Rosh Hashanah/Yom Teruah, Feast of Trumpets September 20, 2017
When we hear about hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, rumors of nuclear war, not to mention various unusual astronomical events, does it mean the end is upon us? Contrary to what you may have heard, the counsel of our Lord and Messiah Yeshua is not to be alarmed, but alert, and attentive to Him—and to others who are alarmed or troubled—or maybe should be.
In Matthew 24 and Luke 21, after Yeshua foretells the destruction of the Temple, His disciples approached Him for more details (Matthew 24:3), “Tell us, when will these things happen? What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”
The question is apropos Yom Teruah, since this day is traditionally associated with the coming of God as the great Judge, and the climax of Yeshua’s answer comes with the sound of a great shofar.
That shofar hasn’t sounded yet—no one alive will miss it—but meanwhile, folks have been speculating about everything He said would occur before that shofar sounds.
In Luke 21:11, Yeshua says, “There will be great earthquakes along with famines and epidemics in various places, and there will be terrors along with great signs from heaven.”
What about the earthquakes in Mexico and the hurricanes in Texas, Caribbean islands & Florida? People are asking (Mom), what does it all mean? Are they signs of the end or divine punishments?
Sheikh Kamal Khatib, deputy leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, proclaimed that the Houston flood caused by Hurricane Harvey was a punishment from Allah. The Sheik deplored Texas as the land of Las Vegas—did you know that Las Vegas is in Texas? So Allah sent the storm as a judgment on the land of rich oppressors, like Ivanka. Oy vey….
What about the unusual configuration of planets on September 23—is it a sign of something terrible about to happen? A supposedly Christian numerologist predicts that Planet X (aka Niburu) will collide with earth on September 23, as foretold in Luke 21:25, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” Stay tuned… Or maybe not: NASA insists that Planet X is a hoax.
How is looking for planets to influence events on earth any different from astrology—which HaShem has firmly forbidden to His chosen people? He made the sun, moon and planets to declare His glory.
Could Kim confirm that the recent eclipse declared God’s glory?
We need to bear in mind that much of what Yeshua foretells in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 had to do with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, which took place in 70 CE, after a long siege.
The Jewish historian Josephus recorded that just before the Roman siege of Jerusalem began in 66 CE, “A heavy storm burst on them during the night violent winds arose, … with constant lightning, most tremendous thundering, and with dreadful roaring of earthquakes…. It seemed as if the system of the world had been confounded for the destruction of mankind and one might well conjecture that these were signs of no common events.”
Many massive earthquakes occurred in the first century. Anybody hear of Pompeii? Before the explosion of Vesuvius in 79 there was a severe earthquake in 62, which killed 600 sheep; Tacitus recorded that a shudder knocked down a theatre where the Roman Emperor Nero had been singing as it shook, before evacuating. Other earthquakes occurred in Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Laodicea, Hierapolis and Colossae—the last two cities were completely destroyed in 61, never to be rebuilt.
Josephus also records that “a star hung over [Jerusalem] like a sword, and the comet continued for a whole year.” (Halley’s Comet was spectacular in 66 CE.). The Roman historian Tacitus commented, “A comet meantime blazed in the sky, which in popular opinion always portends revolution to kingdoms.” The 1st century was a tough act to follow—but the 21st century is just getting started!
Here’s what I said in my Yom Teruah message in 2011: “There have been so many hurricanes, floods, storms and wildfires in our country this year—a record number 86 declared as disasters, at record costs—that FEMA is already bankrupt. But really, our problems are nothing compared to the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, which in turn triggered a nuclear reactor meltdown, leaking radioactivity into land, sea and sky.” As I said, the 21st century is just getting started…
Yet all these things are just the beginning of birth pains… As the midwife says to the mother, breathe!
Or perhaps, heads up!
Yeshua’s response to His disciples was to warn them, again and again, not to be led astray.
His discourse begins with this warning (4-5), ““Be careful that no one leads you astray.”
He repeats in verse 5, though many will come in His name, do not be led astray.
In verse 11, He warns about false prophets—so do not be led astray—lest your love grow cold.
And again in verse 24, “For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and show great signs and wonders so as to lead astray, if possible, even the chosen. See, I have told you beforehand.”
Clearly, the Master was concerned that His followers not be led astray. How could that happen?
How could false prophets and even false Messiahs deceive so many—even the chosen or elect?
