NEW COVENANT JUDAISM
The Religion of Jesus the Messiah
~~ Jesus said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood" (Luke 22:20) ~~
~ THE NEW JEWISH ERA ~
Salvation is from
Moses, Judaism, and the Jewishness of Christianity
by J. Christopher
As the author of the book whose title appears above, I take opportunity here to set forth the historical events and biblical understanding that inspired me to write this book. Essentially, there are three points that need to be made since my decision to write this book did not result from just one thing:
A. First of all, I must begin by pointing out that, with respect to biblical history, I speak from the viewpoint of a Historic Pre-millennialist. This especially means that I am not in agreement with those who promote the "Dispensationalist" pre-millennial doctrine of John Nelson Darby (1800-1882). Originally an Anglican priest, Darby left Anglicanism and began to teach that there would be two returns of Jesus the Messiah, even though no major Christian thinker in the previous 17 centuries of Christian history had ever advanced such a novel view of Jesus returning twice and no language in the New Testament can be found explicitly saying this.
Nevertheless, according to Darby—if not the New Testament—the first return of Jesus would be a pre-"Great Tribulation” return that would be silent and invisible to the unbelieving world. Only Jesus' followers on earth would see and hear this "stealth" return. Secret to the rest of the world, Jesus' initial silent return would be for the purpose of taking to heaven all his followers to keep them from experiencing the time of Antichrist in the “Great Tribulation” (see, Matthew 24:21, 29-30 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 where this belief is contradicted in the New Testament).
Contrary to the Darbyist position, as a Historic Premillennialist, I hold to the historic belief in Christianity that Jesus the Messiah will return only once and that this will take place at the end of this present Jewish Era we are in, after the Great Tribulation that this present Jewish era will experience (Matthew 24:21), and immediately before the start of the earthly "Jewish" millennium taught by John the Apostle (Revelation 20:4). This view is also in opposition to the "Hellenist" millennium taught by the Christian neo-Platonist, Augustine of Hippo (354–430 AD).
As a Roman Catholic Bishop steeped in the ancient Greek philosophical outlook known as "Neo-Platonism," Augustine taught from this perspective that John's millennium was not to be literal on the earth or in the future but spiritual and presently ongoing in the Church age. Augustine taught this, even though no major Christian thinker in the previous 4 centuries from the beginning of Christian history has ever been found to have advanced such a novel view of a "present spiritual millennium." Hence, Augustine's Hellenist Millennium was his own original fifth century invention.
Up to the time of Augustine, major Christian thinkers, beginning with those who were closest to the Jewish Apostle John and some who even knew the Apostle John personally as his students, taught that John's millennium would be a future literal reign - not a "spiritual" one - of Jesus on the earth. Among these early Gentile Christian thinkers close to John the Apostle were Polycarp (69-155 AD), Papias (80-155 AD), Justin Martyr (103-165 AD), and Ireneaus (140-203 AD). John the Apostle died very close to the year 100 AD.
I hold to a post-"Great Tribulation" return of the Messiah primarily because, as already noted above, it is explicitly stated in Matthew 24:29-30 and it is further supported by 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. In contrast to this, there is no actual explicit language to be found in the New Testament that unambiguously connects a return - even a stealth return - of the Messiah to any time prior to the Great Tribulation. In addition, Darby’s view critically depends on the belief that the Church (or Christianity) is something separate (or discontinuous) from Judaism. However, I demonstrate in this website and in my book that Jesus and his original Jewish followers never considered their New Covenant movement (or the Church) to be something separate (or discontinuous) from Judaism (see this webpage for a discussion of the evidence that supports this view).
Beyond making this brief but important disclaimer up front, I can say that my inspiration to write this book initially began from a belief I gradually acquired that the Gentile-centered Christian era that existed in America prior to the decade of the 1960s, came to an end with the end of that decade. The most important set of historical events that initially influenced my thinking quite strongly were the revolutionary cultural changes that took place in America during the decade of the 1960s. It appeared to me at the time as if humanity—at least as we saw it in America, whose culture the world always seeks to emulate and follow—had entered a brand new order of understanding where the Christian-influenced rules of human behavior and relationships were changing quite rapidly and radically.
