Month 7:01, Rosh Chodesh, Year:Day 5937:179 AM|
YOM TERUAH SHABBAT, ROSH CHODESH VII (Shibi'i haChodesh)
& TESHUVAH Day #30
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 4 October 2013
Yom Teruah 2013
How to Prepare for the Second Coming
Chag sameach Yom Teruah kol beit Yisrael and welcome to this gathering for the first of the autumnal (fall) festivals in the Name of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)! We have a busy and exciting three weeks ahead of us.
Yom Teruah and the Second Coming
Yom Teruah marks the day that Yah'shua (Jesus) returns to the earth. It's the day of the second coming and it is heralded by the blast of twin silver trumpets and shouting. It is the day that all believers have yearned for since the incarnation 2,000 years ago. So we are going to start today by seeing what Yah'shua (Jesus) said on the subject:
Dealing with Second Coming Fever: Christians vs. Talmidim
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His malakim (angels) with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
"Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near -- at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My devarim (words) will by no means pass away.
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the malakim (angels) of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Master is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Matt.24:29-44, NKJV).
With all the 'second coming fever' amongst Christians worldwide at the moment, and since this is the season that the Messiah would be coming if He were coming back this year, I think it is time to take a close look at what Yah'shua (Jesus) said so that we can know what we are supposed to be doing. But before I do that, may I remind everybody to whom Yah'shua (Jesus) was addressing these words? It was not to 'Christians', as we commonly understand the term today, but to talmidim or disciples. You may well know that the word 'Christian' is only found three times in the Scriptures whereas the word talmid (disciple) appears 269 times. Why do I mention this? Because the B'rit Chadashah Scriptures (New Testament) is not a book about 'Christians' but about talmidim (disciples) - it's written by talmidim (disciples) and for talmidim (disciples) of our Master Yah'shua (Jesus). It is for those who are literally 'under discipline', and specifically those under the discipline of New Covenant Torah, and not for those who simply wear a label of identity, cultural or otherwise.
Yah'shua's Instruction to Keep Watch
With that clearly stated, let's consider the instructions we just read in Matthew so that we can know what we are supposed to be doing to prepare for the physical and visible return of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). And the first, which Yahweh reminded me of quite recently when I asked Him what it was He principally wanted me to be doing as your minister and of course for myself and my family, was to KEEP WATCH (Mt.24:42).
The Consequences of Falling Asleep on Watch
But how do we "keep watch" practically-speaking? Well, it's helpful to know that the word 'watch' also means 'awake' - in other words, stay awake! In Yah'shua's (Jesus') day a sentry who fell asleep was put to death, at least in the Roman army of occupation. And if a minister in the Israelite Temple fell asleep while on duty, he was forced to remove all his clothes, which were then set on fire, and he was sent home naked in disgrace! So when the Master tells us to "keep watch" or "keep awake", He's telling us to be exceedingly careful lest we are lulled into carelessness because Yah'shua (Jesus) doesn't turn up when we expect or want Him to...plus there are also dire consequences if we fall asleep while on our watch! How many people do you know who have been disillusioned and gone to sleep spiritually when some prophecy about the second coming or imginary 'rapture' has failed? We'll come to why such speculation is dangerous in a minute. Another way of telling people people to be watchful "be alert", and by that we mean "spiritually alert"!
Three Security Proceedures
To make sure He would not be misunderstood, Yah'shua (Jesus) gives the physical illustration of a homeowner, his house being broken into and his possessions stolen. If the homeowner had known when the thief was coming, he would not have allowed the theft to take place. The point He was making was that there is a very real risk of our soul being stolen by the thief of carelessness in the same way a house might be broken into an stripped of valuables. So what should you, as a homeowner, do to protect your family and possessions? What do most of us do every night before going to bed, during the day and during the night? We:
Three Spiritual Precautions
- 1. Lock the door and windows;
- 2. Look for suspicious behaviour or anything our of the ordinary like unfamilar cars parked nearby; and
- 3. Listen for unusual sounds and noises that might indicate an attempted break-in.
Yah'shua (Jesus) knew His listeners would think of these things and would then apply them spiritually to keeping watch over their own souls. So what should we, as talmidim (disciples), be doing when we are properly watching over our souls? We should:
Responsibilities of Family and Congregational Heads
- 1. Lock the windows and doors to our souls from the entrance of Satan by making sure we obey the mitzvot (commandments) and repent immediately if we sin by breaking them;
- 2. Look for the working of Yahweh and watch for the deceptions of Satan; and
- 3. Listen to the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) reveal emet (truth) about what's going on around us and any potential danger.
