A Big Birthday is Coming Up

Perhaps you have wondered why the heavens have become such a focus in the last few years. Why is this important for us now? It’s important for us now because it was important during ancient Biblical times. The lights in the heavens played an important role in the lives of the people we read about in the Bible. We don’t run out lives by the heavens but they were put there, by God, as indicators. Gen. 1:14 says, “And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years.” From this scripture and others, we know that God uses the lights in the heavens as markers for seasons and events.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we are introduced to the Magi. However, the Magi were a part of the Bible long before we see the official title that Matthew uses. The Magi were considered priest; similar to, the Levites. In their early days, their occupation was to provide the kings of the Medes, Persians and Babylonians with what they considered to be divine information about the daily matters involving government affairs. The prophet Daniel in the time of King Nebuchadnezzar became the “master of the magicians” (Master of the Magi), enchanters, Chaldeans and astrologers (Dan. 5:11). Jeremiah tells us the chief authority among the Magi was called the Rab-Mag (Jer. 39:3).

The title “Magi” was a title given to professional astrologers. The fact that Matthew mentions them does not mean that he was endorsing the principles of astrology. However in ancient times the differences between astrology and astronomy were blurred. While that is true, it is also important to remember that an orthodox astronomy and astrology were practiced; as well as, a pagan astrology and astronomy. Matthew was aware of the scriptures condemning astrology’s religious practice. But in mentioning the journey of the Magi to Jerusalem, Matthew shows that the Magi were motivated by astrological and astronomical principles which were taken seriously by people in the ancient world.

Ancient Near Eastern people lived with a supernatural worldview that included an intersection of the unseen world with the seen world. They believed in holy men who were conduits of the two worlds. All peoples of that time lived in the reality of prophecy. The Magi were revered and well known within the ancient world. If the Magi were not renowned within the Roman Empire and beyond, they would not cause Herod to be troubled and all Jerusalem with him. They were given and audience with Herod. Members of the Sanhedrin were called in to hear the interpretation of the astronomical signs. These circumstances must show that they were held in high esteem by the people of Jerusalem.

The people of the ancient Near East knew and understood the role of a prophet. In fact, most people were certain enough about prophecy to believe that a Jewish King would be born sometime near the 1st century. It is possible that Daniel’s association with the Magi is the reason why the ancient world expected a Jewish King to arrive at that time. Daniel had prophesied this would happen. National heads of state in the ancient Near Eastern world would be familiar with the accuracy of Daniel’s prophecies. Daniel prophesied the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the Babylonians destroyed it in the 6th century B.C.E. He also said that 490 years would pass from a command to rebuild Jerusalem until a messianic kingdom would emerge on the earth in the region of Israel. (Dan. 9:24-27)

The Jewish historian Josephus, who lived in the last part of the 1st century, mentioned a conviction among the Jews that this prophecy of Daniel would have its fulfillment within the 1st century. Even the Romans were aware of the prophecies of Daniel. Suetonius in the early 2nd century said, “A firm belief had long prevailed through the east that it was destined for the empire of the world at that time to be given to someone who should go forth from Judaea.” A Roman historian Tacitus said, “The majority of the Jewish people were very impressed with the belief that it was contained in ancient writings of the priests that it would come to pass that at that very time, the east would renew its strength and they that should go forth from Judaea should be rulers of the world.”

There are many more historical proofs that the people of the time believed Daniel’s prophecy and were expecting a Messiah from the Jewish people. Now all of this is not a history lesson; but to establish the fact that the people of the East at that time were affected in a profound way by astrological and prophetic teachings. So, when the Magi who were professional astrologers saw what they considered to be the “star” of a Jewish King, it was a certain sign to them to go to Jerusalem with very expensive gifts for royalty to present to a newborn king.

The Magi’s arrival in Jerusalem would have caused a great stir. The people knew the occupation of the Magi. They knew these men dealt mainly with the evaluation of dreams, visions and astronomical signs. Herod and the people took the message of the Magi seriously. The Magi left no doubt of their interpretation of the heavenly signs. They were so certain of their evaluations that they made the long journey to Jerusalem to give rich gifts to a newborn king.

The OT has a lot to say about the stars as well. We have already read Gen. 1:14. From this verse alone, the Jewish authorities and King Herod would not have found such interpretations by the Magi as being odd or anti-biblical.

Gen. 37:9-10 records a divine revelation given to Joseph in which the twelve tribes of Israel were compared to the twelve zodiacal signs. Joseph dreamed the sun represented his father, the moon his mother and his eleven brothers were the other eleven constellations of the Zodiac. Joseph was the twelfth.

So consistent, methodical and symbolic were the motions of the heavenly bodies that King David wrote about it in Psalm 19:1-4 David said that all of the heavens spoke a “language” to all people on earth. Paul quoted this Psalm is Romans 10:18. In this chapter he is saying that Israel has heard the message of the Gospel. One of the ways it was proclaimed is through the heavens.

In Job 38:31, we read of the star cluster known as the Pleiades (the Seven Sisters) influenced things that were occurring on earth. These Seven Sisters may be equated with the seven “stars” of the Book of Revelation that denoted the seven angles of the seven churches. 2 John 13 gives us an example of a church being called “sister.”

 

The OT and NT have several teachings about the “influences” of the heavenly bodies with affairs occurring on earth. David singled out the Sun for its symbolic role in teaching. He referred to it as a bridegroom. In the NT, who is the bridegroom? It is the Messiah (Mt. 25:1-10). His coming was prophesied as being like the “lightning that comes out of the east” (Mt. 24:27). The Messiah is equated in a symbolic way to the sun (Malachi 4:2) “the sun of righteousness.” The sun is not spelled Son in this passage. This relationship was not strange to the people of that time.

In the Book of Revelation we find four living creatures that surround the Throne (Rev. 6:1-8; Ez. 1:4-28).  Scholars recognize that the faces of these creatures (a lion, an eagle, a man and a bull) denote the four main seasons of the zodiacal year. These are equated with Leo the Lion, Scorpio (an eagle with a snake in its talons), Aquarius (a man bearing water) and Taurus the bull. The tribes of Israel were positioned the same way around the Tabernacle in the wilderness (Numbers 2). Leo, representing Judah, was directly east of the entrance to the Temple and it was the beginning sign for the Hebrew Zodiac. The other three principal tribes were located 90 degrees from each other in a circle around the sanctuary forming a zodiacal design.

The Jews were interested in astronomical signs. The above scriptures and others we will talk about, reveal that OT as well as NT writers commonly identified prophetical events on earth with symbolic comparisons found in the heavenly bodies and their motions. Jewish interpretation differed from ordinary Gentile methods in reading the signs. The Jews stated that God is the King of the stars in the heavens and that their influences were a manifestation of God’s power and not spiritual manifestations emanating from the celestial bodies themselves.

Let’s be clear, the signs did not cause anything to happen on earth. They didn’t have any kind of manifestation of power over people. The Bible clearly forbids this.  Isaiah puts it this way, “You are wearied with your many counsels and plans. Let now the astrologers, the star-gazer, and the monthly prognosticators stand up and make known to you and save you from the things that shall come upon you.” (Is. 47:13)

Isaiah condemned the misuse of the signs but they were not against symbolic teaching associated with the celestial signs themselves. The Bible drew attention to the heavenly signs and even forecast future ones (Lk. 21:11, 25). Remember, even the Apostle Paul said the voice and sound of the stars spoke a symbolic language that glorified the role of the Messiah in world affairs.

All of that is to say that, signs were and are given in the heavens. The most profound Biblical example of this is found in the narrative surrounding the birth of Christ. Herod was deeply persuaded by what the Magi from the east told him about the “star.” The arrival of the Messianic King who would rule Israel and the world was anticipated. Herod knew the prophecy from Numbers 24:17 “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;”

All of this, is to make us aware that 1) God put the celestial bodies in the heavens as markers, 2) the people of the middle east put a lot of stock in the heavenly signs, 3) the Jews believed God used the heavens to proclaim His truth, and 4) we should pay attention to them as well.

The next post is about the signs that caused the Magi to leave Babylon and travel to Jerusalem…

The King is in the Field

Elul-BannerElul 1, 5777

The King is in the Field

 

Elul is the month of our spiritual workdays. We begin our journey up to the High Holy Days of Tishrei. It’s the month of paradox. The paradox of letting go and holding on; a time of haven after the turmoil of Av; a time of work and a time for the Holy.

