A Jewish Doctor Prays for His Patient. An Unusual Case of Abdominal Pain.

The limousine pulled into the driveway of a small Georgetown mansion. Ben Kaplan and Joe Trujillo, Ben’s Nurse Practitioner, got out and were directed inside the house to a large combination bedroom and sitting room at the rear of the first floor. A tall elderly man with military bearing invited the 2 visitors to be seated and immediately began his story.

“I very much appreciate your both coming up to D.C. to see me. George, my son-in-law, thought it best. You see, I have this strange abdominal pain and doctors at Bethesda Naval Hospital can’t seem to figure it out. My primary care physician doesn’t know what’s wrong so he referred me to a gastroenterologist. She seemed quite puzzled and referred me to a general surgeon who was equally without a clue. George then arranged for consultations at George Washington Medical Center. No answers there either. One specialist at GWMC told me to go back to my PCP as my problems, he told me, were more of a general nature. So I did that but my PCP said he didn’t know what to do anymore than he did when I first went to see him. He suggested another specialist. Now you may know that I’m a retired Navy Admiral. When there was a problem on my ship, if nobody else knew what to do they came to me. I had to deal with it. The buck stopped with me. And I was usually able to think things through and come up with some sort of plan. I was usually able to grab the bull by the horns as they say, and move forward. My doctors however have not been able to do that.”

“Admiral Smyth, it’s very nice to meet you,” said Ben. “Please tell Joe and me about your pain.”

“It’s a dull but intense ache in the center of my abdomen. I’ve had it for about 6 months and it’s getting worse. But here’s the funny thing. It only comes on when I walk. As long as I walk at a brisk pace it stays with me. When I stop the pain fades away fairly rapidly. I may be 90 years old but I still like to be active. I play golf and I like to walk instead of using the golf cart. But I just can’t manage that anymore because of this pain and nobody seems to know what in the name of all that is wonderful the problem is.

“I’ve had tests galore. They’ve looked down from above into my stomach and they’ve looked up from below into my colon, all with scopes of course. I’ve had an abdominal sonogram and an abdominal CAT scan. Nothing was found on any of these tests according to my doctors. I’ve had tons of blood work and also urine tests. No answers,” said Admiral Smyth.

“Admiral, have you ever had a blockage of an artery anywhere in your body?” asked Ben.

“I had a blocked carotid artery in my right neck. They found that after I had an episode of weakness on the left side of my body. It lasted only minutes. They called it a TIA. The artery was surgically unclogged. They called the procedure an endarterectomy. That was 8 years ago. I’ve never had another TIA. Then I had chest pain about 5 years ago. They found a blocked coronary artery and put a stent in it. No trouble since. And I had a blocked artery in my right thigh. I was getting pain in my right leg when I walked. They did a bypass to correct that, about 3 years ago. I think they called the operation a femoral-popliteal bypass. It worked. No more trouble,” said the Admiral.

“Joe, do you have any questions for the Admiral?” asked Ben.

“Sir, have you ever been a tobacco user and are you currently on cholesterol lowering medication?” said Joe.

“I quit cigarettes 15 years ago Joe. I was a 2 pack per day smoker. I do take a statin drug for my cholesterol,” said the Admiral. “I think you have copies of all my test results.”

“We do sir. Your blood and urine results are remarkably good,” said Joe.

“Can we do a physical examination on you Admiral?” asked Ben.

“Of course,” said Admiral Smyth.

Ben and Joe then did a hands on physical examination on their patient. The only abnormal finding was that of slightly reduced pulses in both feet.

Ben was now ready to have a conference with Admiral Smyth.

“Admiral, Joe and I would like talk about your case with you present. Is that OK?” said Ben.

“Yes indeed, Dr. Kaplan. Go right ahead,” said Admiral Smyth.

“Thanks Admiral. Joe, I believe that the answer to the Admiral’s case is to be discerned entirely from his medical history. The fact that his abdominal pain comes on when he walks suggests to me that the pain is due to lack of blood flow to his abdominal organs,” said Ben.

“Ben, are you saying that because when the Admiral walks, his leg muscles demand more blood flow, and that because of that increased demand for blood by his legs there is then a reduction of blood flow to his abdomen?” asked Joe.

Admiral Smyth then piped in excitedly, dropping all formalities. “Ben, are you saying that my leg muscles, when I walk, are stealing blood from my intestines and that this lack of blood is causing my abdominal pain?”

“Exactly Admiral! You’re a genius sir! When you walk, the lack of blood and the oxygen that it carries is being shunted away, or stolen, from the arteries that supply your intestines and instead is delivered to your legs. There isn’t enough blood flow to adequately supply both your legs and your abdominal organs when you’re walking. This is causing you to have ischemia of your abdominal organs. That ischemia causes pain. We call that pain abdominal angina.” said Ben.

“Ischemia, doctor? What is that? And how do you pronounce it?” asked Admiral Smyth.

“It’s pronounced isskeemia Admiral. It’s what happens when the flow of blood, with the oxygen that it carries, is reduced. So ischemic colitis occurs when the colon is deprived of blood. Ischemic heart disease, which can cause chest pain or angina, occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscle is reduced. That occurs when coronary arteries are blocked,” said Ben.

“Ben, doesn’t your theory require the presence of an artery or arteries connecting the abdominal circulation with the circulation to the legs?” said Joe.

“It sure does Joe. You’re right on target! One or more of the three major arteries that come off the aorta in the abdomen to supply blood to the stomach and intestines are likely blocked. Let’s just refer to those organs, the stomach and intestines, as the gut. Sometimes a small artery or even a network of small arteries run between one or both of the internal iliac arteries, which supply blood to the legs, and one or more of the 3 arteries that supply blood to the gut,” said Ben.

“Ben, are you describing collateral circulation?” asked Joe.

“Exactly Joe,” said Ben. “These small arteries, collateral arteries, can enlarge and become a vascular bridge between the gut circulation and the leg circulation when those circulations have chronically reduced blood flow due to atherosclerotic blockages. So when the legs demand more blood as they do when a patient walks, there is less blood available to the gut through the collateral vessels. That causes ischemia of the gut and the pain that results is called abdominal angina.

“So what do we do Ben? How do we move forward?” asked Admiral Smyth.

“We need an imaging study to definitively map out the circulation in your abdomen and pelvis. Because your kidney function is slightly abnormal I’m going to recommend a magnetic resonance angiogram, an MRA, with gadolinium as the contrast agent. I think that will give us the detail we need to map out your circulation including the collateral arteries. Gadolinium is easier on your kidneys than the contrast agent we use for CAT scan imaging of arteries.

“After this MRA study has been completed we’ll know what your options for treatment are,” said Ben.

“Ben, you’ve given me hope. You’ve listened to my story and come up with a hypothesis to explain my pain as well as a plan for the next step. You know Ben, I don’t know why the other doctors that I saw could not have done this. It seems to me that a doctor needs to work through the tough cases like mine and not just refer out all but the easiest cases.

“Ben, can I ask you a personal question?” said Admiral Smyth.

“Sure, Admiral,” said Ben.

“What is the most important thing in the world. What is the thing against which everything else, everything, pales in importance?” asked the Admiral.

“That’s an easy one Admiral. A personal relationship with the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the most important thing,” said Ben.

“You don’t know how glad I am to hear you say that Ben! None of my other doctors are Christians. George told me you’re a Christian, a Jewish believer in Yeshua, but I wanted to hear it for myself. I’ve known the Lord Jesus for 60 years now,” said the Admiral.

“I’m so glad to know that Admiral,” said Ben.

“Now, if you and Joe will just wait a minute, George wants to thank you for coming up from South Carolina, and I think he also wants your opinion on the pre-tribulation rapture,” said the Admiral.

“Sure. And we’ll talk with you further soon, Admiral,” said Ben. “But Admiral, how about a word of prayer before Joe and I leave you?”

“I would really like that, Ben!” said the Admiral.

The three men joined hands and Ben asked the LORD to provide peace and a good outcome for Admiral Smyth. All three men then praised God.

*

On the trip home

“That was quite a case Ben. How do you know George or should I say POTUS? How did he decide to call you up here to see his father- in-law?” asked Joe.

“We were classmates in college Joe. It was good to see him again after all these years,” said Ben.

*

3 weeks later

“Great news Joe! The Admiral just called. He is doing really well. Two of the three arteries to his gut were completely closed off, but the middle artery of the three, the superior mesenteric artery, was not completely blocked and a stent was inserted into it. That increased blood flow to the gut enough so that he is no longer dependent on blood flow through the collateral arteries and he can now walk without any abdominal pain. He started back on the golf course this week!

“The Admiral also sends thanks and regards to us both from George,” said Ben.

“Fantastic! Thanks, Ben,” said Joe.

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A Rabbi Comes Closer to Accepting Jesus. Another Jewel From the Shema.

Today’s meeting promised to be an exciting one. Rabbi Jonah Greenberg, Ben Kaplan, and Ben’s three medical students, Sarah, Josh, and Matt, were all gathered together in Ben’s office. They had all done their homework and were ready to present information on the all important question: Does the Shema support One God with a plural or complex nature?

