My good friend, sister in the Lord, and prayer and ministry partner, Joan Lipis, – A gifted teacher and evangelist to Jews and Israelis – has an English website for prayer for Israel: Lunch Time Prayer For Israel. God has called her to do a series on End Time events that we see happening around the world. I (Bella) have been doing the Hebrew translations for the site since 2012. I would like to incorporate some of her insights in this letter, especially for the purpose of prayer and seeking the Lord in these crucial times.*
In approximately 20 BC, King Herod began rebuilding the second Holy Temple that had been built earlier by the Jews who came back from the Babylonian captivity more than 400 years earlier. It took him 46 years to complete it.
In 70 CE (AD), the second temple was destroyed (as Yeshua prophesied 40 years earlier.)
Sixty years after the destruction of the second temple and massacre of hundreds of thousands of Jews by the Romans, there was another uprising by the Jews against Rome, called the Bar Kochba Revolt. Rome crushed the revolt and expelled the Jews from Jerusalem. The majority of the Jewish population of the land were killed, enslaved, or exiled. Thus began the 2000-year dispersion (diaspora) from their covenant land.
“And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations.” Luke 21:24a
The Jewish people would not regain their national independence until the Zionist era and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 CE.
The Temple and the city of Jerusalem distinguished Israel as a people and a land, having a unique relationship with God as His presence was visible and tangible through His Holy Spirit. It is important to remember that the issue and the conflict of the Temple Mount today is a spiritual one and not political. It is the center of God’s activities on the earth and the epicenter of the conflict between the Lord, the God of Israel and His Arch-enemy, Satan. Not surprisingly it was, is, and will remain (until the New Jerusalem) the world’s most disputed property on earth.
At the time Yeshua was on earth in Israel and Jerusalem, the Temple was the center of Jewish life; spiritual, worship, and communal. Although the apostles had been in the temple many times, they still marveled at its magnificent beauty. Now Yeshua prophesied that it would soon be destroyed that not one stone would remain on top of another. (Mark 13:1-2)
When they heard Yeshua prophesy its destruction, the apostles must have been shocked. They all had the same question in mind and asked: “When will these things be?” Yeshua spoke about the signs of “These Things” as well as His second coming and the end of the age. (Luke 21:7, Matthew 24:3) Matthew, like the Jewish people then and still today longed for a Messiah who would bring in the glorious Messianic Kingdom of worldwide peace. He would reign in Jerusalem where all nations would come to hear Him: “from Zion will go forth the Torah and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2) but… “When will these things be?”
In 70 CE (AD), 40 years after Yeshua’s prophecy about the destruction of the second temple, it was fulfilled when the Romans destroyed the magnificent second temple. Other things Yeshua warned in His prophecy happened, are happening, and will happen in the future.
These ‘signs’ would apply to the world, to those who believe in Him, and to the Jewish people.
Firstly, Yeshua warned against deception:
And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many” Matthew 24:4
In Luke 21:8 He adds that the deceivers will claim that the ‘time has drawn near,’ so He said not to follow them. Yeshua’s warning was fulfilled shortly after He left the earth, as men rose up claiming to be the Messiah (Acts 5:34-39.)
Ultimately, in the end time, another imposter will succeed in seducing many by using flattery and even signs and wonders, especially by bringing false peace to the world. Discerning between the real Messiah Yeshua and the Imposter will be crucial; it will be a matter of life or death.
We must also be aware of false prophets and teachers who change the literal meaning of God’s word for interpretations that make us feel good rather than challenge, exhort, and encourage us to seek God’s righteousness.
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” 2 Peter 2:1-2
This apostasy is one of the most prevalent and dangerous signs of the end times today. (see also 1Timothy 4:1-5)
The credential of a true prophet comes from the Word of God in the Torah:
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.” Deuteronomy 18: 18-20
Yeshua’s word warned that there will come a false prophet who will be the spokesperson for the coming false messiah. This false prophet will lure the unsuspecting away from God’s truth and ultimately demand the world worship that false messiah. Those who will follow him will lose their lives in God’s final judgment.
