cities are destroyed and people scorched with few survivors. This apparent contradiction can be explained by two comings of the Messiah, firstly to suffer and die as a sacrifice for sin, as prophesied in Isaiah 53, then to return in power and glory to reign on earth as prophesied in Isaiah 2. Before His coming there will be a time of trouble and devastation on earth, prophesied in Isaiah 24, to be followed by the glorious time of His Messianic rule, prophesied in Isaiah 11.
As we have already seen, Jewish writers have sought to explain this difficulty by speaking of two Messiahs – Messiah ben Joseph, who suffers and is humiliated before being exalted as Joseph was and Messiah ben David, who reigns as a triumphant king as David reigned. Another explanation for the apparent contradiction between verses which speak of the Messiah coming in glory or in humiliation is this:
‘Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi noted the apparent contradiction in the following two verses. It is written: ‘…and behold one like a son of man (Moshiach / Messiah) comes with the clouds of heaven’ (Daniel 7.13). But it also says: ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold, your king shall come to you, righteous and saviour is he, a pauper and riding on an ass’ (Zechariah 9.9). The verses may be reconciled: If they are worthy, Moshiach will appear with the clouds. If not, he will be a pauper and ride on an ass.’ (Talmud–Sukkoth 52a)
In other words, how the Messiah appears depends on the spiritual condition of the generation when he comes.
A better explanation of this contradiction is to recognise that these verses do not speak of two different Messiahs or two possible ways in which the Messiah will come, but of one Messiah who comes on two different occasions with two different purposes. This points to Yeshua as the Messiah who has already come to fulfil the prophecy of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53) and who will come again to fulfil the prophecy of the Reigning King (Isaiah 2.1-4).
Far from failing when He came the first time, Jesus succeeded 100% in fulfilling the clear and specific prophecies of the Suffering Servant Messiah. He came by virgin birth (prophesied by Isaiah 7.14, fulfilled in Matthew 1.18-25) to be born in Bethlehem (prophesied by Micah 5.2, fulfilled in Matthew 2.1-12). He performed miracles (prophesied in Isaiah 61.1, fulfilled in Matthew 9.35) and taught in parables (prophesied in Psalm 78.2, fulfilled in Matthew 13.34). He was put to death by crucifixion (prophesied in Psalm 22.16 and Zechariah 12.10, fulfilled in Luke 23.33), buried in a rich man’s tomb (prophesied in Isaiah 53.9, fulfilled in Matthew 27.57-60) and rose again from the dead (prophesied in Psalm 16.10-11, fulfilled in Luke 24.5-6). He died as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world (Isaiah 53.6; 1 Corinthians 15.3-5). The message of the Gospel has been preached to people all over the world (Isaiah 45.22-23, Matthew 28.18-20). His sacrificial death for the sins of the world took place before the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70 (Daniel 9.26; Luke 19.41-44).
He will also succeed 100% in fulfilling the as yet unfulfilled prophecies of the Reigning King Messiah.
Part 2: The reign of King Messiah
Most of the information about this in the Bible comes in the writings of the Hebrew prophets and in the New Testament book of Revelation. According to these writings, the wicked will have to submit to His judgement (Isaiah 2; Revelation 6.15-16). The survivors of the tribulation period will be gathered before Him for judgement. The wicked will be cast off the earth into the place of punishment and the righteous will enter into the kingdom (Matthew 25.31-46).
The influence of the devil will be removed as he is bound—
‘for a thousand years, and he will cast him into the bottomless pit and shut him up and set a seal on him so that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years were finished.’ (Revelation 20.3-4)
When Messiah returns, the saints will be with Him (in New Testament terms ‘saints’ simply means those who have saving faith in the Lord). In Zechariah 14.5, we read: ‘Thus the Lord my God will come and all the saints with you.’ Jude 14 says, ‘Behold the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints to execute judgement on all.’ In Revelation 19, John sees Jesus coming as ‘KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS’. ‘And the armies in heaven clothed in fine linen white and clean followed him. ’(Revelation 19.14)
Those clothed in fine linen white and clean have already been identified in the chapter as ‘saints’ (Revelation 19.8).
So those who have been redeemed through faith in Jesus in the present age will
come back with the Lord in glorified bodies and reign with Him in the renewed earth of the Millennial period. The people who will take part in this glorious event are those who have been previously taken to be with the Lord, when He will gather those who have trusted Him, to Himself:
‘For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.’ (1 Thessalonians 4.16-17)
They will have eternal bodies (1 Corinthians 15.53-54) not subject to death or decay.
