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.

0

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

0

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.

0

What is the Rapture? Part II

(For part one of this series, click here: What is the rapture? Part I )

Matt, Josh, and Sarah, Ben Kaplan’s medical students, were excited. The time of their weekly meeting with Ben had finally arrived.

“So, Dr. Kaplan, we’re raring to go! Tell us more about the rapture, please,” said Sarah.

“Sure, Sarah,” said Ben. “Let’s start with a short recap. Let me read again the 3 verses in the Bible that most obviously talk about the rapture:

“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. 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. 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.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 (ESV)

“As we said last time, because they happen so closely together in time, we’re going to refer to the raising up of both groups, the dead in Christ and the we who are alive, as the rapture. And because the rapture and the tribulation are closely related, we are going to talk about the tribulation today.

“There is coming a time of great tribulation on the earth. The tribulation occurs after the rapture. So when believers are raptured they are saved from entering the time of the tribulation. Although the world has one heck of a lot of tribulation now, The Tribulation will be much worse than any tribulation that has ever happened so far. It will last 7 years and it will be a time during which God pours out His wrath on this planet. The wrath and accompanying judgements will be concentrated and extremely severe. The 7 years of The Tribulation are divided into two equal periods of three and one-half years each. The second half of The Tribulation is even worse than the first half. For that reason it is sometimes called The Great Tribulation and another name used to describe this second half of The Tribulation is The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah.

“Jesus talked about The Great Tribulation in the 24th chapter of Matthew. Matt, please read verse 21, spoken by Jesus,” said Ben.

“Sure, Dr. Kaplan.”

21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. Matthew 24:21 (ESV)

“Dr. Kaplan, hasn’t there ever been a time like this already on the earth? What about all the natural disasters and mass murders that have occurred right up to the present time and are still occurring? What about Hitler’s Holocaust and other episodes of genocide since then? ” asked Matt.

“Matt, The Tribulation has not yet occurred and we’ll prove that a little later in our discussion when we talk about something called The Abomination of Desolation, but for now, I’d like you to just keep in your minds the idea that The Tribulation will be bad beyond anything we can even imagine right now. We, the 4 of us here together today, do not want to go through that period of time and, praise God, He has ordained that we will not go through it. He will catch us up from the surface of the earth to meet Jesus in the air, along with our dear departed brothers and sisters who accepted Jesus when they were alive. They will be resurrected, ” said Ben. “Let me read that to you again from the Bible,” said Ben.

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. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (ESV)

“All of this will happen in the blink of an eye, essentially instantaneously,” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, how do we know when the rapture will occur? I know that you read 2 other verses last time, telling us that God is going to deliver us from future wrath. The Tribulation is that future wrath, right?” asked Josh. “But if that’s the correct interpretation, can you prove that to us?”

Sarah spoke up. “Amen, Dr. Kaplan. I’d also like to have proof of this timing, proof that the rapture occurs before The Tribulation. I’m already reading, in various books and articles, that many people believe that the dead in Christ and the we who are alive, of 1Thessalonians 4:16-17, will be raptured after The Tribulation, not before. So how do we know for sure that we will be caught up in the clouds before The Tribulation starts?”

Matt spoke up too. “I agree with Josh and Sarah. I’d like proof that the rapture is before The Tribulation, that it’s pretribulational. Can you give us that proof, Dr. Kaplan? Because if you can, that’s going to be something! What an incredible thing it would be if I can know that I won’t be on earth during the time of The Tribulation. And one other thing, Dr. Kaplan. I’ve come across articles that refer to this 7 year Tribulation as the 70th week of the prophet Daniel. What is that all about? Does that fit in with our current discussion?”

“I cannot believe how much the 3 of you are learning! It’s fantastic! And you’re asking great questions! Matt, Daniel’s 70th week surely does fit in with what we are talking about, and thanks for asking about it! We will get to that a little bit later on,” said Ben. “But getting back to what the 3 of you are asking for. You are asking for proof that the rapture occurs before The Tribulation. I believe that the Bible furnishes that proof. In order to understand that proof, we need to talk about something called imminence. A standard English dictionary will tell us that imminence is a state or condition when something is about to happen. But from Matthew 24, we derive a slightly different definition of imminence. Imminence refers to a thing that is going to happen suddenly, at an hour that we cannot know, with no preconditions required in order for it to happen. If we believe that Jesus could come today to catch us up to meet Him in the clouds then we believe that the rapture is imminent. He doesn’t have to come today but He could. We cannot know the day or the hour. But when He comes it will be sudden. That’s what imminence means,” said Ben.

“So the Biblical definition of imminence is a definition deduced from what Jesus said in Matthew 24?” asked Josh.

“Exactly, Josh, and it’s not just from Matthew 24 but for now we’ll stick to Matthew 24. We’ll take this in bite sized pieces,” said Ben.

“So the rapture is imminent and that word is not actually in Scripture but is deduced from Scripture?” asked Matt.

“That’s exactly right, Matt,” said Ben.

“And a Biblical definition of imminence speaks of an event that could happen at any time, of an event that when it occurs will occur in an instant , and of an event that requires no preconditions that have to occur first. Is that right?” said Josh.

“Beautifully summarized, Josh!” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, why is it important to know if the rapture is imminent or not?” asked Sarah.

“Sarah, you have just asked the most important question of the day, or perhaps of the year. Thank you! It is important to know if the rapture is imminent because if it is imminent then we cannot know the hour and if we cannot know the hour, then we must be ready at all times! And as I hope to show you soon, if the rapture is imminent, that means that any theory that requires the rapture to occur after The Tribulation has started has to be incorrect. So our next task is to prove that the rapture is imminent and I believe that we can do that from what Jesus said in Matthew 24,” said Ben.

“OK, Dr. Kaplan. I’m all ears and I can’t wait to hear the proof. But one more question first, please,” said Josh.

“Sure, Josh,” said Ben.