The changes were so radical and emerged so quickly, it caught a strongly Christian-influenced American society largely by surprise. It appeared no one then knew exactly what the rules were in this new world we had entered or if in fact there were any rules at all that anyone could rely on with certainty. Instead, it appeared that an "age of narcissistic relativism," where every human being was an isolated world unto himself or herself, had arrived. With so many out to do "their own thing" regardless of how it would affect the human world around them—or their own future—what seemed to have been a previous "feeling of community and neighborly care" had largely ceased. Unchanging, transcendent biblical values that a majority—regardless of race or religion—believed existed and should be honored had been thrashed and no longer applied; confusion and bewilderment abounded.
Not knowing what was actually happening, Christian-influenced American society that still held to belief in settled traditional principles was stunned, reacting either with blind irrational anger or stupefied dismay. Those of a more logical mind sought to make rational sense of the events. They identified the phenomenon as "postmodernism," which is a complex atheistic philosophy that can essentially be explained as follows:
In its thoroughgoing atheism that makes any thought of God or his will irrelevant, postmodernism basically denies that objective, absolute truth (or values) exist anywhere and that truth instead is something constantly changing and relative to individual perception. Therefore, since according to this view, there is no settled and objective universal truth for humans to seek after, no one claiming to have such truth that applies to everyone is to be trusted. Indeed, such people and their mindset must be resisted and their claimed basis of authority must be questioned and opposed in every possible way.
Moreover, according to this view, even if such claimed "universal truth" existed anywhere, it is futile trying to find it since all humans are forever "locked" in a mental world of relativism that perpetually prevents its direct and objective discovery. Truth is therefore only what is true for you, but not necessarily true for anyone else. Paradoxically, change, and not any settled universal truth, is therefore the only settled reality.
In addition, I eventually came to note that, in his celebrated book, "The Culture of Narcissism" (completed at the end of the 1970s), the historian, Christopher Lasch, described the cultural revolution of 1960s America as having brought about "the collapse of religious authority." In America at the time, this was of course a reference to Gentile Christianity as America's historic and "traditional" religion.
All this seemed to be in agreement with what now appears to be the general secular understanding (or assumption) that world history—particularly in the former Christian-influenced societies of Gentile Europe and America—is now operating in a post-Christian era. Actually, for reasons I give below, I see this more precisely not as a post-Christian era but as a post-Gentile Christian era, where secular forces dominate the scene and the role of religion in the public domain is severely restricted.
Because the changes this postmodern world had brought to Gentile Christian society were so radical, and the movement had become overwhelmingly victorious in the world—as it is to our present times—I finally became convinced that the end of the Gentile Christian era of "traditional values" was irreversible; we will never see that era again.
B. Secondly, my inspiration to write this book was also connected with my awareness that, at the same time secular postmodern forces were rising to take predominant control in the formerly Gentile Christian Europe and America, the Jews and their religion of Judaism were rising to take world center-stage—particularly in the newly-founded State of Israel. This marked an important point where I began to "connect the dots" as it were in the puzzle of meaning that challenged my thinking: What connection, I wondered, might there be between Gentile Christianity in decline and, at the very same time, the Jews and their religion suddenly on the rise?
Later on, I noted in hindsight that the final stages of this shift in Western history from a strong Gentile Christian cultural influence to a secular predominance all happened in a relatively short historical period—that is, in mid-twentieth century America, between the decades of the 1940s and the 1960s. In addition, I noted that specific events that took place during this brief period of history in both the Gentile and Jewish worlds seemed related; that is, based on what I knew of biblical prophecy.
C. Thirdly and finally, as I examined the particular passages of biblical prophecy I had in mind, I gradually came to the conclusion, based on such prophecy, that the historical shift from Gentile Christian cultural influence to secular predominance did not result so much from what secular forces were able to achieve as much as what emerged as a direct result of God himself shifting his priorities.
What this refers to is that clear evidence is now available—both from secular history and the Bible—which strongly supports the conclusion that, between the decades of the 1940s and the 1960s, God’s special focus of attention on the salvation of the Gentile (or non-Jewish) world—lasting as it did for about two thousand years—was shifting to a new focus. As I have seen it and explain below, this shift became officially complete at the end of the 1960s. While not forgetting or disregarding the Gentiles, my conclusion based on the evidence above mentioned is that God’s special focus of attention has now shifted to the salvation of his Jewish people worldwide. For this reason, Christian biblical history is now in a phase we can refer to as its "Jewish Messianic Era."
