This is the third in a three-part series on another fabulous end-times prophecy fulfilled before our eyes: God’s regathering of the “lost tribes” of Israel. But before I go there, as a watchman, I have a job to do. I am compelled to say a few words about the significance of the time period we’re in right now.
If you visit my blog often, you’ll know that I tend to draw inspiration from the Hebrew calendar. I laid this out in more detail in my post two weeks ago, but we’re currently in Elul, the last month of the Jewish civil year. Elul leads up to the month of Tishri, which kicks off with the Jewish High Holidays, also called the “Days of Awe”:
These forty days between Elul 1 and Yom Kippur are very significant in rabbinic teaching. During the month of Elul it’s customary to blow the shofar daily. Why? To remind the people to look to the state of their souls in preparation for the High Holidays.
During these Forty Days of Repentance, easily more than 450 trumpet blasts will echo! This culminates in the Feast of Trumpets itself, when one hundred trumpet blasts are blown.
According to Paul, “the last trumpet” will sound before we’re caught up in the air.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor 15:51)
Many believe Paul’s language in this key passage regarding the Rapture may be a reference to this Feast. And accordingly, many also believe that the Rapture may occur on the Feast of Trumpets, some year, soon and very soon.
I talked two weeks ago about all the stunning signs and “birth pangs” that accompanied the Forty Days of Repentance last year. I’ll summarize them here.
I had a weird thought at about the midpoint of last year’s forty days.
Great signs in the heavens, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, monsoons and floods, wildfires, a series of solar flares including the biggest in a decade…. Could “birth pangs” like these be the sound of the Almighty’s shofar, giving us one more warning to look to the state of our souls?
I confess, while I stopped short of declaring it as a certainty, I did expect the Rapture last year! God will fulfill His purposes in the fullness of time, and when He does, we will stand amazed at it, as it will be exceedingly and abundantly beyond all we can ask or think!
Having said all that, with the Feast of Trumpets looming, this is a season of the year my husband and I always consider to be a “high watch period.” In Jesus’ first coming, He fulfilled the first four of the seven Feasts of the Lord (the Spring Feasts) precisely and in order. The Feast of Trumpets is up next.
So in terms of blasts of God’s shofar leading up to the Feast of Trumpets, what have we seen this year?
This year the month of Elul also began with a solar eclipse–although this one was partial, not total, and visible only in the far Northern Hemisphere. But it intrigues me that it followed just after two other eclipses. Three eclipses within a month:
The blood moon on 7/27 was the longest blood moon of the century. The moon speaks of Israel, while the sun speaks of the nations. So such a stunning blood moon directly over Jerusalem… one hundred days after Israel celebrated its seventieth birthday on April 18… would seem to be significant. (If this info on eclipses intrigues you, you should definitely look at my previous post on the Forty Days of Repentance. There’s a lot more to tell.)
We’ve also seen some unprecedented natural disasters, as we did last year:
Wildfires have almost become a year-round threat in some parts of the western United States…. Officials don’t refer to “fire seasons anymore but rather to fire years,” Jennifer Jones, a spokesperson for the National Interagency Fire Center, told me in an email.
Here, a NASA visualization shows the impact of wildfire smoke on air quality in the western U.S. All major cities have experienced dangerous levels of particulate matter. Seattle’s air quality is now reportedly five times worse than Beijing. Crops are also suffering from the poisoned air and darkened skies.
So… I’ll leave it to you to evaluate that data, but it certainly seems to me that, once again, these Forty Days of Repentance are packing a wallop–and they’re not over. The Atlantic is just warming up.
Certainly both earthquakes and major storms are identified in Scripture as signs of the last days (Luke 21:11, 25). And think of all the passages that couple “smoke” or “thick darkness” with the wrath of the Lord:
Psalm 18:7-9, Psalm 68:2, Psalm 97:2-5, Psalm 144:5, Is 9:18-19, Is 30:27, Is 51:6, Joel 2:2, 2:30, Zeph 1:15, Acts 2:19.
I’m sure that’s not a complete list!
For me, it begs a question. Is all this visible tectonic activity one final warning, one last plea for us to sit up and pay heed?
The handwriting on the wall, if you will?
For the day of the Lord is coming;
Surely it is near,
A day of darkness and gloom,
A day of clouds and thick darkness. (Joel 2:1-2)
Well, now that we’re talking about last-days signs, let me move to a more cheerful topic–the punchline of the story of the regathering of Israel’s “lost tribes,” which I’ve been promising for about three weeks now!
“Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your descendants from the east,
And gather you from the west;
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’
Bring My sons from afar,
And My daughters from the ends of the earth—”
Today is the last of three posts on this much-overlooked prophecy we’re seeing God fulfill dramatically in our day.
