Great Expectations for Messiah … Then and Now
What does Aliyah, the blood moon tetrad, the Shemitah, hidden Bible codes, the third Jewish Temple, a red heifer, and Jonathan Pollard’s release from prison have in common, one with the other? If you desire a short easy-to-remember response to that question, then the answer is: Israel’s Redemption Is Very Near. If you prefer a one-word explanation for the common-ground connection between these seemingly diverse subjects and events, we can do that too:
Jews all over the world, especially observant Jews in Israel, are becoming exponentially excited over Israel’s redemption. They see this restoration as both physical—rescue from and protection against their enemies—and spiritual … individual and national return to God through renewal of the sacrificial system lost to them when the second Temple was destroyed. No matter what form this revival takes and no matter whether a Jew is religious or secular, there is one prevailing and passionate premise: Messiah will make all these things happen upon his glorious appearance.
For most Jews this will be the first arrival of Messiah. For born-again believers, Gentiles and Messianic Jews alike, this will be the majestic return of Messiah (Jesus Christ).
Two Eye of Prophecy articles entitled Look Up, Redemption is Near (Part I & II) were recently published on 7-11-15 and 7-18-15, respectively. In these articles, we looked discerningly at twelve unmistakable signs of the 20th & 21st centuries showing that Biblical end-times prophecy has been and is being fulfilled in one generation alone. In the second article, these signs were itemized for quick reference. They are as follows:
- Rebirth of Israel as a Sovereign Nation, 1948
- Recapture of Jerusalem in the June, 1967 Six-Day War
- Jerusalem, a Heavy Burden to the Nations
- The 3rd Rebuilt Temple
- Israel’s Phenomenal Agricultural Accomplishments
- Modern-Day Alignment of Gog/Magog Nations against Israel
- National and Ethnic Wars in the 20th & 21st Centuries
- Amazing Increase of Natural Disasters
- Moral & Spiritual Decline & Intense Persecution of Christians
- False Messiahs & Prophets
- Unequaled Increase in Quantity and Speed of Transportation and Information
- Unprecedented Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the World
In this 107th article, which is also the 3rd post in the 3rd year since this project began in late July, 2013, it’s fitting to quote the subtitle of the Eye of Prophecy website which is: “For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus” (Revelation 19:10). The very center of Biblical prophecy, Jesus Christ, is what this ministry is all about. I trust that the articles have been true to and accomplished that objective. Thus, considering that the numbers seven and three are directly related to and reflective of God’s divinity and sovereignty, it’s also fitting that this week’s article focuses on this Messianic fervor that is sweeping over Israel.
Although most of the topics listed in the first paragraph of this article are not specific Biblical prophecies as such, they are, when combined together, amazing evidence that the time of Messiah is near, so very near. Why can we say that? Because the last time that Israel and even surrounding Gentile nations were so zealous about the arrival of Messiah, that’s exactly what happened! Jesus Christ appeared on the scene of history fulfilling dozens of Biblical prophecies that he was, in fact, the Messiah … with an abundance of documentation, the greatest proof of which was his resurrection from the grave!
Messianic Expectations at the Time of Jesus Christ
Scholars differ in opinion as to the extent of Messianic anticipation found in the first and second centuries before and after the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. But when you include Biblical historical accounts with Jewish writings, it’s hard to escape the (clear) evidence that many Jews in Israel were eagerly looking for Messiah to arrive any day. This was especially evident during the rise of the Roman Empire and certainly when Rome added Israel to its conquered territories. The more the Romans exercised control over Israel, the greater was Israel’s longing for Messiah’s coming. The vast majority of Jews believed that only the Messiah could free them from Roman subjugation and restore Israel to the glory days of King David. There were numerous examples of this increasing hope for Messiah’s imminent appearance, none more so that an entire segment of Jewish society known as the Zealots.
Evidence from Jewish Rabbinical Writings: In a well-documented and written on-line article posted in 1996 by Glenn Miller, entitled, Messianic Expectations in 1st Century Judaism, he reaches the following conclusion: “So, it is very easy to document a wide range of Messianic expectations and, judging from the explosion of messianic materials in the period 200 BCE-200 CE and the wide acceptance of popular messianic leaders, it is very easy to conclude that messianic expectations were widespread.”
The messianic materials referred to by Glenn Miller were primarily the Jewish Talmud which consists of two component parts: The Mishnah and the Gemara. The Talmud was a first and second century written compilation of thousands of rabbinical oral teachings and opinions that the Jews felt were necessary to successfully defend and maintain Judaism after the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the second Temple. Miller also included findings from the Jewish Midrash, Targums, Dead Sea Scrolls (the Essenes), Jewish Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha books such as I Enoch and 2 Esdras.
