Temptations Wings

John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical Gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River. Some scholars maintain that he was influenced by the Essenes, who were semi-ascetic, expected an apocalypse, and practiced rituals corresponding strongly with baptism, although there is no direct evidence to substantiate this. John is regarded as a prophet in Christianity.

Most biblical scholars agree that John baptized Yeshua at “Bethany beyond the Jordan,” by wading into the water with Yeshua from the eastern bank. John the Baptist is also mentioned by Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, in Aramaic Matthew, in the Pseudo-Clementine literature, and in the Qur’an. Accounts of John in the New Testament appear compatible with the account in Josephus. There are no other historical accounts of John the Baptist from around the period of his lifetime.

John anticipated a messianic figure who would be greater than himself, and, in the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah), Yeshua is the one whose coming John foretold. Christians commonly refer to John as the precursor or forerunner of Yeshua, since John announces Jesus’ coming. John is also identified with the prophet Elijah. Some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John. Some scholars have further speculated that Jesus was himself a disciple of John for some period of time, but this view is disputed.

  • Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
    (Matthew 3:13-17 ESV)

After His immersion in the Jordan, Yeshua left the water and went out into the Judean wilderness west of Jericho; it was a dry and waterless place. There He fasted forty days. From those heights, He could clearly see the Jordan River and the plains of Moab where Moses had delivered the words of the Book of Deuteronomy to all Israel.

  • Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
    (Matthew 4:1-2 ESV)

Yeshua’s forty-day fast is a reflection of Moses’ forty-day fast on Mount Sinai. Messiah Yeshua, the ultimate redeemer, comes in the pattern of Moses, the first redeemer. More than that, the forty-day fast and confrontation with the adversary may be an allusion to the forty days of repentance that precede the Day of Atonement.

The Jewish tradition of forty days of repentance beginning on the first day of the sixth month, the month of Elul, are observed in remembrance of Moses’ second sojourn on Mount Sinai. After the sin of the golden calf, Moses returned to Sinai and was “…there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water” (Exodus 34:28). Meanwhile, Israel was camped below the mountain in a state of mournful repentance.

  • So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
    (Exodus 34:28 ESV)

The annual forty days of repentance before the Day of Atonement relive this story from the Torah. It is customary for the extra-pious in Judaism to periodically fast and recite prayers of repentance throughout these forty days in preparation for the Day of Atonement.

It seems unlikely that we can date this particular custom to the days of  Yeshua with any confidence, nor can we assume that the story of the temptation actually happened during the forty days before the Day of Atonement. Nevertheless, the imagery of the temptation story and the forty days of repentance share several features.

In Jewish tradition, these forty days are regarded as the allotted time to examine one’s life, identify one’s shortcoming and to make repentance in preparation for the Day of Atonement. It seems significant, then, that the story of Yeshua’s forty days begins with John the Baprist’s call for repentance and the Messiah’s immersion in the Jordan River. After Yeshua emerged from the water, the Gospel of Mark tells us, “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness” (Mark 1:12 ESV).

The traditional forty days of repentance conclude on the Day of Atonement, a day of fasting. Moreover, the Day of Atonement is regarded as a day for dealing with the adversary and his accusations. The liturgies for the Day of Atonement are filled with references to a legal showdown between God and the devil. In the Temple ritual for the Day of Atonement, the scapegoat for Azazel (the name of a fallen angel in some early apocalyptic sources) is led out into the wilderness and shoved over a cliff–an annual ritual celebrating the defeat of evil.

While Yeshua fasted in the Judean wilderness, He was probably between Jerusalem and Jericho, the very place that tradition says the Azazel scapegoat was thrown down. The imagery of the forty days of repentance–which culminate in a Day of Atonement-style, wilderness, fast-day showdown with a fallen angel–seem to be connected to the story of the temptations. At any rate, while fasting in the Judean wilderness, Yeshua encountered the prince of darkness himself.

The temptations Yeshua faced in the wilderness are not the sort of temptations you and I face on a daily basis. We find ourselves tempted by (and giving in to) much more mundane temptations. Even if we were starving to death, we would never be tempted to turn stones into bread because that is beyond our ability to do so. Instead of the common foils of human beings, the temptations of Yeshua are of a peculiar, messianic nature. They are the types of things only an anointed messiah might be tempted to do. They are shortcuts to messianic recognition and power.