 

Elul begins our preparation for our meeting with the King. It is also the month of teshuva (repentance). We reflect on the past year. We repent and humble ourselves to be ready for the day when the books are opened (The Feast of Trumpets). It is the time of meeting with the King in our everyday lives.

 

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi explains how God is approachable during Elul. His teaching takes the form of a parable. He teaches, “A king normally lives in a palace, separated from and unapproachable by ordinary people – this is how our relationship with God seems as we become bound up in the world with its distractions, frailties and concerns. During Elul, however, the king (God) might be experienced as having left the hiddenness of the palace and having entered into the field (i.e., that place where ordinary people are) and so becoming available to his subjects. In this month of Elul, while people continue with their normal activities they are at the same time aware of the presence of God and are drawn to prayer, reflection and response.”  (Likkutei Torah)

 

Let today begin a time of prayer, reflection and response. Let today begin our preparation.

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What about the Great American Eclipse?

-1The sun will be casting a shadow across America on Monday August 21, 2017. It’s a big deal because it will be an amazing display of a total eclipse. As a believer in Jesus, there are a few other things that make you want to pause and take notice. First, let’s recap what the Rabbis say about an eclipse. The Talmud says in Sukkah 29a, “When the sun is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for the whole world.” It also says, “When the sun is in eclipse it is a bad omen for idolaters; when the moon is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for Israel, since Israel reckons by the moon and idolaters by the sun. If it is in eclipse in the east, it is a bad omen for those who dwell in the east; if in the west, it is a bad omen for those who dwell in the west; if in the midst of heaven, it is bad omen for the whole world. If its face is red as blood, [it is a sign that] the sword is coming to the world; if it is like sack-cloth, the arrows of famine are coming to the world; if it resembles both, the sword and the arrows of famine are coming to the world. If the eclipse is at sunset calamity will tarry in it’s coming; if at dawn, it hastens on its way: but some say the order is to be reversed. And there is no nation which is smitten that its gods are not smitten together with it, as it is said, And against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments. But when Israel fulfill the will of the Omnipresent, they need have no fear of all these [omens] as it is said, Thus saith the Lord,’ Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the nations are dismayed at them, the idolaters will be dismayed, but Israel will not be dismayed.”

One thing that can be said ­when one looks at any eclipse as a possible sign is this: it isn’t a sign if it can’t be seen. Monday’s eclipse is called the Great American Eclipse because it will be a total eclipse that will affect only the United States. In other words, it will be seen in the United States. If an eclipse is a harbinger for the Gentiles as the Jewish sages indicate, it would seem as though it may be a harbinger for the USA.

The last time an eclipse travelled across the United States was in 1918. However, this eclipse was also seen in Japan and Bermuda. This time its path of totality makes landfall exclusively within the United States, making it the first such eclipse since the country’s independence in 1776 (The path of totality of the eclipse of June 13, 1257, was the last to make landfall exclusively on lands currently part of the USA).

Carl_Schleicher_Eine_Streitfrage_aus_dem_TalmudAccording to another Jewish tradition a solar eclipse is related to the actions of the people. I wonder what that means for the US?

There has been a lot of talk about the “REVELATION 12 sign” that will occur on September 23, 2017. I have more to write about that but if it is a sign (which I am not convinced it is) the Great American Eclipse occurs one month before the “sign.” Another peculiar significance of this eclipse is the fact that it occurs the day before the new moon of Elul. Elul is the month of teshuva (repentance). It is a time of reflection before the Feast of Trumpets and the High Holy Days of the Jewish calendar.

The final oddity of this eclipse will be its totality which means the stars will be visible.  The fact that it’s a total eclipse is not odd but the moon will eclipse the sun in the constellation Leo. In ancient times, Leo was known as the Royal constellation. It was also a constellation tied to Israel because of the symbolism connected with the Lion of Judah. Not only will the eclipse occur in the constellation Leo but it will occur at the King star, Regulus. In ancient times, this was considered a sign for a coming Jewish King. ­­­It’s all rather interesting.

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Islamic Eschatology

0Most Christians are not aware that Islam has an End Time belief that is absolute. Many Christians in the West tend to be nonchalant about a belief in the Last Days. Its almost as if one can take it or leave it; however, in the Islamic faith you must believe in the Last Days or you are not a Muslim. With that in mind, let us begin to look at some key beliefs in Islam.

Most of Islamic studies of eschatology are divided into two categories, The Minor Signs and The Major Signs.

The Minor Signs – thought of as the equivalent of what Jesus called “the birth pangs” or those signs that precede the Major Signs.  Because many of the Minor Signs take place concurrently with the Major Signs, the Minor Signs are not the first signs but rather the lesser signs.

The Major Signs – thought of as the Greater Signs.  The Major Signs are absolutes and nonnegotiable in the Muslim mind.

The Qur’an mentions five things that a Muslim must believe in order to be a Muslim. The Qur’an states:
It is not righteous that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets … (Sura 2:177; Pickthall)

The Order of the Five Tenets of Belief:Ramadan-Fast-e1436777497853
1. Belief in Allah.
2. Belief in the Last Day.
3. Belief in Angels.
4. Belief in the Scripture.
5. Belief in the Prophets.

In Biblical Christianity, end time belief was prominent within the Early Church; however, in the Western Church, belief in the last days is optional or ignored by most.  This is not the case with Islam.  All true Muslims believe in the last day and the events that precede it.  I find that so ironic.

The Mahdi: Islam’s awaited Messiah:
Among the Major Signs, this is the most anticipated and central sign that Muslims are waiting for – the coming of the Mahdi (meaning “the Guided One”).  He is also at times referred to by Shi’a Muslims as Sahib Al-Zaman or Al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar, which means “the Lord of the Age” and “the Awaited Savior.”

000-034_COMING-OF-THE-MAHDIThe Mahdi is the first of the Major Signs.  14th century Muslim scholar Ibn Kathir writes:
“After the lesser signs of the Hour appear and increase, mankind will have reached a stage of great suffering. Then the awaited Mahdi will appear; He is the first of the greater clear signs of the Hour. “(Izzat and ‘Arif, Al Mahdi and the End of Time, 18)

The coming of the Mahdi is the central crowning element of all Islamic end-time narratives.  It is so central to Islamic eschatological expectations that some Muslim scholars refer to the Minor Signs as “the signs accompanying the Mahdi.”

There are some differences of belief between the Sunni and Shi’a sects of Islam, and while some quarters of Sunnis reject the Mahdi altogether, general belief in the Mahdi is universal among most Muslims. According to Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America, “The coming of the Mahdi is established doctrine for both Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, and indeed for all humanity.”

Ayatullah Baqir al-Sadr and Ayatullah Murtada Mutahhari, both Shi’a Muslim scholars, in their book, “The Awaited Savior” describe the Mahdi this way:

“A figure more legendary than that of the Mahdi, the Awaited Savior, has not been seen in the history of mankind. The threads of the world events have woven many a fine design in human life but the pattern of the Mahdi stands high above every other pattern. He has been the vision of the visionaries in history. He has been the dream of all the dreamers of the world. For the ultimate salvation of mankind he is the Pole Star of hope on which the gaze of humanity is fixed… In this quest for the truth about the Mahdi there is no distinction of any caste, creed, or country.  The quest is universal, exactly in the same way as the Mahdi himself is universal. He stands resplendent high above the narrow walls in which humanity is cut up and divided. He belongs to everybody. For all that and much more, what exactly is the Mahdi? Surely that is the big question, which the thinking people all over the world would like to ask.”

The above statements briefly describe the Mahdi. Now let us see what the Bible says about the Antichrist. The Bible only uses the word Antichrist one time in 1 Jn. 2:18. However, Scripture assigns him various names:
The Beast     Rev. 13:4
The Abomination that causes desolation     Mat. 24:15
The Desolator     Dan. 9:27
The Man of sin   The Man of lawlessness    The Son of Destruction    2 Thes. 2
The Little Horn     Dan. 7:8
The Assyrian     Micah 5:5; Is. 10:5; 14:25
The Oppressor    The King of Babylon     Is. 14
Gog    Ez. 38:1; Rev. 20:7

The Mahdi is like Islam’s Messiah but how does he compare to the Bible’s Antichrist?