Wars and Rumors of Wars
There were, and still are great wars around the world, but most have come and gone. However, here in Israel, war, acts of belligerence, terror attacks, and rumors of war occur all the time. Yeshua assures us that when we hear of wars and even when they happen, while the rest of the world is in fear and despair, He is sovereign and we need not fear, but have faith and trust in Him.
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass…” Matthew 24:6
“…but the end is not yet.”
In Luke 21:9 He uses the word “uprisings.” A synonym for the Greek word is ‘disorder’.
“But when you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”
As we reflect on these warnings and descriptions of what is to come, it’s obvious that we are standing on the brink of these “End Times.” Not only are wars and rumors of wars increasing, but so are uprisings and disorder. There is an increasing loss of respect for authority as protests and demonstrations turn into violent and deadly riots, as seen in the news broadcasts.
Faith in Yeshua is the only source of hope and peace in these days and the days to come.
Nation against Nation, Kingdom against Kingdom
Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” Luke 21:10
Yeshua warned His disciples that “these things” were in their future…but for us, they are also here! We must be prepared and prepare others.
Lately, in Israel, there has been a kind of peace with the occasional outbursts of hostilities. Although they caused property damage, Israelis recognize that God is protecting lives. They are calling those events “miracles” or “luck,” for, despite the rockets against us, there are no casualties, even though there are some close calls.
Famine, Pestilence, Earthquakes
“And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.” Mark 13:8
When any of these events happen, our immediate reaction is fear and hopelessness. In just the last fifty years, cities and entire nations have been devastated and almost completely destroyed.
In our days, famine rages throughout Africa as unprecedented swarms of locusts destroy crops. Earthquakes lead to tsunamis that ravish the prepared and unsuspecting alike. The Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami in 2004 devastated Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia with a death toll of close to 230,000.
And now, this year the “Corona-19” virus has shut down the entire world in varying degrees.
Great signs from heaven
In Luke 21:11 He adds that there will be fearful events and…”great signs from heaven.”
Although this is another sign of the Tribulation, it was part of Yeshua’s prophetic warnings to the Apostles.
The Hebrew prophet Joel warned about these great signs, but also about God’s promise to save all those who call upon Him in faith.
And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said,
among the remnant whom the Lord calls.” Joel 2:30-32
The words of Joel’s prophecy were repeated by Peter on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 2:19-21, which reveals God’s heart of mercy and grace to continually warn Israel of the impending doom. It is likewise a warning to us for whom the Day of the Lord is so much closer.
Recently there was a scare about an asteroid that could hit Earth this November 2, just two days before the American election.
However, NASA just announced that even though this particular asteroid is estimated to come within 4,994.76 kilometers of Earth – which is very close in space terms – it is very small and doesn’t pose a threat to our planet. Even should it hit Earth, the overwhelming odds are that it still won’t hurt anyone since it is about the size of a car.
NASA can’t promise that a bigger asteroid won’t hit us in the future; they did promise that they are making progress in detecting those ‘near-earth objects’ with the hope of one day even deflecting them.
The Beginning of Sorrows
Yeshua’s warning that these were only the “beginning of sorrows” probably struck terror in the hearts of the Apostles. The word translated as “sorrows” can be described as “intolerable anguish, consuming grief, pain, travail.” In other words, there is that much worse to come.
“All these are the beginning of sorrow.” Matthew 24:8
The Psalmist expresses the same kind of fear and pain, but he is comforted in the Lord:
“The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears.” Psalm 16:5-6
The day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night, but fear not.
“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3
As Yeshua told His disciples not to fear, we also should not fear. We have His supernatural protection as He has promised:“But not a hair of your head will perish.” Luke 21:18
For us, His children, death is not the end, for we will be alive with Him through all eternity.
We, who believe in Yeshua, by God’s grace, have been redeemed and reconciled to Him. We will never perish but have eternal life in His presence (John 3:16.)
Even in the midst of the most horrible situations, God never forsakes His people.Isaiah 43:1-3a
“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
*(Lunchtime Prayer for Israel is a daily blog in both text and a slightly expanded video that helps Believers pray God’s promises to Israel and the nations. With the short commentary on the predominately Old Testament Scriptures, people have a greater understanding of God’s unique relationship with Israel. The new “End Times” series is written not just for the committed pray-er, but also for the growing interest among non-believing Israelis.