In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul the Apostle wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV). This passage of Scripture is an absolute truth. I can assure you that any sin I have committed in my lifetime I willingly choose to commit that sin. “The devil made me do it” isn’t a viable excuse.

  • And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
    (Matthew 4:3 ESV)

Yeshua responded to Satan’s temptation with a direct quote from the Torah. He said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God'” (Matthew 4:4 ESV).

  • And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3 ESV)

Yeshua had some notion of where His destiny would lead Him. He foresaw the cross looming on the horizon. He saw His coming mortal death. The tempter urged Him to reveal His messianic identity by defying a mortal death through leaping off the highest point of the Temple, thereby demanding God’s divine intervention and proving to everyone that He was the Son of God.

  • Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'”
    (Matthew 4:5-6 ESV)

Such an amazing leap would have been witnessed by most of Jerusalem and provided for Yeshua a shortcut to messianic fame. More poignantly, it would have defied human mortality. In essence, it is the temptation to avoid death. In response, Yeshua said, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Again, Yeshua quoted the Torah in response to Satan’s temptation.

  • “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. (Deuteronomy 6:16 ESV)

Ironically, nearly forty years after Yeshua stood on the Temple parapet with the adversary, His younger brother, Yaakov HaTzadik (James the Righteous), was thrown down from that same height for refusing to deny Yeshua’s messianic identity. Miraculously, he was  unharmed during the fall, but was stoned to death by the  the scribes and Pharisees.

  • Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
    (Matthew 4:8-9 ESV)

The third messianic temptation of Yeshua was to take a shortcut to world domination. In addition to miraculous provisions of bread and miraculous salvation, the messianic job description includes dominion and power over all the kingdoms of the world. Note that the devil had possession of these to offer Him. If the Adversary was not in possession of the kingdoms of the world, he could not have legitimately offered them to Yeshua, and it would not have been an actual temptation.

The third test was the most difficult of the three. It was an amazing opportunity. It had the potential of bypassing the cross, the destruction of Jerusalem, 2000 years of exile, the untold suffering of the Jewish people, the Holocaust and all that we endure to this day.

Yeshua could have brought the whole redemption to a quick and final completion, sparing all Israel and millions of human souls, had He only been willing to oblige the enemy that one time for that one moment.

And, once again, the Messiah withstood the test. He responded with another quotation from the Torah. Yeshua was not willing to take any shortcuts to redemption. All kingdoms will be His, but it will happen according to the Father’s will and within the limits of Torah.

  • Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'”
    (Matthew 4:10 ESV)
  • It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.
    (Deuteronomy 6:13 ESV)

Subsequent to His resurrection and exaltation, the Master has been given the title of authority over the nations, kingdoms and peoples of the world. He told His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).

This statement provides Yeshua’s final answer to the adversary’s third temptation. By virtue of His exaltation through His death and resurrection, He has wrested the authority over all kingdoms out of the devil’s hands. When the Kingdom of Heaven is revealed in its fullness on earth, Messiah’s authority over all nations and kingdoms will be made manifest

  • Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
    (Matthew 4:11 ESV)

Yeshua did not resort to shouting matches or charismatic-style spiritual warfare. Instead, He met each of the adversary’s temptations squarely with an appeal to Torah. Fortunately, He had never heard of the theology that claims that the Torah is done away with. If He had, what weapons would He have employed against the enemy?

The same is true for us. Without the absolutes of God’s Torah, we all stand vulnerable to the subjective and shifting suggestions of the tempter. Only when we affirm the eternal validity of Torah are we able to call evil wrong and good right.

  • Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
    (James 4:7 ESV)

The Hollow Earth

The Hollow Earth Theory proposes that the planet earth is either entirely hollow or otherwise contains a substantial interior space. The hypothesis has been shown to be wrong by observational evidence. The scientific community has dismissed the notion since at least the late 18th century.

The concept of a hollow earth still recurs in folklore and as the premise for subterranean fiction, a subgenre of adventure fiction. It is also featured in some present-day pseudoscientific and conspiracy theories. The concept of a subterranean land inside the earth is popular in mythologyfolklore and legends in ancient times.

The earliest known writings about a hollow earth can be traced back to Mesopotamia and the Babylonian and Sumerian Mystery Religions that developed after the flood narrative in the Book of Genesis.

In my experience, much of mythology is based upon distorted facts of real historical events. So with a connection to ancient Babylon and the possibility of a Euhemerism as a basis for these theories, the theory of a hollow earth warrants further examination.