My first post recounted how Isaiah’s prophecy that gentiles (“the nations”) would carry Jewish people back to the land received a literal fulfillment shortly after Israel became a nation. And how scrappy little Alaska Airlines played a major role in the process. Beginning in late 1949, Alaska airlifted an ancient people group of Jewish nomads from Yemen to Israel in its steel “eagles” (a.k.a., WWII surplus aircraft). Tens of thousands of nomads who had never seen an airplane were induced to board one after their rabbis reminded them of God’s promises that they would be carried home by Gentiles (Is 49:22), and mount up on wings like eagles (Is 40:31).
My second post continued the story. The Jewish population threatened by pogroms wasn’t limited to Yemen. It spread throughout the Arab word. In the years after WWII, Egypt, Iraq and other Arab nations became havens where escaped Nazis received heroes’ welcomes. Jews who had lived comfortably beside their Muslim neighbors for generations (2500 years, in the case of Iraq) became targets of vicious pogroms.
The scenario that played out in Yemen would soon be repeated across Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Libya. During those first years, the infant Jewish state, with a total population of only one million in 1949, absorbed some 850,000 Arab Jews from the surrounding nations. (The most recent population figure is an astonishing 8.6 million, of which more than two million are non-Jews, principally Arab Muslims.)
Israel turned again and again to American Airlines’ Wooten and Maguire, who played such prominent roles in rescuing the Yemeni Jews.
El Al, Wooten, and Alaska formed a new airline with a new identity called Near East Air Transport (NEAT). Israeli ownership was hidden, so NEAT appeared to be strictly an Alaska Airlines venture….
Between January 1950 and December 1951, Israel airlifted, bused, or otherwise smuggled out 119,788 Iraqi Jews — all but a few thousand…. This dispossessed group, who arrived in Israel with nothing but their memories, rose to become some of the Jewish state’s most productive citizens.
– Edwin Black, The Times of Israel, 5/31/16
Iraqi Jews arrive in Israel. Near East Air
Transport plane is in the background.
“For more are the children of the desolate
Than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
Do not spare;
Lengthen your cords,
And strengthen your stakes.
For you shall expand to the right and to the left…” (Is 54:1-3)
An immigration camp in Israel, 1951
But the story of the Jews’ regathering doesn’t end in the 1950s. Nor does it stop with the Middle East. It keeps getting more astounding, reaching to the very “ends of the earth.” Prominent Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Bernis explains:
It reads like a modern-day suspense movie screenplay.
A mysterious tribe in a remote corner of the world makes an astonishing claim about its members’ historic identity. Ostracized by their neighbors, these lowly outcasts stubbornly insist they’re descended from the world’s most storied race of people—the Israelites.
Skeptical investigators discover an ancient heritage of names, words and idioms foreign to any local tongue but do indeed bear a striking resemblance to Hebraic ones. They also observe rituals and traditions seemingly right out of the first five books of the Old Testament. Even so, these astonishing assertions are dismissed by most as too fantastic to be true—until cutting-edge breakthroughs in genetic analysis suddenly added scientific credence to their claims.
This isn’t fiction. Indeed, in recent years this very scenario has been playing out in numerous unlikely spots in far-flung corners of the world—from Africa, to India and even China….
While many rightly view the rebirth of the state of Israel and the re-unification of Jerusalem as key fulfillments of end-time prophecy, too few Christians have taken note of another astonishing prophetic fulfillment unfolding before our eyes. I’m referring to the identification of these various fragments of lost Israelite tribes and the re-gathering of some back to Israel. Isaiah 11:11 reveals that in the last days, God will “reclaim the surviving remnant of His people” from a list of African nations, including Ethiopia—home to many of the Beta Israel.
In my opinion, these are some of the most significant signs of the Messiah’s imminent return.
Here’s a list of far-flung Jewish people groups I’ve learned of. I’m sure my list is not complete!
The “lost tribes” were the people of the Northern kingdom, taken into captivity by the Assyrians. While a remnant of Jews from the Southern Kingdom (tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin) returned after the Babylonian conquest, those taken by the Assyrians two centuries earlier never returned.
But the Lord has promised to regather them all in the last days–one of the many stunning prophecies we’re seeing fulfilled in modern Israel.
Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. (Ezek 37:21-22)
Many of these scattered Jewish people live in desperate poverty under religious persecution. If you’d like to help–and also help bring them the message of their Messiah–Rabbi Jonathan Bernis’ Messianic ministry has an outreach here.
Under Israel’s “Law of Return,” Jews who have not converted to another religion are afforded Israeli citizenship. Over three million Jews from 90+ countries, descendants of those scattered abroad–in some cases, millenia ago–have taken advantage of this provision to return to the land.
Brothers and sisters, we’re in the last days! I’m not saying the Lord will rapture His true church on the Feast of Trumpets at the coming new moon–but He could, couldn’t He?
Are you ready?
If you’ve never opened God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus (Rom 3:23, 6:23), please please please be persuaded to do it now! It’s simple. Just tell God from your heart that you admit you’re a sinner that needs a Savior (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:23) that you’re done running your own life, and that you’re ready to make Jesus Lord of your life.
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (Rom 10:9-11)
The decision that saves you is that simple!
Simple… But no one said living it out will be easy. Especially now, in these last days.