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Keyboard and Mouse



Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!

Before we continue any further, I want us to consider the signs of the times found in our study of God’s Word so far. This is because we are called to understand them and not be like the hypocritical religious leaders in Jesus’ time who were not satisfied with those signs already given to them but demanded more. Ultimately, such individuals will never be convinced and will face the consequences of their unbelief.

We learnt earlier that we are reaching the end of the sixth millennium - AM 5982 (Mar 2023) in the calculation used here. If we go by the Jewish calendar, the year is 5783 but if we take into account the likelihood that there are 165 missing years in that calendar (unfortunately we don’t have time to get into this here), then this brings us to the Jewish year 5948 - which is close to our own calculation.

We further learnt that we are living in the 70th Jubilee cycle since the Israelites entered the Promised Land and in the 40th Jubilee cycle since Jesus’ first coming and birth of the Church, and that this could be the Final Jubilee cycle before He returns. Interestingly, Israel also celebrated in May 2018 70 years since its rebirth as a nation.

Lastly, in 2017, the Protestant Church celebrated 500 years since Luther’s proclamation. If Jesus first came about 530-odd years after Cyrus’ proclamation, going by that same time-frame, we could be looking at another 30-odd years before He returns. This fits in with our other indicators - all pointing to the next 20+ to 50+ years.

Now, some of you may object - did Jesus Himself not say that we will not know when He will return? That even He doesn’t know - only the Father knows - and that His coming will be like a thief in the night? I will address this in detail at the end of our entire study but at this point I just want to say that what we are doing here does not contradict what Jesus told us. We are not here to figure out exactly when Jesus is coming, to pinpoint the exact date of His return. But as the verses above suggest, we are expected to understand the signs of the times so that we know how near we are to His coming. Knowing how near is different from knowing the exact date, but it is also very different from saying that it could be now, in this generation, or a hundred generations from now, because that would make us wake up from our complacency.

So if we stop closing our minds and instead open our eyes, we will see that we are indeed the final generation. We are the ones Jesus spoke of when He said “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (Mt 24:34, Lk 21:32). No doubt many of us may pass away first before this happens, but the point here is that there will be those among us even now who will witness the events leading to Jesus’ return.

Going back to our other verse above, Jesus spoke of the sign of Jonah. In Mt 12:38-42, Jesus explained that this sign referred to His death and resurrection. But Jesus also mentioned how the men of Nineveh whom Jonah preached to repented, unlike the Jews of His day. Consequently, while the Ninevites were spared from God’s judgment which was supposed to come forty days later (Jon 3:4), for these unbelieving Jews, their end did come within their generation about forty years later with the Roman exile of 70 AD. Today, we are that generation to whom the sign of Jonah is once again given for a final time. We can either choose to repent and believe or continue ignoring the meaning of this and all the other signs I have listed here until it is too late.

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Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!

In our last session, we did an overview of the history of Israel - God’s Kingdom as revealed in the Old Testament. When we compare the history of the Church - God’s Kingdom as revealed in the New Testament and which Paul referred to as the Commonwealth of Israel in Eph 2:12 - against Israel we see a remarkable prophetic parallel between the two:

First, the generation during the time of Jesus’ twelve apostles mirrored the Joshua generation. Both were characterised by general faithfulness to God - the Church under the leadership of the Apostles and elders who witnessed Jesus’ acts firsthand; Israel under the leadership of Joshua and the elders who witnessed God’s acts firsthand.

Next, the period of the early Church Fathers. This era was similar to the period of the judges in that there was “no king” - no central scriptural authority defining what was Biblically or doctrinally correct, just as there was no central political authority in Israel then defining what was legally or morally correct. The Bible as we know it today was not decided upon until the 5th century. Consequently, everyone “did what was right in their own eyes” when it came to God’s Word, resulting in a cycle of false teachings and doctrines, convening of church councils to fight these errors, and a return to doctrinal truth until the next heresy hit, not unlike the cycles that defined the period of the judges.

Following that, we see the emergence of a human king combining both political, worldly power and spiritual authority with the dawn of the Christian Roman Empire and rise of the Roman Catholic Papacy. But while in the early years of Solomon we see Israel reflecting the rule and glory of God most fully with the completion of the Temple of God, in the Pope’s attempt to elevate himself above the other Church Patriarchs then, we see in the Church the rise of the rule of man and a monument/institution built to his own glory. We will elaborate on this in our later podcasts. This act ultimately led to the Great Schism of 1054 AD, marking the beginning of Day 6.