1. The Mahdi is Islam’s primary messiah figure.
In the simplest of terms, the Mahdi is Islam’s messiah or savior. The “rising” of the Mahdi is to the majority of Muslims what the return of Jesus is to Christians. Sheikh Kabbani writes:
“Jews are waiting for the Messiah, Christians are waiting for Jesus, and Muslims are waiting for both the Mahdi and Jesus.  All religions describe them as men coming to save the world.”

2.He will be a descendant of Muhammad and will bear Muhammad’s name (Muhammad bin Abdullah).
“The world will not come to pass until a man from among my family, whose name will be my name, rules over the Arabs.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, (Sahih), vol. 5, p. 207.
The prophet said, “The Mahdi will be of my family, of the descendants of Fatimah [Muhammad’s daughter].

3. He will be a very devout Muslim.

4. He will be an unparalleled spiritual, political, and military world leader.
We see and will see that the Antichrist and the Mahdi are both described as political and military leaders the likes of which the world has never seen before. The description given concerning both the Antichrist and the Mahdi surpass any powerful leader yet seen in history. They are both viewed as more than just political and military leaders. They are both viewed as supreme religious leaders as well.

The Bible establishes the fact that the Antichrist will be a spiritual leader whose authority will be imam-mahdi-a-sacknowledged worldwide. After examining the Antichrist’s role as a universal religious leader, many Bible prophecy teachers have talked about the coming of the “one world religion” or “the false church,” which the Antichrist will both created and enforce upon the entire earth. This concept of a coming dominant and demonically inspired world religion is partly arrived at due to the frequent references to worship associated with t he Antichrist throughout Scripture. In the Book of Revelation we read that the Antichrist will both inspire and demand worship. This worship will be directed at both Satan, referred to as “the dragon,” and the Antichrist, referred to as “the beast”: Rev. 13:4, 8

“And they worshipped the dragon, which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Beyond the fact that the Antichrist establishes a worldwide worship movement, another reason to see him as a spiritual world leader is because the Bible says a man referred to as “the False Prophet” will assist him. The very title False Prophet assumes the religious nature of this man: Rev. 19:20
“And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.”

It is clear that the Bible teaches that the Antichrist will lead a worldwide religious worship movement that will attempt to displace and usurp worship from the God of the Bible.

5. He will emerge after a period of great turmoil and suffering upon the earth.

6. He will establish justice and righteousness throughout the world and eradicate tyranny and oppression.
The Mahdi will establish right and justice in the world and eliminate evil and corruption. He will fight against the enemies of the Muslims who would be victorious.

“He will reappear on the appointed day, and then he will fight against the forces of evil, lead a world revolution, and set up a new world order based on justice, righteousness, and virtue… Ultimately the righteous will take the world administration in their hands and Islam will be victorious over all the religions.”

“He is the precursor of the victory of the Truth and the fall of all tyrants. He heralds the end of injustice and oppression and the beginning of the final rising of the sun of Islam which will never again set and which will ensure happiness and the elevation of mankind… The Mahdi is one of Allah’s clear signs, which will soon be made evident to everyone.”

imam-mehdi7. He will be the caliph and imam (vice regent and leader) of Muslims worldwide.
Throughout the Islamic world today there is a call for the restoration of the Islamic caliphate. The caliph in Islam may be viewed somewhat as the Pope of the Muslims. Muslims view the caliph as the vice regent for Allah on the earth.  It is important to understand that when Muslims call for the restoration of the caliphate, it is ultimately the Mahdi that they call for, for the Mahdi is the awaited final caliph of Islam.

Muslims everywhere will be obligated to follow the Mahdi: “If you see him, go and give him your allegiance, even if you have to crawl over ice, because he is the Vice-regent [Khalifa] of Allah, the Mahdi.” “He will pave the way for and establish the government of the family [or community] of Muhammad… Every believer will be obligated to support him.”

8. He will lead a world revolution and establish a new world order.
The Mahdi is believed to be a future Muslim world leader who will not only rule over the Islamic world, but the non-Muslim world as well.  The Mahdi is said to lead a world revolution that will establish a new Islamic world order throughout the entire earth.

The Bible tells us that, in the Last Days, the Antichrist will emerge.  He is a very powerful man who will lead a powerful world empire. The prophet Daniel gives us our first glimpse of this man known as the Antichrist.  Dan. 7:7-8, “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things. ” Then in v. 15-17, “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth.'”

Daniel asks the angel specifically about the fourth beast and the angel responds: Dan. 7:23-24
“Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast,
there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth,
which shall be different from all the kingdoms,
and it shall devour the whole earth,
and trample it down, and break it to pieces.
As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
and another shall arise after them;
he shall be different from the former ones,
and shall put down three kings.

The angel explains that the fourth kingdom causes great destruction to the whole earth.  Initially the kingdom will consist of ten kings.  Then an eleventh king will rise and displace three of the previous kings. The eleventh king is the Antichrist referred to as the “little horn.”  Based on what Daniel saw, the Antichrist is a future king who will gain control over three other kingdoms or nations, and eventually over ten, thus forming his future ten-nation “beast” empire which will devour the whole earth trampling it down and crushing it.”

Dan. 7:25-27 describes the king’s end.
“He shall speak words against the Most High,
 and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
 and shall think to change the times and the law;
and they shall be given into his hand
 for a time, times, and half a time.
 But the court shall sit in judgment,
  and his dominion shall be taken away,
 to be consumed and destroyed to the end.
 And the kingdom and the dominion
 and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven
 shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;
 his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,
 and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’”

Three hundred years after Daniel’s visions, the Apostle John describes the Antichrist in similar terms.
Rev. 13:2, 4-8, “And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.”

The “beast” again refers to the Antichrist, king over a ten-nation empire. The horns represent authority and power.  Ten horns speak of an extremely high degree of authority as well as the number of nations and their kings that will unite to form the beast’s kingdom. The “dragon” who gives the beast his authority is Satan. Satan is often spoken of in the Bible as a dragon or a serpent. Thus, we have seen that the Bible prophesies that the Antichrist will be a political and military leader with power unparalleled by any other world leader throughout history.

9. He will lead military action against all those who oppose him.
The Mahdi’s means and method of accomplishing this world revolution will include multiple military campaigns, or holy wars (jihad).  While some Muslims believe that most of the non-Muslims of the world will convert to Islam peaceably during the reign of the Mahdi, most traditions picture the non-Muslim world coming to Islam as a result of conquest by the Mahdi.

Abduallrahman Kelani, author of “The Last Apocalypse” says this of the Mahdi’s many battles: “Al-Mahdi will receive a pledge of allegiance as a caliph for Muslims. He will lead Muslims in many battles of jihad. His reign will be a caliphate that follows the guidance of the Prophet. Many battles will ensue between Muslims and the disbelievers during the Mahdi’s reign.”

10. He will invade many countries.mahdi-army-in-basra-copyright-nabil-al-jurani
Harun Yahya, a moderate and very popular Muslim author says this, “the Mahdi will invade all the places between East and West.”
Perhaps one of the most chilling signs in light of today’s issues with ISIS is the Mahdi’s ascendancy to power is said to be preceded by an army from the East carrying black flags or banners of war.

Sheikh Kabbani states: “Hadith indicate that black flags coming from the area of Khorasan (Iran) will signify the appearance of the Mahdi is nigh. Khorasan is in today’s Iran, and some scholars have said that this hadith means when the black flags appear from Central Asia, i.e., in the direction of Khorasan, then the appearance of the Mahdi is imminent.

Another traditions states that: “The Messenger of Allah said: The black banners will come from the East and their hearts will be as firm as iron. Whoever hears of them should join them and give allegiance, even if it means crawling across snow.”

Islam waves two flags. One is white and one is black. Written across both flags in Arabic are the words, img609“There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger.” The white flag is called Al-Liwaa and serves as the sign for the leader of the Muslim army and is the flag of the Islamic state. The black flag is called Ar-Raya and is used by the Muslim army. It is also called the flag of jihad, and is carried into battle. One flag is governmental and the other is military. When Muhammad returned to his home city of Mecca after eight years of exile, he returned as a conqueror. With him marched ten thousand Muslim soldiers. They carried with them black flags. On the flags was one word written in Arabic: punishment.