This belief, which views the Gentile-centered era of Christianity officially ending with finality at the end of the decade of the 1960s and the Jewish Messianic Era ongoing since then, came about from what appeared obvious to me in the following historical events that began in the 1940s and went on to the final years of the 1960s—taking place as they did in America and among the Jews between these decades of the 1940s and the 1960s—and from biblical evidence and commentary by several major Christian thinkers that I believe supports the conclusion:
(1). In the United States, which, after Europe, had become the second major center and stronghold of Gentile Christianity, this Christianity, by the end of the decade of the 1960s, had reached a state of steep decline in public influence and esteem. A clear early signal that this decline had already started in the United States was the 1947 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Everson v. Board of Education. This Everson decision was the first to establish in effect that religion, with Gentile Christianity particularly targeted in the case, could no longer be allowed legally to exert its influence in the public domain. It was in the Everson decision that the legal doctrine of “the separation of church and state” was first established in U.S. law.
The result of the Everson decision is that we are now living in a strong secular America that resists religion in the public domain. Religion, particularly Gentile Christianity as the former "traditional American religion" that had the most to lose, has been forced to retreat to the private domain and its public voice and influence has been largely stifled.
(2). By the time of the U.S. Everson decision, European Gentile Christianity, which had been in existence for at least 15 centuries before America was discovered and had seen many religious wars, had already reached a stage of advanced decline in public influence and esteem. Gentile Christianity’s decline in Europe is therefore now further advanced than America under the dominant power of a secular society.
(3). At the same time that Gentile Christianity was declining in public influence and esteem in the U.S. and Europe, a sharp rise in narcissism emerged. I came to view this as a fulfillment of the following prophecy of Paul which predicts and warns in effect that, as faithful respect for God and his moral rules would diminish in the end-times of human history, a widespread hedonistic, greedy, merciless, and unprincipled “Era of Narcissism (or self-love)” would arise to take its place as a pervasive human trait in society:
2 Timothy 3:1-4 NKJV – “Know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
Echoing the prophecy of Paul and, as if foreseeing the future godless secular triumph, the nineteenth century Russian-Christian novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky, uttered his own prophetic words that concisely describe what is at the core of our cultural revolution, "If there is no God - then everything is permitted" (see more on Dostoevsky's insights that are relevant to our godless secular age at http://www.pravmir.com/article_678.html). Even TIME magazine, in a cover article, got in on the "death of God" theme that dominated the final stages of Gentile Christianity's decline in the decade of the 1960s (see TIME Magazine's April 8, 1966 cover article discussed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is_God_Dead%3F).
Thus, it appeared as if God had "died," as the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche had declared about a century earlier, and humankind had taken over his vacated realm. From now on, the rules of life and the human world would not be made on the basis of what God had established in his Sacred Word, given by his Jewish prophets, but on what human beings would determine through politics, which is able to make anything possible and permissible, even what previously had been considered abominations when God's transcendent values were upheld in Christian American society—at least as revered, honored principles—notwithstanding a relative hypocrisy in practical life.
For example, casual sex with multiple partners became permissible and popular; adultery (or cheating on your spouse) is now on its way to the same status with websites to facilitate and promote it; fetal abortion as a form of contraception was made acceptable; belief in God was made qualitatively no better than atheism; homosexuality became just as normal and natural as heterosexuality, and now, even marriage between two homosexual lovers is permissible by law.
In astonishing exactness, Dostoevsky's prophetic words have been fulfilled ("If there is no God - then everything is permitted"). By inherent nature, postmodernism can succeed only when there is in existence a majority public assumption that there is no Sovereign God—at least none who shows empirically that he really cares about human beings or what they do with their world; just "having faith" that he cares is not good enough. Thus, with a lack of faith that a future perfect world is coming and that this present corrupted world is already doomed, predestined as it is to destruction, the stage would be set for the postmodern atheistic triumph. Under such a circumstance of not perceiving and not having the necessary faith that a caring God exists - notwithstanding the evil and corruption in this world - following this strict atheist perspective, it would become inevitable that humans in this state of unbelief would rise to gain control of the world in place of their assumed non-existent God, following what seemed right and proper in their own eyes.
