New UK org makes connection for investors in Israel
Israel Investment, a new organization just launched in the United Kingdom, aims to connect experienced and aspiring investors in the U.K. with companies and startups across Israel’s diverse economic community.
Jon Simmons, founder and director of Israel Investment – israelinvestment.org – started this new venture for two reasons: firstly to bless Israel and secondly to create a mutually beneficial relationship between U.K. and Israeli entrepeneurs and investors.
Simmons saw that investors and businesspeople in his circles were aware of Israel’s high-caliber economy, but were unsure how to tap into it.
“It puzzled me that it only seemed to be American Jews and Christians that were taking advantage of the opportunities to invest early in such startups,” he recalled.
Simmons, based in London, created Israel Investment to make that connection in his own country.
“Israel Investment came about because I felt there was a growing interest among non-Jews in London, businessmen in particular, who have heard about Israel’s prosperity and are well aware of the blessings that Israel provides in terms of technological solutions in medicine, technology and cyber security and the high caliber of job applicants coming out of Israel,” Simmons said.
The website and LinkedIn community will be a sounding board of reliable articles and content for professionals in the U.K. who want to know more about economic opportunities in the Holy Land.
“Israel Investment is a community where businesspeople can come on board and learn, share and bring about ideas on how to invest in Israel,” Simmons said. “The website will be comprised of high-valued, actionable content that empowers the community to go about making an informed decision to invest in Israel, whether Israeli startups, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange or real estate.”
The community will be primarily digital through the website and a LinkedIn group (Israel Investment Forum), but will also include gatherings in London for business and social events with each other and Israeli businesspeople.
“Israel Investment is a unique opportunity because it brings the startup nation, the innovation in Israel, the entrepreneurial culture, to the European and U.K. investor regardless of their background,” Simmons explained. “We are targeting Christians, but it really does open up an opportunity for all people to get a slice of Israel’s economic prosperity and to support Israel in an ethical and practical way.”
Indeed, while foreign investments were down around the world, investments in Israel by foreign companies were up 7 percent in 2016 from the previous year, according to a report in Globes, Israel’s financial newspaper. Interest is coming not just from the West, but in recent years, Asian markets have expressed keen interest in Israel’s economy leading to cooperation on both private and government levels.
The idea to create Israel Investment was born after Simmons attended the Israel Business Forum in 2016 and got a firsthand look at Israeli innovation.
“The Israel Business Forum in Jerusalem cemented for me what Israel can give in terms of technical solutions to the worlds problems,” Simmons said. “People in business understand Israel as a place that produces engineers and other highly qualified individuals. The standard of education is high and mathematical geniuses come out of this country.”
The blessing is two-way for entrepreneurs and foreign investors, he said.
“From my understanding of Gen. 12:3, those nations and individuals who support God’s land will be blessed themselves,” Simmons said.
Simultaneously, Israeli entrepreneurs will have access to investors and mentors that will project them into foreign markets.
“Israel Investment offers Israeli entrepreneurs and businessmen an opportunity to expand their operation into new markets or develop their existing operations in the U.K.,” Simmons explained.
Simmons points out that the site does not include investment advice, but provides “reliable and accurate content regarding the macroeconomic situation in Israel.” The site features a portfolio of organizations that provide investment products and services.
“One of our core beliefs is that Israel’s economic success is due to the tenacity of the people, and blessings on the people promised in Genesis 12,” Simmons wrote announcing the organization’s launch. “It is our belief that regardless of your religion, denomination or background, that actively supporting the State of Israel, and all of its diverse ethnic communities, that you will be blessed.”
To get involved, U.K. businesspeople who are interested can join the community via the Israelinvestment.org or the Israel Investment Forum on LinkedIn and plan on attending the events. Simmons aims to open the forum to European and American investors as well after the initial roll out.