11. He will make a seven-year peace treaty with a Jew of priestly lineage.
There are several traditions regarding the nature and timing of the Mahdi’s ascendancy to power, one particular hadith places this event at the time of a final peace agreement between Arabs and the Romans (Romans refers to Christians, or more generally, the West). The Mahdi is said to initiate Islam’s fourth and final treaty between “the Romans” (Christians in the West) and the Muslims.

This fourth treaty is said to be made with a descendant of Moses’s brother, Aaron the priest. Such a descendant would be a cohen. That is to say, he would be a priest. Only cohanim (priest) among Jews can officiate the priestly duties of the Temple. This is important in light of the fact that many Christian prophecy teachers and theologians have speculated that the treaty the Antichrist will make with Israel will include an agreement to allow the Jews to rebuild their Temple.  The most amazing aspect of this treaty the Mahdi makes with this cohen is its time frame. The specific time frame given for the treaty is exactly the same as the Antichrist’s peace treaty – seven years.

Muhammad said: “There will be four peace agreements between you and the Romans (Christians). The fourth agreement will be mediated through a person who will be from the progeny of Hadrat Haroon [Honorable Aaron – Moses’s brother] and will be upheld for seven years.” The people asked, “O Prophet Muhammad, who will be the imam [leader] of the people at that time?” The Prophet said: “He will be from my progeny and will be exactly forty years of age. His face will shine like a star…”

12. He will conquer Israel for Islam and lead the “faithful Muslims” in a final slaughter/battle against the Jews.
Islamic tradition pictures the Mahdi as joining the army of Muslim warriors carrying black flags. The Mahdi will lead this army to Israel and re-conquer it for Islam. The Muslims will slaughter Jews until very few remain and Jerusalem will serve as the location of the Mahdi’s rule over the earth.

blackflag8Rasulullah [Muhammad] said: “Armies carrying black flags will come from Khurasan (Iran). No power will be able to stop them and they will finally reach Eela [Baitul Maqdas (meaning the Holy House referring to the Dome of the Rock) in Jerusalem] where they will erect their flags.”

A very famous tradition often quoted throughout the Islamic world speaks of the Mahdi’s military campaign against Israel:
“The Prophet said… the last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him.”

The Bible is very clear that Satan, through the Antichrist, will specifically target first Jews and then Christians for death. Rev. 12:1 – the woman is the family or nation of Israel, the Jewish people. Crowned with 12 stars represent the 12 sons of Israel who became the 12 tribes (Gen. 35:23-26).

Rev. 12:2-5 she gives birth to a male child who will… Reference to Jesus, the Jewish Messiah (Ps. 2:9). Satan (the dragon) desires to kill Jesus, but instead Jesus is “snatched up to God and to his throne.” (Acts 1:8).

Rev. 12:1-6; 9, 13-14, 17 We see that Satan is “enraged at the woman” (Israel) and “went of to make war against the rest of her offspring – those who obey God’s commands and hold to the testimony of Jesus. This is the only passage that makes specific reference to Satan making a direct target of both Jews and Christians.  And we know that this passage speaks specifically of the end times, because it mentions twice the 31/2 year period that the Antichrist will have authority to war against the saints: (Rev. 13:5-7) (Dan. 7:25). The Bible is clear that the Antichrist will specifically target those who resist his attempts to establish his religion all over the earth. According to the above scriptures, the two groups that enrage Satan the most are Jews and Christians.

Another interesting fact is that in Islamic tradition much is said of the Mahdi’s special calling to convert Christians and Jews to Islam, yet speaks very little specifically of conversions from other faiths.  It seems as though converting Christians and Jews to Islam will be the primary evangelistic thrust of the Mahdi. Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini clearly articulates this vision:
“The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and Christians; if they accept it they will be spared, otherwise they will be killed.” Also, a hadith that is a favorite with many Muslims:
“The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, of the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad (Boxthorne, boxwood) would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.”

imam_mahdi_by_mustafa20-d518xw613. He will establish the new Islamic world headquarters from Jerusalem.
Egyptian authors Muhammad ibn Izzat and Muhammad ‘Arif comment on the above tradition:

“The Mahdi will be victorious and eradicate those pigs and dogs and the idols of this time so that there will once more be a caliphate based on prophethood as the hadith states… Jerusalem will be the location of the rightly guided caliphate and the center of Islamic rule, which will be headed by Imam al-Mahdi… That will abolish the leadership of the Jews… and put an end to the domination of the Satans who spit evil into people and cause corruption in the earth, making them slaves of false idols and ruling the world by laws other than the Shari’a [Islamic law] of the Lord of the worlds.”

The Bible teaches that the Antichrist, with his multi-nation coalition, will attack Israel, and specifically Jerusalem, to conquer it: Zech 14:2 “For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people [who submit to Antichrist’s rule] shall not be cut off from the city.”
Ez. 38:9-12
“You [Gog – Ezekiel’s name for the Antichrist] will advance, coming on like a storm. You will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your hordes, and many peoples with you. Thus says the Lord God: ‘On that day, thoughts will come into your mind, and you will devise an evil scheme and say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will fall upon the quiet people who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having no bars or gates,’  to seize spoil and carry off plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places that are now inhabited, and the people [Israelites] who were gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell at the center of the earth.”
According to the Bible, after this attack, the Antichrist will specifically set up his “throne” in “God’s Temple.” The Apostle Paul clearly sums it up: 2 Thess. 2:4, “who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.”

The location of the Jewish Temple has always been on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. Today, Mount Moriah, sometimes known as the Temple Mount or in Arabic as Haram Ash-Sharif, is the location of two mosques and the third holies site in Islam. The verse from Paul certainly seems to indicate that a rebuilt Jewish Temple will indeed appear in Jerusalem. Paul say that the Antichrist will “set himself up in God’s Temple,” or more literally, “he takes his seat in the temple of God.” This speaks not so much of a literal sitting down as it does of a taking a position of authority. Thus we see that the Antichrist will make Mount Moriah and, more specifically, the rebuilt Jewish Temple, the specific location of his rule. Jesus spoke of this: Mat. 24:15-22
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”

Severe persecution against Jews and Christians will immediately follow when the Antichrist’s true identity is revealed.
The Mahdi will attack Jerusalem and reconquer it for Islam in order to establish Islamic rule over the earth from Jerusalem:
“[Armies carrying] black flags will come from Khurasan [Iran]. No power will be able to stop them and they will finally reach Eela [the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem] where they will erect their flags. Jerusalem will be the location of the rightly guided caliphate and the center of Islamic rule, which will be headed by Imam al-Mahdi.”
The Mahdi’s establishment of the Islamic caliphate will not go peacefully and it will not be a benevolent rule over the Jews.
“… that will abolish the leadership of the Jews… and put an end to the domination of the Satans who spit evil into people and cause corruption in the earth.” This is another correlation between the actions of the Mahdi and the actions of the Antichrist.

14. He will rule for seven years (possibly as much as eight or nine).
After rising to power, and as a prelude to his invasion of Israel, the Antichrist is said to initiate a treaty with the nation of Israel for seven years: Dan. 9:27, “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

In context, this verse shows us the Antichrist will establish a “covenant” with Israel for seven years, giving the Israelis a false sense of security. In the middle of the seven years, the Antichrist will renege on his treaty and stop the offering and sacrifices in the Jewish Temple and then he will proclaim himself not only the ruler of the world, but God himself.  Isaiah makes mention of this “covenant” and rebukes Israel for making it: He actually refers to is as a “covenant with death.” (Is. 28:14-15).

The Prophet Muhammad said: “He will divide the property, and will govern the people by the Sunnah of their Prophet and establish Islam on Earth. He will remain seven years, then die, and the Muslims will pray over him.”

The Prophet said: “The Mahdi will fill the earth with equity and justice as it was filled with oppression and tyranny, and he will rule for seven years.”

15. He will cause Islam to be the only religion practiced on the earth.
The Mahdi of Islam will be the leader of a worldwide worship movement, a worship movement that will seek to cause anyone who practices any religion other than Islam to renounce his faith and worship Allah, the god of Islam. The Mahdi “will govern the people by the Sunnah of their Prophet and establish Islam on Earth.” And “Islam will be victorious over all the religions.”

Islam will be the only religion allowed. Both the Antichrist and the Mahdi are said to be the unqualified leaders of a global religious movement that will draw worship away from the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ. Inherent in the worship of Allah within the context of Islam is a direct denial of the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ.

