The Season of Teshuvah:
30 Days of Repentance
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 20 September 2003
Our thoughts once more turn to the autumnal festivals of Yahweh which are soon to commence again next week with the arrival of Yom Teruah or the Feast of Trumpets. I thought I would take this occasion to try and get an overview over what for Messianic Israelites are probably the most significant of the festivals for the very reason that they have not yet been fulfilled. For those of you who may have forgotten we have already entered into that season which overall is called Teshuvah which is the Hebrew word meaning "to repent". It began on the first day of the month of Elul and ends after 40 days at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is a Fast Day rather than a Feast Day. Thirty days into this period comes Yom Teruah, on Tishri 1, which this year falls on 27 September. A ten day period follows which are known as the 'High Holy Days' and as the 'Days of Awe', or Yamim Nora'im. The Sabbath that falls within this ten day period is known as Shabbat Shuvah or the 'Sabbath of Return' which this year falls on 4 October. Five days after Yom Kippur is Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles. Each morning the 30 days of the month the shofar or ram's horn is blown to warn the people to repent and return to Yahweh.
| Elul 1 <-- TESHUVAH --> Tishri 10|
(Day of Trumpets)
(10 Days of Awe)
(Day of Atonement)
Before we examine the significance of Teshuvah it is important that we clearly understand the relationship of the autumnal (fall) holy days to each other and what they signify concerning the end times in which we are undoubtedly now living.
||Eternity in Heaven
||Eternity in Heaven|
If you will look at the second Table with me you will see the four explanations given by Messianic Israelites and Messianic Jews for the meaning of these three autumnal (fall) holy days. The first theory is the correct one. Here we see that Yom Teruah corresponds to the Second Coming of Yah'shua (Jesus), Yom Kippur to the Judgment, and Sukkot to the Millennium. The second theory is espoused by those who do not believe in an earthly millennium and who believe that heaven will be some other place than the earth. The remaining two theories are espoused by those who believe in the heretical rapture doctrine which says we will be taken off the earth during the Great Tribulation. There are two variations of this rapture belief which depend whether you believe the millennium will be on earth or some place else.
There are some other matters that I need to draw your attention to as well. The majority of Christians and Messianic Jews believe that the creation of the Israeli Republic in 1948 is of prophetic significance and explains much of the symbolism in the Bible. Thus to these people the Israeli Republic and biblical 'Israel' are - in our time - one and the same. A second group of people believe that the 'Church' somehow replaced Israel so that the appearance of an Israeli Republic is of no prophetic significance. These would include the Catholics (who originated the 'Replacement Doctrine'), the Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and others.
The New Covenant Church of God (B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh) takes neither of these two positions. Whilst we certainly reject the 'replacement doctrine' as manifestly unbiblical, we question that 'Israel' as a nation was restored in 1948. The best one can say is that a large number of Judahites returned to the Holy Land before and since that date along with a vast number of others who call themselves 'Jews' but who have no racial connection to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or Judah, and who may be said to be impostors. Therefore we categorically state that the political entity that calls itself 'Israel' is not biblical Israel. It is a secular-Talmudic entity which hates Christianity and Christians, and the vast majority of its citizens - probably about 80% of them - are of Khazar extraction. Certainly of all those who call themselves Jews internationally, no more than about 20% have any ties to Abraham. Finally, we need to remind ourselves of one salient point which the majority of Christians who believe the Israeli Republic is 'Israel' conveniently forget: according to Romans 11, all those Jews who reject the Messiah are cut off from the Vine Tree which is Israel, and all those Gentiles who accept the Messiah are grafted in as adopted Israelites. Israel is therefore all true believers in the Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile who will one day return to the Holy Land and there establish at the beginning of the Millennium the Theocratic Messianic State of Israel with Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) as King. The most we can say is that a handful of Judahites have returned to the Holy Land who have received their Messiah, whom we may call 'Messianic Judahites' as opposed to 'Messianic Jews'. Whatever the Israeli Republic is, it is not biblical Israel.
