Sunday, August 29, 2010

More news on Israel

A lot of news about what is going on in the Middle East does not reach our ears through our media, as they 1) do not deem it important, or 2) feel that we should be kept in the dark. It is sometimes hard to get information as to what is going on, so I hear about things well after the fact. Here are some interesting things that you may not know.

The Sanhedrin, which was disbanded in AD 359 was reconvened in 2005. The last act that the Sanhedrin performed before disbanding was to create a perpetual Jewish calendar. What that means is the following. God has instructions in the Bible as to how the calendar is supposed to decided from year to year. At the end of the 12th month of the year, they are to examine the barley harvest and decide if it is mature enough, just before the sighting of the new moon, to allow for the offering of the first fruits after Passover on the 14th of that month. If not, they are to add a 13th month. As their 12 month calendar does not contain 365 days, the months move backwards through the season as years pass. Added to this is weather conditions which will affect the maturation of the barley harvest. As a result, they could never know whether or not a year would be a 12 or 13 month year until the end of the 12th month when they looked at the barley harvest. After the diaspora, with the Sanhedrin disbanding, there would be nobody to make the declaration, so they came up with a perpetual calendar that arbitrarily added a 13th month every so many years, so as to put the calendar back into sync with a 365 day year. As astronomy tells us exactly when a new moon will occur, they were also able to decide which months would be 29 days and which would be 30 in length. As a result, there may have been years when a 13th month would not have been added according to the barley harvest, but it was added because it was in the calendar. The same thing could happen in reverse in that a month may not have been added when it should have been.

Karaite (meaning readers of the Hebrew Scriptures) Judaism (this is a movement originating in Baghdad in the 7-9 centuries) recognizes the Bible or Tanakh as the only supreme authority in Jewish religious law as well as theology. It is different from Rabbinic Judaism which considers the Oral law, the decisions of the Sanhedrin as found in the Talmud, and rabbinic commentaries to be as or actually more valid than the Tanakh. Karaites maintain that all of the commandments of God are recorded in the written Word of God without the need for additional revelation or explanation. Therefore they do not accept the Talmud or Mishnah. They strive to adhere to the most obvious meaning of the text, which does not necessarily mean the most literal, but understanding it the way ancient Israelites would have understood it. Karaites are Bereans in that they hold any interpretation up to scrutiny regardless of who is teaching, and teach that it is the personal responsibility of every person to study the Torah for themselves to decide what is correct. They have a saying which parallels one we find in the New Testament, "Study the Torah diligently, and do not be dependent on my opinion." ("Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.") Karaites were at one time a significant proportion of the Jewish population. Today it is estimated that there are as many as 30,000 Karaites or more worldwide, with 20,000–25,000 of them living in Israel. This whole explanation of the Karaites is merely to point out that these few Jews have for centuries kept the proper agricultural calendar, as they would send someone to Israel to see the barley harvest each year to determine the proper months for the year. This has led to some interesting information which has escaped many people and which we will get back to presently.

Now that the Sanhedrin has been re-established it is interesting to see that they are no different from the Kabbalistic Pharisees of Jesus day. The following is a statement that they issued regarding the rebuilding of the temple.

"Out of a sense of collective responsibility for world peace and for all humanity we have found it timely to call to the World and exclaim that there is a way out for all peoples. It is etched in a call to all humanity: We are all the sons of one father, the descendants of Adam, and all humanity is but a single family. Peace among Nations will be achieved through building the House of G-d, where all peoples will serve as foreseen by King Solomon in his prayers at the dedication of the First Holy Temple. Come let us love and respect one another, and love and honor and hold our heavenly Father in awe. Let us establish a house of prayer in His name in order to worship and serve Him together, for the sake of His great compassion. He surely does not want the blood of His creations spilled, but prefers love and peace among all mankind. We pray to the Almighty Creator, that you harken to our Call. Together – each according to his or her ability – we shall work towards the building of the House of Prayer for All Nations on the Temple Mount in peace and mutual understanding."