According to Daniel (7:25), another goal of the Antichrist is to “change the set times and the laws”:
“He shall speak words against the Most High,
 and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
 and shall think to change the times and the law;
 and they shall be given into his hand
 for a time, times, and half a time.”

We have seen that the Mahdi will change the law by instituting Islamic [shariah] law all over the earth. He will also desire to change the calendar to the Islamic calendar which is based on the career of Muhammad.  It begins at the migration (hijra) of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina.  The Muslim calendar is mandatory for all Muslims to observe. Dr. Waleed Mahanna writes: “It is considered a divine command to use a [hijra] calendar with twelve [purely] lunar months without intercalation, as evident from… the Holy Qur’an.” Not only does Islam view as divine mandate the use of their religious calendar, it also has its own week. Islam holds Friday as its sacred day of prayer. This is the day they meet at the mosque to pray and listen to a sermon.

Thus, it is plausible that the scripture in Daniel which describes a goal of the Antichrist, describes a Muslim. Islam fits the bill of a system with its own mandatory calendar, a week based on its own religious history, and a clear system of law that it wishes to impose on the entire earth.

16. He will appear riding a white horse.09e75c4
The Mahdi is believed to ride on a white horse.  Whether or not this is symbolic or literal is hard to say. This tradition comes from the Muslim interpretation of Christian Scriptures. Despite the fact that Muslims view the Bible as changed and corrupted by Jews and Christians, they claim to believe that some portions of the “original” inspired books remain within the “corrupted” Bible.

So we have a similarity between the Antichrist and the Mahdi riding a white horse. The basis for the white horse in both traditions is Revelation 6. John describes his vision of the release of the events that mark the beginning of the end. It is the picture of Jesus holding a scroll with seven wax seals. The breaking of each seal releases a specific and distinct end-time event: Rev. 6:1-2, “Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!”  And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.”
The seals that follow this rider are:
1. Peace is taken from the earth.
2. Famine.
3. Plagues and death.
4. Persecution and martyrdom of God’s people.
5. A great earthquake.
6. The wrath of God.

Many Bible scholars interpret this passage as: the white rider is an imitation of the white horse that Jesus will ride when he returns (Rev. 19:11) “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.” Thus the rider is an imitation Christ, an imposter, an Antichrist. The true intent of this rider is to conquer not to bring peace. This is not a problem for Islamic scholars, who adopt a pick-and-choose approach to the Bible. Muslim scholars see a clear picture of the Mahdi.
A tradition within Islamic scholarship seeks to extract those portions of the Bible that Muslims feel may be untainted by the corrupting influence of Jews and Christians. They call these Judeo-Christian traditions isra’iliyyat. One such Islamic scholar views, the description of the rider on the white horse as found in Revelation is indeed the Mahdi.
Ka’b al Ahbar says (early Muslim transmitter of hadiths): “I find the Mahdi recorded in the books of the Prophets… For instance, the Book of Revelation says: “And I saw and beheld a white horse. He that sat on him… went forth conquering and to conquer.”  They go on to say: “It is clear that this man is the Mahdi who will ride the white horse and judge by the Qur’an [with justice] and with whom will be men with marks of prostration on their foreheads [marks on their foreheads from bowing in prayer with their head to the ground five times daily]. ”

17. He will discover some previously undiscovered biblical manuscripts that he will use to argue with the Jews and cause some Jews to convert to Islam.

18. He will also rediscover the Ark of the Covenant from the Sea of Galilee, which he will bring to Jerusalem.
Traditions regarding the Mahdi say that he discovers some previously undiscovered Bible scrolls – even the Ark of the Covenant itself: Ka’b al-Ahbar says, “He will be called ‘Mahdi’ because he will guide [yahdi] to something hidden and will bring out the Torah and Gospel from a town called Antioch.”

As-Suyuti mentioned in al-Hawi that the messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “He is called the Mahdi because he will guide the people to a mountain in Syria from which he will bring out the volumes of the Torah to refute the Jews. At the hands of the Mahdi the Ark of the Covenant will be brought forth from the Lake of Tiberias and taken and placed in Jerusalem.” Ad-Dani said that he is called the Mahdi because he will be guided to a mountain in Syria from which he will bring forth the volumes of the Torah with which to argue against the Jews and at his hands a group of them will become Muslim. Apparently, the purpose of finding these “lost” portions of the OT and NT as well as the Ark of the Covenant is to help the Mahdi win converts from both Christianity and Judaism prior to “eradicating” the remainder who do not convert to Islam.

19. He will have supernatural power from Allah over the wind and the rain and crops.
Islamic tradition says:
“In the last days of my ummah [universal Islamic community], the Mahdi will appear. Allah will give him power over the wind and the rain and the earth will bring forth its foliage. He will give away wealth profusely, flocks will be in abundance, and the ummah will be large and honored.”

“In those years my community will enjoy a time of happiness such as they have never experienced before. Heaven will send rain upon them in torrents, the earth will not withhold any of its plants, and wealth will be available to all. A man will stand and say, “Give to me, Mahdi!” and he will say, “Take.”

20. He will posses and distribute enormous amounts of wealth.

21. He will be loved by all the people of the earth.
“As a result of the numerous benefits that the Mahdi brings, it is said all the inhabitants of the earth will deeply love him.”

“Allah will sow love of him in the hearts of all people.”

“Al Mahdi appears; everyone only talks about Him, drinks the love of Him, and never talks about anything other than Him.”

As we can see, there are several aspects and qualities that the Mahdi and the Antichrist share. The most striking are the persons, their missions, and their actions.
Next post, we will talk about the Muslim Jesus.

The Days of Awe – The Awesome Days

The Days of Awe
The Awesome Days

days_of_awe_wide

The days between Yom Teruah (The Feast of Trumpets) and The Day of Atonement are known as the Days of Awe. These names serve to remind us that we are suspended between two days of judgment: Yom Teruah, when our verdict is inscribed, and Yom Kippur when our judgment is sealed. The purpose of the Days of Awe is to draw near to the Lord. Isaiah 55 reminds us of the wisdom of the Lord and that true Shalom is in the Lord. The passage reminds us that the words of the Lord are no different than His actions. Words and Deeds go together, thus producing both faith and faithfulness. We are to draw near to the Lord while he is near.  On this Rosh Hashanah, the gates of Heaven are opened and the Lord is near. We are to call upon Him.

Isaiah 55:6
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;”

The awesome days have as their goal: arriving at the rest of the Feast of Tabernacles. The rest our souls seek comes only in the Lord.

yom-kippurDuring the Days of Awe, we are to keep the commandments of the Lord, we are to increase our giving, and we are to repent. Everything about these days remind us that our words and actions should be the same. If the Lord is the Lord of our lives, then our deeds reflect this. Because of our faith in God and our desire to be faithful to Him, we give to everyone around us in the name of Jesus, and we walk in faithfulness to the Lord. On this Rosh Hashanah, we enter the days of Awe in sweet anticipation of entering into the joy of the year of Jubilee.  We cannot enter Jubilee until after the Day of Atonement because it is after that our fates are sealed. Seek the Lord while He is near.
1 Samuel 25 is a beautiful picture of Yom Teruah, the Days of Awe, and Yom Kippur.  We find the story of David, Nabal, and Abigail. In verses 1-37, we find that Nabal the fool repaid David’s kindness with evil. David was upset and rightly so given the Ancient Near Eastern customs for hospitality. However, Abigail intervened.  She sought the mercy of David. She drew near to the King and he heard her. We see the perfect Yom Teruah event in these verses. We see crying out to the King for mercy. We see that Abigail drew near to the King seek Him out while He was near.  We see the King heard her plea for mercy and responded with grace and mercy.
As we look in verses 38-42, we see a Yom Kippur event. We are told that Nabal died after ten days.  He was given ten days to do teshuva and he refused to repent. His fate was sealed. While, Abigail in word and deed repented and her fate too was sealed. She became the bride of the King.
This evening, as we enter the Days of Awe, let us remember to draw near to the Lord. Let us also remember that our words and actions should be the same showing our faithfulness to the Lord. Finally, let us call upon the Lord with a repentant heart.

Teshuvah-Article

The Psalm of The Days of Awe is Psalm 27:
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold[a] of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
9     Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

The Wedding of the Messiah

Rosh Hashanah: The Wedding of the Messiah

chupah1a

The Bible is a marriage covenant. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament describe how God through the Messiah (Jesus), the Bridegroom, is in the process of marrying His bride, the believers in Him who will ultimately live and dwell with Him forever.