N.J. Schiavi has lived in Israel for over 15 years and is a freelance writer for Kehila News Israel.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Parashat Nitzavim/Vayelekh – Deut. 29:9(10) – 30:20
And He commanded Joshua the son of Nun and He said, “… and I will be with you.” – D’varim/Deuteronomy 31:23
Unless the text specifically introduces a new speaker, the verb vayomer – the 3ms Qal prefix form of the root alef-nen-resh, to say, in a vav-conversive construction (or the appropriate form for gender or groups of people) – is often used to toggle between two speakers who are in conversation. This saves having to constantly repeat the names of the speakers and represents the technique used in English books of closing the speech marks, taking a new paragraph and opening a new set of speech marks. The complication, in this case, is that the last named person is Moshe – “That day, Moshe wrote down this poem and taught it to the Israelites” (D’varim 31:22, JPS) – and that the last speaker is HaShem. That would normally imply – as Ibn Ezra affirms – that these words were spoken by Moshe. The ‘he’, Ibn Ezra claims, “refers to Moshe, speaking to Joshua at G-d’s command.” Gunther Plaut points out that this gives these words a “suprahuman tinge” as Moshe would be saying, “‘I will be with you’ even though no longer alive.”
On the other hand, the full speech quote – “Be strong and resolute: for you shall bring the Israelites into the land that I promised them on oath, and I will be with you” (v. 23, JPS) would seem to indicate that it is HaShem speaking, as Rashi suggests, “‘He’ refers to the Divine Presence, as it is stated explicitly: ‘to the Land that I have sworn to them.'” Moshe couldn’t swear the Land to the people; it wasn’t his to give! Rabbi Hirsch agrees: “All the preceding was said to Moshe in the presence of Joshua … and was followed by the direct command of G-d personally to Joshua. This stresses the principle that the supreme command at any time must be in the hands of one single leader: ‘there is only one leader to a generation not two’ (b. Sanhedrin 8a).” Jeffrey Tigay notes that this is the first time that G-d has spoken directly to Joshua.
This then brings up the matter of what the verb vaytsav– the apocopated form of vaytsavey, the Pi’el 3ms prefix form from the root tsadi-waw-hey – means here? Most commonly taken as “to command or charge”, Davidson lists several other meanings, such as “to set over, appoint, determine, decree”. The Sforno explains that, “G-d, the Blessed One, then appointed Joshua as ruler, similar to, ‘I appointed judges over My people Israel’ (2 Samuel 7:11), and ‘He has appointed you ruler over Israel’ (1 Samuel 25:30) and such similar verses.” On that basis, our text would be saying, “And He appointed Joshua son of Nun …”; although there is no explicit object of the appointment – who Joshua is appointed over – here, this seems to be a divine confirmation of what Moshe has already promised Joshua in HaShem’s name: “Then Moshe called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: ‘Be strong and resolute, for it is you who shall go with this people into the land that the L-RD swore to their fathers to give them, and it is you who shall apportion it to them. And the L-RD Himself will go before you. He will be with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. Fear not and be not dismayed!'” (D’varim 31:7-8).
So if this is the first time that G-d has spoken directly to Joshua and if He is making a statement of appointment at this point, why is it necessary? Hasn’t Joshua just heard Moshe promise both the position of leadership and G-d’s ongoing presence in rather more fulsome style? Isn’t Moshe’s promise enough? Gersonides suggests that “Joshua was in some doubt whether the things said here, which were all spoken at Mt. Horeb, still applied to him.” Frankly, that sounds a little lame. Perhaps the issue of not having more than one leader at a time comes into play here. After Moshe made the promises to Joshua, he wrote down “this teaching” and gave it to the Levites and issued new instructions about reading from the scroll in public at least every seven years. Then he called the people together, received a long song of prophecy and taught it to the people. Joshua might well be wondering what was going on. “Am I the leader or not?” he could quite reasonably be thinking; “Moshe promises me I will be, but then carries on as if he is still the leader.”