Biblical Evidence: The following examples include but are not limited to the strong evidence that some Gentiles and many Jews believed the Messiah would appear in their (1st century BC or AD) lifetime:
- The Magi: “Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem asking, “Where is the new-born king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2).
We then read that Herod was “deeply disturbed” about this news and asked the religious leaders where the Messiah was to be born. They replied by quoting Micah 5:2 … the ruler (Messiah) would be born in Bethlehem. In the context of this article, there are two distinct things going on here. First, most scholars (including me) believe these wise men had hailed from either Babylon or Persia or both. That they had read the prophecies of Daniel who was well-known to their ancestors. How else would they have known the approximate time and signs of Messiah’s arrival? The star was a supernatural means God used to guide them to Jerusalem, just a few miles from Bethlehem. What they didn’t know was exactly where the Messiah would be born. It took the Jewish religious leaders to search the Scriptures to locate the prophesied birthplace of Messiah.
Ironically or conveniently the Jewish religious leaders would later (during Christ’s ministry and when they had him crucified) decline to check carefully where Jesus was born. Instead they regarded him as simply a man from Nazareth who was impersonating the Messiah. But it stands to reason that these Magi were not the only Gentiles who realized that Messiah’s time was at hand. Undoubtedly, there were others who didn’t make the trip to Israel to find the King Messiah and worship him.
- The Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and Priests: Although the pious leaders of Israel refused to believe the incredible miracles that Jesus performed, his amazing teaching with great authority, and his claims that he was not only Messiah but the Son of God, it’s very interesting that they didn’t refute the fact that they and many of their compatriots fully expected Messiah to appear on the scene during their time on this earth.
- John the Baptist: John knew full well his purpose in life—to prepare the way for God’s Anointed One. He and his followers were altogether aware and eagerly embraced the evidence that Messiah would and then did arrive on the scene. In fact, John recognized Jesus as their Messiah when he said, “…Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
- Simeon’s Expectation of and Encounter with Messiah: “At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God saying, ‘Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!’” (Luke 2:25-32, italics for emphasis).
For me this is one of the most precious and astounding accounts in the Gospels to demonstrate how God fulfills prophecy, in this case the preparation of both Jews and Gentiles for the magnificent and appointed time of his Son’s arrival on earth. Note the italicized portion of this passage: Simeon had been waiting (with obvious implication … a long time) enthusiastically for Messiah to come and rescue Israel. There is an obvious implication that Simeon was only one of many Jews who had this same expectancy, at some level or another. But Simeon’s passionate anticipation was intense and God rewarded him by letting him hold Messiah in his arms before Simeon passed from this earth.
Immediately after this scene with Simeon, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, an old woman named Anna was also rewarded for her faithfulness in believing that the time of Messiah had arrived. After seeing Jesus and also realizing who he was, she praised God and, “…talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38, italics for emphasis).
Regarding Simeon, also note that he totally understood Messiah’s real purpose for coming (the first time), when he said, “I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people.”
Not only for Israel, but Jesus would be a light to the Gentile nations. Sadly, those who denied Jesus, a rejection that led to his crucifixion, couldn’t and wouldn’t see who Messiah ought to be. They had not carefully studied their own prophets, especially Isaiah, who spoke of Messiah as the suffering servant of God, one who would be, “…pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins” (Isaiah 53:5).
Yes, Messiah would rescue Israel, but it would be a spiritual liberation. Said the angel to Joseph: “… do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).
God knows all too well what is best for us: Unless the human heart is radically changed, there can be no peace with God and between peoples.
Both Biblical and secular history is crystal clear: A vast cross-section of Jews and a few Gentiles in the first centuries BC and AD fully expected, some with ardent anticipation, the advent of Messiah. This was not a coincidence and certainly not by accident. And so: Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, lived, taught, performed great miracles mostly in Galilee, and ultimately died for the sins of the whole world on a cross near Jerusalem. But then he rose from the dead, ascended back to heaven from the Mount of Olives. And from that very spot he will return in great power and glory, this time as the King of kings and Lord of lords. (See Acts 1:9-11 & Revelation 17:14).