God ordained and established marriage and its divine sanctity in the Torah, the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, when He brought Adam and Eve together to become one flesh (Genesis 2:21-24). In doing so, we have a vivid foreshadowing of the Messiah being married to those who would believe upon Him.

The Scriptures liken God to a bridegroom and Israel as His bride in Isaiah 54:5-6, “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God.” In Isaiah 62:5, we read: “For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” There are many other Scriptures that support this. In Hellenistic times Jews considered the Song of Solomon an allegory that illustrated the love between God and His Bride, Israel.

God gave the wedding customs, service, and ceremonies to the Jewish people to teach us about the Messiah. It also gives a perfect picture of the Rapture or the Bridegroom catching away His Bride. The ancient Jewish wedding ceremony God gave to the Jewish people to teach us about the wedding of the Messiah consisted of 12 steps.

  1. The selection of the bride.

The bride was usually chosen by the father of the bridegroom. The father would send his trusted servant, known as the agent of the father, to search out the bride. An excellent example of this can be seen in Genesis 24. In this chapter, Abraham (a type of God the Father) wishes to secure a bride for Isaac (a type of Messiah) and sends his servant Eliezer (a type of the Holy Spirit [Ruach HaKodesh]) to do this task (Genesis 24:2-4; 15:2). It is the role of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and lead them to God (John 16:7-8). Just as, the bride was usually chosen by the father of the bridegroom, so the believers in the Messiah are chosen by God (John 15:16). The bridegroom chose the bride and lavished his love upon her and she returned his love. This can be seen in Ephesians 5:25, as it is written, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself of it.” In Genesis 24, Rebekah consented to marry Isaac even before she ever met him. Today, the believers in the Messiah Jesus consent to become the bride of Messiah even though we have never seen Him. 1 Peter 1:8 speaks of this, as it is written, ” Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,”

  1. A bride price was established.

A price would have to be paid for the bride. The agreed upon price was called a mohar in Hebrew. Jesus, being our bridegroom, paid a very high price for His bride, the body of believers. The price He paid was His life. Jesus considered the price He had to pay for His bride before His death as He went into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray in Matthew 26:39, as it is written, ” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”” Jesus was, in essence, saying, “Father, You have chosen this bride and I have agreed to the terms, but do you realize the price that is being asked for her?” Our mohar, our bride price, was His life. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says, ” knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” In 1 Corinthians 6:20 it is written, ” for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

  1. The bride and groom are betrothed to each other.

This is the first stage of marriage known as kiddushin. It is the betrothal stage. Betrothal is the first of two steps in the marriage process. Betrothal in Hebrew is known as erusin or kiddushin. Betrothal legally binds the bride and the groom together in a marriage contract, except they do not physically live together. Historically, God betrothed Himself to Israel at Mount Sinai (Jeremiah 2:2; Hosea 2:19-20). Whenever you accept the Messiah into your heart and life, you become betrothed to Him while living on the earth.

  1. A written document is drawn up, known as a ketubah. This betrothal contract is called, in Hebrew, a shitre erusin.

ketubah-azoulay-grwoodslThe ketubah is the marriage contract that states the bride price, the promises of the groom, and the rights of the bride. The word ketubah means “that which is written.” The groom promised to work for her, to honor, support, and maintain her in truth, to provide food, clothing, and necessities, and to live together with her as husband and wife. The ketubah was the unalienable right of the bride. The ketubah must be executed and signed prior to the wedding ceremony. God offers Israel the betrothal contract in Exodus 19:5 and Israel accepts it in Exodus 19:7-8. The Bible is the believer’s ketubah. All the promises that God provided for the believers in the Messiah are legally ours, as it is written in 2 Corinthians 1:20, ” For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”

  1. The bride must give her consent.

God betrothed Himself to Israel at Mount Sinai as stated in Jeremiah 2:2. Israel consented to the marriage proposal from God and said, “I do,” as it is written in Exodus 24:3, “Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.”. Likewise, the personal application to those who desire the Messiah Jesus to come into their hearts and lives is to accept His invitation to do so by faith, as it is written in Romans 10:9: “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” So, even today, to become the bride of Messiah you must still say, “I do” to Him.

  1. Gifts were given to the bride and a cup called the cup of the covenant was shared between the bride and the groom.

The rite of betrothal is completed when the groom gives something of value to the bride and she accepts it. The gift most often given today is the ring. When the groom places the ring on the bride’s finger, the rite of betrothal is completed. This completed rite is known in Hebrew as kiddushin, which means “sanctification.”

The gifts to the bride are symbols of love, commitment, and loyalty. The gift God gives to those who accept the Messiah is the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26-27; Acts 2:38; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22). When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He gave gifts to men (Ephesians 4:7-8). These gifts included righteousness (Romans 5:17-18), eternal life (Romans 6:23), grace (Romans 5:12,14-15), faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and other spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1,4). These included wisdom, knowledge, healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, the discerning of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:8-11), as well as the gifts of helps and administration (1 Corinthians 12:28).

In addition, at this time the cup of the covenant was shared and sealed between the bride and the groom with the drinking of26179_sterling_silver_kiddush_cup_with_hebrew_alphabet_and_swirls_view_1 wine. In doing so, the couple drinks from a common cup. The cup is silver (silver represents redemption) and first given to the groom to sip, and then is given to the bride. This cup, known as the cup of the covenant, is spoken of in Jeremiah 31:31-33, as it is written:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people

Jesus spoke of the cup of the New Covenant in Luke 22:20, “ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

  1. The bride had a mikvah (water immersion), which is a ritual of cleansing.

Mikvah is a Hebrew word that means, “pool” or “body of water.” Mikvah is a ceremonial act of purification by the immersion in water. It indicates a separation from a former way to a new way. In the case of marriage, it indicates leaving an old life for a new life with your spouse (Genesis 2:23-24; Ephesians 5:31). Immersing in the mikvah is considered spiritual rebirth. The reason is that a mikvah has the power to change a person completely. Concerning the marriage to Israel at Mount Sinai, God said in Ezekiel 16:8-9, as it is written, ““When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine.  Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil.” The washing, or immersion, here refers to that of Israel before the people received the Torah when God betrothed Himself to Israel at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:14-15). Yeshua spoke to the Pharisee, Nicodemus that he must be born anew (immersed) to enter into the Kingdom of God (John 3:1-7). The believers in the Messiah are to be immersed in the name of Jesus (Acts 19:4). The Holy Spirit is the immerser of God (Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5; 11:15-16).

  1. The bridegroom departed, going back to his father’s house to prepare the bridal chamber.

At this point, the bridegroom leaves for his father’s house to prepare the bridal chamber for his bride. It was understood to be the man’s duty to go away to be with his father, build a house, and prepare for the eventual wedding. Before he goes, though, he will make a statement to the bride. “I go to prepare a place for you; if I go, I will return again unto you.” This is the same statement Jesus made in John 14:1-3 before He went to His father’s house in Heaven, as it is written:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

The son does not see the Bride again until the Father tells him to go get her. So we see that Matthew 24:36, when Jesus says, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” He is speaking broadly of His return for his Bride. During the time of the building of the home, if and when a friend or family member would ask the groom when he is going to get his bride, it was a customary response by the groom to reply, “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my father only.” Now that’s what I call exciting!!!

  1. The bride was consecrated and set apart for a period of time while the bridegroom was away building the house.

Before the bridegroom could go and get the bride, the groom’s father had to be satisfied that every preparation had been made by the son. Only then could he give permission to the son to go and get the bride. In other words, while the bridegroom was working on the bridal chamber, it was the father who “okayed” the final bridal chamber. The bridegroom did not know when his father would declare the bridal chamber fit and send him to go get his bride. This is exactly what Jesus was referring to in Mark 13:32-37.

Meanwhile, the bride was to wait eagerly for the return of the bridegroom. In the mind of the bride, the bridegroom could come at any time, even in the middle of the night or at midnight. Therefore, she had to be ready at all times. Jesus referred to this in Mark 13:32-37, ““But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” and Matthew 25:1-13 (The parable of the ten virgins). While waiting for her bridegroom to come, the bride had to have thought to herself, “Is he really coming back for me? Is he really going to keep his word?” This was the thought that Peter answered in 2 Peter 3:1-13, “This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,  that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.”