As it stands, this is apparently the state of human affairs that the world has reached at this point in human history. It seems that the majority "world operating assumption" is that the biblical God is either non-existent or, if he exists, he doesn't really
care about what humans do. In either case, it is as if such a God is dead; human beings are alone in the world; and any thought of God is therefore no longer relevant to the here and now. Hence, this is precisely why unprincipled, relativistic, and amoral atheism has largely succeeded in the world today.
But as I see it and seek to demonstrate, the very fact alone that all the circumstances that have brought a widespread atheistic triumph in the world were predicted in the Bible thousands of years ago and that they are now occurring in exact accordance with those Bible prophecies should prove to all concerned just the opposite of what they prove to the majority world operating assumption that is atheistic at the core. Specifically, this aspect of currently ongoing prophecy fulfillment proves that the biblical God is as real now as ever and that he has never ceased to be fully engaged in world human affairs; all is going exactly according to the divine plan that has had a pre-existence thousands of years ago in the prophetic Word of God, not to mention God's fore-ordination from eternity.
Moreover, according to God's prophetic word and the end-time plan revealed therein, it was necessary for the atheistic triumph to arise as it has, and pervasively to rule world affairs. Whatever may be their personal beliefs, and with minute exceptions, virtually all the main leaders who determine world affairs (look, for example, at the leaders in the UN Security Council) are driven by the force of domestic and world politics to exercise their leadership atheistically; that is, without regard to an issue of whether or not God exists or what is his will for humanity.
According to God's prophetic word, it was inevitable that this world circumstance should arise so as to set the stage for the rise of the soon approaching "Era of Antichrist" (1 John 2:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Revelation 13:11-17). This supremely cunning deceiver and fiendishly evil man needs a world steeped in an atheistic outlook for his rule of delusion to succeed—as has been ordained by God's prophetic word. Among other reasons that can be mentioned, this consummate deceiver, who will reveal himself sooner no doubt than later, is called Antichrist because, as Jesus the Messiah was the embodiment of the benevolent God (Colossians 2:9), this man, as the exact opposite of Jesus, will be the embodiment of Satan. See the following relevant prophecy from Paul:
2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 NIV – “The lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”
Thus, with this evidence of presently ongoing prophecy fulfillment in hand, we are now able to observe and conclude that our present atheistic human world circumstances is in no way indicative of the biblical God having passed away and, as a result, postmodern atheist secularism has taken over. The death of the everlasting God of the Bible is no more possible than the eternal endurance of the secular postmodern world. Hence, what may have appeared to some as the death of Christianity or of God himself was merely the predicted end of one biblical era (Gentile-centered Christianity) and the predicted rise of another such era in succession; that is, the current Jewish Messianic Era that is now emerging as a powerful reality by the will and power of the Sovereign biblical God.
The American political commentator, Pat Buchanan, has a somewhat different explanation for what has caused the historical changes we are here referring to. Above all else he mentions, Buchanan appears mostly to blame nation-destroying "multiculturalism" as the destroyer of Western civilization, with Gentile-centered Christianity destroyed along with it (see this video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GG1rFA_QEk). In any case, we are at least agreed that Gentile-centered Christianity is dead or dying as a vital and respected moral force in the world.
It appears now that God—once again, as of old—is now calling out his Jewish people whom he foreknew and predestined for himself, for a final climactic task that only they can handle and lead superbly and that will bring human history as we know it to a close, immediately before the Messiah appears in a victorious return. Thus, we who have not cast away our faith in the triumphant Sovereign God of the Bible have the blessed guidance of Bible prophecy to give us a positive view of the troubled world that is now unfolding before us. There is for us after all a bright glowing hope behind all the trouble that surrounds us; this is what will inspire us to endure the hardships we will surely experience—if not now, then up ahead. We are now looking forward with great anticipation to the arrival of the following and final climactic event in the steady stream of predicted and ongoing Bible prophecy fulfillment:
Matthew 24:29-31 AKJV – “Immediately after the tribulation of those days [see, Matthew 24:21-22] shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
(4). In 1948, just one year after the 1947 U.S. Everson decision had revealed that Gentile Christianity was already in serious decline in the last of its two major strongholds, the State of Israel was founded in the ancient Jewish ancestral lands. In other words, as Gentile Christianity was descending in its status of public influence and significance, the indestructible Jews were on the ascendancy from their previous status as social outcasts in the Gentile world. As I understand Paul's prophecy on the Jews, a huge Jewish reconciliation with Jesus the Messiah is eventually to follow and, as we shall see below, this is even now in the process of "gathering steam."