Adnan Oktar, who is a controversial but influential Muslim author, met with representatives of the Sanhedrin to discuss how Muslims, Jews, and Christians can work together on rebuilding the temple. The objective of this cooperative effort would be an intellectual and spiritual battle against the growing tide of irreligiousness, immorality, and unbelief in the world.

Regarding the rebuilding of the Temple, Rabbi Hollander explained, "The building of the Temple is one of the stages in the Messianic process." But another possibility that has been presented is that the Dome of the Rock that sits so prominently on the Temple Mount be used as "a place prayer for all nations." "This should be fairly simple," explained Rabbi Hollander. "It is said that the structure of the Dome in Haram E-Sharrif (the Temple Mount) was originally meant by (Caliph) Omar to be a House of Prayer for Jews, and the Al-Aqsa for Muslims." It would have to be purified by Jewish standards however.

The explanation the Sanhedrin gives for this position is that in the Old Testament Scriptures it speaks of the House of God being a House of Prayer for all nations. Is. 56:7 "mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people." What they do not understand is that this speaks of the millennium, when God's House shall be a house of prayer for all nations, as Christ will be reigning as King and no other religion will exist. This whole attitude may make it much easier for the temple to go up than people expect.

The second piece of interesting information is that there is a kosher red heifer in Israel. They thought they had one back in 2002, but some white showed up on it. For those who do not understand the significance of the red heifer, this is a short synopsis. God commanded that Israel take a red heifer (must be completely red from top to bottom with not a single white hair) that is 3-4 years old, without any blemish, on which no yoke has ever been put to use it for work, and slaughter and burn it. The ashes were then mixed with spring water for a purification elixor. A person who had been exposed to death could not enter the temple without the sprinkling of the ashes to purify them. The temple today cannot begin its rituals without the ashes for the purification of the people. Last March in an interview, a member of the Temple Institute let it be known that they have at least one red heifer, and he indicated possibly more.

The next piece of info is that the Temple Institute has built an altar. It was built according to the law, so it is ready to be used in the temple. It was completed last Christmas. It was constructed so as to be mobile, so that they can take it up to the Mount and back again to keep it safe. Last Passover, they had tried to get permission to offer the first Paschal lamb since the temple was destroyed, but in light of the possible repercussions, they were refused permission. It is not necessary for the temple to be up for the sacrifices to begin. Oddly enough, that is what I said back when covering Daniel and the fact that the sacrifices will be stopped midway through the seven years. I had said that they could start sacrificing as soon as they built an altar, that they did not have to wait for the temple to be finished, and now they have the altar all ready. I also read that they have indicated that it would only take them three months to get the temple up, as I believe much of it is pre-fab, so to speak. Every year the Temple Mount Faithful organization takes a cornerstone, that has been specially hewn according to Scripture, up to the Temple Mount to lay for the foundation of the temple, but they always have to take it away again. Everything is now poised and ready for the temple to go up. The temple accoutrements, musical instruments, garments for the priests, even the recipes for the incense and shewbread are complete. The priests are trained and now there is a red heifer and an altar already built. The only thing that awaits the temple being built, is permission. Up until this time, things were not completely ready, but it would appear this is no longer the case.

Getting back to the agricultural calendar that the Karaites use, we know from history that God uses dates over and over to show patterns. He created the spring and fall festivals to be a foreshadow of Christ's two comings. So it would seem that when Israel became a nation again, May 15, 1948, midnight Israel time, that there would be some significance to the date. By the perpetual calendar, there was nothing significant, as it was not any special date, but going back to the Karaite agricultural calendar that God uses, it turns out that Israel became a nation on Sivan 6, which by the Jewish calendar is Shavuot or what Christians today call Pentecost. We know that Shavuot was the fulfilled (in one aspect) when the Holy Spirit was poured out, but we need to look at what other significance this festival held.

