What Still Must Take Place Before Jesus Can Return?
The Restoration of All Things:
“Therefore, repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be erased; so that times of refreshing may come from the Lord’s presence; and He may send the Messiah appointed in advance for you, that is, Yeshua. He has to remain in heaven until the time comes for restoring everything, as God said long ago, when He spoke through the holy prophets.”— Acts 3:19-21 (Complete Jewish Bible)
Despite Harold Camping spending millions of dollars on billboards predicting that Judgment Day would be May 21, 2011, or ancient Mayan astronomers predicting the world would end in 2012, here we still remain.
Lest we forget, Jesus Himself admonished us to “be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect Him” (Matthew 24:44). As to the actual time of Yeshua's return, “no man knows”—not even Jesus knew that during the time He was here on the earth. We are not to predict dates. Though we can’t know the exact hour, God wants us to know the season . . . to be wise as the “men of Issachar, who understood the times . . .” (1 Chronicles 12:32).
There are, indeed, many clear signs that we are in the last of the Last Days. The ones you likely hear the most include the ten-nation confederacy, the Antichrist’s emergence and identity, the mark of the beast, the rebuilding of the Third Temple, and the final showdown between Israel and Russia. Although important, I am not an expert in these areas, so I will leave these to others to expound on. There are, however, other prophetic signs that we are in the Last Days that are clear and being fulfilled before our very eyes. I will mention just a few below:
1) The Restoration of Israel and Jerusalem
Almost all teachers on the Last Days agree that the restoration of the Land of Israel in 1948 after almost 2,000 years was the moment the End-Time clock began to tick. Then in 1967 Jerusalem came back under Jewish control after a miraculous victory in the Six Day war. This was a direct fulfillment of Yeshua’s statement in Luke 21:24, “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” These two events, including Israel becoming an agricultural phenomena and the revival of the Hebrew language in Israel, had to happen before Jesus could return. They are now fulfilled and are clear signs that the end is near and the return of the Messiah to the earth is imminent.
2) The Rising Tide of Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism is once again rapidly spreading throughout the world at an alarming rate and is at an all-time high since the Holocaust. Sixty percent of all Europeans regard tiny Israel as the greatest threat to world peace; a third of those surveyed in Europe and America regularly attribute to the Jewish People “excessive power and influence.” At its core, it is Satan who is fermenting “the world’s deepest hatred”–both against the Land and People of Israel. While some would try to make a distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, as one noted historian remarked: “It’s distinction without a difference.” Think about it: Israel is the only state on the face of this planet that such a large number of disparate people wish to see disappear.
The new carriers of this demonic hatred are fanatic Muslims who see Israel and the Jews as a dangerous cancer that must be wiped off the earth. Islamic leaders like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have vowed to destroy Israel as soon as they acquire the means to do so.
This scenario was predicted thousands of years ago. The prophet Zechariah declared that all nations would turn against Israel in the Last Days: “On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves” (Zechariah 12:3). Jesus describes the conditions immediately preceding His return as a time of great conflict and tribulation (see Matthew 24 and Luke 21). The good news is those who seek to destroy Israel will fail. Israel, with Jerusalem as her capital, is here to stay.
3) The Re-gathering of the Jewish People Back to the Land of Israel
Not only did God promise to restore the Land of Israel in the Last Days, He also declared He would re-gather the “outcasts of Israel” from all the nations where He scattered them (see Isaiah 11:11). This aliyah, or return of the Jews to their biblical homeland, is yet another important sign that the Messiah’s return is approaching. It is no coincidence that over the last 20-plus years, the largest immigration in Israel’s short history has come from Russia and the republics of the former Soviet Union. Amazingly, Jeremiah 16:14-15 predicted that the mass return of the Jewish People would begin from the north. He was not speaking about North America but the land directly north of Israel, the former Soviet Union. More than one million Russian-speaking Jews are now in the Land of Israel, and just as Jeremiah prophesied, they are now returning from the south (more than 130,000 Ethiopian Jews now live in Israel) and all the countries where the Jewish People have been scattered.
Still, more Jews remain outside of Israel than inside Israel. We at Jewish Voice are committed to finding and helping Jewish communities in remote areas of the world. Since 1999, we have been conducting free medical, dental, and eye clinics in Ethiopia to help the Beta Israel and Beta Avraham communities that remain there. There are still more than 60,000 there that need our help. For the last six years, we have been providing the same clinics for the Bnei Menashe in Manipur and Mizoram, India. Recently, 7,000 of the Bnei Menashe were permitted to make aliyah. Just this year, we held our first clinic in the remote bush of Zimbabwe to help the Lemba tribe. I invite you to read the February and August 2012 editions of our Connections newsletter to learn more about this amazing “lost tribe” of Israel.
Other tribes that claim to be decedents of ancient Israel contact us regularly for help. The Yiber tribe of Somaliland, the Igbo tribe in Nigeria, and the Abuyudaya tribe of Uganda are just a few examples. The identification and eventual restoration of these lost communities of Israel is fulfillment of End-Time prophecy most hear little about, but it is one of the clear signs that we are in the Last Days.
4) The Gospel Proclaimed to the Nations
Another End-Time restoration that must take place is the Gospel must be proclaimed to all the nations of the earth. In fact, this may be the clearest statement in Scripture about what must happen before Jesus can return. He, Himself told us, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Thanks to modern technology, it is now possible for the Gospel to be preached to “all nations” or, more accurately, ethnos—which actually means “a race,” “a tribe,” or “a people group”—in the remotest areas of the planet. We must understand this requirement in the light of Romans 1:16, however, that the Gospel must go to the Jew first. This is a precedent, a biblical mandate and order that is just as true today as it was when it was written. This means the Gospel has to be proclaimed to every Jewish community in every nation where they have been scattered. And this has not yet happened. In addition, around 350 million people still need the Bible translated in their own language. This must happen before the end will come.
5) The Blindness Coming off of the Eyes of the Jewish People
The final (and, I believe, most important) “restoration of all things” that must yet take place is the national salvation of Israel.
There’s no doubt that we’re witnessing the beginning of the day when “all of Israel will be saved” (see Romans 11:25-26). More Jewish People have recognized Yeshua as their Messiah in the last 30 years than in the last 20 centuries! But while Jewish People are coming to saving faith in Yeshua in record numbers, we have not yet seen the “national” salvation of the Jewish People.
Think of it this way: Every time a Jewish person accepts Yeshua, we move that much closer to Messiah’s return. This means that if you’ve doubted your purpose in life—why you are alive at this exact point in time—doubt no more! History is indeed “His Story”—a story that we who are alive “for such a time as this” have the awesome privilege—and responsibility—of hastening to its Final End.