  1. The bridegroom would return with a shout, “Behold, the bridegroom comes” and the sound of the ram’s horn (shofar) would be blown.

new-photo-wj3The time of the return of the bridegroom was usually at midnight. When the bridegroom did come, he came with a shout (Matthew 25:6) and with the blowing of a shofar (trumpet) (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 4:1). The marriage between the bride and the groom will take place under the chupah or wedding canopy. Since Heaven is a type of chupah, we can see that when Jesus gives a shout for His bride, accompanied by the blowing of a shofar (trumpet), the marriage between Jesus and His bride will take place in Heaven.

The marriage ceremony will have a sacred procession. For this reason, the bridegroom (Jesus) will be led to the chupah first. When the bridegroom approaches the chupah, the cantor chants, “Blessed is he who comes.” “Blessed is he who comes” is an idiomatic expression meaning “welcome.” Jesus said that He would not return for His bride until these words were said Matthew 23:39, “For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”. The groom is greeted like a king under the chupah. During this time Jesus, the bridegroom, will be crowned King under the chupah, which is Heaven.

  1. He would come for his bride, usually in the middle of the night, to go to the bridal chamber where the marriage would be consummated. This is the full marriage, known in Hebrew as nesu’in.

The bride and groom will go to the wedding chamber, or chadar in Hebrew, where the marriage will be consummated. They will stay in that wedding chamber for seven days, or a week. At the end of the seven days, the bride and groom will come out from the wedding chamber. This can be seen in Joel 2:16, “gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber.”

The word week in Hebrew is shavuah. It means a “seven.” It can mean seven days or seven years. An example of the Hebrew word for week (shavuah) meaning seven years can be found in Daniel 9:24, as it is written, “Seventy weeks [shavuah, 490 years] are determined upon thy people…” and in 9:27, “And he [the false Messiah known as the antichrist] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [shavuah, seven years]….” The week referred to in Daniel 9:27 is known to Bible believers as the tribulation period. The Jewish people understand this time to be the birth pangs of the Messiah known in Hebrew eschatology as the Chevlai shel Mashiach. This is taken from Jeremiah 30:5-7. From this we can see that the believers in the Messiah will be with the Messiah in Heaven for His wedding while the earth will be experiencing the seven-year tribulation period, or the Chevlai shel Mashiach, in Hebrew.

  1. Finally, there would be a marriage supper for all the guests invited by the father of the bride.

The bride and the groom would be in the wedding chamber for seven days. When the bride and the groom initially went into the wedding chamber, the friend of the bridegroom stood outside the door. All the assembled guests of the wedding gathered outside, waiting for the friend of the bridegroom to announce the consummation of the marriage, which was relayed to him by the groom. John the Immerser (Baptist) referred to this in John 3:29. At this signal, great rejoicing broke forth (John 3:29). The marriage was consummated on the first night (Genesis 29:23). The bloodstained linen from this night was preserved. It was proof of the bride’s virginity (Deuteronomy 22:13-21).

On the wedding day, the bridegroom is seen as a king and the bride as a queen. During the consummation of the marriage, the bridegroom (Jesus) will be crowned King over all the earth and the bride (the believers in Jesus, the Messiah) will live with Him and rule with Him forever. The crowning of the King and the marriage can be seen in Isaiah 62:3-7. At the end of the week (seven-year tribulation, or birth pangs of the Messiah), the marriage supper will take place. The marriage supper will not take place in Heaven. After the marriage, the bride and Groom will return to earth. The marriage supper will be taking place on earth and only the invited guests of the Father of the Groom (God the Father) will be present at the banquet meal. This can be seen in Revelation 19:7-16 and 20:4. Jesus spoke of the marriage supper and the banquet in Luke 12:35-38 and Matthew 8:11. The wedding supper is a theme of the festival of Sukkot, The Feast of Tabernacles. During Sukkot, the people were instructed by God to build a temporary shelter. One of the things God instructed the people to do is eat there. When they eat, they are to set a plate for seven different people. Among the seven whom a plate is set for are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 8:11.image018

The unbelievers in the Messiah will attend a separate banquet where the fowls of the air will eat their flesh. This can be seen in Revelation 19:17-18.

The home of the bride was Jerusalem and it was the bridegroom who came to the bride to dwell with her. It is from Jerusalem that the believers in the Messiah during the Messianic age, or Millennium, will reign with the Messiah. This can be seen in Revelation 21:1-3; Ezekiel 43:1-2,7; Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-5; and Zechariah 2:l0-12.

So this is our final idiom regarding the Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah. Tonight at sundown begins Elul 29 (in Jerusalem it has already begun at about 11:45 am EST) or the Day of Release. Tomorrow’s sundown will begin the Feast of Trumpets (it will begin in Jerusalem at 11:48 am EST). May you have a good inscription!

Chevial shel Mashiach – Time of Jacob’s Trouble, Birth Pangs of the Messiah

Chevlai shel Mashiach – Time of Jacob’s Trouble, Birth Pangs of the Messiah

birth-pangs

Yet one more part of Yom Teruah. Could Yom Teruah be the beginning of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble some year? The English phrase, birthpangs of the Messiah, or the Hebrew Chevlai shel Mashiach, is a major theme of the Bible. It is commonly known as the seven-year tribulation period. In Matthew 24, Jesus describes the signs of the end. “And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ “(Matthew 24:3 NAS) Jesus said that these days are the beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24:8). The Greek word translated as sorrows here is odin. This word means “birthpangs.” The birthpangs of the Messiah are also spoken of in Jeremiah 30:4-7, as it is written:

Now these are the words which the Lord spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah, “For thus says the Lord, ‘I have heard a sound of terror, of dread, and there is no peace. Ask now, and see, if a male can give birth [travail with child?]. Why do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth [odin]? And why have all faces turned pale? Alas! for that day is great, there is none like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s distress [trouble], but he will be saved from it‘ “(Jeremiah 30:4-7 NAS).

The birth pangs are also mentioned in 1Thessalonians 5:1-3:

Now as to the times and the epochs [seasons], brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs [odin] upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 NAS).

It can also be seen in Revelation 12:1-2, as it is written:
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars [this is Israel (Genesis 37:9)]; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor [odin] and in pain to give birth (Revelation 12:1-2 NAS).

The Scriptures reveal two synonyms:

  1. The birth pangs = the time of Jacob’s trouble.
  2. The time of Jacob’s trouble = the seven-year tribulation.

This period of time will be Israel’s most trying time ever. This period of time is known as the tribulation. Jacob is Israel. There shall be great tribulation in Israel such as never was since there was a nation (Daniel 12:1). It will also be a time when God will ultimately judge sin and all the nations on the earth. Through it, the nation of Israel will be physically saved from total destruction by God, and will, as a nation, accept Jesus as the Messiah “…But he shall be saved out of it” (Jeremiah 30:7). In Hosea 5:15 it is written, “I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face: in their affliction [the Chevlai shel Mashiach /tribulation] they will seek Me early.”

ccIsrael will face genuine crisis during the time of Jacob’s trouble. The prophet Zechariah prophesied that two of every three inhabitants of Israel will perish during this time, with a remnant of only one third of the population being saved (Zechariah 13:8-9). In Isaiah 13:6-8 it is written:

Wail, for the day of the Lord is near! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Therefore all hands will fall limp, and every man ‘s heart will melt [see Luke 21:26]. And they will be terrified, pains and anguish will take hold of them, they will writhe like a woman in labor; they will look at one another in astonishment, their faces aflame (Isaiah 13:6-8 NAS).

Isaiah 13:10 corresponds to Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24; and Revelation 6:12. Other passages that speak of the birth pangs include Genesis 3:16; 35:16-20; 38:27-28; Isaiah 26:16-21; 54:1; 66:7-9; Jeremiah 4:31; 6:24; 13:21; 22:23; Micah 4:9-10; and John 16:21-22.

There are several stages to Israel’s birthing the Messiah.

  1. Isaiah 66:7 is a birth before travail. “Before she [Israel] travailed [received the Messiah], she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child” (Isaiah 66:7). Isaiah 66:7 is a birth before travail. This happened during the first coming of Jesus, the Messiah. The birth pangs that Israel experienced during Jesus’ first coming came after His death with the destruction of the temple and the dispersion of the Jewish people out of Israel by the Romans in 70 C.E. (Common Era)
  1. Isaiah 66:8 is a birth after travail. Isaiah 66:8 says, “…as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” This will happen before Jesus returns to earth to set foot on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4) as Israel experiences the hardest time she has ever experienced since she was a nation (Daniel 12:1) in the period of time known as the birth pangs of the Messiah, the Yamim Nora’im, or the tribulation. The tribulation and the birth pangs of the Messiah are one and the same thing. What we are seeing in these days is the woman (Israel) becoming larger and larger, coming closer and closer to the time when she is about to give birth.