Shavuot commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the entire Israelite nation assembled at Mount Sinai. The date of Shavuot is directly linked to that of Passover. The Torah mandates the seven-week Counting of the Omer beginning on day following the Sabbath of Passover and immediately followed by Shavuot. This counting of days and weeks is understood to express anticipation and desire for the Giving of the Torah. On Passover, the Jewish people were freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh; on Shavuot they were given the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God.

In the Bible, Shavuot is called the Festival of Weeks, the Festival of Reaping, and the Day of the First Fruits. Besides its significance as the day on which the Torah was revealed by God to the Jewish nation at Mount Sinai , Shavuot is also connected to the season of the grain harvest in Israel. In ancient times, the grain harvest lasted seven weeks and was a season of gladness (Jer. 5:24, Deut. 16:9-11, Isa. 9:2). It began with the harvesting of the barley during Passover and ended with the harvesting of the wheat at Shavuot. Shavuot was thus the concluding festival of the grain harvest, just as the eighth day of Sukkot (Tabernacles) was the concluding festival of the fruit harvest. During the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem, an offering of two loaves of bread from the wheat harvest was made on Shavuot. Shavuot was also the first day on which individuals could bring the Bikkurim (First fruits) to the Temple in Jerusalem. The Bikkurim were brought from the seven species for which the land of Israel is praised: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. At the Temple, each farmer would present his Bikkurim to a kohen (priest) in a ceremony that followed the text of Deut. 26:1-10. The text proceeds to retell the history of the Jewish people as they went into exile in Egypt and were enslaved and oppressed; following which God redeemed them and brought them to the land of Israel.

Shavuot has significance and fulfillment on many levels, as do all of the feasts. We know that as the Day of the First Fruits it was fulfilled with the giving of the Holy Spirit to people of many nations (the seven species of fruit). We will see how it may be fulfilled in another way as the Feast of Weeks, but for now the association with Israel becoming a nation again seems to be the significance, as it is the celebration of God redeeming His people and bringing them into the land of Israel, yet again.

So Israel became a nation on Shavuot in 1948. Now we need to look at some other Scriptures. In Matthew 24:34 it says, "Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." A generation has two countings in the Bible, one is forty (forty years wilderness) and the other is seventy (the approximate life span of a man). Forty years is far too short a time for a generation to pass, (and forty years has gone by with no results) so it would seem that seventy years is the number we should consider. Also if we look at Daniel's 70th week on another level (we had looked at the seventy sevens as being seven sets of seven years, as that is what Daniel was praying about, the missed Sabbath years for which they went into exile.) we can see that there may be another level of interpretation. If the 70 also represented 70 years, we can see a correlation. We are presently in year 63. If the 70th week of Daniel were to star this year, it would end at the 70th year. What makes that significant is that by Jewish law, a young man went to war at the age of 20. Ages were counted from the time of birth, not as we count them. Therefore they were considered one year old at birth, meaning we would consider 19 years of age, what they consider 20. The Six Day War in Israel happened during the 2oth year of Israel's life. They went to war.