For that matter, HaShem repeated His assurances directly to Joshua shortly after Moshe had died, “No one shall be able to resist you as long as you live. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and resolute, for you shall apportion to this people the land that I swore to their fathers to assign to them” (Joshua 1:5-6, JPS). HaShem encouraged Joshua throughout his time as leader of the Children of Israel, speaking either directly to him or through the priests. Isaiah brings G-d’s word to the nation “But you, Israel, My servant Ya’akov … I chose you, I have not rejected you … Fear not, for I am with you, be not frightened, for I am your G-d; I strengthen you and I help you, I uphold you with My victorious right hand. Shamed and chagrined shall be all who contend with you; they who strive with you shall become as naught and shall perish” (Isaiah 41:8-11, JPS). And the L-rd spoke directly to Rav Sha’ul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are My people” (Acts 18:9, ESV).
What about us? How do we know that G-d has spoken to us and given us a promise to which He intends us to hold Him? There are many people, I think, who have faith in G-d’s abilities but are less clear about His intentions towards them personally. They have no difficulty believing that G-d created the heavens and the earth (although there may be some discussion about exactly how and when), split the waters of the Sea of Reeds and consumed Elijah’s sacrifice on Mt. Carmel, or that Yeshua healed the sick and raised the dead to life. They seem to accept and understand that G-d manages to move lots of money around in many bank accounts to pay the wages for and support the work of churches and mission agencies. Thy are usually comfortable with the idea that G-d hears and answers other people’s prayers and that miracles can and do happen today. But, when it comes to G-d healing them, or providing another fifty pounds to cover this week’s food budget, they are very uncertain that He will do those miracles for them. They doubt their ability to hear clearly from G-d or to distinguish between what they want – and is therefore completely un-guaranteed – and what G-d’s will for them and their lives might be. In fact, in many cases, people doubt that G-d even has a plan or a will for their individual lives.
Somehow, it all seemed so simple in the wilderness. It wasn’t difficulty knowing what to do and when; there were the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, manna came each morning except Shabbat. Break camp, follow the pillar, make camp; eat, drink, sleep; build the tabernacle. Easy. Later, the prophets were a visible and audible sign of G-d’s presence and word. It was much clearer when the Jeremiah stood in the entrance way to the Temple and called out to all the people, or when Jonah – bleached white by the stomach acid of the whale – walked through the streets of Nineveh, calling them to repentance. Even if we didn’t do what they said, everyone knew that a prophet had spoken. But what do we do now? How do we hear and recognise the authoritative word? We say that if we saw the writing on the wall, we’d instantly obey and move all the mountains foolish enough to get in the way – after all, G-d has spoken.
But there’s the rub. Did G-d speak or did we imagine it? Or did G-d speak and we didn’t like what He said, so we want to say we imagined it? Some folk point to Yeshua’s words about the Holy Spirit: “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26, ESV). Others quote from the prophets: “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21, ESV). Still others will tell you about the time they woke up cold a couple of hours after midnight one morning with a voice in their ears that was so clear and compelling that all they could say was, “Yes, L-rd,” in a fumbling sort of voice and couldn’t think straight for days until they had done what they were told. Many more feel the quickening of their heart as they read the pages of their Bible and they know that the Spirit has spoken to them, not with an audible voice, but an inner voice, from their heart to their head as it were.
But how do we know this isn’t all just subjective? We wanted to buy that new commentary on Job, so when the verse “Study to shew thyself approved unto G-d” (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV) came up, we knew that G-d had spoken. And that verse, “Anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith” (1 Timothy 5:8, ESV), was never intended for the modern world where we have benefits and a welfare state; that was just for the first few centuries. One answer is that G-d never gives up; He is the Master of Communication. Whether it is fireworks before dawn, sleepless nights, unexplained indigestion, toothache or worse, He has multiple ways of getting our attention and keeping it until we respond. Talking things through with someone else helps to reduce subjectivity; just the act of articulating your thoughts may be enough – before the other person has even responded – to let you know whether your ideas are from G-d or not. Ask yourself whether you can imagine Yeshua saying that to your face? Checking whether the verse that seems on fire for you also fired the biblical authors is good too. If it is from G-d – and He speaks much more often than most people think – then you’ll know and you’ll know too that, like Joshua, you have been commanded!