The redeemed of Israel will also be resurrected:
‘At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.’ (Daniel 12.1-2)
Following the return of the Messiah and the judgement of the wicked, the Lord will reign over the earth bringing a period of universal peace and prosperity. The Bible says that at this time the nations will go up to hear the word of the Lord in Zion, streaming to the Lord’s temple rebuilt on Mount Zion which will be lifted up above the other hills around Jerusalem.
‘Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; he will teach us his ways, and we shall walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people. They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.’ (Isaiah 2.2-4)
They will seek the Lord and walk in His ways. This implies a total change from the present world situation in which the overwhelming majority scoff and reject God’s word and walk in their own ways to destruction. Instead of war and hostility there will a peace settlement between all nations – including the currently intractable Middle East situation –and an end to all weapons production and military training. All this will happen because the word of the Lord will go out from Zion.
The Lord Himself will be there to judge between the nations and settle their disputes. Psalm 2.9, Isaiah 11.4 and Revelation 19.15 say that He will rule the nations with a ‘rod of iron’ – in other words they won’t be able to vote him out of power, or start making weapons of war or doing drugs or pornography or anything else that is evil in the eyes of the Lord. This will be a benevolent rule which will be for the welfare and provision of all the peoples on the earth.
The redeemed of Israel in the dispersion will be gathered to the land of Israel and dwell there in safety:
‘He will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.’ (Isaiah 11.12)
There will be peace and blessing on Israel and the neighbouring lands:
‘In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria … In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria -a blessing in the midst of the land.’ (Isaiah 19.23-24)
The Lord will bring about change in the natural world as the desert blossoms (Isaiah 35) and the waters of the Dead Sea are made fresh and life supporting, teaming with fish (Ezekiel 47). Even the animal kingdom will change as—
‘The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together and a little child shall lead them.’ (Isaiah 11.6)
There will be abundant provision for all:
‘But everyone shall sit under his fig tree and none shall make them afraid.’ (Micah 4.4)
Such miraculous changes can only come about through the power of God. No great man can accomplish these things, so the Messiah who will do them must be more than a great man. He must be Immanuel / God with us. Rabbi Kaplan, whom I quoted earlier in this article, said:
‘The main task of the Messiah was to bring the world back to God and to abolish all war, suffering and injustice from the world.’
He also says that the Messiah is a great man, not a divine figure:
‘Along with this he (Messiah) will bring eternal peace, love, prosperity, and moral perfection to the entire world. The Jewish Messiah is truly human in origin. He is born of ordinary human parents, and is of flesh and blood like all mortals.’ (‘The Real Messiah’ by Rabbi Kaplan).
If he is mortal, how can he bring in eternal peace? What great man can truly be expected to abolish all war, suffering and injustice from the world? If we look at the Messianic programme described in the Prophets, we can see that the task of bringing all this to pass is beyond the ability of any human. The one who causes all these things to happen must Himself be a divine person. In fact a number of prophecies in the Hebrew Bible do speak of the reigning King Messiah in these terms.
The prophecy of Zechariah 14 speaks of the time of the Messianic kingdom / Millennium and shows that the One who will reign is the Lord (Adonai / Yahweh). It says:
‘The Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which faces Jerusalem on the east. … And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be – ‘The Lord is one and His name one.’ (Zechariah 14.3-9)
The word used for Lord here is the Hebrew term ‘Yahweh’ which is only used of God. So the Lord will stand with feet on the Mount of Olives (and the rest of a body!) and be King over all the earth.
A number of other prophets speak of the Lord being present in the midst of His people.
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jeremiah 23.5-6)
This King who brings His righteous rule to Israel and the earth is identified as the Lord with the divine name for God, Yahweh, being used about Him.
‘In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not fear Zion, let not your hands be weak, The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One will save, He will rejoice over you with gladness.’ (Zephaniah 3.16-17)
‘Cry out and shout O inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst.’ (Isaiah 12.6)
During this reign of the Messiah all idols will be abolished (Isaiah 2.17) and there will only be one Lord and one way to worship Him (and one universal language!):
‘For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language that they all may call on the name of the Lord to serve Him with one accord.’ (Zephaniah 3.9)
As people praise and walk in the ways of the God who made them they will know peace and harmony and the –
‘earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.’ (Isaiah 11.9)
There will be a good one world government and one world faith in one God revealed through Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah.