Miners excavating a new tunnel for the Industrias Peñoles mining company located in Naica, Mexico discovered a cave connected to the Naica Mine 300 metres (980 ft) below the surface. The Cave of the Crystals contains giant selenite crystals, some of the largest natural crystals ever found. The cave’s largest crystal found to date is 12 m (39 ft) in length, 4 m (13 ft) in diameter and 55 tons in weight. A group of scientists known as the Naica Project have been heavily involved in researching these caverns.

It is a known fact that we have more detailed maps of our moon and the planet mars than we have of our own oceans. Water covers approximately seventy-one percent of the surface of our planet. At the equator, the earth’s circumference is 24,901 miles. It is slightly smaller between the north and south poles at 24,859 miles. The earth’s diameter at the poles is 7,899 miles while it is 7,926 miles at the equator.

The Sakhalm-I Project, the Al Shaheen Oil Fileld, and the Kola Superdeep Borehole are the sites of the deepest holes ever drilled into the earth. It is more than fair to say we know little more than speculation about the center of our planet.

The Book of Enoch, which predates the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah), is a treasure house of knowledge and wisdom concerning many topics that make some people very uncomfortable. It is far from an “inspired” book, however, it is quoted in the Holy Bible and is canonized in Ethiopia. Many of the writings in the Book of Enoch were well known during the Second Temple Period before Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) walked on the earth. In section I of the book, chapters 17 to 36, Enoch is granted the unique privelege of observing and recording the secrets of the inner earth and heaven. He saw that the inner earth contained both heavenly and hellish regions, and that any place can become a heaven or a hell depending on the spirits who inhabit it.

In the Holy Bible, the prophet Amos wrote, “Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down” (Amos 9:2 KJV).

There are actually three terms in the Holy Bible that may allude to a hollow earth, at least in part. They are HadesGehennaHellTartarus, and Sheol. Most believers are familiar with the term hell, as it is used throughout the Holy Bible. Most modern translations of the Holy Bible replace all or many of the other four terms with hell. This is unfortunate as many people do not use a good lexicon, dictionary, multiple versions, or original language manuscripts  when studying the Holy Bible. Sometimes hell is the wrong term for various reasons (follow the above links for the all five terms for additional information regarding this).

Yeshua said, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40 ESV).

When writing to the church in Ephesus the Apostle Paul said, “Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:9-10 KJV).

The Apostle Peter wrote, “…God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [G5020], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment…” (2 Peter 2:4 KJV)

The lexicon results above clearly state that Tartarus is the  the name of the subterranean region, doleful and dark, regarded by the ancient Greeks as the abode of the wicked dead, where they suffer punishment for their evil deeds; it answers to Gehenna of the Jews.

In the Book of Numbers it says, “And Moses said, “Hereby you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. If these men die as all men die, or if they are visited by the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the LORD.” And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly” (Numbers 16:28-33 ESV).

In the Gospel of Luke we read, “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house– for I have five brothers–so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.””
(Luke 16:14-31 ESV)

Mythology, folklore, paganism, and the Holy Bible all allude to a hollow earth in some capacity. Many (if not all) myths are based on distorted facts of real historical events. It is a known fact that the earth has many underground chambers and caves. It is safe to assume that the underworld is also located in the earth. It is also probably fair to theorize that Hades (hell) is within the earth. These “assumptions” are more than prudent for anyone who believes the Holy Bible literally (word for word).

Two Birds, One Stone, and a Mustard Seed

Semina Sinapis NigraeThe Parable of the Mustard Seed is one of the shorter parables of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ). It appears in three of the Canonical Gospels of the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah).

“Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less [G3398] than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater [G3187] than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it” (Mark 4:30-32 KJV).

Most people who have read this parable and concluded that the size (amount) of the mustard seed represents the amount of faith a Christian must have to please God (Jehovah). Some have taken the mustard seed under the microscope and argued about whether it really is the smallest of seeds. Secular critics of Biblical literature have used this parable to attempt to demonstrate that Yeshua was in error because the mustard seed is not the smallest seed in the world. This kind of skeptical criticism overlooks and, as a result, misses the point and the lesson in the parable.