Further Study: B’resheet 28:15; John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:10
Application: Have you been holding out and pretending that you can’t hear G-d speaking? Or perhaps you doubt your ability to hear G-d clearly so that you’ve become paralysed with the fear of getting it wrong? Know that G-d does – and wants to – communicate clearly with you; ask and brace yourself for a retransmission, find someone you trust to share and pray with to confirm what you hear and make sure you do what He says!
Jonathan and his wife, Belinda, lead Messianic Education Trust, which is an educational ministry based in England. It is a part of the Tikkun family of ministries, serving the Messianic Jewish community in Israel, Cyprus and the USA , as well as former republics of the Soviet block.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Could this possibly be “it”?
Jesus says in Mark 13:7-8;
When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
He was answering their question about how they would know when it was time for Him to return to this Earth and set up His Kingdom here. Before those verses it talks about how there would be many false Messiah’s and false prophets, which there have been plenty of for hundreds of years but which we seem to be drowning in these days.
But in any case, these passages are often brought up when Believers get together and wonder if we are, indeed, living in the “End Times” when the time is close for the Second Coming.
In other words, when we ask each other and ourselves, could this be “it”?
There certainly is a lot of really scary stuff happening out there.
The US has been hit with a series of devastating natural disasters in recent weeks, including massive hurricanes, forest fires and floods, with more forecast. Seismologists are pointing with concern to a series of small but significant earthquakes in the Midwestern US, which could lead to a catastrophic eruption of long-dormant volcanoes.
Even before that, America was hit by a series of man-made disasters, including riots, social unrest and general sociopolitical dysfunction including violent street demonstrations by groups on the Far-Right and the Far-Left, both disregarding or even targeting police and other elements of government authority.
It’s not just America either.
Nepal, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh saw unprecedented amounts of rainfall in their fall monsoon season this year, leading to massive floods all over South Asia. An 8.1 magnitude earthquake hit southern Mexico recently, and smaller but still significant quakes have happened elsewhere.
There are four countries in Africa, South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, which the UN says are officially in famine. Dozens more countries all over the world, with a collective total of over a billion human beings, are on the brink of famine. Yemen is also suffering from an outbreak of Cholera, with at least 600,000 people already diagnosed and many more in danger.
A heatwave with temperatures far above seasonal averages is making life miserable for millions of people in Europe. Forest fires have ravaged large swaths of several countries, with little hope that rain will soon come to offer any relief. Large fires are also raging in the Russian far east.
Then of course there are the “wars and rumors of wars” that Jesus warned us about.
North Korea is busily testing nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles. Russia is holding enormous military exercises in an effort to intimidate its former subjects in eastern Europe while the Swedes (of all people!) are holding their own war games this week to show Moscow they, at least, will not be cowed.
China continues to make aggressive moves in the South China Sea, while its smaller neighbors feverishly shop for weapons from whoever will sell them in order to prepare for what many fear is an inevitable confrontation. India and China also have a simmering border dispute which threatens to erupt into a general conflict between the world’s two most populous countries.
Closer to Israel, the war in Syria appears to be winding down, but the aftermath of this war might be just setting the stage for another, much bigger one. Most of the major players in the “Gog-Magog” scenario prophesied about in Ezekiel 38-39 are actively engaged in Syria or at least mobilized and prepared for action.
There are many more worrisome things going on all over the world.
So, once again, could this possibly be “it”?
The simple answer is, yes, this very possibly could be the “it” we’ve been waiting for.
But it’s also very possible that we’re not quite there yet. For the last two thousand years there were MANY seasons when it looked almost as bad as it does now. But Jesus didn’t come back then, and He might not come back now.
So, what should we do?
My advice, for whoever wants it, is that we should do the same thing we should be doing if none of these scary things were happening.
We should be praying, daily. We should be studying the Word, daily. We should be in fellowship with other Believers, daily. We should be serving the Body of Christ and the work of the Gospel, daily. We should be caring for the sick, the orphans, the widows and everyone else who needs our help, daily.
We should continue to be a light in a dark world, daily.
Jesus is coming back when He’s coming back. It might very well be next week, or next month, or next year. Or it might be a lot longer.
I personally think we’re very close to the end, simply because the physical environment of this planet which makes human life possible here is deteriorating at a rapid pace and soon it simply won’t be possible for human beings to live here. But I could be wrong, and even if I’m right, it’s not a reason for me to slack off any of my responsibilities to God or my fellow human beings.
May God give us all the wisdom, strength, patience and discipline to do what He has called His Church to do in this season of history.
Famine in Africa https://www.csis.org/podcasts/csis-podcast
Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Thoughts on Parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech
Moshe’s time with Bnei Yisrael is quickly coming to an end, as he winds down his last discourse in this week’s parasha. This is his last impassioned plea with Bnei Yisrael to remember all that ADONAI has done for them, all He has revealed to them, and what He lovingly expects from them. The parasha is a double portion, Nitzavim-Vayelech, Deuteronomy 29.9 – 31.30.[i] Often when we read the Tanakh, we get the impression that it is primarily male oriented, and at least slightly misogynistic. But this week’s parasha begins with an all-inclusive call to
Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. All of you are standing today in the presence of the Lord your God – your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, together with your children and your wives, and the foreigners living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water. (29.9 – 10)
As with last week’s parasha, the purpose for carefully following the terms of the Covenant is laid out plainly, “…so that you may prosper in everything you do.” But it was not just the men, or the camp leaders that heard this impassioned plea of Moshe, everyone – “your children and your wives, and the foreigners living in your camps,”– was to hear and to take heed of the words of the covenant that Moshe was reiterating. There was not to be a single person left out of the hearing, so that no one could later say, “we didn’t hear” or “it doesn’t apply to us.”
The “foreigners living in your camps,” or in some translations the strangers or sojourners, in Hebrew is גר, ger, which carries a number of nuances and understandings. Most popular today is that of a proselyte or convert. While this is a modern understanding, there is some question as to what was intended by the original writers/compliers. The word ger also can mean resident alien, such as Abraham in Genesis 23.4 or Moshe in Exodus 2.22 or Israel while in Egypt. While both Abraham and Moshe lived among their neighbors, as foreign residents, neither one of them converted to their ways. In other words, it appears to be possible that the ger could well “live” among Bnei Yisrael, and by their presence with Bnei Yisrael they fell under the dictates as well as the blessings and curses with the rest of Bnei Yisrael – without becoming Bnei Yisrael. In his commentary on Deuteronomy, Jeffrey H. Tigay notes, “Resident aliens did not normally own land and were dependent on others for their livelihood. Because of their dependency, gerim were often poor and exposed to exploitation, and the Torah regularly includes them along with the widows, orphans, and the poor in appeals and laws designed to protect vulnerable groups.”[ii] Tigay is commenting on the equal justice that is to be administered to both “an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you” (Deuteronomy 1.16). We just saw a perfect example of this common care in Ki Tavo last week
When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. (Deuteronomy 26.12)
Tigay goes on to comment in this week’s parasha, that “while not Israelites, resident aliens are subject to the civil law and certain religious prohibitions, enjoy particular rights, and are permitted to participate in certain religious celebrations. For this reason, they, too, take part in the covenant ceremony and must hear the Teaching read (Deuteronomy 31.12; Joshua 8.35).[iii]
Recently, the Jerusalem Counsel of Acts 15 has become the topic of discussion once again. The council decided not to burden the new believers from the nations with the requirement of full conversion to Judaism, as some were insisting (Acts 15.5). The general consensus of the counsel was that the they “should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God,” (15.19). They did however, establish four guidelines seemingly to facilitate moral and table fellowship (15.20), then adding “For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath” (15.21). It would appear that these new believers in Yeshua were in fact familiar with the synagogue and the Teaching (Torah) that was read every Shabbat. They were “resident aliens” as it were – not full members but participants.
Later, Rav Shaul would write to the believers in Rome, “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’.” (Romans 10.12-13) There is no difference in our coming into the kingdom, we must all come through Yeshua our Messiah and Lord. However, neither this statement nor what Shaul wrote to the believers at Galatia, (Galatians 3.28) changes the distinction between Jew and non-Jew, nor the individual responsibilities of each. As long as there are physical distinctions between the sexes, there will be distinctions between various cultures and social groups, including Jew and non-Jew – what there is not and never will be, is a difference in the way that we each approach Messiah. The barrier that has come down is not that which makes us distinct, but rather that which demands that we stay distinct but united.
This week’s haftarah is the last of the seven weeks of consolation, where Israel has been comforted since the horrors of Tisha b’Av, and awaits Rosh Hashanah and the memorial of the coronation of the King of the Universe. The reading is found in Isaiah 61:10 – 63:9. The passage begins in heights of joy and exaltation as redeemed Israel proclaims
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61.10)
The prophet recognizes that it is not Israel’s righteousness or Israel’s own power that has brought about her restoration; it is her God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the father of our Messiah Yeshua. More than that, it is not only that our God has rescued and redeemed Israel, He felt every bit of her pain and despair while exiled from His presence. The prophet closes with these words
In all their distress He too was distressed, and the Angel of His Presence saved them. In His love and mercy, He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. (Isaiah 63.9)
All the time Israel was in exile, Hashem too felt the pain and despair of the separation from His am segula. His love and His mercy brought about our redemption, and not something that we ourselves have done.
Israel will forever remember and “will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which He is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us — yes, the many good things He has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses” (63.7). It would do us well to remind ourselves to do likewise.
[i] Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the Tree of Life (TLV) translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.
[ii] Commentary by Jeffrey H. Tigay, The JPS Torah Commentary; Deuteronomy. The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1996, p 12.
[iii] Ibid. p 278.
Michael Hillel with his wife Vered and their three children, made aliyah from the US in late 80s, and in biblical fashion has, for the last 27 years, done whatever his hands have found to do. In 2013 Michael began working on a MA degree in Messianic Jewish Theology. Using the tools learned from his studies, he has been writing teaching and devotional materials from both the Tanakh and Apostolic Writings. Since Messianic Judaism shares a communal context with both Judaism and Christianity, he incorporates material from both traditionally Jewish and Christian perspectives.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Take heed; I have told you all things beforehand
The Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age. That is why they are still relevant to us today – not only as a guide for wisdom unto salvation, and for righteous living, but also as a guide for knowing the will of God: Jesus Christ is going to come back to take back the world that the devil and human beings have usurped for themselves, and He will establish the Kingdom of God (YHVH) forevermore.
All of the prophets of the LORD looked to that day; Yeshua Himself looked to that day; the Lord’s Supper looks to that day; the closest disciples of Messiah asked about that day, both before His crucifixion and after His resurrection before He ascended to Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father, where He still is.
This is also the vision statement of Yeshua’s Inheritance Congregation: that as many people as possible under our authority and influence would be ready for and have part in the First Resurrection. (Rev. 20:4-6) Our mission statement is this: to be Yeshua’s witnesses to bring more people into His kingdom; we are God’s sons and daughters to grow to full maturity in preparation for our Bridegroom’s return. (Matt. 28:18-20)
The four apostles’ question at the beginning of Mark 13 is phrased differently in both Matthew 24 and in Luke 21. But Yeshua’s answer to them was essentially the same and with the same sequence of events (chronology). The question had to do with wanting to know when the end of the age would be which restores and establishes the Kingdom of God to Israel, and to know what signs there would be leading up to its fulfillment. Ever since Israel asked for another king, like the Gentiles have, the Kingdom of YHVH has been rejected by the House of Jacob. God intends to restore it! HalleluYah!
Jesus begins His answer by speaking of the second Temple’s destruction, which was prophesied in Dan 9:26. Then He goes on to say, “Take heed that no one deceives (leads astray) you.” We also know from the Lord, and also prophesied in Daniel, that there will be another temple of some sort, which will lead to the revelation of the Antichrist in the middle of the last seven years (Daniel’s 70th week) culminating in the return of the same Lord Jesus Christ who was seen ascending into Heaven. (Acts 1:9-11)
Yeshua says that the enemies want to deceive/lead astray the elect, if possible. The devil, antichrist, and false prophet want believers to turn from the way of truth in Christ, and to have doubt if Jesus Himself will actually return and judge and defeat the forces of evil. But the Lord does not want us to fear, but to trust Him who loves us: He is telling us in advance that these things must and will happen before His return.
Jesus is speaking to His disciples (including to us) about what will be before He comes. In the days after the great tribulation of those days still in the future (vs. 14-20), there will be celestial signs (Mark 13:24-26; Joel 2:30-32) before the day of God’s vengeance (Isa. 61:2). The Son of Man will be seen coming in the clouds with great power and glory. The Lord will send His angels (the harvesters – Matt. 13:39,49) to gather together His elect wherever they are – dead or alive. Those who are dead in Christ will be resurrected; those who are alive in Christ at His coming will be caught up/raptured. This is the resurrection of the righteous (Dan. 12:2); this is the First Resurrection of those who will rule and reign with Yeshua (Rev. 20:4-6); this is what Paul wrote about in his two letters to the believers in Thessaloniki (1 Thes. 4:15-18; 2 Thes. 2:1-5); this is the resurrection that Paul did all to attain. (Phil. 3:7-16)
If the resurrection/rapture were before all the serious troubles to come – and if the believers would not be here to go through them because of a pre-trib rapture – surely the Lord would have said so in His answer to His disciples and to us about the signs leading up to His coming again.
Then Yeshua gives a “time-reference” to let His followers know when we should pay attention that His return is nearing. In Luke, He wept over Jerusalem for not knowing when He came the first time, because there were enough prophecies in the Tanach (Old Testament), and real proofs right in front of them. (Luke 19:41-42) How much more, then, we should be awakening/revived to anticipate with excitement in our hearts His return to remove Satan from power and to bring righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit to the whole of creation!
Jesus says: Learn this parable from the fig tree (v. 28). The fig tree which Jesus cursed (in ch. 11) is unbelieving Israel. The fig tree here is also unbelieving Israel, but growing again! (Ezek. 36:16-28) The reestablishment of the nation and people of Israel in this covenanted land of promise is a huge sign – like Noah’s ark – that summer (קיץ kahyeets) – the end (קץ ketz) – is near. The generation that sees this – we are that generation! – will see the fulfillment of all these things; we will see the return of the Lord! Nearly 70 years have passed since the fig tree/Israel is blossoming. Whatever may happen – Heaven and Earth can pass away – but His words will not.
Yeshua then goes on to say that no one except the Father knows the exact time, not even the angels. Believers have taken this statement in both directions: there are those who keep trying to predict the exact time – which leads people astray, since they have always been wrong; and there are those who say no one can know when the Lord is coming – which also leads even believers astray, since they do not understand the times in which they live. There are those who say the resurrection/rapture are imminent, that no signs are needed. This also misleads, since it blinds believers to the obvious signs which Christ gave us to be watchful for; and some of these particular signs are during the period of great tribulation, during the last half of Daniel’s 70th Week. Also there are those who say that these troubles of war, earthquakes, and famines have always been in history; we are just more aware of them now. If that were all that Yeshua was saying, then they are not ‘signs’ of His return. Also there are those who say that there have always been wars, earthquakes, and famines. None of these extremes give unbelievers confidence or trust in what believers say to them about prophecy and current events, with Israel a key element of that as a sign pointing to the Lord’s return.
Jesus says, “Take heed, watch, and pray”. The LORD of Armies is coming quickly (Rev. 22:20), and in such a manner and at such a moment that even the devil (who is an ‘angel’) will not know or be prepared. He does not want us sleeping, but alert and obeying Him with faith through to the end. Jesus tells us that we should be doing whatever it is that HE has given us — His servants — to do until He returns. He does not say that we will finish what we were given to do, but that we should be found doing it. And He tells all believers to “watch!”.
There are signs; there is hope; He wants our hearts and minds to be ‘calm in the midst of the storm’. (Matt. 7:24-27) He has told us everything in advance in His love for us. This is part of the gospel: Jesus is coming again to save His people and to bring the Father’s kingdom to Earth, as it is in Heaven. So we can pray: even so, Come, Lord Jesus!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, September 8, 2017, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.