It is important that we have this clear otherwise we will end up inadvertently following or supporting a virulently antichrist and demonised system which is Talmudic Judaism that controls the Israeli Republic. It would, however, be a mistake to believe that the formation of this state in 1948 was of no significance. On the one hand, it has permitted the return home of some of the true Judahites who have come to Christ who are there interceding for the coming of the Messianic Kingdom. On the other, it has permitted the formation of a counterfeit Israelite state which will, in the last days, facilitate the coming to power of the Antichrist and will seduce and fool many Christians. We need therefore to be quite clear about is that biblical Israel as a political entity has not returned and will not be established until the fulfilment of Sukkot.
We see, then, that Christ will return during Yom Teruah and during the Ten Days of Awe or Yamim Nora'im and will catch the saints up into the air to meet Him, judge the world at Yom Kippur, beginning, perhaps, with the Battle or Armageddon and ending at Sukkot when He inaugurates the Millennial reign.
Because there are a number of ideas about the Millennium it is as well that we clarify this subject as well. Some groups view the millennium as Christ's spiritual rule from heaven, foremost amongst whom are the Jehovah's Witnesses. It views the millennium symbolically only. Another view, which is popular amongst the Prosperity Cults and others like them, is that the world will gradually improve until it is all converted to Christ. This is sometimes called postmillennialism. This doctrine was first preached in England by Daniel Whitby (1638-1726) and is no longer widely held.
Then there are the amillennialists or preterists who believe we are in the millennium already, and have been since Christ came the first time. This spiritualist or mystical meaning contends that Satan and his angels are presently bound which I think all of us here will agree is patent nonsense given present day conditions.
New Covenant Christians are premillenialists which means that we believe in a literal thousand year rule by the Messiah from the land of Israel when He returns. At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be released for a short period and lead many astray with him (Rev.20). Yah'shua (Jesus) will subdue him again and cast him into hell forever.
There are three different versions of premillenialism which we need to briefly examine:
The pre-trib theory is part of a doctrine called 'dispensationalism' which claims that the Messiah will whisk away all believers from the earth for seven years before coming back finally. They believe that during that period, known as the Great Tribulation, the Jewish people will receive Yah'shua (Jesus) en masse and then He will return. We reject both propositions.
The mid-trib theory, also known as pre-wrath rapture, claims that Yah'shua (Jesus) will rapture His people mid-way through the Great Tribulation.
Finally, we come to the post-trib theory which is the correct one and which is also known as 'historic premillenialism' because it has been believed by the Church throughout the ages. It holds that there are not two second comings (which would make three comings) as in the pre-trib view, but that the rapture and judgement will occur virtually simultaneously as one process.
The theory we espouse will greatly affect the way end-time Christians view their discipleship. It comes as no surprise to learn that the majority of lazy and indolent Christians believe in the pre-trib rapture and so are making no preparations for the Great Tribulation. I'm afraid they will have a rude awakening. The pre-trib rapture has become so popularised now by Christian publishers that few believers bother to look at the theory critically. As John J. Robinson said, "constant repetition does not create truth".
There are therefore over a dozen ways in which the end-time scenario is viewed by Christians and they cannot all possibly be right. Moreover, error can be a costly thing when one's life is at stake as they will be in the hard times ahead.
Millions of Christians the world over are waiting for Christ's return. What then becomes important to know is how we should be redeeming our time - what should we be doing?
To begin with, we are told to be in constant readiness (Mt.24:44). Yah'shua (Jesus) nowhere gives us room for complacency. He tells us to be good stewards of our time and resources (Lk.19:13) and learn to patiently wait on Him (1 Cor.1:7).
Because the autumnal (fall) festivals are primarily concerned with the end-times, and because scripture warns us that these times are ones of great turmoil, is it prophetically appropriate and significant that this season as a whole is called Teshuvah or Repentance. Regrettably the vast bulk of humanity does not begin to stir into repentance before hard times hit them and so these festivals have been given, amongst other things, to enable us to stay ahead of tribulation and adequately prepare. By habitually using this season as a time to turn our attention inwards - by examining our lives carefully with a view to finding out how we may have departed from Yahweh in any way - we can preclude much trouble for ourselves, our families, and those we are responsible for. But these festivals are also given to us as a witness for believer and unbeliever alike that Yahweh is all-knowing and to give evidence as to the claims of the Messiah.