God told Israel to number the years in the following way: every seventh day was a Sabbath day and they were to rest. Every seventh year was a Sabbath year and the land was to rest. After every seventh set of seven years (49 years) they were to set aside the 50th years as the year of Jubilee and it was a mega Sabbath year in that all debts were canceled, all property returned, all slaves set free etc. They were to start counting the years toward the Jubilee when they entered the land. Even though Israel has celebrated 50 years as a nation, nothing happened that year that would show that God saw it as special. But there was one problem. They did not really enter the land when the nation was declared. They still did not own Jerusalem, God's holy place on earth where His throne is. It is most probable that when they captured Jerusalem in 1967, God then saw them as entering the land, and the countdown to the year of Jubilee began. What makes this interesting is that if one starts counting the Jubilee year from then, the year of Jubilee will fall on the same year as the 70th year from the birth of the nation, or the length of a generation. While I do not know the Scriptural defense for what I am about to write, and therefore cannot say it is true from that respect, it is said that Christ will return in a Jubilee year. It is also said Christ will return in a Sabbath year. The Jubilee year is a Sabbath year.
As God is giving Israel seven more years, the seventh year in the 70th week of Daniel would also be a Sabbath year, and we know Christ will return at the end of it. If it also lines up with a Jubilee year, then one would expect that it is possible that 2017 is the year for Christ's return, as it is both the 70th year, and a Jubilee year by God's reckoning. If that supposition is true, it would mean that the 70th week of Daniel would begin this fall, as we know that the 70th week ends at the time of the fall festivals, so it would have to begin there also. While the perpetual calendar says that Rosh HaShanah (New Year) is on Sept. 9, with Yom Kippur on the 18th and Sukkot on the 23, the Karaite calendar says that Rosh HaShanah is on the 11th, with the other holidays on the 20th and 25th respectively.

As Iran has been given nuclear fuel by Russia, and so far Israel has not done anything, we must wonder what will be next. I do not think it will be long before something happens, so we need to watch vigilantly as the month of September passes.

I have a tendency to get frustrated with people who dogmatically cling to things, when shown Scripturally that there might be another interpretation. It is foolish not to be open to God's correction and with that in mind, I need to speak on something I recently was shown. One of the greatest problems I have had with understanding the book of Daniel is his penchant for not putting antecedents before his pronouns. He goes from pronoun to pronoun without ever indicating to which antecedent he is referring. In this case, I am again speaking of the passage about the 70 weeks. In Daniel 9 26:27 it says, "And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease..." I, as have others, use the English grammatical way of choosing the antecedent to determine to whom the pronoun refers. In this case, the last antecedent was the prince, therefore many have assumed that he is the one who makes the covenant. I am at least different in that I have said that this does not indicate a covenant that will be visible for us to notice, nor did it say that it necessarily was with Israel, as it says "with many." The other interpretation I have heard is from replacement theologians, who say that this is a spiritual covenant that Christ is making with Christians and that the entire abomination is not a physical desecration of the temple, but something that goes on in the hearts of Christians. Because I find that completely erroneous, given that I believe in a literal interpretation that indicates a real physical temple will be built on the Temple Mount, I dismissed that the "he" spoken of was Christ. That is another problem with the Bible, while we now have a tendency to capitalized pronouns that refer to the Godhead, the Bible does not. All of this has been the long story to get to the point. I have been made to consider that what is being said in this passage is that God will again confirm the Holy Covenant (after 2000 years hiatus) for seven years. That clearly makes sense, as we have already been told that he will grant Israel seven more years. When He does that, He is again initiating the Holy Covenant that He made with Abraham. He has been divorced from Israel for almost 2000 years. He will now re-confirm the "marriage" covenant He once made with them. If this is the correct interpretation, then there will be no peace agreement between antichrist and Israel, as the majority of people believe. This covenant will be revealed to us by the rebuilding of the temple. In other words, the temple itself is the sign of the covenant being confirmed, as Israel has to have a temple to worship God. While Gentiles are not beholden to all the rituals that God created, the ordinances and statues are to be perpetual for Israel throughout all generations. That means they have to have a temple if they are again reconnected to God. This does not mean that they have to accept Christ to build the temple. They will first just get back their old relationship, then God will bring them into a relationship with the Messiah. Israel's eyes are opened when the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled, and that is not until the 1260 days are over. When Christ appears, Israel believes. They are left here to endure the bowl judgments and populate the millennium.

My intention is to get back to Revelation, but as September is almost upon us, I felt impelled to get this information out to any who might be reading, so that if something does happen, they will understand. If nothing happens by the winter, it is safe to assume that we are safe until next year, as it has to begin sometime from the early fall to early winter in order for Christ to return seven years later at the fall feasts.

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