Verse 6 tells how it begins: “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but it is not yet the end.”
Indeed, people have been hearing about wars & rumors of wars ever since Yeshua made this prophecy. But in our era of mass, instant communications, the rumors fly faster!
Though many compare what Yeshua said to ever-changing current events and find cause for alarm, Yeshua’s counsel is, don’t be alarmed, it’s not the end yet. Though there will be famines and earthquakes (and tsunamis, fires blazing and icebergs breaking), nope, these things are merely the beginning of birth pains—not yet. A woman says the beginning of birth pains are not the same as giving birth—no one near it. Right? So take a breath and don’t be led astray!
Persecution will be come (and indeed it has) and false prophets will lead many astray—don’t let that happen to you! The one who endures to the end will be saved (or kept safe) — hang in there!
The abomination of desolation and great tribulation will come, but apparently it’s still not the end yet. For more false messiahs will rise up and try to lead even those G-d has chosen astray (24).
Yeshua tells us in advance so that we wouldn’t be led astray. The last day won’t be a secret in the wilderness or in inner rooms. Those kinds of secrets are empty deceptions. The last day will only seem like a secret to those who aren’t spending time with the Father in secret—and who don’t pay attention to what Yeshua has plainly told His disciples.
The end will be as striking and obvious as lightning flashing across the sky. 27, “Just as lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
When that lightning flashes across the sky, everyone will see it. It won’t be a secret.
After the tribulation, when sun & moon are darkened: we’re not talking about a solar eclipse—neither an eclipse nor a blood moon will hold a candle next to what will happen in that day! Those are predictable, natural events, but what will happen on that day is supernatural and unprecedented.
Compare eclipses and blood moons to Revelation 8:12 (CJB), “The fourth angel sounded his shofar; and a third of the sun was struck, also a third of the moon and a third of the stars; so that a third of them were darkened, the day had a third less light, and the night likewise.”
The Son of Man—the supernatural, divine Messiah—will appear in the sky, for all to see, and there will be no mistaking who He is. The tribes of the earth— or more in keeping with prophecy of Zechariah 12:10, all the tribes of the land, of Israel—will mourn for Him, the One whom they pierced, as for an only son—the sign of the Son of Man will include the marks of His crucifixion.
There will be no mistaking it—except for those who have been led astray and totally deceived!
When that great shofar sounds—tekiah hagadol!—it will be like no one has ever heard before, or maybe not since Mount Sinai—only this time not only with angels worshipping exultantly but all of the elect or chosen people gathering with the four winds & the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven! Spectacular! You don’t want to miss it! And you won’t—if you’re alive, alert and paying attention!
Those who aren’t alert may the led astray—and will be alarmed.
After this glorious revelation, the Master tells His disciples to watch for His return. Though many will be oblivious and caught by surprise, and even His disciples do not know the day or the hour—not matter how much people speculate—nevertheless, if you are ready and alert, your house will not be broken into; you will welcome your Master, who returns with a blessing for His faithful servant.
A good and faithful servant expects His Master to return. A good and faithful servant has his head on straight. He is not afraid of the day His Master returns, but looks forward to it.
The good and faithful servant does his job; he is a good steward; he gives food to the other servants—both physical and spiritual. Can you do that?
When we hear about hurricanes, what should do? Don’t be alarmed, but be alert—and send help! Pray!
That’s what the good and faithful servant does. He gives food to others—especially the bread of life.
So, when the Master returns, the good and faithful servant will hear Him say, “Well done!”
The shofar blowers may come forward again.
Lord Yeshua, help us not to be less alarmed by current events and more ready for Your return.
Help us to be watching for You—for You said, when we see all these things, it s near, at the door. Help us to trust in Your words and to be faithful to You.
Help us to mourn for the One whom we all have pierced.
Help us to grieve for the sins we have committed against You.
Help us to turn back to You and be saved.
Help us to go about the business that You have assigned us, “to give them food at the proper time.” Help us to see the birth pains and delusions of this world and not be troubled.
Help us to be attentive to You and to tell others about what You have told us in Your word, so that we may you hear You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when You return.
Help us to hear the sound of the shofar, not with alarm, but with eager expectation and joy—for our Lord and Master and Judge is returning! Hallelujah! And let everyone say, Hallelujah!
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Scripture references are mostly from The Tree of Life Version (TLV) though occasionally other versions. Verse citations provide Jewish numbering, with Christian numbering in parentheses.