During this time children will be born in the normal way to the survivors of the tribulation. Long life will be the norm but sin and death will still be a possibility (though not for those who have previously been resurrected and come back with the Lord in glorified bodies):
‘No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days, for the child shall die one hundred years old but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.’ (Isaiah 65.20)
The Book of Revelation puts together much of the information given in the Hebrew prophets about the last days of this age. It also gives some information not contained in the Hebrew Prophets about the Messianic kingdom. It tells us that Satan will be bound and unable to deceive the nations during the 1000 years when the Lord Jesus is ruling the nations. Therefore the ability to sin will be very limited.
But at the end of the 1000 year period:
‘Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.’ (Revelation 20.7-10)
There will be those who have been born in the normal way at this time, but in their hearts they are rebelling against the reign of the Messiah. They will join Satan in his final rebellion against the LORD at the end of this period. This futile rebellion will end in complete defeat for Satan and all who join with him.
This will be the end of the world as this earth is burned up and God creates a new heaven and new earth in which there will be righteousness and to which Satan and sinners will have no access. This will lead to the eternal state for believers and unbelievers alike–with only two possible destinies–heaven and hell.
Following the Millennial reign of Messiah on earth, God will create new heavens and a new earth:
“For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, “so shall your descendants and your name remain.” (Isaiah 66.22)
New Testament parallel:
‘Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. … And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them and be their God.”‘ (Revelation 21.1-4) (extracts)
Now is the day of salvation. We need to accept Yeshua the Messiah as Saviour now so that we will have a part to play in His glorious coming Kingdom.
Conclusion & About the Author
Part 1: What we must do
For those who have not yet received Yeshua as Saviour and Lord now is the time to make that decision. God loves you and wants you to have a wonderful future in His coming kingdom. We can know for sure that we are saved and have eternal life if we put our faith in Yeshua the Messiah. Here is what we must do:
1. Understand that God loves us and wants to give us eternal life:
‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’ (John 3.16)
‘I (Yeshua) have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.’ (John 10.10)
2. Realise that by nature we are all sinners and separated from God because of sin:
‘For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.’ (Ecclesiastes 7.20)
‘Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. (Isaiah 59.1-2)
‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ (Romans 3.23)
‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.’ (Romans 6.23)
In other words, none of us is good enough to get to God by our own merits. We all fail Him in some way–in our thoughts, words or deeds or in things we fail to do.
3. Accept that Yeshua the Messiah is God’s only provision for sin:
‘All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’ (Isaiah 53.6)
‘But God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners Messiah died for us.’ (Romans 5.8)
‘Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures and He was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.’ (1 Corinthians 15.3–4)
Yeshua said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ (John 14.6)
Yeshua came from heaven as Son of God and lived a perfect life on earth as Son of Man. His death on the cross was the sacrifice for the sins of the world and the only way which God accepts to pay the price of our sin. He rose again and is alive forever to give eternal life to all who accept this.
4. Receive Yeshua personally as Saviour and Lord:
‘As many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ (John 1.12)
We receive the Messiah by faith.
‘For by grace (God’s undeserved favour) you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.’ (Ephesians 2.8-9)
In other words, it is faith in what God has done for us when Yeshua died for us on the cross, and not on what we can do for God that saves our souls.
In the book of Romans, we read:
‘If you confess with your mouth the Lord Yeshua and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. … For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Romans 10.9, 13)
If you have not yet done this and would like to, here is a prayer you can pray to accept Yeshua as your Saviour:
‘Dear Heavenly Father, I admit that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I believe that Yeshua the Messiah died in my place, shedding His blood to pay for my sins, and that He rose again from the dead to give me eternal life. I am willing right now to turn from my sin and accept Yeshua the Messiah as my personal Saviour and Lord. I commit my life to you and ask you to help me become the kind of person you want me to be. Thank you Father for loving me. In Yeshua’s name, Amen.’
Part 2: Contact details
Tony Pearce worked for many years as a teacher in London and now leads The Bridge Christian Fellowship at 54 Bridge Lane, London, NW11 0EH.
He is the editor of Light for the Last Days magazine, a quarterly review of current events in the light of Bible Prophecy. Articles from Light for the Last Days are available at:
He has written a number of books and booklets, including ‘The Messiah Factor’ and ‘Countdown to Calamity or Hope for the Future.’ Excerpts from ‘The Messiah Factor’ as well as articles and talks on the subject of Messiah, Israel and the End of Days can be found on this website and the App : MessiahFactor.
For a mail-order printed copy of this 62-page A5 booklet please contact:
Light for the Last Days
London WC1N 3XX
email : firstname.lastname@example.org