As the names implies, the Great Schism marked the beginning of division within the Church. Like the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, we see the separation of the Eastern Orthodox and Western Roman Catholic Church, followed by Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, the various denominations, denominational vs non-denominational, charismatic vs non-charismatic and so forth.

At the same time, Christians were - and continue to be - taken into spiritual exile and slavery as it were by the growing apostasy and corruption of the Church. In his work The Babylonian Captivity of the Church written almost 500 years ago, Martin Luther pointed out that just as the Jews were carried away from Jerusalem into captivity under the oppression of the Babylonian Empire, so in Europe during his time Christians had been carried away from the Scriptures and made subject to the power of the Roman Catholic Papacy through various unscriptural practices. This spread of deception and misuse of religious authority throughout the worldwide Church will only grow more and more as we reach the end of Day 6 with the revealing of the Antichrist.

But just as God restored the faithful among the Jews after a season of discipline, He restores the faithful among the Church in His Kairos. As in the days of Cyrus, God released His Rhema through Luther’s proclamation of the basic doctrines of faith, grace and scripture alone. This triggered the beginning of the return of God’s people back to His truth as found in the Bible with the Protestant Reformation of 1517, something that continues even today amidst the growing darkness both in the Church and in the world - until the fullness of the Gentiles is reached.

And then, in His Kairos, God Himself will return as Jesus the King of Kings. Amen, Come Lord Jesus (Rev 22:20).

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Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!

In our last session, we saw the importance of kingship, love and obedience in the kingdom life of God’s nation and His people. When we examine Israel’s history from the time of Yehoshua (Joshua) to Yeshua (Jesus), we find that failure in precisely these areas was what ultimately led to the country’s downfall.

It didn’t start out this way though. Following the Exodus and wilderness years, we are told that the Israelites under Joshua served God all the days of their lives (Jos 24:31).

However, when a new generation arose, they neither knew God nor what He had done for Israel. Because they did not acknowledge Him as King and instead worshipped the idols of the peoples around them, God disciplined the Israelites by allowing their enemies to force them to a point of repentance. Each time they cried out to God for help, He was faithful to raise up a judge or leader to deliver them and give them rest from their enemies. The people would remain faithful until that judge died, and then a new generation would arise to repeat this vicious cycle. The book of Judges summed it up with this statement - “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit” (Judg 17:6, 18:1, 19:1, 21:25).

Despite three centuries of going through the same cycle of idolatry, oppression, repentance and deliverance, the Israelites still did not acknowledge God as their True King; instead, they longed to be like the nations around them and demanded for a human king.

Israel existed as one united kingdom for 120 years and reached its peak in the early years of King Solomon’s rule. When Solomon completed the First Temple in Jerusalem in AM 3000 - the start of Day 4 or the Fourth Millennium - Israel was finally fully equipped to serve as the lesser light drawing all nations to worship God on His holy mountain. But this was not to be. Unlike his father David who was after God’s own heart, Solomon loved women more than he loved God. This eventually led to idolatry with disastrous consequences for the nation. Israel will only recover its former glory when Jesus returns to rule from Mt Zion during the Millennium.

But for now, the once united and powerful kingdom became divided and severely weakened after Solomon’s death. Both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah became vulnerable to foreign powers, tempted to make compromises and fell into idolatry, corruption and injustice. And as we will see later on, both rejected the warnings of the Prophets.

God eventually punished both kingdoms and exiled the Israelites for their sins - the Northern Kingdom of Israel to Assyria in 722 BC, and Judah to Babylon in 586 BC. As mentioned before, the land rested for 70 years during the Babylonian exile to make up for all the years that Israel did not keep the Sabbatical and Jubilee cycles. God disciplined Israel but also set a definite time frame after which He would restore His people according to His mercy and faithfulness, and deal with His enemies according to His holiness and righteousness.

So, in His Kairos in 538 BC, God released His Rhema - amazingly, through a pagan king, Cyrus - who issued a proclamation allowing the Jews to return to the Promised Land to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.

And, in His Kairos about 530-odd years after that, God Himself would come to His people as a man, the Logos Word made flesh, Jesus, the Messiah and Greater Light, Lord and Saviour of the World.

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