Ben opened the discussion.

“Let’s look at the Shema again. I have it written on the whiteboard in English, in an English transliteration of the Hebrew, and in Hebrew:

Deuteronomy 6:4 1. HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.

Shemah Yisrael Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echad

שׁמע ישׂראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד׃

“Last week, Jonah explained the significance of the Shemah when he said ‘These words, recited morning and evening in the synagogue represent the core of what it means to be a Jew. God is One. There is, simply put , no polytheism in Judaism and Moses made that abundantly clear to the Nation of Israel before the people entered the Promised Land’.

“In addition we made a strong case that the word echad means one but not an indivisible one. There is a Hebrew word for an indivisible one and that word is yachid. Echad means one but it is clearly a complex one and we gave a number of examples of this from the Hebrew Scriptures. There are an enormous number of additional examples.

“Thus echad was the first portion of our “case” that the Shema speaks of a God who is most definitely One but He is a complex One. He is a single God with a plural nature,” said Ben.

“I’m with you Ben. Echad is a complex one. So God being called Echad could definitely mean that God is a complex One,” said Rabbi Greenberg.

“Thanks, Jonah. Let’s now take a look at the word Elohenu, written in bold above, and see where that takes us,” said Ben. “Then, we’re going to discuss Dr. David Cooper’s take on all this, OK?”

The Rabbi, and Sarah, Josh, and Matt, all nodded their agreement.

“Now, as we said before, Elohenu is a masculine plural construct noun. That is not controversial,” said Ben.

“Ben, I’ve studied Hebrew for many years and I agree. Elohenu is a plural noun. It is the first person plural possessive of Elohim and so it is essentially the same word as Elohim which everyone knows is a plural noun. No orthodox Jew would debate that. We orthodox Jews consider Elohim, the first word for God in the Torah, to represent the prerogative of a supreme ruler to refer to Himself in the plural form. It’s like a human king saying to his subjects We command you to do this or that. So I don’t see the significance of Elohenu being plural in your argument,” said the Rabbi.

“Jonah, I think that the point here is that Elohenu, a plural noun, cannot be explained by the majestic plural. It just can’t work that way in the Shema,” said Ben.

“Why can’t it work in the Shema, Dr. Kaplan?” asked Matt.

“The LORD gives Moses further instructions for the Children of Israel as they are about to enter the Promised Land.  Let me paraphrase the relevant verse.  Because I hope to make this as understandable as possible, I’m going to paraphrase this as if the instructions were being given to Jewish people today.  And I’m going to put some additional words in parentheses to further facilitate understanding, to make things as clear as possible.  I’m putting it on the whiteboard now.

We (the LORD, using the majestic plural, is speaking to Moses, the Leader and Lawgiver of Israel) command you (Moses) to tell the children of Israel (God wants all Jews everywhere to know what He is about to say) to speak the following twice daily in the synagogue: The LORD Our God (Our God meaning the God of the Children of Israel) is One.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t see any way that the majestic plural has any possible place, grammatically or otherwise, in the translation of Elohenu. The majestic plural simply does not fit into Our God. There is just no way,” said Ben.

“I think you’re right Ben!” said the Rabbi. “But I have a question. Why is Elohenu, a plural noun, always translated as our God in the Tanach?”

“May I speak?” asked Josh and then, in an excited voice, proceeded to do so. “I don’t know Hebrew. But, I’m blessed to be able to use software that at least partially overcomes this lack of knowledge. Elohenu is translated our gods, meaning pagan gods of course, in the Tanach in Isaiah 42:17:

Isaiah 42:17 (ESV) They are turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, “You are our gods.”

“This is great research, Josh. Jonah, what do you think about all this?” said Ben.

“I’m impressed,” said the Rabbi.

“OK, how about we get an opinion now on Dr. Cooper’s work on the Shema?” asked Ben. “Sarah, please share your research with us.”

“For sure, Dr. Kaplan,” said Sarah. “Matt, could you lead off please?”

“Sure, Sarah. Straight and simple, here is how Dr. Cooper translates the Shema, literally. I’m writing it on the whiteboard now,” said Matt.

“Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our Gods is Jehovah a unity.”

The Rabbi was quick to speak up. “Ben, I don’t buy that translation for one second. Do you?”

“No Jonah. I don’t.

“Jonah, I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Cooper. He was a great scholar. He profoundly loved the Jewish people. His works are phenomenal and have helped me personally. But, although his translation of the Shema may be literally correct, Dr. Cooper is missing the point in this case. Our God is a plural God. Our God has a complex nature. But our God is emphatically One.

“And, the correct translation of the Shema is what we said it was earlier, as it is still written on the whiteboard,” said Ben.

HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.

“Jonah, are you getting closer to accepting the notion that God could be three persons making up one complex God?” said Ben.

“I am Ben, I definitely am. I’m not quite there yet however. I need to pray and think about all this. I’d like to come back in a few weeks. Is that OK?” asked Jonah.

“I think we are all more than OK with that,” said Ben.

Josh, Matt, and Sarah vigorously nodded their agreement.

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Can a Rabbi Believe in Jesus? What the Shema Can Tell Us.

“Hi, I’m looking for the office of Dr. Benjamin Kaplan,” said the young man.

The man was tall and appeared to be about 30 years old. He wore a black frock coat, a black Homburg hat, and had a full black beard. Instead of typical sideburns he had peyes; they were long, full, and spiral. He wore a smile and looked to be approachable.

Dr. Kaplan’s receptionist, Denise, answered. “You’re in the right place. Are you Rabbi Jonah Greenberg?”

“Yes, I am. I’m Sarah’s friend,” said the Rabbi.

“You must be here for the weekly meeting,” said Denise. “Please, come with me Rabbi.”

*

“Shalom, Rabbi Greenberg,” said Ben Kaplan. “We are so glad that you’re here today. Of course you know Sarah. Let me introduce you to Josh and Matt.”

Ben made the introductions, and the Rabbi took a seat.

“Rabbi, Sarah said that you have some concerns but she didn’t tell me what they were. Do you feel comfortable sharing your concerns with the four of us? Of course you know Sarah is Jewish and I’m Jewish. Josh and Matt are Gentile and are believers in Jesus,” said Ben.

“I’m comfortable sharing, Dr. Kaplan. I want to know about Jesus, or Yeshua as you call him. I’m told that you believe he is God. I don’t understand how that could be. If Jesus is God, then who is my heavenly Father? Certainly He, my heavenly Father, is King of the Universe and He is my God. Do you believe in my Father and King, God of heaven and earth, and LORD of the universe?” asked Rabbi Greenberg.

“I certainly do believe in Him, Rabbi,” answered Ben.

“Do you believe in one God? Do you believe in monotheism, Dr. Kaplan?” said the Rabbi. “Do you know the Shema?”

“Rabbi, I want to tell you something before I answer. I sense that your questions are sincere and that you want to know the truth.

“Rabbi, I know the Shema and I definitely believe in one God. I also believe that Yeshua, who is the Messiah, is God and I believe that my heavenly Father and King is also God. God is One but He is a complex One. He is One God in three persons,” said Ben.

“Now you’re including the Holy Spirit, Ruach HaKodesh. He is God too, Dr. Kaplan?” asked the Rabbi.

“Yes, Rabbi. He is God too, the third person of the one triune God,” said Ben.

“Can you prove this to me?” said the Rabbi.

“I believe I can, Rabbi, and I’d like to begin making the case using the Shema,” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, it would be truly amazing if you could do that by using the Shema. I’m all ears,” said the Rabbi.

“OK, Rabbi. Let’s start by looking at the Shema, first in English and then in Hebrew”, said Ben.

With burning curiosity, Josh exclaimed. “Rabbi, what is the Shema?”

“Josh, the Shema was given to the children of Israel by the LORD through Moses. You will find it in the Tanach in Deuteronomy 6:4, which says:

Deuteronomy 6:4 1. HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.

“Josh, these words, recited morning and evening in the synagogue represent the core essence of what it means to be a Jew. God is One. There is, simply put , no polytheism in Judaism and Moses made that abundantly clear to the Nation of Israel before the people entered the Promised Land.

“Dr. Kaplan, can I use your white board?” asked the Rabbi?

“Of course, Rabbi,” said Ben.

The Rabbi quickly wrote on the board.

“The transliteration of the Shema from the Hebrew is:

Shemah Yisrael Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echad

“And in Hebrew the Shema looks like this,” said the Rabbi.

שׁמע ישׂראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד׃

“So, the Shema essentially defines Judaism. It is the most emphatic statement that God is One. Do I have it right, Rabbi?” said Matt.

“You’ve got it Matt!” said Rabbi Greenberg.

“And I could not agree more!” said Ben Kaplan. “But I want to ask a question at this point. Could One have more than one meaning?”

“What do you mean, Dr. Kaplan?” said Sarah.

Ben stepped up to the white board and rewrote Elohenu and Echad so that they alone were in bold.

“I want you all to please focus on the two words that are now the only ones in bold.

