The disciples of Yeshua of the fist century C.E. believed they would see the return of their Master in their lifetime or that of their children. In Emperor Nero and Domitian, they saw the Antichrists often spoken of by the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel, by Yeshua, Paul, and John. For that reason, much of Paul's writings are in the context of preparing the congregations of Messiah for evil days ahead. |
Just like Messiah had His foreshadows in some of the patriarchs and prophets, the Antichrist has his foreshadows in the heads of world Empires and evil dictators of History. Whereas Nero and Domitian were not the 'Antichrist', they were foreshadows of him.
Today, while we may not live under the 'Antichrist', maybe our children will, and if not them, maybe our grandchildren. Each year we celebrate the Fall Feasts which in Hebrew are called 'rehearsals'. The Fall Feasts speak of the time when the Messiah comes, when Yeshua will return. They are therefore rehearsals for that Blessed Day. In Judaism we do not try to figure out the date of the Messiah but are taught to be ready each year by preparing ourselves for it at the Fall Feasts, especially during the forty days preceding Yom Kippur, the most likely 'time' Yeshua will set His feet on the Mt of Olives. These forty days start with the first of Elul which was in this year's Gregorian calendar last 18th of September.
If our grandchildren are to be ready, we better live lives that reflect that readiness in the sight of our children, so they will in turn teach their children, our grand-children. Paul gave to the Thessalonians congregation a readiness class in the form of a 'checklist' for that day. Oddly enough, unlike some to day who urge us to be ready, this 'checklist' did not have anything to do with self-preservation or survival such as changing money to gold, growing beans in their yard, or live outside the city in a self-contained environment. Paul's idea of preparation was first and foremost concerning inter-personal relationship, as well as their relationship with God. Here is what Paul said to prepare the congregations for that Day (my comments in italics):
1 Thessalonians 5
"Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you (You know the 'season' of the coming of Messiah: the Fall Feasts). For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of Adonai will come like a thief in the night (a Talmudic expression referring to Rosh Hashana, 10 days before Yom Kippur). While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief (you are enlightened by the knowledge and teachings of the Word about the Fall Feasts, so you will not be surprised like the others). For you are all children of light (light = knowledge), children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness (darkness = ignorance).
So then; Let us not sleep, as others do (sleep: a Talmudic expression for being oblivious to our responsibilities towards God's Instruction), But let us keep awake and be sober (a Talmudic expression for being conscious of our responsibilities towards God's Instruction). For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober:
Now the checklist continues: Having put on the breastplate of faith (like Moses who fled Egypt and put his lot with God, learn to trust the Father for the present and the future, and not trust in the riches of the world) Love (learn to love; may your faith be motivated by love for God and your brothers) And for a helmet the hope of salvation (remember that full redemption is the end of the story; nothing can change that) For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Master Yeshua HaMashiach (we are not destined to suffer the wrath of God as described in Revelations 16) who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him (this time 'awake or sleep' are to be understood literally within the language of the day meaning 'alive or dead').
Here is more instruction: Therefore: Encourage one another And build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, And to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, Admonish the idle, Encourage the fainthearted, Help the weak, Be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, But always seek to do good to one another And to everyone. Rejoice always, Pray without ceasing, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Yeshua HaMashiach for you. Do not quench the Spirit (let the Holy Spirit speak to you). Do not despise prophecies (use your gift of prophecy), But test everything (but don't believe all of them; test them (1 Cor 14:29). Hold fast what is good (then keep the good one). Abstain from every form of evil (from all disobediences).
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Master Yeshua HaMashiach. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
This was Paul's checklist for the Congregations to be prepared for the Day of Messiah. Remember these exhortations were given within the context of preparing the congregations for the imminent Day of Adonai.
I think that if it was good for them, it must be good for us to use as a list to check our hearts during the next 40 days to prepare for Yom Kippur!
Paul then added: Brothers, pray for us (Pray for the apostles). Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. Put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers (that's us too). The grace of our Master Yeshua HaMashiach be with you.
Patrick Gabriel Lumbroso
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