Are You Ready for Yeshua's Return?
By Jonathan Bernis
I believe everyone can agree that we are living in extraordinary times! Every single day, the cares of the world seek to divert our attention from the infinitely more important issues that the Bible admonishes us to be watching for as signs of our times—the end of the age and the return of Jesus. The question is: Are you prepared for His return?
The mark of the beast ... Gog and Magog ... 666 ... a confederation of ten nations ... the antichrist’s ascendancy to power ... the abomination of desolation ... are all Last Days’ topics that most endtime teachers focus on and tell us will happen in the near future. Interest in this topic is escalating once again with the “prophecies” of Nostradamus drawing near and predictions found in the Mayan calendar that the world will come to an end in 2012.
Many have become obsessed with trying to unravel the Bible’s mysterious and veiled prophecies of the end. They analyze every word in the daily newspapers or the television news to see if there might be a connection to the End Times. This is especially true if that news has to do with Israel or the Middle East.
For many years, these people have seen almost anything that happens on the international stage as a sure sign that the Second Coming is imminent. During the first Gulf War, some hinted that Saddam Hussein fit the profile of the Antichrist. Prior to World War II, Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Benito Mussolini were considered prime suspects. When Napoleon’s armies swept through Europe, many were sure that he was Satan’s chosen one.
Some Bible teachers continue to be obsessed with trying to set an exact date for Christ’s (Messiah’s) return. They claim to have discovered secret codes in Scripture or received divine revelation from the Lord about this. Yet, the Bible clearly warns us “no man knows the day or the hour.” I believe this is the way the Lord wants it. He wants us to be dark on exactly when Yeshua will return and the end will come. Why? So that we live each day with the expectation that today may be the day. That is why we are exhorted to “keep watch.”
Throughout history there have been many erroneous predictions about the exact date these things would occur. Here are just a few examples:
• Bernard of Thuringia calculated that the end would come in 992.
• Pope Innocent III expected the Second Coming to take place in 1284, 666 years after the rise of Islam.
• Mathematician Michael Stifel calculated that the Day of Judgment would begin at 8 a.m. on October 19, 1533.
• John Napier, the mathematician who discovered logarithms, predicted that the world would end in 1688.
• Puritan Cotton Mather chose 1697 as the year of Jesus’ Second Coming.
• William Miller found a huge audience for his prediction that Jesus would return on October 22, 1844. When it didn’t happen, that day became known as The Great Disappointment.
• More recently, NASA scientist Edgar C. Whisenant wrote “On Borrowed Time & 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.” It sold over four million copies.
• Y2K or January 1, 2000 was predicted as the day computers would fail and life as we’ve known it would never be the same again.
There is no doubt in my mind; we are, indeed, living in the Last Days. But to be honest, it disturbs me that most Christian authors, who teach on this topic, including some who make a career out of predicting the exact date of Yeshua’s return, aren’t talking much, if at all, about many of signs of the end that are being fulfilled.
You see, there are Bible prophecies being fulfilled now, today, under our very noses that reveal beyond any doubt that we are living in the Last Days. The restoration of Israel and Jerusalem in 1948 and 1967 respectively, the return of the Jewish People from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, Jewish People coming to faith in Messiah in greater numbers than at anytime since the first century and the rise of the modern Messianic Jewish congregational movement worldwide are all clear indicators that we are in the season known as the “ End of Days” or the “End of the Age.”
Before we go any further, please allow me to explain that there’s nothing wrong with seeking to understand what I like to call “symbolic” or “hidden” prophecy. This is prophecy revealed in the form of visions and metaphoric language that no doubt is tied to the Last days. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we should seek to understand the meaning of these passages—and to live in the light of that understanding.
By all means, we should seek to understand the difficult passages in Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, Revelation, and so on. I’m seeking to understand these books myself. It is a day-by-day journey.
My concern is that we should not get caught up in the vanity of forecasting exact dates, nor dogmatically say, “This is that.” Yeshua himself said, “No man knows the hour.” Yes, we must discern the season we live in. The men of Issachar discerned the times (see 1 Chronicles 12:32), and the Bible calls them wise.
This can only mean one thing: the return of Jesus to Jerusalem. But before He comes, there must be a national awakening of the Jewish People.
It is my view, after almost 30 years of study of the Bible and eschatology that the greatest single prophetic event to take place before the return of Messiah to this earth is the Jewish People turning back to God as they recognize that Jesus is their promised Messiah.