Shemah Yisrael Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echad

שׁמע ישׂראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד׃

“Now let me try to explain. Let’s look at the word Elohenu in bold above, the third word from the end, in both English and Hebrew. No expert in Hebrew grammar would deny that this word is a masculine plural construct noun. So it seems to me that Elohenu is a plural One.

“And Echad, the last word in each sentence, means One but it is often a complex one,” said Ben. “Let me give you some examples. I’ve italicized the pertinent words.”

Genesis 2:24 (ESV) Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Numbers 7:27 (ESV) one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering;

Numbers 13:23 (ESV) And they came to the Valley of Eshcol and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two of them; they also brought some pomegranates and figs.

Exodus 26:6 (ESV) And you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains one to the other with the clasps, so that the tabernacle may be a single whole.

“There are a great many other examples I could give today but I want to give just one more because in a way, it especially agrees with the use of Echad in the Shema. The verse speaks of the future time of the Messianic Kingdom:

Zechariah 14:9 (ESV) And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one.

“Rabbi, you are an expert in the Hebrew language, so I don’t know that I have any explaining to do to you. But for the benefit of my students, I’m going to explain. Each word printed in italics in the above verses is echad in Hebrew and has the cardinality of one whether it be the word one or whether it be the word single. In each verse the single unit described is made up of more than one component yet it is still single or one. A husband and wife become one flesh. One bull, one ram, and one male lamb, become one offering. Many grapes comprise a single cluster. Components of the tabernacle combine to make a single whole. And lastly the LORD who is going to be King over all the earth, is a plural One and His Name, Hashem, is a plural name.

“There are hundreds of examples like this in the Tanach. But what about a one that has no complexity. What about a single unit that can have no distinguishable separate components?” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, you are talking about the word yachid and it is used very infrequently in the Tanach. Let me give you an example and I will identify this word, in English and in Hebrew, in italics to make it easy for your students to follow.

Genesis 22:2 (ESV) He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Genesis 22:2 (Hebrew OT)

ויאמר קח־נא את־בנך את־יחידך אשׁר־אהבת את־יצחק ולך־לך אל־ארץ המריה והעלהו שׁם לעלה על אחד ההרים אשׁר אמר אליך׃

“So when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, his one and only son, God used the word yachid, “ said Rabbi Greenberg. “Do you agree with me Dr. Kaplan?”

“Yes!” said Ben.

Matt had a question. “Didn’t Abraham have two sons at this point? Didn’t he have both Ishmael and Isaac as sons? So why is Isaac, Abraham’s one and only son?”

“Dr. Kaplan, do you mind if I answer that question?”

“Not at all Rabbi,” said Ben.

“Matt, Isaac was the son of promise, the son who God gave to Abraham through Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Through Isaac came Jacob and through Jacob came the 12 tribes of Israel. And it is through one tribe, the tribe of Judah and later through King David that God promised that the Messiah would come. This line of inheritance could come through one, and only one, son. That is the reason that Isaac was Abraham’s one and only son,” explained the Rabbi.

“What a great explanation, Rabbi. Now I have a question for you. When the Rambam, Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, formulated his 13 Cardinal Principles of the Jewish Faith he said that God is an absolute indivisable unity. But if that is the case, would not God have used yachid in the Shema rather than echad? Why didn’t the Rambam, Maimonides, say that?” said Ben. “Surely what Maimonides said has influenced many millions of Jews over the centuries,” said Ben.

“You know, that is a very interesting question, Ben. May I call you Ben?” said the Rabbi.

“Please do call me Ben. And I’ll call you Jonah if that is OK with you,” said Ben.

“Absolutely, Ben!” said the Rabbi.

“Well, I think we’ve established something today. The Shema refers to God as echad and that means that God could be a complex single God, a complex unity. I do not see this as contradicting any basic tenets of Judaism.

“But there is another word in the Shema that we must investigate. That word is Elohenu and as we noted earlier it is a plural noun. What might that signify?

“Sarah, before our next meeting, I’d like you to go online to www.biblicalresearch.info and see what Dr. David L. Cooper had to say about the Shema. Would you do that please?” said Ben.

“I can’t wait to do it Dr. Kaplan! And if you don’t mind, I’m going to ask Josh and Matt to help me with that assignment,” said Sarah.

“Great Sarah.

“Jonah, could you join us for our next meaning? And would you close us in prayer today” asked Ben.

“I look forward to that next meeting, Ben,” responded the Rabbi. “And let me pray the Aaronic benediction over all of you right now.”

The Rabbi recited the blessing from Numbers, chapter 6.

24 The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

“Thanks, Jonah! See you all next week,” said Ben.

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Does the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4) Help to Support One Triune God?

Yes it does, with two Hebrew words.

Our God, Elohenu (אֱלֹהֵינוּ), is a masculine plural construct noun.

One, Echad (אֶחָד), is a singular word but is often used to describe a single thing which has more than one part.

More about this, in the next full post, coming soon.

The Shema:

Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָֹה אֶחָד

(Bold added by author to help the non-Hebrew reader more easily see the two key words discussed in this post).

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A Muslim Student is Saved! Questions About Islam, Part II

“It’s great to be here again, Dr. Kaplan,” said Sarah. “I’m really excited about our topic today.”

“It’s great to see you too Sarah, as well as all the rest of you. How are you Josh, Matt, and Hassan?” said Ben.

Josh spoke for all four students. “We’re looking forward to gaining an understanding today about why so many Arab nations are hateful toward Israel and the Jews.”

“And for that matter, I’d like to know why they hate Christians too,” said Matt.

“But Dr. Kaplan, it is not just Arab nations that are involved. My family is from Iran and we are not Arabs. We are Muslims however,” said Hassan.

“Absolutely Hassan. Islam started in Arabia, the home of Muhammad, but it spread widely and there are many Islamic nations that are not Arab nations.

“We do indeed have some difficult things to discuss today,” said Ben. “But first, I want us all to remember that the most important thing we can ever do is lead people who do not know the Lord Jesus to saving faith in Him. Anything else we talk about here pales in significance compared to that. Do you understand that Josh, Matt, and Sarah?”

“We certainly do, Dr. Kaplan,” responded all three.

“But what about me, Dr. Kaplan? Don’t I get to believe in Yeshua too?” said Hassan.

“Most definitely Hassan! But are you ready to accept Him?” asked Ben.

“Believe it or not, I think I’m getting close! I’ve been thinking about Yeshua constantly since our last meeting. In fact, I want you to ask me again if I am ready to accept Him after we finish today’s discussion, OK?” said Hassan.

“I promise you that I will not forget to ask you!” said Ben.

“OK. Let’s start our discussion by defining some terms. Islam is the religion practiced by Muslims. The holy book of Islam is the Qu’ran. The Quran is to Islam what the Bible, comprised of Old and New Testaments, is to Christianity, and what the Tanach, the Old Testament, is to Judaism. Like the Bible, the Qu’ran teaches that there is one God. Islam is a monotheistic religion,” said Ben.

“So the three great religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all have one God. How do we know which religion is the right one? Or could they all be right?” asked Hassan.

“Yes, Dr. Kaplan, why couldn’t they all be right?” asked Sarah.

“Great questions!” said Ben. “I believe there are clear answers. Let me try to explain. Jews and Christians both believe the Old Testament, so there is no disagreement there, although Christians and Jews do not interpret all of the Old Testament in the same way. But those Jews who do not accept Jesus as their Messiah, the vast majority of Jews, do not believe the New Testament. What about Islam? Islam teaches that the Bible, but not the Bible we have today, is the inspired word of God. Islam teaches that all Bibles today are the product of corrupted translations from the original languages and are wrong. Although we might discuss this issue in the future, I need to tell you emphatically now that this is completely wrong and there is an enormous amount of evidence to back up what I am saying.

“Practicing Muslims certainly do believe the Qu’ran so we need to examine the Qu’ran. The Qu’ran definitely disagrees with the Bible so one of those two books is wrong. That’s why all “three great religions” cannot be right.

“Let’s look at some passages from the Bible and from the Qu’ran today and compare them. We’ll look at passages that talk about salvation, about how God forgives our sins.

“We’ll look at the Bible first,” said Ben.

Leviticus 17:11 (ESV) For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

“In this Old Testament verse, God is telling us about the need for a substitutionary sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. This is the reason that animals were slaughtered daily by the Jews in ancient times. The blood of the sacrifice provided atonement for sins. This forgiveness of sins was not permanent however. Each new sin committed required a new blood sacrifice. But an important principle was established by God. A blood sacrifice, the death of a living being, was required for forgiveness of sins.

Romans 5:8-10 (ESV) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

“These New Testament verses also speak of a blood sacrifice, a much better one. The Son of God, Yeshua the Messiah, was sacrificed one time, on the cross. His death and shed blood provide permanent forgiveness of sins for all who accept Him as Lord and Savior because His sacrifice is perfect. But there is something in addition to forgiveness of sins that is provided. Just as the Son died on the cross, He was resurrected to life. We who believe this are included in what happened to Jesus on the cross. We are baptized into His death. Water baptism is a picture of this true spiritual baptism. We see this explained in Romans, chapter 6.