“You said that an imminent rapture means we must be ready at all times. Are you referring to Matthew 24: 44? Can I read that verse to you?” said Josh.

“Please do, Josh,” said Ben. Josh read.

44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:44 (ESV)

Ben spoke. “The Greek word for ready in this verse is hetoimos. It means prepared. So Jesus is telling us that we must be prepared for his coming for us, that we must be prepared for the rapture. It means, Josh, that we must know Jesus, that we must be born again, that we must be saved. Because if we’re not, we won’t be raptured. If we’re not, provided we don’t die first, when the rapture happens we’ll be left behind and we will enter the time of The Tribulation.”

“Is this ever getting exciting, and serious, Dr. Kaplan!” said Sarah. “But you still haven’t given us the proof, from Matthew 24. I have no doubt that you will though.”

“God has indeed provided us with the proof, Sarah, and we’ll get to that right at the beginning of our next session,” said Ben.

0

What is the Rapture? Part I

Please listen to Ben Kaplan, MD, as he and his students begin a dialog about the rapture.

Ben Kaplan always looked forward to meetings with his medical students and they were right on time today.

“Hi, Josh and Matt. What a pleasure it is to see you today!” said Ben. “And I see that you’ve brought Sarah along with you again. What a treat! How are things going with you?”

“I’m born again, Dr. Kaplan! I’ve accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour,” said Sarah.

“I couldn’t be happier to hear that, Sarah. What made you finally decide?” asked Ben.

“Everything that you, Matt, and Josh have shared with me makes perfect sense. After I left you last time I began to read the Bible. I’ve been reading from both the Old and New Testaments. I can see that the coming of Jesus to save us was prophesied in many places in the Old Testament and I am now convinced that He is the Jewish Messiah and my Lord and Savior,” said Sarah. “But something else has come up in my Bible reading Dr. Kaplan. I have been trying to understand the meaning of a couple of verses in the New Testament and I’m not getting very far even with help from Josh and Matt,” said Sarah.

“Dr. Kaplan, these verses seem to be talking about something absolutely wild and I don’t understand what they mean,” said Josh.

“Can you explain those verses to us today?” asked Matt. “May I read them to you, Dr. Kaplan?”

“Please do Matt,” said Ben.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

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 can understand why Josh would say these verses talk about something absolutely wild, Matt. They describe the resurrection of the dead and the rapture of the living saints. We’ll use the term rapture to cover both. Have the 3 of you heard of the rapture?” said Ben. “The word rapture is derived from the Latin word rapturo which is itself a translation of the Greek word harpazo, used in the original New Testament manuscripts. It means “caught up” or “snatched up”.

The 3 students shook their heads. All 3 gazed at Ben with expectancy. He’d certainly gotten their attention.

“Let me first say that the rapture is really good news for every believer in Jesus, meaning for every born again person. You see there is a time that will come on our entire planet and it is getting closer every day. It’s called the Tribulation.  Personally, I believe it is quite close at this present time.  The Tribulation is not just trials and tribulations, things that we suffer every day. Without question trials and tribulations can be very bad. They can be absolutely horrific in fact. But The Tribulation is something very different. The Bible has a lot to say about it. It’s going to be a time of judgement on the earth, a time when God will pour out His wrath on all those who have never accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. It will be bad for all people dwelling on the earth but it will be especially bad for the Jewish people and Israel.  It is prophesied in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.  It will be 7 years long.  It’s going to be a very, very bad time, the worst time in all history.  Nothing before it and nothing following it will be as bad. There will be natural disasters on an unprecendented scale, there will be plagues, and there will be relentless persecution of people, especially the Jewish people, because during this 7 year period of the Tribulation the Anti-Christ will be used by Satan in his final attempt to annihilate the entire Jewish race. The Tribulation will be really bad for everyone but for the Jews it will be much worse than Hitler’s Holocaust and the Anti-Christ will be worse than Hitler.

“The rapture occurs before the 7 year Tribulation. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when Jesus comes back to the earth, occurs following the Tribulation,” said Ben. “Jesus will actually touch down on the earth, on terra firma, in Jerusalem, at His Second Coming. He does not do that when He comes for believers at the rapture. When Jesus comes for His saints at the time of the rapture He descends only as far as the upper atmosphere and His saints meet Him there.

“Much is predicted or prophesied about the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth in both Testaments but as far as I know there is nothing specific or definite about the rapture in the Old Testament,” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, please slow down. My head is spinning,” said Josh. “Can we back up please? What exactly is the rapture?”

“You bet Josh. Let’s take this one step at a time.  We won’t finish this discussion today because there is so much to talk about,” said Ben. “There will come a time, a moment, when Jesus will return for His people to snatch them from the earth and take them back to heaven with Him. All people who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior but have died, “the dead in Christ”, and all people who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior and are alive, the “we who are alive”, will be caught up together to meet Jesus in the air. These 2 groups of believers – New Testament believers – are often referred to in the New Testament as being “in Christ” and also as “saints”. Both groups will be snatched up to meet Jesus in the air and in an instant they will all have new bodies that will be imperishable and immortal. That is the rapture, Josh,” said Ben.

“Now 2 other verses tell us that Jesus takes these believers back to heaven with Him. Those verses are in the Gospel of John. Jesus is talking with the Apostles shortly before He goes to the cross to die and the Bible tells us that the words that Jesus spoke then are also for us today, even in the 21st century. Let’s read those other verses now,” said Ben.

John 14:2-3

2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

3 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.

“Let’s now read 2 other verses together. These 2 verses testify to the fact that when believers are raptured they will have new bodies,” said Ben. “Sarah, would you please read these 2 verses?”

With excitement, Sarah read out loud while Matt, Josh, and Ben listened intently.

1 Corinthians 15:52-53

52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

“Dr. Kaplan, this is nearly unbelievable! I mean the Bible says it, so I believe it. But this is really something!” said Sarah. “It’s absolutely wild!”

“Yeah!!” said Josh and Matt in unison.

