Kislev/Tevet 5773 December 2012
MA CHADASH? WHAT’S NEW?
Thanksgiving Outreach: Once again this year a team from Shema is planning to hand out pamphlets at the Thanksgiving Day parade in Detroit. We hope to be joined by others and hand out thousands of pamphlets and talk to hundreds of people. Please pray for blessing and success!
Chanukkah, December 8: Join us for Chanukkah at 10:30 a.m. Bring some food to share (but nothing non-kosher). Make a batch of tasty latkes (potato pancakes) and compete for the Golden Latke Award!
December 15: Dr. Raleigh Washington, President of Promise Keepers, will be the guest speaker at Shema. Dr. Washington, and his wife Paulette, have a special heart for the Jewish people. Come hear Dr. Washington teach and hear his daughter sing – and bring a friend!
Donate Online: It’s now possible to donate to Shema online at the Shema website – Shema.com.
TODAH RABAH! THANKS VERY MUCH!
In the past couple of years the Lord has been making it increasingly clear to me that the Son of God came into the world on a great mission. His ministry was characterized by three things: proclaiming the Good News about the possibility of entering the Kingdom of God by becoming loyal to the Three-In-One God of Israel; teaching those who were interested; doing good deeds. Then, after successfully completing His mission, He ascended to Heaven, sent His Spirit to His followers to empower us and entrusted us to carry on His mission. We thank God for those of you who are helping Shema carry on Messiah’s great mission of preaching, teaching and helping. May the Three-In-One God abundantly bless you!
ZECHARIAH 14: ISRAEL’S GREAT SALVATION, THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM AND REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY
Truth is important. Words convey truth. Words means something and are important. Clear communication is important. Keeping commitments, vows, promises, covenants is important. Maintaining one’s honor, one’s name, one’s reputation is important. The God of the Bible is a supremely moral being. He is a God of absolute truth, of perfect faithfulness, of commitment, of integrity. When the Creator says something, it means something. When the Creator says something, it is important. When He promises something, His name, His honor, His reputation are at stake. When He makes commitments, vows, promises, covenants, it is essential for Him to keep those commitments, vows, promises, covenants. With that in mind, I will summarize Zechariah 14, adding a few comments:
A day of the Lord is coming, a day of divine intervention, in the future, in the Last Days when God will dramatically intervene in human history to advance His plans to save humanity.
This time will be horrible for the Jewish people living in Israel. Jewish people will be living in Israel during that time, but the nations of the world will not be happy with our presence there. God will cause the nations to unite and send their armies to fight against Jerusalem. Our capitol city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the population of the city will be exiled.
Then the Lord will fight against that coalition of enemy armies and that great army of the nations will be destroyed. The Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem with a plague: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. The armies that invaded Israel will panic and attack one another. The Jewish people will join the fight and help conquer our invaders. The conquered will become the conquerors.
The Jewish people who had been plundered will collect great quantities of gold and silver and clothing from the surrounding nations. Jerusalem will be inhabited and secure from that day forward. No more invaders. No more conquerors – and our capitol city has been conquered a lot during our long history.
God Himself in the Person of the Son of God will touch down on this planet. On that day the feet of the One who created and sustains the Heavens and the Earth will once again stand on the Mount of Olives, and it will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley. The Lord God Himself will come to Earth, but He will not be alone. The saints, His holy ones – human beings who have lived and died and been with the Lord and have been transformed, along with human beings who were alive and met the Lord in the air – will accompany Him.
That day will be unique – with no distinction between day and night. Nature will be transformed. The dry mountainous area around Jerusalem will produce water. Living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea.
This dramatic intervention, which will save the Jewish people, will affect the entire world. All the nations of the world will turn to the true God, the living God, the Three-In-One God of Israel. The Lord will be king over the whole Earth. All false religions and philosophies, which have kept humanity trapped in the darkness, will be abandoned. On that day there will be one Lord over all the Earth, and His name the only name.
Then the survivors from all the nations that attacked Jerusalem will go up to Jerusalem every year to worship the mighty Lord of Armies and to celebrate Sukkot, the Holiday of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the Earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, they will have no rain and the Lord will further punish them with a plague. Why is Sukkot mentioned for celebration during the Millennial Kingdom, and why is withholding of rain one of the punishments for the nations that don’t send a delegation to Jerusalem during Sukkot? Sukkot is specifically designed to communicate fulfillment, harvesting, and honoring the Lord of the Harvest. Sukkot is the seventh annual holiday that fulfills the prophetic message of the holidays. Just as the Jewish people were required to go up to Jerusalem for the third and final time, appearing before God and giving thanks for the harvest and the goodness of God, so the nations of the world will be harvested and gathered to Jerusalem to appear before the Three-in-One God of Israel and acknowledge Him and His goodness, give thanks to Him, and worship Him. And so, during Sukkot, as the Jewish people begin a new agricultural cycle and pray for rain, rain will be withheld from those nations who do not honor the Lord of the Harvest by sending a delegation for Sukkot to honor to the King who rules from Jerusalem.