Now let’s look at some very contemporary things taking place in Israel that once again validates the soon return of Messiah. The twelve prophetic signs previously alluded to are more than sufficient to demonstrate that the Rapture is very close at hand. However, when we see how the incredible expectancy for Messiah has captivated attention of Jews all over today’s world, we can compare that phenomenon to the same first century passionate eagerness for Messiah’s arrival to save Israel. But the question then: Save them from what?
For those of us, Jew and Gentile, who have been redeemed by Jesus’s atoning sacrifice on the Cross, it will be the glorious reappearance of our Lord. For the greater number of Jews in Israel and world-wide, they believe of course, that it will be Messiah’s first advent. But during the time of Jacob’s trouble (the Great Tribulation) they, too, will fully realize that Messiah and Jesus are one and the same.
For now, suffice to say that Jews (particularly rabbis) are seeing Messianic connections between seemingly unrelated events. With the exception of Aliyah, the following list of correlations made by mostly Jewish Rabbis is not a fulfillment of specific Biblical prophecies as such. However, I firmly believe that when Jews, especially Rabbis, begin making these associations in such large numbers and to such a level of intensity; this is God’s sovereignty in action … by planting the seed of Messianic passion within the hearts and minds of his people just as he did before Christ came the first time.
Seven Messianic Correlations Being Made by the Jews (there are more)
Literally this Hebrew word means going up (to Israel) or the ingathering return of Jews all over the world to Israel. The following Bible verse is one of many that predict this phenomenal event hundreds of years before the Jews were conquered and expelled from the Promised Land by the Romans in 70 AD, labeled the Great Diaspora by Jews and Gentiles alike: “For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land” (Ezekiel 36:24).
This is the first of the twelve milestones (listed earlier in today’s article) discussed in Look Up, Redemption is Near, Part I & II, under the heading: The Rebirth of Israel…: that Messiah’s appearance is very near.
God through Ezekiel goes on to say: “…I will bring them home to their own land from the places where they have been scattered. I will unify them into one nation on the mountains of Israel. One king will rule them all; no longer will they be divided into two nations or into two kingdoms … I will cleanse them. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. My servant David will be their king, and they will have only one shepherd … They will live in the land I gave my servant Jacob, the land where their ancestors lived…” (Ezekiel 37:21-25).
Thus they completely comprehend that, when Israel was reborn as a nation in 1948 and especially when Jerusalem was recaptured in 1967, the Biblical prophecy of Jewish exiles returning, as recorded in the book of Ezekiel (and other Old Testament prophets), is being fulfilled in this generation. Both observant and secular Jews realize resolutely that they are living in a historical time of Israel’s restoration and redemption. That the heart and soul of this ingathering return to Israel will be Messiah (my servant David … only one shepherd) uniting and leading them.
Now let’s examine some more recent incidents that have made headlines in certain Jewish circles. Whether any of these happenings have any specific connection to Messiah’s actual appearance is not the point. The real consequence is that the Jews are viewing them as evidentiary signs that Messiah’s arrival is drawing ever so near. I’m sure there will undoubtedly be more events in the near future that will bear Messianic significance to the Jews.
Specifically, we’ll look at comments or views from different Jewish Rabbis on these recent signs to show the totality of what’s happening in Israel and the world over, all of which can be boiled down to one common contemporary belief and premise that is sweeping over the Jewish community: Messiah will soon appear.
Blood Moon Tetrad:
The final of the four-part Blood Moon Tetrad (cycle) that began last year will occur in a few weeks … September 28th, 2015. I devoted one entire Eye of Prophecy article to this subject, entitled Blood Moons, published 4-19-14. I would encourage you to read that article, to better put this subject in a Biblical perspective.
But for purpose of today’s article, let’s listen to a quote from a rabbinic scholar, Rabbi Mendel Kessin, in a recent message delivered on the subject of Blood Moons that have occurred on important Jewish festival dates (Passover and Sukkot … Feast of Tabernacles). Said Rabbi Kessin: “Every time a blood moon happens (on a Jewish holiday tetrad), there is a messianic advancement … we have now entered the countdown to the messiah, which is unbelievable. Based on the (verse from the Book of Joel), based on what’s happening, something awesome seems to be in the works. Fascinating!”
Although the main topic of Rabbi Kessin’s message was the blood moon phenomenon, he also referenced the Shemitah and Iran’s menace to Israel as other events that will usher in the Messianic age.
Shemitah, the Sabbatical Year:
“For six years you may plant your fields and prune your vineyards and harvest your crops, but during the seventh year the land must have a Sabbath year of complete rest. It is the Lord’s Sabbath. Do not plant your fields or prune your vineyards during that year” (Leviticus 25:3-4).