Romans 6:3-5 (ESV) Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

“We died in Christ when we believed and we were born again to newness of life. We are now slaves to righteousness rather than slaves to sin. The Jewish Messiah, the God-Man, did this for us at great cost, at an incalculable cost.

“Let’s now look at two verses from the Qu’ran, from surah 2,” said Ben.

“159 Those who conceal the evidence of the truth and the guidance We have revealed, after We have made them clear to people in the Scripture, will be rejected by God and so do others.

160 But from those who repent and mend their ways and make known the truth, I will certainly accept their repentance: I am the Ever Relenting, the Most Merciful.1

“Verse 159 explains that those who go against the teaching of the Qu’ran, who sin, will be rejected by God. But verse 160 explains that Allah will forgive those who sin if they repent and change their ways because Allah is most merciful. No mention is made, here or elsewhere in the Qu’ran, of the need for a substitutionary blood sacrifice for God to forgive sins,” concluded Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, why does God require a substitutionary sacrifice in order to forgive sins?” said Hassan.

“Let me explain, Hassan. God is perfect and His Law is perfect. So when a person breaks God’s Law, He requires the punishment that His Law demands. That punishment is death. Only by this punishment, capital punishment, can perfect justice be rendered. God can have nothing less than perfect justice because He is God and God is perfect. But God is also love. He loves us so much that He provided a substitute to die in our place. God sent His own Son, Jesus the Messiah, who is equal to God, to bear the penalty for the sins of all of us so that instead of death we can have eternal life,” said Ben.

“And Allah just forgives sins because he is merciful, without requiring a blood sacrifice?” said Sarah. “Isn’t that OK?”

“I’m afraid not Sarah. In order to forgive the transgression, the penalty required by God’s Law must be paid. A blood sacrifice, a death, is required. A life for a life. Do you see the divine symmetry here?” said Ben.

“I think I do,” said Sarah.

“Why doesn’t Allah require what the God of the Bible requires?” asked Matt.

“Matt, do you remember that at our last meeting Hassan showed us that Allah, the god of the Qu’ran, contradicts himself? Well, just as the one true God cannot contradict Himself, the one true God cannot forgive sin without demanding perfect justice and perfect justice means the sinner must die,” said Ben. “The only way around that is to accept Yeshua, Jesus, as your substitute. Either He pays the price for you by His death or you pay the price by your own death.”

Hassan spoke up. “How could Allah be God and be less than perfect?”

“He can’t be, Hassan. Allah is not God and the Qu’ran is not a divinely inspired book. I’m afraid that the religion of Islam, the god Allah, and the holy book called the Qu’ran, are all satanically inspired and they are all false. There is no other way I can say it, Hassan. I can only speak the truth,” said Ben.

“So why do Muslims hate Jews?” asked Sarah.

“Sarah, not all Muslims hate Jews. There are millions who do not hate Jews. But Islam and its holy book, the Qu’ran, teach hatred of Christians and Jews and worse,” said Ben.

“Couldn’t those Muslims that don’t hate Jews and Christians modernize the religion of Islam, rewrite the Qu’ran, and remain Muslims?” asked Sarah.

“I’m afraid not Sarah, not if they want to know the true God. He has ordained only one way of coming to Him and that is through His Son, Yeshua the Messiah,” said Ben.

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

“But why are so many Muslims deceived? It is so sad. I have a number of Muslim friends and I love them. I don’t want them to die separated from the true God,” said Josh.

“Do you remember from previous meetings that there is an adversary of our souls? His name is Satan. He has other names too. One of them is the thief. Look at what Jesus said about him,” said Ben.

John 10:9-11 (ESV) I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Hassan burst out. “There is such a contrast between Jesus and Allah! This cannot possibly be fiction! Dr. Kaplan, I believe! You don’t have to ask me again if I want to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior! I want to accept Him and I want to accept Him now!”

Hassan prayed.

“Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for me. Thank you for paying the price for my sins. Thank you that I now have eternal life instead of eternal death. Please come into my heart now and be with me forever and also please save baba and maman, and my sisters and my brothers. Thank you Lord!”

“Wow! I am so blessed!” said Sarah. “You are now my brother in Christ! How wonderful! I so look forward to all of us having fellowship together.”

“Absolutely!” said Josh.

Ben spoke. “Having you all here today has been a tremendous encouragent to me! We must get the word of truth and love out to Muslim people anyway we can. I know that it’s not easy. I’m so glad that you brought Hassan to this group!”

“See you all next week,” said Ben.

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Questions About Islam, Part I

“Hi Dr. Kaplan.  I hope you don’t mind that we’ve brought another student with us today,” said Matt.

“Of course I don’t mind.  In fact I know Hassan Taqizadeh. Glad to have you with us Hassan!  How is your father?  Is he still doing cardiac surgery?” said Ben.

“Yes he is sir.  He is well and sends his regards,” said Hassan.

“Dr. Kaplan, Hassan has some real concerns about the Islamic faith.  Could we talk about that today?” said Josh.

“Sure we can.  I’ve just finished reading the Quran for the first time and I’d love to talk about Islam,” said Ben.  “Hassan, is there a particular question that you have?”

“Yes, there is.  My greatest concern is how I can get to heaven after I die.  I’m not sure that I can accept what Allah says in the Quran about that,” said Hassan.

“My understanding is that the Quran teaches that a Muslim can get to heaven if his good deeds outweigh his bad deeds in Allah’s judgment.  Because a believer can’t know this before judgment day he lives with uncertainty all his life as to where he will spend eternity, whether in heaven or in hell.  This was true even for Muhammad.  But there is another way according to the Quran.  And that way allows the believer to know that he is going to heaven.  That way is to die fighting for Islam.  Is that what’s bothering you Hassan?” said Ben.

“Yes, Dr. Kaplan.  Can I read you 3 Quranic verses that speak to this?  I’m reading from surah 47:4-6,” said Hassan.

“[47:4]  If you encounter (in war) those who disbelieve, you may strike the necks. If you take them as captives you may set them free or ransom them, until the war ends. Had GOD willed, He could have granted you victory, without war. But He thus tests you by one another. As for those who get killed in the cause of GOD, He will never put their sacrifice to waste.

[47:5]  He will guide them, and bless them with contentment.

[47:6]  He will admit them into Paradise, that He described to them.”

 “Dr. Kaplan, can you understand why this upsets me?  According to the Quran the only sure way to be admitted into Paradise, heaven, is to die in the cause of God in a war against non-Muslims; Allah could have granted victory without war but he chose not to.  He uses war to test Muslims.  So if as I’m striking the neck of my enemy someone kills me my reward is guaranteed.  I will spend eternity in Paradise. It seems to me that these verses encourage war and killing by Muslims.  Would a religion of peace have such a teaching?” said Hassan.

“Hassan, I can understand why this upsets you.  I think there are a couple of issues that we need to address here.  One of them involves how the Quran is interpreted.  The second involves whether most Muslims know what the Quran actually says,” said Ben.

Josh spoke.  “The Quranic verses above seem very clear.  Isn’t there only one way to interpret them Dr. Kaplan?”

“I wouldn’t say that Josh.  Hassan, can you tell us what the doctrine of abrogation is?” asked Ben.

“Sure, Dr. Kaplan.  I’m going to read a verse from surah 2 and a verse from surah 9.  There are 114 surahs or chapters in the Quran.”

“2.256 Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.”

“9.29 Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

“Do you see how these 2 verses contradict each other?  The first verse says that nobody should be forced to convert to Islam.  The truth of Islam will make itself known.  This verse is compatible with a religion of peace.  The second verse says to fight those who do not believe in Allah, until they pay a tax, the Jizya, and are subdued.  So an imam who wants people to believe that Islam is a religion of peace may quote the first verse and then quote the second verse to promote jihad when speaking to a different group of people.  If someone asks ‘What about the first verse?’ the imam can say that it has been nullified by the second verse.  This doctrine of abrogation, also called nasikh,  can be used to deceive people and promote Jihad,” said Hassan.

“Wouldn’t a Muslim who studies his Quran see the contradiction here and wonder about it?” said Matt.

“Possibly,” said Hassan.  “But many Muslims don’t read the Quran and have no idea what is in it.  And the Quran itself has a few verses that even seem to endorse this doctrine of abrogation.  Let me read one of them.”

“2.106 None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?”

“So surah 2.106 can be used to justify verses that contradict each other, such as one verse proclaiming freedom of religion and another commanding that all unbelievers be subdued or pay a tax or worse,” said Hassan.  “Dr. Kaplan, do you think that a book with contradictions like these and additional text which even justifies these contradictions can be divinely inspired?”

“I don’t think so Hassan.  A God who transcends the universe and who is beyond time and who is all knowing could not contradict Himself.  And that is what Allah is doing in his Quran.  So the question is did the Quran come from God  or did it come from somewhere else?  Our God does not contradict Himself,” said Ben.

“That was what I was afraid you would say Dr. Kaplan.  I’m afraid that Allah is not God.  But the cost to me of denying Allah, of leaving Islam, could be huge.  I could even be killed,” said Hassan.  “But regardless of that I must know the truth.”

