Restoration and Desolation
Restoration of Israel
Some amazing things are happening these days, that were prophesied thousands of years ago. The Jewish people, scattered throughout the earth, are being re-gathered in their own land.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:11-12)
The regathering of Israel is likened to a valley of dry bones that need to put on flesh, and have the breath of life. They have been regathered as a secular nation, mostly with only a nominal connection to the faith of their fathers, but they are promised a spiritual revival:
Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. (Ezekiel 37:5-6)
The spiritual revival of Israel will involve the recognition of Yeshua the Messiah:
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10)
When Israel believes, they will prepare the way for the second coming of Messiah:
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. (Zechariah 14:4)
Yeshua (Jesus) said to the religious leaders of Israel:
Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Matthew 23:38-39)
Yeshua prophesied to his disciples:
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. (Luke 21:24)
The "time of the Gentiles" began in C.E. 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman army under Titus. It ended in 1967 during the six-day war when Jerusalem was recaptured by Israel.
Since 1967 a growing number of Jewish people in Israel and around the world have believed in Yeshua the Messiah, who came to save us from our sins, and is coming again to rule and reign. However, they are still a small minority in Israel, much despised, suffering discrimination and exclusion from employment, and sometimes even exclusion from the country. There is still some way to go before we see the fulfilment of Romans 11:26.
And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (This verse quotes from Isaiah 59:20-21).
Desolation of the Church
Since the "Time of the Gentiles" ended, church-based Christianity in the industrialised Western World has been in gradual decline, with falling church attendance, and during the last few years it has gone into outright deception. We had the Kansas City Prophets telling us there was going to be revival in Britain, then there was John Wimber and Paul Cain from the Vineyard Ministries holding a conference at London Docklands saying the same thing, none of which came to pass. Then there was the "Toronto Blessing" with it's bizarre hypnotic manifestations. People were barking like dogs, roaring like lions, falling on the floor in a state of trance, and in some cases making sexually suggestive gestures. Any attempt to read from the Scriptures was drowned out with hilarious laughter as people were "filled with the Holy Spirit".
They shall roar together like lions: they shall yell as lions' whelps. In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the Lord. (Jeremiah 51:38-39)
The discredited Toronto Blessing gave way to the Alpha Course which starts off with a bit of Bible teaching, but after a few sessions it becomes clear that the main focus of the course is the "Holy Spirit Weekend" where people get another dose of Toronto. The course originates from Holy Trinity Brompton, one of the main purveyors of the "Toronto Blessing" in Britain.
Now there is the so-called "Celtic Roots Movement" where churches get into New Age rituals and more trance-like states.
Bible teaching has been abandoned. In even the most moderate non-Toronto churches and they spend almost the whole time singing songs, doing drama, and if there is a sermon at all it's mostly anecdotal with little or no Bible content. As a consequence, people who are hungry for the Word of God are going anywhere that they can get it, from itinerant preachers, from tapes and videos, and house groups where they can study the Bible together.
Deception didn't come upon the church all at once. It came little by little, rather like in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, a type of anti-Messiah who brought Hellenistic practices into the Temple, little by little, and eventually sacrificed a pig on the altar. At that point the Jews ran to the hills, formed a guerrilla army under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus, and then returned to recapture Jerusalem and re-dedicate the Temple.
The Christians today are also running to the hills, to any place where they can escape from the deception within the church and the coming anti-Messiah, in accordance with Revelation 18:4.
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
When the disciples asked Yeshua, "...What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" he replied:
Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many... When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judea flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:3-16)
Of course this was fulfilled when the Jews fled from Jerusalem in C.E. 70, but many fulfillments of prophecy are just a preview of something else that is still to come. Christians today are fleeing to the "mountains" to escape from a church that is defiled.
What are the Christians being taught, out in the mountains to which they have fled? Basically, they are getting back to the original Messianic faith, before it was corrupted by Constantine. Evangelicals who were previously satisfied with the faith handed down to them from the Reformers, have realised that the Reformation didn't go far enough. All it did was to throw off the worst excesses of Rome, which required people to pay for indulgences to get their dead relatives out of Purgatory. Salvation by faith, rather than by the church, was the central doctrine of the Reformation, and people espoused it gladly because it was financially a lot less expensive. However, the Reformation still retained many post-Constantine practices, including Sunday worship, Christmas, Easter, and a special class of Christians called "priests" who wore special clothes. All these practices are derived from different forms of paganism, including Sunday worship which was implemented by Constantine when he commanded that everyone throughout the Empire would observe the "Venerable Day of the Sun". Before that, the early Believers in Yeshua used to observe Shabbat (sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday).
The Christians, out in the mountains, are learning the original Messianic faith from the very people who gave it to them in the first place, the Messianic Jews who have not been corrupted by two thousand years of church theology and are able to teach the Scriptures from their original Jewish context.
And so, the Messianic Jews and Gentiles, joined together as branches of the same true vine, will together welcome the true Messiah, Yeshua, when He comes.