The plant referred to in this parable (which is paralleled in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke) is generally considered to be the black mustard, a large annual plant up to ten to twelve feet tall with a stout central stem and strong branches. It bears yellow flowers producing minute seeds. In actuality the seed is so small that when it is incorporated into jewelry, the makers encase it in a glass globe the size of a marble, which serves to magnify the seed so it may be easily seen. According to rabbinical sources, Jews did not grow this plant in gardens, and this is consistent with Matthew’s description of it being sown in a field. Luke tells the parable with the plant in a garden instead, presumably recasting the story for an audience outside Israel. Yeshua was not comparing the mustard seed to all other seeds in the world, but to seeds that a local farmer might have sown in his field. It is absolutely true that the black mustard seed was the smallest seed ever sown by a first-century farmer in that part of the world. The black mustard seed was a small seed, well known to the audience and the very soul of a proverbial expression with which they would already be familiar. Though there are smaller seeds in the world (epiphytic orchids), is there a better illustration or would it grow into so large a plant in the Israel of Yeshua’s day? Even if there is a larger garden plant, would it be known to the audience of the parable?

Many Christians immediate reaction to this parable is a blend of relief and shame. It is reassuring to know that even a minute amount of faith is so powerful. On the other hand, this parable makes Christians ponder exactly how much faith they actually have. What if your faith isn’t even the size of a mustard seed?  How much is a epiphytic orchid’s sized amount of faith worth?  What if you need an electron microscope to see your faith? These comparisons of quantity and size can actually lead to discouragement for many people. Many Christians also feel chastened by this parable. I don’t believe Yeshua intended for this parable to be a chastisement. I believe Yeshua is actually encouraging us that no matter how meager our faith may initially appear, that tiny little speck is the beginning of our path to completeness and joy. God takes us where we are, loves us as we are, and makes us His own.

The mustard seed, one of the world’s smallest of seeds produces a large tree. Likewise, it is the same with the Kingdom of God. A small seed when planted in good soil produces amazing growth, both in individuals and in the Kingdom of God taken as a whole. What can mustard seeds teach us about the Kingdom of God? The tiny mustard seed literally grew to be a tree which attracted numerous birds because they loved the little black mustard seed it produced. God’s kingdom works in a similar fashion. It starts from the smallest beginnings in the hearts of men and women who are receptive to God’s word. It works unseen and causes a transformation from within. Just as a seed has no power to change itself until it is planted in the ground, we cannot truly change our lives until God gives us the power of His Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh).

This parable isn’t necessarily a size comparison between our faith and a mustard seed. It is the characteristic of the mustard seed that matters. In Israel, the mustard seed is an incredibly invasive plant that can grow quite large (unlike other parts of the world) and its characteristics include growing in the worst soil conditions and being able to lift obstructions like large concrete blocks and entire roadways out of the way because of its strength. Therefore, this parable was meant as encouragement telling us to have the characteristic of the mustard seed (pushing through even in difficult times and poor growing conditions), not that we had to have faith the size (amount) of a mustard seed.

The olive seed was sown and was transformed into a tree. The tree grew and produced out branches. The tree attracted birds because they loved the seeds that the tree produced and the tree provided shelter to the birds. The Bible tells us that Christians (Gentiles) are the branches and that the root (tree) is a representative of the Jewish people (Romans 11). The seeds (fruit) of the olive tree represents Salvation that was provided to all of mankind through the Gospels and the text of the Old Testament (Tanakh) and the New Testament. The doctrine of free will teaches that it is up to us to accept the fruit as nourishment. The birds and branches of the parable represents nations and gentiles. Once the birds have eaten the fruit of the olive tree and taken shelter from the olive tree, they become part of the olive tree. Christians are now also included and considered to be the heirs to the promise and the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

The parable isn’t meant to discourage anyone and it is not a chastisement. The parable is meant to encourage Christians so that their faith will grow. We aren’t supposed to compare the size of our mustard seed or to count how many mustard seeds one might have. We are supposed to work tirelessly until we enter the Kingdom of God, even in difficult times or under persecution or threat of persecution.

In God We Trust?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
(Psalm 46:1-3 ESV)

“In God We Trust” was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956. The phrase has appeared on U.S. coins since 1864 and on paper currency since 1957. Strict Separationists have questioned the legality of this motto because they state that it violates The United States Constitution which forbids the government from passing any law respecting the establishment of a religion. However, the United States Supreme Court has rejected the legal basis for this claim. Religious accomodationists, on the other hand, state that this entrenched practice has not historically presented any constitutional difficulty, is not coercive, and does not prefer one narrow sect over another. Outside of constitutional objections, President Theodore Roosevelt took issue with placing the motto on coinage as he considered it sacrilegious to put the name of God on money.