Like a loving Heavenly Father, Yahweh has always warned His people in advance of impending judgements. This He has done, and does, both in scripture and through the mouths of modern prophets. He warned the people of Noah's day before the flood and warned the inhabitants of Nineveh before their city was destroyed. Like anyone with a father's heart, He wants none to be at the receiving end of the wrath of His judgement (Ez.18:21-23; 30-32; Zeph.2:1-3; 33:1-7; 2 Pet.3:9).
The whole of the month of Elul is a 30 day process of preparation through personal examination and repentance for the coming Holy Days and as I have mentioned the shofar is blown every morning after Psalm 27 is read. The message is painfully clear: repent before Yom Teruah - don't wait until after Yom Teruah or you will find yourself in Yamim Nora'im, the Days of Awe, in the midst of the Great Tribulation.
Most people, sadly, do not heed Yahweh's warning until it is too late. There is a tendency in carnal man to postpone the days of our repentance. For many years this community has been warning the world through its website and ministers that there will be no rapture - no escaping the Tribulation. We have given the lie to one of the most dangerous doctrines of our times which has made Christians indifferent to danger. Others have flippantly said they need to make no preparations because Yahweh will supernaturally protect them, and if He doesn't, that is it His will that they be martyred. Perhaps, perhaps not - unless you have had a clear revelation from Yahweh telling you so, you had better examine the scriptures rather more carefully.
Yah'shua (Jesus) complained to the Jews that they could not read the signs of the times (Mt.16:3) but it has to be said that contemporary Christians aren't much better. The world is hurtling now, ever faster, towards the one-world Antichrist superstate. The concentration camps for Christians, where they will be murdered en masse, have already been built. New laws are being created, without proper democratic consent, removing our liberties one step at a time, ostensibly to protect us against terrorists. We are being lied to on a scale that rivals even that of the former nazi régime and are being cynically used. We have far less time than we may have imagined.
And every year it gets worse. At this time every year I review what has been going on. Two years ago it was the November 11th attack. This year it was the invasion of Iraq, and the ancient city of Babylon is now in the hands of the Illuminati élite. When Jerusalem falls into their hands you will know that the sands of time have run out - that is only a matter of time.
In the meantime, we are bracing ourselves for the next 'terrorist' outrage, and it will surely come as the secret élite tries to destabilise the economy and society as a whole in order to create the conditions for a military-type coup d'état and dictatorship.
So what shall we do? Quite simply, repent, so that we can properly connect to the stream of revelation from Yahweh and act on His commands on a day to day basis. Without that communion, survival will be near impossible. So let us end today by reading Psalm 27 so that we know the right spiritual attitude we should have in order to hear Him and obey Him:
"Yahweh is my light and my deliverance; whom should I fear? Yahweh is the refuge of my life; whom should I dread? When evildoers come against me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they shall stumble and fall. Though an army encamps against me, even then I would be trusting. One matter I ask of Yahweh - this I seek: To dwell in the House of Yahweh all the days of my life, to see the pleasantness of Yahweh, and to enquire in His Hekal (Temple). For in the day of evil He hides me in His booth; in the covering of His Tent He hides me; on a rock He raises me up. And now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me; and I offer in His Tent with shouts of joy; I sing, yea, I sing praises to Yahweh. Hear, O Yahweh, when I cry with my voice! And show me favour and answer me. To my heart You have said, 'Seek My Face.' Your face, Yahweh, I seek. Do not hide Your face from me; do not turn your servant away in displeasure; You have been my help; do not leave me or forsake me, O Elohim of my deliverance. When my father and my mother have forsaken me, Then Yahweh does take me in. Teach me Your way, O Yahweh, and lead me in a smooth place, because of my enemies. Do not give me over to the desires of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out cruelty to me. What if I had not believed to see the goodness of Yahweh in the land of the living! Wait on Yahweh, be strong, and let Him strengthen your heart! Wait, I say, on Yahweh!" (Tehillim/Psalms 27, ISRV).
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Last updated on 20 September 2003
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