“Dr. Kaplan, couldn’t Islam be reformed?  Wouldn’t it be okay then?  I seem to hear increasing calls for  Islam to be reformed, on various news programs,” said Josh.

“The problem with that Josh is that the Quran would need to be rewritten to eliminate contradictions such as the one we’ve been discussing today.  If that were to happen then Islam would no longer be Islam.  Can you imagine an imam or mullah preaching to his people about the Quran being in error?  He’d be better off urging his people to change their religion.  And of course that is exactly what I pray for, that Muslims would become followers of Jesus, the Son of God.

“Jesus is the only way.  Let me quote a verse from the gospel of John.  Jesus is talking to his disciples,” said Ben.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 3:16, ESV)

“But Dr. Kaplan, isn’t that awfully arrogant?” asked Hassan.

“No Hassan.  It’s not arrogant because Jesus is God, and God is not arrogant.  It is exclusionary and it is meant to be.  Yet every person is welcome to come to Jesus.  God desires this,” said Ben.

“But how can a religion be exclusionary and at the same time welcome everyone?” asked Hassan.

“Hassan, God transcends the universe, is beyond time, and is all knowing.  He is also all powerful and He is good.  Such a God has provided a way of salvation for all people and this way is perfect.  That’s why it’s the only way.  That’s why it’s exclusionary.

“Everyone is welcome because God loves everyone and does not want anyone to perish,” said Ben.

“You said Jesus is God.  Jesus is in the Quran as a prophet but not God. Tell us how you know that Jesus is God, Dr. Kaplan,” said Hassan.

“Let me read you a passage from the Gospel of Matthew which is in the New Testament,” said Ben.

“And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home.” Matthew 9:1-7 (ESV)

“Hassan, in this passage Jesus is explaining to his audience that what he just did proved that he is God.  I think this proof is pretty convincing,” said Ben.

“Hi, Dr. Kaplan.  I have a question too.  Remember me?” said Sarah with a chuckle.  “I’m your Jewish medical student who believes in Jesus.”

“I’m sorry, Sarah.  I didn’t see you back there in the corner.

“And Sarah, I remember that you raised a question last time that still needs to be answered,” said Ben.

“Yes, Dr. Kaplan.  It’s this: Why do Islamic nations nearly always hate the Jewish people and Israel?” asked Sarah.

“I’m going to give you the short answer today.  Islam is a false religion, inspired by Satan, who hates people and does not want people to love the true God of the Universe.  For that reason, Islam has Jew hatred as one of it’s core principles.  Satan wants to use followers of Islam, Muslims, to annihilate the Jewish people and Israel,” said Ben.

“Wow!” exclaimed Sarah.  “Can you explain that in more detail, Dr. Kaplan?” said Sarah.

“Yes.  Let’s plan to cover that at our next session,” said Ben.

1+

Who is Least Likely to Believe in Replacement Theology?

The person who believes in the Pre-tribulation rapture.  But, you ask, why is that? Don’t those people believe in a Tribulation designed to torment the Jews and liberate the Church which is full of Gentiles? Aren’t those people anti-Semitic?

No, no, no, my friend! The person who believes in the Pre-tribulation rapture is the most likely to believe these things and in this sequence:

  1. The Church is raptured, caught up to meet the Messiah in the air, and returns to heaven with Him.
  2. The Tribulation begins, 7 years, and it is all bad, but the full fury of the anti-Christ is unleashed during the final 3.5 years.  This second half is The Time of Jacob’s Trouble.  2/3 of the Jewish people will die during this time.
  3. Then Yeshua the Messiah returns with all His saints and the anti-Christ is destroyed (not annihilated).
  4. Yeshua then sets up his Messianic Kingdom which will last for 1,000 years, during which time Satan is bound.  Then comes Eternity.

In order to believe all this a person must take the Bible’s promises literally.  The Jewish people will suffer during the Tribulation, as will Gentiles.  But out of this Tribulation will emerge those Jews who are in Messiah, i.e., saved.  These are the true Jews, circumcised of the flesh and, more importantly, circumcised of the heart.  These are those of whom it is said: all Israel will be saved.

The Jewish people who die in the Tribulation, 2/3 of the total population of the Jews, are those who never accepted Yeshua.

Now do you see that those who believe this are indeed the most likely ones to love the Jewish people and to reject Replacement Theology?

This is the truth my friends.  Please believe it.

0

Anti-Semitism Part II, Replacement Theology

As we continue the discussion of anti-Semitism – Jew hatred – I’ve decided that this would be an excellent topic for Dr. Benjamin Kaplan and his medical students, Josh, Matt, and Sarah, to handle, so we will go to Ben’s office for that discussion right now.

*

“Hi Dr. Kaplan. I understand that we are here today to talk about Jew hatred and that we will be focusing on replacement theology. You know that I’m interested in all of the manifestations of Jew hatred because I’m Jewish, but I don’t know what replacement theology is,” said Sarah.

“Dr. Kaplan, Josh and I have been talking a little about replacement theology since we knew that was today’s topic but we don’t really understand what it is either. Even though we’re not Jewish we are definitely opposed to any form of Jew hatred, so we are all ears today,” said Matt.

Ben continued the discussion. “Replacement theology has been with us for a very long time, possibly as far back as the end of the first century A.D. but it’s gotten much more complicated, widespread, and subtle over the centuries. It used to be simple. People who hated the Jews would say that the Jews killed Jesus, or rejected their Messiah, or both and because of that God has canceled his promises to the Jews. The Abrahamic Covenant, an unconditional covenant God made with Abraham, promised a number of things to Abraham and his descendants through the Jewish line of descent, meaning through Abraham’s son Isaac and through Isaac’s son Jacob and on down the line through Jacob’s 12 sons and their physical descendants, the Jewish people. Included in this covenant is a promise of a land for the Jewish people, and I will refer to this land as The Promised Land. Other critically important things were also promised in this covenant, including promises for the Gentiles. We’ll discuss all of the promises made in this covenant at a later date but for now we’ll stay with the promised land provision in order to keep things as simple as possible. Those who believe in replacement theology say that the promises made to the Jews by God are null and void because of what the Jews did to Jesus. Because of this crime the Church has replaced Israel so that all the blessings given to Israel by God and the promises of good things made to Israel by God, in the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant and in three other unconditional covenants (the Promised Land Covenant1, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant) have all been transferred to the Church. But the curses and the promises made by God of bad things for Israel remain. Those have not been transferred to the Church.”

“Dr. Kaplan, is replacement theology sometimes called supercessionism? Do the people who use that term mean that the Church has superceded Israel and the Jewish people in God’s eyes?” asked Matt.

“Yes Matt, that is correct” said Ben.

“So the Church has replaced Israel in receiving good things, but Israel receives all the bad things?” said Josh. “How do the people who teach this theology justify their teaching?”

“That’s an excellent question Josh,” said Ben. “We’re going to deal with that question a little later. But first I want you all to understand that replacement theology has become much more subtle over the centuries and there are numerous variants of it today. So contending against replacement theology can be like fighting the multi-headed hydra of Greek mythology; whenever one head was cut off another would grow back. But an even better analogy might be that of mutating virulent bacteria. As soon as one strain is killed by an antibiotic a new strain pops up that is resistant to that antibiotic and a new antibiotic must be found. For this reason I think we need the equivalent of a vaccine to prevent this deadly replacement theology from spreading and infecting more people.”

“What would be the equivalent of a vaccine in this case? And how would you administer it?” said Sarah.

“Great question, Sarah,” said Ben. “But before we attempt to answer your question I’d like to try to give you all a way to recognize replacement theology when it confronts you. Do any of you know what the Messianic Kingdom is?”

“Isn’t that when the wolf lies down with the lamb?” said Matt.

“That’s right,” said Ben.

“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6 (ESV)

“And nobody will die at at young age?” said Josh.

“Right again,” said Ben.

“No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.” Isaiah 65:20 (ESV)

“And there will be peace everywhere?” said Sarah.

“Also correct!” said Ben.

“He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4 (ESV)

“You’ve all got it! And please also note that this Kingdom will be ruled by the Messiah and his reign will be from the throne of David which is in Jersusalem.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” Isaiah 9:6-7 (ESV)

“These five Bible verses, and there are many more, describe the Messianic Kingdom or what the Rabbis sometimes referred to as ‘the days of Messiah’ ”, said Ben. “These and other verses describe the Kingdom that the Messiah will bring in when he comes back. Most Jewish people don’t understand that the Messiah, Jesus, has already come once and that he will bring in the Messianic Kingdom described by these verses when he comes again.

“But I want you to notice that the above verses are all from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament. These verses and others don’t tell us how long this Messianic Kingdom will last, ” said Ben.

“Can we know how long this kingdom will last? I’ve heard of something called the Millennial Kingdom. Is that the same kingdom?” asked Josh.

“Millennium means a thousand years doesn’t it?” asked Matt.

“Precisely Matt. And yes, Josh, the Messianic Kingom is the same as the Millennial Kingdom,” said Ben.

“Where does the Bible say that, Dr. Kaplan?” said Sarah.