Zechariah’s divinely inspired prophecy continues: On that day the holiness, the devotion of the Jewish people, especially those living in Jerusalem, will be amazing. Just as the words, “kodesh la-Adonai, holy to the Lord” were on the head-covering of the High Priest, those same words, “holy to the Lord” will be inscribed on the bells of the horses. In other word, the same degree of holiness that Israel’s High Priest experienced will be experienced throughout the city of Jerusalem – even extending to everyday activity and the horses. Even the ordinary cooking pots in the Lord’s house, and in Jerusalem and throughout Israel will have the same degree of holiness as the sacred bowl and pots used in the Temple. This is a beautiful picture of Israel’s holiness and devotion to the Lord. The Temple, the most special place on Earth, will be there; and people will come and offer sacrifices there. And no one who unworthy will be allowed in that special place.
This is what the Lord, communicating through the prophet Zechariah some 2,500 years ago, told us will happen. This is what Zechariah 14 means. Sadly, there are many Christians, even Bible scholars and theologians who ignore Zechariah 14, or reinterpret its clear teaching to mean something other than what its clear teaching means. That’s bad. Zechariah 14 is important is part of the Word of God and it is important for quite a few reasons:
It’s there to let us know that what God has spoken, He will fulfill. He is faithful and true. All of His wonderful promises to Israel will be kept. And, therefore, all of His wonderful promises to us will be kept.
It’s there to let us know about the future of Israel. It’s there to let us know that God is not finished with the Jewish people. Israel has a glorious future! The same people that God scattered among the nations will be regathered to our ancient homeland. The Jewish people will be back in the land of Israel in the Last Days – before Messiah returns.
When God is finished with us, we will be saved and holy and devoted to the Lord. The Chosen People will be everything He created and called us to be. That lets us know that God is gracious and merciful, because we don’t deserve that glorious future.
Zechariah 14 is there to let us know that Israel will be small, weak and vulnerable until the time Lord returns, which means that something is wrong with our relationship with God. It means we are not close to God. It means that we are far from God. It means that we rejected the Messiah 2,000 years ago and we need to confess our sin and acknowledge that Yeshua is the Messiah and the Son of God.
Zechariah 14 lets us know that the nations will continue to be far from God until the Lord intervenes in history. This is seen by their desire to destroy the Chosen People and by the Lord fighting against those nations. All of the world’s politics, education and technoloy will not make us what we need to be. Only the preaching of the Good News about the Three-In-One God who can save us and transform can do that.
Zechariah 14 lets us know that God will be on Israel’s side in the Last Days, even before the majority of the Jewish people understand that Yeshua is the Messiah. If God is on Israel’s side and fights for Israel against the nations, it only makes sense for everyone to be on Israel’s side too, now.
Zechariah 14 lets us know that the salvation of Israel and the well-being of the nations are connected. It is when Israel is saved from the nations that the nations are saved from their spiritual darkness. Therefore we should want to make sure that Israel is helped and protected and saved – physically and spiritually. We should stand by Israel and help the Jewish people understand that Yeshua is the Messiah and Savior.
Zechariah 14 will be literally fulfilled because words mean something – especially God’s words. Words convey truth. Words convey reality. And, it is much better to be in sync with reality than to be out of touch with reality.
God is a God who says things clearly and means what He says and then does what He says. He makes promises, and then, because of who He is, He keeps His promises. This prophecy will be fulfilled because the Creator’s honor is at stake. His Name, His reputation, His faithfulness, His reliability are on the line. Because words mean something, especially God’s words, these words must be understood literally. If the literal sense makes sense, then we must not seek another, non-literal sense. That is dishonoring to these words and the God who spoke these words.
That means that Israel has not been replaced by the Church. That means that all of God’s wonderful promises to the Jewish people, many of which can only be fulfilled in the Millennial Kingdom, will be fulfilled. That means that the Son of God will literally return to planet Earth. His feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives, where He left at the very end of His First Coming. That means that there will be 1,000 years of King Messiah’s wonderful righteous rule over Israel and all the nations of the Earth. The Jewish people will be regathered to Israel. The Temple will be rebuilt. Jewish priests will offer sacrifices there. Human life-span will be greatly increased. Wars will end. There will be peace on Earth and harmony will be restored to nature. The nations will be sent Messianic Jewish teachers from Israel to teach them God’s ways. That means that Israel will be honored. Israel’s Three-In-One God will be honored. Israel’s Bible will be honored. Israel’s holidays will be honored. If that is true in the future, and it is, if we are wise we will honor those same things now. That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to celebrate the Jewish holidays now – but at least they should be understood and respected.
Everything in the Bible is important. If something is in the Bible, it’s there for a reason. God is an elegant designer, and He doesn’t waste anything. He doesn’t include unnecessary information in something as important as the Word of God. When we add to the Word of God, or when we take away from the Word of God – by applying these prophecies to the Church and not to Israel, or by thinking that these prophecies are unimportant – we are causing harm. Those Christians who, like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, are slow to believe everything written in the prophets are doing damage. Those Christians who embrace Replacement Theology – the false teaching that the Church has replaced Israel, that God is finished with Israel, and that these very specific and clear prophecies to Israel won’t be literally fulfilled – are causing harm.
Messiah warned us not to add to or take away anything from the Word of God. He warned that there are negative consequences for dismissing anything in the Word of God. Messiah warned not to be like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, but to believe everything written in the prophets – like Zechariah 14.
Let’s be different from the majority of those who ignore or don’t literally interpret these promises in the Word of God. Let’s properly interpret and believe the entire Word of God. If we do, we will honor the Lord and His Word. We will be wiser and can’t help but be more blessed!