“For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the LORD to serve Him with one consent. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia shall they bring My suppliants even the daughter of My dispersed as Mine offering.” Zephaniah 3:9-10 (The Israel Bible™)
On Wednesday afternoon, two of the greatest rabbis of the generation met and discussed how very close the Messiah is, and how Christians and Muslims have an important role to play in that process.
|Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch|
After warm greetings, the rabbis began to discuss the problems facing the Jews in this generation. Rabbi Kanievsky said that troubles were to be expected. “It is the days before Messiah,” he explained.
Rabbi Sternbuch agreed. “In the End of Days, those who fear God will despair and their hands will loosen from fighting God’s war against the sinners, and there will be no one to rely upon except God,” he said, adding, “We have to bring the Messiah.”
Rabbi Kanievsky answered that the Messiah should be arriving in the very near future. He quoted the Talmud (Megillah 17b) again, saying, “In the year after shmittah the Son of David will come.”
Rabbi Kanievsky was referring to a prediction he had made earlier in the year based on the Talmud. The shmittah (sabbatical) year comes once every seven years and ended this year on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The year in which Rabbi Kanievsky predicted the Messiah would come, according to the Talmud, will end next Rosh Hashana, in September.
“The year after the Shemitta isn’t over,” he added.
Rabbi Sternbuch answered by quoting Jeremiah 8:2, which reads, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” – implying that according to the Talmud, the Messiah should have already arrived if it was truly coming in this year.
Rabbi Kanievsky insisted that the Messiah was indeed coming in this year. He opened the Talmud folio (Ketubot 112b) that contained the prediction and began to read out loud to Rabbi Sternbuch.
|Father Gabriel Clean|
“We have an ancient authenticated hand-written manuscript from the Rambam (a Spanish Torah authority from the twelfth century), in which he says that before the coming of the Messiah, the Christians and the Ishmaelites (Arabs) will come to Israel,” he pointed out.
The manuscript the rabbi referred to is a recent version of the Rambam’s Mishnah Torah, recently published with restored sections censored by medieval Christian authorities.
Rabbi Sternbuch’s interpretation of the Rambam does seem to happening today. The creation of the State of Israel was a miraculous fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham, restoring the land of Israel to the Jewish people, but it also benefitted Christians, establishing a bubble of religious freedom in a region of the world that does not tolerate pluralism. Almost three million Christians come to Israel every year to visit their holy sites in a way that is not permitted in regions under Muslim rule, and the Jewish state is home to a considerable Christian population as well.
Gabriel Naddaf, an Israeli priest of the Greek Orthodox Church, said in an interview with the Algemeiner that “the Jewish state is the only country in the Middle East where Christians can practice their faith free from persecution”, noting, “The Christian community in Israel has more than quadrupled since independence in 1948, from 34,000 to 158,000 in 2012.”
Though not as positive or as beneficial as the Christian connection, the Arabs have also multiplied in the Land of Israel as the Messiah approaches. Before the British Mandate, Palestine, a neglected corner of the Ottoman Empire, had barely 700,000 people living in the country. As the Jewish population increased between World War One and World War Two, the Arab population also increased by 120 percent.
|Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky|
Photo: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90
“In the days to come, all the non-fruit bearing trees in israel will bear fruit.” Rabbi Kanievsky explained, “When the Messiah comes, everyone will repent, and the people that ‘didn’t bear fruit’ will bear fruit and learn Torah.”
Rabbi Kanievsky seemed to be saying that in the Messianic era, Christians and Muslims will be a source of Torah learning – and this phenomenon is appearing as well. Many movements in Christianity are beginning to seek out their roots in Torah and Judaism. Hebrew Roots and Bnai Yosef are growing movements that advocate doing Mitzvot and Torah study.
Both Rabbi Kanievsky and Rabbi Sternbuch are brilliant Torah scholars whose decisions regarding Torah law are unquestionably authoritative. When rabbis of this stature agree that the Messiah is imminent, it is clearly a sign to sit up and take notice.
Isn't it interesting that these Torah scholars include Christians in the equation leading up to the coming of the Messiah - even quoting scripture. What is interesting about it is that Jews don't believe that Jesus is the Messiah, yet the Torah seems to recognize Christianity as a bonafide religion.
It appears the Rabbis don't necessarily believe in the Great Tribulation - 7 years of Hell on earth, revealed by the New Testament as coming before Christ returns. As part of that, the Antichrist will also appear before Christ's return.
How do they reconcile that Christianity is mentioned in the Torah, but they don't believe in Christ as the Messiah? How do you explain Christianity without Christ? There's a disconnect there unless the Torah refers only to Christians after the Messiah appears.
2 Cor 3:
13. We.... are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. (glory)
14. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.
15. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart;
16. but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.