We Gentiles who love the Lord Jesus look forward with excitement at this Jewish development. This is true not only because the Jews will finally discover the true Messiah they have long waited for but also because this is the last stage in God's salvation history just prior to the return of this Messiah. This being the case, the waiting time has become that much shorter before Jesus' return becomes a reality and his inauguration of the earthly Messianic kingdom of utter universal peace and righteousness arrives as well.
(5). After the decade of the 1950s, Gentile Christian mass evangelism of the type of Billy Graham appears to have lost a huge level of world public appeal and also went into significant decline.
(6). In 1961, in the case of Torcaso v. Watkins, the U.S. Supreme Court raised atheism to the level of Constitutional equality with biblical religion. In effect, the Court in this case debased Christianity's belief in God by effectively ruling that such a thing was nothing so special or unique as to be considered, under U.S. Constitutional interpretation, as superior to atheism. On the other hand, militant atheism, which takes much pride in considering itself superior to religion, raised no objection to the irony of being made equal to religion in this case.
Yet, to maintain a proper balance in perspective, those who are of faith must keep in mind that God often works mysteriously (or in paradox) in the fulfillment of his prophetic word. Apparently, God had to diminish Gentile-centered Christianity to prepare for what I believe is the coming rise of a new and more robust Jewish-centered Christianity that will surely impact human societies and their religions worldwide—including Christianity itself—dramatically.
In a way, it appears somewhat fitting that, having begun salvation history with the Jews leading the way, God should now bring it to a close with the same Jews leading the way as the Messiah returns—at the end of human history as we know it—and inaugurates his earthly kingdom of peace and righteousness. All this is according to Jewish Bible prophecy:
Psalm 2:7-9 AKJV – “‘I will declare the decree’: the Lord has said to me, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will give the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.’”
Isaiah 9:6-7 KJV – "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever."
Isaiah 2:4 NIV – “[Nations] will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."
Isaiah 11:6 NIV – “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.”
(7). In 1962, in the case of Engle v. Vitale, the U.S. Supreme Court banned prayer in the public schools. Also, in the following year of 1963, in a second case of Engle v. Vitale, the Supreme Court banned voluntary Bible readings and recitation of the Lord's Prayer in public schools.
(8). In the entire decade of the 1960s, while the social cultural revolutions were in full swing and it had become apparent that Gentile-Christian values and traditions had been abandoned by a public majority, the Jews, their culture, and their religion of Judaism were on the rise in Israel, where the Jews regained control of ancient Jerusalem on June 7, 1967.
This event took place after the Jews, having been exiled and scattered throughout the nations of the world—as a result of first and second century A.D. military defeats from the Roman Empire—had lost an autonomous controlling presence in that city for about two thousand years. I came to view this event as the fulfillment of the following end-time prophecies of Jesus and Paul on the end, “fullness,” or completion of the Gentile-Christian era, (which Jesus referred to as “the times of the Gentiles”):
Luke 21:20-24 NIV – “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."
Romans 11:25-26 NASB – “I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written [that is, in the Jewish Bible at Isaiah 59:20].”
I have viewed the prophecy of Jesus in Luke 21:24 as Jesus saying in effect that when the time comes that Gentiles have lost control of Jerusalem (which occurred on June 7, 1967), this will be a signal that the Gentile-Christian era (or “the times of the Gentiles”) has officially ended at that point . Hence, it appears that, for God, the occupation of Jerusalem by Gentile powers (from the Romans to the Muslims) became symbolic of how long the Gentile-Christian era would endure; once God allowed the Jews to regain control of the city, God would have brought the Gentile era to a close and the Jewish Messianic Era would immediately begin. Watch this archived video documentary to see the prophecy of Jesus on Jerusalem being fulfilled as the whole world watched it happen on TV >--> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLBcCffnnY4.
The prophecy of Paul, on the other hand, is viewed as predicting that once the Gentile era has officially ended, God will begin the salvation of his Jewish people in large numbers by reconciling them to their estranged Messiah Jesus (see again from Paul, “a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved”).
At the end of the nineteenth century, in 1871, this interpretation of Jesus’ prophecy in Luke 21:24 and that of Paul in Romans 11:25-26 was already in acceptance among major Christian scholars and Bible expositors. We see this, for example, in the following from the old standard classic “Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible,” otherwise known as the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:
“Luke 21:24 - Jerusalem...trodden down...until, &c. - Implying (1) that one day Jerusalem shall cease to be "trodden down by the Gentiles," as then [prior to Muslim occupation] by pagan so now by Mohammedan unbelievers [in 1871]; (2) that this shall be at the "completion" of "the times of the Gentiles," which from Romans 11:25 (taken from this) we conclude to mean till the Gentiles have had their full time of that place in the Church which the Jews in their time had before them - after which, the Jews being again "grafted into their own olive tree," one Church of Jew and Gentile together shall fill the earth (Romans 11:1-36). What a vista this opens up!”
See also the following from the 1832 "Commentary on the Whole Bible," by the Methodist Adam Clarke (1762–1832), which is also another classic standard Bible commentary:
Luke 21:24 - "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
"'They shall fall by the edge of the sword' - Those [Jews] who perished in the siege are reckoned to be not less than eleven hundred thousand. See Matthew 24:22. And shall be led away captive - To the number of ninety-seven thousand. See Josephus, War, b. vi. c. ix. s. 2, 3.
"'Trodden down of the Gentiles' - Judea was so completely subjugated that the very land itself was sold by Vespasian [the Roman Emperor]; the Gentiles possessing it, while the Jews were either nearly all killed or led away into captivity.
"'Of the Gentiles be fulfilled' - Till the different nations of the earth, to whom God shall have given the dominion over this land, have accomplished all that which the Lord hath appointed them to do; and till the time of their conversion to God take place [but we now know that it was until the Gentile Christian era went into steep decline in mid-twentieth century]. But when shall this be? We know not. The nations are still treading down Jerusalem [but that was at the time of Adam Clarke, in the 1800s], and the end is known only to the Lord [but we now know that this took place on June 7, 1967, when Jerusalem fell to the Jews]."
See also from the eighteenth century classic of the Baptist John Gill (1677-1771), "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible":
Luke 21:24 - "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles; the Romans, who ploughed up the city and temple, and laid them level with the ground; and which spot has been ever since inhabited by such as were not Jews, as Turks and Papists: and so it will be, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled; that is, till the fullness of the Gentiles is brought in; until the Gospel is preached all over the world, and all God's elect are gathered in out of all [Gentile] nations [but we now know that it was until the Gentile Christian era went into steep decline in mid-twentieth century]; and then the Jews will be converted, and return to their own land [but we now know it is the other way around; the Jews have already returned; it is only afterward that they are on their way to full reconciliation with their estranged Messiah], and rebuild and inhabit Jerusalem [the Jews have already accomplished this]; but till that time, it will be as it has been, and [Jerusalem] still is possessed by Gentiles [but that was in the time of John Gill, in the 1700s].
All of the above eventually led me to understand that the full saving work of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel had to involve three separate stages and two appearances to complete. This is described below as follows:
FIRST STAGE (the Atonement): In his first appearance, Jesus had to lay the foundation on which all of his saving work of Jewish and Gentile humanity was to be based. This foundation laid was Jesus’ sacrificial death of atonement.
SECOND STAGE (Gentile salvation): After Jesus’ rejection by his Jewish kinsmen, predicted as it was in the Jewish Bible (see, Isaiah 53:1-3), God focused his special attention on the salvation of Gentiles in every nation, yet without ever forgetting his Jewish people, since he knew that their own special time was coming in the third stage. As already indicated above, the second or Gentile stage lasted officially until mid-twentieth century when Gentiles lost control of Jerusalem.