And whilst every believer should be doing this, husbands and fathers as heads of their families have the added responsibility and duty to watch out for them in the same way that pastors should be watching out for their congregations. Indeed ideally we should, in addition to watching out for ourselves and stewardships, be watching out for each other generally! This is one reason I have felt strongly led to keep watch on world events for the many thousands who may not currently have the time or opportunity to watch themselves. And there are many other watchmen who do the same for me and feed me information that I don't know. We must keep on the ball especially in these perilous times.
Not all the early believers did so in Thessalonica:
When Rapturists and Others Quit Their Jobs
"For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good" (2 Thess.3:11-13, NKJV).
For a minority of believers, when Second Coming fever hits parts of the Body of Messiah, there is the temptation to use the anticipated arrival of Yah'shua (Jesus) to quit their jobs and basically do nothing but what to be whisked away. Many groups have done this in the past (like the Jehovah's Witnesses and others), downed tools, and become a burden financially on others because they eventually ran out of money with which to pay their bills. But they were so convinced Yah'shua's (Jesus') arrival was imminent they thought nothing of taking advantage of others by turning up on their doorsteps and expecting to be catered for while they waited to be beamed up. Though the Thessalonican qodeshim (saints) probably had other reasons for being idle, Paul's message still applies to modern idlers: get of your backsides and get a job.
Keep Working as Normal
Keep working as usual because when the Master returns He does not expect you to abandon your responsibilities. When you are caught up in the air to meet Him (if you're one of those blessed ones to be alive when He returns), you'll not be there long - maybe just a few minutes: you'll be returning the same day with Him to earth to resume your family responsibilities and obligations, including earning your daily bread. And you'll only stop work to attend your regular sabbaths, when He summonses you to the final Yom Kippur for judgment, and - if you are one of the faithful ones - to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb for the final Sukkot (Tabernacles). I don't know where some believers get the idea from that when Yah'shua (Jesus) returns they're going never work again but be taken care of by some gigantic, theocratic, socialistic state welfare program for the next 1,000 years. So keep working and assembling for sabbath and divine moedim (appointments) as usual!
The Faithful Servant Examined
That's the first thing we need to remember. The next is to remain faithful in all things to the Master:
Storing Up Heavenly Rewards
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods" (Matt.24:45-47, NKJV).
In other words, he will continue exercise responsibility over his stewardship - his home, family, wealth and other duties - and be working! He has put the man in charge of Yahweh's household (his family and stewardship), who is the servant in this illustration. What does the Master find His servant doing when He returns? Doing his job and taking care of His possessions. What does this good servant receive from the Master for doing good? His reward! In other words, by continuing to labour, providing for his family, ministering to his congregation, and whatever other responsibility Yahweh has given him, he is storing up heavenly rewards for his service. And one of those rewards is to be a "ruler over all His goods" just as Joseph was over Pharaoh's, and as Yah'shua (Jesus) is over His Father's. But he must be about his business when the Master returns unannounced and unexpected. The servant works hard and well because he expects his Master to return every and any day, not on a particular day announced by someone claiming to be a 'prophet'. How many hundreds of self-proclaimed prophets have announced 'rapture day' or 'second coming day'? How many people have dropped their jobs and left their families to go and give a 'last witness' before naïvely supposing they would be lifted up into the sky? And how many of these people have been right? Not one. None! Preparing for the Second Coming does not require us to interrupt our daily routine or 'head for the hills'. Only persecution and tribulation may require the latter but never to stop working. So what does the good servant receive from the Master for doing good? His reward. Are you storing up rewards in heaven for good and faithful service to the Master Yah'shua (Jesus)? Keep working, keep serving!
The Wicked Servant Revealed
Knowing that some might not readily yield to this directive, Yah'shua (Jesus) then goes on to spell out what happens to the faithless servant:
A Believer's Presumptuous Attitude
"But if that evil servant says in his lev (heart), 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt.24:48-51, NKJV).
Here Yah'shua (Jesus) underscores another wrong attitude based on presumption: 'Yah'shua (Jesus) didn't come back when I expected Him to, so I can slack off. There's obviously plenty of time.' Don't assume that because Yah'shua (Jesus) is talking about a servant who "beats his fellow servants" or is a glutton and a drunk, that He's talking about unbelievers. His devarim (words) are being addressed to religious people who treat fellow believers badly and do not hesitate to indulge their carnal appetites. Indeed He calls these people "hypocrites" because they profess true emunah (faith) but live entirely contrary lives. They like to lord it over their brethren and live wantonly. And yet they believe everything is fine - they have lost their spiritual compass on account of their faithlessness.