It is no coincidence that Jewish People all over the world are turning to Him and becoming Messianic Jews in numbers not seen since the first century. Many Scriptures predicted this event, and they directly tie it to the Messiah’s return immediately following. Two of the strongest are found in Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 11:25.
The first, Zechariah 12:10, written hundreds of years before Jesus is even born declares:
“And I will pour out on the House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”
This amazing prophecy actually predicts the day when the House of David (the Jewish People) will recognize Yeshua as their Messiah and Savior, and repent. We are told in chapter 13:1, that immediately following this national awakening, “a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.” This can only mean one thing: the return of Jesus to Jerusalem. But before He comes, there must be a national awakening of the Jewish People.
This exact chronology is repeated in Romans 11:
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins. —Romans 11:25-27
In other words, the Jewish People will continue to reject Jesus as their Messiah until a set time in history, known as the “fullness of the Gentiles.” I do not have time or space in this article to further expound on this, but I urge you to shop for some of the books, CDs and DVDs available through our ministry, where I teach on the subject at length.
My point is that the Lord has a set time when the blindness will, indeed, come off of the eyes of Israel (the Jewish People) and they will recognize Jesus as Yeshua. The declaration that “the Deliverer will come out of Zion and turn away ungodliness from Jacob” directly states that the Messiah’s return to Jerusalem will happen only after the blindness comes off of the eyes of the Jewish People, and Israel is saved.
In light of this biblical truth (and there are many more Scriptures beyond the two I have cited that say the same thing) and how important this restoration is to the heart of God, any eschatological teaching or position that in any way impedes the Gospel proclamation to the Jewish People today is in error.
I believe as it says in Psalm 102:13, “You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come.” This means that it is now time for the Jewish People to hear and respond to the Good News.
Other Clear Signs of the Last Days
Of course, there are many other signs that Yeshua told us to watch for in connection with discerning the Last Days. They include:
• False Messiahs “Watch out that no one deceives you, for many will come “in My name, claiming, “I am the Messiah” (Luke 21:8)
• An Increase in Wars and Conflict Worldwide “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6) “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Luke 21:10)
• A Significant Increase in the Frequency and Magnitude of Natural Disasters “There will be famines and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7)
• A Rise in anti-Semitism and Persecution of True Christians “You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death” (Matthew 24:9)
• A Falling Away of Believers From the Faith “Many will turn from the faith and betray and hate each other” (Matthew 24:10)
• A Major Increase in False Prophets and Prophecy (Matthew 24:11) And the list goes on.
What Should We Do To Prepare?
Sadly, many believers who see that the end is imminent respond by doing nothing. “If Jesus is coming back any day now,” they reason, “then why make any long-term plans or do anything to plan for the future?” I see this as sort of a fatalist approach. The problem with this is that we are exhorted in Scripture to “occupy until He comes” (Luke 19:13 KJV). In other words, we are to live as if He is coming back tomorrow by being spiritually prepared for His return at any moment. And we are to do this, while at the same time we are living a rooted, fruitful and productive life as if He will not come in our lifetime.
These two realities are not a contradiction in the slightest. To live as if He is coming back tomorrow is to understand, as Jesus himself urged us, that “we must do the work of Him who sent us while it is day for night will come when no one can work” (John 9:4). We must continually
be about the Father’s business.
We must seize every opportunity to reach out to others, to share our faith, to be a light to the lost around us. We should see those whom God puts in our path as divine appointments. We need to remain in close fellowship with the Lord through daily devotional times of prayer and study of the Word so that we can discern His voice, seeking, with intention, to always “abide in the vine” and make sure our oil never runs out.
To live a rooted, fruitful and productive life as if we will remain here for a long time is to plan wisely for our future, to pursue education and solid career choices, to provide for our families, and the work of the Kingdom. We should be involved in our communities, make our voices known as citizens of our respective nations, be outstanding members of society. We should live exemplary lives and make a difference in the world.
We should live in this world while at the same time remember that we are not of this world any longer. This is so beautifully stated in Philippians 2:15, “that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” Each of us has a destiny to fulfill in this lifetime, and we will never fulfill it if we simply “head for the hills” and resign from living life to the fullest as a response to His near return.
Get ready for His return. I believe it is soon. But until He comes, make your time on this earth count by seizing every opportunity to do His will in your daily life. If you do, you will experience that glorious moment when you will look into the eyes of our Savior and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful…come and share your master’s happiness.”
From the May/June 2010 edition of Jewish Voice Today.