By Jonathan BernisMost Believers I speak to today firmly believe we are in the Last Days. Many have become almost obsessed with trying to interpret and unravel the Bible’s mysterious End-Time prophecies, and keep a keen eye on politics and world events—especially those that involve Israel or the Middle East. The news is scrupulously analyzed by many watching for specific prophetic signs: a ten nation confederacy, the Antichrist’s emergence and identity, the mark of the beast, the rebuilding of the Third Temple, the Bear of the North—Russia, and the cataclysmic rise of catastrophes and natural disasters. Although these signs are indeed found in the Scriptures, they are apocalyptic texts—veiled and cryptic. Not even scholars of eschatology can interpret these texts with a great deal of accuracy.Although these fascinating apocalyptic signs are difficult to discern, God has not left us without signposts along the way. He would have us be wise as “the men of Issachar, who understood the times . . . ” (1 Chronicles 12:32). And there are some very distinct indications that we are indeed in the Last Days.The term Last Days has a dual application, referring to the time period following the death and resurrection of Yeshua ( Jesus), and also the days that will precede His return. Looking at Luke 21, one can clearly see this principle: “Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, ‘As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down’” (Luke 21:5-6). Herod’s Temple was destroyed and Jerusalem sacked in 70 A.D., fulfilling Yeshua’s words. As you continue reading through the terrible warnings of what is to come, much is applicable to the horrific Roman devastation that occurred at that time. However, verse 24b, “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled,” was not fulfilled until 1967 with the reunification of Jerusalem after the Six Day War. And verses 25-28 are looking forward to a time yet to come, when Yeshua returns.
SIGN 1: A RESTORED ISRAEL AND JEWISH JERUSALEM
A predominant prophetic indicator is the re-establishment of Israel, and Jerusalem returning to Jewish sovereignty. These major, and seemingly implausible, events for nearly two thousand years had to occur before Yeshua’s return. According to the Bible, Yeshua is returning to Israel, and specifically Jerusalem.
- Israel Rebirthed—in a Day After nearly two millennia and a succession of foreign rulers, on May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion declared the restoration of the Jewish State, Israel, saying, “In order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.” Isaiah seemed just as incredulous, challenging: “Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment?” (Isaiah 66:8) We have seen it—in our lifetime!
- Jerusalem Restored to the Jews—“Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24b). Although the exact meaning of Luke 21:24b has been debated for nearly 2,000 years—and still there is no consensus, signs of this prophetic fulfillment have begun rapidly falling into place since the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
- The Desert Will Bloom and Blossom—The prophet Isaiah saw a time when “the desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom” (Isaiah 35:1). It’s almost impossible to believe, but the fledgling State of Israel has developed such revolutionary agricultural methods, that even the sand produces lush crops! In her short time of existence as a modern State, Israel became the largest exporter of roses to Europe.
- The Hebrew Language Revived—According to the prophet Zephaniah, God would “restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord” (Zephaniah 3:9 NKJV). In the late 1800s, Russian immigrant to Israel, Eliezer Ben-Yehudah, revived the ancient Hebrew language, giving the returning exiles of Israel a common language.
Israel and Jerusalem are back in Jewish hands. The People of Israel scattered throughout the world are returning to their biblical Land and to their God. The time of His return is near!
SIGN 2: ISRAEL SURROUNDED BY CONFLICT AND THE RISE OF GLOBAL ANTI-SEMITISM
Anti-Semitism has always existed in the world. There has never been a time when the Jewish People have not been victimized by Satan’s savage attacks against them. Even today in America—probably the least anti-Semitic nation on earth, the Anti-Defamation League reports the highest level of anti- Semitism since World War II.
At its core is Satan fomenting hatred among men against the Children of the God of Israel, generation after generation. He cleverly disguises each campaign with a compelling lie wrapped in a plan designed to rid the world of a perceived ill blamed on the Jews. From the very first attempt to destroy the Jews—Pharaoh’s murder of all the male Hebrew babies—to Herod’s order to kill all male babies under 2 years old two thousand years ago, the serpent’s scheme was to defeat God’s plan to bring forth the Messiah of Israel. He failed—miserably! Yet, the campaign of hatred marches on because the great redemption story is not over. Because the Jewish People and Israel play a major role in Last Days prophecy, Satan is still hard at work opposing God’s plan.The impetus he is using to rally hatred against the Jew today is a powerful anti-Israel (and pro-Palestinian) deception, wrapped in false humanitarian claims and causes. Understand: Deception is a hallmark of the Last Days (Matthew 24:11). For the minuscule size of the country, the lack of natural resources, or strategic seaport, one has to question why Israel is always at the center of world controversy—her existence continually hanging in the balance. We see Israel at the epicenter of a boiling cauldron of increasingly violent factions rising up within the vast Arab lands surrounding her. The world has been told, and has almost mindlessly accepted, claims that all unrest in the Middle East is Israel’s fault—that if the Jews would give the Land “back to the Palestinians” there would be peace in the world and terrorism would end. Nothing could be further from the truth.This is setting the stage to draw all nations into a final cataclysmic showdown in the Middle East—the nations may think it is against Israel, but they will find out it is against her God!“On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves” (Zechariah 12:3).
SIGN 3: THE REGATHERING OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE PHYSICALLY BACK TO THE LAND OF ISRAEL FROM THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE EARTH
Israel should not exist. She should have disappeared hundreds, or even thousands, of years ago with the rest of the “ites” of the Bible: the Amalekites, the Hittites, the Canaanites, etc. These and all the other great biblical nations, including the mighty Philistines, have vanished, yet Israel remains—against all odds. For two millennia the Land has been overrun by foreign aggressors, and her People scattered to the far reaches of the earth, where she has been threatened with annihilation, persecution, and expulsions. Without a homeland until 1948, Israel should have assimilated and ceased to be a recognizable people group. That they did not disappear completely into the cultures in which they settled throughout the world stands as evidence for God’s existence and faithfulness. The “Lost Tribes of Israel” are a fascinating mystery to the world, but they are not really lost. The Lord knows where they are. He promised to regather them in the Last Days and He is doing that in our time!
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but it will be said, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors”(Jeremiah 16:14-15)
“In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth”(Isaiah 11:11-12)
These are the Children of Abraham, scattered to Africa, Asia, India, Europe . . . the remote corners of the earth. God is gathering them today, back to Israel—miraculously restored to receive her returning Children: Ethiopian, Chinese, Sephardim, Asian, Russian, and on and on!Through Jewish Voice you are witness to this miracle and touch the lives of many of the Remnant of Israel that God is regathering—the Beta Avraham, Beta Israel, Gefat, and Yibir Jews of Somaliland; Lemba Tribe of Zimbabwe; and the Bnei Menashe—the Sons of Manasseh, discovered in far northeastern India!This aliyah, or return of the Jews to their biblical homeland, is yet another important sign that the Messiah’s return is approaching.
SIGN 4: THE GOSPEL IS PROCLAIMED TO THE NATIONS
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).The word used in this passage of Scripture is the Greek term ethnos, which actually means “a race,” “a tribe,” or “a people group.” Modern technology makes it possible for the Gospel to be preached to ethnos—people, in the remotest areas of the planet. This is yet another important sign that the Last Days are upon us.Today the Gospel is being preached to ethnos throughout the world, yet only a handful of ministries are reaching out to the Jews. This is tragic, not only because the Jewish People need to hear the Good News that Messiah has come, but because God has put a high priority on reaching the Children of Israel with the Gospel. Consider Paul’s commitment to this mandate: “When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:1-2).Paul not only wrote “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16), he lived it out on his missionary journeys. Unfortunately, over the centuries, this mandate to take the Gospel to the Jew first has been lost.The Gospel is to be preached to the Jew first, and then to the Gentiles. That’s what Paul did, and that’s what we do at Jewish Voice. I believe that every time a Jewish person turns to faith in Yeshua, we move that much closer to Messiah’s return. In fact, Scripture seems to indicate that Jewish People embracing Jesus as Messiah is actually key to His return! “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 23:39).
SIGN 5: THE BLINDNESS COMING OFF THE EYES OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
“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”(Romans 11:25 NKJV)
Another astonishing indicator is the phenomena of Jewish People coming to faith in Yeshua all over the world—in numbers not seen since the book of Acts. Through the ministry of Jewish Voice alone, we have seen some 75,000 Jewish People respond to the Gospel in the last decade of outreaches alone!For more than nineteen centuries, the number of Jews openly professing faith in Yeshua was extremely small, and of those nearly all would be assimilated into the local church. All that changed after 1967. The miraculous return of Jerusalem to the Jewish People sparked a great revival. Labeled the Jesus Movement, this revival was unique from all previous revivals, as Jews started coming to faith—in significant numbers. This was the birth of the modern Messianic Movement. Before 1967 there was not a single Messianic Jewish congregation in the world. Today more than 350 Messianic Jewish congregations—50 in Israel alone—proclaim Messiah with a visibly Hebraic witness. And from a trickle over the past two thousand years, today there are hundreds of thousands, if not a million, Jews in the United States who express some level of faith in Yeshua!God is opening long-blinded eyes and softening thousands of Jewish hearts just as the Scriptures promised. This is an obvious fulfillment of biblical prophecy—and a clear indication that the Last Days are upon us.
SIGN 6: FULLNESS COMING TO THE CHURCH
We need to look a little more closely at the second part of Romans 11:25, “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in,” as Paul gives us another vital sign. Understand that he is speaking of the Church coming to its “fullness” at a specific time when God will then sovereignly begin to turn His attention back to Israel.This is that time. More Jews than ever before are coming to a saving faith in Yeshua. The spiritual restoration of the Jewish People is at hand. The time when God’s Word finds a receptive audience only among the Gentiles has come to an end!
SIGN 7: THE VISIBLE REMNANT OF JEWISH BELIEVERS
“So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5).In the same way the miraculously restored State of Israel is a visible declaration of divine fulfillment of physical restoration, the Messianic Jewish community is a visible declaration of divine spiritual restoration to all the world. God always keeps His covenants. Satan would like to eradicate the Jewish People, thereby proving God and the Bible untrustworthy, but it will not happen!Through Jeremiah God promised Israel a new covenant: “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people” ( Jeremiah 31:33). At the Last Supper, a Jewish Passover Seder, Yeshua lifted the cup of Redemption and sharing it, announced it was the cup of the New Covenant in His blood. There is a misconception that all the Jews rejected Jesus; however, the entire initial community of faith was Jewish. The Jews took the Gospel to the Gentiles, and eventually the Church became almost entirely Gentile and unrecognizable to the Jewish People. However, we are living in a time of Jewish revival!All around us, there are signs that the world is being made ready for Messiah’s return. The most important of these, as we have seen, is the restoration of the People of Israel to a right relationship with God. Do you want to know what’s next? God has promised a glorious salvation for the remnant of Israel!
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a 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”(Zechariah 12:10)
“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity”(Zechariah 13:1)
I’m convinced that we are not very far away from this time.Are you anxious to see Yeshua’s return? Ask God to give you His heart of love and compassion for His People. Ask Him to give you a burden for their redemption, and ask how He would have you participate in His glorious Last Days’ harvest among His Chosen People. You will pray with more passion, develop an urgency to share your faith, and perhaps find doors open to greater involvement in Jewish ministry! All Scripture references TNIV unless otherwise noted.