The Error of Appeasing Yahweh with Good Works
What tends to happen is that as believers lose their spiritual focus, they slide into apostacy without even being aware of it. They do what they suppose is their 'minimum' duties by turning up to weekly meetings and perhaps making a financial donation or two. Their attitude is that they have appeased Yahweh just by doing these things, much as animists do in appeasing the 'gods' with the required offerings. Their lives get so busy with lots of good things that they leave themselves no time to actually spend with Him. When believers become too busy to do the basic minimum, no longer living sacrificially, they need to repent, stop doing some of their 'good' works and give more time to Yahweh. These 'good' works can be anything that is Torah-compliant, like working for various charities. It's so easy to justify oneself with ones 'good works' by assuming that one has become indispensible. But as Yah'shua (Jesus) said to Judas, who was so upset over Mary putting expensive ointment on His feet, there will always be the poor (Mt.26:11; Mk.14:7; Jn.12:8); and if we wanted to we could actually fill our lives with so many 'good works' and not have time for Yah'shua (Jesus) any more. When that happens - and we usually don't realise it when it does - is that in turning away from Yah'shua (Jesus) to occupy ourselves with works, what happens is that we actually become works-centred and assume that they justify our salvation when all along we are being idolatrous. Before long our character focus begins to shift from grace to works, from Messiah-centeredness to self-centeredness, because by the by we come to believe we are so very, very good and special for all we are doing.
When Works Displace Grace
Don't misunderstand me, charitable works are good and necessary, and grace is by no means opposed to effort - what it is opposed to is earning. Earning is an attitude whereas effort is an action. And action is called for everywhere in Scripture - indeed the Hebree word for 'faith', emunah, implies trusting and action. Grace does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone. But Yahweh must always come first. And when we fail to follow that divine tavnith (pattern) we are soon on the slippery slope to hell.
Slavery to Hobbies and Other Lawful Things
It might not even be charitable works we are doing that substitute for worship and devotion to Yahweh and evangelism - it might simply be wholesome hobbies. And as you know, it's pretty easy to fill yourself with hobbies and become a slave to them! As you know I have in recent months been active on Facebook lifting a warning voice by informing people what's going on and what they need to do to prepare for the times ahead. It takes quite a bit of research collecting this information and my email box fills very rapidly with about a hundred emails a day as I try to cover all bases. I've noticed, though, how quickly I can become a slave to my email box, sifting through this material, so every now and then when I get overwhelmed, I just delete several hundred of these so that I have the time to do what ought to be my priority! It is so easy to become a slave of the unnecessary tasks that we set for ourselves, convince ourselves they must be done when they are just whips to our own backs, and so not leave enough time for family, scripture study, prayer and witness.
Beating People With Your Tongue
The wicked servant was also guilty of beating his fellow servants, wasn't he? Now you may not be physically beating up fellow believers (I sincerely hope not) but how many of you devote time and effort to faulting and criticising others with your tongue? Gossipping and backbiting, or lashon hara to use its proper Hebrew designation, Yahweh hates! A true servant of Yahweh not only doesn't have time for this but positively loathes it. Yahweh hates it because there is nothing so unbecoming a child of Elohim (God) as criticising. There is nothing as wicked as complaining, being critical, gossiping, etc.. It is pride at its height. It is you putting down another. People do not need to be put down; they need to be encouraged. If we would only pat people on the back more often instead of criticising them we could achieve with our complimenting everything we falsely hoped we could achieve by critising them, and much more. It's as easy as pie to tear someone down but it takes character, time, patience and ahavah (love) to build them up.
Preaching Against Sin Without Being Critical
I know because I am as guilty of this at times as the next man or woman.
"But," I hear someone say, "how can you preach hard against sin and not be critical? How do you deal with people when they are sinning?"
It is a valid question and my answer would be this: look at these people in the same way you would a son or daughter when you know he or she has done wrong. Look at them in the same way as a mother looks at her child who has a high fever at night. What does that mother do when she learns her child is sick? She rushes to the bedside - she hates the tummy ache, the fever, the bug, or whatever is causing the discomfort, but does she hate the child? Of course not! She loves the child and tenderly cares for it. She holds it, soothes it, cleans it and does everything for it that she can.
