May - A Month to Celebrate
Not only does yours truly celebrate a birthday this month, Israel was also born in May sixty years ago. Ezekiel, a servant of God, gives us a prophecy of the rebirth of modern Israel:
They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children's children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.' " (Ezekiel 37:25-28)
Jesus Himself taught that when things start happening quickly the generation that sees all these things will be the one to usher in the millenial reign (aka the sabbath):
"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Matthew 24:32-35)
Does the Fig Tree Represent Modern Israel's Rebirth?
This one is a real mystery. Some will say yes, some no. I do not believe Jesus was talking specifically about the modern-day resurrection of Israel in the above passage. I do however believe that Israel's rebirth signifies the beginnings of the close of the church age. Now the age of grace did not end when Israel came into being in 1948. But (and this is a big but), I believe it commenced the countdown to the end of this age. If seventy years is the average human life span (knowing that all generations overlap with one another), then 25,200 days (70 prophetic years each comprised of 360 days) from May 15, 1948 to the year 2017/5777 strikes me as a very reasonable timetable.
Why the Number Seventy? A Top Ten List to Ponder
In 1988, some Bible scholars believed that Jesus (the bridegroom) would come for His church (the bride). That was based on the forty years that the Jews spent wandering in the desert. The year 1988 came and went and we're still waiting. I think these well-meaning individuals were half-right. The start point was right but the period of time was too short. So why 70 years instead? Consider the following:
1) The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all. (Exodus 1:5)
2) It was seventy elders of Israel along with Moses who confirmed the covenant with God (Exodus 24)
3) The offerings given for the dedication of the tabernacle had one silver plate weighing 130 shekels (fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering). The other silver plate weighed seventy shekels. Each one of the twelve tribes of Israel gave this offering.
4) Gideon had seventy sons in all. All seventy died as a result of the sins of Abimelech. (Judges 8,9)
5) Seventy men of Beth Shemesh were killed by God because they looked into the Ark of the Covenant. (1 Samuel 6:19)
6) Seventy sons of the house of Ahab were killed by Jehu (2 Kings 10)
7) King Hezekiah purified the temple with seventy bulls (and rams and male lambs) as a burnt offering. (2 Chronicles 29:32)
8) The Babylonians conquered the Israelites and left Jerusalem desolate for seventy years according to Jeremiah's prophecy. (Jer 25:11)
9) The length of our days is seventy years. (Psalm 90)
10) Daniel was given the the prophecy of Seventy 'Sevens'. (Daniel 9)
The number seventy is better associated with God's judgement than forty. What we see here is a theme of sanctification and purification from sin. Seven is the perfect number, ten (or five) is the complete number. God's perfection is multiplyed by His completeness (7 x 10 = 70). If ever there was a finite number to describe Him, seventy would be it.
So why Pentecost?
The church was born on Pentecost (see Acts 2). The Law was handed to Moses on Pentecost (also known as Shavuot). It is the very day (on two separate occasions) where Jewish ethics and the Christian faith were married. If God wanted to get our attention by removing His church, there's no better day to do it than on Pentecost/Shavuot. The year 2017 is also the Hebrew year of 5777. If both the Lord and the church are represented by the number 777, does not the year 5777 strike us as terribly important?
Mind you, I have been wrong before. Only time will tell if I am wise or foolish.
(Added Jan 29, 2009)
Postscript: Shavuot or the day of Pentecost in the year 5777/2017 falls on the 6th of Sivan/31st of May. Just thought I'd let you know!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
May - A Month to Celebrate