“In the New Testament. It’s in chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation. It tells us the duration of this Kingdom which is 1000 years. In fact this one chapter mentions the 1000 years six times in six separate verses. I’m going to read just one of those verses,” said Ben.

“Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4 (ESV)

“So the Old Testament gives us many verses that describe the character of the Messianic Kingdom, many more than the New Testament gives us, but the New Testament gives us the length of time this Kingdom will last. It will last 1000 years. That will be the duration of Jesus’ reign over this kingdom. The Messianic Kingdom and the Millennial Kingdom are one and the same,” said Ben.

“Wait a minute, Dr. Kaplan. Doesn’t the Bible say somewhere that 1000 years is equal to a day? Doesn’t that mean that the thousand years isn’t literal? Isn’t the thousand years just a figure of speech?” asked Sarah.

Ben replied. “Great question Sarah, but no, the Bible doesn’t say that. Let me explain. Let’s take a look at a verse from Peter’s 2nd letter which is in the New Testament.”

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8 (ESV)

“First of all, Peter is telling us that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. So Peter is not telling us that one day and a thousand years are the same. Secondly, this verse is expressing something important about the Lord and time. The Lord does not dwell in time. He dwells in eternity. Finally the context of this verse is crucial. In the passage which contains this verse Peter is telling us about the Lord’s patience and about His heart. Let’s look at verse 9,” said Ben.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)

“OK. I get it. The thousand years in Revelation 20 is literal. So the Messianic Kingom is a literal thousand years and the Millennial Kingdom and the Messianic Kingdom are the same. But how does this relate to replacement theology, Dr. Kaplan?” said Josh.

“I’m so glad you asked!” said Ben. “This is where things get really interesting.

“Now stick with me please because this gets a little complicated. We have to be careful when we lump people together into groups but sometimes it’s useful to do that as long as we recognize the limitations. I’m talking about categorizing different groups of people who might believe in or reject replacement theology. Now just as Jews, like Sarah and me, do not wish to be stereotyped, we do not wish to stereotype other people either. Yet certain groups of people can be characterized in certain ways, within limits, by who they are. For example, Jewish people traditionally believe in one God and they also believe that Moses was a great prophet who delivered them from Egyptian bondage and who received the Law from God for them.

“So would you be surprised to know that many Gentiles who believe in a literal Millennial Kingdom believe that this Kingdom will be ruled by the Jewish Messiah from Jerusalem? These people believe that, because they believe the Old Testament verses about the Messianic Kingdom and they believe the New Testament verses in Revelation 20. Now that certainly makes sense to me.

“But not all who believe in a literal Millennial Kingdom do believe that it will be governed by a Jewish Messiah reigning from a restored Jerusalem in a regathered Israel which will be the Nation above other nations. These people believe that there will be a Millennial Kingdom but their belief is based only on the verses in chapter 20 of the New Testament Book of Revelation. They don’t believe that any of the Old Testament prophecies about this Kingdom have anything to do with Israel,” said Ben.

“But why wouldn’t they believe that those verses are prophecies of the Millennial, or better Messianic, Kingdom?” said Sarah.

“Because they have written off anything in the Old Testament that prophecizes blessings or fulfillment of promises made by God for good, for the Jewish people,” said Ben.

“Are you kidding, Dr. Kaplan?” asked Matt. “Why in the world would they do that?”

“Great question, Matt, and we have to answer that question on more than one level. The most fundamental answer is that Satan, the deceiver, is relentlessly working to confuse people about what is true. He and his minions have convinced millions, perhaps billions, of people that God has gone back on His promises to the Jewish people because they are guilty of killing Jesus and guilty of doing other terrible things so that God no longer loves them. As we discussed last time, Satan is interested in completely annihilating all Jews from the face of the earth, so he will do whatever it takes to cause susceptible minds to condemn and hate the Jews and ultimately to destroy them. All of them,” said Ben.

“But how does Satan implement this?” said Josh.

“That’s a super-important question Josh. Let me give you just one example today. There is an ancient document, The Epistle of Barnabus, which was written around the end of the first century or the beginning of the second century, AD. It is an apocryphal letter meaning it is not God inspired and it is not part of the Bible. It is also not written by the Barnabus of the New Testament. But a lot of people have read it and believe it. It states that God broke His covenant with the Jewish people and gave the covenant to the Gentiles, because the Jews disobeyed God and because consequently the first stone tablets of the Law that Moses brought down the mountain from God were broken. This completely erroneous teaching is based on a misinterpretation of a passage of Scripture from Exodus. It’s so important that you understand all this, that we will read the passage in its entirety.

Exodus 32:7-14, 19 (ESV)

7 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.

8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’”

9 And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.

10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

“The LORD says in verse 10 that He wants to consume, or destroy, His people.

11 But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?

12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.

13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’”

“Moses is “reminding” God of the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That was and is an unconditional covenant.

14 And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

“So the LORD “relented” and did not destroy His people. Now please take note that He, God, never would have done this because He always keeps His promises. The LORD was very angry because His people disobeyed Him and made an idol and worshipped it. The Israelites broke the Law, they violated the Mosaic Covenant. But this was not an unconditional covenant. God knew that His people would never be able to keep it. But the Epistle of Barnabus is saying that God broke “the covenant” with His people. The people indeed broke the Mosaic Covenant but the much more important and foundational Abrahamic Covenant is not broken because it is an unconditional covenant from God and it is everlasting. Of course The Epistle of Barnabus does not tell us that.

Exodus 32:19 (ESV)

19 And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.

“The Epistle of Barnabus equates broken stone tablets with a permanently broken relationship between God and His Chosen People, the Jews,” said Ben. “That is a completely wrong interpretation of what the Bible teaches.”

“Dr. Kaplan, I see what you mean when you say that Satan is subtle,” said Sarah.

“He surely is Sarah.

“I think we need to wrap this up for today. But before we do so, let’s review:

  1. Most people who believe in the Old Testament and New Testament promises of a literal Messianic Kingdom do not believe in replacement theology.
  2. Most people who believe that Revelation 20 speaks of a future literal 1000 year reign of Christ, a Millennial Kingdom, but deny the Old Testament promises of such a Kingdom, do believe in replacement theology.
  3. People who don’t believe in a Millennial Kingdom at all almost have to believe in replacement theology. This would be the biggest number of church going people who believe in replacement theology and would include many members of Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Anglican, and Episcopal churches, as well as the Roman Catholic Church, because the official teachings of those denominations have generally been that there is no Millennial or Messianic Kingdom. They do not interpret the Bible literally.
  4. And there is another group, and we haven’t discussed this group yet, but we will. These people believe in the Old Testament and New Testament promises of a literal Messianic Kingdom, and they believe in Daniel’s 70th Week, described in Daniel 9:24-27, which is a future literal 7 year Tribulation, and they believe in a Pretribulation Rapture. The people in this group are the most likely of all to reject replacement theology,” concluded Ben.
  5. And of course people or groups or even countries who deny the right of the Jews to the Promised Land of Israel and believe that that Land belongs to the so called Palestinian people, believe in replacement theology. Islamic nations can be included in this category but there are many other people and groups who fit here as well. Some of these groups sponsor something called BDS, which is against Israel. BDS is short for Boycott, Divest, and Sanction, and BDS is an overtly antisemitic activity.

“But Dr. Kaplan, just one second please. Why are those people who believe in the pretrib rapture the least likely to accept replacement theology?” asked Josh.

“And why are Islamic nations so likely to hate Israel?” asked Sarah.

“And what about the vaccine against replacement theology? What is that?” asked Matt.

“Those are all great questions. The answers are a bit complicated. How about we cover those next time?” said Ben.

“We can hardly wait!” exclaimed all three students together.

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Anti-Semitism, Part I

Anybody who follows the news knows that Antisemitism or Jew hatred is active and virulent all over the world. It has been with us for thousands of years. It is not getting better. On the contrary, it is the underlying reason for lack of peace in the Middle East and because of it the plans of men to bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians cannot ever succeed.

There is a root cause of Jew hatred. The Messiah, also known as Yeshua, also known as Jesus Christ, came to earth 2,000 years ago and shed his blood on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and so that we could have eternal life. He will return to earth soon and when he does he will destroy Satan, the archenemy of God. But the Messiah will not return unless the Jewish people plead for him to do so. For that reason, Satan’s plan is to annihilate every last Jew on the planet. Satan believes that he can accomplish this through Jew hatred and he has been working hard to do this for centuries.

The explanation for Jew hatred is in the Bible, in Genesis, the first of the five books of Moses. After Satan, who is the father of lies, the one who inhabited the serpent in the Garden of Eden, tricked Eve into eating the fruit that God had forbidden her to eat, God spoke to the serpent:

Genesis 3:14-15 NASB

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; [15] And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Verse 15 spells out Satan’s final destiny. His head will be bruised. A better translation is crushed and this injury will be progressive so that finally Satan will be totally and permanently disabled, with no ability to cause trouble for mankind because he will be in the Lake of Fire for eternity. But even more important than this prophecy of what Satan’s end will be is the prophecy of who will accomplish this. It will be the seed of Eve, the woman. Please carefully note that “seed”, used twice in verse 15, is a singular noun in the original Hebrew. Although this word seed can theoretically indicate a “collective singular”, the symmetry of this verse, the context of this verse, and certain prophecies related to this verse, and explained below, make it clear that “seed” in this verse refers to a single individual. Therefore each use of the word seed in this verse refers to an individual and so there are two individuals here. Who are these two individuals? Who is the your seed and who is the her seed? Before we can answer this question we must look at two important rules of Bible interpretation.