How to Help the Sinner
Brethren and sisters, you will find mountain loads of fault in any congregation of believers because everyone is a work in progress. And yes, we do need to preach against sin, and emphatically without compromise, but not at the individual personally - let the Ruach (Spirit) do the convicting because if you try to convict them they will almost certainly rise in revolt against you, silently saying: "Who is he or she to say this or that against me when they have their own issues in this or that area?" You see, it is not actually about us being right in pointing out a fault - it's about them getting right with Yah'shua (Jesus) so that they can be freed to have blessed relationships with fellow believers. Instead, we should be pleading to Yahweh to help these people secretly in our closets and quietly inside when we are with them. And all you who have been regenerated by the Ruach (Spirit) know this to be true - it is your flesh that would have you believe it is your duty to wave a stick at them. That is what Yah'shua (Jesus) means when He says the wicked servant "beats" his fellow servants. And the more evil will do worse than that.
When Discipline is Required
Am I saying that we shouldn't be proactive at all? Of course not. Sin has to be confronted, and when gentle reason does not prevail, sometimes concrete discipline has to be applied, as with the grosser sins of drunkeness, adultery and sexual immorality which we are commanded to expunge from a congregation like a cancerous growth. But there are - or ought to be - disciplinary instruments in every congregation to do that. That's what the Zaqqenim (Elders) are for. Likewise, we tend to be more open to close friends and loved ones that to others who don't really know us and have no track record for actually caring for us. Weäll take a rebuke more readily from these than from a stranger or from someone who is themselves a hypocrite. Nevertheless the default reflex should not be criticism but ahavah (love). A congregation that has been trained to love correction will be more correctable than one that has been raised on liberal ideas, of course, so often there can be fault at a congregational level that needs remedial action. Weak pastors are as much a menace as bullying ones. As ever, there's a qodesh (holy, set-apart) balance.
Gluttony and Drunkeness
The third criticism that Yah'shua (Jesus) had of the wicked servant was that he was gluttonous and a drunk. He imbibed alcohol. "Oh, but brother Warren, are you saying that we should not eat either?" I hear some say, to counter the suggestion that alcohol is not kosher in the New Covenant. No, but I will say what Yah'shua (Jesus) said which was not to "eat and drink with the drunkards". Do not keep company with such. Not only will their alcohol corrupt you and likely ruin you, but you will be entering into ungodly salt covenants with them and storing up great spiritual mischief for yourself. Don't eat or drink with these people. But additionally don't drink alcohol either with anyone because alcohol is not for the Royal Prieshood.
The New Covenant Priesthood and Alcohol
Consuming alcohol moderately may have been permissive under the Old Covenant for the ordinary folk but its consumption by ministers serving in the temple was purposefully banned. And what are we today? We are ministers permanently on duty in the temple of our bodies, which is the Temple of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) (1 Cor.6:19). And unless you have learned somehow to consume alcohol whilst absent from your flesh as a disembodied spirit astrally projecting to some forbidden dimension, alchol is forbidden to you. You are all New Covenant Rechabites (Jer.35) and Nazirites (Num.6). Alcohol will corrupt the servant of Yahweh in any amount. And don't deceive yourself with the excuse that 'the Law has been done away with' or that there are health benefits from drinking wine - (1) the Torah has not been done away with, and (2) there are better ways to be healthy! Just as there are undoubtedly beneficial biochemicals in pigs there are also harmful ones too. Alcohol is a mixed brew just as pork is mixed flesh, each having death in the midst of them. Just do what's right.
Why We Abstain from Alcohol
We abstain from alcohol for numerous reasons, first, beecause we are Royal Priests (1 Pet.2:9) on duty 24/7; second, to protect our witness, being "filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit)" rather than being "drunk with wine" (Eph.5:18). Instead of filling our minds, hearts and activities with materialism, secularism and humanism, fill them with the Ruach (Spirit)! If we are more concerned about the praises of men than with the praises of Yahweh, then we will have failed. The Master told us to be in the world but not of it (Jn.13:1; 15:19). Where are you drinking from? The ways of the world or the seven wells of salvation?
Which Servant Will You Be?
So there you have the faithful servant contrasted with the wicked one. What you become is your choice. If you choose to become a faithful servant you will be more than prepared for the Seconf Coming!
Did Yah'shua Prophesy Wrong?
Before I finish this important subject I do need to clear up one misunderstanding that has led believers to either become preterists (the belief that Yah'shua/Jesus has already returned) or to lose faith. I speak of Yah'shua's (Jesus) words as rendered in nearly all of our Bible translations which give the impression that those alive would see Him return. Let's look at the background:
Would Yah'shua's Generation Actually Witness the Second Coming?
"Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the talmidim (disciples) came to Him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'" (Matt.24:3, NKJV).
Then, a little later, He gives an apparently starting response:
A Poor Translation
"Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near -- at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place" (Matt.24:32-34, NKJV).