“It is wild Sarah,” said Ben. “We have a great God!

“Now, I think that this has left us all breathless with wonder and maybe we’ve had enough for today. But there is one more thing that we should address today before we go home and that is the timing of the rapture.”

“Do you mean that we can actually know the precise time that we’ll be caught up and get our new bodies?” asked Matt.

“No, Matt. Jesus explained that the exact time is known only to the Father. But we can know the times and seasons of God’s calendar and there is no question in my mind that God wants us to know these times and seasons so that we will be ready when Jesus comes for us.

“What I’m talking about now is the timing of the rapture with regard to the 7 year Tribulation,” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, wouldn’t it be kind of intuitive that believers in Jesus would be caught up out of this world and go to heaven with Jesus before the Tribulation starts, that God would not pour out His wrath on us?” said Sarah.

“For sure, Dr. Kaplan! God wouldn’t want believers to suffer through the Tribulation, would He?” said Josh.

“I agree with you both, that God will “rapture us out” before the time of the Tribulation.  But there are others who do not agree including some pretty serious students of the Bible. Their position is that believers will go through part or all of the 7 year Tribulation before the rapture occurs. So I want to try to equip you today to understand why the Pre-Tribulation rapture position is the correct one. It’s important to know that because knowing that we’ll be raptured before the Tribulation begins gives us tremendous hope and you and I surely want and need that hope!” said Ben.

“To begin to understand why the Pre-Tribulation rapture position is the correct position, let’s read another 2 verses together,” said Ben.

1 Thessalonians 1:10

10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

1 Thessalonians 5:9

9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

“It looks like one of these verses is telling us that Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come and the other verse says that God has not destined us for wrath, right Dr. Kaplan?” said Matt.

“Exactly, Matt,” said Ben.

“But how do we know that these 2 verses are talking about the wrath of the Tribulation?” asked Sarah.

“Great question, Sarah!” said Ben. “It has to do with the context of these 2 verses and we don’t have time to go into that today, but we will, and soon.

“I do want to leave you with just one more thing today to strengthen you. It’s called the Golden Rule of Scripture Interpretation. It was given to us by Dr. David L. Cooper, a great man of God who went home to be with the Lord in 1965. Let me read it to you,” said Ben.

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.

“If we stick with this rule we’ll do well. Unfortunately many people today, including some Bible scholars and some pastors of very large churches, don’t follow this rule. When that happens, it’s easy to become confused, to go down the wrong path, and to mislead people.”

“This has just been a great meeting today, Dr. Kaplan,” said Sarah. “I can’t wait for the next one.”

“I feel so excited and hopeful,” said Josh.

“Ditto,” said Matt.

“Thanks. I’m looking forward to our next meeting too!” said Ben. “Let’s close today with a word of praise to our Lord and Savior.

“Father in Heaven, thank you for sending the Lord Jesus to save us. We thank you that we will be with you for eternity. And we thank you that you will save us from the Tribulation, from the wrath to come. You are so good Lord. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.”

0

Who is the Messiah? Part 2

This post is dedicated to Lynn Wright and Aaron Hyman.

My dear Jewish brothers and sisters, I think you know by now that I have an unshakable conviction that Yeshua, Jesus, is our Messiah. If I have this unshakable conviction, why is it that so many Jewish people refuse to believe that Yeshua is the Messiah? I practiced medicine for 46 years and my specialty was making the correct diagnosis in difficult cases. I was successful at it, and to be successful at it, I had to analyze data and weigh evidence constantly. Weighing evidence is a significant part of what we need to do when we approach a question such as “Is Yeshua the Messiah?” Nevertheless, there are reasons why most Jewish people do not believe Yeshua is The Messiah, and in attempting to find out why, I had to sift and weigh a great deal of evidence, both positive and negative. An important piece of negative evidence is something that is important in Judaism today. It is the 13 Articles of Faith formulated by a rabbi who has had a profound influence on Jewish thought and belief for the past approximately 900 years. His name is Maimonides, and there is no rabbi held in greater esteem today by Jewish people all over the world than Maimonides.

Maimonides, also known as the Rambam, an acronym for Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, was born in Spain, where his father was a prominent rabbi. The family was forced to leave Spain because of severe persecution from the Almohades Islamic Dynasty which ruled in Spain and in Western North Africa. The family relocated to Fez, Morocco, where persecution from the very same Islamic sect again forced the Rambam and his family to depart. After a brief stay in Palestine, Maimonides settled in Egypt where the Almohades Dynasty did not rule, and due to his brilliance, kindness, and love for his people, the Jewish people, he became head of the Jewish community in Egypt. It should also be noted that The Crusades started not long before Maimonides was born. So Maimonides lived at a very turbulent time and, in fact, things were so bad for the Jews that there was at that time great yearning for the coming of The Messiah so that peace would reign and persecution would cease. I think it would have been very hard for Maimonides to accept the belief that The Messiah, Yeshua, had already come and would come again at a later date. Maimonides had been taught that when the Son of David, The Messiah, came there would be world peace and that the Jews would never be persecuted again.

This brilliant young rabbi, Maimonides, codified Jewish Law from the Hebrew Scriptures and the Talmud in his monumental work, the Mishneh Torah. It is from the Mishneh Torah that we get the 613 laws that we Jews know about today. The Mishneh Torah is revered by rabbis all over the world.

Maimonides also authored the 13 Principles of the Jewish Faith, mentioned above, which in his eyes every true Jew should know and believe. In fact, The Principles are recited in synagogues around the world today in the form of the Yigdal prayer found in the Siddur. I have it in my very own Artscroll Siddur1. Each of the 13 Principles begins with “I believe in perfect faith”. These Thirteen Principles are taken very seriously indeed. Although Maimonides lived about a thousand years after Yeshua’s time, understanding the Rambam’s 13 Principles can help to explain why many Jewish people today refuse to believe in Yeshua.

I want to talk with you now about one of The Thirteen Principles, namely the Third Principle. The Third Principle is the negation of corporeality. God cannot have a body. Since Jesus had a body and said that he was God the Third Principle makes Jesus a liar and a scoundrel. Jesus also said that he was the Messiah. How could a Jewish person accept a scoundrel and a liar as The Messiah? There is no way! Except for one thing: the Rambam, as great and good as he was, was dead wrong. Let me show you the evidence for this by looking at a portion of Scripture with you from the New Testament that shows us that Maimonides’s Third Principle is absolutely incorrect. This Scripture portion will show us two things: that Yeshua was, and is, God, and that God can be corporeal, meaning that God can have a body. Here is the Scripture portion:

“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)

So what happened here? A number of things:

  1. Yeshua said to a paralytic, who could not walk, “your sins are forgiven”.
  2. Because only God can forgive sins, Yeshua was saying that he is God.
  3. This was clearly recognized by some of the Jewish scribes because they said “This man is blaspheming”.
  4. When a person is forgiven of his or her sins there is no immediate way to know that that has occurred. There is no outward change in the person’s appearance that can be observed.
  5. Therefore, Yeshua offered proof to the scribes that he had authority on earth to forgive sins by doing a miracle which was much more difficult to do than proclaiming “Your sins are forgiven” to a person and which could be verified by an easily observable external change: Yeshua told the paralyzed man to pick up his bed and go home, and the man immediately did this. He was healed.

Please also note that Yeshua referred to Himself here as the Son of Man:

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—

Yeshua did this to call attention to the fact that not only is he God, he is also human, and that would of course be obvious to anyone who saw him. He was and is a man. But because he could and can forgive sins, he is God. He is the God-Man. He has two natures: he is perfectly human in every way, except for the fact that there is no sin in him (unlike each and every one of us) and, he is God, the Son of God, with all the attributes of God. He had to have both natures, that of God and that of man in order to save us. Because to save us required the ultimate blood sacrifice and that means that Yeshua had to die, and as God he could not die. He had to have the nature of man in order to die and the nature of God in order to forgive sin by becoming the perfect blood sacrifice. Please remember that the Torah makes it clear that a blood sacrifice is required to make atonement for sin (Leviticus 17:11) and please also note that the blood of animals could not provide permanent forgiveness of sins. That is why animals had to be sacrificed again and again. Yeshua’s one blood sacrifice provides permanent forgiveness of sins for anyone who will accept it by faith.

Please note one other thing. Jesus proved he is God. God does not lie. Jesus said he is the Messiah. Therefore, he is The Messiah..

So, my dear Jewish brothers and sisters, can you see how Maimonides’s Third Principle can seriously discourage a Jewish person from accepting Jesus as Messiah and God? And can you imagine the effect that this Third Principle could have on a modern Rabbi, who’s job it is to teach people the truth, but who may be unwittingly teaching his people an untruth embedded in this Third Principle? And do you know that because this Third Principle is so embedded in our prayerbooks, teachings, and culture, that you, as a Jew today, can be affected by it even if you have never heard of Maimonides or his 13 Principles of the Jewish Faith? Let me say it once more: The teaching that God can not have a body is incorrect (more about this another time; our Hebrew Scriptures spell this out clearly also). And saying, and believing, that God came to earth as The Messiah and God, as The God-Man (there is only One!), does not make you a heretic. On the contrary, it makes you a truer Jew than you could ever otherwise be!

We will talk about these things more in future posts because there is much more to say. But in the next post, we’ll switch gears and talk about something different. We will talk about something that Yeshua paid the price for us to escape from, if we have faith in Him. We will talk about something called The Time of Jacob’s Trouble and we will also talk about something called The Rapture.

Hope to see you next time!

0

Who is The Messiah?

Why is it important to know who The Messiah is? Because he is the primary agent in the cure for death. He can bring a person from death to life. My dear Jewish brothers and sisters, that is important!

So, let’s talk about The Messiah. But first let’s get our terms straight. The word Messiah comes from the Greek word and the later Latin word Messias. Messiah is the word we use in the English language. The Hebrew word is Mashiach. Messiah means an anointed one, usually one anointed with oil, as the first High Priest, Aaron, was. But in this post I’m not talking about an anointed Old Testament Levitical priest or an anointed Old Testament king. Nor am I talking about any other Old Testament person whom the LORD had chosen to anoint and set apart for a particular purpose. I’m also not talking about a person who might be a “messiah” in a secular sense. For example, a military general who wins a great war and by doing so saves his nation from invasion and defeat by an enemy force, might be referred to as a messiah even though such a person would not generally be anointed with oil. We are not going to talk about that type of messiah. We are going to talk about The Messiah, of whom there is only one. It is he who brings peace, righteousness, and the Messianic Age. The Messiah essentially brings heaven to earth. This is The Messiah that Jews have been waiting for, for thousands of years.

If you try to look for the one source or the one text that specifies who The Messiah is or what his qualifications are you won’t find one source for this information. And there is no definite agreement even among Jewish scholars and Rabbis as to who The Messiah is or which ancient books or texts can be used to identify him. And it’s important to know how we might identify The Messiah because if we don’t have reliable criteria we could miss The Messiah when he comes or we could wrongly identify an individual who is not The Messiah as being The Messiah. So how do we begin our quest to find The Messiah? Did he already come or do we look for him yet to come? And where do we look for answers to these questions?

As noted above, Messiah, or Mashiach, means anointed one. But the Jewish people mainly used the word Mashiach to describe that person, a human being and not God, who would be the deliverer or liberator or saviour of the Jewish people and Jewish Nation. So The Messiah is someone who would deliver the Nation of Israel and the Jewish people from disaster or catastrophe or oppression and such a person in actuality would not necessarily be distinguishable by being anointed with oil. Certainly someone thought to be The Messiah could be anointed with oil by a person with the authority to declare an individual to be The Messiah. But there is a potential problem with that. If one of us, you or I, were a King, or Chief Priest, or Chief Rabbi, of Israel and had the authority to declare a person to be The Messiah, we could then anoint that person with oil and declare him to be The Messiah. But I wouldn’t be convinced by that. Would you be? For an office as important as that of Messiah, the anointing must be from an unbiased and unimpeachable source. It’s quite clear to me that the unimpeachable source has to be God. Does that make sense to you?

If there is no one source of information to tell us about The Messiah, where did the information that we have come from? Where did it originate? It originates from the Hebrew Scriptures, i.e., the Old Testament, or Tanach.

Now suppose that you or I decided to carefully look for information and evidence pointing to The Messiah. I would start my research in the Old Testament. There would be more than one way to do that. I could study the works of someone who has already carefully researched this question of The Messiah’s origin and who is also familiar with the Hebrew language. Such a person would be Jewish and would very likely be a Rabbi or other Jewish scholar renowned for his knowledge on this entire topic. I could simply accept the conclusions of such a person regarding who The Messiah must be and of equal importantance, who the Messiah cannot be. And that could be the end of my research.

Or I could do this a different way. I’m Jewish but I don’t read Hebrew well, but I could, myself, read through an English translation of the Hebrew Scriptures looking for passages that seem to talk about a deliverer or liberator who will rescue the Jewish people, and possibly other people as well, from the consequences of disaster or oppression, from slavery or even from death. I could use dictionaries to help me understand particular Hebrew words, I could consult books written to give me the opinions of one or more authors on the subject, and I could directly question people who know more about this topic than I do. But I would put my own study of the Hebrew Scriptures first. I would want to avoid being biased and I would want to do my best to shed any presuppositions that I might have about The Messiah before beginning my study. I would not necessarily accept the opinion of an expert, particulary if it did not make sense to me and if it contradicted the plain meaning of the Tanach. And I would begin my study at the beginning of the Old Testament, in the Book of Genesis.

So, we will take a look at the Book of Genesis regarding who The Messiah might be, but before we do that we must confront two difficult and very important questions.

The first question is as follows: Why do questions about the identity of The Messiah often cause contention? Could it be that there is a very strong motive for someone to cause confusion about The Messiah’s identity? Could the reason for causing this confusion be so that the Jewish people will not accept The Messiah when he comes?

The second question is this: Could there be someone who even wants to stop The Messiah from coming altogether?

If the answers to the above two questions is yes, why would that be the case and who would that someone be? And there is something else too. The Messiah is peculiarly related to the Jewish people and the Jewish Nation, Israel, and over the centuries there have been more attempts to destroy the Jewish people and Israel than there have been to destroy any other people or country. Why? Could these attempts be related to The Messiah?

When we talk about The Messiah and the name of Jesus comes up, especially with Jewish people, feelings can quickly rise to the level of extreme anger and people, Jewish people, can sometimes even become violent. The Apostle Paul, who started his career as a Jewish Rabbi, was one of those who became extremely angry and he lived many centuries ago. Why does the name of Jesus provoke this anger and contention even today? Could it be that he is the Messiah?

The Jewish people, The Chosen People, have been persecuted for thousands of years. That persecution began long before the time of Jesus Christ but not before the time that the first evidence for The Messiah made its appearance. Antisemitism today is not decreasing. It is increasing. That is positively frightening. Much of it comes from Islamic countries. What is the ultimate reason for this antisemitism?

What if these two things are connected? The two things I’m referring to are 1) extreme anger and rejection on the part of many Jewish people when the possibility of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah is brought up, and 2) several thousand years of antisemitism and murder of Jews that finally escalated to the point of the attempted eradication of the Jewish people by Adolph Hitler and his Final Solution, and the current desire of radical Islam to eradicate the Jewish people and their Nation, Israel.

Could there be an evil mastermind behind these things directing this hatred and the consequences that follow from it? In my opinion the answer is an unequivocal yes. I want to give you the evidence for my opinion and I propose to begin with a verse from the first book of the Bible, Genesis.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”” Genesis 3:1

At this point I’m asking you to please recall my first post (The Cause of Death) in which we talked about the ultimate cause of death. But here is a summary: Death occurs because sin entered the human race when Adam broke the one commandment that God gave him. Adam was commanded not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and this commandment also applied to Eve, Adam’s wife. She ate of this forbidden fruit because the serpent tricked her into disobeying God’s commandment, and Adam followed Eve and ate of this fruit also. The serpent caused Eve to doubt the truth of what God said and to disobey the one commandment that God gave Adam, a commandment that applied to both Adam and Eve. In doubting the truth of this commandment Eve doubted God Himself and put the word of the serpent above the word of God. The serpent was very well aware of the one commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve. Here is how the serpent worked his deception:

“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:5-6

And here is what God ordained for the serpent and clearly communicated to the serpent because of what he did:

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15 1

Now something profoundly important has occurred here, in fact so profoundly important as to be beyond what we could even imagine. The woman, Eve, will give birth to a male descendant and either he, Eve’s son, or a male desendant of Eve’s further down the line, is going to bruise the serpent’s head. Many translators believe that crush is a more accurate translation than bruise. The male descendant will have only his heel injured. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, in his commentary on Genesis2 sees this verse as conveying a picture of Eve’s male descendant bringing his heel down on to the head of the serpent in a fatal crushing blow, and the serpent in a vain attempt to save itself, biting the descending heel. The bite inflicted by the serpent is non-fatal and comparatively minor.

Please remember that it is through what the serpent did, by tricking Eve into breaking God’s commandment, with Adam following Eve and doing the same thing, that Death entered the human race. When God spoke and pronounced sentence on the serpent, ultimately the sentence of death, God identified who would do this to the serpent. The person identified is a male descendant of Eve. Only here, and nowhere else in the Bible is someone described as being the descendant of a woman with no father mentioned. This is very significant. The fact that no father is mentioned fits well with the virgin birth of Jesus. This was prophesied by the Hebrew prophet Isaiah 700 years before it actually occurred.

Was the serpent acting on his own? No. Were any other animals in the garden said to have the ability to speak? No. Inhabiting this serpent was Satan, an evil angel, the archdeceiver, the father of lies, a murderer, and a hater of God. Satan, using the serpent as an instrument of evil, directly defied God and brought the curse of death on the entire human race. Would not this situation as described in Genesis warrant someone to reverse this curse of death? That someone would need to crush Satan’s head, utterly defeating Satan, and also pay the price for the sins committed by Adam and Eve and all of their descendants, including you and me. Only then could we be declared righteous, only then could this penalty of death be changed into eternal life.

Who could this descendant of Eve be? Would not this have to be The Messiah? That is what I believe. But more than that, a number of ancient Rabbis thought so too. They may not have known who The Messiah was to be but they did believe that he who would crush the serpent’s head was The Messiah.

Has there ever been a catastrophe so great that only a Messiah, The Messiah, could provide the remedy to liberate the human race from the bondage of sin and death that followed from the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden? Never! The consequences of this catastrophe are affecting you and me today. It is the reason for war, genocide, hatred among humans, and the evil pervading our world. This Messiah would need to be mighty powerful to reverse this curse! He’d have to be stronger than Satan, the chief of evil angels. It almost seems as if this Messiah would need to have the power of God.

But what about the two questions that I asked above? Why such anger when the name of Jesus is brought up and why anti-semitism, better called Jew hatred, and genocide? Is Satan responsible for these? Yes! He does not want his head eventually crushed. He knows the Bible and he is wily and powerful. But how will destroying belief in The Messiah benefit Satan? And how will eradicating the entire Jewish race benefit Satan? In order to understand the answer, I’m going to ask you to read several Bible verses with me, one from the New Testament and the others from the the Tanach:

““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”” Matthew 23:37-39

Jesus said this to the Jewish people, his people, in Jerusalem, shortly before his death. He was telling them that he would not return, he would not come back, until they, the Jewish people, called for him to return by saying:

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Jesus was quoting part of a verse from the Tanach. It was from a messianic psalm, Psalm 118:26, recognized by Rabbis as referring to The Messiah. By quoting this verse, Jesus was once again affirming that he was The Messiah. Here is the whole verse, in Hebrew, in transliterated Hebrew, and in English:3.

כו. בָּרוּךְ הַבָּא בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה בֵּרַכְנוּכֶם מִבֵּית יְהוָה

Baruch haba beshem Adonai. Berachnuchem mi’beit Adonai.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; we have blessed you from the House of the Lord

Jesus is telling the Jewish people, his people, that they will not see him again, that he will not return to deliver them, as a Nation, until they ask him to come back by blessing him in the Name of Adonai, God the Father.

Now, please look at these verses from the Tanach:

“On that day the LORD will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the LORD, going before them. And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” Zechariah 12:8-10

The Hebrew prophet Zechariah is speaking of The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, also known as The Great Tribulation. It will be a time of trouble like none ever before seen on this planet. The Son of David – The Messiah – will come to destroy all the nations attempting to annihilate Israel and the Jewish people. The Jewish people will look on him, Jesus, whom they have pierced, they will recognize him as their Messiah and mourn. He, Jesus, will then rescue them. He will destroy all nations coming against Jerusalem and he will bring in the Messianic Age.

In an attempt to prevent this from happening Satan will try to silence every last Jewish voice from crying out for Messiah’s return. He will try to do this by two means. He will decieve Jewish people so that many will not even consider that Jesus could be their Messiah and he will also attempt to destroy every single Jewish person. By means of this double plan he will attempt to silence the last possible Jewish voice so that not one Jew will cry out for deliverance. By so doing he believes that he can prevent The Messiah from returning and prevent his, Satan’s, head from eventually being crushed. Jesus came, for the Jewish people, in the first century AD as a suffering servant. He will return soon as a mighty King and Warrior.

My Jewish friend, as you ponder what I’ve written about in this post please remember that our God is a God of hope and blessing. He wants you to have eternal life. You can have that by accepting Jesus as your Lord and Messiah. Why not do that right now? No formula is needed. Just pray, out loud, and ask him to be your Lord and Savior today. He’ll do it.

0

The Cure for Death, Part II

If you read the last post then you know what a person must do to be saved, to be born again (The Cure for Death).  But I want to tell you something more about the cure for death and that is the purpose of this post.

As we have already discussed, please remember that we are all sinners.  There are two reasons for that.  The first reason is that we were all in Adam when he sinned and when that happened Sin, as a principle or essence, entered us and became part of each and every one of us.  The second reason is that having that inborn sin nature causes us to walk in sin, to sin continuously (The Cause of Death).

But maybe you don’t believe that you are a sinner.  Maybe what I have been saying is just all a bunch of nonsense to you.  You look at the Ten Commandments and say to yourself “I have never broken any of those.  I’ve never stolen or lied or murdered or dishonored my father and mother.  I’m a good person”.  Well, how about this one: You shall have no other gods before me?  That is the first commandment.  Did you know that an electronic video game and the cell phone that contains it is a god to many people?  It demands more of their attention and energy than anything else and so they make it more important than everything else in their lives.  It is an idol to them which is another way of saying it is a god to them.  People can also make idols of money,  jobs, cars, houses, their children, and other things too.  Do any of these apply to you?

Well, I’m not going to go through the first nine commandments in  detail with you right now and I’m not going to go through the rest of all the other commandments in the Torah with you right now either.  But I do want to make sure that you know that there are a total of 613 commandments or mitzvot in the Torah.  That’s 603 commandments in addition to the famous Ten Commandments.  My Jewish brothers and sisters, please believe me.  You’ve broken many of these commandments.  After our people returned to the Land from Babylon, the Law was read to them and they wept.

“And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.”  Nehemiah 8:9

Why did the people weep?  They wept because as the Law was read and then explained to them they realized how many of God’s mitzvot they had failed to keep without even realizing it.  That was the case because most  of the people had not had God’s law or instruction, the Torah, read to them for a long time, perhaps never.  That applies to many of us today.

But just to make it absolutely clear to you that you and I are sinners, that we’ve broken at least one commandment, let’s take a look at the 10th commandment:

““You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.””  Exodus 20:17

“You shall not covet.”  What does that mean?  It means to want something that does not belong to you.  Now I want to be very clear here.  Coveting does not mean taking something that is not yours.  That would be stealing.  Or in the case of sexual desire it would be adultery or extramarital sex or premarital sex.  Coveting, if it proceeds no further, is a sin of the mind and the heart.  It’s a desire.  It could even be secret.  Maybe nobody but you knows that you desire some particular thing that is not yours.  And by the way, if nobody else knows about your secret desire, that probably means that you have also broken the commandment which forbids you to lie.

Let me show you an example of coveting.  Perhaps you desire to have your boss’s job, or to have your neigbor’s Mercedes.  Or perhaps  you desire your wife’s best female friend or your husband’s best male friend.  Now you might never act on this desire.  You might never progress from desire for another woman or man to actually having an affair with her or him.  But by coveting you’ve broken the 10th commandment.  Have you never desired to have something that is not yours?  I very much doubt that.  And according to God’s Law, by breaking this 10th  commandment you’ve broken all 613 commandments.

“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”  James 2:10

Now, my Jewish brother or sister (and please remember that I’m Jewish too),  you may say to me once again that this is a verse from the New Testament and therefore you don’t believe it.  Do you think that the Hebrew Scriptures, even the Torah (the first five books of  the Bible, also called The Five Books of Moses), says something different?  I’m sorry to tell you that we can’t pick and choose which commandments to obey.

“if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.”  Leviticus 26:15-16

God is saying that He wants you and me to do all His commandments and if we don’t do them all there are serious consequences.  It sounds very much to me that God is saying that if we’ve broken one commandment it is the same as breaking them all.  And there are many more verses from the Torah that make it clear that God expects all His commandments to be obeyed.  My friend, you can’t help but break at least one of the 613 commandments and neither can I.

So what is the answer?  What is the cure for Death?  A substitutionary sacrifice is needed.  Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.  This was mentioned in the last post.  The shed blood of an animal provided a covering for sin, but permanent forgiveness of sins could not be provided by an animal sacrifice.  Only the blood of Jesus could do that.

Now you may quote the following verse to me and tell me that a blood sacrifice is no longer required:

““What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.”  Isaiah 1:11

This is what the LORD wants from us:

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”  Isaiah 1:16-17

God never eliminated the requirement of a blood sacrifice for the remission of sins.  There is no way that the LORD would tell us about the need to provide sacrifices for the remission of sins in verse after verse after verse in the Torah, in exquisite detail, and then later tell us that sacrifices are not needed for the remission of sins.  God does not contradict Himself.   But God will not accept sacrifices from those who do not have contrite hearts, from those who do not repent.  Here is what God did do:  He sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, to die for us, to shed His precious blood.  He did this one time and that was enough.  All of the sacrifices described in the Torah were a foreshadowing of the once for all permanent sacrifice that Yeshua would make.

My fellow Jewish brother and sister, you may also tell me that Jonah went to Nineveh to preach the message that God gave him for the Ninevites, to save them.  They repented and 120,000 were saved right then.  There was no shedding of blood.  How could that be?  Here’s how:

“Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”  Hebrews 9:15

Are you familiar with the New Covenant that the LORD spoke about through the mouth of the Jewish prophet Jeremiah?  It’s in Jeremiah chapter 31, in the Hebrew Scriptures.  Yeshua inaugurated that covenant many years later at The Last Supper which was a traditional Jewish Passover seder.  The  blood that Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, shed was so efficacious that it provided effective atonement for the sins of those who loved God and had contrite hearts even before Yeshua came to earth to die on the cross.  That would include people such as Abraham, Moses, King David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and many others.  God operates in the sphere of eternity and He can even provide permanent forgiveness of sins for those who died before Jesus came.

There is yet more to talk about under the title of The Cure for Death.  The blood of Jesus provides for even more than just the forgiveness of our sins.  It provides for our justification.  Justification is a forensic term.  It makes us think of a courtroom, a judge, and a defendant.  When this defendant, who represents you and me, accepts the judge’s, i.e., God’s, free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, God justifies us.  This means that we are not only pardoned for all our sins but we are are considered by God to be one who never sinned in the first place.  Jesus took all the punishment for all our sins and gives us His perfect righteousness.  How could that be?  It can be because God made the provision for it and because God declares it to be the truth.  It’s better than a pardon.

But, you ask, why then does the person who is saved still commit sins?  Thank you for that very important question.  We will address that in an upcoming post.

1+

The Cure for Death

At the end of the last post I promised to tell you about the cure for death. I’d like to begin to do that today with this post by having you read the story below about a man with terminal cancer.

*

“Mr. Cohen is here, Dr. Kaplan.”

“Please put him in my consultation room, Denise.”

Noah Cohen was 77 years old. Prostate cancer had been diagnosed 6 years ago and was advancing in spite of treatment. Widespread metastases in the bones was causing pain.

“Hi Noah. How are you?”

“The pain’s getting worse Ben. I can’t sleep because of it.”

“Are you taking your pain medication?”

Noah had known Ben Kaplan since Ben’s medical school days. Noah’s older brother had been one of Ben’s professors. Their families had met and over the years had grown close.

Noah had never really accepted his diagnosis of cancer. He knew he had it but was unwilling to acknowledge the seriousness of it. His wife, Sarah, had passed away six months ago, suddenly. A few months before, she had accepted Jesus as her Messiah and Lord. This had caused quite a stir in the Cohen extended Jewish family and it upset Noah. There were no children.

“You know I don’t like to take pills, Ben. I admit the pain is getting worse. Do you think this cancer could kill me? I’m starting to worry about that.”

“Yes, Noah, it could kill you.”

“Ben, what do I have to look forward to? I’m afraid of dying.”

“I understand Noah. Fear of death is very natural. That’s why it’s so important to know that you will be with God for eternity after you die. With that knowledge comes peace,” said Ben.

“You’re talking about Jesus, right? You’ve told me about Him before, about the need for forgiveness of our sins. And you’ve told me that Jesus is my Messiah, the Jewish Messiah, right?” said Noah.

“That’s right. We’re all sinners Noah, we have all broken God’s commandments, and a righteous God can’t have us with Him in heaven unless we are righteous too. Only God Himself can make us righteous and He made that possible by providing the ultimate sacrifice for us, for you and for me. Our Hebrew scriptures talk about this: ‘My righteous Servant will justify many, and He will carry their iniquities,’” said Ben.

“You told me about Isaiah 53 before and I read it. My Rabbi said that the servant in Isaiah 53 is Israel, not Jesus.”

“The Rabbis are not always right, Noah.”

“How can I know the truth Ben? I want to know. And I want to know if Jesus is really the Jewish Messiah, and if He is, how could He save me from death?” asked Ben.

“Noah, you say you believe in God, but you have no peace. Why not ask God to tell you if He sent Jesus to be the sacrifice for your sins? I believe that God will answer you.”

“I’ll do it Ben. Can we talk again soon?”

“Absolutely.”

*

Noah Cohen was looking forward to tonight. It was Friday and Susan, Ben’s wife, had invited him to the Shabbat meal. Noah drove down the tree lined street to their home. He always felt comfortable coming here. There never seemed to be pretenses.

“Hi Noah. Glad you could make it. Shabbat Shalom,” said Susan as she gave him a hug. “It’s been too long.”

There were just the 3 of them tonight. Susan lit the candles and said the prayer, ushering in the Sabbath. Ben said the prayers over the bread and wine.

“Dig in Noah. There’s plenty of food,” said Susan.

Noah’s appetite had not been good lately but this table laden with traditional Jewish food was appealing to him. The smells were wonderful and before he realized it, Noah was helping himself. After dinner, over coffee served at the table, Susan spoke first.

“Noah, tell me what’s going on in your life.”

“You know I have prostate cancer and it’s getting worse. The pain is really bad. What really worries me is the thought of death. Ben tells me that this cancer could definitely kill me. I feel like that time is getting close.”

“Ben did tell me that he spoke with you about Yeshua and spending eternity in heaven with Him. What are your thoughts about that?” asked Susan.

“I don’t want to die, at least I don’t want to be put into the ground and have it all end there. That would be just nothingness, a void for eternity. How can I know if there’s more, and if there is, how can I have it?” said Noah.

“Noah, our Scriptures say that one day the wolf will lie down with the lamb and that someone who has lived one hundred years will be a young person. The prophet Isaiah said these things. He was talking about the Messianic Kingdom. The New Testament tells us that it will last a thousand years, and then eternity starts. The soul never dies. The Jewish Messiah, Jesus, came so that our relationship with God could be restored and by accepting Him we will spend eternity with Him, with God. Sarah is with Him now,” said Susan. “Yeshua came to pay the ultimate price, to be the ultimate blood sacrifice. God told us in His word that there is no remission of sins without the shedding of blood. Let me read to you from the New Testament, or New Covenant, also called the Brit Chadashah in Hebrew,” said Susan.

“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22

“But Susan, that’s from the New Testament. Our people don’t believe the New Testament,” said Noah.

“Ben and I are Jewish and we believe it. So do many other Jews. Sarah believed it. We also believe that the Old Covenant, or Old Testament, and the New Testament, together make up one book. Together they are one complete Bible. But there is something else that you have to know also and that is that God made it clear in the Old Testament that the forgiveness of sins requires the shedding of blood,” said Susan.

“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.” Leviticus 17:11

“But Noah, you must also know that all of the bulls and goats and other animals that were sacrificed in the days of Moses, and afterwards, never provided permanent forgiveness of sins. If they did these sacrifices would not have had to be continually repeated,” said Susan. “That’s why Jesus had to shed His blood and die. Because He is God, the shedding of His infinitely valuable blood once provided permanent forgiveness of sins.

“I never really understood that before, Susan. What you are telling me makes sense.

“Susan, my parents and grandparents never accepted Jesus. Does that mean they’re in hell? How could a loving God send people to hell?” asked Noah.

“Noah, only God knows if your grandparents are in heaven with Him. He gives everyone an opportunity to accept Him. He doesn’t want anybody to perish, to spend eternity separated from Him, to suffer eternal death. God loves you and wants you with Him forever but that can only happen if you are holy and pure, because He is holy and pure. Jesus came to make you holy and pure, righteous in God’s sight, but you have to accept Him for that to happen. It’s a free gift but you have to accept the gift,” said Susan.

“Susan, what do I have to do to accept Him? I want to know that God will accept me now,” said Noah.

“Noah, sit down next to me. Ben, please join us,” said Susan.

The three of them, Noah in the middle, were seated on the sofa, hands joined. Susan explained to Noah how to ask for forgiveness and salvation and Noah prayed on his own.

“Father in heaven. I understand now that I’m a sinner and that I need forgiveness and cleansing. I know that you sent Yeshua to shed His blood and to die for me on the cross to pay the price for my sins. I know that according to your Law, I should die and spend eternity separated from You. Please don’t let this happen to me Father. I accept what You and Jesus did for me. Please accept me into Your Kingdom that I might have eternal life with You. Thank you Father. Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen,” said Noah.

After Noah’s prayer Ben wept.

“Susan, I’m going to spend eternity in heaven with God,” said Noah. “It seems too good to be true.”

“You’re right Noah. It does seem too good to be true. But it isn’t. We serve a God who is unbelievably gracious,” said Susan.

“Baruch Ha Shem! Bless the name of the Lord!” said Ben.

0