Although there were other reasons that the Lord eventually disciplined Israel that ultimately led to their 70-year Babylonian captivity, violation of the seventh year of leaving the land fallow (Shemitah) was the reason cited by God for the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple. I believe the reason for God specifically naming this violation is that Israel (at the time) fully understood that they had failed to keep this important law, one that assured God’s blessing on their land. Israel disputed the other obvious wrong things they had done, which are time and time again listed by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, and other Jewish prophets. Of course God was right and his people were wrong, but the one thing they couldn’t take issue with is failure to keep the seventh Sabbatical year (Shemitah).
But now, in our time, Israel is once again keeping the Shemitah. Nearly all Israeli farmers have allowed their farmland to remain uncultivated this past Shemitah which began in the Jewish calendar year 5775 (last year) and ends in the next few weeks on September 13th. (The Jewish calendar year begins on Rosh Hashanah, which is the 1st of Tishrei … this year on September 14th, 2015.)
In the Babylonian Talmud (referenced earlier in this article), there is clear understanding that Messiah will come in the year following the Shemitah. Here is a quote from the Talmud: “As it is written, in that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen. Our Rabbis taught: in the seven-year cycle at the end of which the son of David will come—in the first year, this verse will be fulfilled.”
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a highly respected rabbi among Orthodox Jews recently encouraged Jews from all over the world to return to Israel (Aliyah) as soon as possible, saying: “or there won’t be enough room on the airplanes.” He made this startling statement specifically in the context of the soon to end Shemitah, as well as all of the other signs that seem to be aligning with Messiah’s arrival.
Hidden Bible Codes:
Beginning two-three decades ago, books were published and articles written on the astounding discovery of current (20th and 21st century) events unfolding based on hidden texts found mostly in the first five books of the Torah (Old Testament). Although the stir created by these hidden codes has dissipated in the past few years, once again a Jewish Rabbi has purportedly found a hidden code in the book of Daniel that, through the use of Gematria (numerical values assigned to the Hebrew alphabet, i.e. counting in Hebrew) shows that the time of Messiah is upon us.
Time and space doesn’t permit in this article, so suffice to say that Rabbi Mattityahu Glazerson ascertained a numerical (gematria) connection between events in the book of Daniel, the Messiah as the Son of David, and the current Shemitah, followed by the next Jewish year. The calculations resulted in Rabbi Glazerson suggesting that, “the time of the end” phrase in Daniel will coincide with the conclusion of the Shemitah in the Jewish year 5775 on September 13th. But mostly importantly with the beginning of the next Hebrew year of 5776. That Messiah should come sometime during this coming Hebrew year beginning September 14th, 2015.
*Note: Personally, I’m not sure what to think about these hidden codes of Scripture, except to say that there is more than enough evidence in the actual text of the Bible to narrow down the “season” of the Lord’s return. I have written about this generational time-frame of the Lord’s return in several Eye of Prophecy articles, with the most representative of these being, The Omega Generation, posted on 2-15-14.
Jesus, himself, said that no one can know (predict) the day or hour of his coming. But we can and should carefully examine the seasonal signs; meaning the approximate time-range and window of opportunity when the Rapture will occur, followed in seven-years by the glorious return of Messiah Jesus to Planet Earth.
The Third Jewish Temple:
Many Jews don’t necessarily consider the Third Temple as a prophetic phenomenon; rather, they view it as a matter-of-fact individual and national necessity, both literally and symbolically, as a precursor to Israel’s redemption. They even disagree whether rebuilding of the Temple will be launched by Messiah or by orders and initiation of observant Jews.
Recently, much as been written (including several Eye of Prophecy articles) about the incredible emphasis on and enthusiasm over the Third Jewish Temple. Nearly all, if not all, of the Temple furniture and utensils have been finished, including the menorah and sacrificial altar itself. Descendants from the tribe of Levi have been identified (that can actually be done through DNA evidence!), selected, and trained as future priests.
The intensity of observant Jews over the possibilities of their rebuilt temple has reached unprecedented and unparalleled proportions in the past few years. Even secular Jews are beginning to accept the reality of a rebuilt Temple.
The Red Heifer:
According to Jewish members of The Temple Institute, the only missing piece for resuming the Levitical sacrificial system lost when the 2nd Temple was destroyed, aside from the Temple building itself, is the breeding of the required red heifer for one of the all-important sacrifices. (See Numbers Chapter 19). Says Rabbi Chaim Richman, International Director of the Temple Institute, “Our immediate goal is to produce the first kosher red heifer in 2,000 years.”