When the Feast of Trumpets is fulfilled, we can see through the patterns of the idioms we have covered, it will be global in its impact.  It will also be a pivotal point in history.  We don’t know what will happen during this Feast of Trumpets of 2015 or if anything will. However, if not this year, we do know to look out during this time of year because someday the world will know of the appointed times of the Lord.

Christian-Games-Get-Wal-Mart-Release

Yom HaZikaron – Day of Remembrance

Yom HaZikaron – Day of Remembrance

ziclogof

In today’s modern time in Israel, Yom HaZikaron is not so much associated with Yom Teruah as with Holocaust Memorial Day and falls on Iyar 5 unless it is a Shabbat; then in will fall two or three days preceeding Iyar 5 (April/May).

Leviticus 23:24 calls the day “a memorial” (zikkaron). Remembrance is a major theme in the Bible. God reminds Israel over and over to remember what He has done. We are reminded to remember what God has done as well. One way we remember what God has done is through thanking Him for His blessings to us. We can see by examining the following Scriptures that God remembers us and that we are to remember God in all of our ways.

There are two elements of remembrance:

  1. a) God remembers us(Genesis 8:1; 9:1, 5-16; 19:29; 30:22; Exodus 2:24-25; 3:1; 6:2,5; 32:1-3,7,11,13-14; Leviticus 26:14,31-33,38-45; Numbers 10:1-2,9; Psalm 105:7-8,42-43; 112:6). In fact, G-d has a book of remembrance (Exodus 32:32-33; Malachi 3:16-18; Revelation 3:5; 20:11-15; 21:1,27).
  2. b) We must remember God(Exodus 13:3; 20:8; Deuteronomy 7:17-19; 8:18; 16:3; Numbers 15:37-41).

In Daniel 7:9-10 it is written:

I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, its wheels were a burning fire. A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; the court sat, and the books were opened (Daniel 7:9-10 NAS).

Since the court was seated and the books were opened, it is understood to be Rosh HaShanah. Three books are opened on this day and one of the books is thought to be the Book of Remembrance. This is why the common greeting during Rosh HaShanah is, “May you be inscribed in the Book.”

In Romans 14:10 it is written, “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God [Christ]” (NAS). In Second Corinthians 5:10 it is written, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (NAS). This is also discussed in 1 Corinthians 3:9-15. The works of the believers in Messiah will be judged by God, but not their salvation. This is a judgment of the believers in Jesus only. All people in this judgment will be saved. This is not a judgment of our salvation, but a judgment of our rewards based upon our works. On this day, God will open the Book and hold a trial (Talmud, Rosh HaShanah 16b). This is known as the Bema or judgment.

Malachi 3:16-17:

Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.“On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him.

The Bible mentions several books: papyrus-sealed-with-seven-seals_1246685_inl

The Book of the Living

The Book of Life

The Book of Tears

The Book of Works

The Book of Remembrance

The Book of Seven Seals

Malachi is the only place we find the Book of Remembrance specifically named. For now, we will just refer to the Book of Remembrance and how it relates to Yom Teruah and the Rapture.

The Hebrew word “Zikron” means recorded memento; a memorable day or writing. The Hebrew root “Zakar” means to mark, to mention, or to be noteworthy. So the Book of Remembrance is a book that records something to mark a person as noteworthy. We find several places in Scripture where God remembered someone:

Gen. 8:1 tells us that God remembered Noah. This doesn’t mean that God had forgotten Noah but that God had marked Him and it came up before the Lord that this is a marked man. God remembered Rachel and He opened her womb (Gen. 30:22). He heard Israel’s groaning and remembered His people (Ex. 2:24). He also remembered Hannah was barren and He gave her a son (1 Sam. 1:19).

These are examples of how God would see someone in intercession, prayer, or need and as they would cry out to God; He remembered them. He marked them for a miracle. He marked them as a memento to bless them. It has nothing to do with God forgetting someone; but rather, God marking someone.

crying-out-to-godGod remembers His covenant with His people (Ex. 6:5); He remembers His children in time of need (Ps. 98:3); and He remembers and delivers in time of adversity (Num. 10:9). God also specifically remembers those who do certain things: He remembers those who fear Him (Acts 10:1-2; Ps. 27:5), He remembers those who testify to one another (Rev. 12:11), and He remembers those who meditate upon His name (Hb. 10:23), call on his name, or pray in his name.

God specifically remembers or marks people to deliver them before the day of trouble strikes the earth. If you look at Mal. 3:16, when the book is mentioned until the time Elijah appears in 4:5 before the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord; you find He is putting their name in the book to deliver them. As you read this passage in Malachi in context, it allows us to discover that God is going to spare His treasure from the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.

In Malachi 4:1, the Tribulation is mentioned:

“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.

If we continue reading to verse 5, we find that Elijah is sent, “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” What do we know of Elijah? The Bible tells us:

  1. Elijah was translated up (2 Kings 2:1-11)
  2. Elijah is expected in the future, according to Jewish belief.
  3. Elijah will reappear in the tribulation, as one of the two witnesses (Rev. 11:1-2) – last 42 months is known as God’s wrath – the Greater Tribulation.
  4. Elijah is a Witness (11:3). In Hebrew, the word “witness” is mar-toos, meaning “judicial witness” and also a martyr.

It appears that Elijah is very much a part of the Last Days. In fact, in Jewish traditions at Passover a seat is always left empty for the Prophet Elijah because he is expected.

So we know from the above verses, that Malachi is speaking of the Tribulation. We also know that Elijah is a part of what will take place. The verses also let us know what God is sparing His treasured possession from the Tribulation and He does this by recording their name in the Book of Remembrance. We know of its existence because of Malachi’s reference to it but we know from the New Testament that it exists because of the example of Cornelius in Acts 10:1-4:

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.

 The Hebrew word Zikkaron means memorial and the Greek word we find here in Acts is the equivalent of the Hebrew word. It is important to note that, what Malachi 3:16 says to do to be in the Book of Remembrance, is what we see in the example of Cornelius in Acts 10 (fear God, prayed always, gave alms). It is a parallel to it. Therefore, we know that people in the Book of Remembrance are marked for blessing.

Going back to Malachi 3, we find that God spares His treasured possession. But what does it mean? Who is the “peculiar teasure”? Lets see what the Bible says: Ex. 19:5, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine,” and in Ps. 135:4, “For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession.”

treasure_pile_by_aquastockThe word “treasure” in Hebrew (seg-ool-law) is the same meaning as “special jewel.” In the OT, Israel was God’s jewel. As Christians, we are grafted in and according to 2 Cor. 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” and 1 Peter 2:9, But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” we are God’s treaure too.

In Ex. 19:5 God calls Israel His peculiar treasure and God calls the church a treasure and a peculiar people. We are a part of the “treasured possession” God will spare in the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. God puts people in the Book of Remembrance to deliver them from trouble or to mark them for deliverance.the-great-tribulation-begins

Another idiom for Yom Teruah is the Day of Remembrance. The Day of Remembrance seems to be linked with the Book of Remembrance because they are both linked to our relationship to God. The Day of Remembrance is called a memorial (a remembrance) for blowing trumpets (Lev. 23:24). The trumpet is blown over 100 times on this day and we know there are four different trumpet sounds on this day ending with the Last Trump (Tekiah Hagdoleh). The Rapture has trumpets associated with it. We know from Malachi 3:17 that God gathers His treasured possession to spare them from trouble and we know the Rapture is associated with gathering the Church to spare her from tribulation. Yom HaZikaron is yet another picture or foreshadow of what we know as the Rapture.

We have covered several names so far and each idiom seems to be a different aspect of what we know as the Rapture or the great catching away.

I hope all of this makes sense. Most of it is coming from my teaching notes. Sometimes I don’t have the time to write out everything the way I teach it, so I hope it is all coming together.  Well, till tomorrow as the Day of Release and Yom Teruah draw closer still.  Shalom.