As we draw to the end of of another year and into the new year, it is a time for reflection. The media reviews the top news stories and events that occured during the past year. Many people plan New Year’s Resolutions to put into effect on New Year’s Day. A New Year’s Resolution is generally a goal someone sets out to accomplish in the coming year. Some examples include resolutions to donate to the poor more often, to become more assertive, or to become more environmentally responsible. A key element to a New Year’s Resolution that sets it apart from other resolutions is that it is made in anticipation of the New Year, and new beginnings. People committing themselves to a New Year’s Resolution plan to do so for the whole following year.

At watchnight services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions. There are other religious parallels to this tradition. During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People may act similarly during the Christian fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.

Presently, the United States is suffering from financial and economic crises. Unemployment is high and jobs are virtually nonexistent in many places. Crime rates are increasing and religion and morality are under complete persecution both nationally and internationally.The last year brought the “Arab Spring” to the Middle East, many regional wars, several asteroids, comets and solar flares either passing within close proximity to the orbit of the earth or directly impacting the atmosphere or planet.

The great Tōhoku earthquake (it was the most powerful known earthquake ever to have hit Japan, and one of the five most powerful earthquakes in the world since record-keeping began) and a subsequent tsunami which left 15,844 people dead, 5,890 people injured, and 3,451 people missing. The tsunami resulted in the still ongoing level seven meltdowns at the Fukishima Nuclear Power Plants and worldwide fallout of nuclear isotopes. Hundreds of thousand of animals died with no apparent cause around the world. The United States saw severe weather outbreaks that produced record numbers of tornadoes decimating many areas through tornado prone areas. Haboobs on scales not seen before occurred in Arizona and the southwest. Medical professionals have been compelled to provide abortions against their will. Homosexuals are gaining the right to marry and clergy is being compelled to preside over their weddings under threat of criminal prosecution. We have seen many false prophets either proclaiming to be the Messiah or predicting the end of the world. This list could continue for pages, but you get the idea.

Yeshua was sitting on the Mount of Olives and His disciples came to him privately and asked Him, “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the world?” Yeshua answered them saying, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:4-14, 37-44).”

Obviously, many of the warning signs that Yeshua proclaimed would be a warning that the end was near are occurring  Many prophecies from the Tanakh have been fulfilled in the Middle East and the stage has been set for the fulfillment of many more of these prophecies in the very near future.

We undoubtedly have a problem. The question is, can we do anything about it? Can we convince God to delay His judgement or wrath on this wicked earth? It would appear so. Consider the story of Jonah the Prophet and the city Nineveh in the Tanakh.

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
(Jonah 3:1-10 ESV)

Jonah named the place and the date of the judgement that was to come upon Nineveh. When the people heard it they repented of their sins. When God saw this he changed His mind and did not destroy Nineveh as He said He would. The key is repentance. What is repentance? Repentance is confession to God, ceasing sin against God, and resolving to live according to His laws (Torah). It typically includes an admission of guilt, a promise or resolve not to repeat the offense; an attempt to make restitution for the wrong, or in some way to reverse the harmful effects of the wrong where possible.

In Biblical Hebrew, the idea of repentance is represented by two verbs: “shuv” (to return) and “nicham” (to feel sorrow). In the New Testament, the word translated as “repentance” is the Greek word metanoia, “after/behind one’s mind”, which is a compound word of the preposition “meta” (after, with), and the verb “noeo” (to perceive, to think, the result of perceiving or observing). In this compound word the preposition combines the two meanings of time and change, which may be denoted by “after” and “different”; so that the whole compound means: “to think differently after”. Metanoia is therefore primarily an after-thought, different from the former thought; a change of mind accompanied by regret and change of conduct, “change of mind and heart”, or, “change of consciousness”. A description of repentance in the New Testament can be found in the Parable of the Prodigal Son found in the Gospel of Luke.

Immediately after King Solomon finished construction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, he consecrated (made sacred) and dedicated the Holy Temple to God. King Solomon and the Children of Israel sacrificed 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep to Hashem at this time. God accepted their sacrifice and told them exactly how to stay under His mercy and protection.

Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. And as for you, if you will walk before me as David your father walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to rule Israel.’ “But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And at this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this disaster on them.'”
(2 Chronicles 7:12-22 ESV)

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
(Hebrews 6:17-18 ESV)

In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.
(Psalms 56:11 KJV)

Best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.