I don't have time to review the many translations of this passage but you can take my word that they pretty much say the same thing. The implication from these translations that those alive whom the Master preached to would witness His second coming while they were yet alive!
Damage Control Explanations
Atheists have been quick to point this apparent anomaly out and Christian apologists have taken different approaches. Preterists say He returned like the translations said, Jehovah's Witnesses that He returned invisible in 1914, and so on. My answer, which I believe still to be correct on one level, is that He indeed 'returned' after His resurrection to thousands of talmidim (disciples) before He ascended into Heaven, but that was hardly the Second Coming.
A Play on Words Establishes Who the Generation Is
But there is a better explanation, and here I am indebted to the research work of James Trimm who has solved a couple of apparent New Testament 'contradictions' for me personally by going to the Aramic originals and in so doing has demonstrated that the Greek translators made a number of perfectly understandable translation errors . Amongst other discoveries, he found out that it's not camels that cannot go through eyes of needes but ropes, and that voluntary castration is not an acceptable practice on account of the Aramaic word for eunuchs also meaning 'believers'. All languages suffer from dual meanings of certain words - thus in Norwegian the English words 'marriage' and 'poison' share a common word, gift (pronounced 'yift'). When this word appears in some text only the context can reveal which is the correct interpretation. Sometimes Hebrew words that have multiple meanings are played on poetically in Scripture, something that becomes entirely lost in translation to another language. So we have to be careful. In fact, as we will see, the "generation" alluded to in the text has nothing to do with the generation that was alive but to those who endure to the end.
A Clue from the DuTillet MS
First, let's see how the same passage translates from the Hebrew in the DuTillet manuscript of Matthew:
Trimm points out:
"Learn you the parable from the fig tree: when its branch is tender, and the leaves sprout, you know that the summer fruit is near. So likewise you, when you will see all these things, know that it is near -- even at the doors. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away, until the whole is accomplished" (Mt.24:32-34 HRV).
In other words, this was not a false prophecy at all, giving no grounds to those who reject the inspiration of the Bible, and there is no need for a preterist 'explanation' either.
"We can see plainly that "this generation" that "will not pass away" in verse 34 is the same as those who "will see all these things" in verse 33 and these are those who see the "summer fruit" in verse 33.
"Now the Hebrew word for "summer fruit" in the DuTillet Hebrew Matthew manuscript of Matthew is . This is an ambiguous word which can be translated either "summer" or "summer fruit" especially that of the fig tree but was misunderstood by the Greek translator as "summer". In fact the reference is to the "summer fruit" of the fig tree which is specifically mentioned here.
"The word here is a word play in the Hebrew point back a few verses to verse 13 where we read:
The word for "end" in the DuTillet Hebrew manuscript for this verse is () which is a wordplay for "summer fruit":
"But whoever endures to the end, the same will be saved" (Mt.24:13, HRV).
"The "this generation" which "will not pass away, until the whole is accomplished" (vs. 34) is those who "will see all these things" (v.33) referring to "the summer fruit" () (v.32) which are the same as those "who endure to the end" () (v.13)
"Thus the Adonai YHWH showed me -- and behold, a basket of summer fruit (). And He said: Amos, what see you? And I said, A basket of summer fruit (). Then said YHWH unto me: The end () is come upon My people Yisra'el; I will not again pardon them any more" (Amos 8:1-2, HRV).
"This refers not to the generation which [Yah'shua/Jesus] was speaking to in verse 3, but to those who endure to the end in verse 13." 
Today we have blown the trumpets of Yom Teruah knowing that Yah'shua (Jesus) could return potentially at any year around this time, even today! But having said that, the Master didn't say we could relax throughout the year and then start anxiously doing right as the autumn (fall) festivals approached - He said that we are to be ready at all times - every day - because it's so easy to lose that Messiah-focus as a wise servant and drift out of salvation to become a wicked one. We dare not take the risk. If you have drifted away, please step forward, get right with Yahweh through making teshuvah (repentance) and rejoin the talmidim (disciples) of Messiah! Next Sabbath will be Shabbat Shuvah, the final sabbath before Yom Kippur, so we have a little over a week to make our teshuvah (repentance) complete to enable us to stand before Yahweh at Yom Kippur with a proper reverential fear (as opposed to the slavish variety) and a clean conscience for our conduct over the past year. Then we shall have greate occasion to rejoice when Sukkot comes along! Until then, may Yahweh bless you all! Amen.
 James Scott Trimm, This Generation Shall Not Pass Away
 James Scott Trimm, Ibid.
 Jerry Smith, What to Do While Waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus