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the light of Bible prophecy

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Jewish hopes of the Messiah

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Thou O God hast promised to redeem us: hasten therefore the period of our

redemption… The enemy wounds our heart, throws stones at us, afflicts us,

treads us underfoot, and scoffs both at us and our hope of redemption. But

the daughter of Zion may indeed rejoice for our Messiah is coming.

- Jewish prayer for the coming of the Messiah.

 

Today Israel faces a violent onslaught of hatred from the Muslim world which

is not just throwing stones, but bombs and missiles at Jewish people, aiming

at destroying them. We have a video (available on request) showing the

extent of hatred being pumped out by the Arab media against Israel,

encouraging even children as young as five to hate and kill the Jews. In the

Diaspora the biased reporting of events in Israel is causing a backlash of

hostility towards Jewish people. At such a time the hope of the Messiah

coming is a comfort for some, while for others it is a just a pious dream

which has little relevance to contemporary reality.

 

Looking at the state of the world and particularly the situation in Israel,

the Orthodox Jewish Aish website declares:

 

Now, more than ever before over the last 50 years, the Jewish people, and

even the world in general, need a saviour. We need someone who can, once and

for all, bring an end to all human conflict, especially in the Middle East.

And, if he can do that, then perhaps he would also be able to destroy

whatever other evil exists in the world. As he engineers this long-dreamed-of

world peace, let him make unethical and immoral behaviour a thing of the past, too.

 

The traditional hope of the Messiah according to Judaism is of a King in the

line of David coming to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and gather the

dispersed remnant of Israel. He should also teach Israel to walk in the ways

of the Torah and then motivate the whole world to serve God with one

purpose, thus creating world peace.

 

According to a book by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, The Real Messiah, the

restoration of Israel is a sign of the coming Messiah: After 2000 years of

suffering and prayer, we are once again in control of our ancient homeland.

He claims that this shows that we are living in an age where almost all the

Jewish prophecies regarding the prelude to the Messianic Age are coming to pass.

 

Rabbi Kaplan also says that there will be a time of trouble before the

Messiah comes:

 

The rapid changes on both a technological and sociological level will

result in a great social upheaval. The cataclysmic changes will result in

considerable suffering, often referred to as the Chevley Moshiach or

Birthpangs of the Messiah.

 

In this he agrees with Rabbi Sokolovsky who wrote a book Prophecy and

Providence in which he argues that the era of lkveta dMeshicha (the

heels of Messiah, the last days of this age) will be days of spiritual

decline and trouble. This is illustrated by the following quotations from

the Talmud:

 

Tragedy will come upon you at the end of all the days. Targum Yonathan.

 

During the lkveta d'Meshicha insolence will abound. The young will make the

faces of the elderly grow ashen with shame; the elderly will have to rise

before the young; sons will disgrace fathers; daughters will rise up against

their mothers; the members of one's family will become his enemies. Sotah 49b

 

During the lkveta d'Meshicha government will turn atheist and there will be

no protest. Truth will vanish. Sanhedrin 97a, Sotah 49b.

 

Rabbi Kaplan says that into such a time of trouble the Messiah will come,

not as a divine person, but as a great charismatic leader, a mortal human

being born normally of human parents who will change the course of history.

We have seen for example how an evil genius like Hitler literally hypnotised

an entire nation bringing it to do things that normally would be unthinkable

in a civilised society. If such a power exists for evil, it must certainly exist

for good.

 

He describes a possible scenario, which brings him to power. One possible

scenario could involve the Middle East situation. This is a problem that

involves all the world powers. Now imagine a Jew, a Tzadik (literally a

righteous one) solving this thorny problem. It would not be inconceivable

that such a demonstration of statesmanship and political genius would place

him in a position of world leadership. The major powers would listen to such

an individual.

 

Of course Rabbi Kaplan strongly denies any idea that Jesus could be the

Messiah and his book is mainly an attack on the Christian view of Messiah.

The problem is that his rejection of Jesus as the Messiah has led him to a

view which is looking in exactly the wrong place for the fulfilment of

Jewish Messianic hopes. He is looking for a great man, a charismatic world

leader, who will offer a solution to the problems of the world and in

particular of the conflict in the Middle East.

 

The biblical prophecies show that this is a vain hope and will lead to deep

disillusion and betrayal at the hands of the false Messiah who will offer

peace and safety but in fact bring the world to the worst time of trouble

it has ever known.

 

The Bible prophecies also give a clue to the true identity of the Messiah.

The prophet Zechariah has some amazing information on this subject. He

describes a world conflict over the status of Jerusalem, a question, which

will not just affect the countries of the region, but the whole world:

 

And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy

stone for all peoples; and all who would heave it away will surely be cut in

pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it (Zechariah 12.3).

 

In the last days of this age there will be a worldwide crisis which will

focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the question of who rules Jerusalem.

Already this is the main area of world concern with more UN resolutions

being passed on this issue than any other trouble spot on earth. For

religious, economic and political reasons this crisis will focus the minds

of the whole world in the last days and the search for a peace settlement

will be of prime importance. Today the major nations of the world (the USA,

EU and Russia) backed by the organisation which represents all nations (the

UN) are attempting to negotiate a peace plan for the Middle East.

 

It is likely that just prior to the signing of this peace agreement there

will be a limited Middle East war, which will threaten to go nuclear, but

both sides will step back from the brink. Psalm 83 describes the surrounding

Islamic nations wanting to eliminate Israel: Come and let us cut them off

from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.

There has already been an attempt to arrange a seven year peace plan for

the region in the Oslo Accords, which broke down seven years after the

treaty was signed. Another attempt to eliminate Israel, probably in

fulfilment of Psalm 83, resulting again in failure for the Arab cause, would

be enough to send the nations racing to the conference table to work out a

settlement, especially if there has been the threat of nuclear weapons being used.

 

Prophecies in the book of Daniel indicate that the false Messiah or

Antichrist will be the one who makes this peace settlement. In Daniel 9 we

read of the prince who is to come who is the Antichrist, a figure

associated with the Romans, the ones who destroyed the Second Temple:

 

And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for

Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city

and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of

the war desolations are determined. Then he (i.e. the prince who is to come)

shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the

week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of

abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation,

which is determined, is poured out on the desolate (Daniel 9.26-7).

 

One week here is a seven year period and this passage indicates a peace

covenant made with many in Israel which will be the subject of a double

cross resulting in it being broken half way through (i.e. after 3 ½ years).

Daniel 11 indicates that the covenant being worked out will be based on deceit:

 

And in his place shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the

honour of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by

intrigue.(Daniel 11.21) Both these kings hearts shall be bent on evil,

and they shall speak lies at the same table; but it shall not prosper, for

the end will still be at the appointed time (Daniel 11.27).

 

While these prophecies were partially fulfilled through Antiochus Epiphanes

at the time of the Maccabees, there will be a further fulfilment of this

prophecy in the last days. Through a mixture of promises of peace and deceit

the Antichrist will succeed in persuading Israel and the Arab nations to

make a peace settlement which will actually leave him with the controlling

power over Jerusalem. Those making this settlement from Israel’s side are

described in Isaiah 28 as scornful men. It is interesting that most modern

Israeli politicians are scornful of the promises given by God for Israel

in the Bible:

 

Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scornful men, who rule this people

who are in Jerusalem, because you have said, We have made a covenant with

death, and with Sheol we are in agreement. When the overflowing scourge

passes through, it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge,

and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves. Therefore thus says the Lord

God: Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a

precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act

hastily. Also I will make justice the measuring line, and righteousness the

plummet; the hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters will

overflow the hiding place. Your covenant with death will be annulled, and

your agreement with Sheol will not stand; when the overflowing scourge

passes through, then you will be trampled down by it. As often as it goes

out it will take you; For morning by morning it will pass over, and by day

and by night; It will be a terror just to understand the report (Isaiah

28.14-19).

 

This covenant with death will be made by Israel to gain protection from

the overflowing scourge, the threat of invasion and annihilation. However

it will not stand because it is based on lies and falsehood. The phrase the

waters will overflow the hiding place points to the very thing Israel

feared happening, an enemy invasion and occupation. This will lead to the

final event in the tribulation, Armageddon, which will cause the report

(the news) to be terrible.

 

In both of the prophecy of Daniel 9.27 and Isaiah 28.14-19 there are those

who do not enter into this false peace covenant. In Daniel 9 the Antichrist

makes the covenant with some but not all. In Isaiah 28.16 there are those

who do not act rashly but put their trust in God who says: Behold I lay in

Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a

sure foundation. This is a reference to Psalm 118.22, a Messianic Psalm

which says, The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief

corner stone. This was the Lords doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This

verse is used to point to Jesus as Messiah in the New Testament more than

any other Old Testament scripture. It occurs in all four Gospels, in the

Acts and in 1 Peter.

 

There is a story relating to this verse that as the builders were putting

the great hewn stones of Solomon’s Temple in place, they came across a

stone, which was an odd shape and did not fit anywhere. So they rejected it

and put it on the rubbish heap. As they came to the end of their building

they found that there was an odd shaped space at the head of the corner. One

of the builders who had been there at the beginning of the work remembered

the odd shaped stone and they looked on the rubbish heap and found it. It

was a perfect fit for the odd shaped space they had left at the head of the corner.

 

This story has an amazing message in relation to the Messianic claim of

Jesus. When He came the first time, for many Jewish people He did not fit

the idea of Messiah and He was put on the rubbish heap spiritually and

rejected. At the end of days as the final conflict rages around Jerusalem

the remnant of Jewish they will understand that He is the only one who can

fit the empty space in their lives and fulfil their hopes of the Messiah.

Then He will return and take up His place of honour and deliver Israel from

destruction and create world peace.

 

When the armies of the world gather together against Jerusalem to battle,

God says, I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of

Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on me

whom they have pierced and mourn for him as one mourns for his only son

Zechariah 12.10.

 

Following this Zechariah says, The Lord will go forth and fight against

those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet

will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. … And

the Lord shall be king over all the earth. Zechariah 14.3-4, 9.

 

These scriptures fit in exactly with the message of Jesus. He is revealed in

the Gospel as the only Son who has been pierced, dying by crucifixion, in

order to redeem the world, and who will come the second time to judge the

world according to how we have responded to his message.

 

Jesus gave his teaching on his second coming on the Mount of Olives, just

outside Jerusalem (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21), the same place Zechariah

says the Lord is coming to in order to save Israel. Jesus ascended into

heaven from there and the angel spoke to the disciples saying: This same

Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as

you saw him go into heaven Acts 1.11.

 

The event described in Zechariah when Israel looks on one who has been

pierced will be the same event as the one I have already quoted in Matthew

23.39 when Jesus said concerning Jerusalem, You shall see me no more until

you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! When Jesus is

welcomed and accepted as Messiah by the Jewish people, he will come to the

earth and finally bring peace to Israel, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah:

 

For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from

Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people. They

shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning

hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they

learn war anymore. Isaiah 2.2-4.

 

The material used in this article is taken from a book I have written: The

Messiah Factor which is currently with the publishers. If you would like

details of how to obtain this book which we hope to have in print before the

end of the year, contact our office.

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