THIRD STAGE (Jewish salvation): Now that we are in God’s third or Jewish stage, with the “times” or era of the Gentiles being officially fulfilled and ended on June 7, 1967, Jews have become aware that God is now refocusing his attention on them. After their horrible Nazi Holocaust ordeal in the 1940s, God caused the Jews to rise to heights of world respect that were unknown to them for two thousand years up to mid-twentieth century. But June 7, 1967, and events that have followed up to this present time, have been just the beginning of the Jews’ Messianic Era that is currently unfolding and the world is witnessing.
The next major religious event for the Jews in their Messianic Era will be Jews—in huge to massive numbers—rethinking their position on Jesus as God’s promised Messiah deliverer and turning to him in faith. My book presents comprehensive evidence and rational argumentation on reasons why Jesus is God’s legitimate Messiah for the Jews. Here alone, we have already seen one of several events that testify of Jesus' legitimate identity as the promised Jewish Messiah. We have observed that it was Jesus who predicted—two thousand years in advance—the end of Gentile control of Jerusalem coinciding with the time that the Gentile Christian era would officially end. Taught by the Messiah, Paul also confirmed at the same time—two thousand years ago—how these events would mark the official beginning of the Jewish Messianic Era.
The timing of the Messiah's prophecy fulfillment is therefore uncanny in a divine sense when you consider that all of the prophecy fulfillment noted above emerged together during the same brief historical period—mid-twentieth century (or the decades between the 1940s and the 1960s), no sooner and no later. In the same time period, Gentile Christianity had reached rock bottom in public influence and esteem; a pagan, hedonistic worldwide narcissism arose to take its place; the Jews had regained a major presence in the Holy Land; and Gentiles had lost control of Jerusalem—all exactly as the Messiah predicted and Paul confirmed.
At the end of the third (or Jewish salvation stage), Jesus the Messiah will return to make his second appearance. However, this time around, it will be in a spectacular display of power to save physically all his chosen redeemed people, both Jews and Gentiles, and to inaugurate his righteous kingdom on earth:
Matthew 24:29-31 NIV – “Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time the sign of the Son of Man [a biblical name for the Messiah, referring to his humanity] will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
Hence, the Jewish Messianic era that the whole world is now witnessing is the time when God will cause the Jew’s hardened stand against Jesus the Messiah to dissipate. This will be followed by God saving his Jewish people one by one and in groups, as an increasing number of Jews place their trust in Jesus as the Messiah of Israel until all Jews, or at least the majority of them, have been saved. As strong evidence that we are now at the beginning of the Messiah's Jewish stage (or the Jewish Messianic Era), consider the following, for example, showing that the beginning of significant Jewish reconciliation with Messiah Jesus is already underway and occurring now:
Since mid-twentieth century (or the decades between the 1940s and the 1960s), the Christian and Jewish worlds have been witnessing what—previous to mid-twentieth century—was mostly disregarded by the worldwide Gentile Christian community. During that time, Gentile-centered Christian values were holding relatively strong in their influence in European and American society. Christian evangelism and missionary work was primarily focused on Gentile populations around the world while concern for Jewish evangelism was minimal.
It appears that, at that time, Jewish evangelism was viewed as somewhat of an oddity which did not merit significant attention from Christianity at large. While such evangelism was actually happening and a few Jews were turning in faith to the Messiah, for the most part it seems, the Church had become accustomed for centuries to ignore the Jews; to leave them alone to follow their customs; or, worst, to persecute them.
However, after World War II ended and the State of Israel was founded, Christianity at large—particularly Dispensationalist Pre-millennial evangelical Christianity—believing that the end of biblical history may be very near, began to pay close attention to Jewish evangelism. It seems that at this point, the group, Chosen People Ministries, which had been engaged in Jewish evangelism since the former Orthodox Jewish rabbi, Leopold Cohn, founded it in 1894 in Brooklyn, New York (see http://www.chosenpeople.com/main/about-us/history), suddenly became the recipient of an increased volume of quality attention it did not previously enjoy.
Since that time, Jewish evangelistic work in Christian history has witnessed somewhat of an explosion with dramatic results in the rate of Jewish reconciliation with Messiah Jesus. We are now finally seeing a solid beginning of a fulfillment of Paul's prophetic words of God's salvation of his Jewish people. Jewish evangelistic ministries of different inter-denominational perspectives have been proliferating since mid-twentieth century and reporting remarkable results. While we do not necessarily endorse everything in the particular denominational theology that any of these groups promote, we see sufficient common ground with the following groups to list them as examples of what we are referring to:
1. Ariel Ministries - Led by the converted Jew, Arnold Fruchtenbaum (read his story here http://www.amazon.com/Messianic-Christology-Arnold-Fruchtenbaum/dp/091486307X) and other Jewish colleagues, this Jewish evangelistic group reports as follows:
“Today, Ariel Ministries has plunged directly into the mainstream of Jewish missions by combining the two key areas of evangelism and discipleship, with a heavy emphasis on Bible theology and doctrine. We seek to develop a balanced program of reaching out to others, as we grow in maturity ourselves. And, today, there are thousands upon thousands of Jewish Christians eager to live well-balanced lives—sharing their faith, praying, diligently studying the Word and pursuing fellowship with other believers.
“We praise God for other Jewish missions as we work together to pursue the common goal of reaching the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Our Lord will use all who are willing to listen and obey during these last days before Messiah Jesus returns: “Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king, and they will come trembling to the Lord and His goodness in the last days” (Hosea 3:5). See this website where this report is posted, http://www.ariel.org/amau.htm.
2. Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) - In a press release dated August 12, 2011, this Jewish evangelistic group described the scope of its work and inter-denominational organization as follows:
"Over 180 participants from 21 countries, representing over 50 agencies and congregations involved in Jewish evangelism participated this past week in The Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism’s (LCJE) ninth international gathering." See this website where this statement is posted, http://www.lcje.net/high%20leigh%20press%20release.pdf.
In addition, see also the following statement from LCJE:
“We condemn the reemergence of anti-Semitism and prejudice against the State of Israel. We abhor every manner of thought or behaviour, which aims to threaten the survival of Jewish people. At the same time, individual Jewish people and the Jewish state bear equivalent responsibility to love their neighbour, promote religious freedom and pursue justice for all peoples. Nonetheless, we trust God for his faithful and loving care for his covenant people...We rejoice in reports of continued numerical and spiritual growth of Jewish believers in Jesus.” See this website where this statement is posted, http://www.lcje.net/9th%20LCJE%20Conference%20Statement.pdf.
3. In addition to Chosen People Ministries, already mentioned above (http://www.chosenpeople.com/main/), two other important Jewish evangelistic groups, which have their own accounts to give on Jewish evangelism and its remarkable results, are the United Christian Council in Israel (http://www.ea-israel.com) and Jews for Jesus (http://jewsforjesus.org/).
4. There is a final dramatic and recent Jewish development to report here that does not appear to be related to Jewish evangelistic work. Instead, it appears that, on their own initiative, some brave, thoughtful, and notable Jews are publicly re-thinking the historic Jewish position concerning who Jesus is. Without casting off their historic traditions or placing unqualified belief and trust in Jesus—being even quite skeptical in some aspects—these Jews are nevertheless ever so carefully and cautiously approaching Jesus with a more thoughtful receptive attitude than that which has been generally characteristic from Jews in the past.
This report comes from a very recent blog article, entitled "Jews reclaim Jesus as one of their own" (dated April 5, 2012), which was posted online by CNN Cable News. CNN describes this rising new movement among Jews as follows:
"Jews, for their part, tended largely to ignore Jesus. That's changing now. In the past year, a spate of Jewish authors, from the popular to the rabbinic to the scholarly, have wrestled with what Jews should think about Jesus. And overwhelmingly, they are coming up with positive answers, urging their fellow Jews to learn about Jesus, understand him and claim him as one of their own."
See this CNN webpage where this blog article was posted, http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/05/jews-reclaim-jesus-as-one-of-their-own/?hpt=hp_c2.
As we see this new Jewish era on the rise, and in accordance with the prophecy predictions of Jesus the Messiah and of Paul his chief Apostle, we are now solidly aware of just where the world is at this present time in the plan of God and in biblical history and what we can expect in the near future as Jesus the Messiah's second appearance draws near.