The first is Dr. David Cooper’s Golden Rule of Scripture interpretation:

“When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.”

The second rule is this:

“The Old Testament and the New Testament together comprise one book, our Bible”.

Knowledge of these two rules is necessary for a proper interpretation of the two Bible verses we are considering, especially verse 15. Although Bible verses are generally meant to be taken literally, sometimes they can’t be. These two verses comprise a Bible passage where metaphor is used and we must understand that. If we don’t, we will be confused by these verses. We’ll talk about this more a little further on.

But we must talk about the second rule now, the rule that says the Old Testament and the New Testament together comprise one unified book. The first book in the Bible, Genesis, and the two verses we are considering describe the result of Satan’s rebellion against God at the beginning of human history. However in order to comprehend the full meaning of these two verses, and especially the meaning of verse 15, we must look at the last book of the Bible, the New Testament book of Revelation, because that book explains the final result of Satan’s rebellion at the end of human history, which is the crushing of his head (and that is a metaphor). Before we get to that point however we must see that the book of Revelation also tells us about the seed of Satan who is the Antichrist. You might say to me “Art, are you telling me that verse 15, from the first book of the Bible, tells us what is going to happen at the end of human history?” Yes! But we also need the New Testament if we are to understand who the seed of the woman is. We learn that from the New Testament Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 1:23 ESV

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

This verse is the fulfillment of a prophecy given by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 7:14 ESV

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

And this Isaiah verse is itself a prophecy of the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15. Do you see how wonderfully interconnected the word of God, the Bible, is? This is in itself a miracle!

Now let’s get back to verse 15 and break it down in more detail:

Genesis 3:15 NASB

And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Let’s look at your seed first. That would be the seed of Satan. So who is the one who is the seed of Satan? Who has Satan “produced”? We know who from two verses in Revelation:

Revelation 11:7 ESV

And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them,

Revelation 13:2 ESV

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.

This beast is metaphorically the seed of Satan, the product of the devil. This seed is the Antichrist. The dragon gives this beast his power, his throne, and his authority! This is metaphorical language. Satan did not literally give birth to the beast. But metaphorically he did in that he, Satan, gave his power, throne, and authority to the beast.

How do we know that the dragon is Satan (the devil) and that he is that ancient serpent who deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden? Revelation 12:9 tells us that this is the case.

Revelation 12:9 ESV

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

But what about the second part of verse 15? Here the pronouns referring to these two arch-enemies are also both in the singular. It’s not hard to see that the he in he shall crush your head is a singular pronoun but what about the you in you shall crush his heel? In modern English the word you can be either second person singular or second person plural. But things are different in Hebrew and in this verse the you in you shall crush his heel is in the second person singular. Oh, and by the way, the seed of the woman is no ordinary Bible phrase. In the Bible, geneologies and births are reckoned through the father and not the mother. In addition women don’t have seed. They have ova, i.e., eggs. So this is not a prophecy of any ordinary birth! This is a prophecy of the virgin birth described in the Isaiah verse above. The child born, the seed of the woman, is none other than the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

So God, through the Messiah, (who is the Son of God) is going to destroy Satan (a counterfeit God), as well as the Anti-Messiah (the Antichrist, Satan’s counterfeit Son of God). Do you see the symmetry here?

You should also know that the Antichrist has an important part to play in the famous 70 weeks prophecy in the Old Testament book of Daniel where he is the one who signs a treaty with Israel. That signing initiates the 7 year Tribulation. Half way through that 7 years the Antichrist breaks his treaty with the Jews and the Time of Jacobs’s Trouble begins. The Antichrist is one bad actor. We will talk about this more in a future post.

Daniel 9:24-27 NASB

“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. [25] So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. [26] Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. [27] And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

The Antichrist in this passage is the prince who is to come, and the people of the prince who is to come are the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.

Satan’s seed, the Anti-Christ, also known as the man of lawlessness and the son of destruction, is also found in another New Testament book, 2 Thessalonians:

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 NASB

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, [4] who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.

Here we clearly see Satan putting forth the Antichrist as a counterfeit deity! Jesus, the true Messiah and divine Son of God, will destroy this Anti-Christ:

2 Thessalonians 2:8-9 NASB

Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; [9] that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,

Yeshua (Jesus) metaphorically crushes Satan’s head and we are told about this in the last Book of the Bible.

Revelation 20:10 NASB

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Satan metaphorically crushed Messiah’s heel when Messiah was crucified. The Messiah, Jesus, recovered fully from that injury.

I need to emphatically state that if we do not properly understand these two verses, and especially the second verse of the two, i.e., Genesis 3:15, we will never understand God’s overall plan for the universe, we will never be able to understand what the Bible teaches, and we will never understand the root cause of Jew hatred. That is how important and foundational this verse is.

But, you ask, how could we possibly misunderstand these two verses? They seem to be so clear now. Let me show you how these verses can be easily misunderstood by someone who has not carefully studied them. They can be misunderstood because of something called interpretive bias. We’re going to look at these two verses as they are translated in the Jewish Publication Society Tanakh, 1985 Edition, and we will see there an example of a translation with interpretive bias:

14Then the Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you did this,

More cursed shall you be

Than all cattle

And all the wild beasts:

On your belly shall you crawl

And dirt shall you eat

All the days of your life.

15I will put enmity

Between you and the woman,

And between your offspring and hers;

They shall strike at your head,

And you shall strike at their heel.”

(Italics added by me).

This translation of verse 15 confuses the meaning of this passage by substituting They and their, second person pronouns, for He and You which are first person pronouns. This translation is wrong and it changes the sense of the passage in a major way. Rather than depicting the ultimate battle between the Messiah and Satan, what is depicted is a battle between good people and evil people or really between “Good” and “Evil”. But that is not what the verse says and changing the meaning of this verse prevents us from understanding many critically important truths including the root cause of Jew hatred because Jew hatred is ultimately related to a battle that is between two specific individuals, the Messiah and Satan. My friends, you must understand this!

In order to see this more fully let’s look at two more Bible verses:

Zechariah 12:9-10 NASB

And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. [10] “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

These verses are telling us two things. Firstly there will come a future time when nations will come against Jerusalem to destroy her (We can see that taking shape today). Then, at that future time, the Jewish people will “look on me”, meaning they will recognize their Messiah as being Yeshua, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. They will then realize the enormity of their sin in rejecting him as their Messiah and they will mourn and weep bitterly. They will repent. The entire Nation of Israel will accept Jesus then and he will return to Jerusalem, save them, and destroy Satan. This will occur at the very end of an incomparably terrible time, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. It will be much worse than Hitler’s holocaust and that time is drawing nearer to us every day.

Satan will do anything in his power to totally destroy the Jewish people, so that there will not be one single Jew left alive to repent and to call for Messiah’s return, because Satan knows that when the Messiah returns, his (Satan’s) career is over.

That is the root cause of Jew hatred.

So what is to be done? Ultimately, Jew hatred will not stop until Yeshua returns to earth because only then will Satan be essentially destroyed.

But can we do anything in the meantime? Yes! Two things for right now:

1. We must pray for the Jewish people and we must be spiritual watchmen:

Psalm 122:6 ESV

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you!

Isaiah 62:6-7 ESV

On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest, [7] and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.

2. If you have not already done so, accept Yeshua as your Lord and Savior now that you might be born again, i.e., saved, and have eternal life. If you do this you also will not enter the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.

Romans 10:9-11 ESV

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. [10] For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. [11] For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

But, you ask, isn’t there more that I can do? Yes! And we will talk about that in the next post.

Shalom, my friends.

Art Wolinsky

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What is the Rapture, Part III

Let’s rejoin Dr. Kaplan and his students, Josh, Matt, and Sarah, as they conclude their discussion on the rapture:

(For the previous post click here: What is the Rapture? Part II)

“Hi Dr. Kaplan. It seems like an eternity since our last meeting although I know it’s only been a week. I’m just so excited about the rapture. I have a hunger to know more about it,” said Sarah.

“Yes, Dr. Kaplan. I feel the same way,” said Josh.

“Me too,” said Matt. “Can we read the relevant verses in 1 Thessalonians again, Dr. Kaplan?”

“Absolutely, Matt.”

Matt read:

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 ESV

For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. [16] For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. [17] Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

“I’m so glad the three of you are here today. This is exciting stuff!” said Ben. “Now if my memory serves me we have established that according to the Bible the rapture is imminent. Jesus could return at any moment but that moment is not necessarily soon. We do not know just when Jesus will return for us. However it could be today. We know that, because Jesus told us to always be ready. I’m going to read Matthew 24:44 again.

