The Center for
Messianic Learning 

Unapologetically Pro-Torah
Unashamedly Pro-Israel
Irrevocably Zionist
ב״ה
“… out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of ADONAI from Yerushalayim.”
(Isaiah 2:3)
Jew and Gentile (Synagogue and Church), one in Messiah. (Ephesians 2:14)
“For He is our peace, Who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, …”
 

If your life is not in jeopardy for what you believe, you’re probably on the wrong side!

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Please Note: Nothing on this website should be taken as anti-Church. I am not anti-anything or anyone. I am only pro-Torah and pro-Truth. Sometimes the Truth upsets our long-held beliefs. Why isn’t my theology consistent throughout this website?

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Developing a
Systematic Messianic Theology

“The purpose of careful theological formulations is not to put barriers in the way of people who are seeking salvation, but to define clearly the truths upon which genuine [Biblical] faith rests, so that people will not be misled by false doctrines.” [Robert M. Bowman, Jr. Why You Should Believe in the Trinity: An Answer to Jehovah's Witnesses. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989, p. 18.]
 

What the Torah Says About
the Future
(An Overview of End-Time Events)

Introduction

Of all the topics of Systematic Theology, whether traditional evangelical Christian or Messianic Jewish, I find this the most difficult for me to be completely objective and  consistent, and to accept only that which I can clearly support from the Scriptures, no matter what I wish to be true.

For more than 35 years I believed and taught the evangelical “party line” of a pre-millennial, pre-tribulational end-times chronology that was depicted in the Left Behind series of novels by Tim LeHaye and Jerry Jenkins. I no longer believe that interpretation to be correct.

Now that I have been studying the Scriptures from the perspective of those who originally penned them and of those to whom they were originally address, I find that my theology — particularly about the End Times — has changed significantly.

Eschatology, the theology of future events, has four clear, though poorly defined, areas of concern, though the order of their occurrence, and the specific events that are to occur in each of these epochs are matters of great debate throughout both Messianic Judaism and Christianity. The primary areas of concern are these:

• The resurrection of the dead

• The Tribulation, or Time of Jacob’s Trouble

• The return and earthly reign of Messiah

• The eternal state
 

The Jewish Concept of Olam Haba

Traditional Jewish eschatology (study of future events) does not really concern itself with the future, except as revealed by the prophets. Although there is considerable concern about “working with HaShem” to bring about the ultimate redemption of the world, the Jewish heart is traditionally much more concerned with living a life that is pleasing to HaShem in the here and now, and leaves it to HaShem to sort out the future. I have recently come to total agreement with that concept, though I am still incredibly curious about the future, both here in the Olam Hazeh and in the Olam Haba.

“One moment of repentance and good deeds in this world is better than the entire life of the world to come.” (R. Jacob, quoted in Avot 4:17)

Jewish thought is concerned with only two major epochs: the Olam Hazeh (the World Which Is) and the Olam Haba (the World Which is to Come). The Olam Haba begins with the termination of one’s earthly life, includes “the days of Messiah,” and stretches into eternity. It includes the concepts of resurrection, plus the afterlife in which the righteous dwell in Gan Eden (Paradise, or literally Garden of Eden) and the unrighteous in Gehinom. (See the article “Olam Ha-Ba” in the Jewish Virtual Library, which states “It is futile to attempt to systematize the Jewish notions of the hereafter.”)

Like other spiritual traditions, Judaism offers a range of views on the afterlife, including some parallels to the concepts of heaven and hell familiar to us from popular Western (i.e., Christian) teachings. While in traditional Jewish thought the subjects of heaven and hell were treated extensively, most modern Jewish thinkers have shied away from this topic, preferring to follow the biblical model, which focuses on life on earth. [“Heaven and Hell in Jewish Tradition” on MyJewishLearning.com, accessed 29 September 2019.]

Yeshua succinctly expresses the Jewish idea of the present state of the dead in the story He tells of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). In this view the dead are in a place called Sheol (lwaX, the place of the dead, not to be confused with the Christian idea of hell, even though Strong so translates it), apparently awaiting the resurrection. The righteous dead are conscious and at peace alongside Father Abraham (at “Abraham’s Side” or in “Abraham’s Bosom”), the unrighteous are conscious and in torment. The two compartments of Sh'ol are divided by a deep rift which cannot be crossed.

19Once there was a rich man who used to dress in the most expensive clothing and spent his days in magnificent luxury. 20At his gate had been laid a beggar named El`azar who was covered with sores. 21He would have been glad to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man's table; but instead, even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22In time the beggar died and was carried away by the angels to Avraham's side; the rich man also died and was buried.

23In Sh'ol, where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Avraham far away with El`azar at his side. 24He called out, “Father Avraham, take pity on me, and send El`azar just to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my tongue, because I'm in agony in this fire!”

25However, Avraham said, “Son, remember that when you were alive, you got the good things while he got the bad; but now he gets his consolation here, while you are the one in agony. 26Yet that isn't all: between you and us a deep rift has been established, so that those who would like to pass from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.”

27He answered, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house, 28where I have five brothers, to warn them; so that they may be spared having to come to this place of torment too.”

29But Avraham said, “They have Moshe and the Prophets;[5] they should listen to them.”

30However, he said, “No, father Avraham, they need more. If someone from the dead goes to them, they'll repent!”

31But he replied, “If they won't listen to Moshe and the Prophets, they won't be convinced even if someone rises from the dead!”

Most interpreters consider this teaching from Yeshua as a parable. If it is a parable, it is the only one in which Yeshua ever gave names to the characters in the story. I therefore believe that Yeshua was not telling a parable, but rather describing an actual event.

Unfortunately, even within Messianic Judaism, there is yet no clear and concise consensus of opinion regarding the future.

Three Views of the “Rapture”

There are three major views of the chronology of the Millennium, plus three sub-sets. For the sake of brevity, I am only going to discuss the Premellennial view on this page. The other views are discussed here.

 • Premillennialism: Premillennialism speculates that the return of Messiah will inaugurate a literal thousand-year earthly kingdom. His return will coincide with a seven-year period of tribulation at the hands of the Anti-Messiah (Antichrist): three and one-half years of “Tribulation” followed by three and one-half years of  the “Great Tribulation.” Following the seven-year Tribulation period Messiah will establish His throne in Jerusalem and rule physically on the earth for a thousand years. Before the Kingdom is established, there will be a resurrection of the people of God who have died. There will also be a “rapture” of only the people of “the Church” who are still living. Both the resurrected and the living meet Messiah “in the air” (1Thess. 4:17) at His coming. A thousand years of peace will follow, during which time Messiah will reign and Satan will be imprisoned in the Abyss. Those who hold to this view usually fall into one of the following three categories that are most widely accepted, all of which are based on the assumed timing of “the Rapture of the Church.”

 • Pre-Tribulation Rapture: the “Rapture” occurs immediately before the “Tribulation” begins.

 • Mid-Tribulation Rapture: the “Rapture” occurs in the middle of the “Tribulation” (three and a half years after the beginning of the tribulation) just before it becomes the “Great Tribulation.”

 • Post-Tribulation Rapture: the “Rapture” occurs at the end of the “Great Tribulation.”

There are a few who, like me, do not believe in the Christian teaching of a Rapture. Though I taught the Premillennial/Pretribulation view for over 35 years, I personally no longer believe in the Rapture of the Church. Here’s why.

Six Major Epochs of the Future

Page revised on Sunday, 31 January 2021

Page last updated on Tuesday, 09 February 2021 01:19 PM
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Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)