This breeding program began just a few weeks ago and could take three years or so to produce the perfect (red) heifer. It’s yet another example of what is taking place in Israel that is part of the end-times scenario. Biblically, however, it’s obvious that a red heifer does not actually have to exist before the Day of the Lord begins (with the Rapture).
Jonathan Pollard’s Release from Prison:
For those who may not know, Jonathan Pollard was convicted in 1985 of being an Israeli spy for disclosing US military secrets to Israel. He was sentenced to life imprisonment subject to a 30 year review for pardon. He was recently pardoned and will be released on November 20th, 2015, exactly 30 years later. It’s a well-known fact that several former CIA and FBI chiefs believed his life sentence was excessive, far exceeding Pollard’s treason in comparison to similar acts of espionage by other spies. The implication was that the sentence was so harsh because he was a Jew.
But in context of this Eye of Prophecy article, the most remarkable feature of Pollard’s recent pardon is that Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, who died in June, 2010, developed a close and supportive relationship with Pollard that lasted for some 20 years. After the rabbi’s death, Jonathan Pollard’s wife, Esther made public some intriguing messages from Rabbi Eliyahu, published by The Yeshiva World News on June 11, 2010. Among these writings, the late Rabbi predicted that Jonathan Pollard’s eventual release from prison (even though he didn’t know for sure that Pollard would ever be released) would be directly connected to the final redemption of Israel, of the Jewish people … brought about by the Messiah. Listen to these remarkable words from Rabbi Eliyahu speaking about Jonathan Pollard:
“You are a cosmic key to the redemption of the Jewish people. Your release is synonymous with the release of the Shechinah (the Divine presence) from galut (exile). Your release is tied up with the Moshiach Ben David’s (Messiah, son of David) return to the Land. Your release is bound to the redemption of the land and people of Israel.”
As already indicated in citing this and the previous listed events or signs that many rabbis have considered imminent precursors to Messiah’s arrival; none of them individually may be, in fact, directly associated with Messiah. But taken as a whole, the pattern demonstrated indisputably reflects the same kind of Messianic fervor that preceded the arrival of Jesus Christ, which resulted in a partition of time itself … from BC to AD.
Moreover, did you catch one amazingly crucial word in Rabbi Eliyahu’s statement? I don’t know if Mordecai Eliyahu was a Messianic Jew or not. Most likely he was not, as very few modern-day rabbis are; or if they do believe that Jesus is the Messiah, they’re not making it public.
Please read his statement again and see if you can find the one word that might suggest he had possibly considered that Jesus of Nazareth was/is the Messiah. Did you find it? Did you even look?!
If not, this is the word: RETURN.
That’s right. He said, “…with the Moshiach (Messiah) Ben David’s return to the Land.” With what could very well mean just what the rabbi meant to say: That Messiah had already appeared to Israel … in the Land. Messiah (Yeshua) is now ready to return, and usher in Israel’s redemption—symbolically represented by Pollard’s release from prison.
The main point: Virtually every recent significant event that involves Israel is being compared and connected directly to the end time arrival of Messiah! Just like what happened the first time that Christ came to this earth, born in Bethlehem of a virgin—the Son of God, the Son of David, and the Son of Man. The first time as the Lamb of God who died for the sins of the world. And soon, very soon, to return as the Lion from the Tribe of Judah to rescue Israel from total annihilation, to prevent the world from self-destruction, and to complete Israel’s redemption so that all of Israel (the remnant left from the Great Tribulation) will be saved, physically and spiritually.
Things to Ponder
When Messiah returns in power and great glory, all Israel will know that he is Jesus of Nazareth. They will rejoice like never before; they will fight ferociously alongside him while he leads them to a resounding victory over their enemies. But first they will mourn greatly, because they will fully realize that it was they who nailed Jesus to the Cross; no different than their ancestors and no different from all of us whose separation from God compelled Christ to redeem us by paying the penalty for our transgressions.
“…They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died. The sorrow and mourning in Jerusalem on that day will be like the great mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddo” (Zechariah 12:10-11).
Soon, I will turn 69 years of age (September 28th … day of the blood moon). Thanks to our Lord and Savior, my destiny in heaven is assured. My prayer and hope is that I will arrive there along with millions of believers taken in the magnificent Rapture. But if my translation to heaven is by way of death, then so be it. I will humbly say what Messiah Jesus said to God, his father, a short time before giving up his life for me (for you):
“…Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39).