"I am the vine, you are the branches"
Preparing For Yeshua's Return
The Gospels tell us about the second coming of Yeshua. They record Yeshua's own words, "There will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven" (Luke 21:11). Earthquakes are almost a monthly, if not weekly, occurrence. Famines and droughts and plagues are increasing, and now even here in America we are seeing that our meat supply is at levels as low as they were in 1951 with today's population in 2014. A plague has hit our swine and thousands of pigs had to be put down. A wasting disease has hit our deer population. The weather the last several years has caused our citrus fruit to decrease and the drought in California has affected our fruits and vegetables. Luke goes on, "And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves. Men fainting from fear and expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken" (Luke 21:25-26).
I think most of us have heard about the blood moon that took place in April on the first day of Passover, and now the second one will take place in September, on the first day of The Feast of Tabernacles. Many people say that there is no correlation between the blood moons and things that happen upon the earth, but this is not what Yeshua tells us. He says that there will be signs in the heavens, and the fact that four lunar eclipses just happen to fall on four Biblical feast days two years in a row can't just be a coincidence, especially when this coincidence has only happened a few times in history; and every time it has happened, there has been a historical change for God's chosen people. Since the year 2000, there have been about 26 asteroids that have exploded in our atmosphere or have actually fallen to earth with more power than the bomb that fell on Hiroshima, Japan. Revelation 8:7-12 says that the first four trumpet judgements speak of an asteroid/meteorite falling out of the sky upon the earth. We see the sun, moon, and stars all affected also. According to John Hagee in his book Four Blood Moons, we see that in the middle of these four moons, a total solar eclipse will take place on March 20th, 2015. This represents the judgment on the nations. Yeshua tells us that nation will rise up against nation and kingdom against kingdom. According to Jonathan Cahn's book, The Harbinger, he is predicting that America will come under God's judgment in September/October 2015 to fulfill a seven year cycle that began with the Twin Towers, and seven years after that with the financial meltdown, and now seven years later in 2015, this too will all coincide with the Jewish Feasts. Whether or not anything actually takes place at these times, they are surely signs of the times that must be payed attention to.
The World Hates You
The Bible tells us that in the last days there will be scoffers; so should we listen to these people and ignore the obvious or should we listen to the words of Yeshua who tells us that all these things will come because He is coming? If you say that we must listen to Yeshua, then we must believe that what He tells us about being persecuted is also true. Luke 21:12 tells us that persecution and even imprisonment will come and it will give us an opportunity to give our testimony. We have seen all around the world that this is happening to believers in almost every country, even here in America where we have freedom of religion. Yeshua tells us that we will be delivered up by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, that we will be hated and even put to death (Luke 21:16-17). We have seen throughout history that believers and Jews alike have been persecuted for worshiping the One True God, and this is going to repeat itself once again.
Revelation 12:17 tells us, "The dragon was enraged with the woman and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus." The woman is Israel and her offspring are the true believers in Yeshua. Why do I say true? Because those who keep the commandments of the Lord are the true congregation of believers. Revelation 13:10 says, "If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints."
Luke 21:14-15 tells us that we are not to prepare beforehand to defend ourselves; for Yeshua will give us the words and wisdom which none of our opponents will be able to resist or refute. So even though Yeshua tells us not to prepare what we will say, He does tell us that we are to do certain things so that we are prepared. It is these things that we are going to take a closer look at.
So What Can We Do?
Luke 21:34 tells us, "Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day comes on you suddenly like a trap." Yeshua tells us about becoming entangled in this world. The pride of life, the lust of the flesh and the eyes will ultimately trap us, and it will cause us to take our eyes off of the prize, our salvation, our eternal life. We will then become unprepared and weak and when persecution comes, we will not have that close walk with God that we will need to have to stand on that day (1 Peter 2:11-12). Verse 36 of Luke 21 goes on to say, "But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and stand before the Son of Man." The Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels translates it this way from the Hebrew: "Therefore, be alert at all times and pray in order to store up strength to escape from all these things that will ultimately come, and you will stand before the Son of Man." Matthew tells us that the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah, "For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark" (Matthew 24:37-38). There is nothing wrong with going on with life, as long as your life does not take your eyes off of Yeshua.
The Jewish people in the time of Yeshua knew persecution. Some following Yeshua reported to Him that Pilot had some Galileans put to death (Luke 13). Yeshua tells them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." Yeshua was not saying that these things would not happen to a man who repents, but if these things should come to someone, what is more important is that they do not perish into eternal damnation.
We must start by repenting. This was Yeshua's message to His followers, "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand," and His disciples message to their followers. Should it not be our message, also? This is the good news (the gospel according to Yeshua, Matthew 4:17). Christians believe that they do not have to repent because Yeshua died for their sins. Repentance is a turning back to God's ways, His word, His commandments, His holy way of living. Christians today believe that they do not have to follow Yeshua as a disciple because now we have grace and we are saved by grace alone. This is true that we are saved by grace through faith in Yeshua, but we can not take one scripture and build a whole doctrine from it. We are saved by the shed blood of Yeshua, the perfect lamb of God. The book of Hebrews tells us, "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it; for if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience will receive a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" Hebrews 10:26-29 tells us, "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Torah of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?"
The faith-only doctrine can be very misleading because we think that all we have to do is believe in Yeshua and His grace takes care of the rest. Yeshua never said that all we need to do is believe in Him and we would have forgiveness of our sins. His teaching told us how to receive eternal life, and that message started with repentance. We must take Scripture as a whole, not pick it apart.
Hebrews 6:1 tells us, "Repent from dead works." Dead works are, and can only be, sin; for the wages of sin is death. Never is dead works the keeping of God's laws. We are to take off the old self and put on the new. We are to set our minds on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. We are to crucify the flesh, for you have died and your life is hidden with Messiah in God. God said, "I am holy and you are to be holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16). The word "holy" in the Hebrew means to be set apart. Only God's full counsel can set you apart from the world that is perishing, the world that is going to be judged, and we must come out from under her way of thinking and living and become set apart in God's Kingdom where God has destined us so that His wrath of judgement will not reach us; not that we will not be persecuted or even martyred, but we will not be touched by His wrath that leads to a permanent death, damnation to an eternal darkness.
We must be preparing ourselves to receive Yeshua our Bridegroom. Ephesians 5:25-27 tells us, "Messiah loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that he might sanctify her having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless." 2 Corinthians says, "Therefore having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." Revelation 19:8 tells us, "Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." The deeds of righteousness are the keeping of God's commandments, His laws, His statutes, good deeds of charity, and mercy to widows and orphans.
We are to live in faith; for the redeemed of the Lord shall walk in faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. We are saved by faith, and by faith we can move mountains. Colossians 2 tells us, "As you therefore have received Messiah Yeshua the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, overflowing gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Messiah."
We are to live by the Spirit and walk by the Spirit; for those who do are the children of the Lord. We, through the Spirit by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. We are to crucify the deeds of the flesh and allow the seeds of righteousness to grow through us by the Holy Spirit, by which the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control grows in us. The Holy Spirit gives us power to witness, to serve, and to stand in faith, allowing us to be ready for the coming day of the Lord.
He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit has to say. The Holy Spirit is telling us this day to be prepared, ready, alert, and on our guard; for the signs are in the sky and the Messiah is at the door. Do you hear Him calling you?