Matthew 24:44 ESV

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

“Now remember that an even better translation for the Greek word ready is prepared. We must always be prepared because Jesus will come for us at an hour we do not expect,” said Ben.

“And to be prepared means to be saved or born again, right?” said Josh.

“And that means to be in Christ, right Dr. Kaplan?” said Matt.

“And that means to be in the Body of Christ which is the Church, the true Church. Right?” said Sarah.

“You are all correct!! So, are we agreed that the rapture is imminent, and that Jesus could come today?” asked Ben.

The 3 students all nodded their heads in agreement.

“So, what about those believers who say that the Church must go through part or all of The Tribulation? If the rapture is imminent, does that prove these believers wrong?” said Josh.

“It does prove them wrong, Josh. Those who insist that the rapture must occur in the middle of The Tribulation, or later on during The Tribulation, or after The Tribulation, destroy the imminence of the rapture, and that can’t be correct because the rapture is imminent. Do you all understand?” said Ben.

“I think so, Dr. Kaplan. The mid-tribulation rapture theory would require that the rapture occur around the time of the abomination of desolation and we know when that will be. It will be after three and one-half years of The Tribulation, meaning the midpoint of the seven year Tribulation. So if the rapture can’t occur until then, it can’t be imminent,” said Sarah.

“And the pre-wrath rapture theory requires that the rapture must occur even later than the midpoint of The Tribulation, so that theory also directly conflicts with an imminent rapture,” said Josh.

“And the post tribulation rapture theory mandates no rapture until The Tribulation is finished which will be at the end of the seven years. That also conflicts with an imminent rapture,” said Matt.

“Right! I think all four of us are on the same page. Because the rapture is imminent, any theory that requires the rapture to occur after The Tribulation starts cannot be correct. In the language that we sometimes use to describe medical test results, an imminent rapture rules out any mandatory mid-tribulation, pre-wrath tribulation, post-tribulation, or any other variety of rapture that requires the Church to enter The Tribulation. This even includes any theory that has yet to be put forth by some future theologian,” said Ben. “We’ll lump all these theories together and for ease of discussion we’ll put them all in a basket labeled Post-Tribulation Raptures,” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, I think I’m clear now on how imminence rules out mandatory Post-Tribulation Raptures. But I’m confused about two passages in Matthew 24 and I’m not sure how these two passages bear on the question of imminence. It almost seems as if Jesus is describing two separate second comings. What’s going on there?” asked Josh. “May I read the verses?”

“Sure, Josh. Please go ahead and read the first of the two passages,” said Ben.

Matthew 24:29 ESV

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

“Some key words in this passage are immediately after the tribulation. We will know when The Tribulation begins because the signing of a treaty between Israel and the Antichrist begins The Tribulation and that will surely be a very public event. The Tribulation is 7 years long, a known length of time. Immediately after The Tribulation, awesome cosmic signs appear and then Jesus, the Son of Man, comes on the clouds of heaven. This is the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth and everyone on earth will see Him coming. He does not tell us to be ready for this event because 7 years’ notice will have already been given. This is well described in the Bible and anyone living during The Tribulation can read all about it as Bibles will be widely available and, in addition, the Gospel will be preached again, loud and clear, to all earth dwellers during The Tribulation. The Bible tells us that too. So, if a person is not prepared when He, Jesus, comes on the clouds, there will be no time to do so then. It will be too late,” said Ben. “Notice also that there is no mention of Jesus snatching or taking anyone up from the earth to meet Him in the clouds. No rapture is described here. Again, this is the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth,” said Ben.

“OK, I think I see that, Dr. Kaplan. But what about the last verse in this passage. Let me read it,” said Matt.

Matthew 24:31 ESV

31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

“What is Jesus referring to here?” asked Matt.

“I believe He is referring to the final regathering of Jewish people to the land of Israel. This is described all the way back in the book of Deuteronomy where the LORD speaking through Moses said:

Deuteronomy 30:4 ESV

“If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will take you.”
“Josh, please read the second passage in Matthew 24 now,” said Ben.

Matthew 24:36 ESV

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

“Dr. Kaplan, this sounds like an entirely different event than the Second Coming, doesn’t it?” asked Sarah.

“It sure does Sarah. We cannot know the day and hour of this event. And this event is not going to be immediately after The Tribulation because that is an incredibly horrific time. The time before this event is a time of normal life, as in the days before Noah’s flood. Unbelievers at that time will be blissfully ignorant of what is to come,” said Ben. “Jesus is talking about the rapture in this passage.”

“Dr. Kaplan, why is it that so many excellent Bible teachers, pastors, and theologians, say that this passage does not refer to the rapture. They say that it refers to what happens following the second coming and that the men and women who are taken are unsaved people taken away to be judged,” said Sarah.

“Thanks for that question. I think the reason is that the folks who do not believe that this passage refers to the rapture are taking this whole chapter, Matthew 24, as being in strict chronological order. But I don’t believe that is the case. Note that Jesus says “But concerning that day and hour …..”. I believe that the “But” indicates that Jesus is now turning to another topic, the topic of the rapture,” said Ben.

“This all makes sense, Dr. Kaplan, but an idea has just occurred to me and I’d like your input on it. Imminence rules out any mandatory Post-Tribulation Raptures. I definitely see that. But does imminence rule in a pre- tribulation rapture?” asked Josh.

“What a wonderful question, Josh! Almost nobody ever asks that question and it is an important question to ask and the answer is a most important one to understand. The answer is that, although imminence rules out Post-Tribulation Raptures, imminence does not rule in a pre-tribulation rapture. There is something else that rules in a pre-tribulation rapture,” said Ben.

At the same time, all 3 students exclaimed. “What is that, Dr. Kaplan!?!”

“A pre-tribulation rapture is ruled in by the character of God. You know that I’m Jewish and I know that God loves His Chosen Nation Israel and His Chosen People, the Jewish people, with an everlasting love. But I also know something else. God loves His Church, His Son’s bride, just as much, and Jesus will not allow His beloved bride to enter The Tribulation. But not only that, there is simply no reason for the Church to enter The Tribulation because, by definition, the Church, and by that I mean the true Church, is saved. That includes every member of the true Church. Another name for the true Church is the Bride of Messiah,” said Ben. “It is made up of every believer, both Jew and Gentile, from the time of the crucifixion until the time of the rapture.”

“But, Dr. Kaplan, God loves Israel, His Chosen Nation and the Jewish people, His Chosen People, just as you said. So why would Israel have to go through The Tribulation? Why isn’t Israel raptured?” said Matt.

“Once again, the answer is the character of God. His plans for the Jewish people and Israel are so great that we can’t even imagine how great they are. But in order to bring those plans to pass, the Nation of Israel and the Chosen People must be pure. The Chosen People must be saved, all of them,” said Ben.

“I’m confused, Dr. Kaplan. Are you telling me that the Chosen People are not all saved?” said Sarah.

“That’s right, Sarah. They are not all saved. Remember that not long ago you weren’t saved and you’re Jewish. You had to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and then He saved you. And the Nation of Israel, as a Nation, cannot be saved until every member of that Nation accepts Jesus. There is no other way, for anyone, whether he or she is a Gentile or a Jew. There will come a time when The Chosen People, and the All Israel of Romans 11:26, will be coextensive and then all Israel will be saved. That is one major purpose of The Tribulation. God will accomplish this by breaking the will of His Chosen People as He tells us in Daniel 12:7. At the end of The Tribulation, all Jews who have not been killed will accept Jesus, and so all Israel will then be saved. God will then be able to fulfill all of the promises that He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, thousands of years ago. That is part of the character of God. He always keeps His promises,” said Ben. “And the love of God for His Chosen People is very much a part of all this. God loves Israel and the Jewish People and He always will,” said Ben.

Josh spoke. “So, Dr. Kaplan, you’ve made a very strong case for the pre-tribulation rapture and you’ve ruled out any mandatory Post-Tribulation Raptures. You’ve explained why the Church will not enter The Tribulation and you’ve explained why Israel will enter The Tribulation. Now, do you think the case for the pre-tribulation rapture is strong enough? Do you believe it? Is faith required to believe it?”

“I do believe it Josh, I most definitely have faith that Jesus is coming to rapture us, and I look forward to it everyday,” said Ben.

“Now, we’ve talked about the rapture for 3 sessions now, but I think there are still a few loose ends such as who are the elect of Matthew 24:22 and 24:24? These elect people are the Tribulation Saints. You see, as we are told in the book of Revelation, there will be a world-wide revival during The Tribulation. Gentiles will be saved as well as Jews. God knows exactly what He is doing.

“And we also haven’t talked much about Daniel’s 70th week, discussed in Daniel chapter 9. And I’m sure there are a few other loose ends too. But I think that for now, we can move on to additional things of importance in the Scriptures. In the meantime, please look into these “loose ends” yourselves and if you have questions I will try to answer them,” said Ben.

“Would you please join hands with me now as we give great thanks to our awesome God who has saved us and who is returning soon to snatch us up as He tells us in John 14:3?” asked Ben.

John 14:3 ESV

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.

Ben asked Sarah to lead as all four joined hands together and prayed.

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